Species spotlight: Roosterfish

Felt Sole Media introduced to the world with the movie Running Down the Man. The movie documented the insanity of chasing down roosterfish off of the Baja coast on foot. At the time, the idea of chasing down roosterfish on foot was looked at as being impossible, but Felt Sole Media changed the game and gave the world a window to a new style of fishing. Even the New York Times was impressed, posting an excerpt of the movie on their website.

Almost a decade later and roosterfish have become one of the most popular species to target on the fly. Commonly casted at off the beaches of the Baja peninsula, they can also be found all the way down to Panama in the Pacific. In the Atlantic they are found in Costa Rica to Columbia. Growing up to 5 feet, these fish are easy to identify thanks to their distinct seven spiked crown that serves as a dorsal fin.

These large predatory fish are often seen blowing up baitfish in shallow water and near rocky outcrops. Because of this, they are not as picky about the fly as other species, stripping the fly is more important than the fly itself. Roosterfish are fast, predatory fish, so don’t be afraid to retrieve the fly quickly.

The most desired way to catch these fish is by foot. If you want to do this, start doing cardio. Anglers hop in ATV’s and dune buggies and drive until they spot a fish, then it’s a dead sprint to the water to make a cast. The faster you run, the longer you have to cast before the fish swims off.

Picking a fly is fairly easy for these fish. Throw baitfish patterns with similar colors to what they are feeding on. If you don’t know what they are eating, standard colors such as white, blue, black and yellow work well. These fish are also known to eat poppers, as if they weren’t exciting enough.

However, roosterfish are hit or miss. Weeks can go by without seeing one and then out of nowhere there are fish. Don’t expect high number days. Don’t expect fish at all. Just a lot of dead sprints to desperate casts.

Five tips for fly fishing travelers

Traveling for a fly fishing trip can be stressful, especially when you have to travel by air. The question of what to pack and where to pack it is a huge dilemma with new TSA and airline restrictions. Packing correctly can make the difference of actually fishing or not. If your bags get lost, you are probably not fishing or at least not doing so comfortably. Here are five tips to keep in mind when leaving for a trip.

Bring everything you need with you to fish for a day on the plane.

I have seen people wearing their wading boots on the plane, but when you think about it, doing it makes a lot of sense.  Looking like an idiot for a few hours is worth not taking a risk on not having your wading boots with you and can also reduce your carry on or checked bag weight as well.  If you want something to get to its destination, don’t give the TSA a chance to lose it. If your boots don’t make it to the destination, you probably won’t be able to wade safely.  To get everything you need on the plane, you will need to bring a good case to carry your rods and reels, as well as a waterproof fishing backpack to carry clothes, flies and everything else. Remember not to bring anything sharp and pointy, but in our experiences nail knot tools are often overlooked. When you touch down at your location you will be glad you have everything in hand. In your checked bag, pack everything else, your extra clothes and flies. keep in mind that flights in the United States are limited to 50 pounds before you get slapped with an extra charge. 

 Split up your flies

While the TSA is supposed to allow flies on a plane, you can catch someone who woke up on the wrong side of the bed or someone who just doesn’t realize the great effort involved in tying flies. If you put all of your flies in your backpack, you risk all of them being taken away. Because of this, we like to split our flies in half, putting the other half in my checked baggage. This helps increase odds of being able to fish at said location. We also will bring extra leaders an tippet and split that in half. The few times we have have heard of this being an issue is flying into Canada and Costa Rica, where anything that can tie a slipknot is considered a weapon. Fly lines and leaders are fair game to be taken away there and therefore must be checked. 

Pack light

Especially on warm water trips, bring only what you need. It is easy to overpack and bring a bag filled with extra t-shirts and shorts. But you will spend most of your time in tech shirts and pants. So bring a few pairs of each and a few clothes to hang out in after fishing and that’s about it. Rain gear is always a great idea to throw in the mix, some of our coldest days are not winter camping in Maine, but instead rainy days in Cuba. Trips are not always sunny like in movies in pictures. Tropical places are tropical for a reason, they get a lot of rain, so be prepared for the worst. 

Bring extra sunglasses

Losing your sunglasses is hard to do, but it does happen, and if you lose them, you will struggle to see fish. Sunglasses also double as safety glasses, preventing you from catching a fly to the eye during an errant cast. If you are going to spend money on a trip, spend money on an extra pair of shades. Worst case scenario, when your current ones get too old, you use your back ups as new ones. 

Global Rescue

Say you do take a hook to an eye, get barbed by a stingray or bitten by a curious critter, global rescue will get you home. With a variety of price points to choose from, it is definitely worth the money if you are a serious traveler or even a beginner.   It is a very effective tool to set your wife at ease as well.  Basically Global Rescue specializes in getting you home in almost any situation including civil war. So if the village you are staying in is struck by a natural disaster, violence, or disease outbreak, you’re covered.  Even if you need to get home to take care of an infected toe, Global Rescue can literally be a lifesaver for one in need.

Hope this helps on your next trip.  Much of this is common sense but often the angler is so focused on the actual trip that some of the tactical planning and planning for eventualities can be overlooked.

Inside the pack: Cole’s GT bag

One of our favorite parts of the magazine is the Inside the Box segment. It gives anglers a look inside someone else’s fly box for a specific destination. So for this blog, and potentially more in the future, we are doing something similar, an inside the bag. For this blog we are looking at our summer intern Cole’s bag he uses for his favorite fish to target, GT.

Be prepared for anything and everything

Unlike other species that are caught on a 12 weight, GT are often caught wading, so everything must be brought with you on the flat. GT fishing is almost always catching other fish on an 8 weight rod, so bringing two rods out on the flat is a must. Fish like Milkfish, triggerfish, bluefin trevally and golden trevally are all caught on smaller rods, so an 8 to 10 weight rod is what you typically step out of the boat holding. Casting to all of these fish almost makes you forget that GT exist, and then you turn around and there is an apex predator swimming behind you and it’s game on. Say “see ya later” to your 8 weight and drop it in the water, grab your big rod and make your shots.

GT fishing is exhausting compared to tarpon fishing. Walking through flats definitely takes it out of you. Water and snacks are a must because of this. Alcoholic drinks are best kept off the boat and left on land. Landing one of these fish requires a lot of energy. Hauling around a big pack and walking for miles just to get the chance to cast at one is worth it though, these fish pull hard.

The bag

I started out with a hip bag, but I found I preferred the size and more even weight distribution that a backpack provides. A backpack also provides easier storage for my 12 weight. My pack of choice is the UMPQUA Tongass 1800 waterproof backpack. The pack has a rod carry system on each side, making it easily accessible. If you do not have this pack, a great way to hold your spare rod is to put the butt of your rod in your pocket and buckle your waist strap around it. Regardless of how you store it, make sure your rod is on the opposite side of your body than your casting arm.

Tackle

Because I have the extra room of a backpack I typically bring two fly boxes with me on the flat. While it is overkill, I enjoy being over prepared. One fly box has GT flies, the other has everything else.

For leaders and tippet I bring everything I need to build a leader from scratch. From 80 pound test down to 40. My backing is 60 pound test, so my leader must have a section weaker than that. I will also bring tapered leaders ranging from 10 pound test to 20 for the other fish on the flats. It is common to go days without touching your GT rod so don’t expect to need a full fly box worth of flies.

GT are known for blowing up rods, reels and fly lines. Because of this I pack an extra fly line.

Tools

I use my pliers for everything. Pulling out flies, tightening knots, cutting line and opening beer bottles. Because of this, my pliers are always on my belt rather than in my bag. I also carry a separate pair of nippers as well as a knot tension tool, just in case.

Other tools people bring out include knot assistant tools such as blood knot and nail knot tools. If you struggle with these knots or simply like assistance with them, find room for them. Don’t let not being able to tie a knot keep you from a day of fishing.

Although I often forget it’s there and forget to use it, I bring a GoPro with me. The cameras are waterproof and durable. Perfect for capturing the perfect underwater release shot.

Hydration and sun protection

I bring a Nalgene with me on every flat. Plastic water bottles will find their way back to a dump, or worse, a beach. I also pack a tube of hydration tablets and put two in each liter of water. Long days in the sun require hydration, don’t forget to drink.

I pack an extra pair of polarized sun glasses in case my primary pair goes overboard as well as a cloth to clean them. A cloth that is specifically for cleaning glasses does a far better job than a t-shirt or a buff.

I also pack and extra hat, a sun gator and sunscreen. 

Not pictured

If there is any chance of rain, I pack a rain jacket. Thin jackets like the Patagonia Houdini jacket work great. I also bring a hook sharpener, it’s an old school piece of gear, but many anglers still swear by them. 

GT are some of the most rewarding fish to target. Landing one is just as rewarding as having your rod explode into pieces after hooking one.

IFTD review – New Products for 2018

The who’s who of the fly fishing industry met up in Orlando for the world’s largest fishing expo, ICAST. Companies unveiled their new products for anglers to unleash on the casting ponds near by.

The Orvis Helios 3 was our favorite rod of the convention. For those who enjoy throwing absurdly long casts with no effort, this rod can do it. But when it is time to get accurate and catch fish, this rod is 2nd to none. After hiring some sort of mad scientist, Orvis managed to construct a rod that flexes in a manner that does not limit accuracy. When casting the rod does not feel like anything out of the ordinary, but when it is time to dump the line the Helios delivers pure magic.

At first glance TyWheel looks like another rack to hold tying tools, but it is so much more than that. This magnetized rack brings the traditional wooden tying stations into the 21st century. Once you use this tool, you will rely on it as much as you rely on your whip finish tool, it makes tying that easy. The rack has modular attachments that use magnets. You can choose what attachments you want on your wheel, making it very customizable. You can leave a section blank if you want, using the magnets to hold your tools.

With their amazing video side-project it is easy to forget that YETI is more than a media company. YETI released some big products at this years trade show. Their new Panga is their new duffle bag. It is fully waterproof and just as bomber as their coolers. Their LoadOut is YETI’s take on the classic orange Home Depot bucket. With YETI’s durability and non-slip rubber on the bottom, don’t count on replacing this any time soon.

Hatch revamped their classic reel with new bold colors, a new seal and crank. With the same durability Hatch is known for, these reels can be counted on in even the most remote locations.

 

Species Spotlight: Barracuda

Barracuda can jump far into the air, run so fast they will burn holes in your skin and pull just as hard as any other fish their size. They hit the fly as hard as a giant trevally (GT), but many do not consider them a gamefish. These fish can be found just about anywhere there is warm water.

These fish can be a nuisance if you are targeting a more popular species. They have a knack for beating tarpon to the fly and then stealing your fly with their sharp teeth teeth after giving you a taste of what they can do. It can be very frustrating watching a 100 pound tarpon swim away as you tie on a fly that you lost from a barracuda. So don’t get mad, get even, you will be glad you did.

The first step to doing this is to put on steel leader. The fish contain 2 rows of razor sharp teeth that they use to kill their prey before they eat it. Their second row of teeth can be found behind their gills. Steel leader can still be shredded by these teeth but it holds up far better. Remember not to use steel leader for any fish that does not need it. The leader can tear up the mouths of tarpon. Use shock tippet instead.

As far as flies are concerned a barracuda will eat just about anything if it is moving fast enough. Poppers can be the most fun because the fish will sometimes leave the water to bite the fly. It will probably be the only time you will have a mid air hook set on a fish. Just keep in mind that these fish are highly aggressive apex predators. You really can not retrieve the fly fast enough. Many anglers like to put the rod under their armpit and use both hands to retrieve the fly. If you do this just make sure to squeeze tight when the fish hits. The best reels for stopping these fish serve as great anchors and will sink very fast if dropped, and there is no warranty for that. Barracuda like to suspend and wait for an unsuspecting baitfish to swim by. This is when they explode with energy. It is just as fun to watch them maul a needle fish as it is to watch them shred your own fly to bits.

The same attributes that make barracuda fun make the fish dangerous. There are stories of anglers pulling up the fly to cast, just to have the barracuda follow it out of the water. Having a silver torpedo lined with razor sharp teeth fly at you is not ideal. Even when landed, a set of long pliers and careful hands is required to remove the fly. If you are not prepared to deal with it, don’t cast at the fish.

While barracuda are often reserved for slow days on the flats, anglers have targeted them with unbelievable results. The all tackle record for the species is held on Kiritimati (Christmas Island) with an 85 pound monster, and the fly fishing record is held in the Seychelles with a 60 pound fish caught on 16 pound test tackle. To put this into perspective, a 10 pound Barracuda will bend your tarpon rod up as much as a jack crevalle of the same size.

Barracuda are not the most beautiful fish that swim on the flats, their nostrils are often seen with parasites crawling around. They make up for this with their fight. These fish bring the full package, from blistering runs up to 40 miles per hour, to jumps 15 feet high. They are Definitely a fish worth targeting at some point in your fishing career, especially when tarpon and GT fishing is slow.