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highway61 01-23-2008 10:23 AM

Sinking line on flats
Here's another question regarding the use(s) of a sinking line. I have been reading Richard Murphy's new book, which btw is a great read and has been enormously helpful. In it he writes about the use of sink tips on flats. He differs from other authors on this subject who advise the use of a floating or intermediate line. Rich's advice is based on the idea that it is critical in flats fishing that the line get to the bottom as quickly as possible lest it spook approaching stripers and on the way they forage. He reasons that intermediate lines takes too long to descend. I have been using intermediate line and have had some success out at Monomoy and on other flats. Of course my success could be based on the principle that my Dad often said regarding my other sport - golf, that "Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut"! Soooo...I am interested in hearing what you guys have to say....I want to thank all of those who taken the time to help the new guys. Your discussions on gear and tactics have been helpful and appreciated.

Steve M.

Steve M.

FredA 01-23-2008 10:40 AM

I have tested and verified (for myself at least) Murphy's hypothesis.

Adrian 01-23-2008 10:48 AM

I remember Dave Pearson used to add a FS tip to his intermeiate line to get it down fast. However, as most sinking lines are very dark relative to a sandy bottom, which will also spook stripers, he used much longer leader (16ft+) to maintain stealth.

Depending on water depth, I can see a case for a fast sinking line/tip to get the fly in the zone quickly. I use a floating line almost exclusively which puts me in the "non-politically-correct" camp :lildevl:

However, when sight fishing the flats, I rarely wade deeper than my knees and most of my shots are at fish swimming in water 2ft or less. Floating lines don't slap the water like sinkers so, to me at least, there is a counter stealth argument. I also carry a couple of lengths of LC13 that I can loop on in a hurry if I want a fast sinking tip or something to get down in current.

To me, the pale grey color of LC13 actually makes it more stealthy than most sinking line formulations but things may have changed in recent years. It does slap down like all sinking lines - so a long leader is needed to avoid spooking fish.

If someone could come up with a sand colored type IV that would land softly they might be on to a winner. :smokin:

FredA 01-23-2008 11:19 AM

In shallow hard running water I've watched a bunch of fish spook from the shadow cast by a suspended clear intermediate line (the bayside flats, with the high sun behind you, offers some great visibility for observation). Same with the floater, obviously. I'd been contemplating screwing around with a Cortland QD for quite awhile for high sun flats and did it last year. After a frustrating, windy, day casting to a ton of fish with a floater I went to the qd the next day and had a rediculously easy time of it hooking up. Presentation was to lead the fish by a long way anticipating thier path. Not much finesse but effective. Doesn't do much for honing your flatz skills though. This coming season I'm going to play with the floater and super length leaders. Bottom line (pun intended) in high sun I believe the shadow cast by the line, not the line, is the spook culpert.

Sean Juan 01-23-2008 11:38 AM

I use the fast sinker in nearly all applications.

The fast sinker gets the fly in front of the fish's face much quicker than an intermediate, especially if the tide is running. I only use an intermediate when the fish are busting on top, or if I feel like using a popper (which was surprising effective this year.)

BigDave 01-23-2008 03:16 PM

I have used a light sinking line on the flats - mainly because it cuts the wind better than an int or floater. It has worked for me (on a few very windy days).

Guernseybass 01-23-2008 03:19 PM

probably a dumb question, but wouldn't the problem of clear intermediates suspending on a flat be solved if you dropped your rod tip below the water ?

FredA 01-23-2008 04:38 PM


but wouldn't the problem of clear intermediates suspending on a flat be solved if you dropped your rod tip below the water
Not in a good current.

juro 01-23-2008 07:20 PM


Originally Posted by Adrian
Depending on water depth, I can see a case for a fast sinking line/tip to get the fly in the zone quickly. I use a floating line almost exclusively which puts me in the "non-politically-correct" camp :lildevl:

Depending on ones perspective, it could put you in the excessively PC crowd as well :lildevl: :lildevl:

"Murphy's hypothesis" is a bit of an overstatement with all due respect to his magnum opus, since people have found the merits in a sinking line (as well as it's handicaps) since experimentation was born and I forget who 'invented' that. ;)

There are days when line type does not matter at all. Those are not the days when one should judge the merits of one verses the other. Judge on the days it makes all the difference.

IMHO the clear intermediate has the broadest application across the various situations that may arise. Sometimes a sinker is better, sometimes a floater is better.

One can choose to be a specialist or a generalist. One thing I know for sure, if you are a wading angler and use an intermediate you think about all this a lot less than you do when using a sinker or floater. I think there's a message in that.

Viva la' difference.

flydoc 01-23-2008 07:36 PM

Thanks to input from "flats rat" Jim Simms, I carry one of each (an intermediate and a D3 sink)- I'll use the intermediate in calm shallow (below the knees) water, and the sinker in deeper/moving water.

PEC54 01-24-2008 12:26 AM

Floaters with clear sink tips with long leaders ,or a floater with very long leaders .And the direction of the sun/shadows is always taken into consideration.:D

FishHawk 01-24-2008 06:20 AM

I use a sinking line all the time and have no problem hooking fish on the Flats.
I do use the intermediate also. But have had better luck with the sinker.

highway61 01-24-2008 07:29 AM


What you say makes alot of sense and was verified by the diverse repsonses to my question. Since I am relatively new to fly fishing I am looking for useful info that will help me improve. Eventually I will have to sort through all this stuff and find what works for me, just as all of you have done. Learning about new techniques, tactics, and gear is part of the beauty and fun of this sport. At last years Marlborough show I went to Alan Caolo's presentation on flat fishing. He recommended using intermediate line. So when I read Murphy's book I wondered what you all do. I guess the lesson is that there is more than one way to skin a cat or should I say there is more than one way to filet a fish.:D

Steve M.

titleguy 01-24-2008 07:55 AM

Iused to be a die-hard intermediate guy, partially forced by financial constraints, but also by what I perceived to be its "versatility". I have no decided for a variety of reason that the "right" sink tip has broader applications that the intermediate. My solution last year for both my 9 wt and my 10 wt two hander was to go to the rio versa tips. I have heard complaits about the casting of the lines, hinging etc., but I found them to be very effective and cast well. Plus, you get 3 real sinking tips and a clear intermediate and very fast changeover. Last year, I fished a 350 on both the 9 and the two hander almost exclusively with good results. :razz:

RayStachelek 01-24-2008 09:27 AM

I've been telling them Cape guys for 15 years now to use a full sink line in shallow waters. That's what I have been using in Barnstable or Brewster flats.

Two reasons:

We fish from a boat so the sinking line stays at the bottom forcing the fish to keep his eyes looking forward not up. We disguise our location better since we are at the surface floating.

Secondly, since the Cape flats are mostly sand, the line and fly dragged over helps promote a sand eel explosion my moving particles. Gets them rev'ed up!

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