9 Tips for more Big Flyrod Stripers

Big striped bass are notoriously hard to catch on the fly. There are many reasons for this, including that big bass tend to be smart, often feast on bigger baits than we can easily match with a fly, and some big fish spots and conditions are difficult to flyfish, especially for beginners.

Then again, massive cows can be caught in water so shallow their backs stick out, a 40 pounder might literally be rubbing against that rock you're standing on, and a 25 pound striper might be hanging out in that rip you're fishing & feeding on small baits that your fly matches perfectly. Hmmm, that 25 pound striper just might make your day, your week, or your season!

Here are some tips to hook and land more big striped bass on your flyrod. I don't promise you'll like them all, you might find some boring and mundane, but they are all important.

  1. Fish "Big Fish Water" more often
    What's big fish water? Big stripers can be anywhere they want, but they are most likely to be where they're comfortable. There's no place like home!

    Stripers like to be in or near water that is fast or deep, preferably both. Near is the operative word! You might find a 40 pound fish on an 18" deep flat, and I'll bet that flat is near fast and deep water.

  2. Sharpen hooks
    Sharpen your hooks regularly while you fish. Big striped bass have tough mouths.

  3. Set the damn hook!
    Schoolies hook themselves most of the time. Big fish do not.

    I pull the rod sharply to the side while simultaneously yanking the flyline with my other hand. Then I do it again! If the fish runs when you first set it, set that hook again when it stops!

    And sometimes I set the hook more than twice if I don't feel it set well.

  4. Check your knots and leader often
    Many big stripers are lost for very preventable reasons.

    Regularly check your leader for nicks, abrasions, or wind knots and replace it if needed. You can run your finger or thumbnail along the leader to feel for them.

    If a knot looks remotely frayed or worn, redo it!
    If you tie a knot that doesn't look perfect, redo it! Don't take chances with a potential fish of a lifetime.

  5. Fish below the Schoolies and Bluefish
    If you're into schoolies, or perhaps bluefish, it's possible there may be larger (and wiser) fish hanging out below them having a leisurely lunch or dinner while not competing with the young whippersnappers. Get your fly deeper and find out.

    Of course there may only be schoolies or perhaps blues there, but this technique works occasionally and is well worth trying.

  6. Big Flies
    Big flies work well for two reasons:
    Big fish like big food
        Littler fish are less likely to hit big flies

    This season I'm alternating between fishing my normal flies that are working, and flies a few sizes larger "just in case." Of course bigger flies are much harder to cast too.

  7. Fish Dawn/Dusk/Nighttime
    Dawn in the best time for a big striper in my opinion, but all lowlight conditions work well.

    You might catch a big bass midday midsummer on a sunny day, but chances are almost infinitely better during low light conditions!

    Also see Learn How To Night Fly Fish.

  8. Become a Better Fly Fisherman!
    Both time on the water, which improves your "fish sense," and improved technique so you can effectively fish more types of water and conditions are important.

    I remember catching good bass after a storm in big surf off rocks on my flyrod, while a perennially novice spinfisherman was having trouble fishing because of the wind and surf. I caught fish - he didn't.

  9. Fall! Fall! Fall!
    The fall is your best shot at a big fish. They are feeding aggressively as they fatten up for winter and are sometimes less cautious. Too many of us give up early, say after Labor Day.

    Hey, the best fishing is just starting in the Northeast then, even in Maine!

And a couple more big striper tips.

First, you are more likely to land that cow on a 10 or larger weight flyrod. Yes, you can get lucky - I once caught a 47 pound king salmon from shore on 9 weight rod and a #2 hook when I was a newbie. That was luck friends, not skill.

Second, just get out there and fish! You're not going to catch anything while reading my pontifications and rantings :)

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