Flats Logic - Summary [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Flats Logic - Summary

04-09-2004, 10:40 AM
Thanks all for putting up with my antics. I hope that the exercise brought out some new thinking among the people who were kind enough to play along.

Here is the overall summary of my flavor of "flats logic" (striped bass on northern flats):

1) presence of fish

If there are no fish present, game over. Move or come back at the right time.

If fish are present... 2) are they in the 'mood'?

If not in the mood, game over. Find other fish.
You're better off spending your time finding out where/when
will they be in the mood at this tide for future reference.

If fish are in the mood - fish on! Presentation, fly
matter less as the mood improves.

If they are kinda sorta in the mood... (see next)

3) is presentation correct?

If incorrect, game over. Try again.

If presentation correct... (see next)

4) what fly will work?

We are finally at the point where the fly makes a difference. Yet so much of fly fishing is centered around the fly. If everything is correct up to this point, changes to the fly become really influential. If not, well it's not much more than a means of putting faith back in the angler, which isn't a bad thing but it's not a concrete means to finding success.

What I am hoping to share through this exercise is the logic that has yielded me great results on the flats.

Good fishing!

(I will draw the two winners from a hat)

Doc Duprey
04-09-2004, 10:46 AM
Juro, et al.

Please keep up the discussion! It is like sitting in on a graduate level seminar in Striperology! I think a lot of us are finding it to be a great help in our learning, as well as being quite enjoyable.

Thanks to all.

Best regards,


04-09-2004, 03:20 PM
Hey Doc when are you coming up this way to try out all of your winter flatwing creations? FishHawk:D

04-09-2004, 06:27 PM

I think you and I have had this disussion before but I think the right fly is sometimes directly linked to getting the right presentation. You just can't get a flat wing down if the fish are keyed in on the bottom or get a rays fly to swim like a crab. The color or finer points of the fly as you point out are certainly my last concern but in order to present the fly the way I want to I have to choose the right one.


04-09-2004, 06:38 PM
Awesome point Sean -

The lines are certainly fuzzy between presentation and fly, they are indeed closely related. I fish flies with the point up a lot on the flats because of this very reason.

I also recall a frosty beer, late night fly tying as part of this discussion too.

Those good times are ahead just around the corner again!!!

04-09-2004, 06:56 PM

Good times for sure. I landed a new job in RI so the wife and I were house hunting along the shore today. I foresee a lot more time on the water this season and a full house when the Albies show up:devil: .


Dble Haul
04-09-2004, 09:36 PM
Juro, thanks for your ongoing series of questions and answers. They've been great to get the juices flowing for the upcoming season, and we can all stand to learn more or reinforce what's already learned.

Sean- Good luck with house hunting on the RI coast...just make sure you get a pullout couch that can fit a tall person. :devil: :D

04-10-2004, 12:08 AM
I'll be happy to camp in the yard if the neighbors don't mind!

04-10-2004, 05:26 AM
Sean, You haven't taken a tour of Southern RI unless you take my tour.:D , from Napatree to Charlestown, surf, boat, ponds or breechways, been there done that. Good fishing without the bumper to bumper traffic.:chuckle:

04-10-2004, 06:50 AM
J - that was a great tutorial - Sean was too fast on the keyboard to beat + his growing knowledge/ abilites will continue to make him an angler to stalk on the flats

Personally, I think these kind of topics seperate this board from the What fly, what rod, where do I go, name my boat threads all too common now a days.

Keep it going.


04-10-2004, 07:19 AM

I agree with Roop. Great threads with some really informative feedback from other contributors. It is great to learn more about your opinions and the opinions of others.


A small bedroom for me in your new house would be much appreciated.

Thanks for your understanding,

Mike "Sean's new roommate"

04-10-2004, 10:02 AM
Thanks all for the well wishes. Hopefully we can find something that fits our budget and desires. Sounds like we need an 8 bedroom overlooking the water. Should be no problem :whoa:.


04-12-2004, 11:13 AM
I think this should really be here.

Well I read all of that stuff and it was interesting but, I didn't read anything about how the fish sees your fly, considering that the light, illumination in the ocean, around beaches for example is dependent on the time of day, atmospheric conditions, wave action and sun angle. For example the light changes by 1 million times from dawn to high noon, and back again from noon to dusk.
Then there is the fishes visual background at the time, and whether the fly is under the water or on top, which will effect the visual distance. The might be the right time of the year, the right season, the right time of the tide, the fish might be moody or not, it might be hungry or not, it might be a bit skittish about predators or not, but if it can't see the fly it will definitely not eat it.
And added to that what it sees will depend on what colour pigments it has in the retina. Mind you if the time is around dawn or dusk you can be sure the fish will be in grey scale mode because of the very low light conditions and then colour will not realy matter. Also the water colour will have an effect and bubbly surf will really upset things.
Stripers are a very interesting species because of their habits.
Has there been any research done in the USA on the cone pigments, and rod pigments, in the Strped bass retina.
Be interesting to read any such papers. Max

04-12-2004, 11:48 AM

I think all those are great points for fishing in general and there is a great book by Dr. David Ross called a Fisherman's Ocean that addresses many of those issues. However, I am not sure they apply so much to the topic which is Flats Logic. We are talking about fishing in a few feet of water generally on bright days where most often you will want more muted tones and key on movement rather than the exact look or color. Profile and action in my opinion are much more important in this scenario. Fishing a rip at night would elicit another response.

Just my .02.


04-12-2004, 12:10 PM
Good points!

Time of day (it's listed in rule #1) must be carefully managed to maximize visibility for sight fishing, unless you are spotting wakes which is a morning and evening activity and can be effective under a moon at night as well but that's another story.

But in a general sense about any kind of light - low light, moonlight, ambient indirect light, with the exception of perhaps the total absence of light (if that's possible) are all fine for stripers.

Night fishing is great for stripers. Twilight is one of the best times. Mid-day brightness is the easiest to sight fish, but a pea soup fog lowers their guard in shallow water. Evening fishing is fantastic too, makes me miss supper often. Then night falls again for the third shift. Among the most effective colors at night is black, to exploit sillouette against lighter objects like sand and sky. Among the best by day are those that blend into the surroundings. My point is there is a way to exploit any type of light by getting your feet where they need to be, when they need to be there.

I agree that light is critical to sight fishing but about all you can do is go where you can see fish under the conditions you get. The largest quantity of fish I have ever seen on the flats was on one of the darkest most miserable days I have ever been out there on. I could not see Jimmy on the next flat but I saw at least 1,000 stripers most of which were creating wakes and their bodies blocked out most of the sand color of the bottom all around me. I yelled for Jimmy to come up but didn't know he had his hands full of striper too, and being the fireman life-saver that he is he left his fish and ran up thinking I was hurt. Sorry Jimmy! At least we had several hundred stripers left to pick at as the fog lifted and we worked our way back, landing a lions share between us to finish the day with big smiles.

So I agree in the sense that one needs to match spot selection, presentation and fly to the time of day and expected behavior of fish. But light is not predictable or controllable. We end up reacting to what we get more than control it.

In my opinion, light does not determine success or failure of striper fishing unless you are talking about mid-day sight fishing in conditions when it would be the only method of determining their presence. Keep in mind that low light sight fishing is deadly, tailing and waking fish, flashing fish, and the meditative eye tracking of subtle shapes moving in the low light under a morning mist is even more satisfying than a bright visual at noon.

Still there is a lot of merit in studying light and vision of fish, good point Max.

04-12-2004, 10:23 PM
In shallow water, like flats, the fishes reality is a very wide tunnel between the mirror on top and the bottom below and it can see anything, depending on water clarity, spectral illumination, and of course the colour of the fly. Which might if it is the wrong colour, like a pale blue, merge into the background.
Visual distance in clear flats water can be a long way, well over 100 feet, maybe 100 yards, and as the distance gets longer the fly colour gets lighter until it merges into the background.
With low light conditions such as you suggest the fish will not be seeing colour and the visual distance will be reduced, and then the high contrast shades like black come into their own.
But what the fish sees is entirely dependant of whether it sees all the colours or just blue/green. This will happen if it has no red sensing cone, like most pelagics.
But then a Striper is a bit different. Have you ever noticed if a striper has a very white blobby eye if photographed at night with a flash. Could indicate a reflectiive eye, tapetum lucidum, which means its grey scale vision, evenings, night, early light, is greatly enhanced, which could account for the good fishing under low light conditions. High contrast flies, like big flashy black, would work very well.
Barramundi, snook, drums and our mulloway are like that, as are most sharks. Cheers Max