Downsizing Salt Water Flies
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When summer heat hits its peak in Texas, water temperatures can seem near-boiling. Often times fishing in bath-water like conditions, you will find fish less aggressive than in the spring or fall. Sometimes they are downright lethargic. At times like these, less is more.

In terms of fly fishing, less equals flies tied on smaller hooks with less dressing.

This trick was originally shown to me by a buddy while fishing for late-summer bass a decade and a half ago. Tossing the regular compliment of topwaters, jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and worms did no good under the intense August heat. On a whim, we started tossing tiny popping bugs against the grassbeds. Much to our delight, bass inhaled the puny offering with abandon.

The shock wasn't just that bass would hit such small morsels, but the size of bass that joined in the feeding activity. This proved to be no fluke. Day after hot day, year after sultry year, August meant casting poppers, damsels, and hopper patterns against shorelines, lily pads, and hydrilla beds. By following this pattern, we consistently caught more bass during the hottest time of year than our conventional tackle counterparts.

How does this apply to inshore long rodders? Well, the same principle applies to speckled trout and redfish. Very often during the hottest part of the year, fish will become quite finicky. Larger flies may get glances, but few strikes. Rather than going larger, or louder, try going smaller.

Small, number six poppers, tiny bendbacks and diminutive shrimp and crab patterns all work well. In addition, small baitfish patterns such as little Clousers and glass minnows will tempt plenty of fish.

The only problem with these small offerings is ensuring the fish see them. To really make these baby patterns pay off, you need to really hone your spotting and casting skills. The sooner a fish is spotted, the more time a caster has to prepare for their shot. Placement is crucial with such small flies, so study the fish's movement closely in order to determine precisely where to cast.

Knowing where to cast and making that cast, of course, are two different things. Since most of us spend the majority of our time blind-casting or sight-casting with larger flies, our degree of accuracy isn't necessarily that of a spring-creek trout fishermen. If you don't feel you have pinpoint accuracy at 35 feet, take a little time to practice. While you don't need to "set it on his nose," you will do need to get fairly close. Remember, small flies can't be seen from very far away and don't make much noise. So, make sure you put it where they can't miss seeing it.

Also, keep in mind that the key to these small flies is stealth. Unless you have a really delicate touch, try downsizing to a seven or even a six weight rod to deliver these tiny packages. A longer leader is beneficial as well. And, since small flies are not very wind-resistant, 12-foot leaders are not as much of a hindrance as they are with bulkier patterns.

One last note on small flies, the hook gap is obviously not as wide as that of a larger hook. These hooks can still provide a solid connection, but certainly require steady pressure to maintain their bite. While any hook can fall out on a slack line, smaller hooks are particularly sensitive to a drop in pressure, so it is critical to keep a taut line.

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