Fishing & Boating News

Specks on the Fly

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

Speck on a Fly
Photo by Ed Snyder
Ultra-lite soft plastic took this speck
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Jun. 07, 2011 - Bolivar Peninsula, TX)

Roll-casting a grassy edge of the salt-marsh settled my streamer right on top of a swirl left by a feeding trout, then, after a few quick line retrieves, the reaction I was hoping for "imploded" on the fly, bowing my fly rod to the fight of speckled silver. You can only visualize the fun I was having fighting this fish on a "whippy" fly-rod. After a few swirling leaps and line zipping runs, a solid 3lb speckled sea trout finally slid into my landing net. Fishing an early outgoing tide on the edges of a salt marsh provided a superb fish-fest for catching marauding specks that were feeding on "tons" of shad fleeing their gnashing teeth. The specks were ambushing shad coming out of salt-grass on a dropping tide, greedily snapping them up like pop-corn at a Saturday afternoon movie matinee. The idea of chasing speckled trout with a fly-rod comes natural to me as I often enjoy a challenging edge to fishing by enjoying a more sporting method for my madness. I had fished this same area before when schooling specks provided some very exciting fishing action, and an interesting option for some fly fishing. The main reason for the sea trout being here in the first place was due to the shad in the salt grass. And when the high tide turned, pulling water out of the grass, the shad had no other option but to swim out, where the specks waited in ambush. I realized then that a fly-rod rigged with a shad imitating streamer fly "just might" be the key for some very exciting fishing action.

Now, I'm not versed in proper fly tech lingo but I've handled fly-casting gear for many years and can roll cast with the best of them. Choosing an 8 weight fly-rod, a nine footer, with enough strength to battle big fish. I rigged a 6 ft mono tippet (leader) to the fly-line (floating weight forward "high visibility" orange fly-line) spooled on my fly reel with enough backing to defeat a possible redfish hookup. For the lure I opted for a two inch streamer fly resembling a shad with "pop-eyes" as the specks really key in on the eyes. Typically, you won't have to fly cast very far (20 yards or less) but I highly recommend practicing fly casting in the wind prior to your trip. Casting from a boat, kayak, or wade fishing can be tricky, especially when stripping line out for casting, or stripping in your retrieve. You can either strip your line into a bucket at your feet to keep from tangling, or directly into the water as you cast, like I do. Fly fishing may not be for everyone, but to those who can master this technique it can provide a true sporting pleasure. And believe me; the extra work with a fly rod will provide extra fun on your trip. But if you can't adjust to a fly-rod, try Ultra-Lite fishing, which can provide anglers with that "little extra" edge we crave for adding more excitement to our "SPORT" of fishing. Ultra-Lite involves using "whippy" light-weight spinning rods matched with "tiny"open faced spinning reels. My choice of rods are 5ft graphite class Browning Gold Medallion or Pharr rods matched with Cardinal ultra-lite spinning reels, spooled with 4lb premium mono line allowing for maximum fishing action when hooked up with sporting fish, such as speckled trout or redfish.. Anything heavier wouldn't be classified as ultra-lite. Rig 1/8th oz jig-heads with twister tails or mini-grubs. You can find these soft plastic lures in the fresh water crappie fishing section of your tackle shops. Small 1/8th oz spoons in gold or silver will also work. Smoke colored twister tails were my key speck producers, but chartreuse or white tails should work just as well. Tie on an 8inch 10lb test mono shock leader to your fishing line before rigging up. This will give some protection against those "gnashing" teeth of a speckled trout. The 9ft fly rods work well as shock absorbers when hooked fish fight, not so the 5ft ultra-lite rigs as you'll have to master the art of playing out the fish. Using the reels drag system is very important but you can also back reel when fish make those power runs, threatening to break your line, your rod, or both. Another way would be to manually strip off line when the fish runs to avoid having them break your line. Ultra-Lite is a very exciting way for fighting those toe-to-toe battles that speckled trout or redfish are famous for especially when fighting fish when standing belly deep in the water. My best fly rod speck was 6lbs with my largest ultra-lite red stretching 28inches.

Premium tackle or sport shops such as Academy or Gander Mountain should have the type of fly assortments you may need. Gander Mountain in Beaumont, TX, has a very good variety of flies to choose from with their assortment of saltwater flies that resemble shad, croaker, and shrimp. If you choose the shad streamer be sure it has Mylar for flash.

The fly-reel has no drag system, so you'll have to press your thumb to the side of the reel housing to slow the fish down. Too much pressure and you'll break the tippet and too little pressure the fish might spool the reel. When spooling is about to occur lay your rod to the side and began pumping the rod from the waist to hopefully turn the fish. You'll have to apply pressure to the fly reel when doing this. If the fish turns and you retrieve line you've just about won the battle but you may have to do this several times to regain control of the fish. Pitched "toe to toe" battles with large fish will hone your skills. Managing to boat and release 8 nice keeper specks to 3 lbs before the tide turned, then, grabbing an ultra-lite I caught and released 5 more before the action ebbed, really made my day. Even the ones that got away were a joy to lose.

It's all in what you wish to do, whether you choose to keep a few for eating, and they are excellent table fare, or if you just want to have fun catching and releasing. It's your option. But what an option it is when choosing fly or ultra-lite gear as it becomes a memory for a lifetime.
An assortment of streamer flies and ultra-lite lures.
Photo by Ed Snyder
Perfect Fly fishing waters.
Photo by Ed Snyder