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Look for sink when fly fishing trout

February 3, 2017
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Trout are in the channel. Cold weather made the shallows too cold to hunt and now the school has moved to a deep drop-off and is milling about closer to the bottom than the surface.

Cast after cast with your new 6 wt. fly rod, but no takers? Why?

They aren't coming up to the cold surface layer to feed even though they are hungry. You have to get that fly down to their level. A Clouser Minnow should be your first choice.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

On a light tippet or leader its lead eyes will sink it slowly to the depths where a series of short pulls and rests will trip any trout's trigger. Problem is it's often not deep enough and it takes too long to get to their level.

Fortunately, you came prepared with a second rod rigged with an intermediate sink tip fly line. To those unfamiliar, fly lines come in a variety of shapes and sizes for different applications.

The most commonly used fly line is the level floating fly line which is used for most surface work. This fly line is the same diameter from end to end. As fly lines became more advanced due to new manufacturing techniques tapers were introduced into the lines to make casting into the wind easier and to handle larger flies.

A typical fly line is 90 feet long. A tapered fly line will be the same diameter for the first 60 feet then the line slowly increases to a larger diameter and remains for the final 30 feet, similar to a tying a piece of 50-pound leader material to your 20-pound test fishing line.

In fly casting, the lure or fly is attached to a length of mono leader material which is attached to your fly line. With spinning or bait casting, the weight of the lure pulls the line from the reel. With fly casting, the heavy fly line is cast pulling the long leader and fly along with it.

The taper in the last 30 feet or so increases the weight in that part of the line making it easier to cast. So for example, if we were hunting snook in the shallows we probably would use a level, floating, weight-forward line. (The same diameter floating line for the first 60 feet or so then increasing slightly in diameter toward the end to give extra weight for casting ease - but, the whole line still floats.)

Now we need to get that fly down to the school of trout we found on our graph. The floating line won't help so pick up the other rod that has a weight-forward, intermediate, sink tip.

This line is a level floating line for the first 60 feet then increases slightly in diameter to the end. The difference is the last 30 feet of line is not only a larger diameter, but slightly weighted and sinks, pulling the leader and attached fly down with it.

Many varieties of fly line are available with slow, intermediate, and fast sinking tips as well as floating lines for shallows work.

A good fly line is expensive ($50-$100 or more) and requires maintenance to make your investment last several seasons. After use, especially in saltwater, I strip the line into a mild freshwater detergent solution, agitate by hand, rinse with a hose, pat dry, then drape the line over something in large coils to relax it.

Before its next use the line is further cleaned and sealed with a commercial dressing which not only protects the line and increases its life, but helps it remain slick, sliding through the rod guides easily, and gaining increased distance on the cast.

Salt fly fishing is easy and fun. This is year four of our two-hour, one-on-one, on the water, beginners' course. No experience or equipment required. Call for information.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or, or



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