Zen Fly Fishing: Gear

I'm shown on the beach geared up and ready to fish.

Glenn in gear

The gear that I have been using is not expensive and performs well. The specifications for the gear are listed:

This can all be bought for less than $500 (not including the camera).

Unfortunately, Shakespeare discontinued the Intrepid series. It was a great value and casts and plays fish well. A 6-weight is powerful enough for the biggest surf and is light enough that you can cast like a machine continuously for hours. The gear is powerful enough to give you a good chance of landing a striper if ever you hook one. I prefer a medium-fast rod with a relatively stiff tip for casting leadcore on the beach. I've used Loomis GL3, 5-weight on the beach. I've used Sage VPS 8-weight for Stripers and I know it would be a good in 6 to 8-weight for the beach. Get one with a fighting butt or add one.

The Orvis RA LA III Fly Reel is not made for salt water is OK if protected with CorrosionX and treated again after every trip. The large arbor provides for rapid line take-up. This reel has an inexpensive composite cartridge that snaps into the reel spool. I like it because I have been fishing with a lot of different shooting lines and have many extra spool cartridges. Its drag is light duty but it can be thumbed or palmed on the rim. Expensive close-tolerance reels do not work well on the beach because sand splashes up as waves break. I've used Pfleuger Medalists and Pfleuger Supreme 1878 Fly Reels that are OK too. Pfleuger's newer Trion model looks good too.

I usually use a 2-fly leader using Berkeley Big Game Supreme: 4-ft of 20# test on the butt section to 2-ft of 12# test for the point fly using a Uni-to-Uni knot. For the dropper, I use 3 to 6-inches of 14# test using Uni Knots on both ends. The dropper loop is slid above the 20-to-14-lb test Uni-to-Uni knot and tightened and slid down with the Uni-to-Uni serving as a block. The overall length is 6-feet. I use a loop made with a double Surgeon's Loop to connect the leader to my leadcore shooting head.

My LC-13 leadcore shooting head is hand-made using loops constructed from Gudebrod 35-lb test braided monofilament. See Dan Blanton's excellent article Getting Looped for instructions on how to make loops. Leader to Leadcore is connected loop to loop. The shooting line is connected to the Leadcore using a Uni Knot tied to its loop. All knots (including leader knots) are coated with Softex Flexible Cement to ease movement through guides and to protect them. I use a few coats and recoat every few trips to renew the coating. After every fishing trip, I clean, stretch and treat the shooting head and shooting line with Russell Peak's Line Dressing. It makes 100-ft casts on the water possible and minimizes tangles.

The Olympus Stylus 300 (3.2 megapixel) Digital Camera can be found for less than $200. It is excellent for taking self-portraits with wet hands. I've even dropped it into salty waters briefly without damage. I just rinse it with fresh water and dry after every trip. It is put in a plastic bag with an absorbent pad into a zippered zipper-line pocket. It is preset for close-up and flash. I merely rest my rod on my stripping basket, get the camera out, open the lens cap, point/click and check the image that flashes momentarily to verify that I am framed and exposed properly. It is fast and efficient. The Pentax Optio-WP 5 megapixel camera would be great too. It is waterproof but is much more expensive.

The stripping basket makes slack line control easy and is essential for the Zen focus on presentation and bite detection. See the close-up below. The basket was given to me by Stan PlesKunas to test and I have been using it for more than two years now. I have made some changes to it. I added a rod holder (cut a notch and added a bungee strap). The foam material on newer versions may be too thin to add a rod holder. I also replaced coil separators with weed-whacker monofilament. Don't use the monofilaments that are coiled. Echo Inc. has a String Trimmer Line, 0.095-inch mono, (Item # 102222952) that is sold packages straight in 8-inch lengths. See view showing coiled shooting line. The long separators keep tangles to a minimum - even with enough shooting line to cast 100-ft. The foam material is light and strong and very repairable with Softex Clear Flexible Cement. I use Softex to strengthen wear points (belt slots, rod hold notches and seams).

Detail of Stripping Basket holding rod

The BW Sports jacket keeps me comfortable under any Monterey Bay condition (rain or shine). It is belted at my waist using my plier holster and basket belts. It has large pockets for gear that are high enough to keep dry. My wrists are sealed from water flow in using the jacket's velcro-straps. I have been knocked down and rolled around in the surf and gotten up just a little wet but comfortable enough to keep fishing for the rest of the day. The waistline belt over your parka keeps the occasional streaming breaker from fire hosing up your parka.

Persist and you will find a lot of action in the surf! It takes a lot of time on the water to learn surfperching well but for me it provides a wonderful activity that is close to home and really enjoyable. It seems like there is no end to learning so the challenge continues.

Glenn in gear with nice Barred Surfperch

Questions or Comments Contact:
Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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Revised: July 31, 2005
Revised: August 25, 2002 Click for original page.

This page © Copyright 2005, Glenn Yoshimoto