In another article I mentioned going out and
breaking the rules. If you haven't done that,
you probably won't like this article either.
Mostly because you are a conformist! Your flies are
probably all neatly organized, as are your rods
and lines and leaders and tippets. Everything
is cleaned and in perfect working order. You
are one of those people who really needs to
get a life! If you're not one of those folks,
listen up, cause we're going to break some rules
here that ought to help you fill your stringers
with plenty of warm water pan fish. Who knows,
unless you try it. Maybe it'll work on saltwater
fish and trout too!
First of all a disclaimer: I will not be held
responsible for any damage to any equipment or
persons attempting anything or any variable to
anything I'm going to write. You need to use
a little bit of common sense and good judgment!
If you want to load a reel with 10wt line and
slap it on a 4 wt. rod and the rod busts, I
don't want to hear about it!
While doing some reading the other night, I came
upon a couple of presentation and casting techniques
that I've tried (they're basic and nearly
conventional) but I combined them with a couple
of other ideas, did some experimenting, and
came up with something that's new, at least
to me. Now the first thing I want to clarify
is the fact that I did not invent this technique.
I'm sure that others have tried it before me,
all I did was take a little advice from this
person on one subject, a little from another
subject, a little common sense, and a lot of
experimenting. The result is something that
works really well for catching bass, crappies
and gillies. I'm sure that it'll work on other
species, I just haven't gotten that far.
The first thing I did was to put a 6wt, slow
sinking tip, bass taper fly line on my 4/5 wt rod.
That's nothing new or unusual, right? The next
thing I did was put on about a 6 ft leader,
made out of 12 lb. monofilament. A little
short you say? Remember, we're pan fishing
here, in water that is usually a little turbid,
not crystal clear, spring-fed trout water.
The third thing I did was NOT use a tippet.
Okay, that's pretty unconventional, but read on.
At this point what I would normally have is a
fairly fast sinking line that slightly over-loads
the rod, but gives me greater casting distance, right?
Next, I tied on a fly I call a "Humpy Skunk", on
a #8 hook, it probably has another name, but basically
it's a humpy, tied with gray squirrel hackle, a white
body, with a few black elk hairs running the length
of the body and out to make the tail. Not exactly
a fly that is usually associated with pan fishing,
but we're being unconventional here anyway. The next
thing I did was totally coat the entire fly with
floatant oil, not paste or spray, floatant oil.
Okay, now what have I got? Something that breaks
more than a couple of rules. Especially when I say
that I cast it from my dock, downstream, and
retrieve it against the current!
Let me explain the terrain I'm fishing first. The
bank is a gentle slope of about 3 feet, filled in
with rip-rap of various sizes. The depth falls off
fairly rapidly, in steps, from 3', to 6' to 10'.
Some of the rip rap has fallen in, creating eddy
pools and crevices. The current is fairly slow, but
is pushing against the shore. It's a great little
panfish hole! Plenty of structure, plenty of food,
and along the south shore, which means cool
shadows during the day.
Okay, I've got this convoluted fly outfit rigged
up and I'm thinking, the slow sinking line ought
to take the fly down, but the fly is coated with floatant
so it's going to want to float back up to the surface.
It can't really get to the surface because the leader
isn't that long. To top it off, I'm going against
the current, so the drag on the line ought to help
keep it down. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon with
clear skies and hot, not exactly the best time of day
for fishing. Oh well, add it to the list of broken
What happened was this: I cast the fly along the
shore line at about the 6' depth line. If I did
nothing, the fly would continue to float for several
minutes before the weight of the sinking line and
the drag from the current would slowly drag it down.
I also noticed that the current would actually
play a factor in keeping the line from sinking as
fast as it was supposed to. If I started a retrieve,
at any speed, the line and current would immediately
pull the fly under. If I stopped the retrieve at any
point, the current would push up on the line and the
fly would bob up to the surface. This meant
that I could put the fly at any depth I wanted, hold
it there as long as I wanted to and fish each depth
until I found the fish that I knew were there.
I got a lot more than I expected! I caught fish
for three and a half hours. Bass and crappies holding
between 6 and 10 feet, bass off the bottom, gillies
on the rise. I even had a bass hit one of the crappies
I was pulling in! The set up may be unconventional,
the presentation is definitely unconventional, but I
sure caught a lot of fish! Try it for yourself,
try different flies. I read once where Charlie Brooks
used to use a similar rig with a Clouser Minnow.
I know I plan on trying it out on walleye using the chartreuse
colored Clousers I've tied.
Let me know what works for you.
~ Randy Fratzke