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Put Your Rod Tip in the Water

Posted on December 22 2011

Rod Tip by Louis Cahill Photography
In. The. Water. Photo: Louis Cahill

One very common mistake made by first-time flats anglers is to leave the rod tip above the water when presenting the fly to a bonefish.

When you’re fishing in rivers, you spend a lot of time with your rod tip high, mending line and waiting for a fish to eat.  In fresh water, a ‘low rod tip’ might mean the tip of your rod is 1 or 2 feet above the water – like when you’re swinging a fly for anadromous fish, or when you’re working to dead drift a dry fly.

When you’re presenting your fly to a bonefish, though, you need to actually put your rod tip in the water.  Make your cast and put your rod tip in the water.  Not 2 feet above the water, not 8 inches above the water.  In the water.

If your rod tip isn’t in the water, you have a loop of line hanging from your rid tip to the surface of the water, and this creates slack.  If your rod tip is in the water, you have a much straighter line from the tip of your rod to your fly.

This is important for 2 reasons.

  1. In most situations that you’re stripping your fly, you’re trying to imitate a food source and maybe get the fish’s attention too.  A quick, ‘jerky’ motion is good here – it pops your fly up off the bottom when you strip, in addition to moving it back towards you (and hopefully away from the fish).  Slack in the system takes the pop out of your retrieve.
  2. When the fish eats you need to strip set, and you definitely do not want slack in your line when you set.  A tight line to the fish will result in a much more effective strip set.

So…make your cast and put your rod tip in the water.  Got it?

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