Fear and loathing in fly fishing

Legendary ad man Bill Bernbach once handed each of his employees a card printed with the words Maybe he is right. The idea was to encourage his staff to give new or foreign ideas a fair shake.

I think fly fishing needs an equivalent. Especially striper fly fishing.

The populist culture is that of the nine-weight rod, the intermediate line, the rapidly sinking single fly, and the cast-and-strip presentation.  Deviate from those paths, and you are greeted with alarm by the collective. Conformity is encouraged. It is your safety net. Without it, you’ll be sorry. You’ll see.

This pack mentality is frequently observed on internet forums. Mention fishing for stripers with more than one fly, and you can almost see the eyes glazing over and the heads spinning. Tangles! Hard to cast! Is that even fly fishing?

Thankfully, striped bass don’t read internet forums. Unlike people, they are immune to fear (it won’t work) and loathing (I’ll look stupid).

There are so few absolutes in fishing. There are, on the other hand, many, many ways. So if you don’t aspire to fish like everyone else, open doors. Ask questions. Find out. Try new things. How does that guy fish? Does he catch a lot? Does it look like fun?

Maybe he is right.

No wrong answers. Only the right ones for you. On this night, the striped bass repeatedly picked out the middle dropper, a chartreuse and olive Eelie between 2″-3″.

Block Island Bass

6 comments on “Fear and loathing in fly fishing

  1. Dan says:

    Steve, how do you rig a dropper rig for the surf? Im open to it, I just can’t see how I wouldn’t have a tangle every cast

    • Steve Culton says:

      Dan, I wrote an article on that subject for MAFFG that I will re-post soon. I just need to make up one of my patented line art diagrams to go along with it. If you’re impatient, make the leader about 7.5′ long, make the tags about 6″ long, and space the flies about 18-24″ apart. Build the entire leader out of 20#, 25#, or 30#. Don’t go any lower than #20.

      Fishing droppers is not about high-line speed casting or distance. This is presentation fishing. Slow things down. Open your loops. The fish in the picture above was only about 30 feet away from me.

      Hope that helps.

      P.S. Good for you for asking! 🙂

  2. kgarr530 says:

    class Steve! Never used to bother with a dropper in the salt …. and then the first time I fished a dropper.. fish I wouldn’t have caught started taking it! almost always fish a small dropper now!

  3. Henry Sherwood Butler says:

    Thanks Steve, you have opened up my mind and gotten me SO excited for next season. I am tying up soft hackle flatwings and eelies, and I never built a rod till this Nov when I first read your article on 5 weights for stripers. I did a doubletake at first, especially when you said you used a 9 weight line. Having caught my share on 8 and 10 weights I just KNEW you were on to something. I built 3 Anglers roost 5 weight glass rods and now am working on a 13 foot two hander 7/8. Thank you so much for thinking a little outside the box, at least you made MY winter way more exciting and I cant wait till April. ……. Henry from Salem

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