Archive for September 11th, 2011


Fly Fishing Lakes & the Slip Strike


Beginning Fly Fishing & A Slip Strike: When you are using a sinking line, the rod tip is best kept at the surface or even a few inches under. You are attempting to remove slack, which will maintain a straighter connection to the fly. When the fish hits or taps at the fly you are more likely to feel it.

When you fish a floating line and dry/emerger fly pattern, you are accustomed to raising the rod until you feel the fish is on. This is even more pronounced if you developed that hard hook set as a gear guy. Your well honed reactions to raise the rod to set the hook are not as productive when fishing a sunken line. Yes, you will sometimes hook the fish, but often you will pull the fly away by a considerable distance. 

It is better to use a modified slip strike technique used by saltwater fly fishers and guys that throw big streamers at fish with big teeth. This short video explains the technique for an angler that is standing. When you are seated in a tube or pontoon boat the concept is similar but more confined. 

Keep the rod tip down at the water or slightly submerged. The rod hand always has the line secured between the cork handle and the stripping/retrieving fingers (except when casting and shooting line). The retrieving hand should attempt to be always in control of the line (there is that vulnerable moment where one retrieves and lets go of the line to then reach forward for the next retrieve).  Side Ways Slip Strike

When the angler feels the hit, resist the temptation to elevate the rod. Instead point the rod to the fish and pull back toward your belly. Often you will set the hook. If you miss the set, the fly has maybe only moved 1-2 feet versus the greater distance of a raise the rod/pop the hook set. Once you feel the pulse of the fish raise the rod up to play the fish against the rod. This releases some of the tension of a straight pull/fight against the leader/tippet’s strength. 

If it is a big fish, it will often take line up through the guides. That line on your apron needs to shoot up through the guides. Use just enough tension with your rod hand to control the rapid movement of the line upward…not too loose, not too tight. Enjoy the fish at this point. Is the drag set too tight, too lose? This is ideally done in advance, but truthfully you won’t know how that drag is until you hook enough bigger fish to feel the surge and know how your reel’s drag performs. But do know how it is adjusted and think…how would I tighten or loosen the drag if I needed to (will you have to momentarily switch hands?).

If it is a smaller fish, you can strip line down the guides, onto the apron and in essence strip the fish toward you. If the fish is a bit stronger than you figured the line, pinched against the cork handle and your rod hand, can be gently allowed to slide upward through the guides for an unexpected run.  


Wind from the east, fish bite least.

Wind from the north, don’t go forth. 

Wind from the south, fish will take it in the mouth. 

Wind from the west, fishing is the best.


Fishing: Americana & Put and Take Fishing

Some observations as I hang about. (Holy Taco Pic)

Just observations. Implied judgements, I suppose. Just the combined oddities amongst the supposedly normal. At this one location, I have observed the following: this includes a boulder into my truck; a drunk man laying in a ditch with a fire to keep him warm on a hot Summer day; a pickup truck parked on the side of a steep embankment sliding over sideways and stopped from entering the lake by a few trees; a father impaling his daughter’s bottom lip with a treble hook when casting, then yelling at her for being in the way; numerous people falling down the gravel embankment and crashing at the bottom, one even ending up knocking his father into the lake; an odd anomaly of Eastern Euros using multiple rods and over harvesting by a factor of 5+ (never any enforcement; guess it doesn’t fit with the put and take concept); couplings in the woods (must be the heat and nature); talkative gents, who want to carry on extended conversations with me from a hundred feet away over all manner of topics; garbage (beer cans, worm containers, cigarette butts, etc strewn along the lakes edge; fishermen that must cast out a hundred feet to mark their territory (yes, sometimes I drift too close while moving backwards, but seriously asshole casting heavy lead within a few feet of me?).

And, there are a lot of folks just trying to relax, mind their own business, and take home some fish. There is an odd energy when the multitudes assemble at a put and take fishery. I usually find my safe place and observe while making the acquaintance of some fish.

Can or does the put and take (hatchery stockings) foster any sense of protecting the habitat in the larger scheme of things? Could there be some campaign to foster better habits? It is as if the people who manage these resources have turned their backs upon basic messages that would foster respect for the resources. Dump in a few thousand keepers and forget the rest? The rest is, of course, the probable outcomes of human nature when many are gathered. 


Fly Fishing: Retrieves to Entice

As a beginning stillwater fly fisher, you might want to consider a few factors that I frequently access while out on the water. What, where and how? What insects or creatures are apparent or possible in the water? Where are the shoals, drop off’s, structures, cover that might harbor the trout while feeding or resting? And, how will I present my offering to suggest the insect/creature that the fish are likely to feed upon?

The above questions are constant parts of the stillwater puzzle. Now you can enjoy a lazy day (no big winds and waves) of kicking about and trolling a fly with no retrieves beyond that provided by your kicking fins. It is ok to do that, of course, it is your time to enjoy as you will.

But, I would suggest a few alternatives to the trolling/search technique. Whether you troll, anchor up or just drift/kick to stay in an area, pay attention to your retrieves of the fly and think about the actions you are imparting to the fly. What life suggesting movements are you trying to impart to the fly: darting, rising & diving, slowly inching along or hanging vertical from the surface.  

The Figure 8 Retrieve. I often use this with Callibaetis patterns or to slowly entice fish in the shallows. I cup the line in my hand, but unlike many, who keep all the line gathered in their hand, I drop the line to the apron every four or five grabs. A figure eight retrieve will draw the fly 3-5 inches each grab assuming you are not kicking as you retrieve (kicking will add distance and increased movement to the fly). At all times, I am alert to the take. The right hand will tighten, the right hand fingers will tuck the line to the rod handle. The left hand fingers will tighten and strip set, then the right hand will raise the rod to play the fish. (PP)

This does require you to do a little studying on the movements of stillwater food sources. How does a Chironomid emerge; a Caddis rise to the surface or dive to lay her eggs; a Mayfly act beneath the surface or trying to get to the surface; how do Damsels swim just beneath the surface toward shoreline structure; leeches pulse and wiggle in the shallows; how would a predatory Dragon fly nymph act…on an on. Study their movement. Then visualize this as you retrieve the fly line onto your apron: short/fast… long/slow… pull/pause,  wait, pull…figure eight/inching it along…long/fast.

All the combinations of retrieves are to entice a take. The fly has to look like a possible food item and then you have to keep it in the zone and make it look real by the retrieves you use.

Remember that trout are, almost always, horizontal or looking up feeders. Use a line that keeps the fly in the zone longest. Too heavy of a line or too heavy of a fly will take the fly deep and possibly past the feeding fish. 

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September 2011

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