Tom Rowland, Gary Coxon, Bruce Richards, Brad Wesner, Barry and Cathy Beck

Of waves and rods Q1

The panel answers:

1.. Are there waves you just can't flyfish? It seems to me that surf beaches are almost unfishable...

Tom: There are waves and situations that are simply unfishable with a fly rod. However, with the right approach, you can fish some surprising territory. First, a stripping basket is crucial. There are so many on the market that everyone can find one that is comfortable and in the right price range. I like a basket that has the like pylons in the bottom to help keep the line from tangling. The basket should also have significant drainage for when a wave comes over the lip. The pylons help with that as well.

Shooting heads with running line may help to increase your distance as will a longer rod. Try rods 9 1/2 foot to 11 feet for deep wading in the surf.

Cathy & Barry: Paul, Here we go - At high tide on some beaches they are almost unfishable, but under normal circumstances the addition of a stripping basket and a "slime line" that will go just beneath the surface makes surf fishing possible.

Brad: Sure there are. Trust me, if you have ten­foot breakers smashing into the beach, you are wasting your time out there... especially on the surface. The easiest thing that you can do is come back later. After all, big surf does not normally hit the beach all the time. So, if you come back in a few hours, you are likely to find that things have calmed down enough that the fishing is a bit more friendly. If not, or if you just can't wait, then you are going to have to look at things from a different angle. In this case, because you can't go through the waves you gotta go around them. Break out that float tube, kayak, or flats boat and head out beyond the breakers. Once you are there, then you will view the waves from behind. You will also have better access to the fish. I this case, you will have escaped the breakers and be able to fish will a little more peace. I recommend, throwing right behind where the waves are breaking and stripping the fly back at a moderate pace. This gives the impression of a baitfish that got caught up in the current and is wandering out of it a little disoriented. This is a great way to get a big fish to come and pound on your fly.

Gary: Hi Swampy,
Its me again ­ Your worst nightmare !! Hope things are going well and that you have by now found a few fish.

In reply to your latest set of questions concerning waves ­ Yes, there are obviously times and conditions when fly fishing becomes impossible. One such occasion would certainly be standing on a bank with large 10 feet or more breakers crashing in front of you, with no way of getting behind them. However, if you are fortunate to have a craft and are able to get seaward side of them, casting towards the beach and fishing behind the rows of breakers can be excellent.

Bruce: Paul, sorry to hear you are still fishless, hopefully that virgin condition will change soon. Are there waves you just can't flyfish? Certainly, surf can be downright dangerous. High surf and an on­shore wind aren't worth fishing, in my estimation.

Thanks! In addition to this there was some excellent advice on the Bulletin Board recommending a lead core shooting head fished in the rips. This is worth reading too.

The Panel answers...