Surf Flyfishing [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Surf Flyfishing

Bob Pink
10-08-2000, 07:57 PM
Without going into the details of Jeff's jambo I'd like to express my (sincere) admiration for those members of the SWFF community that know how to fish big surf with the flyrod.
Last night I was seriously questioning my sanity as I found myself tossing flies;
*an unknown distance
*in an approximate direction
*without knowing how to stay in contact with the fly
*wondering if my stripping basket would once again find a way to spill all my line into the surf
*thinking how strange it was to expect a large striper would take my offering as it was being dragged accross the bottom by the surge of a retreating wave
*de-fouling my fly after ever other cast
*all while watching for the dark wall rising in front of me that meant one more dose of water on my face/chest and finding the shortest path down the inside of my waders to my neither regions.
Now I realize that a lot the situations we flyfish are much more benign than the backside of the cape but damn it there's some good fish to be had there. Wish I had a better handle on the techniques or does it come down to being able to deliver 120' in the pitch dark with a beach that's sloped up over your head behind you?
Anyway it was a great experience and now it has me curious...

10-09-2000, 08:55 AM
Fly fishing in the surf is a trick to say the least. And I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has A LOT of difficulties. I also think you raised the major points. My basic feeling is that you can't fly fish the surf all of the time, even if your a really good caster (which I'm not). But sometimes you can fly cast in the surf & the rewards can be awesome.

Big surf, darkness, favorable vs. unfavorable winds, & defininately line controll are so important. If that fly line gets out of the basket, the under tow grabs it & you end up with a big tangled mess around your wader legs, what fun! Having only been fly fishing for two seasons & fishing in the surf only 5-6 times, I write most of it off to lack of experience.

Sunday morning we were fishing the South side of Nauset inlet & there was a 15+ knot wind at our backs. I was getting 3/4 of my fly line out by simply getting the head out of the rod, then making a "pop-fly" cast & letting the wind shoot the rest. That's a favorable example. If the wind direction was different by say 180-degrees, I would have tried for a while, but probably went to the spin-rod-crutch.

10-09-2000, 08:56 AM
Bob -

After we ran into you at dawn we fished Nauset at the two inlets. It was daylight, but I still had the same experiences! I agree, it takes a certain breed of cat to be able to deal with all that going on and catch those huge bass in the pounding surf.

I've been doing it for a number of years and have gotten a lot better at it over time... but that's still not a lot. One thing I did in the past is develop a really crazy stripping basket that does not dump line in the surf. It uses an insert consisting of icemaker tubing with cross-loops of weed wacker cord. It has three times the surface area of a rubbermaid and drains (which we would not want away from the surf due to filling up).

Also, I fished the long rod all day using a 425 grain and it was cake. No fatigue, and with the west wind at some spots I was throwing into the backing. Made it easier to stand back too, and reach over the sand bank. I had some real fuddly moments with it but overall I felt great after a lot of hard conditions and still feel that the long rod is the tool for the surf. But that's another story..." border="0" align="middle">

Also, water under tension or at rest. I've had the most pleasant fishing when the water is under current tension like at the Race, or when there is a horizontal flow on the outer beaches to keep the waves from going chaotic. Better yet when there is no current to speak of and the cast gets to work without getting swept to the side - like slack high if lucky enough to get a bait push into shore.

Time of day... my experiences under the advice and guidance of folks like Sean Fields, Harry Koons, etc - is that tide matters less than time of day. Nauset really turns on in the evening, and first light too... but let's just say Sean is not a morning person <img src="

I guess I'm a cheater but I prefer twilight over dark, subdued bowls over wild surf, linear current edges over raucous wash, etc. All these things are available on the big beaches but sparse by comparison.

I agree though, and have infinite respect for guys like Tony. All those backbeach guys are really something!

PS: Saw an awful lot of fishy water and very few fish this weekend. Rumors of a fat lady sighting?

10-09-2000, 01:31 PM
I'm not a surf expert and I don't even play one on the web, but I can offer a couple of tips. (First, Bob, never forget your stripping basket and always have a kayak handy!). Oh, wait, wrong thread.

The outer beaches are BIG. Huge expanses of water, sometimes acting huge in waves. It can get daunting -- how in the world is a fish gonna find this puny fly in all that mayhem? Well, sometimes they're right in the wash, feeding in or inside the first wave. Sometimes of course, they're not.

This is October, the fish are schooled up. When you don't find them it's because they're not there. It doesn't mean there are no fish, it's just that they're not distributed throughout the fishy areas as they are during the regular season. So, after that much background, these few tips:

1) line washing out of your stripping basket? Don't go there. You don't want to be wading in big surf. If you want the distance, walk down to the edge of the breakers as you're ready to let go your cast, but retreat immediately. If you're in the water you may well be standing on the spot where you should be hooking the fish. And if you're there, you run a good risk of needing to brush up on your Portuguese.

2) Contact with the line. Walk backwards. If you're not tight to the line, walk back up the beach until you feel it tight. The real surf guys I know will be 30' from the water at the end of the retrieve.

3) Move. Cover a lot of ground. Don't stay in one spot waiting for the fish to come to you, keep moving until you find them. When there's a current parallel to the bank, I like to walk along with it as I retrieve. Cast, walk, retrieve, cover ground.

With all that said, I do go fishless pretty often on the big beaches and I usually catch fish elsewhere. I just find plucking a striper from the big ocean to be worth 10 from a river.

Bob Pink
10-09-2000, 05:50 PM
Ditto the thrill of a nice fish from the surf. My most memorable night of fishing was one time when the planets all aligned (and my mojo was in overdrive) one Sept on the Vineyard. This was just at the very beginning of my FF adventures and I had started the night meatballing. Broke the 30# barrier on my second fish. Gave up the meatballs for plugs 'cause the fish were taking the baits too deep, finally walk back to the car for the flyrod. 4+ hours of non-stop big fish from the surf. Got back to the cottage and I was shaking so much from the adreniline rush I couldn't get out of my waders. But I digress, I'm been lucky to get the thrill fishing conventional and spin in the surf and I found out how tricky it is to get a good fish actually up on the beach (hmm, sounds like a morning at Nauset!) Managing a good fish with the flyrod is a true challange.
I guess the basic difference is that with the flyrod you are concentrating more on how you present the fly in the first 30-40' from shore. I still suffer from the big rod machismo thing of wanting to cast 200'+ since I'm sure the big girls are just another 10' further....

10-09-2000, 08:37 PM
Bob - I remember your Vineyard report. With this cold weather coming we'll soon long for nights like that. Because I work with Mike, I witnessed the backing burn left by his outer beach beast... not your average pink streak but a solid red hacksaw mark!

I know what you mean about spin/conventional gear and 6 oz. Stan Gibbs poppers. That's how I got started, back when I graduated from hula poppers in the lily pads to atom poppers in a tide rip. Talk about an eye opener!

But for all it lacks in utility, I know you'll agree there is something equally machismo about battling an ocean side giant on a fly rod in the surfline, even if the focus is on the first 50-60 feet from the washline and not 200-300ft. I know one thing, set the hook and that 200-300ft distance is there in a heartbeat!

What I like best about the ocean beaches is the tendency for pods of huge fish to show up right along the shoreline at times. Although Monomoy, South Beach and other places have brought us some real huge bass this year - there is clearly nowhere with the consistency of the backside when it comes to pigs. Not that the fishing is anything near consistent out there - it's always hit or miss. The deal in my opinion is when you hit, it's often a home run.

Nothing compares to the likes of the outing on Double Happiness the other day though...