Necessary striper flies [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Necessary striper flies

03-22-2004, 10:02 AM
Two thoughts/ questions:

Wanted to see what others think about this. Reading an article about Andy Mills and hist tarpon obsession and what I found most interesting was that he uses something like only 4 or 5 different flies. His reasoning being the action of the fly is more important then the duplication of various prey...

Thinking about stripers & the other salt fish I target has me considering simplifying my fly boxes.

There is always the discussion every spring about what flies you should have but it seems, at least in my case, to become a rather long list.


#2 Anyone use a Catherwood style/ spun deer hair type fly regularly? I've used some mumichog patterns that I copied from Capt. Todd a few years ago but never any of the larger baitfish imitations. Just questioning the effort vs. success ratio for a fly that takes me 15 minutes to tie.



03-22-2004, 11:44 AM
Good topic Roop.

No experience with Catherwood flies from me. But I want to chime in anyway.

I too have been wondering about a simpler fly box of late. I think that I would catch just as many fish with a simpler assortment in my box.

However, I can remember a time at Minister's Point in late May when yellow over white clousers were outfishing olive over white clousers 2:1. There is evidence of color differentiation.

I also recall a very frustrating day in my float tube when schoolies were crashing all around me for 30 minutes and not touching my offerings. They were on sporadic schools of silversides and I had nothing but medium to large sized flies. So size is an issue too - as you know.

So, lately I have been tying simple deceiver/slammer and clouser patterns along with some small silverside and bunker patterns and then calling it a day.

I am not a true flats rat though.

My 2 pesos.


03-22-2004, 12:06 PM
Jeff... keep in mind that for tarpon the only real significant imitation is the Paolo Worm, so there is not a lot to choose from anyway... and all tarpon flies 'usually" have the same action.I will carry only the crab apple, two kinds of shrimp flies... a ton of Juro's deep eels in various sizes and colors and a few feather brain bait fish... and That's my summmer box.

03-22-2004, 12:59 PM
I'm all about the less is more principle for a number of reasons. But there's need, and then there's WANT. Sometimes I want to play around with funky stuff out there. Fishermen are Jekyl and Hyde when it comes to want and need.

I believe you need less flies once you've narrowed down success factors to focus on even more important considerations for catching fish than the fly itself. 5 patterns sounds like a good number - maybe a couple of each pattern in case the blues show up. For each venue: inshore boating / estuary / flats / rips / surf - there is a different 5. You need even less than 5 if you keep them tuned into what's happening out there. A bunker will get it done in early September. A sand eel will get you what you need in late May, etc.

Hooyeah did you see how that thing ate that popper?!? Who woulda thunk the red yarn would fool that 40" into thinking it was a seaworm? Man they loved my see-thru flounder that day! Juvie squid did the deed! That bunker fly was as big as he was! etc.

To cope with this dillema, I tend to carry an all-around flybox and one of several specialized boxes suited to the day. I carry the all-around in the backpack and the specialized one in my chest pack front. I rarely reach for the backup.

Bill's "killers" live up to their name in the surf and boating boxes, and Borski's sliders (what Tod used before his flatwing commitment) are a must in the flats kit especially for the early part of the season. Deerhair heads push water and that turns stripers on for sure. The resistance also creates a more distinct stop and start when strip retrieved, which is another trigger. They're all great flies if they feed the hunger of an angler's Mr.WANT and fit the sensible side, Dr.NEED perfectly at a given place and time.

It's all good!

03-22-2004, 01:05 PM
I fish with the same Captain every year in the Keys (tarpon). He is considered one of the top guys down there. 90% of the time, we are fishing the same fly(same pattern, size and color). It is a 2/0 traditional style tarpon fly on an sc-15 hook. We have had many discussions about this. The thing that gets me is that the Stu Apt style fly is not really an imatation of anything. A little shrimp, lobster, baitfish, squid all mixed together. His theory (no one can know) is that the fish are migrating to and from spawning. The fish aren't hungry. Like a salmon or steelhead, they strike out of instinct and aggravation. The fly we fish works most of the time. It is not imatating anything. I like the link to flyfishing tradition where the angler triggers the strike (as opposed to feeding hungry fish).
I know that anglers fishing for laid up, resident fish in stained water have been having good luck with Puglisi style imitative flys. Ocean side it seems to be a different game.
As for striper flys, I have bought and tied so many different patterns. My boxes are filled with flys that I have fished once (or not at all!). Kind of like finding a CD that still has the wrapper on it. "That fad went quick!".
I mostly fish clousers, bucktail decievers and little craft fur flys. Deepeels on the cape.
I will mess around with others, but I go back to those few patterns. The craft fur ones take too long to tie, but they have beautiful action.
I would like to fish more shrimp, crab and bigger flatwing style flys.

03-22-2004, 01:36 PM

I'm down to:
- Juro's eels is several sizes/ color
- some squid flies
- some large herring flies & mackerel flies
- Capt. Stan's craft fur silver side, peanut bunker & sand lances
- clousers
- some of the pencil foam poppers
- deer hair head night flies
- and the big solid orange or solid white Slick Willy flies

If they won't take those I'll throw something LIVE with a 6/0 Gammy at 'em...:devil:

RE: Tarpooon food - I disagree that they only eat paolo worms but having only 2 outings under my belt I will let it lie at that.

03-22-2004, 02:15 PM
Yes Jeff... I should have said that it is the predominent bait, not the only.

03-22-2004, 03:56 PM
For stripers...where I fish.

Deep eel clousers in colors ranging from chartruese to tan over white with a few strands lavender or pink down the middle.

Half and Halfs, same colors but mostly with thin chartruse grizzly hackles.

Clouser's on a offset hook (seagaurd 413 I think). Got one of these in one of the raffles last year and it was a killer.

Pretty boring but never did anything with any of the other flies other than small fish.

Like every year, I plan on trying something different this year.

03-22-2004, 06:10 PM
For 80% of the fish I catch:
Clousers style in various hook sizes and colors with different weight lead eyes, tied sparsely are my "go to flies", when not on the flats.

For 15% of the stripers I catch;
Flat wings and epoxy sand eel/lance patterns

For the remaining 5% of the stripers:
Crabs, shrimp, or herring patterns

Depth and presentation of fly seem to have the most to do with catching, if the pattern is reasonably close. Fish on the flats seem to be more particular.

Let me know how the "organization" works, I tend to tie new stuff all winter and end up fishing what has worked in the past!


03-22-2004, 06:28 PM
If there is one thing I miss from the East Coast it is the striper fishing. Living in the North West sure has its benefits and catching steelhead is one of them. However, I yearn for the authoritative hits that come with some stripers and blues.

I had pretty much two flies that I used religioulsy and they never ever let me down. One was a bunker looking fly and the other a half and half clouser. Though for fat alberts in RI, the ever popular bunny belly anchovie. So, that made three flies that I used on every venture. The anchovie is also good if not great for stripers.

I did most if not all my striper fishing in the Salem Mass area and in Maryland at Solomons Island and Pax River NAS. Nothing like catching stripers and blues amid the screaming F-18's of Pax River.

I will be travelling back to MD in May to visit the parental units and hope to get in some good striper fishing somewhere between MD and MA. If anyone wants to show an old Maryland redneck where the hot spots are now, I would be more than welcome to suggestions and even hooking up to wet a line.

03-22-2004, 06:36 PM one has mentioned Ray's Fly....found it to be a killer in May. About 3 to 4 inches long and only 15 minutes to tie. Versatile as it can mimic a baitfish or sandeel. Have also tried with equal success a variation of Ray's fly....instead of wrapping silver mylar on the shank, I used silver flexcord.....used a length about 1/4 too long, then pushed it back to create a "belly".....then frayed about 2 inches of the flexcord beyond the bend. One heck of an attractor! At least last spring it was.

03-22-2004, 07:08 PM
The paolo worm is not the primary bait for tarpon. They eat everything and anything that they can grab. There is a worm hatch in the spring, that tarpon seem to key on, but when I asked my captain about it, he said he'd never even seen one. There are few captains that spend more time on the water than this guy. I think that he said it was more of a Key West thing.
I am no expert, so if some one knows more, please share.

03-22-2004, 09:04 PM
Ron, I've got to put Ray's fly as a must have, simple to tie and it works great. The Rhody flatwing is another favorite of mine as it the bonito bandit and........

You get the idea, I've got way too many patterns, a lot of which have never caught a fish, but I enjoy trying new things. This year I hope to mess around with droppers if I can keep the darn things from tangling as I execute a text book tailing loop cast.

Roop, I have done well with snake flys at black at night, chartuse(sp?) with gold flash in daylight when the water is on the murky side.

John Desjardins
03-22-2004, 09:14 PM
This thread is an interesting read. I'ts always interesting to see what flys people have confidence in.

03-22-2004, 10:32 PM
"The Paolo worm is not the primary bait for tarpon"

I guess I need to be more specific when I say something.... and not be so causual in my descriptions since I get jumped on once again with being wrong or too cavalier in my use of words... except to say...

" Stu has named his fovorite pattern the Apte tarpon fly. He prefers the red and yellow color combination because he believes that ,' this particular pattern.... stirs the tarpon's memory of his favorite food, the palolo (red) worm.' " From Ken Bay's Book on Saltwater Flies.'s not primary...not predominant... but according to Apte...his favorite. Things are getting to technical on the board . But then I don't have my own captain to ask.

03-23-2004, 06:15 AM
My go to Spring fly is the Tuttie Fruity Clouser. All it is a pink and chartreuse Clouser which has been a real killer for me. Gartside soft hackle and Ray's fly are next. But when you come right down to it I'll go with the pink Clouser every time. In the summer the Well Diggers fly is also in my box.

03-23-2004, 06:29 AM
Originally posted by FishHawk
My go to Spring fly is the Tuttie Fruity Clouser. All it is a pink and chartreuse Clouser which has been a real killer for me.

Is that pink over chart., or chart. over pink? :p

03-23-2004, 07:22 AM
John, I hope you jokin', but I don't see no smilies...:)
So many "go to flies". No wonder my box is full. Confidence would seem to be one of the most important features of a fly.

03-23-2004, 08:29 AM
John - you're our favorite tyer, no one has a beef with you.

Maybe mullet, crabs, sardines, pinfish, pilchards and paolo worms but definitely no beef ;)


Tod D
03-23-2004, 03:31 PM
"Just questioning the effort vs. success ratio for a fly that takes me 15 minutes to tie..."

Reading this as I take a break from a Steve Farrar-inspired fly that has been taking, on average, 1-2 hours to tie and I've yet to fish... Looks like a son-of-a-gun in the tub though.

03-23-2004, 05:16 PM
That's a good point, regarding tying time vs. effectiveness. If I had to choose the fly that was most effective for the time it takes to tie, I'd say it was a clouser. Vary the eye weight and lengthen or shorten the overall length, tie it sparse or heavy-bodied, it's all relatively quick (10 minutes or so per fly) and catches quite a few fish.

03-23-2004, 06:48 PM
Effectiveness vs effort... Clouser hands down. I can tie one of them in half an hour.

03-24-2004, 08:31 AM
let me think... :confused: ok, these are my flies when I go light:

1. snake fly (white)

2. bunny flies (various, but mostly white)

3. Ray's flies

4. deep eel

5. clouser (olive/white and chart/white)

but, I must admit... I hardly ever go light

:devil: :hehe:

Tom D

03-24-2004, 08:44 AM
I've got 2 boxes, one for the flats and one for the boat.

The flats one contains nothing larger than a size 2 sand eel in the usual colors. That and a couple crabs, shrimp and micro sand eel imitations tied on size 6 hooks. Maybe a small gurgler or 2.

Boat box is full of angel hair patterns, half and halfs, hi-ties and bangers up to size 4/0. I don't tie anything that takes more than 15-20 minutes not including drying time.

03-26-2004, 09:59 PM

In order of success:

1. Clouser with small eyes tied very sparsely with white/green yak hair

2. Various flatwings (maybe the best non-weighted fly ever...just as a joke, I threw these at the Connetquot at trophy trout and darned if I didn't get two MONSTER trout to take...they both broke my tippet, though....I couldn't believe it, then i thought that these ones must have been to sea...a whole other mystery)

3. Clouser as above, but with rabbit strip on top (was most effective on blues)

4. Trio of panfish poppers (was killing on the schoolies on Roosevelt island last fall

5. That orvis eel pattern with a black cloth tubular body and red hourglass eyes

6. Hook with brass painted hourglass eyes and nothing else. I used this as a dropper and got more than a few fish on it. I wrapped the shank with kevlar thread to simulate a lateral line. When there were sheets of glass minnows, this one worked.

I go for inner-city fish, so I must sometimes use innercity flies. I tied a small plastic baby doll (1" long") to an expensive Orvis "X" point hook and kept the thing in my fly box for two seasons until I happened upon a pod of bluefish in northern battery park city. I threw the thing and a small blue ate the thing, bit through my leader (didn't have time to do the wire thing) and descended into the depths with my babydoll fly.

My next ghetto-fly will be one of those bloody severed fingers they sell at magic stores. I look forward to a product season on this fly. Orvis will be picking up this pattern for fishing the Gowanus.



Bob Pink
04-03-2004, 03:53 PM
Intersting to see the Tutti-Fruitti come up here as a NE striper fly! Roopster can remember us tying them in the room at Harkers Island after seeing first-hand how the albies smoked 'em when they were on the silversides. I kept forgetting to put that box on-board last season to try them up here....!
Jeff, the only large spun deer hair flies I do anymore are the White Death ( with color variations as mood and available materials dictate ). It's not a tightly packed a head as a Catherwood and the bodies are much sparser, almost flatwing style.