Stripers on the fly

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Fly Fishing Stripers

Stripers can be caught by countless methods and more techniques are developed each year. Many share the opinion that the "only" way to pursue the Striper is with the fly, in fact sometimes it's even more effective than bait or lures. Stripers tend to get into a "groove" and often ignore offerings outside of a selective list of morsels. This is more of a mid-summer occurance, but the point is that sometimes a fly rod and the right presentation and fly fits right into their groove - like burrowing sand eels and a weighted eye fly. Other times the fly provides an alternative snack that they are interested in even while other baits swim by. Sometimes a neutrally buoyant presentation in the turbulence of the current is what it takes to seduce the fish. Nothing achieves this better than a well tied fly. There are an infinite number of little things to discover when one embarks on the striper fly fishing odyssey. Despite appearances, it's not the unpolished meat-fishery that a spring-creek aficionado might suspect. There is always a lot to learn with any fishery, and being successful in the striper zone is no exception. Fly patterns need to consider the adjustments the fish make as the season progresses. A simple deceiver or clouser minnow may be all you need in the spring or fall, but it's common to see big fish cruising or laying idle during mid-summer offering nothing more than half hearted follows to standard offerings. Once striped bass settle into summer grounds, the larger fish tend to separate from the smaller fish, that is to say that there are certain spots where large fish frequent more often and other spots that are generally ruled by "schoolies". This is a generalization (as are all such fishing conclusions) and even on dog days big and small may be feeding together, but knowing where big fish tend to frequent during summer months will help you find a greater percentage of big fish throughout the season. The schoolie spots are good to know as well, they can often make a good trip out of a skunk session. I've never become disenchanted with schoolies. Their spirited take and persistent fight is always a welcome treat. The trick is to not get too hooked on that fix - all efforts made to decipher the behaviors of large fish go toward a lifetime's knowledge of the topic, and those who have invested in this are reaping the rewards. Finding Active Stripers The most important thing you can do is observe. There are signs everywhere if you know where to look. The presence of bait is the most important ingredient for finding stripers willing to feed. Our great friends the birds show us where the bait is, and more often than not where the fish are too. Herons and Gulls (when Present) dive into schools of smaller bait fish and indicate the presence of shad, minnows, and other small schooling baitfish. Cormorants and mergansers join in on the smaller bait parties from below the surface. Although gulls can't dive effectively for moving bait, they hover and circle and pick up baitfish as they are attacked from below the surface by game fish. The striped bass and birds actually cooperate by attacking from above and below on the hapless baitfish. Whether the birds are working the bait or not, there are other signs to keep a watchful eye on as you hunt for Stripers. Most big fish feed at night, but there are those days when good fish are on a noon-time feed. These moods are affected by season, available forage, and a number of other factors .

Fly Fishing:
Rod: 6 wgt. (minimum), 8/9 wgt. average and adequate, 12 wgt. for big wind or exceptionally big fly days.
Reel: Saltwater with a good, smooth drag.
Line: Usually an intermediate sinking does the job for stripers in 3' to 20' feet of water but a shooting head system with four lines from floating mono (flats) to rocket sink (ocean and channels) is handier for changing conditions.
Leader: Stripers, usually 3' to 9' (open water to flats) of 12# tippet. Bluefish require steel. Tunas benefit from 8# flouro.
Flies: Clousers (chartreuse/white & olive/white, #2 to 1/0, flats to shallows); Deceivers (blue/white & green/white, #1 to 2/0, shallows to open ocean); Bunny (white, 1/0); Sand Eel (#1); Surf Candy & Bonito Candy (white, pink and red, #1)

Excellent article on Striper Fly fishing 101 written Jim White contibuting editor for the Narional striped Bass association

 

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