Lessons Learned [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Lessons Learned

07-07-2000, 08:16 AM
I finally got in a full day of flats fishing yesterday, and was lucky to have chosen a good weather day. I was able to find some good fish, but also learned some lessons.

1 - sandeels and crabs. I've really come to like fishing crab flies on the flats. Cast a bit in front of the fish, then twitch the fly as the fish gets near to entice a strike. But yesterday was a little different. The fish would check out the fly - either a crab or sandeel pattern - as it rested on the bottom, but if I twitched or stripped the fly the fish took off like a bat out of hell. If I stripped the sandeel fly in mid-water, I'd get a lot of follows but only an occasional strike. What worked? Casting as close to the moving moving fish as possible without spooking it, so the fish was sure to see the fly drop. Only then was I able to get strikes consistently. The fish would rush the fly and grab it as it neared or reached the bottom. Made for some great practice on casting accuracy. A new way, for me anyway, to present sandeels and crabs.

2 - poppers. A bit later in the day, still with plenty of sun for seeing fish, I came onto a flat with school after school of small (20" - 24") fish. They were meandering across the flat, flashing on occasion. I went through my entire fly box - no interest in any of my flies. The water surface was relatively calm, so I decided to try a popper. I put on a Gurgler and proceeded to cast the Gurgler to sighted fish. It worked! Spooky, flashing, and cruising fish in shallow water took the gurgler with a vengeance. That's the first time I've had success with a popper under these conditions. Cool.
Can't wait to try it on larger fish.


07-08-2000, 09:50 PM
Aaron -

Cool stuff to try! I also noticed that fish who saw the fly drop rushed over like lightning today. They didn't always take but they sure bombed over to check it out!

Also, as I mentioned in an earlier report, the fish are sniffing more and eating less on the crab flies. I believe their widespread use has gotten them more wary.. although it sounds crazy. I'm sure you agree that two/three years ago they just plain ate them, it was too easy!

The sand eel worked consistently for me today. Still have a ways to go on the crab thing, especially since they have gained a little caution for them. Maybe it's a seasonal thing....

07-09-2000, 07:02 AM

I agree about the fish getting used to certain fly patterns. Just take a look at the 'educated' trout you find on so many eastern MA streams - they check out the flies with a microscope before eating. I mentioned last year that if one was dropped on the flats after a long absence it was possible to know the time of year and most popular flies. This is based on the behavior of the fish and and their reactions to certain flies. Two years ago in the spring I did well with chartreuse and white clousers on the flats, but by summer the fish wouldn't take a second look at the same pattern. After asking around I discovered that chartreuse/white had been a popular pattern that year.

Since the popularization of crab flies, I think the same has happened - there are flats where earlier this year the fish sucked down a crab pattern before it hit bottom, but now will only 'sniff' the fly. Once burned twice shy.

I agree that the fish definitely show an interest in a dropping fly, but don't always follow through by taking it. Reminds me of fly fishing for permit, except they can be like that all the time!

The one nice thing about this for fly tiers is that this creates a situation where there is a potential payoff for a 'new-look' fly pattern. Or even for older patterns - that slightly new way to present the fly that triggers a response from the fish. Cool.