Posts tagged: Stripers

My Disastrous First Season Fly Fishing For Stripers In Maine And What I Learned...

My Disastrous First Season Fly Fishing For Stripers In Maine And What I Learned...

Hi, I’m a 16-year-old high school student living in Falmouth, Maine. This past summer I decided to try fly fishing for striped bass. I have been fly fishing for trout for around three years and have completely fallen in love with the sport. From the second I caught my first striper on a spinning rod I was eager to chase them on the fly. The fight that a striper gives is incomparable to trout’s fight. I thought my first season was going to be full of these incredible fights. But boy was I wrong. Like it says in the title, my first season fly fishing for stripers was truly a disaster. I caught a whopping total of zero stripers. That’s

My goal in this short article is to share my experiences and what I learned from them. By doing so, I hope that you will take something away from this that will help you to avoid making the same mistakes I did.

Here’s what I learned…

1. Cast Cast Cast...

What was probably the biggest adjustment I needed to make when starting to fly fish for stripers was getting used to casting the new setup. Before getting my saltwater rod and line, the only rods I casted were 5wts and 6wts with the appropriate line for each. It was a big change going from light trout rods to a 9wt with the heavy front tapered Rio Coastal Quickshooter line. I knew before I could go out and fish I needed to get some casting in. The first couple casting sessions were tough. I wasn’t getting nearly the distance I should have been getting and I was also getting repeatedly whipped in the back of the neck/head by the thick end of the line, which was not pleasant at all. But the more I casted, the better I got. I was using fewer false casts and getting more distance. I learned from my mistakes and tweaked my technique.

When I finally got in the water, I faced yet another problem with my casting. The line I was using was nothing like the light floating trout line that you can pick up out of the water with a small flick of the wrist. The line sinks and it’s extremely hard to get out of the water without using the correct technique. I had to do several roll casts to flip the fly out of the water. I was then able to cast effectively.

This whole experience taught me that taking time to practice casting can only make you a better fly fisherman/woman. I’m nowhere near an expert caster but I’m getting better and that's all that really matters. So I advise any beginners or just anyone looking to improve their casting to spend some time in their yard or in a calm body of water and just practice.

2. Go Prepared

Being prepared can make or break a good day of fishing. I learned this the hard way during my first season. On my very first outing, I regrettably didn’t bring a stripping basket. For some reason, I didn’t think I needed one. Once again I was horribly wrong. I waded out and got set up for what I hoped was going to be a great day’s fishing. My first cast went a pathetic 15 feet. I was sure my line was caught on something. When I looked down to see what it was caught on I noticed that it wasn’t caught on anything, but was instead sitting underwater next to my feet. I made a couple more casts but I couldn’t shoot any line because it had all sunk to the bottom. It was then when I realized that my first outing was officially over. I sludged back to shore feeling defeated and called my mom to come pick me up.

I learned from this experience that wading out and fly fishing for stripers is nearly impossible without a stripping basket. I decided to attempt to make my own out of a wash bin, hot glue sticks, and paracord. When melting the hot glue sticks to the bottom of the wash bin the adhered section of the hot glue stick was not completely smooth. This ended up causing the line to sometimes get caught, ruining the cast. Yet another fail. Feeling bad for me, my Dad bought me a real stripping basket for the holidays and I can’t wait to give it a go. I advise any saltwater angler who doesn’t already have a stripping basket to learn from my mistake and either make one (which hopefully turns out better than mine) or purchase one.

Another piece of equipment that I realized I should have had during my first season was a good pair of gloves. With all the practice casting in and out on the water, my hand started developing some pretty nasty blisters. At one point the blisters on my hands were so bad that I could barely grip the rod to make a cast. Going prepared with a pair of gloves could have solved this problem. I recently got a pair of the Simms Solarflex Sun Gloves and I can’t wait to try them out this spring. I am sure they will make a big difference.

3. It's A Marathon Not A Sprint

My biggest take away from my first season fly fishing for stripers is that you shouldn’t expect to be an expert immediately, or anything close to it. Learning something new takes time. I made the mistake of thinking that fly fishing for stripers is just like trout fishing and that I’ll go out they and catch fish after fish. I very quickly realized that I was wrong and that I actually really sucked. But honestly, it’s okay to suck because all that matters is that you are out there having fun. And one day if you put in enough time you will realize that you don’t actually suck anymore. Looking back on what a disastrous first season I had, I realize that making mistakes and sucking is all part of the process, and that the more I go out and just fish, the better chance I’ll have of having a great season.

Words + Photo By: Nick Shapiro

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Fish Don't Read Calendars

Fish Don't Read Calendars
I sit here at the shop and I'm looking at the water temperature off the coast of southern Maine read 46.8°F.  They say that the magic number (for water temp) for when the stripers start to arrive is 50°F...

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3 Tips For Striped Bass Fishing In The Fall

3 Tips For Striped Bass Fishing In The Fall

Here in the Northeast, we anticipate the 'fall run' well in advance. The opportunity to catch large bass looking for a quick meal before their long trip south is ever-present. There are a number of factors which make fall fishing for stripers different than the rest of the season. Here are three helpful tips for keeping your line tight this fall!

1. Beat The Wind - Switch Your Line

The arrival of autumn brings with it increasing wind. You can see it in the trees and feel it off the water, especially in the mornings. Plus, it's also hurricane season. So with all this brings  increased wind speeds and higher surf which can make casting more difficult. Try switching to an intermediate line if you've been using a floating, or a sinking tip line if you've been casting an intermediate. This can help many anglers get the amount of line out they want in rougher weather. The added advantage to this is two fold:

  • As lines go from floating to sinking they get thinner - specifically the head. This helps cut through the wind.
  • Intermediate and sinking lines are traditionally heavier than their floating counterpart. This helps load the rod easier, does so at shorter distances, and gets through the breeze with less effort.

2. Bring A Lot Of Patterns

The fall run can be incredible mostly due to the amount and diversity of bait that is around. This also makes the fall run unpredictable. Adult menhaden, herring, baby bunker, mackerel, silversides, sand eels, etc. - they can all be present at any given time! It's a wise idea to bring along various patterns that can imitate that unexpected bait you see popping out of the water. Also think small. Bass can be focusing on the smaller bait that is flushing out of the estuaries, so don't be afraid to switch from that 12 inch flat-wing to a smaller peanut bunker pattern. Big fish can be just as likely to hit small flies as larger ones in the fall. 

3. Think Inshore + Come Prepared 

Knowledge is power. Knowing what to expect during the unexpected might seem like an oxymoron, but if you have an idea of what might happen you'll be quicker and more efficient in your fishing when the situation presents itself. The cooling water temps are signaling the baby bait to work their way out of the estuaries, and is also pushing the adult bait close to shore to start their migration south. So stay close, no need to blast around waayy offshore or find the longest jetty in the area. The beaches, rocks/ledges, and estuaries will be where most of the action is. If you are on boat, stick close and work the inner channels and flats. The wading angler can have just as much success as the mobile boater. 

I hope those three tips help. Enjoy the last of the striper season! 

Words + Photos by: Josh Thelin

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Redington Dually Review: Using Two Handed Fly Rods For Striped Bass

Redington Dually Review:  Using Two Handed Fly Rods For Striped Bass

The technique of using two handed rods has a long history in fly fishing and has spread from Europe, to the west coast of the U.S., to now seeing it more here on the east coast.  Although the concept of using a two-handed rod in the ocean to achieve longer casts and to better negotiate larger/heavier flies and lines is not a new thing, it is still somewhat of a grey area in New England. Although slowly catching on, single handed rods still rule the flats and seaweed covered rocks here in Maine. But, if you have not considered using a two handed rod in the salt for striped bass, here is a great chance to get started. Especially with the fishing being so good lately!

The Redington Dually was released a few years ago to great reception. It has found a foothold in not only the spey world, but the skagit and also two-handed overhead casting worlds with ease. This review will cover using the Dually specifically for striped bass on the coast here in New England.

Redington Dually Switch Rod Review:  Using Two Handed Fly Rods For Striped Bass

A medium-action rod, which is well suited for most two-handed applications, the Dually is not only a good rod for beginners to learn the "two-handed world" but also those accomplished casters who enjoy a more feel-oriented experience. The idea of a medium-action rod might not initially conjure up thoughts of 100+ft casts, but this can actually be quite on the contrary with the Dually. Specifically when using a spey/skagit rod in the ocean, having a softer rod while specifically overhead casting will allow it to fully load under less weight. This intern equals less need for false casting and provides the rod the ability to load under one or two water-hauls - which is really the preferred style for how we are using it in the salt. This doesn't mean that the Dually is the longest casting two-hander on the market, but it is very well designed for this style.

Generally, the main goals when picking up a two-hander and heading out for striped bass are to eliminate the amount of false casting, to cover a lot of water, and to do so efficiently. Most of the fishing we are doing is blind casting. So if we can cut down on the amount of false casts before shooting the line out, we are saving a lot of energy, Advil, and time. Plus, if dialed in, one can achieve longer casts with heavier flies using less energy! 

Redington Dually Switch Rod Review:  Using Two Handed Fly Rods For Striped Bass

Fitted with a full cork handle and reel seat, the Dually is a burgundy/maroon colored rod in a matte finish. Available in either spey or skagit configurations, it ranges from a 10’9” 4wt to a 13’6” 8wt.  So whether it’s swinging streamers for trout or looking to target big steelhead, salmon or striped bass, the Dually has a size/weight for all of these applications. Plus, it has been a popular choice for anglers here in Maine who also venture to upstate New York and Canada yearly for other anadromous fish. The price point puts it well within most anglers budget. In our opinion it gives rods twice the price a run for their money.

Redington Dually Fly Rod Review

The rod that we have been testing here at All Points is the 11’3” 7wt. Matched with shorter head and skinking lines in grain weights 330-375 from Rio, Scientific Anglers, and Airflo work very well. This setup allows an angler to effectively fish bait patterns such as clousers and also crabs flies deep along the bottom. You will find most anglers using two-handed rods here on Maine beaches are doing so with sinking lines. Matching the proper line to the rod is one of the most important aspects in fly fishing. When first getting involved in two-handed technique, this mystery of line matching can be infinitely more confusing. One added note about reels: finding a slightly heavier reel to help (counter) balance the longer rod will aid in casting and help with fatigue. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us!


Rod testing + content by: Ben Whitehead + Josh Thelin

Photos: Josh Thelin

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5 Tips For Early Season Striped Bass

5 Tips For Early Season Striped Bass

Finding early season striped bass can be tough.  The fish have just started to arrive and are not spread around in various areas as much as they are later in the summer. Here are some tips for finding those early season stripers when fly fishing along the coast of Maine and New England. 

1. Water Temperature

They say 50 degrees is the magic number. Striped Bass are migrating from southern waters and are doing so based mostly on water temperature. Stick to the rivers and mouths of rivers as the water here will be warmer. Baitfish are also spawning and moving into rivers. This is why estuaries and saltwater rivers are a popular spot when looking for that first bass of the year! On the contrary, beaches will not be as productive as water temps are cooler here and most baitfish are focused in other spots. 

2. Low 'N' Slow

Most fish this time of year are scanning around for their food along the bottom. They are not too concerned with the top of the water column, yet. So getting your fly deeper in the zone can be a big advantage when fishing early in the season. Baitfish patterns stripped slowly along or near the bottom can be very productive.

Fly Fishing Striped Bass Stripers Maine

3. Herring

Early season is when the adult herring are in efforts to spawn and they will be doing so in the rivers. Deceiver patterns about 5-7 inches long, with preferably some blue tied in, will work well.  The smaller juvenile herring ("britt" herring) will also be around. The britts can be easily imitated with a (smaller) deceiver pattern with various darker colors tied in such as dark green and black.

4. Small Sand Eels

Sand eels are a baitfish that are prevalent all season long in Maine. But as the season progresses, logically, they get bigger. So early on, you will see that most of the sand eels are 3-4 inches long on average.  Bob Popovic’s Fleye Foils are probably the best imitating patterns for these (and the “latest and greatest”) - many other basic sand eel patterns that are available commercially are also good. But just make sure they are properly sized and have almost zero movement in the first 50% of the body — that’s important when imitating the profile and movement of a sand eel.   

Fly Fishing Striped Bass Stripers Maine

5. Crabs

Crabs are a food source for stripers all season long.  They eat them in Maryland, Cape Cod, New Hampshire..everywhere all along their travels.  Maine has a big population of crabs and they can be effective if fished properly.  Early season can be really great for crabs because, as mentioned before, most bass are looking downwards this time of year.  This will change later in the season.  But for now, most fish are not looking to the surface for their food.  So a good offering of a meaty crab that’s right in their vision is hard to ignore! Get a sinking line (not just an 10’ Type 3) and pull a crab pattern along the bottom.



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