Hey There Silver Fox ...
As the Munchkins told Dorothy, "The Best place to begin is at the beginning." So let's begin with an inventory of your collection. Provide me the details and I will be happy to help you along.
For example, you mentioned reeling with your left hand but you didn't say which hand you used for casting ... You also mentioned a Pflueger Medalist, but you didn't mention the model number ... You also mentioned a 9-foot rod but I need to know the manufacturer and model number and whether is is graphite or fiberglass. Believe it or not, these sorts of details are important, especially when trying to assist from a distance.
First off, casting to stripers in the surf is great sport but it requires the right line -- It's my view that the line is the most important part of the fly fishing system, not the rod or the reel. Second in the order of priority are leaders, tippets, and knots. Only then, the rod followed by the reel. The caveat is straight-forward, you must be comfortable with the rod...
I suggest follow the following link to my site and download "Excerpts." http://www.douglasmacnair.com
. It's free and covers the basics of the fly cast. It is the same booklet I issue to my students. Print it out in color using a 5x7 format. Read it. And when you practice, take it with you. When something goes wrong (and it will) stop immediately and refer to the booklet checking for the error you just made. You must be capable of self-critique or it will not work.
Although you've read about leaders and tippets, you mention questions about knots remain. Therefore, I recommend you go to http://www.activeangler.com/articles...index.asp#doug
and read my comments in the series, "Of Leaders, Tippets, and Knots." I also recommend you call Ande and request a copy of their "Book of Knots." It's free and one of the best available (Call: 561-842-2474.) As for the slip-on loops ... they work fine but I've had them fail. The secret is reinforcing the connection with a couple of nail knots. However my favorite remains the whipped loop topped off with magic glue ... I've yet to have one fail.
Finally, let's go back to your Medalist. If it an older model, it can be reversed; unfortunately, it is a tedious process and in my view not worth the trouble unless it is in perfect condition. It was when first issued, and remains today, a great reel; in fact I recently discussed upgrading the Medalist on this Forum. It is not, however, my choice for the surf, most especially for stripers.
This is a great sport. It can be as simple or complex as you might want. I promise you that you will never master all there is to know -- that's one of it's attributes. I learn something new almost everyday ... And while the Munchkins did not say this to Dorothy, allow me to comment: "The Best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time."
We are off and started...