How deep can you go?

albacore

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I’ve been going fishing for bass with a guide off Brighton. He fishes fly and light spinning lure fishing. So I’ve witnessed some lovely fish come abroad from about 50-60 feet depth of water, on lead-head soft lures. Getting down that deep with a fly is frustrating though. I find that I can consistently snag bottom in about 40 feet of water. However, I’m not able to put much action into the fly. Maybe 3 or 4 strips. It’s because there’s a current so I have to cast up-current and by the time the line’s sunk to the depth of the fish it’s nearly under the boat. Then the current sweeps the line past the boat and down-current and it starts to rise away from the bottom. What’s the maximum depth that people are consistently taking fish at and how are you managing to do it? I’ve been using a salmon full-sinking shooting head that really does sink fast, though the switch rod set-up that I’m using to get it out doesn’t give me the distance I can get with a single-hander and a shorter line. On the other hand the shorter shooting head doesn’t seem to sink so well.
 

springwell

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Personally, I wouldn't fly fish at those depths for bass from a boat.

I'd fish on the drift with lures.

When I fly fish for bass it's usually off the beach or rocks with a max water depth of 20ft or so.
 

JoeOh

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I would feel that the Anglers best experienced to advise would be those who have the opportunity to fish for Salmon on the big Scottish Rivers from an anchored or rowed/powered boat, Harling I think it's referred to.. Unfortunately, that's not me.
I have seen experienced Salmon flyfishers having success in powerful currents using a Teeny line. if your boat is anchored, possibly a DI8 may get down if cast or lowered off the rear, given time to sink and when extended, retrieved partially and released, repeatedly. Similar to back drifting on stillwater but using the current to extend the line, instead of the drift of the boat. The only experience I have had fishing a deep fly line was anchored near a reef, about 25ft deep in Florida. Fishing a fast sinking line and large streamer similarly to above, I landed Red and Black Grouper and was doing well until my activities attracted a pod of Dolphin and that was it...
I normally think of saltwater fly fishing as shore based and wish you success in your deeper water endeavours. There are many species other than Bass susceptible to a fly.
Cheers
 

Sash

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If he is a guide, then his job is to put you onto fish that are (more or less) catchable by your chosen/preferred means. If he cannot do this (i.e. they are too deep for the fly), then he should say so.

I dont think 50-60ft is too deep for the fly, but it is very close, and the current really complicates things. I don’t chose to fish these depths, because I don’t find it a lot of fun, frankly.

I would work from the fly (a heavy Clouser for me) back along the line, to the rod.

And the only lines that have a decent track record for these sort of depths are, as ACW rightly points out, DI7/8s and lead core trolling shooting heads. The RIO T-17/20 heads should also work, but I have no experience of them.

Then a thin mono running line: ACW and the Datchet crew had/have this to a T.

And to cast it all, a single-handed rod: my go-to off a RIB is a 10-weight. I am afraid I think your switch rod would be sub-optimal.

Off a boat I work on the countdown principle: my head will sink at X inches per second (provided there is no tension on the running line, clearly), so I time the head down. With the Teeny 350 that I often fish, 40 ft would need (at least) a minute and a half to sink (6ips), so get yourself into position on the boat where you can make the cast, feed a LOT of line out, and COUNT!
 
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Sash

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One other point: It’s worth thinking quite systematically about how much running line you will need to feed out to let the head sink:
- in 40ft of water, assuming the running line is (roughly) diagonal, you will need (at least) 60ft out.
- in a 3kt tide, the boat will move around 125 meters while you count down.

So, letting out 100ft of running line (as well as the length of the head) is an absolute minimum; 150ft would be FAR better.

It’s really tough stuff for the fly: you will get an amazing feeling of satisfaction if/when you do catch something, but its marginal, and the gods (and physics) are really stacked against you.
 
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Sash

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Yet another couple of points!

- Not sure if you have the guide to yourself, or are sharing a boat with lure fishers?
If he is "yours", then the two of you need to work together to position the boat well up-tide of the target/mark, to allow enough time to drift and sink the fly. I have sometimes started over a quarter of a mile out, and hoped to get two half-decent casts: in West Wales we have tidal races that run 5kts+.

- It's also worth thinking (a lot) about the tides: Springs are really tough to fish with a fly, Neaps far easier. And the first and last hour and half of the tide are far easier than half tide, when the flows are strongest.
So I would plan for a day of Neaps, and would want to fish HT+4hrs to LT+2.5hrs to maximise my chances. Pehaps 30-45 minutes of slack water at the very top of the tide as well. But leave the c.3-4 hours either side of HT to the lure guys.

Did I mention: ditch the switch rod? Just writing these posts (and ACW's comments!) have got me thinking of digging out my 11-weight.....
 
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original cormorant

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Yet another couple of points!

- Not sure if you have the guide to yourself, or are sharing a boat with lure fishers?
If he is "yours", then the two of you need to work together to position the boat well up-tide of the target/mark, to allow enough time to drift and sink the fly. I have sometimes started over a quarter of a mile out, and hoped to get two half-decent casts: in West Wales we have tidal races that run 5kts+.

- It's also worth thinking (a lot) about the tides: Springs are really tough to fish with a fly, Neaps far easier. And the first and last hour and half of the tide are far easier than half tide, when the flows are strongest.
So I would plan for a day of Neaps, and would want to fish HT+4hrs to LT+2.5hrs to maximise my chances. Pehaps 30-45 minutes of slack water at the very top of the tide as well. But leave the c.3-4 hours either side of HT to the lure guys.

Did I mention: ditch the switch rod? Just writing these psots (and ACW's comments!) have got me thinking of digging out my 11-weight.....
I think Steve Binkes who had a lot of very big bass fished T14 on a #9. What's he up to these days?
Try searching for some old posts from gonzo
 

albacore

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These are great replies. Thanks very much. The guide is great but I think he would be the first person to concede that catching the bass on fly gear is not his main thing. However I have immense respect for his fish-finding ability. The 2 trips I’ve had so far have been with another, lure spin angler sharing the charter. Neither of us caught on the shallow reefs, all the bass came in at marks 35feet deep or more. That’s not to say that there are not bass at the shallower marks on different days and tides. But the sea near in to Brighton beaches colours up quite quickly if there’s wind, which puts the shallow marks out of commission much of the time. Things are going to get more difficult over the next few months because the weather will push the clear water out further from the shore so the depths will be even greater, I think. I take the point about the switch rod. It seemed good in theory and it works pretty well for me from a kayak. Double-handed means lots of casts are less tiring, for me. But from the boat deck there just seemed to be something that was not working in terms of getting distance. I don’t know why; in theory longer rod should mean more distance on the cast, according to stuff I’ve seen, from American forums, about using double-handers from the shore. Maybe they’re actually fast tip-action double handers, as opposed to my Orvis Clearwater 8 weight switch with it’s through-action? Certainly with the guide’s fly-rods - 10 weights with shooting head and thin backing - I was able to get 5-10 yards more distance. I plan to go back to my saltwater nine-weight single-hander. I’m interested in what other species people have caught. Has anyone had cod in U.K waters on the fly, for instance?
 

squimp

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In Seychelles they fish the reefs with 700 grain fast sinking (leviathan) lines and flies with home made heavy eyes that weigh a couple of ounces. You can hit the bottom in maybe 50ft as long as there isn’t too much tide running.

it works, but you can’t cast that rig - so basically you are jigging with a flyrod.

you could achieve a similar effect with a full lead core line and a heavily weighted fly - but with the same health warning; don’t try and cast it !

ive hit the bottom regularly in 50ft at Grafham (back dragging) but that’s with no tide and you can’t do it in a big wind because the boat is moving too fast and pulling the line up.
 

squimp

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One more thing; if you read Steve Parton’s stuff on reservoir lure fishing He calls really deep fishing ‘pitch and pay’.

you throw out the Weighted head and then drop a load of slack line over the side of the boat so that the weighted line sinks straight down , basically untethered. You regulate the depth by controlling the amount of slack line you pay out. When it all tightens up you retrieve.
 

Sash

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In Seychelles they fish the reefs with 700 grain fast sinking (leviathan) lines and flies with home made heavy eyes that weigh a couple of ounces. You can hit the bottom in maybe 50ft as long as there isn’t too much tide running.

it works, but you can’t cast that rig - so basically you are jigging with a flyrod.
Been there, done that: I used a 12-weight, and caught Trevally and other exotic stuff!
It was (just) castable, but needed really very good technique (which I did not have!) on the double haul.

Now I fish from a RIB, I value castability, and use a significantly less agressively-weighted fly than the ones you describe: actually those I use in the surf. My opinion is that the line weight, and ability to deliver the head with a long length of mono running line with almost no resistance, is more important.
 

tangled

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That's an ugly way to fly fish! I really wouldn't do it, hard work and not really fit for purpose. Get the spinning rods out!

Was it Fishy Rob by any chance?
 

albacore

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Yes, Fishy Rob of Brighton Inshore Fishing. I was surprised by how relatively shallow the sea is out there up to a mile offshore. Having been out there in the kayak and not seen bottom I just assumed it would be hundreds of feet. I find the deep fishing interesting. That written, my best bass, about double the size of anything else I’ve caught on both fly and lure, was on a floating line at low tide. In bright sun. Needless to say I’ve been back to that spot many times, and caught nothing. Other pretty-much fruitless deep-fishing forays have been in Loch Lomond. And off Muscat in the Arabian Sea. Muscat was pretty much a bust, probably because it’s very very heavily commercially fished around there.
 

JRT

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40ft isn't that deep. Are you drifting or anchoring? You need to be drifting or you have no hope of getting down before the tide drags the fly line up. Drifting with the tide then casting uptide or slightly up tide and away from the boat works and you can get down with right gear. I've caught pollock off wrecks in 60ft. I have friends who have pulled decent fish from 100ft. But its trial and error and working out the speed of drift, the strength of tide and how quickly you can get down as well as cast - you need to be casting at least 80ft then paying out line as you drift over/past to get any kind of 'bottom time'. If you are serious about dredging then its worth extending the fly line with sinking running line and making your own heads with T14 or T17. Or invest in a downrigger.
Its certainly a tough way to fish. Avoid spring tides.

PS. Gonzo is fine.
 
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