How do you fish a - - - - ? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: How do you fish a - - - - ?

01-10-2007, 10:00 PM
"Bonefishmon" made a statement on another tread that really set me back on my heels! He said "Fly casting doesn't catch fish. Fly fishing does."

How many times have we all heard or read the answer to the question "How can I get better?" which was/is, almost always "Take Lessons and Practice-Practice-Practice!" That will make a better caster but doesn't do much to make a better fly "fishing" person

So here is the "guts" to this thread: How do you fish a:
and on and on and on!

Anyone willing to open their methods up for critique - comments or otherwise?

Pete Readel

01-11-2007, 05:42 AM
Pete. Find someone on the Forum that uses his or her trout fishing knowledge in the salt. Fish with that person. Opens up an entirely new way of thinking about how you fish. I learned from watching Adrian fish a floater and a flatwing. That got me started and then I came to the ultimate conclusion that I was bored of just casting and stripping in hopes of pissing off a fish enough to entice a strike. Call it lucky and not earned.
There's no substitute for learning on the water. I'd be happy to show you what I've learned but I'm pretty darn far away.


01-11-2007, 06:56 AM
Was recently looking at an article in an old fishing rag on the Gurgler. Seems Gartsides original intent/preference was to fish the gurgler with an intermediate sinking line. So much for conventional thinking.

Lots of ways to fish the fly's listed. The fun part is figuring out how the fish wants it in a particular situation. Or, even more fun is trying to illicit a strike mid day in high sun when the fish have lockjaw.

I recall fishing a flatwing with a KA disciple on a charter and hearing him bark "strip, strip, strip".

Casting is only part of the game. The benifit of good casting skill is the ability make the required cast in a range of situations. Casting has its own intrinsic rewards aside from just the fishing. When your casting well it provide a tactile pleasure like when you find your stroke shooting a basketball or with a pool que or a golf club.

01-11-2007, 07:04 AM
Phil gives you some good advise. One of the key things for me is observation. Be aware of your surroundings. I'm a photographer and we are trained to be observant. Also, don't be afraid to fish out of the box. Try methods which others would think that your crazy to do . For example fishing a sinking line in shallow water. The best fishermen that I know have one thing in common excellent powers of observations.
Learn from the members of this board. Attend the Claves and you'll get a lot of lessons from great fishermen. Great bunch of guys on here some like floaters some like sinkers but we all get along. :D

01-11-2007, 07:31 AM
I would ditto FishHawk's attention and learn something new each time you go out (that's the easy part).
Hone your fish sighting skills in general (remember where they were and at what stage of the tides/conditions)...are the fish swimming in a strait line or zagging looking for food on the flats....see a fish and cast to it, use whatever retrieve and observe what happens...ignore, follow, take.....change up/experiment with the retrieve. If you're fishing deep....count down and pay attention as to what depth you got a hit etc.
The flies you mentioned can all be fished fast, slow, stop and go, deep, shallow, wounded or whatever else....the key is paying attention to each retrieve and response and the environment in general...for example...I still find it amazing that on a 200 ft flat.....on incoming, the fish will come out of the depths along any crease structurally in the flat or that I have a better chance of hooking a zagging fish than one going in a straight line from point A to B.......the 1st 2 years, I never noticed that.
Some days they hit anything, retrieved any way.....other days, no matter what you do, it fails....the in-between days can be the best learning days that exist. All this can be speeded up by hooking up with someone who knows more and mutually sharing knowledge.
Does make me wonder if the fish see us and say " he's throwing a deep eel, I think that he's going to...." that would make it interesting :chuckle:

01-11-2007, 09:08 AM
I think the essence of this is the old adage "Presentation is everything".

To me those three words actually sum up everything that goes into the practice of fly fishing. Having a good arsenal of casting techniques is a big asset and the cast is a critical ingedient in any presentation - i.e. putting the fly in a position where it can be seen by and appear attractive to fish. Of course theres a lot more to it.

I enjoy sight fishing a lot but I also enjoy fishing on a pitch dark nights - estuary backwaters, rocky shorelines and the pounding surf are magical places when the last glimer of daylight has passed. At these times its just die hard anglers and other creatures of the night for companions.

Each situation comes with its own set of presentation challenges. I tend to choose locations that allow me to fish floating lines and wet-fly style presentations - because I enjoy it and it works. If I 'm fishing from a drifting boat (or Kayak) over deep structure I might choose a different set of tools. My goal is the same in any situation - get the fly in a position where fish can see it and make it look interesting. My preference is to induce fish to eat rather than attack - but both methods have their time and place. A few of my pals on the forum will have seen me carrying a spin rod this past season :whoa: The first thing I learned was, there is more to it than chucking a plug into the next time zone and reeling in at lightning speed. A different set of tools and a much bigger and more dynamic landscape made me re-think the whole presentation game.

Going back to Pete's original question I guess the answer is - I would fish each of those flies according to the situation I am in.

Great thread:smokin:

01-11-2007, 09:40 AM
[QUOTE=FredA]Was recently looking at an article in an old fishing rag on the Gurgler. Seems Gartsides original intent/preference was to fish the gurgler with an intermediate sinking line. So much for conventional thinking.

Ron (Paxton) and I found activity near J Buoy towards the end of the outgoing tide. We both knew the tide would go slack soon. The action was very intense. Ron handed me a Gurgler. We were both armed with clear intermediate lines. We proceeded to hook fish on almost every cast. I switched to a floater and popper and my success ratio deminished as Ron was still going great guns. One of my most fond memories fishing with a fellow Forum friend. Like Adrian said, fish the situation as it unfolds before your eyes and you will learn a great deal on your own. I hope others add to this thread as it is one of the most useful I've seen in some time.


01-11-2007, 10:36 AM
Agree...great thread! I forgot to mention..."no retrieve" dog day last year when nothing worked (no follows)...I decided to just cast the fly a few feet infront of an oncoming fish and just let it lay there to see what would engulfed the fly as did 3 others within the next hour. Go figure. So..."how does one retrieve a fly"?????....the way it works that day, moment, tide.

01-11-2007, 12:56 PM
Great Thread and excellent responses. I'm primarily a trout FFisher and guide and all the replies apply equally to my situation. Many clients ask similar questions and I would boil them down to " How do you...?"
My typical answer is that I can teach Fly (basic) casting in a few hours and you can spend the rest of life learning about fly fishing. Which I think relates to what Bonefishemon said. This is what makes our wonderfull sport so attractive, you can never stop learning. There are fundamentals, like casting, that involve many different line types and line/rod sizes and/or action, this is step one as far as I am concerned, pick one rod/line setup and get good at casting it, then pick another & so on. Then comes the multitude of fly types, and the presentation(s) that they require, but if you cannot cast the line that carries the fly to the fish, well...! Lastly, and this is what I consider the essence of fly FISHING Vs. CASTING, is what I call line management e.g knowing what is happening to the fly line and fly at the end of it even when you can't see it and making subtle adjustments based on that information. Most of the replies so far have talked about this, presentation, retrieves, sink rate, flow of water/tidal current, etc. etc. etc. so I will not repeat it but I will tell you that there is no better bunch of guys to learn from than these folks, either by reading the replies or getting out with them which is the ideal.

01-11-2007, 01:37 PM
I know I have been full of the golf analogies lately but somehow they seem to fit. I liken a lot of fly fishers to golfers who spend $500 for a spanking new driver and countless hours on the range but can't sink a 5 foot putt or get out of a trap. While both are very important parts of the game if you are only good at one aspect the odds are you won't end up with a very good score. Spending time learning to read the water and adjust your tactics will help you just as much as making that 100 ft cast into the wind. Although its funny how everyone I talk to but no one I fish with seems to be able to make that cast (myself included). :lildevl: I know it is tough to do but sometimes during a blitz I will keep changing flies and retrieves even when I have found one that is working. You know the fish are there so why not have a little fun and maybe learn something new. You then can apply these strategies when things get tough. As is always the response, in the end there is no replacement for an open mind and time on the water. I do better at the latter than the former but am trying to work on that. :wink:


01-11-2007, 02:27 PM
Another important thing to remember is the way you approach the water. I was told this when I first fished out West. The veterans said don't be that anxious to wade out too far . I thought the guys was crazy. Sure enough I did the greenhorn thing and wade out and spooked many fish that were right at my feet!!
How often have you waded out and seen fish spook at your feet.
I'll never forget this. Last year as I was wading out I saw what I thought was a baby seal right next to shore. It was the biggest striper I've ever seen laying close to shore . Jim Simms was there and he'll confirm this story.
So you don't really have to make those super casts that make the fishing celebrities look good at the fishing shows the fish are often at your feet. :smokin:

01-11-2007, 03:36 PM
For those that have contributed, thanks. Your thoughts are what I am looking for. I was concerned that my original question would be taken as:
Deceiver: Strip, Strip-----Strip---Strip
Gurgler: Strip------------------Strip------Strip - Strip etc

Every one, so far, has basically said: Be Observant. What I appreciate is that they have gone on to explain " of what ". Tide status...Bright or Cloudy....Structure...Visable Fish or not......and above all: Be willing to try almost anything.

I hope more will contribute to my "learning" and hopefully others will benifit also.

It is my hope that 2007 will give me the time to meet with, in the water, more of this community.

Pete Readel

01-11-2007, 04:12 PM
Maybe this is a good time to mention the SPRING CLAVE :D

It will be here before you know it :smokin:

01-11-2007, 04:55 PM
Anyone, I mean anyone, can be a star when there's a blitz going on. But, when the going gets tough, Pareto's 80/20 theory prevails. That is, 80 per cent of the success is from 20 per cent of the fishermen. So, what do they know that the average guy doesn't know?

For starters, they are tuned into the environment. They have the odds on their side that the predators will be in certain locales based on structure, feeding habits, tides, time-of-day, weather, etc. They also know the type of prey in that area.

Taking it a step further, consistently successful fishermen have developed a pretty good understanding of the predator/prey relationship. Have you ever noticed bunker schooling in a docile mode, and then in a frenetic situation when they are pursued by a predator? Do you change your presentation/strip based on the situation?

There are times that a dead-drift with mending in current is effective. At other times, depending on mood, an erratic retrieve will elicit takes. Of course, there are times that using a fly somewhat inappropriate to mimicing the prey, works.

In summation, don't be afraid to experiment, spend a lot of time on the water (or get a good guide), and smell the roses. Afterall, it is a game and winners have a strategy.

01-11-2007, 06:13 PM
Did someone say SPRING CLAVE???
Would be nice if we had a proposed date prior to my next call group meeting, so I could "block off" the 3 day weekend on my schedule.....anyone had a look at the tide charts for April/May yet??? I have yet to check out the land bridge yet....still blasting away at winged varmints.
Flydoc aka Duckdoc:hihi:

01-11-2007, 06:46 PM
My baitfish fishing techniques have been learned through two things:
1. Observation of my freshwater aquariums that I've had for over 20 years and
2. By watching baitfish when I'm on the water.

My standard strategy is this:
1. Start casting the fly out there and fish it.
2. After I've developed a pattern/technique (which may vary depending on how I feel that day), I always review what I'm doing by stripping the fly close to me where I can see it clearly.
3. I'll then revise my technique based on what I see.

I strongly feel that you must pull the fly in close where you can see what your technique is making it do. It doesn't matter if you have 50 years of fly fishing experience, you never know what the fly might be doing. Two muddlers in the same size tied by the same person may not fish the same because there may be a bunch of extra deer hair in the head of one that makes it float better.

01-11-2007, 09:47 PM
Two birds with one stone to coincide with the arrival of herring in the canal,mid May maybe?.

pec54 the angler formally known as" striperstripper".

01-12-2007, 09:15 AM
Another thing that can be more important than the pattern and Jim mentioned is what is the bait doing? This goes along with observation and a lot of the patterns you mentioned can be interchanged for different types of bait.

Are the sandeels buried or are they in shoals? For the former you may need to present your fly deeper so the clouser would work but if they are shoaling close to the surface the gurgler may be a better choice. Are the shrimp and or crabs free swimming or are they being sucked out with the tide? That will change your presentation.

Knowing where to fish in the water column is also important. Make sure you got the flies/lines/techniques to cover the water column from top to bottom.


01-12-2007, 07:01 PM
Thanks for the question Pete. The responses have been great. It's January 12 and now you all have really got my juices flowing to go catch a striper or a blue. I'll be thinking about this for the next four and a half months. Each year and each time out you learn something new. As one fellow once told me..."Time on the water"... but you guys quicken the time or learning curve. See you in the spring.


01-13-2007, 06:40 AM
Thanks for the question Pete. The responses have been great. It's January 12 and now you all have really got my juices flowing to go catch a striper or a blue. I'll be thinking about this for the next four and a half months. Each year and each time out you learn something new. As one fellow once told me..."Time on the water"... but you guys quicken the time or learning curve. See you in the spring.


No need to wait until Spring, weather permitting. I got a nice bass last night in one of the Rhoddy salt ponds. Floating line....General Practitioner in Orange as a dropper. September Night fly as a lead.....dead drift on the outgoing. Gave them a choice. Working on a loop to loop dropper rig today and will try four flies next time out.


Sean Juan
01-15-2007, 02:00 PM
Nice topic.

I think the reason you see a lot of emphasis on casting is because its something that can be taught with easily measurable improvement. So if you take a lesson and now you can cast 20' further than you could its easy to see what you've learned and feel good about it. Its fun and easy to practice too, and very predictable.

This is not so clear with actual fishing.

I think one of the greatest keys to success is finding a healthy balance between experience and experimentation. You can you to a spot and fish a fly with the exact same retrieve for weeks on end with success and then suddenly it doesn't work. Seems simple in a post but its actually very hard for some people to realize what they are doing (something that has worked extremely well in the past) is in fact the wrong approach. Its even harder to spend valuable fishing time using an untested fly or retrieve. On the other side of the coin, vary things too much and you may never learn the pattern of success.