Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


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Fishing elitism.

SORRY! The delay in updating my website was due to some miserable ****** who placed a real beast of a virus/worm/trojan on another freeola website which then infected my computer. My eldest son Paul - bless his little cotton socks - has fixed it and I am up and running again.

Many years ago, shortly after I first joined B.A.S.S, there was an (inadvertent) move by one or two members to create a division in the ranks by suggesting that plug fishing was in some way superior to bait fishing as a means of catching bass. Since I was in part responsible for the 'renaissence' in the use of lures I felt obliged to try and counter this elitist approach. My own philosophy is to try and use appropriate methods for the fish and conditions - whether this involves beachcasting, float fishing, spinning, fly fishing or what have you!.

Of course there is nothing new about the idea of elitism in fishing. One of the best examples has been in the game fishing fraternity. Salmon- and to a lesser degree trout-fishing has been (and still is to a lesser extent) a pursuit of the rich. Closely linked to this has been the evolution of fly fishing. The rods, reels, lines and the flies themselves were in years gone by largely the preserve of the 'upper crust' of society. Without question we owe a good deal to the game fishermen of the last two centuries for the sophisticated fly-tackle of today.

There is no doubt that catching fish on fly gear is good fun. In fact I'd go so far as to say that it is one of the most enjoyable ways of fishing. It has all the elements needed to provide maximum excitement - the fish are often close and can be 'stalked', bites are frequently visible, even small fish will tear line off and make the reel scream, there is often some satisfaction to be had from a well placed cast and finally there may be the added thrill of tempting a fish with a lure of your own creation. The use of fly gear in saltwater has been largely developed in the United States where striped bass, permit and particularly bonefish as well as many other species are now the quarry of the 'fly man'.

Sadly (in my view), some of the prejudices of the early game fishermen have been carried over to saltwater fly fishing and it is almost frowned upon to use anything other than fly tackle and artificial flies when fishing for some of these so-called 'game' fish. However, there is no need to get things out of proportion. Fly fishing really is just another way to catch fish. I've no problem at all with anyone who wants to catch all their fish on fly gear (or a pole, or a beachcaster, or a boat rod, or on plugs, or with a multiplier, or what have you.) but there is no point in pretending that it is always the best or only way to fish.

Fly tackle is much the neatest way to project a virtually weightless bait or lure to where the fish are. However, if you need to use a big or heavy lure there are much better and less strenuous ways to present it to the fish. Equally, there is no point in pretending that a creation of exotic bird feathers, the hair of endangered mammals and high tech synthetic fibres is the ONLY way to attract a fish to your hook. The fact that there are so many different patterns of fly suggests that the precise one that you choose is not that important. You will find in the literature that some very successful anglers have been quite content to use only a handful of different flies throughout their lives.

The secret, in my opinion, is to try and imitate the size, general appearance and behaviour of what the fish are eating. It is also quite critical that the fly (lure, bait) should be at the depth that the fish are feeding. Just as it would be absurd to try and fly-fish for pollack thirty metres down on a wreck it is certainly easiest and best to use your fly tackle for fish that are feeding at or near the water surface. Many salt water fly men do most of their fishing with a floating fly line. By all means tie your own flies - even simple ones can be very effective - but you should never let anyone convince you that there is something slightly infra dig about adorning your 'fly' hook with a fish strip, a few maggots or a rubber lure as opposed to a fancy creation tied in a Taiwanese sweat shop by someone who has never seen a bass in their life.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Fishing elitism.

Mullet on fly.

Thicklips feed on small particles and seaweed fly maggots are just up their street.

Coelopa frigida.

These are seaweed flies.  The 'Coelopa nymph' (alias seaweed fly maggot) is the best medicine for maggot feeding mullet (and bass).

Mackerel 'fly'.

Little wagging tails make these 'flies' the equal of any hand-tied, feathered creation for tempting, mackerel, bass, scad, garfish, pollack, etc. .

Bass on fly.

This one took a furry fly - slightly more conventional.