Any Ling Cod guys out there?

Just wondering if there were any Ling Cod chasers out there and what kind of fly rod and line set up you may be using to get down to there lairs. Ive fished for black cod and salmon with a fly but usually gear up with jigs to get down to the lings. Want to challenge myself and go after them with a fly, any help would be appreciated. Most lings average 10-15 pounds as the size limit is 26 inches in my area, but there are lots of 20+ around also. Ive got a 9 weight but think it may be a little to small if big daddy shows up. Thanks for any info in advance. Kevin


Active Member
ibn and a couple others might give you some ideas....I have never really tried but it does dound like fun. :) :) I think nothing less than an 8 weight would be appropiate :confused:
I fish um in rivers inlet with 40ft of t-14 connected to airflow running line near rocky points ECT and herring/ big clouser patterns. It sucks to cast, but I have caught a bunch of kings and lings this way in Spring ling bay, cute name huh.


Active Member
I use my 9wt with a big shooting head on it. Mainly throwing tube flies but last year i tried a big bunny leach type of thing and it outfished my tubes. I dont think it matters much though if you put it in front of a ling.

Nick Riggs

I've been known to fish from time to time...
I have caught one ling in the sound and it was like reeling in a boulder. It was a large fish, 39 inches, but I wouldn't go out anymore with anything less than a 9wt. just in case you did hook up with a big one. Just make sure your rod has backbone and you should be good to go.


9wt is fine, density compensated shooting head should do the trick. I like rio striper lines - If you suspect that you will be hitting bigger fish I would think about bringing a bigger rod. Your 9wt should be fine for 5-10lb fish, once they get bigger then that, they're hard to turn. It's next to impossible to pull a big ling out of a hole. If you can't keep them out of structure you will usually loose the fish.

I've used 12wts in the sprint to specifically target lingcod.

As for flies, big flies = big fish. Tube flies work good as you can create a large/long fly whithout loosing the advantages of a wide gap hook. You should consider adding a bite guard of heavy floro, they're not leadershy, but I've been told wire leaders tend to keep them away.

Dont forget your boga. :)


Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I couldn't turn one about 10 days ago with my med/lite 8'6" steelhead/salmon spinning rod and 12# test. I almost always lose the big ones on this setup, anyway, which i use to target rockfish and greenling, as the lings bite right thru the line or fray it off on the rocks. Sometimes i get lucky and can get one to the net on this light setup, but I'm going to have to carry a heavier setup with me just for lings, once the season opens.
I was way out on the jetty using a smaller greenish glow-in-dark twirltail on a jighead. I never saw the fish, and it didn't fight much at first. It was very heavy though, as I slowly pumped it up. When it finally realized it was being pumped to the surface, it turned and felt like an atomic sub as it headed back toward its lair. I couldn't even slow it down. The line suddenly parted.

Ling season opens this Saturday on the coast. I'll be out there after lings, and I'm taking my 8 wt. as that is the heaviest setup I have. I haven't gotten one on a fly yet, but I haven't seriously dogged them with flies yet, either. I'm actually hoping to find a school of black rockfish with the 8 wt.
For lings, I'm thinking maybe 6 feet of 30# shock tippet to withstand the fraying on the rocks when they hole up, and the monster's teeth, and a 20# butt section so I don't lose my entire line.

I've had them swim back out of their holes at times by slacking the line and waiting about a minute or so before yarding on it again. Then you have to immediately pull it up a few feet and not give it any quarter, or it will be back wedged in its lair again. If the fish isn't too big, sometimes you can surprise it with this method and get it out of the rocks. Worth a try, anyway.
Thanks for the info guys. Ibn and Jim thanks for the wireguard/leader info, got me thinking about them teeth. yeah a boga would be nice they tend to rip holes in nets just big enough for salmon to slip through. Hey Jim last season I had a similar run in. Was using my salmon trolling pole a Lamiglas norwest special 8' rated 10-25lb test and 1/2 to 6 ounce lures. Thought I was snagged on the bottom but then the bottom started shaking its head and pulling HARD! I had that rod bent to the cork literally and couldnt get him up. Hook finally pulled out! I would have gladly broke the rod (probably bad karma hopefully the pole isnt reading this) in exchange to see that fish. It was WAY heavier than any Ling Ive ever felt. I know where his hole is will go for round two this season, with a much stouter pole. Think I may start looking for a little beefier pole to chase these guys, save my nine weights for the kings. So easy to find an excuse to buy a new pole isnt it! Thanks for the replies and keep em coming. Maybe someday we should think of doing a ling cod fly swap? Just an Idea. Kevin


Active Member
nrthcsteel -
I would think a 9 wt would be fine. I fly fish Puget Sound/San Juan Islands for lings (for more than a decade) and my weapon of choice is a 8 wt, 9 foot 6 inch sage VPS. I would second IBN's recommendation for the rio striper lines. I throw a 10 weight rio or a home made sink tip using 28 feet of the T -14 with that rod. I can easily fish 30 foot depths and under ideal conditions have reached 50+ feet.

I avoid weighted flies which makes casting with the later rods easier. My flies are mostly 6 to 12 inch yak hair monsters with the average fly being about 9 inches. Tie them on a single 3/0 or 4/0 gammie swaish hook. I typcially use a 6 foot leader; usually 18 inches of 30#, 12 inches of 20# and 3 to 4 feet of 15# ultra green maxima. I have used either flex wire or 40# mono for a short shock leader on the flies. Most of the time I pre-tie my flies with 10 or 12 inch piece of 40# mono. Eventually the lings teeth get the mono - but usually can get 6 to 12 lings per Shock leader. Record is a 22 fish morning with one shock leader/fly change. Usually after a dozen or so fish the flies get to be pretty sparse.

Oh my best fish on that outfit has been a 35# pound ling. After some trail and error have found that with the larger fish the best strategy in getting them away from the rocks/caves is at the strike just a give a sharp short line strip to pull the hook into place and them try to maintain a gently but steady pressure as the boat is backed away from the rocks. If you don't jab the fish hard or pull too hard they will often follow you for a ways so that you have some room to play the fish without it reach the rocks. Not a sure fire method but in my experience one that gives the angler a reasonable shoot at landing the fish with that kind (over 20#s) on that sort of tackle. Once the fish is away from the rocks unless the fish bites through the shock leader I land nearly all the fish. They will make short runs and can be counted on to rush back to the bottom several times as they near the surface but as long as the angler is prepared for those rush and takes the fight to the fish when they pause lings can landed relatively quickly.

A fun game - good luck


Dang Curt! 35 pounder, that's a story I want to hear more about!

I like the idea of pulling the fish gently from the rocks, I've never thought of doing that. They definatly have a 2nd run to them, almost every single ling I have caught you can usually bring it in for 15 or 20 seconds, then it realizes what is going on and puts some muscle into getting away. The problem I have at Neah Bay is the rockfish get in the way, there is no way of really telling if it's a rockfish or a ling until that 2nd burst happens, by then it's usually too late to back away from the rocks. If I adjusted my gear to specifically target lings with much bigger flies I could probably eliminate the rockfish though. Good stuff to think about.

If you're like alpine then you can get both a rockfish and a ling on the same cast. :)



B.O.H.I.C.A. bend over here it comes again
I was gear fishing with my cousin 2 years ago out at Neah bay and my set up got all fouled. My cousin was in the back of the boat by all the gear and bait so he took my rod to get all set up again and handed me his. I was just sitting there and we were drifting and I thought that his set up had got hung up on the bottom too. I tried pulling it up but nothing happened. I reeled in all the way and had the rod pointing straight down and jerked it. It came up a little but it still felt like I was stuck fast on the bottom. So I did it again, and once again after that. So after three times of trying to break it off the bottom I finally started to reel it up, but it was real heavy. So while I'm bringing the gear up I figured I must have got all snagged up in some kelp or seaweed or something and I was dragging this up. My theory was proved right when I could see something reddish being dragged to the surface. Then it gets to the surface and starts thrashing around. My cousin who thought that I was snagged on the bottom also said "Holy Sh$t, the bottom don't move." It was a nice size ling. The thing didn't move around save for the 3 seconds I had it at the top and then we ate it, the end!


Banned or Parked
ibn said:
If I adjusted my gear to specifically target lings with much bigger flies I could probably eliminate the rockfish though.
I tried that by using a big tandem-hooked billfish streamer and still couldn't keep the rockfish off it.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I wouldn't doubt that those things would try to eat something bigger than themselves!

Thanks Curt for the great info! I was thinking 6 feet of shock tippet since I usually fish from the jetty and can't back away from the rocks.


Active Member
Fishing off the rocks would indeed present some difficult challenges. Stepping up in both rod size and length would probably help. Once you hook a fish you will need to keep its head up and the fish coming to you. Fishing off the rocks will hard on your fly lines - there is no way that you will not have fish dragging the line over the rock/barnacle edges.

Something to careful with shock leaders with lings is to make sure that somewhere in the leader there is a "weak" point so if the fish gets into a hole you are more likely to have the leader break than the fly line. I like a piece of 15/20# of decent length in my leaders.

Tight lines

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Thanks again, Curt. I think I'll tie in a piece of 15# for easier break offs in case I need to do that.

I aborted my mission this morning, as the weather was turning ugly. The intermittent drizzle here has now turned to rain. Wind is just strong enough to make it miserable. The forcast for the next week looks like it might be better conditions. Those rocks are too slippery in the rain. I might order a pair of those cleated sandals to strap onto my hiking boots for the climb down the really slick rocks to a good fishing position.

Razor clamming was easy yesterday, but good luck seeing the "shows" this afternoon with the rain. Not a good day at the beach today. Tomorrow's forcast calls for better weather, though.

Latest posts