“Fly fishing is all about line control”

That’s what my friend Grady Allen, owner of UpCountry Sportfishing in New Hartford, CT, told me many years ago. We we out on the river. I’d just begun to fly fish for trout, and Grady was trying to explain the fundamentals of presentation to me. As I look back to that evening, his words still resonate.

Most trout anglers are keenly aware of the importance of line management and presentation. (You can tell because you rarely, if ever, see intermediate lines — a line you cannot mend — on trout streams.) Somehow, this gets lost in modern striper fishing.

If you won’t take my word for it, take Ken’s.


I’m revisiting this subject because I received yet another question about stripers feeding on the surface that an angler could not get to bite. When I asked him what line he was using, his answer did not surprise me: intermediate. When I asked him what presentations he was using, likewise no surprise: variation on a stripping theme.

If you want to catch the stripers that everyone can’t, start with learning presentation. You’ll need a floating line and you’ll need to summon your inner trout ninja. Pretend those stripers are trout, holding in the current, rising to emergers or spinners. Mend your line. Present your flies to the bass where they are holding. Goodness! You may even enjoy not treating your fly rod like a glorified spinning rod.

After your first hookup, you’ll realize that this was no accident. And that you can repeat it. Hopefully, you’ll never look back.

Droppers are the fastest way to find out what the fish want. Learn how to fish a dropper rig on a floating line, and you’ll need to be registered as a lethal weapon.


4 comments on ““Fly fishing is all about line control”

  1. Ray Hamilton says:

    I assume the stripper fly trio is rigged on monofilament rather than fluorocarbon. What is your take on what happens if you use fluoro to construct the leader?

    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi Ray. My take is that I would be frustrated tying the knots because I hate tying knots with fluorocarbon. But if you like fluorocarbon, by all means have at it. Fluorocarbon is supposed to sink faster than mono — probably not a quality I’d want in a rig geared toward fishing on or near the surface. The material listed in the diagram has served me faithfully for over a decade, so if it ain’t broke…

      Have a safe and fun weekend. 🙂

  2. Alton says:

    Hi Steve,

    I do have a couple of questions for you. I know you use a lighter rod than the line weight designation, but what line weight are you using to turn over those 20-30 pound rigs? Second question: Is that leader material as stiff as Maxima Chameleon? Thanks!

    • Steve Culton says:

      Not always (non-matching line weight-to-rod designation). But that’s irrelevant. Line weight doesn’t turn over rigs. Leaders don’t turn over rigs. Your casting stroke turns over rigs. That’s why I can make a pile cast or a lays-flat-out-on-the-water cast with the same rod/line/leader.

      I don’t think WWSportsman is proportionally as stiff. But it does the job. FYI it’s no longer made. Eventually I’ll need to find a replacement.

      Stay safe, be well. 🙂

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