The Graveyard Shift

Night Fly Fishing for Striped Bass info from TGS

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So as far as I know there are no squid inshore near me.  However, I decided to try making some squid flies and test them as general night prospecting flies.  This weekend I put them in the line up.  

0A98AC1B-87FD-4D54-8DB3-E884B539445A.jpeg.20b9638f641c61e443fdd6610150ec44.jpegA147696D-CCBE-4BA0-B7EF-4C387D856F7F.jpeg.868fbe4954c8fbf6338627bd31ad5cee.jpeg

 

The white one has no rattles and double the floatation to fish near surface. The red one has half the flotation and suspends along with two large plastic jig rattles.  The only fly the bass wanted was the rattling suspending model out of a dozen flies I had including the white squid.  But I have not made shank flies before and I found the hookup ratio is not great with this configuration. So I need to upsize the hook substantially and gonna use a wire extension instead of the shank.  Lost one slot sized bass on the fly because my rod snapped as I was trying to land the fish. A bunch of

schoolies were landed though before that happened.  Initial use of a squid as general night prospecting fly was very successful.

5265737A-4F6B-44F8-B02A-75CD5656B1F8.jpeg.3101b6b3acec7480137b25d3cf258f3d.jpeg

 

Saw three lobsters from 1-3lbs last night too at my feet.  Got a picture of one that kept lingering around me.

3C73D7DE-9B07-4876-8E75-39D3A2D27EE2.jpeg.096b2e5fc2ac9dedae43843b2c94d50a.jpeg

 

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14 hours ago, 27conch said:

I would be more inclined to believe the substandard hookup ratio to be more about hook location rather then size in this case.

No, its definitely hook size and the fact the hook can move vertically as well as horizontal with the shank.  I manipulated it after fishing and figured out the hook can swing into a position that if you grab the flies body there is no way for the point to grab flesh at all. You would have to perfectly grab the hook.  I am fishing it through current rips and bass will often miss a head hook fly grabbing rear material.  I have found a middle or rear third hook placement in a large fly ensures the hook finds the fish in this scenario.  But in those flies I was using a wire spine and not shanks so the hook cannot swing out of position.  

3897EABA-2D27-41E9-A54B-E191F32020BB.jpeg.eea4936147fd12e32e0f0193bb9295a8.jpeg

See how the gap gets completely obscured by the semi rigid mesh body.

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This is with an 8/0 and a wire spine construction.  See how the gap is properly maintained.  If the fish grabs higher on body you are going to pull hook into its mouth.  Before fish would just slide off the body and miss the hook.

 

I will try this version and if that does not work well them I will make the head on an extended body.  When I fish this inlet with a 9" gamechanger with two hooks all fish are caught on rear hook which had the hook point located 5" from front of the 9" fly.  This hook point is located 4" from front of body's 7" profile so the placement ratio is the same.

 

Here is finished version.  The rubber tentacles seem to have better in water action too.282EF6A4-4676-43B8-BACD-3029F47FE49B.jpeg.102a7ec31ab5edfb7f0b01ab3ce65775.jpeg9F464B4B-4400-4C5A-8FC7-AD24B05E97E7.jpeg.fc61cf160e1d89ebe14473fdc4d34fc8.jpegB0EE8672-E493-4F08-A3B6-CCCD110693D9.jpeg.5498332806602a275f68f816f8dadc90.jpeg6F3E86CA-40F5-4280-9220-BF7E80033E4A.jpeg.0c707c9fdb4a5467e224c9c0d4886f3a.jpeg

Edited by The Graveyard Shift

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Dan,

 

When using shanks have you considered a small piece of shrink tubing over the joint/hinge point to somewhat limit movement enough to keep the hook point where it needs to be ?

 

HT

 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

2 hours ago, HillTop said:

Dan,

 

When using shanks have you considered a small piece of shrink tubing over the joint/hinge point to somewhat limit movement enough to keep the hook point where it needs to be ?

 

HT

 

No.  That is a good idea to try.  Most people are using a wrap on their shanks which does not cause hook gap issues like my foam core mesh body does.  They dont' report hook up issues on those squid flies.  However the action on their flies is different than mine.  This fly's action and characteristic are night focused (Large water displacement, minimal material that can foul, neutral buoyancy, and aloud double rattle chamber that is protected by mesh body).  Daytime I would probably use a different fly with more natural materials and motion with no rattles.

 

FYI the rattle less squid fly got zero hits.  The one with rattles got 30 and I converted 14.  The only other fly that caught as sun started to come up was a small chartreuse rattling jig fly.  The rattle less chartreuse clouser got zero hits.  For some reason rattles were critical on Saturday to getting bites.  

Edited by The Graveyard Shift

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On 2/13/2019 at 0:23 PM, The Graveyard Shift said:

First of all, “Welcome to the Dark Side.” While, in the beginning, you will find yourself well outside of your normal comfort zone, if you stick with it, the reward will be catching large fish in relative solitude. Fishing at night is not the only way to catch large striped bass, but if you are limited to wade fishing and using a fly rod, it will greatly increase your odds of consistently connecting with fish over 30 inches. Instead of jumping into the “how,” we are going to start with this: “Why do big fish become more accessible at night?”

 

The three factors that are predominant in the areas I fish regularly are: 1. Protection from predators, 2. The availability of prey species, 3. The impact of human activities. These three factors propel large striped bass to forage at night in near-shore water that can often be no deeper than calf-deep. This brings big striped bass into fly casting ranges of 60 feet or less most of the time. 

 

There are exceptions to every rule, so, in some areas I fish even at night where long casts of 80 to 100 feet are required, but that is because of where fish holding structure is located and how close I can get to that structure wading. 

 

Also, the minimum casting distance can be much shorter than during daytime if you have good presentation skills and put a heavy focus on maintaining stealth at night. At many areas I don’t wade at all, and I will catch most fish using roll casts of 15 feet or less.  

 

First, let’s examine predators of a striped bass in the inshore environment. There are no really predators of large mature striped bass except seals, osprey, and humans.  Seals are just as effective hunting at night as they are in the day, but due to their size, seals require deeper water than striped bass.  Osprey are a daylight visual hunter and most effective in shallow water, but at night they stay at nesting sites. So, bass are inclined to go very shallow when there are no night-time predators. I will cover the impact of humans separately, as they have more than just a predator impact on bass behavior. But, by and large, human fishing activity is limited at night.

 

Next, let’s look at prey availability and how darkness impacts prey behavior.  Many food items that are high on a large striped bass’ list of targets of opportunity are dormant during daylight and only come out at night.  I will look at how night impacts some critical prey species behavior and in turn how it brings in striped bass to certain areas to feed:

 

1.      European Green Crabs:  Large female crabs primarily are active at night only and will follow a flooding tide, forcing bass to seek them in the shallows.

2.      American Eels: Buried in the mud during the day, eels begin actively foraging at night and feed on crustaceans and small fish. Big bass have a hard time passing up an eel from July through September, even if they are already full.

3.      American Lobsters: They forage at night primarily and live at rocky structure areas that bass also like to frequent.  If you have not read about the world record sinkers and rattling technique you should because it accounts for the current striped bass world record. They make the same noise that a lobster makes when its legs make contact with rocks.  Since trophy bass like lobster and using it for bait is illegal, the next best thing is to use a RattleSinker to attract big bass and then show them a live eel on a circle hook.

4.      River Herring: Birds are the number one killer of herring when they’re migrating in shallow river systems.  To avoid this, movement from brackish water to a lake or river (and, vice versa post-spawning) is focused almost exclusively at night.

5.      Sand Eels: To avoid predators, sand eels bury themselves in the sand at night and stay dormant.  If you can identify areas during the day with high concentrations of sand eels, you need to come back after dark.  I have found the larger bass will come into these areas and attempt to root the sand eels out of their sandy hiding spots. 

6.      Squid: During daylight, squid are often in very deep water, but, at night, they will come into inshore environments to forage on baitfish.  Artificially lit areas attract bait and, in turn, attract squid and stripers. Big and small bait mixed with a nice shadow line can make for explosive fishing.

7.      Silversides: During daytime, these fish school up and move into deeper water as a defense against predators and also to feed.  At night, when they don’t have the visibility to school up, they seek shallow water over sand bars, in salt marshes, and in tidal pools to try and escape predators. 

8.      Winter Flounder: Studies show that these fish have a pretty set activity period of moving to deeper channel areas during daylight but then migrating at night to shallow areas near clam and mussel beds.  Big bass love to eat adult flounder and their young of the year.

 

Last, human activity greatly affects both striped bass and the fly fisherman.  Boat traffic at major harbor areas and tidal creeks with a lot of private moorings and docks negatively affect striped bass feeding.  Beach users are swimming and surfing right at the prime inter-tidal zone from the first bar to the lip of the beach.  Both of these issues makes fishing difficult. 

Moreover, at some areas, fishing is restricted to night only.  Some of my favorite locations to fish are very crowded during the day, but devoid of people at 2 am to 5 am. 

 

Another major factor to consider is artificial light considerations. Artificial light at night will concentrate bait, but it takes about two hours of darkness for a stretch to hold significant bait. 

Also, the shadow edge gives striped bass an ambush location because it is just like a looking into a lit window of a house at night.  You can see the people inside the house great, but they really can’t see you out the window without moving directly to the window and letting their eyes adjust to the darkness. This gives bass a predatory advantage, and they will hunt along the shadow edges of artificially lit areas regularly throughout the season. 

 

I hope this first article has provided you with a good understanding of why night offers a great opportunity for targeting larger striped bass in near shore locations. 

The next article will focus on how to gear up for night fly fishing, fly selection considerations, fly casting in the dark, practicing presentations, and picking a location and how to recon it for night fishing.

 

Amazing information. Thanks for spending the time to do this.

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Well I kept snagging these small squid in the same area that squid fly got the attention two weeks ago.  Will make some flies in this size for next trip.  First time seeing an actual squid while out in dark in my local area since I started focusing there in 2015.  Last season I had heard odd bait jumping sounds I could not identify late in August.  I am convinced it was larger squid now.

E873D156-3AF8-4160-B320-5988033686E6.jpeg

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Dan,

 

Capt. Ray's Squid-Sicle might be a great tie for these.   Quick and easy and I hear very effective. 

 

HT

 

5ef20a7b62cdb_TyingtheSquid-Sicle.png.ea93f3f3831c80f5a591e7d7e394355a.png

 

 

 

Edited by HillTop

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TGS, I was kind of on the same path as you in regards to your hook size issue with the first generation squid, but I did not explain it very well.  My first thought was to move the hook off of the articulated piece and have it attached to the shank portion.  Most will just use the longest shank hook they could find.  This would not work in your case though, since your creation is way longer then any hook in production. Only way, like someone else said, would be to attach the hook to the end of the shank and then limit it's movement with a tight piece of shrink tubing. Going with a bigger hook was clearly a better and easier solution..Well done.. !!

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1 hour ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

Been focusing on flats and dialing in my smaller night flies due to my broken rods.   E73CFCFE-A50B-4018-9F52-D9F59EF484F7.jpeg.27963a6bdc0f3c1b32ebc5bf89d9af56.jpeg

 

This fly has been doing very well...7A72E319-984D-41D4-8DC1-C2C363859CE9.jpeg.95ac260a9ef6a90b4ce407ad9b429504.jpeg25D93794-63F0-4925-A262-D38C10FAF72C.jpeg.0f239c82f32303c517fc5cf14d0291ae.jpeg3DD99B26-0A1A-46D7-BAA7-863EDC8CBBAF.jpeg.104240ba6677299e9caa0f7285ff213d.jpegB9C92690-49E8-4AD6-8300-5F8D63D51B3D.jpeg.3c73b016bd7390f59a88d941d3b93a78.jpeg

 

Floater / foam or rattle ?  Also how does the body tubing stand up from teeth abrasion?   Do you coat them in any way ?

HT

Edited by HillTop

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10 hours ago, HillTop said:

 

Floater / foam or rattle ?  Also how does the body tubing stand up from teeth abrasion?   Do you coat them in any way ?

HT

Its a foating diver.  The portion at hook is hardened the portion behing bend must remain loose and flexible or it will impact hook ups and hooks getting thrown during the fight.  It has one large jig rattle inside.  

 

Against bass its proving pretty durable no idea how it holds up to bluefish.  It needs more testing.  Clearly the weakest link is the lip so I reinforced it but it may need more robust reinforcing

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I'll give ya small -- and sparse to boot. About 2" long, and they were still slamming it even after it lost most of its material (it used to be Ray Bondorew's Marabou Sand Eel).

 

Steve Culton

 

MatchstickSandEel.jpeg.2347c6a8083eac9ef3331f69f1bce68a.jpeg

 

 

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Haven't broken any of my 10 weight rods but most of the time I fish with my 6 weights given the state of things this year. Here's one with a rattle but the rattle is made out of glass and I'm trying to figure out a way to make the more durable.  I don't think they make plastic ones this small. 

 

RattleFly.jpg

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