Fly fishing questions, sinking fly line, old fly fishing tackle, casting salmon flies, playing salmon, leaders

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Fly fishing questions page 6.

Questions can be about any aspect of fly fishing, fly casting, casting instruction, fishing in Scotland or abroad, fly fishing courses, fishing flies, etc. The following is just a random selection of questions that have been send by readers and answered by Ally. If you have a question that you wish to ask please do not hesitate to complete the form.

Questions:

Floating fly line that sinks
Advice on old fly fishing tackle
Casting Pot Bellied Pig salmon flies
Playing salmon
Choice of leader material

Floating fly line that sinks
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Question: My "floating" fly line has suddenly started sinking. Not a problem when I'm retrieving quickly but it makes things difficult when using buzzers and nymphs in still water. Any idea why it should no longer float?

Answer: Modern floating lines float because they have a low specific gravity and in theory they should float for ever. There are two common reasons for them sinking, either dirt or damage. If the line is damaged by hairline cracks the core which is normally dry will have become saturated causing the line to sink. If the line is in good condition I suggest that you wash it with hand soap and luke warm water, dry it thoroughly with a towel and let it dry completely before treating it thoroughly with a line cleaner and letting that dry before using it again. Microscopic algae can build up on the line surface and hinder its floatability and shooting.

Advice on old fly fishing tackle
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Question: I'm an avid coarse angler who - over time - has gone back to basics in all ways. I only ever fish with cane and a centre pin and the very minimum of tackle. Over the last 6 months my curiosity for fly fishing has developed considerably and I'd like to give it a serious go for grayling, trout and coarse fish. I need your thoughts on my tackle set up to get going, bearing in mind my increasing distaste for all things transient and hi-tech! Is it a case of shut up and put up or can you suggest a starting setup that I can chase through auction, ebay and dealers that will suit me long-term and not break the already stretched bank? In particular I’d like to know rod style, length, line weight and corresponding reel spec. Is it that simple?

Answer: Clearly you understand the differences between modern tackle and the older types. Built cane rods can often be picked up in auction rooms for much less than it would cost to make them. Sharpe's Impregnated built cane rods are possibly the most reliable. You should be looking at a rod around 8ft 6in to 9ft long for an AFTM #5 or 6 line and a suitable period reel to balance it. J W Young of Redditch made reels such as the Beaudex (3 to 3.5 inches) which are generally good value. With all things second hand condition is paramount. You will probably have to buy a new fly line because silk lines of 50 years ago are likely to be rotten. New silk lines are very expensive and so a modern line is recommended. Good luck with your “transition”!

Casting Pot Bellied Pig salmon flies
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Question: I have received a set of Pot Bellied Pigs as a birthday present, but I find them impossible to cast with my 13ft rod. The only thing I'm likely to catch is the back of my head. I would be grateful for any advice.

Answer: These heavy flies need to be cast on a shorter and heavier leader than normal flies. It helps if you taper the leader starting with fairly heavy material at the butt of the leader, say 3 or 4 ft of 0.45mm dia. If you are overhead casting lift them smoothly to the side at say a 45 deg rod plane and deliver them forward at a higher (not vertical) plane this elliptical casting motion reduces the need for perfect timing of the back cast, done correctly there is slowing down but no stop between the back and front casts. If you are Spey or Roll casting make sure that you cast smoothly and do not allow the fly to sink when you make the “anchor”.

Playing Salmon.
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Question: I'm a reasonable salmon fisher and catch hand full of salmon each year on the fly(greased line) on treble hooks CS12 size 12 to 8, this year up to now 40% of fish hooked have come off after about 3 minutes of play each time with the rod held high with the fish lying close to the bank with little strain on the line, could it be possible that the hook is say being pulled up at say an angle of 45 degrees allowing the salmon to close its mouth and actually push the hook backwards therefore unhooking it self? From now till the end of the season I intend to use only single and double hooks and not raising the rod to high when coaxing the fish into the bank I have read an article written by you about the use of single hooks. Do you loose many fish this way?

Answer: Like you I have gone through spells of loosing fish and there is no accounting for it. Most experienced fly fishers have suffered the same thing. I tend to play fish firmly and use side strain a lot and believe that it’s easier to loss them by being too gentle with them. I also never use leader that is any lighter than need be so for me 0.28mm is my smallest diameter of fluorocarbon and for flies size 6 and 8 I use 0.33mm which is fairly strong. A fish well hooked is always landed. Singles have better penetration than trebles

Choice of leader material
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Question: I am looking for advise on leader line I currently just use clear nylon 6lb but I get knots after a few casts, I am thinking of changing to fluorocarbon as it a little stiffer would this stop the knots? Also what leader line would you recommend for dry fly fishing?

Answer: Fluorocarbon is stiffer and it sinks quicker but your knots are probably not caused entirely by the leader, more likely they are the result of casting faults. The normal leader length for trout is around 9 ft and it is best with a single fly to use a tapered leader. You will find many recipes for making these on the web or you can buy purpose made continuously tapered leaders but these are comparatively expensive. The part to which the fly is attached is the tippet and the "X" diameter of the tippet should be around 1/3 of the fly hook number e.g. hook size 12, tippet size 4X. Nylon material is also suitable for dry fly fishing provided that you can get it to sink into the surface film otherwise the disturbance that it causes is very noticeable.

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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.