2. Double and triple check that sand is out of your ferules before assembling your rod. I thought mine were cleaned out, but heard a crunch when I assembled my rod the second day leaving a couple battle scars on the finish.
3. Material for one saltwater fly can tie hundreds of trout flies. Don’t get me wrong it’s nice to get away from 12-18’s in exchange for 1/0’s and I know I won’t lose as many in the surf, but it’s amazing how quickly you can go through materials tying a couple Deceivers, etc.
4. Stack mend over waves. In order to get the right depth the fly needs time to sink. I found giving a stack mend over breaking waves helped keep the line from dragging the fly along for the ride.
5. Get a stripping basket. The first time I fished the surf I battled the waves moving my stripped line making it difficult to manage. This time around I had a stripping basket which made it easier to manage.
6. When you see a breaking water keep your cool and clear your line. Seeing a bait ball move down the surf and within casting distance gets the adrenaline pumping. Maybe too much. When it happened to me I got the opposite of buck fever. Instead of taking my time making every cast count I waded further, casted faster and ultimately for every 5 casts I made 1 was worthwhile. When I wasn’t casting like an idiot I was untangling line - another byproduct of haste.
7. Depth may be more important than distance. Watching the bait fisherman gave me good perspective of where fish were holding. To my surprise they were catching a lot of fish relatively close to shore. By day two I realized I didn’t need to cast further, I needed to get my fly deeper.
8. Adding split shot to a line and then double hauling said line with waves breaking at your knees is unnerving. Again not something I do often enough to be 100% comfortable. I started with Deceivers to get my rhythm on day one, a Clouser on day two and when convinced I wasn’t getting deep enough, added two split shot to the Clouser on day three. I’m not going to lie; load on my rod in my backcast felt like I was going to heave an anvil past my head.
9. Check your back cast. Trees are less offended when impaled by 1/0 hooks than beach goers. No bystanders were injured making this blog.
10. You may need to fish the surf more than once every two years. Like anything, to get better you need to practice. Every other year probably isn’t the training regiment needed to get good at fishing the surf.
No doubt the next time I go I’ll need to knock off the rust and hopefully this list will help jog my memory to better my learning curve. Or perhaps this should serve as an excuse to head to a coast for a fishing trip more often. Fortunately here in the Midwest I can work on a lot to better my chances next time around. We’ve got plenty of fish that will take flies similar to what I tied and fished on the surf and certainly enough water to practice my double haul. This is like taking the edge pieces of a puzzle home to work on. It won’t give you the entire picture, but at least the framework to get started next time around.