“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.

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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.

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Candlewood Valley TU awarded the Legion of Zoom and the question of the day (best tides for stripers)

Many thanks to the Candlewood Valley Chapter of TU for hosting me at their virtual meeting last night. My talk was “Trout Fishing for Striped Bass” and we all had a swell time. Since there was no ceremonial pizza and beer — the internet has its limits — I fed myself and washed it down at home. But the group still gets the official Currentseams Legion of Zoom just for being cool.

The Question of the Day: “Do you have a favorite tide for striper fishing?” A: Yes. It’s the best tide for the spot I’m fishing. For example, some of the river marks I fish during the herring run fish better with more water, so a higher or top of the outgoing is best. Others, I can’t get to the sand bar until a couple of hours before low — so bottom of the outgoing tide. Generally speaking, I like moving water. If I had to choose a phase, I’d go with outgoing — and if I had to choose a more specific window, I’d pick dead low tide, which has produced some of the biggest bass I’ve taken on the fly from the shore.

Some meat on those bones: a broad-shouldered, big-backed bass, taken on the dropping tide near dead low.

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It’s another Tuesday Night Zoom! “Trout Fishing For Striped Bass,” 4/28, 8pm

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That about says it all. Hopefully we’ll be relatively glitch-free this time. If not, we’ll figure it out…

For your listening pleasure: “Trout Fishing For Striped Bass with Steve Culton,” a Saltwater Edge podcast

I’m pleased to share a new podcast hosted by the Saltwater Edge. Peter Jenkins, Saltwater Edge owner (and one of the tireless heroes behind the American Saltwater Guides Association) hosts and asks questions. Yours truly does most of the talking. So…what two striper flies can I not live without? Why are intermediate lines so limiting? How important is presentation? Where’s the best place to fish off a jetty? What’s all this trout fishing for striped bass nonsense about anyway? Listen in and enjoy!

Listen: Trout Fishing For Striped Bass With Steve Culton.

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A most excellent evening with the South Shore Fly Casters (and bonus Q&A)

A hale and hearty shout out to the South Shore Fly Casters, who most graciously asked me to speak at their February meeting. The topic was “Trout Fishing for Striped Bass,” which focuses on traditional flies and presentation methods you can use to catch the stripers that everyone can’t. Let’s start with the venue. Any club that holds their meetings at a craft brewery gets bonus pints — er, points — from me. The turnout was strong (almost 50) and it was very passionate, interested group. I appreciated your welcoming nature and for all the kind things you had to say about me and my writing (and the SSFC club swag). Hoping to come back soon!

A very cool space for a meeting. In case you’re wondering, it’s Barrel House Z in Weymouth. That’s my double IPA near the projector. Yummy. (Photo Dan Wells.)

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Three Q&A highlights: Q: What knot do you use to build your three-fly team? A: Triple surgeons. But you should use the knot with which you are most comfortable (a lot of people like the blood knot). I also mentioned that I never go below 20# mono for the rig, and that if bass over 15lbs are in the mix, I’ll typically fish only one fly.

Q: Do you ever tie droppers off the bend of the leading hook? A: Never for striper fishing. I don’t want anything getting in the way of a hookup, but most of all I want the dropper fly to able to swim freely on its own tag.

Q: How do you use a floating line to present an unweighted fly deep? A: I’ll either add a 3/0 shot (or two) to the leader (and I may also lengthen the leader from, say, 7 feet to 10 feet), but most often I’ll use of the following: 1) homemade T-11 sink tips (I carry a bunch from 2-8 feet long in 2-foot increments; or 2) I’ll use an integrated sink-tip line that has a floating running line. Of course, with either of these solutions, you must mend if there is current to help the fly sink. I’ll also shorten the leader to 3 feet.

Hope that helps!

“Trout Fishing for Striped Bass” at Hammonasset TU, Thursday, Oct.10

Everyone’s invited to see me present “Trout Fishing For Striped Bass — How to catch the stripers that everyone can’t” at 7pm, Thursday, October 10, at the Hammonasset TU meeting. The venue is the QRWA building at 540 Oregon Road in Meriden, CT. For more information, please visit the Hammonasset TU website.

Anyone can catch aggressive, willing-to-chase striped bass. But what about the stripers that are holding on station — or larger bass that that are not willing to chase a stripped fly? Many of the answers can be found within traditional trout and salmon tactics. 

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