Last week we went over my Barracuda Rig for targeting the toothy flats predator. Today we are going to go over the second half of the battle which is the approach and getting them to eat. When I am searching for Barracuda on the flats, I look for them to be sitting still. Bonefish are almost always moving where I find ‘Cuda to be more stationary on the flats and not moving unless they are spooked. They will also be higher in the water column than a bonefish. Once you have a target spotted, you don’t need to rush. If the ‘Cuda is already spooked and taking off across the flats, let him go and look for a different one. When you find a ‘Cuda that is stationary, you will be able to take your time. Get the boat in a position that gives you a comfortable casting angle. When casting at the fish, do not land your fly too close. Barracuda have incredible eye sight and the water on the flats is clear so you want to lead the fish by at least 10 feet. They are very spooky and can be easily startled if your fly splashes too near the fish. I have had fish eat by almost instinctively hitting a fly that lands right in front of them but more often than not, I find this scares the fish. If you land the fly further away, they will still see it and you can gauge the reaction of the fish which will influence your next step.
Most things you read about Barracuda on the flats will tell you to start stripping the fly as fast as possible. This is not how I like to do it. I have seen people do this approach and start stripping so fast that it actually spooks the fish. I prefer to gauge the reaction of the fish and let it tell me how fast to retrieve my fly. I start stripping slow and steady, this movement usually gets the attention of the fish. If it swims over to check out the fly, I slowly increase my retrieval speed. As the fish increases his speed, I will also increase my speed. A predator species like a Barracuda wants to see its prey swimming away from them. As the fish follows, continue to increase your strips. It is this increase in speed that causes the fish to attack as they see their prey trying to get away. If you start off stripping as fast as you can, when the fish follows, you wont be able to strip any faster and trigger the strike. That is why I like to start with a slow retrieval and as the fish speeds up, you speed up as well. This approach has drastically increased my hook up percentage. Getting a follow from a Barracuda is fun, but what is more fun than a follow? An eat! Most important thing to take away here, don’t just start stripping as fast as possible. Gauge the fish’s response to your fly and slowly increase your retrieval speed.
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