Lingcod Thread

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Nice work on the Lings Yellowlab! I notice that the one in the last pic has puked a baitfish up into its open maw.

I paddled my yak out along the South Jetty in the harbor entrance here yesterday afternoon just after the low tide change and spent over half my time drifting and jigging straight up and down with an 8" rabbit, fish hair and flash monstrosity I concocted, bouncing bottom in 40 -50 feet at the base of the jetty incline, but the Lings weren't biting. Same spot where I had a few good bites and caught one last week. I also cast jigheaded twirltails right to the rocks and retrieved down the staircase. Only lost about a half dozen jigs to the rocks just to get one med black rockfish.
Wind wasn't to bad, and the rain showers had abated. I fished until about 7pm.

I'm closer to getting my shooting head system completed, and can hardly wait to go try that out.

I bet that the bite would have been better here on the morning incoming-to-high tide, as the moon would have been directly underfoot at the 10 am high. When I fished, it was just starting to rise. But the wind was OK and I always like to fish the incoming tide in the harbor entrance.


Active Member
Nice work on the Lings Yellowlab! I notice that the one in the last pic has puked a baitfish up into its open maw.

Thanks Jim,

I have a nice article which talks about tide and how a Ling Cod wants its prey presented, I have it posted on my blog: the April 19th issue. I usually like to fish for them when the tide is slack and not moving very much, they seem to be locked up with the big tidal exchanges or with turbulent movement during a storm or with alot of wind. Most of the Lings that end up getting netted usually cough up all sorts of snacks: squid, sand lance, rock fish, bottom fish, sand dabs, and smaller lings which also came out. I've also seen adult Pink salmon in some Lings!!! Don't be shy about using big flies and hooks, I like the Orvis stainless 4/0 chemically sharpened versions.

Good luck!


Go Outside
Great fish. Did you know that it takes about 4 years for them to reach the minimum 24 inches in order to be a keeper? Here is a report about the fishery if anyone is interested.


Active Member
Great fish. Did you know that it takes about 4 years for them to reach the minimum 24 inches in order to be a keeper? Here is a report about the fishery if anyone is interested.
Probably a little longer since they slot limit is 26" in most our Sound marine areas... ;)
Thanks for all the info and advice guys... hooked up with this pair of Lings today, plus about a dozen rockfish between three of us. Camera died after second fish, so no rockfish shots unfortunately. They can be strong bastards! A couple of them went 5-7 lbs, great fish. This is an absolute blast and a great fishery. Can't wait to get back out there.

Lingcod _023.JPG Lingcod _025.JPG
i'm heading to the san juan islands in a few days and wanna try my hand at fly fishing for lingcod.
i've got a 10wt fly rod but this sort of setup is new to me, so i'd appreciate some help.

as i understand it, i'd be doing something along these lines, in this order:

30# backing ::: how many yards would you suggest putting on the reel?
running line ::: rio slickshooter monofilament shooting line 35lbs
shooting head ::: rio tungsten shooting head 30' T-14
leader ::: 6-12 inches of 25-35# mono
tippet ::: 6 feet of 16# mono
fly ::: 6-10" yak clousers / sandlance / blanton's whistler

can you confirm or correct me?
That looks perfect to me. I ended up changing my leader to 6-7' of straight 30# Maxima because I had to stop them dead and turn fish before they got wrapped up in rocks, but if you are fishing more vertical, that will be fine.

Not sure about backing, the fish I hauled in made a ton of runs, but nothing long, usually each time they see the surface or boat they blast down again. I never went into backing.
Does that basically mean that you're going straight from shooting head to the 7' of 30# mono to the fly?
I hadn't really understood why one would use 30# leader and then compromise the "weight rating" by downsizing to a 16# tippet...unless the lings are just spooked by the width of the 30# line?

Also, I've read that some people mention a short section of "bite guard." Is this just another word for leader? Or does heavier "bite guard" line get added right against the fly to literally keep fish from biting through it?

Action-wise, is it best to let the fly sink to depth and then "jig" it up and down across the bottom or on a slow retrieve?


Active Member
The ling cod season in Puget Sound (including the San Juans) is 6 weeks long- from May 1 to June 15th.

The bite leader is short piece of heavy leader material between the fly and the rest of the leader that helps protect from bite offs; I attach the fly with a loop.

Action-wiseit depends on how the fly is tied. A weighted fly will provide a nice jigging type action with strip and pauses. I prefer an unweighted fly with a large spun deer hair head; that type of pattern provides a different type action with the fly hovering and fluttering in the current during the pauses. Plus I find the unweighted flies much easier to cast.

The 16 lb leader with a heavy bite guard is by far the best way, since it controls where you will break off on snags. When I was using straight 30#, I lost the loop, and entire leader on bad snags. Pretty frustrating and time consuming to re-rig. Fish were breaking me off (16 lb) too easily on breakwater rocks, so I had to beef it up.

And as Curt said, you'll be waiting until May 1st with the rest of us. I think you've got to head to the Pacific for open bottom fishing.
Got way ahead of myself, didn't I? Step 1: Check the freakin' season. I don't know why I assumed.
Thanks so much for the help, fellers. Glad to find out now rather than when I was at the local tackle shop all jazzed to be headed out.

Reconsidering, I wonder if there's anything else I could fish for on Orcas Island with either a 6 or 10wt and no boat? Hm.