The Tampa Bay Times

How do I strip my fly? Next to, “What fly should I use?” this is a very frequent question. On a recent saltwater charter with two clients, they told me about trips made during their last couple of days where they caught nothing after 6 hours of wade fishing. Stopping the boat in a wind-protected area, I asked each one to cast for me. Both were very poor casters, with layouts of their line full of slack. Holding the rod tip about 5 feet above the water, when they did strip, the fly never moved. After watching each do a couple of casts and “work” the fly, I informed them their Clouser minnow did not move in any of their presentations. No fish would show any interest in a baitfish imitation that didn’t move. Their stripping to give the fly appropriate action varied considerably. I told them to watch the end of their floating fly line where it joined the butt section of the leader. This will give you a very good indication of what your fly is doing. Saltwater fish usually like to have the fly on their level. If they are on the bottom in 5 feet of water, a fly on the surface is rarely taken. Sometimes with the tide coming toward you, it is necessary to exaggerate the long frequent strips to give the fly the desired action. Keeping the rod tip close to the water during the retrieve and at the beginning of the cast also helps reduce slack.

Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at and (727) 504-8649.

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