Retrieve technique [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Retrieve technique

04-05-2012, 01:49 PM
Does the retrieval technique vary between a crab pattern and a shrimp pattern? I've spooked more than my share of bones because I twitched the fly as the fish approached. How do the naturals react when a fish approaches?

I presume that any clouser minnow type fly should be constantly moved and thats been my experience. Although I have seen a bone snatch a small clouser barely moving on the edge of the ocean surf.



04-05-2012, 09:04 PM
Usually a shrimp fly is worked with short jerky strips to simulate the short jerky way a shrimp moves. Crab flies are worked in a more reactive way to the fish. I've really only used them for permit and in that situation it gets a little more complicated. You want the fish to see the fly in the water but when the fish turns at the crab fly you let it drop to the bottom as a crab would do. If the fish pins it there that's great if not you would pull long, that is, one long strip and then let the fly settle on the bottom again. That's just a cursory overview but I hope it helps.

04-06-2012, 11:29 AM
Marty G,

It really depends on the area you're fishing and the prevailing type of bait, including what type of shrimp. In Andros, for instance, the bones (according to my guide) are feeding on mud minnows or bigger shrimp. Both these make longer, slower swimming motions to escape. It might start off w/ a quick strip to get the fish's attention, but then you want to strip slow and long, about 1-2 feet per strip. If the fish is following but won't eat then you let the fly drop and watch for the take. Usually when you strip again it's fish on!

This is a sharp contrast to areas w/ lots of turtle grass bottom, like Honduras or the Cayman Islands (where I fish). There you're dealing w/ grass shrimp as the dominant prey and they're smaller and swim slower. Bigger, faster strips will spook fish there. You want to twitch it, maybe an inch or so at a time, in an erratic way. This accomplishes two things, 1) it keeps the fly in the zone -- which is important in thick grass since the fish has a narrow window of vision around its head, 2) it won't spook the fish. "Pinky-pinky". That's the way.

Ok, crabs: They need to be fished with good sight-fishing conditions. It's a strip and stop retrieve. And, yes, if you move a fly just before a fish eats it, they'll spook. That's a given. Prey doesn't do that (I'm assuming). Basic rule of thumb is watch the fish's reaction. If you cast the crab and it sees it falling and swims over to check it out, you don't need to move it until a) the fish eats it or b) it starts to swim away from lack of interest. Bonefish can flat out SEE and I've watched them study a fly for seconds before finally tailing on it hard. Be patient and watch for the take.

Now, one final thing, if you're fishing w/ a guide he might have you strip a few times after each cast and then stop. This is often to position the fly correctly or (more likely) to remove slack from the fly line. He might also have you strip sooner than you expect for a fish on a crab fly in anticipation of the bite because he can see slack in your line and knows if the fish eats on a slack line he'll spit it before you can come tight. So, you can't always go by what a guide tells you to do as gospel for stripping a fly. Often he has other considerations.

Hope this helps and tight lines,
Bonehead the Angler

04-06-2012, 01:43 PM
Thanks guys. I've only been bonefishing for 4-5 years and seem to get a little over anxious when using crabs and spook the fish often. I usual thought it was just the wrong fly at the time. I'm realizing it's mostly technique.

I'm going back to Eleuthera in a few weeks and will practice more and hopefully catch more.