8 line management tips
If you are headed to warmer locales this winter in search of sunshine and salty critters, this older (but still very useful) blog post I did in 2016 will come in handy if you find yourself on the front of a flats skiff.
Line management plays a big role in making clean, accurate shots in pretty much any fishing environment. In particular saltwater flats fishing from a boat comes with it's challenges and having the ability to quickly fire a shot off at a moving target will increase your odds tremendously.
If this winter is your saltwater fly fishing experience, or just want a couple refreshers, give this blog I wrote a read. Hope it helps!
8 Tips to More Efficient Saltwater Boat Fishing
Tip 1 - Clear the Deck
Get your shit out of the way. This sounds like a no brainer, but this simple act of taking absolutely everything from the bow of the boat and storing it back by the guide or in a storage area will without a doubt be the biggest thing you can do keep your line from wrapping around some minuscule little buckle on a bag, or water bottle, or whatever inevitably causing a tangle and distracting you from the task at hand… making a clean, quick, precise cast.
Tip 2 - Keep the Line on the Deck
Your fly line is falling off the deck in the water… sometimes from the wind blowing it… sometimes because you are stripping the line too far to the side and throwing it into the water. As you retrieve be conscious of where your stripping your line.
Tip 3 - Make a Test Cast
What I mean by this is… you roll up to the flat or mangrove area you are about to fish. Before the guide is all set on the polling platform, quickly strip your line off the reel. Make one false cast to the side (not where the fish are) and then retrieve your line back to your side. What you’re essentially doing is stacking up your line sequentially, so when you make your first actual cast to a fish the line shoots off the deck in order of what line is on top of the pile. This will reduce the chance of the line shooting out from the bottom of the pile and tangling.
Tip 4 - Hold onto Your Fly
This one is kinda major actually. Saltwater fishing is like hunting… lots of down time just scanning the horizon for signs of life. When it’s your turn on the bow of the boat, hold onto the fly, or leader directly above the fly. This will keep the fly from dangling in the breeze and snagging other line, or an article of clothing.
Tip 5 - Keep 3 to 10 Feet of Line Out of the Rod Tip
Fly rods need line to load. By keep some line out of the rod tip you do two things. One is that you keep your leader / line connection from getting caught up in the tip of the rod. The second is that you now have line out to start loading the rod instantly on your first cast. I like to have a minimum of 3′ out of the rod tip, but would rather have 5+ feet so that I can flip the fly out of my hand and go directly into the first false cast with some load on the rod. If you start to have more than 10′ of line out it becomes harder to manage without tangling. Keep in mind I am talking about having actual line out of the tip of the rod… not just leader. NOTE – keep your rod horizontal when you standing there with line out. This keeps the line from sliding back into the guides.
Tip 6 - Get a Line Management Buddy
If you are fishing with a partner on the boat and it is extremely windy, have your fishing partner make sure your line is staying on the deck. In the heat of the action this can be a major help. Fishing from the boat is a team effort. If your buddy won’t help… find new fishing friends.
Tip 7 - The Toes Know
If you CAN, fish barefoot in the boat. Your feet can feel when they are stepping on the line. When you wear your flats boots, or sandals, you cannot feel the line under your feet. Your feet are one of your biggest enemies for line snags. Wearing just socks can help with sun protection for those looking to keep their feet from baking.
Tip 8 - Plant Your Feet
The more you move your feet and shuffle around on the bow of the boat… the higher the odds of stepping on the line and getting it bunched up. Calm your nerves, take a deep breath, keep your balance, and try to not move your feet all over the place. The only time you should be dancing is when you just landed that fish of a lifetime.