Huge flies for huge fish [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Huge flies for huge fish

10-22-2003, 08:18 AM
I realize this is a relatively new area for most flyfishing venues in the northeast but has anyone had experience with very large flies for use in pursuit of the top end of the age classes in stripers? I am trying to stock up with the most tempting morsels, or should I say missles to entice the biggest of the bad during the migration. I think this is going to last well into November with lots of fish still up on the North Shore.

It's common knowledge that foot-long eel slingers and liveliners using adult pogies have a much higher ratio of big fish per hookup and I am on a mission to change those odds to include the long rodder with the Atlantis rods. I realize that the ratio of overall hookups lowers, as it does with eel slingers and liveliners, but the percentages of legal fish is probably in the 90 plus percent range.

Don't get me wrong I enjoy the spunky little schoolies as much as the next guy but there are definitely times when I would rather just put my time in for a high stakes payoff. Migration is one of those times, spring or fall.

I figure what the heck, I can cast them now :smokin:

I am working on a bigger version of the tube calimari and trying to maximize the bunker pattern to it's limits currently. If you want a real laugh check out my black boa eel pattern, an original :hehe: I will post a pic.

10-22-2003, 08:36 AM
I have been using my own version of a giant deciever for years on the spring herring run. Tied standard style, with the longest deer tail and saddles possible. I've experimented with different hook sizes and found smaller hooks cast better but don't sink well and have lower hooking success. Larger hooks cast like cannon balls and sink much quicker but have good hooking success.
I've often felt the need for even bigger flies, especially back when full grown bunker were the going fare. I never have set upon a useful giant fly bigger than the one described above. At least not one I can cast with the 9 weight Sage.

10-22-2003, 03:50 PM
I've never actually had a taker, but I've had follows from some truly HUGE cows using a footlong bunny fly off the ledges in Maine. I bought a couple of complete hides and cut some nice thick strips to make the fly on a 5/0 hook.

It has amazing action in the water, too bad i casts just like a wet sock.

10-22-2003, 08:40 PM
swing by stetzko's print shop next time you're down. he's got some "chicken" flies hanging from the walls that he swears by.

10-23-2003, 03:57 AM
Awesome idea Jeff! I can pick up that TS plug I want as well.

Squid on a tube is a winner, light and definite presence in the water. The legs and eyes are tied to the end of a plastic tubefly tube and the mantle tied up toward the top end where it's wrapped to the hook shank and finished.

2x big eye baitfish are chunky enough to interest the slabs in the surf. I tied a mack attack, a 10" tinker in the round. The blackboa is almost ready but I am still experimenting with heads for the snake.

Giant banger next...

10-23-2003, 05:12 AM
I would try one of Ken Abrames' Eel Punt flies. Its one of his best patterns in my opinion. Simple, easy to tie and imitates the best bass bait out there the eel. FishHawk:smokin:

10-23-2003, 07:01 AM
I have never tied anything beyond 6 or 7 inches in a bait fish but have tied longer eels. I will look into some patterns this winter.. I can see that large Sedotti Slammers or Trey Combs Sea habit bucktails would make nice LARGE flies. I am wondering though... is it more follows than takes, except when Tony S. fishes for them in the dead of night where size would move more water and cause more a commotion to induce successful strikes?

Dble Haul
10-23-2003, 07:53 AM
Although I have never fished them, some people swear by Bob Popovics' Cotton Candy flies....there long, move water, and are pretty reasonable to cast because of the synthetics used to tie them.

10-23-2003, 08:18 AM
I have a very long, anywhere between twelve and eighteen inches long, horse mack or adult pogie pattern, depending on materials included. Will one of those two-handers throw something that big?

10-23-2003, 08:26 AM
I've tied some buffys ~10" on 6/0 Trey Combs hooks and trolled them from the yak. I've had good luck on 'em in the Spring time. They cast amazingly well for such a large fly but I cannot get enough distance with a 9wt.

10-23-2003, 08:26 AM
Not to be a fly in the ointment but I'm taking big fish on small flies still , yesterday in fact :) :) Saw a whale too!
But the No. Shore is winding down fast. Sporadic small blitzes excepted. Fish are hard to find at this point without some big effort.


10-23-2003, 08:32 AM
Fish right up until the fat lady stops singing, Terry - glad somebody can and is!!!

10-23-2003, 11:27 AM
Sure, I take big fish on small flies all summer long :devil:

When the bait is small, or when the fish are in that feeding groove it's not the size of the fly that takes big fish eating them in fact small flies can be better as you obviously know.

But the fishery and the behavior of the fish is not one-dimensional and we as flyfishers have no problem in the small fly department. The problem lies in the situations presented by spring herring runs up and down the coast, mackeral busting submarines in the Piscataqua, black eel feeding surf monsters on Nauset, and the ones I saw pushing the 14" pogies around last weekend in Stage Inlet. Believe me the small fly guys were scratching for the occasional schoolie or 4 pound blue while the wooden plug anglers, live-liners and eel slingers were culling for 40" fish, which were plentiful (as far as fish of this size can be called that).

My intent is not to argue here, but I do want to make the point that there are some days when big fish on a small fly is the ticket, other days it's a total fluke. Those are the days of which I speak.

I am definitely tuned into small fly fishing particularly on the flats where I spend my whole summer. I have hit 46" on a sand eel thus far and lost some that might have topped that on flies that could just as easily catch a micro. But the fish were eating that way at the time.

The easiest situation by far is when the juvies or tinkers are in town, where the bait brings big fish to eat individuals and the medium-sized flies match the bait perfectly. Gannets are usually around in that situation, and they are around on the beaches right now.

I am not implying that a flyfisher *always* needs to be able to fish big flies to catch big fish. I am however insisting that there are just as many times where he/she must just to be in the game for the cows. There are 40 pounders cruising the coast at certain times of the year. The small fly guys are really not in that game for the most part, and I speak from what I have gathered from my own experiences.

Well, I am just going to have to prove that out somehow :D

10-23-2003, 12:51 PM
Go get them Juro. Don't forget to post a pic! :-)

10-23-2003, 01:25 PM
Hey Craig...Nice pic in your avitar..I remember the day well!

10-23-2003, 02:06 PM
Juro, I'll ask again - will one of those double-handed sticks throw a hank of yak hair or not?

10-23-2003, 02:15 PM

On behalf of Juro, and based on solely limted opportunity to play with one (hopefully soon to be rectified) I would bet that they have the backbone to throw the afformentioned hair and fur concoction over the horizon :D

10-23-2003, 02:25 PM
Dunno -

I'll try it though! :hehe:

Realistically, the truth behind the matter is whether the line/leader can throw the chicken or not, and thus can the rod throw the line to throw the chicken. Furthermore can the angler throw the rod (to throw the line...) without pain and threat of bursitis for a 10-12 hour day?

We've been working backward from the latter to the former, and the experimentation has been very positive. A standard 11-12wt line is less grains than a 7/8 spey line, just to get the comparison into perspective for two-handed casting. It's possible that we could have gone to AFTMA 13-14wt and still had a rod that could be cast for a long day without wearing the caster out, provided the caster is letting the rod do the work.

The rod has been painstakingly refined by CND to throw 11wt and 12wt factory lines (e.g. Wulff 12wt Tarpon and Intermediate Bermuda Triangle WFI), a line that I have found to be able to throw sandwich bags, wads of eel grass and big synthetic flies made of the majority of three hanks of ultrahair, flashabou and aluminum eyes on a Prince 7/0 hook to 80 feet.

I still don't know what the limits of shooting heads, thin running lines, or 35 ft of LC-13 will do, but I did try a 450 grain QD with a short leader and it would lob just about any fly in a bluewater flyshop out into the feeding zones for surf feeding fish.

I don't have a whole hank of yak hair handy but if that's a measure of the rod/line/leader's abilities, let's call it the yak factor and see how many it can cast. If a rod can cast half, we'll give it a yak factor of .5; if it does the whole hank we'll rate it 1.0YF, 2.0, etc. :smokin:

I need to hit the flyshop!

10-23-2003, 02:40 PM
I think what you'd better do before you go assigning a factor to the results is get a look at the pattern! :whoa:

Sounds like I'm gonna hafta send one each to Sir Adrian the Smooth and GamaMukaiSan for testing purposes!

Whaddya think?

(I might even hafta get in on this two-handed stuff with this idea in mind! :eek: )

10-23-2003, 02:47 PM
I am sure... without having done it ...that those rods can throw anything.... Anyway,I use yak hair for my bald spot... salt and pepper color, super glue and I'm off to paint the town red!!!!:chuckle:

10-23-2003, 03:06 PM
Go back to sleep!:chuckle:

10-23-2003, 03:24 PM
Seriously about all this:

- they can definitely throw more 'matter' because they throw more grains for the same or less effort

- they can definitely handle much bigger fish because there is more power available in the rod

- they can definitely throw further for the same amount of energy once the stroke is learned, which is not difficult

- you can throw off either shoulder for a long way, often the whole line so excessive wind is not a big problem

- it's an open door ready to be explored for all it's possibilities... I am sure there will be a whole new suite of flies developed around two-handed surf fly fishing that would have been deemed impractical with a single hander. Who knows what line systems will evolve around it, just look at the Spey rods out west and the explosive evolution of lines and techniques.

From a more local perspective you could look at it this way...

Spin fishers don't have one rod/reel setup, they have at least two - a surf rod for livelining and eeling and a light rod for sluggos, yozuri's, etc. They don't try to throw a pogie on the light spin gear and they don't try to throw a sluggo on the surf rod.

When you think about it, we are all fishing the light spin rod with the virtual sluggo.

This rod is about having a surf fly rod for those times when you want to fish at the next level, a level that clearly exists in the ocean and has some real rewards associated with it for those who want to explore it.

There are certainly limits to what a few hundred grains can propell through the air. It may lead to a comfortably casting 13-14 weight Atlantis in the months to come, who knows. In the other direction we are working on the lighter version that takes the lines you already have, but it will take some time to complete the whole development and testing cycle. The prototype genII casts very well with the 325-350 grain lines already, but the standard intermediate clear tapers that are on the market nowadays aren't very good at loading rods. I suspect that's why most go up to 10wt lines for their intermediate lines on their 9wts.

If nothing else it's an adventure!

10-23-2003, 03:32 PM
Some fo us fish with the virtual 12 inch surface plug too :D

This is very exciting stuff and what better time of year to be experimenting!

10-23-2003, 03:52 PM
I find myself in the unlikely position of being nearly a hundred percent in agreement with Juro here:devil:

The line pretty much dictates what flies can be comfortabley thrown with it. You can go a bit bigger with the two-hander than with a one-hander of equal line-weight, but not gobs bigger. But you can throw a much bigger line with two-hands. How many are comfortable one-hand casting a 12-weight in the surf for a full tide?

Dave, I have a set of 14-weight shooting heads and a rod that might just do the deed. Bring some of those porpoise patterns down and we will give them a go.

Regarding the original question of the post. I have been saying for some time now that one of the most serious advantages of two-handers is that you can more comfortably work bigger lines and flies. Question" Why do those plug guys catch so many more big bass than the fly guys?

I think the answer is that there are not many fly fishermen getting big flies in front of big fish. At least, I am convinced of it.

It will take some more time to prove it, though......

10-23-2003, 04:23 PM
This spring I was fishing the upper bay with Slinger targeting bass that were on full sized pogies. Slinger was using his trusted half and half and I went with a Sedotti Slammer. The results were that I caught fewer fish but much larger ones. I have had this experience enough times to think you do need size when the fish are targeting larger bait. Of course, I have found the same logic applies when they are targeting small baits (small flies). Match the hatch is where I always start. I am looking forward to working the two-hander in the surf. I hope to see a nice hearing run down the RI shore in November and I am guessing big flies will be the ticket.


10-23-2003, 05:33 PM
Those super long flatwings are supposed to imitate larger bait. Do they seem to help to filter out some of the smaller fish and get the attention of the larger fish? Or does it seem like the big fish prefer a bulky fly that moves a lot of water?

Hey Sean, what kind of "twinkie" is that in your avatar?


10-23-2003, 05:43 PM

That is a Wahoo I caught on my honeymoon on traditional gear. The full report is under the blue water board.


10-24-2003, 01:34 PM

Superlong flatwings are one approach but they are designed to be drifted in the current (river or longshore) or worked fairly slowly - usually on floating lines. That way they create the illusion of bulk in the water. Strip 'em fast and you've got yourself a knigsize eel immitation - not the original idea but might also do the trick ;) They do offer the advantage of being a bit easier to cast on a single handed rod.

Big rods offer an additional advantage over pure leverage and distance though - i.e. the additional presentation options the extra length provides - ease of mending & control in heavy surf.

I think there is lots of room for experimentation with both approaches - on/at the surface and down'ndirty.

Bulkier patterns that push water and setup vibes would seem to be an advantage in heavilly roiled/stained water. I would love to try some overgrown variations on the booby theme over the sandbars at dead of night.

See you all tommorow :D

Dble Haul
10-24-2003, 02:02 PM
Overgrown boobies at night? Sounds like a nightclub I used to frequent...

Wish I could join you guys, because Juro definitely piqued my interest with the two handers on South Monomoy. My folks are down this weekend, and I might get my dad out for a while. If you hear screams coming from the shores of Waterford across the state line in CT, you'll know we intercepted some fish.

Have fun, and I hope you get into some fish to boot!

10-26-2003, 07:01 AM
the problem with extra long flatwings like the eel punt is the hackle tends to want to foul around the hook, i personally have a half dozen foot long yak hair eel flies that i throw 50-60 feet with a 450 grain depth charge line with a 10#, best results for me anyway is if you let the loop open up a bit, slow down the casting stroke as if you were chucking nymphs with a few pieces of shot, stiff, short 20-30lb staight leader of about 3' in length....i can't throw it a country mile, but then again, at 4 am the cows are at my feet.....47lbs is my top fish, from terra firma, or at least terra damp.....

10-26-2003, 07:30 AM
as I fish stripers only occasionally. However, this discussion is the same one that plagues pike/musky fly fishermen. Bigger flies = bigger fish. I currently tie a yak pike fly that I call a Yak 9 that imitates a perch or small bass in the 6"-7" range. I'm planning on two flies next season, a 12" musky fly that uses the whole yak hank and a fly I'll call a cross wing for the lack of a better name.

The crosswing is just in the fiddling-about stage but the idea popped up when reading an aerticle in Fly Tyer on flatwings. I'd tie my yak fly but at the mid point, I'll tie ina few saddle hackels i a flatwing config, then continue with the yak over that, producing a + cross section that should give the fly a bulky appearance when viewed from any angle.

10-26-2003, 10:38 AM
Originally posted by medic3
the problem with extra long flatwings like the eel punt is the hackle tends to want to foul around the hook, i personally have a half dozen foot long yak hair eel flies that i throw 50-60 feet with a 450 grain depth charge line with a 10#, best results for me anyway is if you let the loop open up a bit, slow down the casting stroke as if you were chucking nymphs with a few pieces of shot, stiff, short 20-30lb staight leader of about 3' in length....i can't throw it a country mile, but then again, at 4 am the cows are at my feet.....47lbs is my top fish, from terra firma, or at least terra damp.....

medic, are you saying that you have a 47 on the fly?

If so, congrats on that fish and how about some more details, ( Not location-related?)

10-26-2003, 10:55 AM
Good discussion by the Big Fly Buff's, not to be confused with DblHaul's local night spot.
How about posting pictures of those big flies so that the rest of us uninitiated can SEE waht your are talking about?
It could aslo inspire further developments by variations on a given theme. For me, it coud inspire additional Pike patterns.
Friday was likely the last day of Pike fishing for me, weather predictions are for -15Celsius this coming Thursday. We fished with patterns ranging from 4 inches up to 8 inches, all the while trying to keep the presentation depth, area fished etc. the same with different flies. Clearly the larger flies got us the larger flies.
In the spring, it's almost the opposite, smaller flies get larger fish and larger flies either don't work well or only attract smaller fish. I think it is clearly related to both the bait size in each season as well as the feeding habit/purpose/food availability in each season. More hatchlings are around in the spring while more spawing (larger) whitefish are around in the fall. I have very similar experiences with trout, in the fall whne they are beefing up, I find large streamers get more big fish than small nymphs, the reverse applies in the spring.

10-26-2003, 01:16 PM
the fish was caught on the south shore of mass while wading, dropping tide with a low at 6 am. i was fishing with a friend using live eels who landed 3 fish that morning before i hooked up, all in the 30# class, released....i hooked up shortly thereafter, fish took in 3' of water 20 ' in front of me and promptly put me well into the backing, we played give and take for around 15 minutes, although it felt like an hour, and was finally able to ease it into the wash were it was landed, weighed on friends scale and quickly released, she swam off slowly and hopefully is alive and well today....and it was the end of october, 38 degrees out with a hard west wind which was helpful with casting. I think the eel is your best bet for imitating a large bait, not bulky and wind resistant, and the cows love 'em.... my biggest is 54, on a live eel, before i was introduced to the long wand....oh, and that fish went back too....

10-28-2003, 08:40 AM
I've been busy with some important home repairs of late, and didn't get time blocked out to make a few of these for distribution. What I hope to get done in the next week or so is a few, to be sent to Juro, Adrian, Jay and Striblue - Juro and Adrian, 'cuz they're seemingly best equipped, logistically, to give them a run south of here; Jay and John, 'cuz they have photo abilities (if not time to fish as well) that I don't, and maybe they'd photo and post the thing so we could give a look-see all around - that's the best I can offer for the moment.

P.S. - I think I have to modify it a bit, based on what Jay threw in.

10-28-2003, 11:08 AM

Nice fish period, especially on the fly and especially in my neck of the woods.:D Were you using an eel imitation?