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Lines And Leaders For Offshore (6 of 12)

Video Transcript:

You can do some fishing when offshore with a floating line, especially when the fish are right at the surface, but sinking lines are actually more versatile for most fishing, other than with poppers. So, often when you are fishing a rip you use a sinking line. Even though the fish look like they are on top, you want to get down a little bit below the waves, and sometimes the bigger fish are deep. So when you are fishing a sinking line, you want to cast it as far as you can, and then strip it back to you carefully, usually fairly rapidly. And then you have to come in to about 20 or 30 feet because you can’t lift that sinking line off the water very easily (you can't try to lift 40 or 50 feet). And then you make two quick false casts and shoot the line.

Sinking lines go very well into the wind because they are dense. They shoot into the wind really well. When you are fishing a sinking line, they are very versatile, because if you start stripping right away the fly only rides about this far below the surface. If you wait, the line will get deeper and then you can fish down below. Sinking lines don’t aerialize quite as well as floating lines. You want to throw a little bit more open loop, open up your arc, and you want a minimum of false casts. So if you can get away with it, make one cast and shoot as much line as you can.

There are many types are sinking lines. Probably the best are spool sinking lines, which come in various sink rates from an inch per second to almost 8 inches per second. Sink rates vary a lot, so you should take the stated sink rates as guidelines only. The exact sink rate of your fly depends on current, salinity, the line size you’re using, and the water resistance of the fly. One of my favorite sinking lines, really my go-to line in saltwater offshore, is the depth charge line. This line has a very fast sinking tip with an intermediate weight running line. The running line is very thin and stays close to the surface so you can pick up for another cast, and it shoots really well (especially into the wind) because the line is very thin and dense for a given weight.

If fish are really close to the surface, a clear tip line is often a good choice. This kind of line has a clear, slow sinking, or intermediate weight tip, with floating running line. The slow sinking tip gets the line and fly just below the waves and keeps tension on the line, but the floating line lets you pick up and make a quick cast when you need to. If you begin retrieving immediately, you can even fish surface poppers with this line. When you are fishing a sinking line like this, you want to keep your leader short; the reason is that you're fishing a sinking line to get your fly down and a long leader, like a 9-footer, would tend to buoy the fly up above the bottom. So to keep the fly riding at the same level as your sinking line, keep the leader short - 6 feet or under. You can use a knotless leader, a knotted leader, or you can even use a straight piece of say, 20 pound monofilament, because you're not talking about delicacy here, you're talking about just keeping the fly riding behind the fly line.