The weather has been exceptional in terms of allowing my friends to launch their dory boats from the beach at Pacific City the last several weeks, and more good opportunities are close at hand. This means that we get to go out and entice big lingcod with a fly under ideal conditions: relatively small swell height, little current, and little or no wind drift.
We have found lings in anywhere from 40 to over 90 ft of water lately, and have found willing takers to large 6-inch closers ever day we have been out.
One of the greatest challenges in the deep water fly fishery is not simply getting the fly down, but keeping it off the bottom. It is key to get close to the bottom to get these kings, but if the fly and line lays on the bottom, it is not fishing, and it is likely to get hung up. I lost six fly & leader rigs last time out and broke off the front of my fly line on one hang-up.
It helps to mark ten ft increments on fly lines above the shooting head, because this can help tune the depth one is fishing. There are still variables that are difficult to gauge, like the angle of the line and resultant fly depth. That said, it still helps to know how deep the water is at any given moment and know how much fly line is out of the rod tip.
It seemed that all of the lingcod I hooked last time out grabbed the fly just after I had pulled my fly off the bottom. That told me that I was just above the bottom. I suspect that my fly was laying on the bottom much of the time, but can’t be sure, and this is a tactical issue I am trying to resolve. Fishing a heavy jig on mono allows one to feel the bottom each time the jig hits the reef. With a fly and sinking fly line, you never know when your fly and line lay on the bottom, until you hang up and then you may or may not be able to pull your hook and line free.
Fly Rods for lingcod should be in the 8 to 10 wt range, and only very stout 8 wts should be put to the test.
Our best lines have been the AIRFLO 500 & 700 gr Big Game Depth Finder, RIO Leviathan 600 gr, AIRFLO Sniper Custom cut T-14, and RIO Outbound Custom Cut T-14. All of these have been getting us down easily in the 40 ft zone and all make it to the bottom in the 80 to 100 ft depth zone, which is not possible with lighter lines.
Leader: I have been using the RIO Alloy Hard leader, keeping my leader in the 3 ft length range and going with 20 lb test straight leader (not tapered). Heavier leader might be OK but the strain can be tough on any fly line except the AIRFLO BIG GAME or RIO Leviathan, because those two lines have exceptionally strong leader cores and can take the stress of breaking 20 or 30 lb leaders.
The best Clousers of late have been tied on Gamakatsu SC15-2H 3/0 and 4/0hooks with Steve Farrar’s Blend materials including a hot orange belly with Bronze Back topping.
Effective ocean flies and fishing techniques are noted in my book, SEA Flies on Amazon.
Lingcod teeth are very abrasive and you should be checking your leaders after each fish.
Dory Charters that specialize in fly fishing are available via John Harrell at Pacific City Fly Fishing or by calling Jack Harrell at 541 921 1276.
Hope you get a chance to get out there soon, these fish fight hard and make for excellent table fare.
Jay Nicholas – March 10, 2015