what fly line for flats fishing? - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 07-25-2000, 11:02 AM
Aaron
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what fly line for flats fishing?

I'm puzzled by the selection of fly lines by New England (i.e., Cape Cod) flats anglers. Perhaps some of you can enlighten me regarding the reasons behind your fly line selections.

First, let me provide my definition of ‘flats' fishing. To me, flats fishing is sight-fishing for fish cruising and feeding in shallow water. This means that I will not wade deeper than hip deep when sight-fishing on the flats. Fishing in water deeper than hip deep reduces my distance of vision on the flat to such a degree that the fish are upon me before I have a chance to sight and cast to them. I do not think that standing chest deep and casting off the edge is flats fishing. Of course, when fishing from a boat it is possible to fish deeper water because of the angler's now greater height and distance of vision. But for this thread, I want to limit the discussion to wading the flats.

I'll spill the beans right away here - I use floating lines almost exclusively (99.9% of the time) when flats fishing for stripers (just as I do for bonefish, permit, and redfish). In the water depths and casting distances we are talking about the added sink of an intermediate line doesn't accomplish anything, imo. It is more important to have a fly that sinks quickly. When sight fishing, it is important to have a quick and accurate cast to get the fly in front of the fish.

To make matters worse, I think a sinking line quickly becomes a disadvantage when sight fishing on the flats. A common occurrence when sight fishing is a quick redirection and re-cast after a fish has refused, ignored, or simply not seen the initial presentation of the fly. This re-cast is easy to do with a floating line, and is the great advantage of using a floating line. With a sinking line, the quick re-cast of a fly, especially after a long initial cast to a fish, is a chore at best.

When presenting the fly, there is a rather small window in which to manipulate the fly to entice a strike from a striper. Since this happens so fast and in such a small area, there is no way, imo, that a sinking line of any type will come into play under normal sight fishing flats conditions. ‘Getting the fly down to the fish' in this flats fishing situation is better accomplished by using a weighted fly. If you are using a 9 foot leader, and fishing in water a couple to a few feet deep, the influence of even a fast sinking line on the fly will be minimal. When casting to a sighted fish, in most instances the fish decides to take or refuse the fly in a short space and time, so having a line that ‘keeps the fly on the bottom' really shouldn't come into play when casting to sighted fish.

Enough from me. Any thoughts on this?

Aaron
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Old 07-25-2000, 11:23 AM
i'm so outta here
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RE:what fly line for flats fishing?

Aaron -- Most of the action on Monomoy this year has not been sight fishing in the traditional sense.... more like standing on the edge of a deep trench and blind casting to cruising bass. The limited sight fishing that has taken place - at least from what I've seen and heard - is not the typical Carribean style flats fishing where fish are tailing in a foot of water... more like you see a cow cruising the edge of a deep run and with the understanding that you have one shot and one shot only you hurl an intermediate line down to her in reasonably short order, sometimes twitching that crab pattern 'til she's licking your waders

On the South Island trip, we will be on the edge of a very deep, very fast moving body of water and a floating line will be of little use unless the fish are onto poppers.

I do see your point about floating lines in general. I personally haven't gone that route simply because Monomoy alone is not enough to justify the expense of a thrid line. I own a 7 weight with floating line that I've used for schoolies on surface flies (lots of fun), but so far, I haven't had the cajones to try this on the flats.

AL
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Old 07-25-2000, 11:40 AM
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ssully ssully is offline
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RE:what fly line for flats fishing?

Sounds to me like you're answering your own questions? IMHO.
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Old 07-25-2000, 12:54 PM
sRobbins sRobbins is offline
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RE:what fly line for flats fishing?

I own a lot of lines but haven't used anything other than Airflow Intermediates on Monomoy for several seasons. I'm more infatuated with the fact that they are clear than the fact that they sink. As Aaron has witnessed first hand, the slow sink hasn't been much of a benefit this season as it seems that every shot on the flats lately is a last-minute chuck-n-duck. I do think that when you get a good shot and are able to lead a cruising fish by a reasonable distance, then having a clear line below hanging below the surface helps -- it casts no shadow on the bottom. I also think that it's very beneficial when throwing flies into pods of milling fish -- the fish seem to cruise over the Airflow as opposed to around other lines. I also feel like the intermediate lines create a better/more direct connection with a sinking fly -- there is no "hinge-effect" as with floaters.

I've been using long leaders lately (greater than 10'), which is a real headache when throwing heavy flies, so this eliminates much of the effect that the line has on the fly.

I definitely prefer intermediates or sinkers off of the flats and for tunoids.
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Old 07-25-2000, 01:39 PM
Aaron
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RE:what fly line for flats fishing?

ssully - yes, I am answering my own questions - these are the reasons I use floating lines. Since I've seen and heard from so many others that use intermediates, I'm interested in hearing their reasoning for this.

Al_D - this year does seem a bit strange for flats fishing. The overall weather certainly hasn't helped. I've not been wading on Monomoy yet this year, so can't speak directly to what you've been seeing. However, I have waded the flats at South Beach, Hardings, and a few other spots, and have found fish, for the most part.
Not at all a personal remark, but a general comment brought to mind by your mention of few fish in the shallows... a few weeks ago I was on a south beach flat, and although the conditions were tough (high overcast, reflective water surface), I was able to spot some medium size fish in knee-deep water. The conditions made for slower action than on a good day, and I spooked a number of fish because I just didn't see them, but fish were there. After a bit, a group of 8 fly anglers walked up the beach and entered the flat about 100 yards below me. They walked directly to the edge and started casting. I'm sure they walked right past some fish and spooked others as they cast off the edge. They didn't catch anything as far as I could tell. To a certain extent I think it comes down to practice - I know I see more fish now than I used to.

I envy you guys heading on the South Tip Trip. You should get into some good bass. It seems like every time Juro plans an event I'm obligated elsewhere. From the sounds of things a sinking line off the edge for sure. The aerial photos confirm the big dropoffs. Good luck...and take pictures!

sR - can't argue with your logic, and your use of intermediate lines now has me experimenting with a clear intermediate when fishing from a boat (like last weekend). Still, perhaps it's my tropical experience, but when wading I really like the re-cast option.

I don't think there is a 'correct' answer to any of this, but experience and opinions count just as much in fly fishing.

Aaron
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Old 07-25-2000, 02:01 PM
sRobbins sRobbins is offline
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RE:what fly line for flats fishing?

I hear ya knockin', Aaron. I find that most times if my cast is off-target, then I know it pretty quickly, and the line hasn't sunk to the point where picking up line for another back-cast is particularly tough. One season I used a line I got out of a discount bin that featured a floating head and a sinking running line. It was pretty cool, especially around weedbeds -- the line hugged the bottom, hid in the weeds, and pulled the fly down. But at the same time, the fly rode up above the weeds just a bit. It worked pretty well -- wonder where that line went? Probably around my propellor.

I wish we would get a few great flats fishing weather days -- then maybe I could worry about re-casting to fish. Lately it's been a case of seeing fish 20' from the boat.
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Old 07-27-2000, 11:49 AM
CEWh CEWh is offline
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RE:what fly line for flats fishing?

Aaron,

I've fished in very shallow water at dead low at the mouth of the North River and on certain days sight casting is possible. I agree that many more fish are probably present in the shallow water then we think. It takes time to learn to see them. I call them "grey ghosts". I've walked up on fish in 6-8 inches directly in front of me. They are nicely camouflaged and difficult to see if too much ripple is on the surface. Anyway, I'm making the trip this Saturday and if weather permits and if the bottom is appropriate I'll be trying the "floating line" approach (redfish style) on those north/west flats. Although my experience is rather limited compared to most posting here, I agree that a floating line is prefered. Either way, I'm bringing my intermediate also, just in case. Now if I can just remember to bring my polarized glasses!

Charles Whitehurst
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Old 07-27-2000, 11:57 AM
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Lefty Lefty is offline
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RE:what fly line for flats fishing?

Hmmm, Maybe I'll throw the Floater in my pack afterall.

Terry
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  #9  
Old 07-27-2000, 06:47 PM
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RE:what fly line for flats fishing?

Good discussion, food for thought. I find that I seldom do the double-dipper casts in northern waters although there are definitely times when I wish I could avoid a lot of stripping. A big roll (switch) cast saves mucho effort and time as well, even with a full sink line.

Given one line it would be a clear intermediate and I have no complaints about the 444 clear int line I have been abusing for two seasons.

.02
Juro
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