An empty parking lot is can mean several things, among them: it’s a ridiculous time of day (it wasn’t). No one is hip to the spot (everyone is). There are no fish there (ding-ding-ding). So I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary with an EP Carillo corona gorda and tried to enjoy some blissful solitude. Even a constant, soaking rain couldn’t wreck my casting practice. And so it goes.
Why I like RLS Easterly colors (grey dun, silver, peacock, fluorescent yellow) during an easterly blow. Even in dingy water, this soft-hackled flatwing really pops.
Oh yeah, we’ve got some serious striper thumb going. (Bonus points if you knew the Zappa reference in the title.) The Bass-O-Matic is on. No real size to them — my larger ones were in the 20-22 inch class — but they’re eager and spirited and you’ll feel like an instant expert. The new two-hander continues to be a learning experience. I’m not close to being dialed in (the right line will help significantly with that) but it felt good to be casting a 100 foot line and seeing the backing through the remaining line on the reel. Fished a Soft-Hackled Flatwing, a Crazy Menhaden hybrid, and then for giggles a deer hair-headed beast so I could watch the hysterical antics of bass chasing on the surface. You know, I almost forgot that it was pouring.
Get in line and catch a few.
Yeah. Hard times for fly casters yesterday with a sustained 15 knot southwest blow in our faces (and an especially unfavorable quarter for lefties) with some stronger gusts mixed in. I debuted my new custom two-hander, but I don’t have the right lines for it yet and it wasn’t the synergy I know I’ll eventually enjoy. Still, some small bass were brought to hand, and they felt like giants in a ripping moon tide.
A Soft Hackled Flatwing in RLS Easterly colors (grey dun and fluorescent yellow) caught the eyes of several feisty schoolies. The colors really popped in yesterday’s conditions.
So simple, so elegant, so effective. The Soft-Hackled Flatwing borrows from many sources, all of them wonderful and good. I love this fly for early season school bass, and it makes a fine generic baitfish year-round. Just tailor the color and length to the bait you’re matching et voila! And remember: eyes on flies catch anglers. Not stripers.
Impressionism rules the day. If you’re interested in learning more about soft hackles for stripers, read “Soft Hackles for Striped Bass” from the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of American Angler.
Here’s the basic template:
Hook: Eagle Claw 253 1/0
Platform: 30 bucktail hairs
Tail: Flatwing saddle to match platform color, under 2-4 strands flashabou
Wing: 30-45 bucktail hairs, under 10-20 hairs contrasting color, under 2-4 strands Krystal Flash or flashabou
Collar: Blood quill marabou, tied in at tip, 3-4 turns; 1 turn mallard flank (optional)
Make that singular, for one bass was all I could manage. But it was, as someone once wrote, a perfect fish. Twenty-inch class, dime bright from the sea, with sharply contrasting lines and the attentive eyes of a predator on the hunt. Taken on the third cast. A sharp tug on the retrieve, then some willful bullrushing against the substantial moon tide.
I only fished for an hour (switch rod in two-hand mode, full integrated sink tip line, three-foot leader of 20# nylon) but that too was perfect: air temperatures in the mid-fifties, winds from the southwest, bottom half of the drop.
Both sky and angler were positively glowing on the walk back.
Today’s fly was a pink, olive, and chartreuse soft-hackled flatwing, just about sparse enough to read a newspaper though.