Herring hope with the two-hander [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Herring hope with the two-hander

02-08-2004, 09:03 AM
Like I've said I got the Atlantis prototypes too late for the herring runs last year, but here's the annual situation I face. I've brought some of you to these locales so you know it's true.

There are places in spring where the herring are at a disadvantage at certain tides and the biggest baddest bass in the vicinity set their watches by it. The live-liners throw out live herring and I have never seen one come back without a cow attached to it in years of fishing this situation provided it's within the time frame when it peaks each year. They are playing catch and release with 25-35 pound stripers while the fly guys are trying to buy a schoolie.

The humble fly rodders, often referred to playfully by surf rodders as "sissy sticks" are barely able to participate in this as the flies are too small, the casting distance too short, the current too fast, everything is pointing away from success for the single-handed short rodder.

My mission in this time frame this year is to be at the side of these live-lining cow bangers throwing foot long herring imitations as far as possible to maximize the swim time in these currents, 120 or more feet. I want the flies to look good enough to eat and have a lot of action just being held under tension like a live herring. I might not have a cow on every cast like these guys but damn it I am going to get the herring eating cows on the fly this spring and I am going to be able to because I am throwing 600 grains and foot long herring flies ridiculous distances and maximizing the time the fly undulates in the current above the shallow water where these huge bass come each year to attack the herring.

Once satisfied, I will proceed to the migration stake-outs on the outer beaches that are like the ones I've already found but in places people don't go. Of course there are always locals who know about everything, I fully expect to run into Tony Stetzko fishing in even the most remote places for instance, but all in all the spring migration is not well understood by fly anglers and it's among the most amazing fisheries going.

The game here is dealing with surf and throwing consistently over 100 ft. Rarely do the migrant pods wander inside the turbulence zones causes by wave action. This is a challenging cast but well within the capabilities of the Atlantis.

I did have the prototypes in time to catch a lot of migratory activity last year, and it made a big difference. The hardest part is to stay relaxed enough to reach the fish once you realize they are there. I still get the jitters and buck fever, but that's half the fun.

Anyway, April is near. I can just smell the pungent tide now.

02-08-2004, 09:30 AM
there are a few spots bayside that would be good too. I'll be ouit ther early may.

02-08-2004, 09:33 AM
Juro...do you think I can tie up a big Feather brain fly with THREE spreaders.... to minimic the size and proportions your long rod might accomodate????????

02-08-2004, 10:11 AM
I'd love to try it!

Bob Popovic gave me some great advice at the Danbury show per that technique. I thing combining with the feather back is a great approach.

In addition to the mono extension technique Bob Popovic uses, I also want to try a 'jointed' tube extension to extend the herring to full length while retaining action just for giggles.

The spot I am talking about is a 'swing' fishery even for the live bait guys. The fish come into this hole as the tide puts them there and the herring are at a disadvantage and the meelee beings. It only lasts about 3 weeks and those weeks vary each year by as many as 10-15 days.

Eddie -

I know some spring ambush spots for the Brewster runs as well which light up once the fish are coming through the canal and showing at that herring run, it;s time for me to hit these bayside holes near the Stony Brk runs with big flies. From a boat the two-hander wouldn't be necessary if you have a 10wt line or better, but from the shore it would be a big plus from the vantage points I know because of current and coverage advantages with FSF (full size forage) flies.

Will you have your boat?

02-08-2004, 10:18 AM
Juro...I will tye a FB with a 50 pound mono extention and make it about 10 inches long... I will build up the inside to make a well proportioned bait fish or herring for that size...stay tuned... If you think it's right I will then tye up several.

02-08-2004, 10:44 AM
Juro -- A long, herring colored flatwing is tailor made for the kind of fishing you're describing, I'd think. 12 inches is nothing, they're easy to cast, you can layer in all those funky iridescent colors, and -- contrary to some concerns-- they don't foul if tied properly. Plus, they work best when you just keep tension on the line and let the currents do their thing. Also, if you hollow-tie up a longer shank hook, you can get a very full translucent profile. If you're interested, PM me and I'll send you a couple to test out. Of course, there will be a quid pro quo, like maybe FULL DISCLOSURE of where the cows are grazing ....


02-08-2004, 11:17 AM
I like flatwings for sand eel imitations when they are shoaling off the bottom, but for herring with all due respect I don't think they will fool these fish into thinking they see a herring. What I mean is they are 12-15 year old brood fish who come to these spots each year and they know a live herring when they see one, believe me. It boggles my mind that so many big fish are sitting right there within 200 feet of shore and only the live herring guys are getting them with any consistency. I've caught 38" bass from the spot but most are 24-28" as opposed to the occasional 45" that the herring guys are getting standing right next to me. The plug guys are only getting the smaller fish with consistency as well, but they do get more cows because of casting distance and % time of the lure in the water.

I appreciate the suggestion but I think it's going to take a fly that is so close to a real herring in shape, color, size of eyes, action, etc - that the only thing missing is the smell.

Flatwings are gorgeous flies and deadly but I can't see one being mistaken by these fish for a herring, IMHO.

Then again if you are convinced then I WILL take you out there to test this theory out... I'll fish the herring fly, you fish the flatwing and we'll see what happens. I've been wrong before and am open to learning new tricks!

02-08-2004, 12:01 PM
I agree

What I mean is they are 12-15 year old brood fish who come to these spots each year and they know a live herring when they see one, believe me.

I had the same experience this past season while catching the monsters in CT. on live lined shad. I spent countless hours throwing HUGE flies tied by a friend that looked very much the same as a shad, in both profile and size, but I could not fool these behemoths at all. They are smart and did not get as big as they are by being foolish. I think you are on the right track and if you hit it right I know these fish are catchable on the fly. I am going to be back at it again this season at the same spot I was at last season and will have a variety of large fly imitations to try again. I was using a 650 gr. and the flies I was using were every bit 14-16" in length. On the 12 wt. I was using casting them was not an issue and being in the boat was an advantage. The biggest problem I ran into was getting the fly down to where these fish were holding, the water depth was 20-40 ft. and there is significant current so getting the fly down was an big issue. By the time I could get it down to the depth these fish were at it was usually too late and I had already drifted past them. My experience with these fish was that they were holding tight ot structure deep on the reefs and would not chase and follow very often unless there were other fish competing for the same food. I found that when successful at getting the fly down to them a very fast strip accompanied by a sudden stop usually elicited the best response. I am excited to get back out there again this year and give it another try it will be fun to try and figure out the most productive way to fool these sly and wary fish.

Mike M.

02-08-2004, 03:11 PM
As of this morning it looks a little chilly to be thinking about herring in creeks feeding Stony Brook. Sure hope the ice is gone by mid May.

02-08-2004, 03:24 PM
FRED! Is that a ribbon of liquid water I see? drooooooool! :chuckle:

Looks like we could walk to Billingsgate!

02-09-2004, 06:01 AM
Funny you should mention Herring Flies. Sat. while in Natick Outdoors store I saw a large fly tied by Dave Skok which would be just the ticket. It's a large Yak Hair Herring pattern which is just awesome. Must have been at leat 10" or longer. Very light weight and tied on a circle hook. Capt. Gill Burke works at the store so he could help you out on this one.

02-09-2004, 09:42 AM

I am up for the flatwing test - and any other BIG patterns ...:D

I would love to get someone with scuba and an underwater cam to catch some film of big bait immitations swimming alongside the real thing. I think the results would send a lot of flytyers back to the drawing board.

That said, results are what counts in the final analysis. With the right gear, we are at least in with a chance of making a good presentation.

Bring it on!

02-09-2004, 10:12 AM
I ran into Slinger yesterday at a local shop and we had a discussion regarding this type of fishery and bass behavior. He mentioned a few things he gleaned from his experience livelining that makes it very tough to fool these fish with a fly. The one that struck me the most was that the bass often rub up against the herring. This allowed them to pick out the weaker fish by smell and feel. In this regard I don't see how a flat wing could ever reproduce the natural in those circumstances. Not sure if a thinly tied bucktail will do the trick either. Seems to me that when the bass are that selective your best bet may be a silicone or some type of fly with body to at least get the feel down. Then I would run the fly through as many schools of herring as possible to get the scent down!!! Any thoughts?


02-09-2004, 12:01 PM
I was thinking of wading but I could bring the boat down if I had a place to park the trailer/boat over night. My inlaws place in tight to pull into.

02-09-2004, 01:52 PM
I've watched stripers rub up against livelined herring and bunker but got the impression it was because the fish was not big enough to eat the bait.

In fact on a recent trip to Billingsgate on a friend's boat a guy was livelining right next to us as we set up for another drift with our fast sinking lines in 14ft of water, sand eels everywhere in the water glistening and plenty of striper action. Lots of good fish that day but nothing huge. I looked over to see a bass appearing to be mating with the herring, not big enough to eat it. The bass stayed with it for several minutes, I was tempted to cast to it.

Instead I yelled over to tell the guy what was happening. I don't think he believed me, judging by the look on his face.

FWIW my opinion is that fishing does not occur in a vaccum, a bass's view of a fly depends on the situation at hand. For instance, when the pod goes on the blitz they are revv'ed up to a frenzied pace and their perspective can be blurred. I've purchased a variety of little figurines at the craft store to tie onto a hook and catch a striper on them during blitzes to prove to myself how insignificant the fly can be during such times. Still searching for a small Tickle me Elmo.

When they are stalking tidbits on a flat, they have a different perspective. Do they care about things like color and profile? OH Yeah they do. Position, depth, movement, among many other factors as well.

I don't use chum or scent to trick 'em - that's not fly fishing to me. Success is about putting two and two together - when the fish's perspective and your offering align, you get the grab.

My point with herring flies (I have particular situations in mind) is that they are much more suitable to these big fish's perspective than the flies 99.9% of the fly guys are using during the spring herring runs.

It's not in and of itself the solution, but it's an important ingredient. The most important factors are in the thinking that the angler does, much more so than the tools he uses.


02-09-2004, 01:57 PM
"I've purchased a variety of little figurines at the craft store to tie onto a hook and catch a striper on them during blitzes to prove to myself how insignificant the fly can be during such times. Still searching for a small Tickle me Elmo."

I've heard of guys using "hookless" Barbies on a spinning rod to do the old bait-and-switch, cast-a-fly-at-the-lit-up-bluefish routine. What kind of action do you think she has in the water? Maybe "Baitfish Barbie" is a good marketing idea?

02-09-2004, 02:58 PM

I was just kidding on the scent. I guess that got lost in the internet translation.

As for the rubbing I have not witnessed it myself so I will have to wait to give a more meaningful opinion on it. I have however seen Bass nudge green crabs in the estuary/salt pond environment before they inhaled it. These may have been the same fish that were fooled by my fly previously:tsk_tsk: .

I agree that a larger fly is definitely moving in the right direction and have proven that fact on more than one occasion when fish were on larger bait. My biggest fish was taken when they were on hearing and I upsized the fly. I just wasn't sure if maybe when the fish are offered the large amount of bait in the runs you would need to provide some texture with the size. Just food for thought.


02-09-2004, 04:37 PM
A good friend that spent countless years catching Stripes on the backside beaches determined that broken back rebels definitely were nudged to the side by Stripers that had interest. The hard part is figuring out how to catch them when they are in that mood.

steve moore
02-11-2004, 09:32 PM
Hey Juro: Here's a large herring fly I've had good luck with during the spring run. I spent alot of time looking at the coloring of the real things before I came up with this one. It measures about 13-14 inches long.


02-11-2004, 09:48 PM
WOW - the question is how do I get a few of 'em? :)

I count at least 12 components not including the hook and eyes... what would we have to do to get you to teach this pattern at one of the tying get-togethers?

02-11-2004, 11:26 PM
Just out of curiosity, what would you estimate the cost of materials for one of these flies to be? I mean, it doesn't really matter, but I was just wondering.

Doc Duprey
02-11-2004, 11:30 PM
Awesome fly, Capt. Steve! Let me add my voice to asking for the instructions on how to tie!


count me in for the southern part of the herring fly research project. It seems that the bays around Joisey have pretty good numbers of the blue-backed darlin'sand I want to see what afew good, big patterns can do on the early cows.

Come on down!

Best regards,


02-12-2004, 06:38 AM
Awesome tie Capt Steve. Wonder if you could post the recipe.
Great job.


steve moore
02-12-2004, 09:57 AM
That scan is not the best as it doesn't really show all the colors you see when you look at the fly in person.

To answer some of the questions, it's probably about $3-$4 worth of material and includes:

1 hook
2 eyes
1 small bunch of superhair
5 colors of mirror image fibres (white, gray, purple, yellow and black) blended with the Megamushy where appropriate
3 colors of Mega Mushy (silver, purple, pink)
some softex and some head cement
clear mono thread

The trick is getting the blend to look natural and to show all the colors that appear on a river herring on their way up to spawn. In my observations I've noticed the pinks, purples and yellows really stand out on the herring as they move upstream in areas where large bass wait in ambush, especially early mornings when the sun is just coming up and the fish light-up with those first rays. I tried to mimick that look as best I could.

02-12-2004, 02:32 PM
That's one of the nicest kinky fibre flies I have seen in awhile.
I'lll have to try to copy that this weekend.
Have you tried putting the eye further back?
Do you think the eye position really mattters?

02-12-2004, 02:53 PM
Having offered one of my ultra-light big flies to Juro... I'm begining to suspect that this is all just another clever chess-player like ploy for him to get his hands on as many big flies as possible.

No flurry of srping tying for Juro - :devil:

steve moore
02-12-2004, 02:56 PM
Doug: Those eyes are epoxied on right behind the hook eye. I've always believed bass aim for the eye so I always try to position them right above the hook point. I suppose you could move the eyes back but then you'd have a much bigger epoxy head and it would increase the weight and may mess up the action. Affixing eyes with things like Goop, superglue or Softex always seems to result in the eyes eventually falling off. Usually that happens right about the time the big slobs show up and you end up tying on a fresh fly with eyes just to better your chances. I hate that.

02-12-2004, 03:20 PM
No weights in those flies? No nosecones? Rattles? Anything? They probably fly better without the weight and the 600 grain would/ should take em down. Last winter I tied some with weights for the Merrimack.
Problem is last season I saw no need to fish north of PI sound, so I never made it. I should try and dunk them in front of Pavillion on the outgoing next spring.


02-12-2004, 06:57 PM
Thanks, Steve!

02-13-2004, 06:42 AM
Capt Steve , a suggestion on the eyes. When Bob Popovic ties his Hollow Fly he uses stick on eyes that have little tags on them which he ties in with thread. Then on top of these eyes he glues on his larger eyes. A neat solution to the problem . However, I have not seen those eyes in any of the fly shops around here.
Down In Trout the fly shop in Joisey has them. Thanks for posting the pattern.

03-14-2011, 10:32 AM
Reviving an old post, Juro just how did you ever make out with this endeavor?What fly did you settle on? (Glad to hear your family are okay)

03-14-2011, 10:40 AM
Thanks Paul - my relatives are safe so far, but the country is in bad shape and they need to get those nukes cooled down asap!

The research bore fruit, in fact I caught some of the biggest bass of my life using the Atlantis and some huge finfish patterns but the only consistency I had was at night, and in certain locations.

Ironically, these were locations where the fishing pretty much sucked all day, and also if not for the plug guys fishing swimmers there I would not have stayed long enough to hit paydirt myself.

Conclusion: It wasn't so much the fly as it was the situation, and profile of the fly against the sky, swing of current, and presence of big fish in the mood.

Despite the size of the fish, and the potential for a true trophy sized fish I much preferred to sleep in and hit the flats on broad daylight for 32-42 inch fish instead.

I am a flats-fisher and a rip-digger at heart, and so I'll have to wait until the behemoth comes to my playground instead :p

03-14-2011, 11:11 AM
[QUOTE=juro]Thanks Paul - my relatives are safe so far, but the country is in bad shape and they need to get those nukes cooled down asap!

I don't want to even think about the dire ramifications if they don't get those nukes under control. I hope and pray things take a turn towards the better.

"Conclusion: It wasn't so much the fly as it was the situation, and profile of the fly against the sky, swing of current, and presence of big fish in the mood."Quote.

That's pretty much what I've found in my quest to match what I've caught with the conventional rod with the 2 hander ,night time makes it a little more easier to fool that wily old big girl. To match a fly with a real herring is a daunting task,the cover of darkness give us a slight chance.The silhouetted profile of the fly against the sky is extremly important,as most stripers in this situation attack from below,this is when the stunning tail slap usually happens.Find fish in a feeding mood and your odds increases in fooling these fish.It's amazing how the current swing can change how a fish reacts ,what happens during a certain stage of tide may not be replicable a hour or so later,never mind the next night.

03-14-2011, 01:27 PM
I've put a lot of hours into it, and I know you have so I would say that our conclusions match up to some sound evidence.

So if anyone wants to hook a real pig on a fly get out there at night. And leave the flats work to me :lildevl: