Home Fly Fishing

How much of your fishing is sightcasting?

jakejake Posts: 326 Deckhand
I am not a "fly-only" guy, but of course it's my preferred method. I was thinking though, I think for sightcasting you get way more hits on fly vs. spin gear because you can get much closer to them and make a more delicate presentation.

However, I have found that I am maybe not very good at sightfishing and I end up blind casting more than not, and spin gear excels here because you can cover more water and make more noise usually.

I want to catch more on fly, but is that realistic without being able to sight cast all the time? I fish off a kayak and I can stand, but it still doesn't put me as high as a casting platform on a boat. I want to also blame the stained water around the mangroves, but there are plenty of fish caught in say, Everglades backwaters which are just as tannic as around here.

What do you think? How did you get better at sightfishing? We gotta start discussions and give this forum a jumpstart.

Replies

  • sunflowersunflower osprey, floridaPosts: 685 Officer
    I fly-fish in the greater Sarasota area basically 3 days a week. I would say 0% of my fishing is sightcasting. I sight cast to where I see tarpon, I sightcast when I see fish boiling on the surface (ladyfish, jacks, Spanish, blue runners, blue fish), or maybe around docklights at night. All that adds up to very little of my time.

    If you drift or wade across bays, you will mainly get ladyfish, jacks, trout. In winter you can sightcast potholes for redfish, trout. You can cast blindly to structure for snook and redfish. Sometimes you can see snook near the mangroves, but that is more down in Charlotte Harbor.
    You best bet is walking the beach for snook, or greater Sarasota Bay, because the water is a lot clearer up there.

    Mark

    grace finds goodness in everything ...



  • JoeBCJoeBC Posts: 608 Officer
    You will get lots of answers here I would say about 50% of the fishing that I do is sight-fishing, but 80% of that is fly-fishing. Generally if I find fly-fishing isn't the most efficient way to catch fish I will grab a spinning rod, I tried the "fly or die" approach but now I try to choose the right rod for the situation, and when you are sight-fishing it is usually the fly rod.
  • backbonebackbone Posts: 59 Greenhorn
    99% of the time, I am sight fishing with a fly rod.
    The only way to get better at it is repetition.
    You have to train your eye to spot fish at low angles, like when your wading. Its easier if the fish are over sand bottoms or up against the trees. Good polarized glasses are a must.
    Good luck!
  • Ol'DirtyCasterOl'DirtyCaster Posts: 2,422 Captain
    Maybe 25%. There was a time when that was all I wanted to do, and I'm on a first name basis with my dermatologist because of it.These days I keep odd hours to avoid the crowds, I like the dark.
  • idlerickidlerick Littleton, Colorado & Sarasota, FlaPosts: 244 Deckhand
    Guess I'm a lot like Sunflower. We (all 3) fish the same areas, and the only time I sight-fish is when I stumble across a big trout or red holed up in an opening in the weeds and see him before he sees me. Frankly, nothing causes me to make a poor cast like seeing a target! And if I did have a casting platform on my boat, I wouldn't use it because at my age I'd fall off in about 10 seconds (assuming I could get up there!)
    I actually prefer to drift the mixed grass and sand and blind cast. I REALLY like structure when I fish, so an oyster bed or a pothole will have me turning on the trolling motor to stay in position for a while, but my target there is the structure, not the fish itself.
    But I'm perfectly happy to have the fish surprise me as I drift along. I can't say if spinning lures would attract more fish, as I never use it. It's whatever floats your boat.
    :)
  • FlatsFrenzyFlatsFrenzy Posts: 893 Officer
    I'm a fly only guy unless my daughters are on the boat drowning shrimp under a popper.

    I probably sight fish 90% of the time. That other 10% is dependent on visibility and weather conditions.

    If I wanted to throw meat or blind cast I'd go back to spin gear.

    I could obviously catch more fish using other tactics, but for now I'm sucked into the "sight" aspect of it.

    It took awhile to be able to see the fish. And it really helps to have someone on the platform that sees better than you do...*lol*
    -
    Chris
    Gulf Coast of FL
    @flatsfrenzy #flyonly #onelessspinrod
  • Red FishRed Fish Posts: 1,163 Officer
    I'm a fly only guy unless my daughters are on the boat drowning shrimp under a popper.

    I probably sight fish 90% of the time. That other 10% is dependent on visibility and weather conditions.

    If I wanted to throw meat or blind cast I'd go back to spin gear.

    I could obviously catch more fish using other tactics, but for now I'm sucked into the "sight" aspect of it.

    It took awhile to be able to see the fish. And it really helps to have someone on the platform that sees better than you do...*lol*

    Agreed. If I'm blind casting, I would feather be doing so with spin gear.
    Genesis 27:3 - Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me.
  • hooknsnookhooknsnook Posts: 63 Greenhorn
    by bringing along the spin gear you will not commit to the fly.. I kayak fly/sight fish and love it its **** addictive! when the winter time neg tides start try to get out early then look for those tails

    also practice your casting sitting down its tougher but you can get much closer to the fish and get more shots before they blowout.
  • DitchratDitchrat Posts: 56 Greenhorn
    jake wrote: »
    .

    What do you think? How did you get better at sightfishing? We gotta start discussions and give this forum a jumpstart.

    I do a far amount of sight fishing in the northeast, and some during my July pilgrimage to FL every year. For me sight fishing is a destination event, so it goes to reason that I go prepared for it and do not generally carry other gear, be it a full sinking line or spinning rod. If it is something you want to do then just commit yourself to doing it.

    I also do it on foot. That means longer casts using line that do not shoot, reason being is that the heavier even more weight forward then a WF line can be noisy. For me that means I leave the 30ft heads in the car and cast my 40-50ft heads.

    One of the things I have learned is each flat or sight fishing locations seems to have their own sets of rules. On cape cod striper fishing Monomoy the rule is if you have more then your knees wet then the fish will swim right behind you. In nj the rare site fishing opportunities consists of standing high on the beach and looking for fish cruising just outside the wash and looking into the clean water wave for fish. Other places it is looking for fish coming out of channels onto waist deep water, as they make forays into skinny water.

    Then of course I have my Fl. site fishing, which for me is limited. Best fishing in July seems to be lowlight, which isn't great for site fishing. But still there are snook cruising the wash, and several sand bars I fish that have snook, reds and jacks hanging in the deep water then periodically sliding up for a cruise over the flat before getting back in the deep. Plus there are good opportunities to sight fish around lights and bridges.

    But then there is my favorite type of sight fishing which is at night. There you have to use your ears almost if not more then your eyes. For me there is nothing more enjoyable then walking down a jetty listening for the pop of a tarpon, red or snook picking off something floating by. Once you find the noises you can let your eyes adjust to the low light and then look for fishing pushing water, or rings from surface feeding. While you are not seeing fish you are sight fishing for fish signs.

    If you want to get good at sight fishing you need to put in the time casting. I've been flyfishing since I was 9 years old, so about 33 years now, I've worked as a guide, I've taught casting lessons and general fish 150ish days a year. I still grab a rod and go in the back yards and practice casting. I generally set up some targets, cut the bend off a fly and spend some time relaxing and casting. Like anything in the world if you want to be good practice, practice. practice.

    Finally several pairs of good glasses. Amber for low light, copper for brighter, then copper with a mirror finish for full sun.
  • Ol'DirtyCasterOl'DirtyCaster Posts: 2,422 Captain
    Maybe I should elaborate. Just because I'm not sight fishing doesn't mean I'm using spinning gear. When sight fishing I generally win every fight unless divine intervention plays an unforseen role. I see a redfish, it's generally as simple as leading the fish, and having the patience to watch his approach without moving the fly until he closes the distance. I've spent thousands and thousands of hours training my eyes, and catching redfish and seatrout just doesn't appeal to me the way it used to. In the surf there are visual cues, but it's instinctive. It challenges me, both the habitat and the species I target. There's always the possibility that I'll get outclassed on the next drift. I don't want to win every fight. I like to break stuff. I also like being able to tell people where I fish knowing it's not going to do them any good : )
  • backbonebackbone Posts: 59 Greenhorn
    Maybe I should elaborate. Just because I'm not sight fishing doesn't mean I'm using spinning gear. When sight fishing I generally win every fight unless divine intervention plays an unforseen role. I see a redfish, it's generally as simple as leading the fish, and having the patience to watch his approach without moving the fly until he closes the distance. I've spent thousands and thousands of hours training my eyes, and catching redfish and seatrout just doesn't appeal to me the way it used to. In the surf there are visual cues, but it's instinctive. It challenges me, both the habitat and the species I target. There's always the possibility that I'll get outclassed on the next drift. I don't want to win every fight. I like to break stuff. I also like being able to tell people where I fish knowing it's not going to do them any good : )

    Tenkara on a Jetty?
  • Carl BlackledgeCarl Blackledge Posts: 674 Officer
    I love sight fishing for big bad aggressive fish, Nothing like watching a string of Tarpon come by, you cast in front of the front fish and she opens that big bucket mouth swallows your fly then it's off to the races and your reel is screaming like a baby.

    In Mexico we spot Dorado-Sailfish-Marlin and roosters making disturbances on the surface, we slowly creep up to them and cast your Crease fly in front of them, Same thing like the Tarpon you watch the eat, then the fish turns and hauls ***, again I love the sound of my reel screaming like a rapped ape.

    Maybe 50 % of my fishing is sight fishing.

    Blind casting is fun too, usually you get a grab when you least expect it.

    99% of my fishing is with a fly rod, in fact I don't even own a conventional rod.

    My 2 cents

    Carl Blackledge
  • Ol'DirtyCasterOl'DirtyCaster Posts: 2,422 Captain
    backbone wrote: »
    Tenkara on a Jetty?

    Lol! Don't tempt me. Both my big rods are at sage having sections replaced. I'm using a 30 year old 1pc Fisher 9wt right now. It might be a classic, but compared to my sage ones she's a total dog.
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
    I sight cast anytime my skiff is on the flats. Bones, tarpon, permit, reds for the most part.

    I blind cast when drifting creeks, poling productive looking shorelines, wading at night, patch reefs, etc.
    I'm surprised to hear guys say "may as well be using the conventional gear when blind casting."
    Fly casting is waaaay more efficient for blind casting than spin or plug. Say your conventionally blind casting a mangrove shore 60' away... So, your dropping you jig/plug/arti in every good looking pocket, overhang, etc and fishing that area intently, then reeling in quick to get the lure back to the boat to make another cast to get it in the productive zone again... The guy with the fly rod is making two or three casts to the conventional guys one cast, because of the ease in which the fly angler can pick up his 40/50' of line and re shoot it to the productive area, without having to retrieve it all like the conventional guy does.
    Unless the fly guy is rocking a sinking line...then no. But even with intermediate/sink tips it can be done nicely.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,631 Captain
    We fish by sight as much as possible (both day or night...). That said if we only used fly gear where we were looking at the fish - it wouldn't get used nearly as much.... At night we're either working docklights where you can clearly see every fish - but you have to stay as far away from them as possible... or you're out of luck --or we're up under a bridge looking at fish up current of us just inside the shadows where we can target them as they go by... Under bridges you actually get to see the tarpon roll up on your fly at very close quarters - things get exciting after the hookup....

    In the daytime, back in the Everglades we're doing a combination of sightfishing (when they're showing) and "beating the bushes" where we're working either a popping bug or other surface fly or simply putting a weedless fly up next to structure that should be holding fish... If I've chosen the right area it's pretty exciting - if I've chosen a shoreline with no fish - not so much....

    Unlike the tarpon down in the Keys our only truly sightcasted tarpon are laid ups or floaters that we poled up on and only see when we're pretty close. It's a fine line between seeing a really big fish laying in three or four feet of water and making a presentation before he sees you and spooks away... some days that sort of stuff is pure frustration - but it's always exciting... A lot of our river tarpon we see first but then have to figure out where they're holding on the bottom to get a fly down to them in a manner that it looks natural and an easy meal (here we're talking big flies, an intermediate line, and very close observation). When a big tarpon rolls, gulps air, and goes back down, she's headed right for the bottom so you're actually casting at the "burp" -those small bubbles that come after the roll as the fish releases some of the air it's gulped... The "burp" not only shows you where the fish is on the bottom - it also shows you the end of the fish that bites... Not exactly sight-fishing but very effective when the conditions are right (and I have the boat in the right position -and we get all the other variables down correctly...). At times giant fish will follow the fly all the way back to the boat and you see them a fraction of a second before they eat, scare the heck out of you, and soak you to the bone as you hook up. The first time I ever had an angler see a fish coming right at him five feet from the bow it scared him so badly that he made a single jump backwards all the way back to my center console (and of course missed the hookup...). I suppose you could call that sightfishing but not in the traditional sense....
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • JoeBCJoeBC Posts: 608 Officer
    Backlash wrote: »
    I'm surprised to hear guys say "may as well be using the conventional gear when blind casting."
    Fly casting is waaaay more efficient for blind casting than spin or plug.

    I fish my spinning rod along mangrove shorelines since I'm in a kayak. It's pretty much impossible to hold fly-rod, fly-line and stake out or paddle away from the mangroves when you hook a nice Snook, I got sick of losing flies and quality fish. And yes the other situation I prefer a spinning rod is fishing deeper water, I'd rather throw a jig, casting sinking lines just isn't fun.
  • Skinny RunningSkinny Running Posts: 73 Greenhorn
    Maybe I should elaborate. Just because I'm not sight fishing doesn't mean I'm using spinning gear. When sight fishing I generally win every fight unless divine intervention plays an unforseen role. I see a redfish, it's generally as simple as leading the fish, and having the patience to watch his approach without moving the fly until he closes the distance. I've spent thousands and thousands of hours training my eyes, and catching redfish and seatrout just doesn't appeal to me the way it used to. In the surf there are visual cues, but it's instinctive. It challenges me, both the habitat and the species I target. There's always the possibility that I'll get outclassed on the next drift. I don't want to win every fight. I like to break stuff. I also like being able to tell people where I fish knowing it's not going to do them any good : )

    I sight fish almost exclusively. I'd say at least 90%.
  • RennieRaeRennieRae Posts: 790 Officer
    JoeBC wrote: »
    It's pretty much impossible to hold fly-rod, fly-line and stake out or paddle away from the mangroves when you hook a nice Snook, I got sick of losing flies and quality fish.

    I keep a quick drop mushroom style anchor next to me in the yak for this very reason. It works well for me now after the lessons of getting my a$$ handed to me in structure many times similar to what you mentioned. I just drop it over with my left hand and resume the fight...
    Bob 

    17 ft. Ankona Native with 40 hp Suzuki 4 stroke 
  • FlatsFrenzyFlatsFrenzy Posts: 893 Officer
    I also have a mushroom anchor for my SUP.

    And yeah...once you find your range against a mangrove edge you can work it much more quickly on fly than you can with spin.
    -
    Chris
    Gulf Coast of FL
    @flatsfrenzy #flyonly #onelessspinrod
  • hooknsnookhooknsnook Posts: 63 Greenhorn
    another thought... sight fishing 101
    move along the flat until you bump fish then.... S..........L........O.....W down. that one thing helped my flyfishing alot .
    its hard to spot fish if your spooking them before you see them
  • Red-ManRed-Man Posts: 331 Deckhand
    Sight fishing is exciting and will get your blood pumping. A downfall though is that when it's easy to see the fish, generally it's easy for them to see you. Bright sunny days are great to spot some redfish or snook cruising the flats, but couple that with gin clear water and sometimes it's hard to get within casting distance without them spooking.

    I like a little cloud cover with a slight ripple on the water. Makes spotting them tougher but it helps to camouflage the angler as well.
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,670 Captain
    I love sight fishing the flats for big trout and reds. As hooknsnook said slow way down almost not moving. I was changing a fly one day and had a gator trout come from behind me about 15 ft to my right. Couldn't do anything except watch her go by.
    This big girl below I got while standing still waiting for a cloud to move away. Soon as the sun came back she was about 30 feet away coming right at me. Little side arm flip and game on. I like sun and sand next to grass.
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