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Big flys with small hooks


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#1 Fish For Life

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 11:32 PM

Where do predatory fish like pike and lake trout strike at bait-fish and our flys?? I was tying up a big lake trout fly tonight and the tail of the fly extended at least another 5 inches past the bend of the hook. When fish strike at big flys like these would they not most likely bite at the tail of the fly, probably missing the hooks? I know that the fish do get hooked i just don't see how. Unless they don't really strike at the tail and go for the main body where the hook is. I got some pictures from the internet just to try and show what i am talking about, big fly's with relatively hooks.

 

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#2 Piker20

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 03:19 AM

From my experience, pike will hit the head of a bait. So do cod, perch, Pollock to name a few. I still prefer a bait shorter than those pictured as I find them a pain to cast and don't take fish any bigger than shorter ones.
Trout often hit the tails first to cripple the bait and come back for a second swallow. So a hook nearer the tail is a good idea.

For BIG predators like tarpon they need a fly that looks worth eating. So you see the big extended flies quite a bit.
Matthew 25: 35-36 "Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldnt even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior and he will bring the others back. "No man ever steps in the same river twice"   Heraclitus, 5 B.C

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#3 phg

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 06:48 AM

Yeah, it depends on the species of fish.  I don't know about Pike or lake trout, we don't have them down here, but, for two examples, striped bass generally attack the eyes, but small mouth bass are notorious tail biters (that's why Carrie Stevens used 8x long hooks on her streamers).  Talk to people that target those species with bait, and see how thy rig for them.  That will tell you where the hook needs to be.



#4 Piker20

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 06:53 AM

In fact pike and zander will often grab a prey fish across its flanks and hold it like that for a time. Before, very quickly letting go and then swallowing head first. Often when using hard baits with a hook only at the tail you can drop pike because they hold the bait so hard you can't move it to set the hook and then when they open, your rod pressure removes the bait from the fish.
Matthew 25: 35-36 "Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldnt even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior and he will bring the others back. "No man ever steps in the same river twice"   Heraclitus, 5 B.C

Based Scottish Highlands. UK

MUSTAD The wise anglers choice.

#5 grey brook

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 07:53 AM

phg- carrie stevens was not targeting smallmouth bass up in the rangeley area, she was targetting landlocked salmon and to a lesser extent, brook trout. the reason for the 8-10xl hooks was for imitating rainbow smelt, the prevelant baitfish in the area which can grow quite long. these days a lot of people using tandem streamers which gives you the length and lets you use 2 normal streamer hooks.

#6 Crackaig

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 08:12 AM

Even a moderate size pike will totally engulf those flies. At that point its academic what the fish was aiming for. Though I do believe (Can't prove) that the fish target the eyes. Trout will tail nip to stun but will then go for the head. Its about swallowing fish whole. You don't want the gills or fins to get caught in your throat.

 

Just a thought on what Piker said about casting those large flies.

 

Usually it is the hook eyes and any added weight that causes those flies to sink. When they become wet they are harder to cast. Would coating the fly with one of the dip and let dry floatants help the fly shed the water, making it easier to cast? The floatant doesn't add buoyancy. It will not make the fly float, but it would shed water when casting. Like I said just me musing on the point.

 

Cheers,

C.


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#7 FlaFly

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 10:18 AM

I majored in biology in college and specialized in ichthyology.  When fish eat, if the prey is more or less immobile, they do so by closing their gill flaps and opening their mouth, creating a vacuum that sucks the prey into the mouth.  If the prey is moving, they have to immobilize it by grabbing whatever is their preferred modus operendi.  If they grab a part of the prey, they can then suck it in.  If they grab the whole thing, they can swallow it or grind it to bits using vomerine teeth (in the roof of the mouth).  Hopefully we can lip-hook them with the first grab... swallowing a hook isn't a good thing.  If I were fishing with streamers, I'd go with phg and use something small enough for them to grab the hook.


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#8 FlaFly

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 10:45 AM

One more thing...  pelagic fish (like mackerel in saltwater) move constantly, chasing after smaller fish (like herring) which in turn are constantly moving, hence they have to chase their prey and grab it with their lip teeth before swallowing.  Sharks bite off chunks and swallow.  Bottom dwellers on the other hand (e.g., grouper in saltwater or bluegill in fresh) tend to base their food chain on bugs that grow on rocks or plants.  The bigger guys like bass feed on the smaller bug eaters.  Many of these fish just lie in wait, often camouflaged, and swallow anything that gets close.  These fish tend more often to be outright swallowers rather than chasers.  Which they do depends on whether you're fishing for them in the weeds, or in the open water.  But as has already been said, you really need to decide what you're fishing for, and then do some research to understand their feeding habits.


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Their names were what? and why? and when? and how? and where? and who?"
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#9 tidewaterfly

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 12:50 PM

There are other considerations too about fly design. I agree that many large predators engulf their prey, or like those in the Pike family tend to grab & hold on using those big teeth. Bluefish & sharks as has been mentioned are biters, using their sharp teeth to bite thru flesh, which both disables their prey & is how they eat. However, flies tied on long shank hooks can have problems with leverage. The shorter hooks reduces that leverage the fish has against the hook when an angler is fighting them. Plus long shanks can be prone to fouling of the materials around the hook, depending on the materials being used.Tandem hooks can create fouling problems too, and can be more difficult to cast. Tandem hooks were used on many of the Rangeley/Carrie Stevens type streamers, but they were primarily trolling flies, so they were not cast. Tandem hooks are used with some big Billfish flies, but the casts are often very short, literally right behind the boat after the fish has been teased within range . Also Billfish flies may not necessarily be long in dimension, but are bulky, creating an illusion of size. I've got some "Billfish" poppers that are no larger than those I've used for LM bass, but are more bulky. ( I use such poppers for Striped Bass too.)

 

That last fly shown, the red & yellow one is typical of many of the flies used for Striped Bass, and the shorter shank hook allows the most movement of the materials & least amount of fouling issues, yet hook up's are not a problem, provided the fish is trying to eat the fly. Sometimes, they will strike a fly, or prey but may not be attempting to eat it. Perhaps it's a territorial thing, or perhaps another reason, but they don't always strike simply to eat. They may also be striking to stun, which also does happen. I've had them strike at flies & lures, assuming their trying to disable the prey & strike again to eat the fly or lure. 

 

Specific fish species being targeted should be considered, as should the size of those species. A large Striped Bass, 30" long or bigger can easily swallow a 12" or 14" prey, so swallowing most flies, even those close to those dimensions is not an issue. However, a 24" Striper, even though they might attempt to strike such large prey, may not really be able to easily engulf it, but prey in the 5, 6 or 8" size range they would have no problem eating. 

 

Over the years I've caught both SM & LM bass while targeting Striped bass or vice versa where they hit flies or lures almost as big as they were. I once hooked a SM bass of about 6" long on an 8" long saltwater type pencil popper. That may or may not be an attempt at eating, but might also be some other reason for the strike. I've caught plenty of average size (2-3lb) SM & LM bass on bigger flies (8", 10") that might not normally be used for that size bass, yet they got hooked, inside their mouths on a short shank hook, tied at the front of the fly. IMO, this indicates they were trying to eat the flies. If I was specifically targeting that size bass, I would not often use a fly that big, but more in the 3 to 6" range. I've also hooked plenty of fish of various species outside the mouth & even in the body sometimes. When predators strike at prey they are not always successful & even their attempts at flies or lures may not be perfect, so they end up hooked in less than ideal parts of their body. I've found this to be true more so when the size of the fish is generally small compared to the size of the flies or lures being used. It's their aggressive nature to strike I guess regardless of whether they can actually get the fly or lure in their mouths. 

 

I would expect, based on some of the flies popular today, that larger trouts or salmons could swallow relatively large flies. (Galloup's flies are good examples) yet many have a hook at the tail end instead of at the front  end. Perhaps that's not necessary, or perhaps it's more the result of smaller size fish striking at the bigger flies with more misses than hook-up's and those styles have evolved to solve a hook-up issue with those species. I can't say for sure as I don't fish for the trouts very often. Just a guess! 



#10 shoebop

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 01:03 PM

In fact pike and zander will often grab a prey fish across its flanks and hold it like that for a time. Before, very quickly letting go and then swallowing head first. Often when using hard baits with a hook only at the tail you can drop pike because they hold the bait so hard you can't move it to set the hook and then when they open, your rod pressure removes the bait from the fish.

Exactly right! 


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#11 FlaFly

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 02:16 PM

TideWF... you hit on another point.  Centrarchids especially (bass, bluegills, etc) spend a lot of time on their nest chasing away smaller fish that are trying to eat their eggs or fry.  In this case they're more likely chasing without the intent to eat, however I have caught lots of bluegills and redears right off their nest on popping bugs.  Given the relatively small mouths of bluegills and redears, I have to think they intended to eat my poppers.  But sometimes they might be slapping the intruder with their tail, possibly resulting in those hooked in the side.  Who knows?  Maybe it's just from poor visibility.


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#12 mikechell

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 04:44 PM

While I generally agree with most statements previously posted (and some of your credentials are to be respected) ... I have to believe what I see in various videos of feeding predatory fish.

 

1)  Whether the prey is moving or stationary, the predator is generally faster.  The timing of the opening of the mouth is nothing short of amazing.  Watching a bass, pike or any other large mouthed fish feed is a lesson in evolutionary perfection.  You CAN'T reel in a bait fast enough to beat the speed of an attacking fish.  And it's easier to sneak up on prey from the blind spot, below and behind.

 

2)  For a predator to take prey by the head, or to attack the eyes, it would have to expend even more energy ...

 

3)  ... than just attacking from behind. 

 

4) While the prey might then be turned to swallow head first through spitting out and "re-inhaling" is secondary to the first hit, from behind.

 

Fish with smaller mouths have to be faster, hit harder or have better methods to disable prey, but I believe fish with large mouths, inhale almost every time, from behind.

 

 

 


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#13 tidewaterfly

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 05:29 PM

Mike, very good point! I remember back in the 60's my father bringing home a Striped Bass that was given to him by a commercial fisherman. That fish was huge! Don't know how much it weighed, but I would say at least 50 lbs. 

 

We stuck 2 of the old plastic soda bottles (pre-liter, I think they were 2 quart) in it's mouth side by side & neither bottle touched the sides of the mouth. A fish that size could easily engulf a rather large prey sideways so doesn't matter much if it's inhaling from behind or from the side.

 

Also, many species of baitfish roam in schools, a defense mechanism that confuses potential attackers. When a large predator attacks they may not be able to single out one target, so sometimes there may be misses as the schools evade & scatters. In that case the large fish may not be targeting any specific feature, head, tail or eyes as has been mentioned, but rather simply trying to inhale anything solid, particularly when the baitfishes are rather small. I've seen blitzes where wounded prey are what's singled out as the Stripers or Bluefish slash thru schools of bait. It's possible they may be trying to disable prey before they can eat them. When that happens flies tossed to the edges stand a better chance of being eaten, than those cast into the schools as they get lost in the fray. Although it's sometimes better to use something that really stands out, which can be different than the real thing by color or even by size. 

 

Of course the predators do have methods to their madness too. I've witnessed LM bass, Stripers & Bluefish herding baitfishes against a shore line a few times where some of the bait are washed up onto the shore, and in their attempts to recover & re-enter the water are eaten. Of course I've also seen those same predators beach themselves too while trying to eat the baitfishes. None of it is perfect & not always easy for either side of the life or death struggle to survive. 



#14 FlaFly

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 06:58 PM

All interesting.  But guys, remember FFL's original question concerned whether it's a good idea to tie flies that are five or six times longer than the hook.  In saltwater I've had numerous fish bite the tip off the tails of my jigs, so as a general rule, I'm suggesting his answer is No.  (-:


"Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it."

Agatha Christie

 

"No one wants advice -- only corroboration."

John Steinbeck

 

"I had six faithful serving men, they taught me all I knew.

Their names were what? and why? and when? and how? and where? and who?"
Rudyard Kipling
 


#15 mikechell

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 07:21 PM

FlaFly ... I agree for saltwater fish, in general.  I think there are more pelagic fish in saltwater.  Since they are pelagic, they don't have the luxury of waiting around for anything.  So I agree that saltwater flies probably need to be more hook than material.  For the majority of fresh water fish, I think anything that attracts a strike is going to get inhaled, so more material than hook will attract.

 

The original question was about freshwater fish, and I believe most of those "inhale" by flairing the mouth.  The entire lure/fly gets engulfed and a quick hookset can catch fish.  People who let the fish "run" with a lure, more often than not, are the ones who get a gut hooked fish.

 

To keep from turning this into an argument ... I'll just say that I agree with everything that's been posted above, truth is ... fishing is mostly luck anyway.


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