puppet

Striped Bass Lateral line, flies, and flyline

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Posted (edited)

 

So someone recently posed a question about how tarpon find a presentation in stained water.   In general, I feel the lateral line is rarely discussed and although my thoughts on the matter are not scientific I feel that lateral line is absolutely something that plays into presentation.

 

My impression that this lateral line provides a sense that a fish may have the same discretion in vibration as sound does for us.  I often used the metaphore of sounds we might hear in the woods if we close our eyes. We can tell the difference in the vibration profile(sound) between different animal footsteps or flight.  We can cull out environmental noises vs animal noises.

 

I really lean concept on this when I surfcast and fish plugs.   I also fish flies for trout that have a buggy profile.  I really like dryfly hackle on wetflies...I feel it sends out living vibrations and a large profile.

 

With flyfishing this season I reflected on the elephant in the room.  My big heavy flyline moving and displacing water and vibration.  Compared to my fly it has a dominant signature in the water....and clearly probably is not a signature of any forage.  I know line slap can spook fish, but I also wonder if just the use of a heavy line can spook fish....or even potentially attract them in some senarios. 

 

So, asking the more experienced anglers here.....what are your thoughts on this?  Is there any merit to this consideration?  Do you ever leverage it or change your presentation because of this consideration? 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_PezzK5NKM&t=30s

 

 All this said, I feel mostly with flyfishing I try to rely on the visibility of my presentation the most, but as the video above notes this is definitely a function of our presentation.

Edited by puppet

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One-eyed fish survive fairly well, but I think that the lateral line is the more important sense, and that in most situations, for most swimming forage, it is the primary sense upon which fish rely.

 

I compare the lateral line more to the sense of touch than to hearing. Water is inelastic, rigid even, so it conveys energy with incredible detail to a sensory system that can process it. I don't think bass have any trouble at all feeling a single hatchling sandeel in the turbulence of the wash. Do they feel the fly line, too? Sure, but they haven't evolved to make anything of it. Unlike trout on a stream, stripers are relatively unfussy.

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I always remember Stetzko saying even though his Cape waters were full of sandeels he preferred using big bulky flies that “push” water so the bass could locate them better. At least that was his theory. 

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I think there is some merit to the idea that fish can feel or sense your fly line

 

I’ve fly fished New Zealand for the weariest browns you could imagine, and keeping your line still was critical. Granted, part of that may be that when you move your line it changes how your nymph is drifting and causes the nymph to drag, which is unnatural and the fish generally will not hit it unless it’s a near perfect drift, but it seemed like the line moving pushes water, which crates ripples and vibrations, both of which I think startle the fish

 

water conducts vibrations incredibly well. Both sound and the physical sensation of vibration. As as experiment I’ve sat in a pool and had my bother reel a lure past me underwater, and you can feel the lures. Particularly high vibration lures like a paddle tail swim bait and a lipless crank bait, I could sit with my eyes closed and physically feel the lure going by and guess reasonably accurate where it was, even from several feet away. And a fishes lateral line and swim bladder are hundreds of times more in time to underwater vibrations than our inner ear, so I assume fish can feel much more subtle movements, like a big fly in stained water or a heavy fly line sliding across the surface

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5 hours ago, 27conch said:

Can't say I really ever thought about this and have been fly fishing for over 30 years now.

Same here.

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10 hours ago, DZ said:

I always remember Stetzko saying even though his Cape waters were full of sandeels he preferred using big bulky flies that “push” water so the bass could locate them better. At least that was his theory. 

I always thought Tony's heart and passion was always throwing plugs in the spray. He did get into fly fishing when it became popular in the early 90's more or less to increase his client base of shore guiding and taking advantage of a new fade.   

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12 hours ago, EliasA said:

I think there is some merit to the idea that fish can feel or sense your fly line

 

I’ve fly fished New Zealand for the weariest browns you could imagine, and keeping your line still was critical. Granted, part of that may be that when you move your line it changes how your nymph is drifting and causes the nymph to drag, which is unnatural and the fish generally will not hit it unless it’s a near perfect drift, but it seemed like the line moving pushes water, which crates ripples and vibrations, both of which I think startle the fish

 

water conducts vibrations incredibly well. Both sound and the physical sensation of vibration. As as experiment I’ve sat in a pool and had my bother reel a lure past me underwater, and you can feel the lures. Particularly high vibration lures like a paddle tail swim bait and a lipless crank bait, I could sit with my eyes closed and physically feel the lure going by and guess reasonably accurate where it was, even from several feet away. And a fishes lateral line and swim bladder are hundreds of times more in time to underwater vibrations than our inner ear, so I assume fish can feel much more subtle movements, like a big fly in stained water or a heavy fly line sliding across the surface

Vibrations = enough said 

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I'm sure bass also use their lateral line to hunt artificials....large swimming plugs and such. To what degree a fly or flyline equates, no idea....some, how much is the question.

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Posted (edited)

18 hours ago, 27conch said:

Can't say I really ever thought about this and have been fly fishing for over 30 years now.

I realize this is not a normal point of discussion.  It goes without saying that one can march on with what works for them without consideration or reflection.  I understand the concept: if it works, why question it?  It is also fair to humbug this discussion, but considering your experience you must have some anecdote that relates to lateral line.

 

When fish are picky, I will v-wake flies/plugs for trout or striped bass.  For trout it can be referred to as skating flies. Surfcasting often a redfin, metallip or needle will be v-waked on top. These are  known and deadly methods. What we see in a surface wake is also happening sub surface when we present subsurface, we just do not see it.  A v-wake on a calm surface is visible and it probably creates both hydraulic vibration but also sound.  I suspect that combination is probably what makes it so effective. It is multi sensory. I have had salmon ignore my fly and hit a micro swivel I had on a furled leader that was v-waking on the surface of a river.  I once had a 20# class striper on , and had a bluefish strike a v-wake of where my line intersected the water.  Hahahaha. I was in a boat off P-town and saw the bluefish drop in behind the small wake.... hesitate....then chomp!!!

 

This is just what has me thinking about my flyline. When I see the wake it is pushing it might draw attention away from my presentation or worse spook fish.

 

I am not disputing that we can catch a lot of fish in situations where this would not be a factor.  It could be that this is rarely ever a factor.    That said, we often have refusals we do not even know about or dont fully know why.  Calm conditions sometimes  are the most difficult to convert fish.

 

I guess this season in particular had me reflecting on this lateral line stuff and flyline. This season was really light in weather.  A lot of outings with calm conditions.   My impression of 2022 was that it was unusually calm and void of any real weather.   I really like bigger water and white water fishing. 

 

I had a a few calm days in a row where I was on bass that were feeding on crabs.  I threw every trick I could think of, including a variety of crab and shrimp patterns but they just ignored it.  The calm conditions in general had me reflecting on my line splashing down, v-waking, and casting a shadow.   Yes I fished the same water and tide at night but it did not improve my results.   It might not be related to my flyline at all, but I was doing something wrong.

 

18 hours ago, BrianBM said:

Unlike trout on a stream, stripers are relatively unfussy.

I find trout and bass very similar in behavior. They both have times that they feed with abandon, times that keyed in on bait/hard to convert,  and sometimes they are just staging and cautious.   I will agree striped bass may seem to be the more cooperative of the two, but this might be because they school. The few times that i have seen trout in high concentrations like schooled bass....they almost always are very cooperative.  I think it is the competitive instinct.

 

I sort of feel fish have personalities.  I have had trout dart as a slowly and quietly approached a pool....I was 30 feet from the pool in the shadows....and I spooked a fish.  On the opposite, my buddy and I were fishing a wild stream and we stopped to chat and as we were standing there I spied a trout within 4 feet of us.  We were loud and highly visible and standing right over this fish.   I flipped a presented a fly to that trout 5 times, each time it took the fly and I fought it for a short period but it was really green so it found its freedom each time....hahahhahaa....Bold bugger. Had us laughing.  Sometimes striped bass can be fooled by a child, but sometimes they are so keyed in on certain forage that it is hard to convert them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by puppet

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Puppet- I’m probably not the only one that often has bass striking where my running line enters the water.  Especially on flat calm nights when it’s the only disturbance visible. 

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4 hours ago, Capt.Castafly said:

I always thought Tony's heart and passion was always throwing plugs in the spray. He did get into fly fishing when it became popular in the early 90's more or less to increase his client base of shore guiding and taking advantage of a new fade.   

He loved his droppers.Also,when I would show up at the print shop he would get all worked up."What the **** did you bring today? His eyes would light up when the zip-lok bag got tossed on the counter."Inside tonight!!! see you behind Chesters!!!! " He loved the 12-14" spun deerhair headed eels.Sinktip lines or floaters depending on the wind.Tromping in the marshgrass and the expolosions of big bass smashing the eel.He could be a bit clumsy at times too.A couple of times he had to be pulled out of the water after walking off the edge.When the tide dropped out we would roll out onto the beach and switch back to the plug and dropper.If the dropper worked better we'd go back to the flies in the 6-8" range.Mostly black or chartreuse on moon nights.What laughs we had.

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17 hours ago, puppet said:

.  My big heavy flyline moving and displacing water and vibration. 

I watched a Flip Pallot video on how he removes the front loops on fly lines and ties direct because he believes the loop creates , I’ll call it, unnatural water movement.

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1 hour ago, DZ said:

Puppet- I’m probably not the only one that often has bass striking where my running line enters the water.  Especially on flat calm nights when it’s the only disturbance visible. 

Every time this ever happened to me it was a BlueFish doing the dirty work and a Bass on the plug.

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