Tips for Successfully Fly Fishing Structure

Fly Fishing Around Structure. When you hook a big fish under a dock or around pilings you can’t do that, unless you want to lose your expensive fly line as well as the fish. I’m a big fan of light tackle, but fishing around structure is not the place for it. Use a two-piece leader with a 30-pound butt and a 20-pound tippet, or even a straight piece of 20-pound right off the fly line. Once that fish spreads its pectoral fins, water pressure is going to keep you from moving it. What you need to do is to plunge the rodtip deep into the water and pull as hard as you dare. If you can disorient the beast you might be able to pull it away from the structure before it recovers enough to get back in there. Lock up the line and dare that fish to make it back to the dock. Sometimes the fish will cut or break your leader or straighten the hook, or simply out-muscle you. But, hopefully it’s obvious that if you let the fish do what it wants you’re going to lose almost every time.

Street-fight tactics for taking down the heavyweights.

Caught between a snook and a hard place, something’s gonna give. Hint: It’s not that concrete piling.

When you hook a big fish on a grassflat, you just let it run. When you hook a big fish under a dock or around pilings you can’t do that, unless you want to lose your expensive fly line as well as the fish.

It’s very sad when a fisherman loses a good fish to a dock and says, “There was nothing I could do!” Of course there was!

I’m a big fan of light tackle, but fishing around structure is not the place for it. Go sufficiently geared up rod-wise. Think of what you’d ordinarily use for the size fish you’re after and go up at least one rod size, or better yet, two.

The same holds true for your leader. Sharp-eyed snook require a tippet of no more than 20-pound-test fluorocarbon. But that’s plenty! Use a two-piece leader with a 30-pound butt and a 20-pound tippet, or even a straight piece of 20-pound right off the fly line.

Jeff Weakley, editor of this magazine, offers this interesting bit of advice: “My own take on this, having fished docks a lot for snook, is to use a hook light enough that it will straighten before the $120 flyline gets shredded over the pilings.”

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