While on a striper trip recently my guide pointed out the way I strip retrive. I learned the rod-under-the-arm-two-handed retrieve when I first started fly fishing and it is my "auto-retrieve."
The guide advocated a one-handed two-strip-pause, two-strip-pause retrieve with the rod not under the arm. This has, so far, paid off on two occasions.
The reason for the fast hand-over-hand strip I constantly use finally dawned on me: I do this, more times than not, just to keep the fly off the bottom with the sinking lines I always use. I have started using my intermediate line more often now.
The reason I posted this thread is to help turn the large numbers of follows I get into strikes. I am looking for opinions on retrieve techniques for different baitfish imitations(speed, cadence, rod position, etc.)
This is about a different species so you can take it with a grain of salt.
I will often stop off at a pond on my way home from work and fish for sunfish. The visibility in the pond is pretty good and the fish are close to shore. On those occassions that I use a wet fly or streamer I can watch the following sequence.
1. The fish will become aware of the fly and swim over to it.
2. The fish will look at the fly for 20 - 30 seconds, then start to turn away.
3. I give the fly a 6-12" strip and stop.
4. The fish pounces on the fly.
I've also observed the same behavior with large & smallmouth bass.
I think that the stop-pause-start motion lets the fish think that the meal he thought was there and lost track of, is there, and excites the response of "your not getting away from me again"
Just putting in my 2 cents on your question.
This is a great topic!
The answer depends very much on the species, it's mood at a particular time, the line, the fly, the conditions, etc. There is no easy answer to this seemingly simple question. "Act on gut feel and iterate to success" would be my motto.
For instance in salmon/steelhead fishing the presentation is primarily in the swing, not in the strip. It's not about stripping the fly here at all, it's more about understanding the flow and the way the line and fly interact with it.
For dries in a stream, it's mostly about drifting.
Streamers in a pond - stripping and twitching.
Stripers... perhaps the most strip-conscious fishery out there. There are as many retrieves are there are situations, and I mix it up the whole time while fishing a single spot. My least used retrieve is the double handed strip. I have a bunch of variants of the single handed strip and use pet names for them, like the dog lick or the old man or the shock and stop. I use these metaphors when communicating the strip technique to others. One things for sure - the strip does make a big difference in striper fishing.
I'm a great believer in the "presentation is everything" school. I find that visualization helps. Look closely at the water for a while and try to feel what's going on under / on the surface. Two of the most effective yet misnamed techniques are the so-called "dead drift" or wet fly swing and "static" presentations. In both cases, there is no retrieve per se, but the illusion of life is created by the action of the current on the materials in the fly. I like to tie variations of certain patterns with highly mobile materials like marabou, arctic fox and Icelandic sheep.
I agree with Juro in that it's very easy to get into stripping rut - especially when one type of retrieve produces a strike. I like to refer to this as the baby goose syndrome - we either see someone get a hit or experience something similar and suddenly all the rods along the shore are stripping in unison like violin bows at the Boston Symphony. Kenny Abrames spent a lot of time watching surf casters fishing large floating plugs and figured out that the largest stripers were caught by anglers who barely moved the plug - just a twitch/twitch retrieve and then allow the plug to drift.
Makes you wonder what could result with a floating line and seven inch streamer?
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