Although I have been saltwater fly fishing for a good few years now I guess I’m still in my infancy when compared to many other people. I have also realised my personal fishing tends to be very much limited to the beginning and end of the seasons. In between times I’m guiding for customers and I generally don’t like to fish when guiding unless asked. Because of my limited time, which must be similar to many other peoples, I like to make the most of any opportunities that I may have. It still surprises me to get a fish on the fly and I always try to go fishing as best prepared as I possibly can. This to some extent eliminates the factor of luck, but I believe you make your own luck in many things and fly fishing is no different.
During preparation I inevitably need to make choices regarding equipment etc. One of the things I have started doing lately is travelling only with my jacket, waders, line tray, rod and reel, two spare spools plus some tippet material. And that’s it! My jacket holds two fly boxes, the tippet material and the spare spools. Of course I’m tempted to bring another fly box but where do I put it – in a bag? Then I’ll put more stuff in the bag that I don’t need. But what flies do I put in my fly box? How do I make my decisions?
Size Does Matter.
Size is a very important factor when choosing from your selection. Early spring time and summer I tend to choose smaller, skinnier flies whilst later in the year and towards autumn my choice is towards bigger fatter flies. Be sure that what you see out of the water in a fly is replicated when the fly is in the water. Many materials have different qualities whilst under water!
Shape and silhouette.
If you are seeing sandeels in the water then i would suggest that you fish with a sandeel type pattern - long and skinny. If you see baitfish then choose a broader denser pattern. Often a change within a pattern type ie changing a deciever for a different deceiver from a different tier or material may result in more takes. This seems to be related to the material type of the fly and its better representation of the bait present in the water. How is the natural behaving?
Imitating natural motion.
If you are witnessing lots of surface smash takes from bass then it might pay to fish on the surface with a popper or gurgler. If baitfish are visible and moving slowly in tight shoals then fish slowly with a deceiver pattern on a dead drift. Again softer materials fished slowly are often all that is needed. If fish are beyond visible range a clouser pattern might be succesful in reaching those that are closer to the bottom.
What colour is the sun?
Whilst color may not be considered by many to be a huge factor in fly choice there are some hard and fast rules - colours closer to the surface are more important than colours in deeper water due to light absoprtion and reflection. Choose a colour that is closest to the natural baitfish present if possible - grey/white - brown/tan/olive - pink - black/grey/white and the best general colour for bass is chartreuse and white or just plain white. White is beyond doubt a favourite.
My two boxes are divided into quarters - reading the quarters from top to bottom and left to right the following applies
Bass Box 1
Quarter one - small clousers of the colours above and some with larger dumbells - size 4- 1
Quarter two - larger clousers of the colours above - size 1 - 3/0
Quarter three - half and half patterns of the colours above size 1- 2/0
Quarter four - various clousers of different sizes and material
Bass Box 2
Quarter one - small deceivers of the colours above size 4 - 1
Quarter two - larger deceivers of the colours above size 1- 4/0
Quarter three - eel and crab patterns of various sizes and colours
Quarter four - surface patterns - poppers and gurglers size 1 - 4/0
Next month (June) - how far should I cast?