Big Stripers on Fly? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Big Stripers on Fly?

08-01-2003, 05:34 PM
The largest fish I have caught on a fly rod to date is about 20lbs so I am curious. As of late I have read a few posts about large stripers, and the inability to land a huge fish on the fly rod. I understand the difficulty in getting them to take a fly but what I do not understand is why a skilled angler couldn't land one once hooked. You regularly hear of large tarpon and more often now SBFT being brought to the hand. If you have a stout rod isn't it reasonable to assume you have a shot at landing a 50lb+ fish?


08-01-2003, 05:55 PM
Tarpon are chased down if they get out too far. Either with the motor or on the pole. BFT...definitely chased down.
As for big stripers from shore...? I don't know. I haven't caught a huge one from shore, but I think that with 20# tippet, and a good reel, it shouldn't be much harder than on a spinning set up with 20# test line. There is alot of power in the butt of a flyrod. Kenny Abrahms just landed a HUGE striper on the fly.
So, what is the limitation presented with fly gear? The reels have equal drags and capacity. If you are fighting from the butt, the rod length isn't relevant. The ultimate strength of the line is the same(unless you fish with 20#+). I think that the flyline dragging through the water would even help to tire the fish.

08-01-2003, 05:57 PM
Sean..the large one can be had... you just have to be patient as you play them...Yes... you have the problem of whether you are over playing them but there is no other way... to get them in... I have relaeased a number of big fish and have no idea whether they survived or not but they still had a good tail kick!

08-01-2003, 06:06 PM
I believe it's very possible, however, I'm not the authority on this one. I think when most consider flyfishing for Stripers we grab an 8,9 or at most a 10wt set up and head for our favorite spot. But to land a monster you need the 12 or 13wt or more and most of us don't target the large fish. Sure, we are allways dreaming of the day but most times severly undergunned.
If you want it you gotta pay, put your time in and target just that which eludes all but the very luckiest, smartest, sleepyest and pigheadedest.
Who do you know that would target a monster with that commitment and stick to it? He would be a better fisherperson than I!
But YES, with the right weapon, I'm sure it can be done!:eyecrazy:

08-02-2003, 10:09 AM
I'm glad you brought this up, because every time I read one of those, " I could never have landed this cow on a fly rod," threads, it drives me nuts.

Several East coast stripers over 40 have been landed from the beach, including that beauty on the cover of Tabory's first book which was the biggest I have been able to confirm at 48lbs.

The thing is, ( As someone else already suggested,) when you are targeting fish over 30 lbs, it is best to leave the 9-weights at home. I think Tabory told me he took the 48 on an 11-weight, ( And he did not take it far from where many of you guys fish.

Think small tarpon gear for big stripers, 10 Kg tippet and no pansy-reels.

The way the striper population is currently going, I believe there will be some 40's and maybe even 50's caught in the next few years from the beach, but probably not on 8 or 9-weights.

08-02-2003, 03:56 PM
You can land Big Bass on the fly, it has been done and will continue to be done. Gear up dramatically for these fish though as you cannot prepare for what you are going to be in for when you hook one of these freight trains with fins. The strength involved with one the real big fish is mind numbing to say the least. I have chosen not to target those real big fish with fly tackle as i don't believe that with any fly tackle you are going to be able to successfully release a 40+ lb. bass.


I'm glad you brought this up, because every time I read one of those, " I could never have landed this cow on a fly rod," threads, it drives me nuts.

I assume that you are referring to me and my remarks regarding my big fish last week. I must qualify my statement by saying that I don't believe that I could have landed that fish on fly tackle and successfully released the fish. I may be wrong and it would not be the first time but I just think to target these huge fish with fly tackle is kind of like taking a slingshot to a gun fight. I must also say that I have limited experience with the real heavy fly tackle and it may be up to the task of landing a really big bass, but it better have enough back bone to handle a ripping current as well as a 45-50 bass that is hell bent on taking you to the cleaners. I have a friend here in CT. who landed a 49 lb. bass 3 years ago on the fly and it took him 10 min. to land the fish on a 10 wt. he was fishing from the shore at night and the water was very shallow.

Mike Mayo

08-02-2003, 05:06 PM
Mike..that was what I was trying to say that if you can hook one from the beach you will not have the need for lifting power as you would from a most of the care in landing such a fish, as with any, even a good 30- 36 incher is to make the surf your tool as well... but care must be taken inbetween waves as the back flow can break off even the smallest fish... The benefit of a big fish in the surf is all it sometimes takes is one or two waves to bring it in since because of it's weight and size it hits the beach bottom faster and will usually stay there even with the back flow... A smaller fish will go back and forth, until you pick the right wave to pull it up far enough to grab and release it... I am not saying to drag it all the way up the beach, but just far enough for you to "safely" handle the fish.

08-03-2003, 06:24 AM
if you want to target BIG bass with a flyrod, i would suggest a 10# minimum....if your shore bound, like myself, i would suggest sandy beaches like those of the national seashore on the cape, rocks and barnacles are not your friend.....late october, early morning dropping tide, large eel fly fished between the can be and is done every me even :chuckle:

08-03-2003, 08:34 AM
Asside from the fact that 10kg tippet is typically the maximum strength that fly fishing gear is designed for, what is the limmitation that fly fishers face that hard tackle guys don't?
Not trying to fight, but I'm really not clear on this.

08-03-2003, 09:36 AM
leverage, and its less of an issue from the surf, in my opinion anyway....

08-03-2003, 11:01 AM
I agree with medic3..lifting power or leverage..but as I have opined... you really don't need it as much in the surf. When fishing from a boat off South beach I will bring my 12 wt... for the lifting power... on the same fish that I would use the 10 weight from shore... that is not to say the 10 is not appropriate for a is.

08-03-2003, 11:33 AM
If you can pull a 40-60lb SBFT off the bottom with a 12wt there shold be no reason why you can't do it with a striper of the same size! No?

08-03-2003, 11:38 AM
Case... right ...again! Also, why risk breaking a fine 10 wt casting tool?

Peter Jenkins
08-03-2003, 12:08 PM

I heard about that bass in CT. I believe he was fishing a river mouth at night. Do you know what fly was used?



08-03-2003, 12:10 PM
I know of at least one guy that fishes the Cape Cod canal with a 12wt. He's been know to catch 30+lb fish in that current. I have no doubt that large fish can be landed from shore on the fly rod. Released after being brought to hand, I'm not sure about that. My current problem is getting the large fish to take my fly so I'll worry about the fight when it comes. Seems that most of the big fish my way are being taken on bait in deep water. I don't think the true monsters get that way chasing silversides around. I'm going to try for some big boys this week on a larger pattern. I've been fishing an area on the outgoing and the last two times out I had a fish well over the 3' mark follow and not take the fly.

08-03-2003, 06:10 PM
Leverage shouldn't be an issue if one fights the fish off the butt.
For instance, if you point the rod at the fish, there is no leverage. If the top 6 1/2' of the rod is soft (for casting), the bottom 3' is stiff for fighting. If one is doing it right, the fighting lever should be very short. That's how I understand it.
I suspect that the real advantage hard tackle has over fly tackle is the higher test line.
Other thoughts?

08-03-2003, 07:16 PM
With conventional gear with bigger fish my first thought is to get them turned and coming my way ASAP. That is more difficult to do with the line clearing issues of fly tackle. That could be a factor in dropping fish on the fly.

08-03-2003, 07:48 PM
The guy was Paul Apuzzo and he caught the fish on either a snake fly or a razzle dazzle. Paul uses those two flies quite often. My memory is fuzzy but I think it was a black snaker. Paul is a great guy and one excellent fisherman with a flyrod. Man is he funny too, I have fished with him several times and I always have a sore belly when I go home.

Mike Mayo

08-03-2003, 08:01 PM
Eddie...I guess lifting power is different from leverage... for example... If I take my rod and tie the line to your hand, point the rod to you, ask you to relax , if I pull, I can pull you off your feet, and you would have difficulty moving your hand around.... now if I move two feet closer to you with the rod slightly bent, you are able to move your hand more freely..... if I move closer so that the rod is significantly bent... you can jerk your hand around with ease... This is why the mistake is made by many fishermen that the more leverage they put on the fish.. that is. more bend on the rod, the more they Might think they are subduing the fact it is the exact opposite... the more bend in the rod, the more the fish is able to fight... You see this on boats all the time... so it is best to bring the fish in from the reel as much as you can with the physical location you are at... I will sometimes drop the rod butt to the boat floor and bring the fish to the side with the least bend I can do. This is what I think you mean from the butt... but it is also from the reel.

Dble Haul
08-03-2003, 09:51 PM
I'm thinking along the same lines here that Eddie is. In the hands of somone who knows what they're doing and fighting a big fish correctly from the butt, there's no real reason why a large striper cannot be fought and landed in a time that is reasonable for its size. Large fish are caught all the time on flyrods, and I'm not talking about stripers....we can follow those examples and see that the proof is in the pudding. It can and does happen. Rods that are matched to the size of the trophies being fished for will help. We don't hunt moose with BB guns, right?

As for big fish and big flies, that's an old addage that doesn't always add up for me. Large flies may catch their share of large fish because they exclude schoolies from even thinking about taking them, but there's been too many times when I've seen and caught larger bass on small flies (and I'm not talking flats situations). Remember, elephants eat peanuts.

08-04-2003, 05:04 AM
Offshore blue water gamefishing with the a flyrod is the next are that is taking off. Every major manufaturer makes a bluewater rod. They are 8and one half feet long and 14 wt. The reason for the short length is to give the angler the advantage in leverage. Billy Pate has landed some very large tarpon using a fly rod it can be done.

08-04-2003, 08:16 AM
Big fish have been landed on flies for a long time. Tarpon over 100lb are no big deal - unless you happen to be the lucky captor! I would consider Tarpon and Giant Trevally coastal gamefish and much as I love stripers - pound for pound there is no match. Big stripers on fly (say over 40lb) are rare but it does happen.

08-04-2003, 08:44 AM
When it comes to shore fishing I think it's safe to say most huge bass (I guess we're talking over 40# here) are taken from the surf. Bass of 20-30# are common on the flats, but you don't see too many 40# out there in 2ft of water. The right time of the year out on the back beaches there are 30# and up pounding bait like schoolies in the slop, gets the blood boiling!

When boat fishing, it sounds to me to be a matter of finding them and getting them to eat. This class of fish tends to hang out on outer rocky reef structures or stay with the acres of bait off the ocean beaches and offshore rips and banks so the boat angler has a distinct advantage in making a presentation to them. I've seen them around the Brewster Islands and other structures in Boston Harbor, giant bass staking out pogies and I am sure eating full blown lobsters and 3 ft eels. I don't pursue these ocean giants very often, opting to spend my time on the flats or outer cape beaches, but if I still had a boat I'm sure the curiosity would kill the cat.

I hope the availability of the easy-casting 11wt two-handed rods tuned specifically for the surf will up the ante for reaching, fighting and landing the big surf bass, at least the 30# class, in an easy and effective manner for the shore trophy hunter. I certainly plan to do some cow-hunting this fall with these rods and hope to get them generally available before the migration begins.

As far as boat angling for huge bass, from the stories I hear it sounds as if the tuna rods people are buying are a good fit for the giant bass too!

08-04-2003, 04:09 PM
Recently moved from California where I beleive most of the freshwater striper IGFA records have been set.....stripers get inadvertantly "stocked" into reservoirs via pumping stations on the spawning rivers, then get HUGE.

It's typical for FFers to fish from Float tubes here, and this was how a number of the records were set....the most remarkable I recall was a 54lber, caught from a float tube...on a 7wt.

So yes, big ones can be caught on fly, and even from a tube...but I don't think the freshwater versions were as strong as their salty cousins.


08-04-2003, 10:29 PM
I think that the Salt water 16 and 20# records were also caught in the Smith river in CA.

08-05-2003, 07:06 AM
Something to think about...I think the 20lb record was only like 33lbs IIRC from looking last night...


08-05-2003, 07:46 AM

I thought some of those records might have come from one of the Oregon estuaries, but it may have been the Smith.

Lots of big fish have come out of the San Luis Reservoir system.

For some examples, you can check out the Photo Album pages at

Biggest pictures is 39lbs. Also caught from a float tube.


08-05-2003, 09:22 AM
Ok, try this out....

An article about the freshwater stripers, a list of freshwater IGFA records and a photo of the 54 lber all on the same site.

Big fish..


Tod D
08-05-2003, 09:54 AM
Hey JimW - where's that spot with the 3' + fish??? ;)

Related articles in the Jul/Aug issue (I think) of "Flyfishing in Saltwater" and and the Sept/Oct issue of "American Angler" on targeting and fighting big fish.

Based upon my recent experiences of the past month or so, I'd be more than happy to share examples of what NOT to do when trying to land large bass...

08-05-2003, 03:10 PM
Tod, we were there not long ago just need to drift a little further. BTW - The larger fly seems to have worked out well. A few inches shy of the 3' mark though. Not a bad morning considering the weather. :rolleyes:

08-05-2003, 03:51 PM
My .02:

If you can land a cartwheeling, thrashing 30# pound salmon in a high gradient river, you should be able to do the same with a striper from the beach. Just have to understand that if you land 1/2 the fish of this size you hook, you're doing pretty well!

08-06-2003, 11:55 AM
Don't mean to sound like a jerk but I have had a number of drunks on the charter boat land forty inch plus fish on 8# test while chumming. Grant it there are few if any snags present(bottom of the boat, and anchor line) but we are still talking about 8# test and some really wasted "gents".