Despite local and regional exceptions, it’s safe to say that striped bass are the Northeast coast angler’s most popular target. You can catch them in bays, inlets, the surf, or even up coastal rivers. I’ve chased them from Maine to Georgia, tossing flies at them for the past several decades. Both my successes and failures have taught me many things about these magnificent fish.
Fly Tackle for Trophy Stripers
When it comes to fly tackle for large striped bass, I recall Lou Tabory’s sage advice: “Most fly anglers lose the largest fish because they gear up to catch smaller, school-sized fish.” Their rods, reels, and leaders too often aren’t up to the task. So if you specifically seek trophy stripers, think big, think strong. Not that fish aren’t sometimes caught on lighter tackle, but consider 10, 11, even 12-weight rods when you target the largest fish. Your reel needn’t cost the price of a home mortgage, but it should definitely start up and give up line smoothly, and hold 150 yards of stout dacron or gel spun backing.
Fly Lines for Trophy Stripers
Also carry several fly lines to meet the various conditions. For tossing large poppers and shallow swimming flies, or to fish shallow bays and flats, a floating line with a steeper saltwater front taper fits the bill. For me, however, that’s my least favorite line when I expect to encounter above average fish. Most big bass are taken deeper, so I generally rely on fast-sinking, integrated heads of 400 or 500 grains. Wave action affects such subsurface lines less, they also help me keep more…