Educational Series #1 - Polarized Glasses
Benjamin Franklin once said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
The most helpful tool for finding fish is polarized glasses. Polarized glasses cut the glare allowing us to see through the water.
We prefer the Low Light ignitor lenses from Smith click here to check them out. These lenses allow the most light and help us see the most contrast. This lens in non-overcast situations can be too bright for some people.
Successful flats fishing comes from preparation before the trip. One of the simplest ways to improve one's flats angling success is to learn the art of spotting fish quickly.
Quickly spotting fish offers one of the most significant advantages an angler can create for themselves when fishing the flats. Having an actual target to cast at always makes the cast easier. Versus blind casting via shouted instructions.
If you have ever fished the flats, you are familiar with this scenario. It usually goes like this: Standing on the boat's bow, you hear your guide shout, "2:30, 20 Meters, do you see it? CAST, CAST, CAST!!"
Your mind does this: Do the math that a meter is roughly 3 feet, scan the right side of the boat at 60 feet, try to find the target, and start to make the cast. With a lack of confidence, you make the fly cast. The guide yells, "CAST AGAIN, MORE RIGHT!!". The fish now comes into view, but it's too late. Typically, the cast is in the wrong spot, or the opportunity is over. Now let's imagine you spot the fish at 2:30, just past 60 feet. As the cast starts, you ask, "Is the fish moving right or left?" "LEFT!!" he announces. The fly drops in front of the fish, and the game begins.
As trout anglers, especially river anglers, we have a need that becomes a habit of looking at the surface and looking at the current. The current is how we find where the fish should be. We see the fish from the structure of the water. When fishing a gin clear Spring Creek as anglers, we find fish this same way, but by looking for the fish in the areas that look correct.
Imagine a big fish in a spring creek sitting at the head of a pool underneath a riffle. We must look through the riffle to see the fish sitting in the columns below. Most often, we look at the structure and then search for the fish with our fly instead of trying to feed the fish that we see, or maybe the fish sitting in a tail out motionless near the structure. Most of the time, we view the shadow on the bottom before seeing the fish. When we look through the water and see the fish in a spring creek, we will then be able to try to feed these fish, which will lay still as we spend hours on end trying to catch them.
Photos above illustrate polarized glasses...
Flats fishing is much more like the Spring Creek fishery. We need to look through the water, not at the water. So, looking through the glare instead of looking at the glare and surface will help locate the fish. Unlike spring creek fish, fish on the flats are constantly on the move, eating and making their way. These fish live in large zones. They move with the tides in search of food. You will never spend hours chasing the same fish. Those hours can be spent chasing fish after fish looking for the next one to play the game.
These fish are on the move, and the opportunity may be short and quick. Quickly spotting the fish will give the angler more time to cast, resulting in more quality shots and better opportunities for success. Spotting the fish at a distance and making a more extended cast will provide more time for multiple casts if needed. Flats fish generally don't feed in a straight line, and casting numerous times may be required as the fly cast may not be on target. The fish may have turned or even made a U-turn. Quickly seeing the fish will provide a greater distance between us, the angler, the boat, and the fish. Often fish on the flats will follow the fly 40 feet or more before eating. We want to feed this fish before we spook him, or the boat does.
Remember, as spotting fish becomes easier, learn what about the fish you can see the best and the fastest. Is it the black tail of a Permit, the shadow of the Bonefish, the straight lateral line of Snook, or the dark to light transition of a Tarpon? Figure out what it is and focus on that. Nothing is a substitute for time on the water, but we can train the eye to pick up these subtleties with time.
Practice looking at the bottom and through water; before the flats adventure begins. Find a waterway of any kind and practice, practice, practice.
And please, let's not forget what Mr. Franklin said…