Captain Jeremy Inman, Saltwater extraordinaire, Bristol Bay Fly Fishing Guide and “decent” foosball player provides us with some insight on managing your fly line while fishing from a flats boat. Jeremy is a guide at Rapids Camp Lodge in Bristol Bay, and in the flats of Ohau in Hawai’i. The also puts on a clinic at Andros South Lodge. He knows a few things about fishing, and in particular fishing on the flats on a boat. So…you should listen.
Saltwater fly fishing is a game of opportunities. Some days the shots are plentiful and you’re frequently casting at fish, while other days they’re few and far between. Regardless of what type of day you’re experiencing, there are few things more frustrating and heartbreaking than having your fly line tangle during your moment of glory.
There are a few bad things that typically happen when you tangle your fly line while on the flats:
- You’re casting at a fish and as your line shoots it stops short due to the spiderweb of line getting stuck against your guides, thus blowing your chance at the fish.
- You make a good cast and hook a fish that starts to peel line from your hands. As you clear the line a bird’s nest that is now your running line comes up and jams in your guides, resulting in a broken tippet or worse, a broken rod.
- The knot is small and compact enough and makes the journey through all of your guides, WHEW! Now what? Depending on the species of fish, size of tippet, and amount of pressure needed to fight the fish it can either tighten on itself, cutting into and damaging the coating of the line or just flat out snap the line. Both are less than ideal when it comes to a $130 fly line.
Tangles in the fly line are inevitable, but the frequency of it can be drastically reduced with a few quick and easy steps during your day.
Properly set up your line on the deck. If you strip off 50 feet of line onto the deck, your running line coming from the reel will be sitting on top of the head of your line. As you cast your head is being pulled upward through your pile of line, not good! Once you strip out your line, cast it out and strip it down onto the deck so that the running line is on the bottom of the pile. This will allow the lineup as you need it to cast without tangling on itself. You’ll want to do this after every cast you make.
Line twist. This can be minor or major. Improperly spooling your fly line will result in a line twist throughout the entire line which is a major problem. While fixable, you’d save precious boat time by grabbing a different rod for the rest of the day. Minor twists can occur when you try to move and push your line around the deck with your feet. This usually “rolls” the line causing minor twists to occur and oftentimes tangling upon casting or clearing the line. If you need to move your line, it’s best to use your hands.
Old fly lines. All fly lines will get old, and they aren’t cheap! But the better condition a fly line is in will perform best and still have quite a bit of “slickness” to its coating, therefore much less prone to tangles than a scratched up, limp, worn out fly line.
Be a helpful co-angler. We know, when you’re not on the bow it’s nice just to sit back and enjoy a Kalik with the best tuna sandwich on the planet compliments of the Andros South kitchen staff. But if the wind is blowing or you’re making consecutive shots it can be easy to lose track of your line as you’re stripping. It doesn’t hurt to lend a helping hand! Usually, as my fishing partner is presenting to a fish or strips in line after a shot I lean forward and help organize their fly line into a neat, castable array of plastic colors. You won’t notice how much that little bit of help is appreciated until the roll is reversed and it allows you one less thing to worry about.
Other Tips on Fishing the Flats: