Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Birkholm

The Ladyfisher

May 25th, 1998

Sun Rise - Sunset?

Alpine glow nestled on the peaks of the mountains across the water. Lights begin to flicker across on the island. A pod of Dahl porpoise breach the water in the fading light, their white markings reflecting the glow. Fly fishing at sunset on the salt on the west coast.

Other fly fishers claim you have to be there at daybreak. I've been there and the effect is also spectacular. Frankly, we have caught fish - good fish - at sunrise and sunset. Personally I find my casting begins to deteriorate the darker it gets. I'm sure it's a mental thing, but it does happen to me. Or maybe I'm just tired by then. I do know we hook more sand sharks at dusk than other times. Do they know something? And yes, that is an interesting experience. If you happen to catch one, take a really good look at it before you cut it off - and try not to think about 'Jaws' when you do.

My personal choice for the perfect rod for fishing salmon on the salt is an 8-weight. I have fished a 7-weight, but you work a little harder to get the line out farther with a seven. Less casts - more time really fishing with an 8-weight. A soft, willowy rod will work, but again more false casts to get the line out. A stiffer, faster rod works better. For some regions a 10-or 12-weight really is necessary.

If you have been fishing lakes,or maybe rivers for large fish you may be familair with sink-tip lines. For some ocean fishing it is a necessity. A couple of reasons for using a sink-tip, some fish are not surface feeders so you need to get down some. Second, quite often the wind is blowing and the added weight of the sink-tip helps carry the fly out further.

The leader is as important to your success as is the tippet. Tie your fly onto the tippet instead of tying directly onto the leader. Changing flies and cutting off the tippet doesn't shorten up the leader, which is more expensive than tippet material. We use a 10-pound leader, one piece tapered from a heavy butt to a reasonably fine tip. Add 8-pound tipet material of the new "invisible" fluorocarbon material and you are in business. Most salt water fish are spooky, so use a long leader, 12 feet or so.

Now, here is the big one. Fishing on a river, you know the fish are facing into the current. So you make your cast upstream and let the fly drift toward the fish. What about on the salt? Surprise!!! The fish face into the current! If they didn't they would all be ground up smashing in and out on the tides.

Make a test cast and see where the current takes your fly. Then cast as far as you can in the direction the tide is coming from. Keep a tight line, mending the line up-current. Fish will usually 'take' on the swing. You need to strip the line the whole time. Use a slow, moderate, or fast retrieve, or an uneven retrieve to simulate a wounded bait fish. Interested? Ask at your local fly shop for the best salt-water flies for your area. If you haven't tried fishing the salt, you have no idea what you may be missing. Careful, you might get hooked!

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