Friday, July 16, 2010
Striper Fly Gear Part 1
Salt water fly fishing is by far the most exciting pursuit in light tackle angling.
This morning i was able to take about 20+ schoolie bass on the fly and i have to say i had the time of my life. New England anglers are blessed with a fish that is considered the perfect fly rod fish, the striped bass. With a little practice and some simple fly gear you too can start slaying.
Every journey begins with a single step, and Saltwater fly fishing is no different. If you, the reader, are coming from the freshwater fly fishing world i recommend reading a book on saltwater fly fishing in the north east. There happens to be many books written on fly fishing for stripers so i am sure you can find one at your local book store or find a used one on amazon.com and save a pant load. Ed Mitchel's "Fly roding the Coast" is a great read for the newbie. Ray Bondorew's "Stripers and Streamers" is another great read. Both books have a somewhat simple approach that will serve as a good primer before heading out on the open water. I regard both if these books as must haves and i ofter look back on them in search of a new technique or fly.
In New England everything from a 6wt to a 12wt is used in the salt. On the two extremes of this spectrum are the 6,7wts and the 11,12wts. Rod makers today have been constructing the smaller rods for saltwater use. A fast action 6 or 7wt can punch a fly line into the wind with a bigger fly. These are good choices for early season, mud flats, and small fish. I think they are also great for shad and winter herring. The 11 and 12 wts are the way to go when fishing deep from a boat with 400-650gr. sink tips, and an angler should have no problem sticking fish in 15-30 FOW. The above rods are "specialty rods" and are not the best all around rods. As a beginner you should concern your self with the 8-9and 10wt rods. The rods length and weight will be stamped somewhere on the rod, most likely it will be on the blank near the cork check.
The rod i would choose for the all around saltwater fly rod for the north east would be a fast action 9wt. They have plenty of power to cast 3/0 flies and deal with the wind, yet you can be gentle with it too. 9wts can handle big blues and decent bass as well as the occasional albie. The best advise on rods is this: go to a good fly shop and tell the dealer what your budget is, Rods rage from 100 bucks to 750 so you have a lot to choose from, he/she should be able to pick out a few rods for you. You should cast each of them and find the one you like most. Its as simple as that. Remember that these fast action saltwater rods are not as forgiving as slower freshwater rods so it does not hurt to over line it one size. Meaning if you have a 9wt cast it with a 10wt line. Over lining will allow you feel the rod load in a traditional sense, making it easier to cast and fish at night.
There are just as many reels as there are rods out there to choose from. They range from the good old medalist for 50 bucks all the way up to the Abels going for $800. I would pic a reel that is of machined aluminum and holds 200 yards of 20lb backing. A reel that holds 200 yards of 30 is also a good choice but it will be bigger in size and a little heavier. I think the Billy pate reel is one of the best reels ever made as well as the Tibor series also from Ted Jurasic. They are very expensive! but i own several and i have to say i will never part with them. Check out your fly shop for other options. I am sure there are plenty of reels out there that don't coast nearly as much and perform well.
Once you have selected a rod and reel it is now time to think about stringing it up. Read the manufacturer's specs on the reel to see how much backing to put on it. If it calls for 20lb got with 20lb backing. The new Gel spun stuff is good, but just remember it is a little more complex to rig. If not rigged correctly it could Spin on the spool or better, crack it. I would sick with good old micron. To attach the backing to the reel simply secure it with an arbor knot, get a few loose grabbing wraps and then add some tension and crank away. Once you have filled the reel with the backing tie a double over hand surgeons knot to create a loop. The loop should be about 12 inches long.
In recent years i have been fishing my Rio intermediate sink tip on the flats, at night, and from shore and i have found it to be on of the most versatile lines i have come across.
Now that you have the line create a loop in the end of the line with either a braided mono connector, or whipping the end. I prefer to whip the end. Then run the loop through the backing loop and pull tight. Create the same loop at the other end of the line to attach you leader. For leaders i keep it simple. 3ft of clear 30 looped up to 3 feet of 15 to the fly. Sinking lines i just use a 3-5 ft section if 15 or 20.
Breathable waders are the only way to go. The only choice you should have to make is stocking foot or boot foot. Boot foot waders allow the user to throw them on quickly, reducing your time at the truck and increasing your time on the jetty. You will also be able to beat that other guy in the parking lot rigging his gear and get the prime spot. Stocking foot waders on the other hand take longer to put on; however. what they lack in dawning time they make up for in comfort. The angler can get a pair of stiff hard core shoes with studs for rock and dangerous terrain, and a pair of light shoes for beaches. I fish only out of the breathable gear. I also use them all winter long duck hunting and clamming. A pair of fleece liner pants is all that is needed for cold weather.
If there is one vital item to your check list let it be your striping basket. I would not even attempt to fish with out it and there have been several occasions when i have had to walk back to the car to get it. You can buy one or you can make one out of a dish tub and a wading belt. I own the one Orvis sells and i think it is money well spent. Most of the baskets for sale run from 40-70 bucks. It sounds like a lot but you will use it more than everything else. One trip with out one and you will see what i mean. A good flash light is another item that i would not leave with out. Lets face it, if you are striper fishing from the sand, you will be doing a lot of fishing under the protection of darkness. Unless you can see through the bitch black of night get a light. Pliers that have a cutter in them are great also. Some times you have to deal with blues. pliers allow you to keep your digits clear as well as get hooks out that are deep. Don't forget a compass. Sometimes you will find a spot that allows you to wade a great deal from shore. If heavy rain moves in or the fog you can get back and live to fish another day. Tide charts are a good thing to have. Keep a log of what tides produced and you will find fishing can be predictable. Last but not least, bug spray.
Fishing for striped bass with the long wand is a great way to enjoy a priceless resource. A good 9wt, reel, line, and basket is all that is needed. Put in some time to learn the baits and habits of the fish and you will soon be bandaging your thumbs. The more time you put into learning the stripers world the better angler you will become.