The dark side of fly fishing
I like sinking lines; there I’ve said it. Don’t get me wrong I love banging the banks with a large Flip Flop Fly or one of Alvin’s Foamy fold-over things. When the fish are looking up and the water is clear, sight casting to bass as we do is without a doubt the way to go. Blasting one of these flies into cover and watching it get crushed from below after a couple strips is awesome but the fish are not always going to cooperate with our desire.
I’m not sure where the controversy started or even if it exists (truly) but people seem to cringe with pain when I mention anything "sinky." We still get to fly fish when we use a sinker. We continue to use a fly rod to cast a line that in turn drags a weightless fly along with it. I am by no means a great caster and do find casting a sinking fly on floating line a problem. My casting becomes labored, cumbersome and just plain UGLY. I could go on and on but I won't. Here are a couple thoughts I have starting with the least "sinky" to full on sink.
When I have a BIG foam bug that is skipping and not giving me the KER-PLUNK I need, I use a short 4’ clear intermediate poly leader that pulls the fly down just a bit on the strip. Crazy talk you say? It gets worse. The bigger the fly (still talking top water) the more sink I add, when I fish a big Montauk Monster or a Banger I use a faster sink tip which when stripped pulls that big spun deer hair or plug just below the surface creating all kinds of “COME AND GET ME” commotion.
Now that I’m done with the craziness of using sinking tips with floating flies lets talk real quickly about true sinking lines. My favorite is the Depth Finder by AirFlo. I love the 175gr on my Helios 10' 7wt. (I like crazy fast rods with sinkers.) With a 23' head that sinks in a uniform manner you can get an unweighted crawfish pattern down to where the fish are. I’ve heard all kinds of opinions on leader length while using this method and I’m not going to jump in. I will say that straight Flouro less than 14lb test is what I use. You're going to foul and if you’re breaking off less than 14lb test you're not likely damaging the core of your fly line. A rumor that I will happily chime in on is that lines like this cast “clunky" and “poorly.” I disagree. As I said above, a floating line and weighted fly, in my opinion, is the clunky presentation. With a density compensated line you still get loops and proper turn over because, again, your casting the line with non-weighted fly.
I’ll end with this. As fellow AWG Guide JD points out "we all can learn a lot from the Bass Masters on a Sunday morning" (that’s tough to swallow). He’s absolutely 100% correct though. Those boys catch fish and I don’t see them using Hula Poppers! They go to where the fish are and most of the time that’s deeper in the water column. So enjoy the Summer! Fish those poppers knowing that at any second its gonna get crushed but if ya need a little help with the "come get me," try an intermediate leader with it. I can also say that having a sinking rod rigged and ready for those deeper spots won't hurt. Just dont tell anyone.
Enjoy and see you on the water.