Vacation Fishing Hindsight/Questions [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Vacation Fishing Hindsight/Questions

07-08-2003, 11:45 AM
Dumb inquiry time.

In the bright mid day sun the fish on the flats I was fishing seemed very spooky. Casting and line shadow, I think, were a problem. I was using the standard clear intermediate (444SL)and I'm thinking of trying the 325 QD in this application to get the line down on the sand (typically 1 to 3 feet) quicker and minimize the line shadow time. Last year about this time Roop had an easy time of it with the QD while TodD and myself struggled to get any interest. I was useing the clear line and I believe Tod was as well. Of course this is probably a bad example as Roop would tend to skew the data.

I was thinking about getting a line with a clear head and floating running line (Ghost tio, Rio quick shooter) for this mid day flats fishing. But this line shadow thing has reconsidering. Any advice or comments?

07-08-2003, 12:17 PM

I have been considering a sinktip myself so I can ditch my stripping basket. But I think the 444 is a hell of a good line so I will stick with it for the rest of the season. I only break out the QD when I need it to punch through a headwind. My 350 tends to hit the water like a ton of bricks.

As far as spooking goes, I don't know how much of an issue the line shadow is but if they are close and you are casting they will certainly vamoose.

IMHO the most important thing is to see the fish coming from AT LEAST 70 feet and lead them enough to have the fly settled on the bottom when they greet it. Then you are more likely to get a head-on shot than a crossing shot which might spook them or show them the line. Caolo covers it pretty well in his book but my experience is the farther away you spot them the better your chances of hooking up.


07-08-2003, 02:12 PM
I haven't read Alan's book but I scanned Sean McDermott's copy recently and it looks spot on. In fact I'd buy every copy and burn them if I was a millionaire. :devil: However I do have a significant number of hours burned in on the flats and here's my take FWIW...

Down angle is the best...

If you hold the rod sideways across your face, it suggests danger, impasse, trouble. Yet if you peek down the end of the rod straight on, you might walk right into it. If you can present the fly so that it is fly-first to the fish as they encroach, then play a little cat-and-mouse, you're chances are pretty good. If you are taking a perpendicular pot-shot or a going-way come-backer, good luck you're going to need it (although it can be done).

In any case, show them just the end of the tippet and the fly and you'll do best.

Where's your window?

First thing I do with clients when staking out a flat is find a position with a favorable window into the water with maximum viewing distance where fish will come into that window. It's easy to get mesmerized with four hours of frustrating last-minute casting to fish fleeing from you after they've approached, where there may have been much better catching opportunity just around the corner.

Which line?

Lines are catch-22. You want a fast delivery and fast positioning of the fly, you want it to resist current, but you want the fish to be unable to see it. The line that exhibits some of those behaviors is also a black fat clothesline that sends fish swimming around it. I've contacted line companies about impregnating a natural colored tungsten in a clear line, but that's not forthcoming at this point as far as I can tell. It does not solve the shadow concerns on bright bluebird days as well.

Back-up to the down angle and window discussions... if you have both going for you either line will do the trick, it becomes a matter of easiest and most accurate delivery since the line color is not an issue.

Caveat: If the fish are finicky and you need multiple shots, the clear line wins every time.

I could go on and on but I will save it for my own book :devil:

More important than all of this, even more important that the fly you're using is the mood of the fish, second only to the presence of fish. Fish who are in the mood will hit on any line and virtually any fly and forgive sloppy presentations. There are things you can do to increase the potential of rendezvous with fish in the best mood, and these usually pay off in the biggest ways of all.

Good luck!

07-09-2003, 05:18 AM
Fred , I had the good fortune to fish with Dave Pearson(hope I got his name right] who co-shares the guiding with Juro. It was an experience I'll never forget. One of the basic things he taught me is to not keep your rod up in the air and wave it around. This will spook the fish. Next, keep the fly in your hand and be ready to cast when you locate a fish. If you have another angler with you work as team with one angler being the spotter. Once you locate the fish lead them. The day I fished with him he hooked up on the flats when no one else caught including yours truly. Would like to team up with someday and try his system. By the way he was using a clear line.

07-09-2003, 06:20 AM
Please excuse the above inquiry. It was a brain fart I had has I was finishing lunch and going back to work. A lot of the problems I experienced were with shoaling (as opposed to fish schooled up in a polar fashion) at fairly close quarters. The travel patterns were tough to pick up and, frankly, with fish darting all around, the the casting pace would become frenetic and undisciplined. I should have been focusing on the "window" and casting selectively to fish that allowed a decent presentation. Very interesting though and all part of the fun, figuring this stuff out that is. And even the well placed dumb question can lead to some interesting feedback. Thanks.

07-09-2003, 10:44 AM
Fred -

Like they say the only dumb question is the one unasked, and please don't interpret my keyboard runoff as anything more than anxiety because you've had more quality time on the bayside than I this year ;)

Your dillgent study of the bayside flats has been a valuable resource to the group, believe me!

Sounds like you were at a terminus of a channel when the flood reached an ample stage, or even luckier at the convergence of two paths in either flood or ebb travel pathway. They weren't there for 6-12 hours unless you were on the outside bars in 4-6' (or more) so they had to push their way to this destination at some point.

But anyway.... at the risk of sounding like I think two-hands is the cure for every ail when they are not, when fish are buzzing willy-nilly in front of you the ability to direct casts gently and accurately with a single backcast or even a roll cast is extremely valuable and heads and shoulders easier with a two-hander. 8 years ago I tested this with a traditional Spey action rod (limber distance roll caster) in traditional lengths (14-15 ft) and felt it wasn't right for the job. I've been directly testing this theory lately with the trimmer, faster striper two-hander prototype and the results have been unquestionable, it takes less to put the fly in front of fish again and again with a specialized two-handed rod.

I know a spot on North Monomoy where the fish buzz in all directions and the best technique I've found so far to avoid losing all my hair is to use a clear line in the most stable direction with respect to the current, which here happens to cross the fish's paths in a macro sense. Then I retreive the fly only when it will create an opportunity for one of these fish crossing. I had to crack up as I would strip like mad to get in front of a fish I'd see and another I didn't would rip it, or if I stripped for a close fish that would reject and another monster would cruise past the spot I pulled it away from, etc - but it was a lot of fun and it was very productive in terms of fish caught.

In any case, I hope any of my or other's replies don't come across the wrong way. You called your question dumb but if it were I don't think there would have been such a response!

Furthermore we appreciate your sharing your studies of the largest inshore flat structure in North America, the bayside flats.

07-09-2003, 11:44 AM
Ah, the perils of bullitan board conversation and sloppy composition.. I am a true believer in "the only dumb question is the one not asked". Juro, I didn't interpert your reponse as anything other than I would expect from you, an info rich overview of the topic.

07-09-2003, 12:42 PM
Hey Fishhawk, thanks for the kind words!! (Yes, you got the name right.) We must fish again, soon. Amen on keeping the rod low, and watch for those flashy bits of metal hanging and dangling from your body. Other tidbits that lead to success on the flats in spooky fish conditions.

Line Maintenance:
- Sticky, dry, lines will tangle and knot at exactly the wrong moment. Splash a bit water into your stripping basket, dunk your rod occasionally (up to the spool), and keep a constant eye out for line trailing out of your basket; you might hook a fish and find the line running between your legs (personal experience statement).
- How much in the basket=enough to fit the conditions - Adjust the amount of line you have in your basket for changing conditions and max length you'll need to cast. In addition to increasing the chance of a knot when a big fish runs, having uncast line in a basket leads to more twisting.

- Juro's awesome "Is it a Fish?" lesson comes to mind; cast occasionally to those shadows or discolorations of the water. Know how your fly will land, drift, and sink for any given depth, water speed and wind direction. This also confirms that your line (and you) is untangled and ready for the big one.
- Be still, would ya? In general, and especially if you encounter fish up close, keep your feet together and lean forward/lower your profile; don't present a bipedal profile (most animals recognize this as the ultimate predator). For passing fish, key on the speed of the tail beats. They'll increase when you are spotted (or when the fish is already alarmed), but slow down again after the fish passes and settles. Wait till then to cast. Don't move your head!!! Turning your head 1/2" to follow a fish (translates to 3 inches of cap-bill movement) is enough to alarm a fish for good. And, moving your feet and kicking sand will case an unnatural dust cloud which will reach fish swimming up current below you (the preferred zone).

When I fish the Lil' Green Shrimp, which requires very short and smooth strips, I have my line hand in the stripping basket to lessen the amount of perceivable movement. I also lean forward to lower my profile, feet together, elbows close to my side, and look from under the bill of my cap (very important as fish follow your fly, which they often do …). If a fish is getting too close for comfort, I'd rather stop my fly and let it settle than continuing to strip. If the follower looks down at the settled fly, baby doink a few times.

No need to make comments on casting angles, line selection and such; can't state it better than Juro has already done….. Juro, I owe you a post on your line survey, sorry for the delay……. Ditto on saving the rest for the book.

To give proper credit, I learned a lot about line maintenance and stalking fish from watching Jim Bender, master of the flats and one of my heroes. The profile-related stuff is a mix of hunting-related knowledge, empirical data, anal retention-related overkill, and maybe even a little bit of voodoo.

"Is that a fish?" Nope . . . it was a darn Horseshoe Crab, but my cast and presentation were perfect……

Dble Haul
07-09-2003, 01:28 PM
Between Juro and Dave, I don't see how their clients have any really bad days out there. Thank you both for your insights....some old, some new, and always worth reading.

07-09-2003, 02:43 PM
I've been going out every day since Sun. and was a bit concerned about line color at first. Been using a lime green floating line for presenting crab patterns in slow to non-moving water and a cream color intermediate for sandeel flys, current etc.. Although the fish have been super spooky of the boat and my profile while wading I have not observed the line being a factor at all. In addition I am using 16lb. flouro tippet and don't feel that it's been a factor either. It's possible that I could be hooking up more, but judging by others I've seen and spoken to and my gut I really don't think so. The #1 factor seems to be finding pods of 3 or more stripes that act out of competitive nature when they see the fly. The exception is when they are feeding passively on the plentiful mini s. eels.

07-09-2003, 03:55 PM
Based on Dave P's stealth comments, I think I have figured it out:D

Fred is to tall

I am too fat

Striblue needs to tone down his clothing and get a guide finish Abel

and Fishhawk has no excuse and should be hookin up on every cast:hehe:

Dble Haul
07-10-2003, 08:21 AM
If Fred is too tall, then I truly don't have a chance.....:o :p