Get Ready and Stretch : Skinny Water Charters Blog
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Get Ready and Stretch

by Captain Jim Barr on 10/06/12

As a charter captain, I know everything about fly fishing. At least that's what a lot of clients think. Well that is far from the truth, but there are a few things that I observe that consistently get in the way of clients catching a (or more) fish. Behind the steering wheel you make a lot of observations in the course of  5-10 hour outings on the water. Aside from the obvious, the need for fly anglers to get better at casting, there are two observations that replay day in and day out and both are easy fixes. They apply particularly when fishing for False Albacore, one of the fastest fish in the sea.

Urgency: This ain't cane pole fishing from a lawn chair on the banks of a lazy muddy river. Albie fishing requires the urgency of 220 volts. These fish when swimming at top speed are capable of 45 mph. Clearly they aren't going that fast when you see them on top (briefly) during feeding frenzies, but anyone who has fished to these speedsters will tell you that as an angler you have to be fast- really fast. Here's the scenario I see played out all the time. I spot topwater Albies breaking on bait and knifing through the water at breakneck speed. I alert my  guests that I have spotted the fish and I am motoring up on them to position the boat as best as possible so that both anglers can make a close cast. (That in itself is a bit of a challenge particularly with wind, waves, a rocking boat and other boats in the immediate area wanting to do the same thing.) I announce how I am going to approach the fish and to "Get Ready". What I generally see are anglers paying attention to something else other than the mission at hand or not getting prepped. Their line is under their feet or wrapped around their leg, they don't have enough line out of the tip top so that when they begin their cast they have enough line to reach the fish, or they are shooting the breeze with their fishing buddy, or the absolute worst case... taking a call on their cell phone from someone who knows they are fishing but feels compelled to call to shoot the shit. Jesus! Then at the end of the day after I have put my guests on top of these fish repeatedly, they wonder why they couldn't hook up or their catch rate was disappointing.

Stretch: The other principal observation is that if they are fishing with their own equipment, they have not Stretched their fly line before getting on the boat. Many anglers have not fished for weeks and in some cases months and their fly lines have been tightly coiled on the reel spools. All fly lines have memory (no matter the cost and the advertising hype) and when they have not been properly stretched before a fishing outing- when they are stripped from the reel they look remarkably like a "slinky" toy. The line further coils into other coils, forming knots, and of course this seems to most frequently occur when Albies are in easy reach- so close that even the worst fly caster can reach them. So, if you find yourself on the boat with a coiling fly line- ask for assistance with your angling partner and/or the captain to strip off 70 feet of line and stretch it in sections. Alternatively you can cast the line, strip off 70 feet or so and tow it behind the boat. The resistance of the water on the fly line will in most cases more than adequately stretch the line so that coiling will be minimal. Do this in concert with the captain so he doesn't make a turn in that process and sever the line on the engine prop.

In conclusion: "Get Ready and Stretch"


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