HELP [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum


Arthur Robert
06-19-2010, 07:34 PM
To: Juro, Jim,John ( the three J's) and whomever else wishes to respond. I've been very fortunate to be able to spend about 15 days fishing this spring in the Chatham area. I did get the chance to go on two rip-trips with John. It was great. On Tues of this week we were at a shallow beach. It was a very clear day with the tide on the way in. As we walked out expecting to fish the sand bar out at the end we saw large pods of sand eels moving out: there were no fish after them. We were about 2/3 of the way out to the sand bar. The pods of sandeels very large and there were lots of them. There was nothing after the sand eels. We started fishing and looking. We started to walk out and started to see bass; no big pods of them ;1,2or 3 fish all very good size:all the fish we saw were over thE 28". They were very up tight to the beach; 5-30 feet out. We fished them standing up on the beach. The fish showed very little attention to our flies. They also paId no attention to the sand eels that were all around. We each tried about 4-5 flies. Neither of us had any crab or shrimp with us. I did think about walking back to the truck for some but it would have taken 30 Min . I'll say each of us fished to about 15-20 fish with no takes. I did have about 5 follows but the fiah were not aggresive and turned off. We did see 5-6 fish "flash" but it did not look as if they were taking something off the bottom. There were 3-4 other fly guys near us and none had any results. One guy said he tried a crab. It was a great experience and I very much enjoyed seeing it. I learned;CARRY CRABS, SHRIMP,AND SOME VERY SMALL FLIES. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE???????

06-20-2010, 03:33 PM
Art, good observation of what can and does happen this time of year and throughout July/Aug in shallow, clear and sunlight waters. There are times when even the experienced flats fisherman can't get them to eat, but there are a few things that can reduce the odds or even put them in your favor.

Without changing the fly pattern, switch to a different strip and present it at or below the level of the fish. Head-on shots are the best, if possible. Sometimes a sinktip line works well on the flats to get the fly down quickly. Longer leaders and lighter tippets may also be required.

You mentioned flashing fish. More times than not if implies they are taking something off the bottom, e.g. calico crabs.

A couple of weeks ago, the only thing that worked on the flats was a size 4 shrimp pattern. And it didn't work all the time. Another situation recently, a large sand eel pattern with an aggressive strip would work, but again, not all the time.

Mix and match.

06-20-2010, 04:52 PM
Sometimes nothing works and there is no explaiation..when in this I would switch to small crab patterns because My experience is that "matching the hatch" or competing with thousands of the same bait may not work although you think it the opposite of what you think...small basic clousers...anything different. Pete Alves years ago ( former Orvis guy) once threw on a Tarpon fly with success. A fly he just happened to have in his box and threw it on as a last resort and hooked one after another. Also I try unconventional casting..That is through it right on top of them...hoping for a reactive strike. Forget worrying about spook them at this point.

06-20-2010, 08:54 PM
Just after the Clave weekend, I found myself in my kayak surrounded by bass of all sizes that would not eat. I finally got some fish to eat on a sparsely tied #2 Clouser (essentially a very pale Chartreuse Crazy Charlie) on a 14# tippet. Later looking back I wished I had tried a small shrimp pattern.

06-20-2010, 11:01 PM
There's definitely been a trend toward tight lipped sighted fish this year. A couple of observations from my encounters this spring....

1. As Jim said varying your strip can make a dramatic difference. Fast and erratic was the key for me this year.
2. Again, as Jim said, lighter tippets and longer leaders.
3. Longer casts... I found increased success by casting to fish in the back of the pods. It seemed like casts that were 60'+ gave fish more time to build up their courage and take the fly. Inside 30' with a fast strip typically didn't offer enough time for fish to take before the inevitable spook.
4. Try and wait them out. If you can stay on the fish you'll probably see dramatically different behaviors through different stages in the tide. They'll typically get much grabbier in the middle of the tide.
5. Sparse flies

06-21-2010, 05:42 AM
To repeat "Juro's rules of flats fishing":

1) presence of fish
2) mood of fish
3) presentation
4) fly

In that order, but all matter. If they're ain't there nothing works, if they are in the mood they'll take anything, otherwise there may be as few as one presentation that will work - but any one of a dozen flies will do no matter what else is going on (for saltwater flats fishing = bonefish, stripers, etc). The fly is the LEAST restrictive factor.

The big mistake anglers make is they think most about #4. In the golden days out on Monomoy I would just leave big pods of fish once I detected they were tight-lipped knowing there would be hungry fish of equal or better quality right around the corner, as far as one cared to work toward the Southway (now gone).

I would often find people still pulling their hair out when I passed the same spot on the way back to the Rip Ryder with my sore thumbs and memory card loaded with pics.

That being said it's often fun to try to unlock the lips, which I've done with some of the most unconventional ways imaginable. I agree with the opinions above per going to crazy **** to make them snap out of the stupor.

06-21-2010, 08:00 AM
Changing the strip is my go to in that situation. I'm not big on changing the fly if I think I have something that works.

06-21-2010, 01:35 PM
Not sure if this applies to stripers, but I recently was assisted in catching numerous snook that for the 1st 2 times were exptremely tight-lipped. I was very fortunate to run into a fellow FF with over 20 yrs of snook fishing experience, who was more than willing to tutor me to success.
Some of his advice that may apply:
1." fish the deep side of any balls of bait that appear as "the fish shade themselves under the bait balls and 2, are genertally on the deep side "looking in".....that paid off handsomely!!!
2." Cast just beyond the bait, make one long strip and then let the bait "die' and settle to the bottom"
3. "cast well ahead of a moving pod, let the fly settle and then make slow 2 inch twiches"
Joe was a pleasure to fish excited to take a novice snook F under his wing....loaded with info, willing to share and even gave me the his premire position so that I could be successful. He made the rest of my recent trip highly succesful. A true sportsman!!!!!
One thing about snook....I started out using 20lb fluro...lost fish to their gill plates. Ended up using a 39lb fluro tippet and still had to retie after each fish due to 4 inches of tippet being serrated. Numerous flies destroyed beyond recognition after one or 2 fish......nasty but fun little creatures!!!

06-21-2010, 08:38 PM
Art, take heed of the advise given by them flats ninjas, FredA, Dave17, Striblue & Juro. I'm not dismissing the other advice, but I've fished for years with those guys and know they know their ****. Striblue brings up a very good point about mixing it up with tarpon flies, etc. As we know, tarpon become immune to certains patterns after a few seasons. A new fly is developed, and it is a success for a few years, e.g. toad. Juro is spot on about pods/fish that won't eat. Move on.

Remember, there is no substitue for time on the water, if you are observant and enhance your odds with optimal locations, tides, weather, etc., you've got it partially dialed in. For those that can't fish daily, keep a log as a backdrop for your successes and why.

Incidentally, I've fished with Art this Spring, and can only say that he is an avid fly guy, and like all of us, his learning curve is still straight up.

Jim Miller
06-22-2010, 05:22 PM
Krill, Crab, squid and shrimp fry...tiny minnows (like 3/4") and bass feeding like crazy.....I have seen such sights and it has affected my demeanor! :Eyecrazy:

I will go down to 8 or 10 Lb floro, a loop knot and long leaders. If not to just allow a small fly to swim naturally.

Same thing with finicky Eleuthera Bonefish...I down size and lengthen my leader.;) (6 or 8# test and 10-12' leaders)

Same with hammered Great Lakes Steelhead....

06-22-2010, 06:36 PM
Keep in mind the fish are not always in shallow water to feed. Sometimes they are just lounging. Weather they are warming up, digesting, getting the lice off or just taking a break from their long journey is anybody's guess. This is a common occurence on the CCB flats and those fish can be nearly bulletproof. Sometimes the light line/small fly presentation is the ticket but sometimes slapping a big streamer right on their heads and stripping like hell is equally effective. If the fish are not actively seeking food I don't get too caught up trying matching the hatch because the fish may not be keyed in on one particular bait. As others have noted - it pays to experiment!

06-22-2010, 07:09 PM
My experience with the 4 rules is this, 3 and 4 are more important than rule 2 when you are talking about tight lipped fish. And rule one is stating the obvious but without it stay home. Rule 3 is the key to all when you want to hook the uncatchable; naturally presented fly’s can open tight lipped fish. I think Paxton has some interesting observations here witch tie in nicely to rule number 3. Thanks for the input Ron.

06-23-2010, 04:47 AM
Fish on the Flats are nervous to begin with, they don't have the safety of deep water to go to for protection. I too have struggled with these tight lipped fish but have use a realistic sandeel fly to unlock the jaws. I call the fly the stick.
I have observed that most of these fish don't move very far from their protective school to take a fly. Any sudden motion will spook the fish.
There are the very large savvy fish that usually travel in pairs and not in large schools , these are the Trophies of the Flats. If you hook one of these your a member of a small group of anglers who are the Masters of the Flats.
Most of these guys are guides but there are some who keep a low profile and contuine to catch the Trophies.
You also have to put in your time and each outing is a learning experience even if you don't hook up. Everytime I go out I learn something. FishHawk

06-23-2010, 06:06 AM
Given all the the foregoing my only addition would be the absolute need for stealth in skinny water. Fishawk is on the money here.

The safest assumption is that if you can see them, they probably know know you are there. Anything out of the ordinary and they clam up (mood of fish).

I have even tried getting stripers into a feeding mood by throwing fresh shrimps and clams to schools of stripers on the flats (well someone had to do it :lildevl: ).

They remained tight lipped.

A couple of observations from this season:

i) The farther away your presentation is made, the better the chance of a hook up.

ii) Stripers in open water (i.e. non ambush terrain) will follow natural baitfish a considerable distance before deciding to eat and often lose interest.