How to Catch Striped Bass on a Fly Rod in the Flats

How to Catch Striped Bass on a Fly Rod in the FlatsFly fishing for striped bass in coastal waters is becoming more popular with each passing season. Whether you are California dreaming or making weekend plans for Cape Cod, if you can find saltwater flats, you have a chance to catch trophy striper with these instructions.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly rod
  • 150 yards of backing line
  • 20- to 30-pound mono-filament leader
  • A selection of flies that includes:
  • -Buck Tail Deceiver
  • -Clouser Minnow
  • -Snake Fly
Step 1
Pick the right time and right place to fish. During the spring and fall, you can catch striped bass feeding all day long. In the summer, they become a primarily nocturnal feeding fish. No matter what time of year you go fishing, dawn and dusk are the best times to head out.
Striper feed in fast-moving shallow waters where they can outmaneuver their prey. Casting into clear, fast-moving, shallow water near a dropoff or hole in the beach will give you the best chance of hooking up with a trophy fish.
Step 2
Choose a fly that sinks below the surface and will imitate bait fish trying to avoid predators in the surf. The buck-tail deceiver imitates a herring; it is best used when the striper are feeding toward the surface. The clouser minnow is a generic design used to catch many fish around the world; it imitates a bait fish trying to escape a predator. The snake fly is a must-have for striper fishermen; it's used both in the surf and around the rocks to produce big fish.
Step 3
Make sure the reel on your fly rod is resistant to salt water corrosion, and fill it with 150 yards of backing. Attach a 6- to 8-foot leader made from 20- to 30-pound test mono-filament line. Connect the leader to the backing with a loop-to-loop connection. Then tie your leader directly to your fly using either an improved clinch or uni-knot to connect them.
Step 4
When you feel a strike, set the hook with the line and not the rod. Keep the rod tip low and use a series of short, sharp tugs to really set the hook into the striper's jaw.
Step 5
When you're fighting the fish, keep your rod tip low. Allow the fish to run, and don't try to pull the fish to the surface with the rod. Do not apply too much drag. Use your hand to slow the fish's run if you need to.
Step 6
Find a safe spot to land the fish, such as the beach or a flat rock near calm water. Being patient and landing the fish safely will pay off for you and the fish, especially if you are planning a release.

Tips & Warnings

Watch for sand suspended in the water. Cloudy or sandy water will keep the striper from feeding.
Secure your gear to your body. A big fish can be expensive if it runs away with your equipment.

Article Written By Mati Bishop

Mati Bishop has been a freelance writer since 1999. He has been published in "Hawaii Skin Diver Magazine," the "Hawaii Wellness Directory," "Kailua-Kaneohe Sunpress" and a collection of Web sites. Bishop studied journalism at Windward Community College on Oahu, Hawaii.

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