Thursday, October 31, 2013

October program recap

At our October meeting, Glen 'Catch' Cormier gave a presentation on "Fly Tackle for Saltwater and Bass". He pointed out the next 5 months is the best time to catch large speckled trout and bass on the fly rod, and because of clear water in winter, the best sightcasting opportunity for redfish.

What does it take to get started, and what flies should you have?  Here are several notes from that presentation, including some tips on leaders and knots.

1. Basics.  A fly rod setup consists of rod, reel, fly line, backing, leader.  The backing, line and leader  go on the reel in that order. Flies are tied at the end of the leader. In fly fishing it is the weighted line that casts the fly.

2. Setup. Fly rods and lines are categorized by "weight".  General guidelines are, ultralight 1-3 weight, standard freshwater 4-6 weight, inshore salt and heavy fresh 7-9 weight, offshore 10-12, big game 13-15. A balanced outfit is one where the rod and line are matched (eg, both 8-wt) and the reel can hold the entire line plus 75 to 200 yards of 20-pound or 30-pound backing. 

The most popular setup for Louisiana coastal waters is the 8-wt.  Many also use a 6, 7, or 9-wt depending on species, conditions and flies used.  Rod brands such as Orvis, TFO, Echo, Ross and Redington offer good quality and start at just over $100 and come with a lifetime warranty.  Always test cast a rod before you buy!  

4. Lines.  Lines come in different tapers and in floating, intermediate sinking and full sinking. The most popular is the weight-forward floating, designated as WF-x-F, where "x" is the weight number of the line.  For casting big flies, a stiff-core line is desired.  Most saltwater or bass fly lines have these. For fishing the surf, an intermediate sinking line works better than a floating line.  Most intermediate lines are clear.

5. Reels.  For salt, a machined, anodized, large-arbor reel with disc drag is best. Prices for machined reels range from $100 on up. Such reels with care will last a lifetime. Value-priced machined reels include the Orvis Access, TFO HSR, Allen Alpha II, Cabelas RLS, Lamson Konic, to name a few. 

A non-anodized reel can be used for salt as long as it is soaked in freshwater immediately after each use.  For bass only, a non-anodized reel will suffice. Such reels start as low as $40. Excellent models include Orvis Clearwater, Cabelas Prestige Plus, TFO Prism, Echo Ion, Okuma SLV, Redington Surge, to name a few. Avoid click drag, and automatic reels... they are problematic and not a good investment!

6. Leader. The leader is monofilament or fluorocarbon that connects fly line to fly. Most leaders for salt and bass are 6 to 9 feet long.  A leader should be tapered to properly turn the fly over.  The tapered leader consists of a heavier "butt" section tied to the fly line, a light "tippet" section tied to the fly, and one or more "midsections" between the two. Catch prefers to keep his leaders simple by using just a 2-part leader, about 4-6 feet of butt and 3 feet of tippet.  Part of the fun of this sport is being able to make your own leaders and fish the ones that work best for you!

7. Knots. Catch suggested doing an internet search on "fly fishing knots" to see all the various possibilities.  His favorites for salt and bass are Albright for connecting fly line to backing, Nail or Uni-knot for connecting leader to fly line, Double Uni or Surgeons for leader segments, and Homer Rhoades (a varation of Uni) or Improved Clinch for tippet to fly.

This site has an excellent example of knots.

This site shows the double Uni-knot

8. Flies. There are thousands of flies that work for bass, specks and reds, but you only need a few to get started. Catch listed some of his favorite flies.  You are certainly welcome to try others.
  • Reds: spoon flies, poppers, charlies, bendbacks, crab flies, sliders, seaducers
  • Bass: poppers, woolybuggers, seaducers, Calcasieu Pig Boat, spoonflies, Bass Bully, Sqwirms
  • Specks: clousers, poppers, charlies, crystal shrimp, weighted deceivers, Coma Cocaho

9. VOSI.  Catch explained his favorite innovation: the Vertically-Oriented Strike Indicator. The VOSI is the fly-rodders popping cork. Take a small styrofoam cigar float - as found in most tackle shops - and cut it in half.  Use a Dremel cone to form a concave face in each half.  Slide the concave face up the leader and plug on the other side with the pin.  Tie a weighted fly underneath.  To attract specks and other gamefish, give it a pop, then let it sit for a second or two.  Often the strike comes during the rest.  This technique works in all but gin-clear water.

10. Locations. There are LOTS of excellent waters in the Cenla area for fly fishing bass.  The nearest quality saltwater spot is Calcasieu, with the Lake Prien launch only 2 hours from downtown Alex.  Fall and winter bring lots of quality specks in the Charles, Prien, and Moss lakes, easily fished from kayak and canoe. The best redfish areas are Freds Lounge marsh (east) and Bayou Choupique (west).  When the Sabine Refuge is open, the marsh areas around Hog Gully and West Cove are ideal for kayak fishing.