Powers of Observation--the splash factor [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Powers of Observation--the splash factor

12-06-2002, 09:21 AM
I am placing this on this forum because it may get more hits and therefore more opinions. While redoing the Crab Apple I was concerned about weight. Now that I will be looking at tropical crabs in more detail as a study, it will not do any good if flies developed ,like the crab apple concept, are ineffective because of the splash factor.. I will have succeeded in only making models that look nice but don't work. So, from a striper point of view the splash factor has never been an issue with me in fish. Beach fishing or in a boat, is reading the water and not necessarily sighting fish . We all know that the sound of the surf, birds diving, seagulls droping their clams in the water make for a number of noises. Now, I don't pretend to know what a fish hears so the issue must be based on experienced observations since I know of no auditory tests comparing how different flies may sound as they hit the water. What I am getting at is that as far as observation is concerned, I have screwed up casts where my line and fly, the heavy clouser pound into the water and a momment later ,as I strip, I have a fish on. In sight fishing on Monomoy, even in the doldums of summer, I have cast to within 5 feet of a school of striper, and they just keep swimming along.. one may break off ,swim up to the fly ,then vear off.. are they vearing because they are just curious, they see the fake bait, they see the leader, or,since most vear off at the end of the strip, is it because they see YOU. I sometimes think that's the real problem. Why is it that I may drift the fly into a hole on the flats and get a hit..is it because they are lying in wait and grab the fly before it gets on to the open flat? While on the flat they don't seem interested,(are they thinking, this is weird..why would this food sourse be casually swimming in harms way) or follow it for a long period...maybe it is that on those type of flats... there is no way for the bait to effectively escape so the stripoer can take it's sweet time to follow it for as long as it wants....until he sees you. My point is I am sure bonefishing must be different and my experience bonefishing is limited for a boat or beach..I have never had the opportunity to really stalk them (family Vacations ). But I need to understand this splash factor more.. even Lou Taboury tyes a bonefish clouser fly with a little bit of the bucktail overhanging the eye of the hook to, as he says, to minimize the splash of the clouser... a worry he does not have with striper fishing. I also observe many bonefish flies made entirely of epoxy..so they must splash more than the spun deer hair bonefish flies. I am also aware that different water conditions and particularly ,depth is a fact for the splash factor. So before I attempt at creating realistc tropical crab flies I need to figure out if it is even worth doing if the epoxy will creat a negative splash factor. I hear people at UFT talk about .."this fly make very little splash as it enters the water" .. as a striper fisherman I think they must be talking about trout fishing.. and I say to my self,...from my experience...so what. Does anyone have any "observations"..or know of an auditory study.. I don't want to get to technical..just a point of discusion to flush some facts out... thanks.

12-06-2002, 12:30 PM
All tremendously great questions that unfortunately I don't have the answers for??? I have no experience with bonefish or the tropics but I have on many occasions experienced the same thing you have with fish chasing the fly right to me only to veer off and refuse to eat. This is very frustrating and a constant challenge to try and decipher the code so to speak. I have my theories but I would be very interested to hear what others think on this topic of "Striper refusal of perfectly good tasty fly" syndrome! I have had limited success changing the speed of the retrieve when they are in this mood, a very fast strip followed by a sudden halt to the flies movement will at times elicit savage strikes but does not always work. This is but one reason I keep fishing because there is always another hurdle to overcome when stalking fish with rod and reel. As far as the bonefish I wuld if I had the opportunity just try to keep it simple and not think myself to death on a flat, just keep casting and presenting the fly to fish I see and let them teach me what they want and how they want it by just observing and noting their behavior. I think casting technique is also just as important if not more so when trying to make subtle presentations to finicky fish, something I am not the expert on for sure. Would be nice to someday have those problems though, just to be out on a crystal clear flat attempting to catch those fish would be enough for me, hooking and landing them would just be a bonus.

Mike M.

12-06-2002, 01:35 PM

This is a great subject!

My .02c. based on bonefish is it depends - on what I have no idea but some days they spook at the appearance of their own shadow and others they will litterally fly across ten feet of skinny water to nail a charlie that just splashed down. Many times I've cast to a tailing fish thinking - Uh-oh - this is going to be too close - only to be pleasantly surprised by the result. Not every time but significantly frequent to say there doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule - not that there are too many of those anyway ;)

At the other end of the spectrum I've had 75lb lemon sharks spook at the sound of a small deceiver landing too close.

Doesn't seem to make much difference what the weather is doing either but windier days tend to find them a bit more agressive.

Living creatures are incredibly complex mechanisms and the triggers for particular behaviors vary from individual to individual. Just like us I suppose. Basically we're all fashioned from the same basic ingredients but the differences in the mix dictate the outcome. We live in a normally distributed universe - Mother Theresa under one tail, Charlie Manson under the other, - you get the idea.

Getting back to fly design, the pundits talk a lot about sink rate versus splash factor. The popular wisdom is to be prepared for a variety of circumstances.

Your flounder and crab patterns are outstanding! Keep those creative juices flowing - you are an inspiration to us

12-06-2002, 01:41 PM

As you say - in the surf I dont' think it makes a difference. In a crab hatch in calm water it might be a different story.

As far as the flats go - when the tide is really running hard at North you usually have to lead the fish so much that I don't think it's that big of an issue. Plus the fish are nearly always moving - not rooting around in a fairly confined area looking for food as a bonefish might.

As far as late-summer refusals go - man, I feel your pain. I can't tell you how many times I set up a small pod perfectly this summer and had them swim right over the fly. I think it has something to do with weather the fish are turned on or turned off. Competition could be a factor too. Just another part of the mystery that makes FFing so damned much fun! :chuckle:

12-06-2002, 04:54 PM
When Largemouth Bass are "tough" and "visibly cruising" the shoreline it used to be accepted practice to make a stealth entry and to lead the fish significantly and then let the fish "find" the lure. Many have found that "skipping" or splashing the lure on a leading cast is the way to go. Gets their attention! And it works in gin clear water! This works mostly with lures with a very slow fall rate.

12-08-2002, 08:33 AM
Adrian said: Living creatures are incredibly complex mechanisms and the triggers for particular behaviors vary from individual to individual.

I believe Adrian has it nailed. Though weather, etc. can cause significant changes in the fishing, differences in individuals probably account for much of the maddening variation we see. Though my striper experience is limited, I've seen a great deal of variation in chinook behaviour. One fish slams the fly aggressively, the next flees the same fly as if it's a great white, while a third ignores it completely. All of this within a space of fifteen minutes on the same piece of water.

Wouldn't be half as much fun if they were all the same, eh?

12-08-2002, 09:13 AM
Splash factor and leader shadows in clear water are critical in certain circunstances as I learned again this summer on ultra clear South Dakota mountain spring creek that was filled with browns and rainbows. I obviously did not have the right set up, but I blame it on my this being my first day on this blue ribbon fishery and having my two teenage boys with me to look over.

Actually the splash of the fly attracted them the pattern and/or leader shadow turned them off as I perceived the situation. So splash can be an attractor in certain situations.

I have also seen steelhead and salmon in similar clear water situations where the splash would not effect them and also when it sent them scurrying for cover.

You never know what their attitude will be from day to day, thats what makes it a constant challenge to try and master.

Perhaps a fly design which minimizes entry splash should be explored ? Particularly, for clear water flats fishing like the NE stripers and southern red fish and bone fish etc, I can see that as a key factor to consider. Also for fresh water carp flats fishing.

In my fishing I don't think it is a controlled variable I want to pursue with the steelhead and salmon here in the great lakes.

12-08-2002, 11:44 PM
Thanks guys... I know it's to difficult to narroew down..It just seems that in tying saltwater flies,the splash factor is not that big a factor.. rarely for Blues, maybe with stripers, and significant with Bonefish.

12-09-2002, 05:18 AM
The Permit is one of the most difficult fish to catch on the flats. The most effective fly is the Merkin. It has a splash factor. What seems to work the best in fly design is impression and simplicity . What comes to mind is the Hare's Ear and the White Estaz fly. Simply to tie and effective. The Clouser has a splash factor and works. Sometimes the so called experts like to sound off.
The reason why I like flyfishing so much is that you get to try and fool a primitive animal with a creation that you have made. The fish will be the final judge. Keep up the good work John.