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How fast do you retrieve your fly?


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Ronan's report

Wednesday 12 February, 2014

In coastal fly fishing for Sea trout there are lots of different key figures to focus on in order to increase success. One of these key figures - and in my experience it very often was the most important one - is the retrieving speed of our fly!

Sometimes - mainly when presenting a pretty small fly (size 12 or smaller) - a slow retrieve might work best. And very often - especially for the larger flies - an extra fast retrieve will link you to the finest Sea trout.

Tons of discussions took place about retrieving speed. That is not only for coastal Sea trout fishing but for many more fish species like Striped Bass, False Albacore, Bonefish, Barracuda, Tarpon, Brown trout, Rainbow trout and many more. And of course it wasn't only discussed for fly fishing but for spin fishing and for example trolling as well. In my experience it was always interesting to compare different techniques how to catch those fish. Yes, I mostly watched spin fisherman, too. There was a lot to learn in that.

Back to coastal Sea trout fishing within 25 years I have never met a single fly fisherman, who didn't agree about spin fishermen usually presenting their lure in a higer speed range compared to us fly fishermen. Talking to many experts in Sea trout fishing most agreed on high speed usually being best when aiming to catch large sea trout along the coast.

I personally developed my very own retrieving technique how to achieve highest possible retrieving speed - both in a way that would work all day long and in a way that would work for some casts at least.

These days now I was wondering how fast I really do retrieve my fly compared to other fly fishermen and compared to spin fishermen and trolling anglers. So I started to ask a lot of people and did some research on the web. But no one really had an idea. All I heard was: "Fly fishermen of course are having the slowest retrieve. While the trolling anglers probably will present their lures in the highest speed range."

Honestly I did not know how fast exactly I could retrieve my fly or what my normal (average) speed range along the coast was. So me and my best friend Alex went out and did a lot of measurements. No need to say it was pretty hard for me to touch a spinning rod again after 20 years, but on behalf of science I did! Ok, in search for highly representative results we additionally included a very experienced spin fisherman.

In summary the results were very surprising to us:

The spin fishermen are usually in a speed range between 1,5-2m/s. Max spin speed along the coast mostly tops out around 2,5m/s.

The trolling anglers are mostly fishing in a range of 1-1,5m/s. Few ones will hit more than 2m/s.

The average fly fishermen (using a stripping basket) are presenting their flies in a moderate retrieving speed around 0,3-0,5m/s.

Those using the two handed retrieve (and a stripping basket) in order to add more speed are usually in a range 0,6-0,8m/s. For most this method tops out around 1,0m/s (still using a stripping basket).

With my own method for fast retrieve I fish in a range of 1,2-1,4m/s mostly (using a stripping basket). I top out around 1,9m/s (without using a stripping basket).

In short this means most spin fishermen are often fishing their lures some (ca. 25%) faster than most trolling anglers, while most fly fishermen are around one third of the average bear in spin fishing.

What really was surprising us: With my method of fast retrieving I in average fish as fast as most trolling anglers. And when fishing in higehst possible speed, what I do in quite some situations, I retrieve even faster and only few spin fishermen will still be reeling in faster.

Before seeing all these results I was absolutely sure that most spin fishermen always would present their lures in a much higher speed range than I ever would offer my fly in. I was wrong!

Since I often have come across experts in different fields of fly fishing telling me the retrieving speed to be one of the most important key figuers to focus on, I am wondering, if any of you out there ever have made any specific measurements yet?

If so, it would be a pleasure to see your numbers on the board!

Finally I shall add: All our datas are measured in a way like we have seen most people fishing along the Baltic coast. No need to tell there will be some who may fish a bit different though.

In regard of highest possible retrieving speed it always was interesting to me to have a serious gun available. That doesen't mean I always wanna fire it of! ;)

Highest speed range of all of us will probably belong to Paul at this very moment when running of a tiger chasing him around the Monster-Snakehead-Secret-Jungle-Lake.

All my best


p.s.: If I would be fishing in that place, Paul - I'd be fishing of the top of my largest fishing buddy!

p.p.s.: Lots of stuff going on these days as you may see in the pic of the day section: Teaching fly casting, running lectures, buidling a photographing studio for flies and measuring some crazy stuff... ;)

p.p.p.s.: I am not going to make it too easy for you Paul, to fish "Bernd plus" days this year! Oh and please say "hello" to the Hantu Tetek. I guess she made you stop fishing for a moment!? ;)

Pic Of Day



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