What I do is probably not really "stripping" with soft hackles. I literally just "jiggle" the rod tip quickly and with just enough force to barely move the fly. It's just enough to open and close the soft hackles, which seems irresistable to panfish
. In stillwater like a pond, a dead drift will often get hits (don't get me wrong) but I don't really have the patience for this kind of fishing and using the "jiggle" seems to get instant production for me. Oh, and I tend to hold the rod at a side angle more than straight up. I rarely hold a fly rod for any purpose in a vertical position, unless I need a mend or something or the conditions call for it.
Most people do not use the actual fly rod
to apply movement I've noticed, but I came to fly fishing from spin fishing and I'm too used to using the rod hand to provide movement. My line hand only collects the slack created by my rod movements.
But I still have a question: how far do you strip the line in? Say you cast it out there 20-25 feet. Do you strip it toward you until it is about 10 feet from your feet? More? Or a lot less? I know the real answer has to be "it depends" but there has to be some sort of guideline!
It does depend. But I often toss it literally just about right on top of where I suspect or see fish. When I do this I tend to pretty much immediately begin the jiggle. Sometimes with bluegill and bass you'll get hits literally in the first second of touching down. I know this is quite different from casting beyond and allow the fly to drift to feeding fish like you'd do in current/trout often. Try anything, but don't be afraid to put a little soft hackle near the fish -- I've not had panfish/bass that spook too easily. Sometimes slapping the fly on the water seems to bring 'em in
Actually, the soft hackle thing is really just the same way you'd work little tube jigs on a spinning rod. Nothing mystical, it just works really well for me.
Obviously with minnow patterns I tend to also add longer strips, lifts for jigging motion, etc. Whatever the fish seem to hit on that day.
I've said this before and it sounds arrogant, but I'll put myself into a battle vs. anyone on local bluegill with soft hackles
. Another cool thing is that you'll sometimes get them on foam bugs, poppers, etc. but the bigger ones tend to hold under the "morons" who hit the surface, and you can often get 1-2 "bulls" on wet flies fished underneath
. If I need more sinkage I'll use one of my brassie soft hackles because the wire obviously adds decent weight.
Just my take -- I'm kind of on the fringe. I also fish long level leaders which most people do not do. So find what works for you and have fun! You'll get plenty of practice on ponds you'll get a good idea about what patterns work and how to work them. Welcome to warm water!
I'm going the other way and trout fishing all this week -- give me some "moving water" luck
Edit- here's an example of the kind I tend to fish first on the water. I then adjust pattern/weight as needed for the conditions. https://www.google.com/search?q=snip...2F%3B400%3B399
This guy didn't dub any kind of thorax to "prop" the hackle in stronger current, but you don't really need to in still water in my experience.
---------- Post added at 06:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:22 PM ----------
Oh, and don't put hardly ANY thought into leader construction and tippet size. A lot of people use 2-5x leader/tippet for bluegill, but bluegill could probably be caught on 20-30 pound test tippet to be honest. I'm not proposing that....but I'd bet I could go out and catch plenty using it.
For bluegill I use 4-8 pound maxima (regular mono, not X stuff) in a long strip of 5-12 feet most of the time (depending on conditions). With chop on the water I tend toward the shorter end, with really clear, calm water I got longer. You could tie your own tapered leaders from something like 20 >> 12 >> 8 >> 6 or 4 pound tippet and it would work well. I just don't bother with it. If I know I won't tie on weighted clouser minnows or something I'll just use 4 pound for the panfish....
For bass, tapered a leader to 8-15 pound test is fine. 20 pound if you're fishing big flies on a 7-8 weight or something. Or if you're in massive vegetation. Lefty advocates a long strip of just 20 pound test for big bass in cover.
Panfish/bass are not leader shy and my take is that this isn't critical like it might be for trout. Warm water ain't trout fishing