flatties on the fluff
so this blog post has developed from a conversation on Edinburgh anglers facebook site and a few folks were interested and didn't actually realize that you could catch flounders on a fly rod well actually yes you can and ive done it a few times in the past and now with me living next to the coast and i actually have a couple of very good spots to practice this not talked about a lot or even much info out there on this dark art and i hope by the end of it you'll also think well actually i would mind trying that if so then you'll be pleasantly surprised at what a great sport fish these actually are .
so a little background on this , flounders in the uk are found all round our coast from river estuary's to open beaches and usually they are well within casting distance for the fly fisher and will feed quite happily in mere inchs of water and at all states of the tide , the flounder like its bigger cousin the halibut are actually an aggressive predator and will readily take flies and are pretty much around all year as well , the uk shore caught record is around 5 LBs i believe but fish to 1 or 2 LBs are fairly common and even at that size on a fly rod they fight like stink.
to be honest i usually find the best places to be where there is a mix of sand and mud close to river estuaries and you will find the younger fish feed on crustacean and worms and the adult fish well they will take the same plus small fish and there not affraid to have a go at larger stuff as well in fact i remember in my younger days they would launch themselves on large silver tobys meant for other species a fantastic and often overlooked fly species .
river estuaries no matter how large or small your local estuary is a great place to start above is one of my local ones there are plenty here attracted no only to the roughish sandy bottom and with its mussel beds but also the mooring ropes and cover of the boats and this particular one is a very easy fish casting wise and it has seen me on occasion wading across to the other side and fishing on the corner which also gives me some great ground to cover
beaches are also well worth a go although they can be a bit daunting where to start , but have a look at low tide and youll see like another of my local beaches worm casts , well thats half the battle as thats a food source , if you find that youll be sure there will be fish around and again you dont need massive casts to reach them
another of my spots with a stunning backdrop , this area is very muddy and full of food , if you notice there is a heron in the bottom corner well thats not there for no reason is it , and this area is actually very under fished but well worth putting the hours in especially with a fly rod . and the tide fairly races in when it turns dislodging all sorts of food items .
so that a couple of locations and what to look for so now we will take a look at the gear i use .
my main saltwater fly rod is a loop blueline 7/8 wgt this is a 9ft 3 piece which i also use for canal fishing and is more than enough to do the job , but if you have a heavy reservoir trout outfit like a 6/7 this will also be fine as even if you encounter something else like a bass or sea trout you'll find you wont be too under gunned .
i use an airflo cassette type reel which is all plastic and i have 3 sets of lines fast sink , intermediate and floating although for my flounder fishing i use a fast sink , the main reason i use plastic reels is theres less chance of stuff rusting up and killing expensive metal reels is something im not keen on doing to be honest , yes you can go out and buy saltwater specific fly reels but they tend to be expensive and well these plastic reels are cheap and do just as good a job , a tip ill give you id that when i come home from fishing i always have a shower and i actually take my rod and reel in with me and give them a good wash down while im having a shower , my wife thinks im bonkers but its a better than having to buy new stuff and your gear will last a life time with a little tlc.
a lot is written about lines and to be honest i keep things very simple i have 4 lines i use for my fishing , sinking / intermediate / floating / sink tip , for saltwater i may use all 4 depending on where im fishing and what species but for flounder i use a bog standard fast sinking flyline as well although flounders will hunt of the bottom most of the time they will be on the bottom and thats where i want my fly to be if i remember correctly my line sinks at around 6 inch's per second which is plenty for where we hunt flounders and also worth remembering that salt water is denser than freshwater so your average line will sink slower in the salt but not a great difference so basically just count it down till it stops taking line then on your next cast you'll know roughly when your on the deck. which ultimately is where your fly wants to be .
now there is of course saltwater specific lines but these tend to be mostly for the hot climates chasing the likes of bonefish and the like which is a whole different ball game and not really one we need to go into here , what i will say though is if you fish a lot of rocky marks its not really worth investing in the big bucks for these lines as they will get shredded stick to cheap lines that you can easily afford on the wallet and not cause you to cry a lot when you buy them . you can get great fly lines for as little as £20:00 which will do you just fine and also woth noting that a lot of the cheaper lines come from the same factories and are often advertised on ebay as mill end lines but without the company name or logo . food for thought that .
but as i said for flounder fishing a straight forward fast sink will do you fine so my line is a basic fast sink in a 9wgt
im a big fan of fluorocarbons which are pretty much invisible in water i tend to use either 10lb or 15lb leaders in 7ft lengths , i find that flounders are an inquisitive fish and generally not leader shy so you could go with a pretty much standard mono nothing complicated , i do however always use a decent brand of fluro and have used seaguar for many years both in my salt water fishing and pike fishing and its never failed me yet , berkley fluro is also very good and have a few spools of this also.
a word of waring though , if you like your ebay sites for cheap tackle (and who dosnt like a bargain) be very wary of fluro from china , although this make look great and be a great price i actually bought some this year in 10lb b/s and it actually broke while i was testing it at 2lb so just keep that in mind as a fish of a lifetime could be on the end of it , definitely worth paying a bit extra for a good brand. and also check your leader regularly . run you line between your fingers and if it feels even the slightest bit rough change it .
theres a couple of knots i use to connect leader to fly and these are as follows
1- a simple blood knot
2- jam knot
if your struggling with these knots or dont know how to do them let me know and ill happily do a video on them
well flies where do you start there is so many different patterns and colors out there you could spend hours just looking through your boxes but there is a couple of pointers i can give you to ease the pain
clousers are pretty much the go to fly for flatfish and a host of other species but yup the come in a whole heap of different colors so if you want just a few that will cover most situations then id go for them in the following colors and around 2 inch's long
- all white with pearl flash
- black back / red body red flash
- pink back / white body pearl crystal flash
- chartreuse back / yellow body lime crystal flash
these colors id be supremely confident in fish for most of my saltwater fly fishing , the clouser is also a great fly for fishing on the deck as it fishes hook up so less chance of snagging and better hook ups
when your fishing over clean sand its also worth especially in the summer to have some sparsely tied DNA sandeels , i make these with bead chain eyes and quite heavy hooks to get em down on the bottom , this is actually a fantastic all round fly for a lot of species and lots of lovely sparkle in them .
another great fly especially when big shoals of sprats are around our shores is this sprat pattern i make with Angelina fiber , this is flash overload and looks great in the water it also has an epoxy head to get it down and flatfish will take it with gusto fished slow along the bottom i find that the more flash you have in flies for flounders the better your catch rate i dont know if the flash annoys them and brings out the predatory instinct but the hit them hard .
a slight variation on the sprat pattern but looks great in the water again all around 2 inchs long
ive also been playing around with shrimp type patterns but not fished them yet so not sure how they will work , one to try in summer i think
and last but not least when on beachs in the summer i tend to wet wade , i have a pair of neoprene flats shoes that are great on the beach (not so good in winter)
or when its a bit cooler ill wear chest waders but you must be carefull and watch for incoming waves do not take risks with chest waders , i tend to go only up to my backside and ill always be aware of the sea state and just dont take any risks , if you feel a wave pushing you back then back off to shallower water .
so there you have it , i hope ive inspired you to go out and have a go for these great saltwater predators youll wish you had done it years ago
a cave in scotland