Gifts: you've only got 8 fish your buddy has 40? Lessons in line control

Jim had managed 12 by 7:00 am and I had 3. It was reminding me of the lessons in humility of my first trips with him. By the time I got to 8, Jim had 40. It was the first time I fly fished Sunset Beach with heavier swells. The hydraulic forces of the wave action were pushing us around. I've heard others refer to heavy hydraulics before. Now I knew what it was like getting hammered with high forces by the surf.

Jim was landing fish regularly and I was next to him and trying to fish the same water. With every fish he caught, I moved closer. Soon I was right next to him, fishing the same water. I still wasn't getting hits. The bite slowed for Jim so he moved on. I move to the exact spot, fishing the same drift and still could not find fish. So the mystery continued...

I caught up with Jim at a very small, shallow cut with very little current flow near low tide. He had the sweet spot where you can cast up current on to the flats that feed water over sand crab beds into deeper water of the cut - the cast drifting over the edge into the cut. I had to cast across the cut and retrieve through it. Remember the low current - it's a key to solving this mystery. I immediately started getting hits and landing fish. I was into a school of perch that Jim wasn't connecting with. I was up to 20 before the bite slowed. Jim did get a few and eventually left to fish other water.

It hit me much later that the important difference today was the heavy hydraulics of the surf and that I had always had difficulty with line control in heavier surf. I was reading an Amnesia (a Sunset monofilament shooting line that is used with shooting heads) brochure. It said that Amnesia was better then oval running lines because the flattened lines have a tendency to plane. This brought everything into focus. I had been using a flat mono shooting line for surf all season and the planing idea brought back memories of my line being swept rapidly over fish holding water by strong currents. That was the answer to one mystery!

The other puzzle was easier. Why Jim had trouble getting bites in the low current cut? He had been catching "too many" fish recently and had upsized his fly size to 4 with much larger flies to reduce the hits from smaller fish. Hook size makes a big difference on hits by smaller Barred Perch because of their small mouths. I confirmed this (earlier in the season) while grub fishing with another friend who had been fishless using a size 2 hook while I was into a school and getting hit almost every cast. As soon as he changed to a size 6 hook, he got hit immediately and started landing fish regularly. He went on to have his best day ever.

It is remarkable that differences like one hook size and the type of shooting line can make the difference between no fish without any signs of life and a fantastic fishing day.

When you do come across dramatic differences in hits and catch rate, treat that as a gift! Solve the problem and you can discover a big discriminator in fishing performance.

Questions or Comments Contact: Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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