When to go with a floating pattern ?

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Ron Crawford, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. Ron Crawford ===

    Posts: 210
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Seeking advice from those who know about fishing on top for silvers........

    I have been out about a dozen times this summer and my go-to outfit is always an intermediate line with a pattern meant to imitate a baitfish, or an attractor pattern, but always intended to fish below the surface. I have tied up a bunch of floating patterns and I carry a floating line in my pocket, but I just can't pull the trigger and switch to fishing on top.

    What holds me back is that I just think that fishing below the surface is going to give me better odds, and it's been two weeks since I landed a fish. So I don't want to make it any harder on myself.

    My question is this ..... What water, current, fish activity do you look for when deciding to fish with a floating pattern? Does seeing more jumpers mean that floating patterns will be effective? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. miyawaki Active Member

    Posts: 3,234
    Kent, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +884 / 1
    The best time to fish a popper is ALL the time, but then, I'm biased.

    That being said, it is good to start with a surface fly and if fish come to the popper but don't connect, switch to a subsurface pattern.

    You've been doing it ass backwards. The trouble with beginning subsurface is that you never see the fish and subsequently you don't know if they're around your fly. At least with a popper, at a minimum, fish will always follow or slash, or otherwise let you know they are around. Then you can switch.

  3. Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

    Posts: 987
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    iagree Well, there you go. The master of the saltwater surface fly has spoken. I like to use poppers and floating sandlance patterns to search for fish because they effectively draw them to show themselves.
  4. Nutty Squirrel Says: Smoke Salmon not Crack

    Posts: 49
    Ballard, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    The gospel according to Leland is correct in my limited two years of Salt Fly fishing opinion. A much more fun way to fish in my opinion and at very least the fish will present themselves with a popper rather than stripping for hours on end searching for fish with a sub surface approach.
  5. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,535
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,505 / 9
    Right now I'm envisioning me standing in the Orvis store in Bellevue, or even better, standing knee deep next to Leland in some river with an "S" when I ask about intermediate sink stripping all day then switching spools to float and popper fish when he turns to me, cocks his head to the side a bit and says Mumbles...
    I'm sold! Before I had an intermediate sink line I used a floater with sinking flies. I have never given myself the real thrill of seeing those fish at the surface trailing my flies. I'm going to go out a few times and start on top and work my way down to see what I've been missing. I'm not catching fish most of the time anyway, maybe I can at least see some in the vicinity of a poper instead of all jumping well beyond my mortal casting capabilities.
  6. Chris Bellows The Thought Train

    Posts: 1,704
    The Salt
    Ratings: +866 / 0
    it does.

    the simple answer for when you want to fish a floating pattern is when you want to catch a fish on a popper.:D

    seriously, another benefit with a floating fly, especially in areas with current... is you will learn how your fly fishes much better since you can see it. this will translate when you go back to a sinking line.

    for me. i always liked fishing i popper when i knew there were a ton of fish around. makes it a little easier, and when there's a ton of salmon around... a deeply fished clouser gets a bit boring.
  7. Ron Crawford ===

    Posts: 210
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0

    WOW - That's some beautiful Zen advice there. Seriously, I get it now.
    Thanks for the sage advice - I hope to return the favor some day.
  8. Chris Bellows The Thought Train

    Posts: 1,704
    The Salt
    Ratings: +866 / 0
  9. jcnewbie Member

    Posts: 854
    Kent, Washington
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Oooh Geeez! :beathead: Me too! Been doing it all wrong....again!:( I was even stupid enough to fish Leland's popper with an intermediate OB line because I didn't know if I should use my floating trout lines for "salt!":eek: Yeah, yeah, I know, dumber than the average newbie fur shure!:rolleyes:

    Even when you read a lot, including this forum, there is no substitute for direct, personal mentoring by more experienced fisherman than yourself and since I fish alone, the learning curve is exceptionally steep.....but slooowly I'm learning little tidbits here 'n there and might even catch a fish or two some day...:eek:!

    JC:) ...ever the optimist:D
  10. ChrisW AKA Beadhead

    Posts: 493
    Seattle, WA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I think the best time to use a surface pattern is when there is a slight ripple on the water. If it is glassy smooth it often makes fish wary. I have had a popper start to produce just as the water changed after a breeze came up up. But if its really choppy the fish may not see your pattern amongst the surface commotion or the wave action will mess with your retrieve and make it look unnatural. A full intermediate line like a Streamer Express gets the whole setup under the waves so you can direct the retrieve. It also helps to get underneath the surface if there is a lot of salad in the water.

    I have also had some success fish a sinking line on bright days when I feel the fish are feeding a little deeper.

    Don't underestimate the benefits of fishing a weighted fly like a clouser with a floating line however. This keeps your fly just under the surface and you will still see some of the strikes and follows. Often the strikes will be a little harder when the fly is nearer the surface resulting in more secure hookups. Sandlance will also travel just below the surface too and I think fish can see your fly easier when it reflects against the "ceiling". Plus it makes it easier to switch to/from a surface pattern because you don't have to change lines.

  11. SpeySpaz still an authority on nothing

    Posts: 1,826
    Roy, WA
    Ratings: +13 / 0
    don't beat yourself up too bad, JC...
    the floating fly/sinking line trick is a "secret weapon" to some, maybe they're annoyed you put it out there! LOL:beer2:
  12. jcnewbie Member

    Posts: 854
    Kent, Washington
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Oh goody...now I feel much better, thanks for that, Spey:rofl:!

    But now that I've committed the ultimate sin and revealed my "secret weapon" (that doesn't seem to work btw....bawling:!). I better not see anybody else usin' it on the beach or I'm gonna be mighty upset :(...especially if they're catchin' fish an I'm not :p ;)!

    A mind, like a parachute, works better when open.
  13. SpeySpaz still an authority on nothing

    Posts: 1,826
    Roy, WA
    Ratings: +13 / 0
    "aaahhh, weedhoppah, you must seek the eelgrasss, not the rocks, to make it work."
  14. jcnewbie Member

    Posts: 854
    Kent, Washington
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Yes, Master....but how does one hold one's mouth, Master?

  15. Saltman "Just Fish!"

    Posts: 109
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    Cool photos Topwater!!! In my opinion fishing poppers is the ultimate in saltwater fly fishing. It equates to primo dry fly action in the fresh... Nothing better than seeing the fish explode after a fly on the surface. Clouser's are hard to beat, but you ususlly only see the fish you hook. If you want to fish poppers, with the current number of returning fish, this is definitly the time of year to give it a try. :thumb:
  16. Richard Torres Active Member

    Posts: 1,355
    Mill Creek
    Ratings: +79 / 0
    Leland has a good point.
    I always enjoy fishing a river for trout first using dries and then target them with wet patterns if I don't get any results..
    I enjoy the suprise I get when they smash the fly at the surface..
  17. Denny Active Member

    Posts: 4,049
    Seattle, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +45 / 0
    Man, there's a bunch of good stuff in here (except Crawford's response to Chris's, er, Topwater's advice). Topwater's boat (past, now, sad to say) has brought to hand more coho in one day than most beach fishers will catch in a year, or caught in a year more than what most beach fishers will catch in a lifetime. Crawford, heed his advice.

    It's kind of like that old question and answer of "When is the best time to fish"?; "When you can."

    Lots of good stuff in this thread.

    PS I like to fish behind those folks who are fishing with a popper.
  18. Bob Balder Willing to learn anything...

    Posts: 175
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Holy smokes Leland, you hopped on that and look what you started. Nice job!
    I can assure you that my next trip out will start with a popper,this seems to be great advice.
    Of course, I have absolutely no idea how to cast one of those things, I do, however, have a fairly good mental image of what that first hour may look like. That in itself is a daunting thought.
    Maybe I'll head down to the park for a little practice before flailing away at the beach. Should you read about some guy hooking a dog in a city park, you will know it was me.

    What great thread this is, the light bulb just may have come on, however dim, I have hope.:)

    I will report back with my findings.
  19. riseform Active Member

    Posts: 1,100
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +291 / 0
    Popper water ballet
  20. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,477
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    This is all true. And here's the more drawn out cynical answer. Something new or even intermediate fishers don't understand about "pros" is that they don't necessarily need to catch alot, or even a fish to enjoy themselves or test how a line, rod, or new patterns swims. I've been there myself on a number of waters. Throwing the right fly at the right time in the right place = fish. Gets pretty dull. Throwing a less effective but visually exciting pattern becomes a viable alternative. Having the fish follow or slash is good enough. You don't necessarily need to touch the fish to know you could have caught it.

    I don't need to fish the upper or lower sacramento in California anymore. I know where they are, and I know what they'll take. "yup, I was right"... "yup, I was right"... "yup, I was right"... How many times do you need to hear that in your head before you've heard it enough? Baja? It's hard to get excited about that. I've lead enough trips that fishing over a school of tuna or dorado isn't that big a deal. Sounds jaded and like a total asshole to someone who hasn't been, but think of a stretch of water you absolutely own. Do you go there all the time or do find yourself going to other more challenging water? If you go there all the time there's nothing wrong with that of course. We're just built different. Neither one of us is better...

    The popper can transform water you own into an action movie. You can sit back and watch things unfold. A nervous fish following for 20 feet making 3 or 4 rushes that don't even disturb the water's surface before finally committing, or blowing it off... That's some exciting stuff if you've touched enough fish in your lifetime.