Great stepladder [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Great stepladder

06-22-2001, 05:38 AM
Right now at Costco they are stocking aluminum featherweight 3-step ladders w/ top step the size of the whole gap (swings over to bridge the two sides) for $30. One of the halfs of the folding ladder forms a brace that your legs leans onto for stability.

I picked one up and will have it available for anyone who wants to try it and see what George Ryan, Randy Jones, Joey T and a large contingent of anglers on Pyramid Lake out west have known for years.

Last couple times out I kept thinking "wish I had a ladder", I set it up in my driveway and thought "wow!". Can't wait to try it. If you'd like to try it just ask.

06-22-2001, 12:10 PM
This is in no way meant as a slam etc. etc. I have to politely go on record as seeing ladders as crossing the "gear" line. I don't use hand held fish finders either. We don't use satellite tracking, microwave bio detection and many other gizmos. So where do we draw the line? Well, just for me, the ladder falls on the outer limit side. Not only do they look totally dorky, but there's something about standing on your 2 feet on the ground that bows to the tradition of FF. As it is we got the internet and cell phones working against the fishes favor. So I guess that would also put me against polling platforms. I dunno, probably, given the position I've taken here.
But the best evidence for my position is Juro himself. Watch him fish. He has acheived a pretty high level of flats fishing ability. He doesn't need a darn ladder. So you get a ladder, catch 10-20% more fish. Yippee, the ladder gets the credit not you.
I would like to work at being a better flyfisherman, not decrease the stripers natural advantages any more than nescesary. I think it is worthy of debate. Thank you.

Terry (Capt. Lefty)

06-22-2001, 12:17 PM
Oh **** I just wasted $30! ;-) Now every time I try it I will be thinking... I wonder if Terry's watching, I'll never live it down!

Seriously, thanks for the kind words on the short legs I was born with but I gotta try it for myself. Too soon to tell if I get addicted. I didn't go out seeking a ladder, it called to me as I walked by dropping off film for development (with the Striblue/Solo "chick magnet" photo on the roll, you'll see what I mean by that soon).

Maybe I will drape with with nylon fabric so it looks like I am just a tall guy <VBG>

It's not the same as a fish finder, there is nothing electronic about it. It just lets you stand on something to see thru more glare. I don't plan to cast from it

06-22-2001, 02:53 PM
OK - back from a long meeting. Wanted to investigate this topic further, as much for myself as well as to answer the point.

I kinda agree and I kinda don't. If I am taking someone fishing on the flats on a partly cloudy day and don't plan to fish myself I definitely would like to bring it to set up further up the approach to inform my angling friend in advance of an approaching pod. I don't think it's any different than standing on the bank and telling your freind where the big trout is laying on ESPN. Some states consider assisting a fellow angler from a bridge with verbal instruction illegal, or so I've heard. I think it's Maine (?)

On the other hand, fly fishing is about simplifying the pursuit and magnifying the challenge and satisfaction, so a ladder on a flat seems a little like a tree stand with a bow and arrow. Doesn't give the deer much of a chance, but most hunters don't seem to object to that. Or a duck blind or decoys. Doe in heat scent, fresh salmon roe for steelhead, live-lining, chumming, man there are just so many things that we could draw lines before, after or through. Gotta think about it more...

And how about that banjo minnow ;D

06-22-2001, 03:07 PM
Ya but you didn't put the bridge there. One great aspect of fishing is playing the hand that's dealt you. Ya, you could draw the line at QD 325 grain lines too, or synthetic tying materials. You COULD endlessly complicate the issue and come up with any logic (twisted or otherwise). So on this one I go with my gut instict. IT's outside my personal bounds. If it makes you feel like a better fisherman, go for it. Not for me though. And if you ever whip out a ladder while standing beside me, I'm moving down 100 yards.:p

Capt. Lefty

BTW Juro, my ancestors WERE in the revolution. In fact one got killed on April 19 on the "Battle Road". Can't help it, runs in the blood.

06-22-2001, 03:35 PM
A civil and reasonable debate is healthy, I enjoy it as much as you obviously do ;-)

All kidding aside, I respect what you said - like a few recent posts said, you gotta do what you feel good about. If you feel like you're cheating standing three feet higher off the water than your legs would permit, then you shouldn't do it. I still don't know how I feel about it, but I do know there are a lot cheaper things being done out there than standing on something. No one seems to be upset about those 'sporting' methods.

I only object to one part of your reply, "if it makes me feel like a better fisherman", etc. Not sure where that came from, I never implied that the ladder would make me feel like a better fisherman. In fact it would make me feel quite the opposite... damn you! }>

06-22-2001, 04:49 PM
Great topic which opens up a whole sphere of debate around the fundamental spirit of fly-fishing. I though about this one quite a bit before committing Asci to Dasd. The advantages of a step ladder seem to fall into improving visibility and assisting in casting by providing better clearance on the backcast. Taking the latter first, this really is no different from casting from the deck of a flats boat except that your rooted to one spot. Now if someone came up with a version on wheels with an electric propulsion unit hmmmm.

On the first point, improving visibility doesn't necessarily translate into catching more fish although it does increase your opportunity. Having spent a lot of time on the flats pursuing bonefish, permit and latterly stripers, seeing the fish is where the challenge (or problem depending on your point of view) actually begins. Making the right presentation and successfully fooling a fish into eating your fly is where the "spirit" of the game is played and I don't see the step ladder helping in this sense at all.

Would I use one? Sure, if I had someone to carry it for me ;)

p.s. Forgot to mention this. Terry, stripers have access to the Internet! It's true, Jimmy told me at the spring clave and they check on this and other forums frequently to anticipate our best laid plans!

06-22-2001, 05:09 PM
So I guess that next year, when I'm a Cape resident, an amphibious ultra-light and 2-way radios might be overkill?
And what about a pre-season low altitude photo recon?
Interesting possibilities!

06-22-2001, 06:24 PM
Do they come in "Clear or camo colors"

06-22-2001, 07:03 PM might consider the use of that step ladder at the next Chatham Selectmen's meeting...that cauzzzway parking issue could be a real barn burner!

06-22-2001, 07:20 PM
Maybe you could find a high school kid to be a ladder caddy for a few bucks. ;)

On my last trip back with Rip Ryder I notice a guy with a ladder. He was real proud of the fact that he added big wheels to it. Boy was I mumbling to myself. How to make a dorky situtation dorkier. Are we fisherMEN or not?

Men men men men.....

Capt. Lefty

06-22-2001, 08:03 PM
Terry -

He may have been a guide, and if so I argue that the use of a ladder (since guides are not fishing for themselves but for a living) is acceptable. Kind of like a lifting belt used by a clammer to save his back. I kinda alluded to that in the earlier post, cause there are some really good guides who use ladders to see fish better for clients.

As you know I also guide shore trips on occasion and if it means my eyes will serve better to point out fish for a customer I will "whip it out" for sure. Besides I kind of like the idea of people moving 100 yards down the beach! }>

06-22-2001, 08:19 PM
Hey if you use polarized glasses to improve your ability to see into the water why not a ladder. I don't see myself adding one to the gear list, but never say never. Good luck with it.

06-22-2001, 08:48 PM
What's next tree stands and shooting the line with a bow? ;-)

06-22-2001, 08:53 PM
SOLO (06-22-2001 08:03 p.m.): might consider the use of that step ladder at the next Chatham Selectmen's meeting...that cauzzzway parking issue could be a real barn burner!

Now that's the best use of the stepladder yet! In fact all fishermen should bring one to stand above the crowd and express how important access to the federal wildlife refuge is.

Sure beats the heck out of painting and changing light bulbs ;)

06-22-2001, 08:58 PM
ssully (06-22-2001 09:50 p.m.):
What's next tree stands and shooting the line with a bow? ;-)

If you asked a deer hunter he'd probably say yes!

I am not a hunter and not sure if any of you guys are but I'm curious - did bowhunters object to tree stands when they first came out? I don't know any deer hunters who don't use tree stands anymore. Every hunter friend of mine uses them.

Just curious... there are a lot of parallels...

06-22-2001, 09:00 PM
One of the reasons I got the Tri-balance was so I could stand up.. in the cock pit and fish. The first time I tried it I lost my balance and went in head first( ot the other time at The Bath Tub). But it was also the typical coverage of more water.. I suopose like a power boat.. but with the obvious limitations.

06-22-2001, 11:08 PM
This thread is epic.

I've already printed, framed, and hung it in my apartment..w/o a ladder of course.

In fact, I manufactured the hangers from minerals found just yonder by the T.

06-22-2001, 11:09 PM
For the record...

I fish blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back.

06-23-2001, 12:11 AM
Evolution of the step ladder.....

This highly advanced unit comes with on-board solar and backup nuclear powered propulsion unit, advanced infra red and sonic motion detectors. The chasis is guaranteed to withstand the impact of a clam diggers boat at full speed. Custom features include plasma disruptor cannon or torpedo launcher for dealing with boats who venture too close on the flats. This unit is expected to ship in the US this fall. Stay tuned for details!

06-23-2001, 07:15 AM
Here is my .02 on the ladder issue. We here in the East are tradition bound. The Catskill school of anglers in the old days would not think of using a sinking line. The Western Steelheaders were the first ones to use shooting heads.Now everyone uses them. A ladder is just another fishing tool. It helps you see the fish. An arguement could be made about strike indicators. I know of a group of anglers who would not be caught dead using one but when they hired a guide out West they used the indicator and caught fish. I'll bet that's why two handed rods have not caught on yet because of tradition. When the guys next to you is hauling in fish after fish using a two handed rod people will have to have them.

06-23-2001, 08:43 AM
Three cheers for us "Dorks!"

A "step up" in sight fishing Cape Cod Saltwater Sand Flats

Two handed fly rods and Ladders

Does spending an extra 40 bucks on one piece of equipment that will allow you to see 3 times as many fish and also 100 to 200 feet sooner on the flats sound to good to be true?

My fly fishing experiences over the last 20 years has been one of constant experimentation, development and refinement of my own ideas and borrowed ones. It's an ongoing process, one that never ends.

Not owning a flats boat or something similar I needed to duplicate and achieve their obvious height advantages on the flats. To increase the odds of sighting and catching more fish, I needed additional tools to combat the saltwater environment and its many challenges.

The two most important factors involved when sight fishing are speed and accuracy. Neither are achieved overnight, but both are critical when casting to a moving target. To help achieve speed I have found a two handed fly rod to be the ticket. But before you can make the cast you need to see'em first.

To help with site fishing on the flats I use a 5-foot aluminum stepladder. I call it my striper tower! It's a great way to open up your visual cone. I achieve a greater height advantage normally only known to flats boats. It opens up a usually small circle of vision into a vast 50-400 foot arena. This allows my clients and myself to prepare in advance, so speed is no longer as critical. By sighting fish so far in advance it allows you more time to decide there projected path. This is normally determined by direction of current flow, depth and contour of bottom. Any experienced flat angler will tell you that with knowledge of these Routes and highways it's simple to lead them30-50 feet with your fly. By leading your target so far in advance you are allowing your fly to sink to eye level. Thus tripling your odds of hooking up. Hoping the fish will rise up to your fly is normally met with a refusal. Anytime you can make it easier for any species of fish to feed, anywhere in the world you will increase your catch rate two-fold. Also by leading the fish, the noise made of fly and line landing on the water is less likely to spook them.


06-23-2001, 08:47 AM
To say the least, a ladder is an incredible aid in the study of behavior patterns. It helps me study their Routes, movement with tidal flows and relationship with structure. Feeding habits, baitfish, and experimentation of retrieves, productivity of certain flies, length of leaders and setting by sight, instead of feel.

One of the more interesting aspects of using a bright, shinny and reflective aluminum ladder in crystal clear water at high noon is its unbelievable attractor like magnet qualities to fish. Having stood on the sand over the years and learned exact routes that these fish run everyday. It was baffling at first as to why these same fish would all of a sudden change their normal route, and come straight towards my ladder. Sometimes they stop 20 feet away and just stare before spooking. Other times they swim slowly around this oddity examining it from a distance, then spook. Needless to say there are times when this gives me an additional advantage over fish that otherwise we may not have a shot at due to distance or the different route they were taking.

I've come up with 2 ideas why they are doing this.

1) They are curious and wondering what this is.
2) The reflective qualities of the ladder in combination with sun and water resemble a possible school of baitfish. Now, I'm not suggesting that you all put tin foil or x-mas tinsel on your waders to attract fish, but could it really hurt?

I think the answer lies with a combination of the above 2 thoughts.

Having spent some time on a flats boat, I've noticed by and large these fish spook if within 30 feet or so of the boat (sometimes 100 feet out!) What makes this equation tuff is if you see the fish 50-70 feet out and its moving towards you. You have an extremely short window to false cast and place the fly 30-50 feet out. If leading the fish is needed, you can see what a small window of opportunity is available. Throw in fussy fish (which is often the case with educated, resident fish) and your available window of opportunity closes down completely.
With the use of a ladder you are much smaller than a boat and less likely to spook them. I can also step down of the ladder completely and lower my upper body to decrease the odds of being in their visual cone. We become completely invisible. Try that on a flats boat?


Tod D
06-23-2001, 09:34 AM
What a terrific post. Way to get things stirred up Juro & Terry.

Having come back from an impromptu Thurs visit to North Monomoy, I was grabbing my keys to head to Costco after reading Juro's post. Among 3 of us, we saw over 100 fish come up on the flats in a 2 hour period. While we managed to land a handful, more often than not we'd see the fish - either alone or in groups of 3-4 - at about 15-20 feet. They'd already seen us though and - bam! - they were off. We'd seen Joey K head out w/ his ladder and we all were muttering that we were going to go find him and grab it...

Then, Terry posts some real food for thought. Boy, I don't know. Part of me comes down on the unfair advantage side - why not try to find a rock or some other "natural" height assistance - while the other side comes down on the "hey, it's a ladder, not a thermonuclear fish finder" side (not that there is an actual camp that supports such a device. I just couldn't think of anything else)...

Back to yardwork...

06-23-2001, 10:44 AM
I would try a ladder just to see how it effects vision..If it is anything like standing on my Yak it would increase the feild of vision I guess no more or less than if you were standing on a flats boat. but Adrian.. you try the new one first... I'll watch you as you watch the fish.(Wink).

06-23-2001, 08:35 PM
I personally have never run into anyone using a fishing ladder on a salt flat, that is after over 50 years of saltwater fishing. I would have some reservations about one, first: once set up you I am sure can see fish, but the fish are usually on the move so it is not like a boat that you can easily move. second: Do you have boards or skis to stop the ladder form sinking in the sand? I know that when I wade, and stand in once spot for a time, I have trouble getting started again, as I get stuck. Sometimes enough to fall over. I have bought this year, but haven't used it yet is an inflatable which has a plywood floor that you can standup on, in fact the ad for it shows four people standin up on one of the sides of the inflatable, visability would be there, plus it is easy to move to a different location. All for less than 33 lbs.

06-24-2001, 12:18 AM
Hmmm.... Art you're on to something. Kayaks are a widely accepted way of getting around, but with few exceptions (like the Tribalance, or stealth) they aren't going to change your angle on glare. With plywood floors, you could stand and change locations pretty easily.

I'm sure even a light anchor holds the raft in low to moderate current, true?

Food for thought!

06-24-2001, 01:28 PM
This thread still going?
Art says: "I know that when I wade, and stand in once spot for a time, I have trouble getting started again, as I get stuck. Sometimes enough to fall over"

I have that problem too. It's called old age :)
Kayaks? How about Jet skis then? Like I said before, it's a piece of cake to create the logic to defend a ladder. You have to go with your own gut instinct. If I'm boat fishing, I stand proudly on the bow and cast. If I'm shorebound I stand proudly on my feet and accept the odds. Dragging a ladder around will definately prevent you from looking like the great white hunter we all picture ourselves to be.

Capt. Lefty

06-24-2001, 09:00 PM
Juro, True, I also have a small anchor that will slow me down from drifting too fast, and far. Lefty, Maybe they have lead waterskis attached to the bottom of the ladders so they won't sink in the sand. For all those ladder users, I would find it interesting to see one in use. Nothing bad intended, I guess I haven't seen everything.

06-24-2001, 09:06 PM
Art... Forget the lead... this could make us a fortune by inventing a new sport. Ladder waterskiing.. I can see it now.. The X-Games for Extreme water sports. We'll go 50/50 ok?

06-24-2001, 09:38 PM
Terry -

To each his own. I had some fish coming over a shallow flat that I could not see until they were about hitting my legs on SAT am. My first thought... wonder how a ladder would help?

I'm gonna find out over the next few weeks.

06-25-2001, 08:12 AM
I have to have the last word, now get outa here. Good luck with the new ladder, I'm sure it will help you see them coming from much farther away.

Capt. Lefty

06-27-2001, 10:47 AM

How about Dr. Who's phone both? Seems like it would make a good platform...


06-27-2001, 11:05 AM
Greg S,
I was just going through this thread, clicked on Adrian's pic. and thought, that looks like one of those droids from Dr. Who. Was going to make a cryptic reference to it but you beat me to it.

Fred A.

06-27-2001, 12:38 PM
Adrian (06-23-2001 01:21 a.m.):
Evolution of the step ladder..... 2001/dalek.jpg

This highly advanced unit comes with on-board solar and backup nuclear powered propulsion unit, advanced infra red and sonic motion detectors. The chasis is guaranteed to withstand the impact of a clam diggers boat at full speed. Custom features include plasma disruptor cannon or torpedo launcher for dealing with boats who venture too close on the flats. This unit is expected to ship in the US this fall. Stay tuned for details!

It's the right height but the head is not flat! }>