I've been reading this forum for a few weeks now and its a great resource to a neophyte like myself. I have been fishing for all my life (probably over 100 days a year) and have just now become very interested in fly fishing, probably because I now go to grad school in Buffalo, NY and there are so many opportunities for fly fishermen. I am looking to get my own outfit (or several, for that matter) as soon as the money comes in, but until then I have been fishing my dad's 6wt as often as I can. I am down visiting my parents in Sarasota, Florida where I grew up, so I have been trying in both salt and freshwater.
I caught my first fish in the surf and pond (a whiting and a 'gill) and am totally hooked. I'm not totally familiar with the numerical sizes yet, but in the surf I was fishing a larger brown clouser and in the pond I was working black poppers of two sizes, though both were pretty small (the head on the larger popper was slightly bigger than a pencil eraser). I've watched a bunch of videos and most of the poppers I see guys using are a good deal larger for bass, but thats for a different thread...
Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself, and I know I'll be learning a lot more from this forum, and hopefully contributing a thing or two as well! Tonight I'm going to be trying some more clousers inshore for whatever will bite, based on what I've read I think I will be going with a white-chartreuse one first. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
A.J. Welcome to the forum and the great sport of fly fishing! As you have found there is a lot of information here and numerous folks that are extremely knowledgeable and more than willing to help with any questions you may have.
AJ welcome to the forum-- it sounds like you're off to a great start.
Those panfish poppers sound like they're perfect for your 6 weight (they're probably on a size 10 or 12 hook). The larger "bass poppers" you refer to might be a bit more difficult to cast with a 6 weight, since they're more wind resistant.... at least at first, but as your casting improves you can ad some of those too down the road on a short 71/2 or 8' heavy leader tapered to 10-12lb test which will help to straighten them out on a cast.
If there are bass around in the ponds you fish, those panfish poppers will probably get their attention-- and don't hesitate to throw those clousers in fresh water too if the ponds are deep.
Thanks for all the welcomes! My casting has been improving slowly but surely, but my catching has been rather slow! However, I was fishing with my dad the other night and he was having success with both a jig and live bait (both on a spinning outfit). Tired of seeing him land keeper reds, I cheated and baited a live shrimp on a hook and cast it out with the fly rod. I landed a few different fish (trout, lady, red, pinfish) and also hooked a tiny pinfish while my hook was dangling in the water waiting for a new shrimp.... I'm not going to count any of these catches because they were caught on live bait, but it was good practice for landing and unhooking fish at least.
Now I just want to catch a saltwater fish on an actual fly! I count that whiting as a fluke/beginners luck...
Keep at it-- it sounds like the fish are within range of your cast if you're getting them on shrimp, so you should be able to get them on flies too--
Do you see the reds tailing? if so and you can sneak up on them close enough to drop a fly in on them they should whack a clouser. The nice things about reds is that they're usually not too picky if you can land something on top of them (without casting over them).
A small topwater fly like a gurgler or foam popper (on a stainless steel or other type of saltwater hook) might be a good idea and be fun to fish too if there are ladyfish reds and sea trout (weakfish) around. Sometimes the little bit of commotion on the top that those things make can actually draw fish to you, and it's a blast to see fish crash them. They should be a ball on a6 weight.
We were wading a small harbor area and the reds were schooled up under a boat, rather than flats fishing where you can see the fish tailing. Everything was striking deep. I was wondering if maybe clousers on sinking line, rather than the floating line that is on there now, would have been more successful. I didn't have any bigger surface flies with me, though I'm sure both the specks and ladyfish would hit them had I had some with me. I'm also wondering if my retrieve is possibly incorrect and that's preventing hook-ups. I KNOW the fish are there, I've caught plenty in the spot before and was watching my dad catch them that night, and was catching them myself when cheating with shrimp. I haven't really gone out with anyone who can really show me what to do just yet, so it is a whole lot of trial-and-error, and hopeful youtubing! If anyone can give me some pointers on a productive retrieve, or point me toward a good video clip, I would be grateful!
Tomorrow we're going tarpon fishing, we'll see if I get them opportunity to use the 12wt or if our guide (my neighbor) restricts me to just spinning tackle. I've never caught a tarpon before because I am always away with school/work whenever season swings around, so we'll see if I bring one to the boat tomorrow! If I do, you can bet there will be photos, even if the weapon of choice is spinning tackle!
Finally, I have talked to Justin at Allen Fly Fishing and will be buying a rod and reel from him as soon as the money comes in. Right now I'm aiming for an 8wt outfit, but I will more than likely also be buying my dad a new 5/6 reel. Does anyone have experience with Allen fly line? The price seems unbeatable, so I was wondering how it compared to other lines? How about for saltwater? I will be fishing mostly steelhead in the fall, being in WNY, but I also want the 8wt for saltwater action so I'm thinking of picking up at least one extra spool.
Sorry for the lengthy post, I have a looooooot of questions, this is only scratching the surface!
I think if you were wading, a floating line should be OK, unless maybe you were casting into a deep channel and fish were holding right on the bottom.
If the fish are a bit deep, try casting up current and let the fly sink before you start your retrieve-- one way that can be effective is to "count down"-- count 10 Mississippi's before you start the retrieve-- next cast count 15 Mississippi's and keep adding Mississippi's until you start catching or hang up on bottom. it's a good way to get to try and figure out where your fly is in relation to the fish and bottom.
Usually if I'm trying to fish deep, I keep the rod tip in the water, pointing in the direction of the fly line (typically the line may be down current of the position of the fly). Strip the the line in short 3-6" spurts-- vary the retrieve strip..... strip..... pause.... strip .... pause.... strip ... like a happy baitfish wandering around oblivious to the all those big fish fish with bloody murder in their eyes.
For saltwater fish, you're using big hooks and strong leaders. Many of the fish you're chasing, (especially tarpon) have bony mouths, so you'll need a strong hook set. If you feel resistance, "strip-set" the hook by stripping the line as opposed to a "trout hook set" made by raising the rod tip (used with smaller flies and much lighter tippets). The strip set will do 2 things--
1. give you a much better chance of hooking the fish and
2. if you miss the fish, your fly will still be near the fish and you can continue fishing out your retrieve-- it's not uncommon for a fish or one of his buddies to miss and come back for a second or even third whack at the fly.
But in moving water-- anything with a bit of current-- it's going to be difficult to hit bottom in 10+ feet of water while wading from shallower water, even with a sinking line. This is because the current will be sweeping your line down current while it is sinking, so unless you're really leading the fish, it will likely swing over their heads. So redfish, which normally orient to the bottom may not see your fly in deeper water, but fish like ladyfish or sea trout might be suspended mid depth and are also more likely to chase flies that are higher in the water column than redfish.
As far as gear goes, the 8 weight sounds perfect for light saltwater flats and back country (reds, specs, spanish mackerel, snook, ladyfish, baby tarpon, bonefish, and all kinds of stuff in FL, largemouth and small mouth bass in freshwater, salmon and steelhead in WNY and bluefish and striped bass if you take trips to the NE coast.
I don't have much experience with the Allen fly lines, but many NAFFF members rave about them, and like all Allen stuff it seems like an excellent deal.
Good luck with your tarpon expedition-- let us know how you do.
Mark, thanks for the tips! I'm hopefully going to get to have one more shot at the salt with the fly rod before I leave Florida for Sweden on Tuesday, so I'll try and apply what has been said!
As far as tarpon expedition pt I, it was an interesting day. By 8am we saw our first school (guess the fish were late risers [no pun intended], but I can't complain). After that it was pretty constant for a bit, school-short pause-school, as well as having tuna or macks just killing the bait slightly further off shore. Also saw a few big loggerheads. We then moved to another spot where there were already a lot of boats but tarpon were EVERYWHERE. At one point four different boats were hooked up. Unfortunately, the tarpon were hitting baitfish and not crabs and the baitfish had no interest in the sabiki (surprisingly). I only saw one fly fisher out of all the boats there. Man could that guy cast. I was jealous. Anyway, I'm lucky enough to be headed out on another friend's boat tomorrow, and I made sure that we're picking up some baitfish to diversify the buffet for the tarpon. Pt II coming tomorrow, hopefully complete with my ugly mug next to a silver king! It would be my first ever, so I hope it happens!
Tarpon day II, hooked up, fought the tarpon for two hours (1:58), got a leader grab, and had the line finally break before they could get a gaff in. Mate couldn't operate a camera to save his life, but the captain got a few pictures during the fight, we'll see how they look. Got a few jumps, a really sore back, and my first tarpon, which the captain estimated at 140lbs. Would have liked a picture with the fish and a measure, but I'll settle for a touch of the leader this time! Next time I go after tarpon I'm doing it with a fly rod, but I'm content for that next time to not come for quite some time! I'll stick to fish that weigh less than me in the mean time