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Old 07-25-2000, 11:02 AM
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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?

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