Snakebit

Snakebit

Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 9 October 2018

I’m sure anyone who has been reading this section is tired of me moaning about hurricane damage and lousy fishing weather. I know I am tired of writing about it.
So, with great anticipation, I was looking forward to getting out of town (S. Florida) and heading up to the Smoky Mountains for a welcome change of scenery and some trout fishing. I was almost drooling over the weather reports predicting low temperatures in the 40s and highs only in the 70s. After months with daytime temps hovering around 90 degrees, that just sounded fantastic. Sleeping in a tent after sipping bourbon around a campfire, I thought, was just what the doctor ordered.
So, what do the weather gods send me this weekend? A (censored) hurricane is brewing in the Caribbean and heading north up through the Gulf of Mexico! Thankfully, it is not predicted to have a big effect on where I live. But, can you believe it… it is predicted, as of now, to travel right over the area I was planning to fish!
At this point in time, I think I’m going anyway. It will be long gone before I get there, but the streams will likely be at flood levels. Besides, I’ve got hundreds of dollars in reservations already committed. Turn baby, turn!

So, on a more cheerful note, I received a few new flylines last week. One was a 5wt distance line for playing around in the grass. It replaces a similar line that I simply wore out. The old one never saw water. It did last for years though and it flies nicer than any other “distance” line that I have tried.

The other is what Paul would definitely consider a brick on a string. It is a 22-gram line designed deliberately to carry large flies. I have a shoebox full of such lines now. None of them I particularly care for. This one is different though. It is definitely an improvement over its predecessors.

Soon, after the weather here in S. Florida cools a bit, some backwater fishing will really pick up. One species in particular that I love to fish for are snook. They are a lot like a saltwater version of a pike. Although I’ve yet to figure out where or how to find/catch the large ones (over 20 pounds) in the back, I do get a lot of shots at smaller ones. A snook around 10 pounds, on a flyrod, from a canoe, in the backcountry, is a real hoot.

The thing is, even a modest snook under 3 feet long has a good-sized mouth, and they like an appropriately sized meal. Tarpon, which get much, much larger, will willingly eat a fly less than 3 inches long. Which is one thing that makes them so much fun. But a snook, once past the juvenile stage, really wants to be rewarded for bothering to chase a meal.

Hence the need for a flyline that will carry a larger fly. The flies I use are not enormous like some pike or musky flies I have seen, but mine tend to be around four inches long, or slightly better. They do have large heads though. A snook has a sensitive lateral line that it uses to sense the vibrations given off by its prey. So, there is a belief that larger heads on flies “push” some water and tickle a snook’s fancy. It seems to work for me.

I tried some other saltwater lines designed for large flies, and man, they really were bricks. They carried the flies all right, but otherwise for distance or any sort of presentation they were real turds. So, for the last year or so I was using a line specifically designed for largemouth bass from a large and well-respected manufacturer. The lines are available up to 9 and 10wt versions. Unlike the turds, they are not saltwater lines, nor are they designed for tropical temperatures. Neither of those traits were of importance to me as, in the back, the water is mostly fresh, and later in the year the water temperature cools. But again, these lines were a real disappointment. They struggled to carry the flies; they come only in 80’ lengths, and they tangle excessively. I had to treat them multiple times a day and still, they would not shoot well. Despite that, I put up with them and even tried splicing an additional 20’ of running line to the back end. I was just marking time while waiting for something new to show up.

These new lines seem much better. They are massively thick though and just dense as hell, but they do float and carry the flies well. Unlike all the others, they can be shot for distance. Up closer they can turn a fly over without a nasty kick. There was quite a bit of thought put into the profile of these lines and it shows.

While casting them I think I caught on to the problem: large flies with big profiles travel relatively slowly through the air, but heavy lines fall quickly. So unless you really crank that back-cast you end up with sag. But then, if the front taper kicks hard you are likely to create a significant dangle. It is a tough challenge to crack. Maybe the thickness of the line is on purpose to slow its flight?

Anyway, kudos to Barrio for making what I think are big strides in the right direction!