Jun 20, 2017

On the Hunt - Stand Ready

Cast, Strip, Sight, Set, Fight

In continuation of the "On the Hunt" Series, this chapter addresses the stand or stance.

One day, while swinging flies on the river I watched a guide boat drift down with a single angler in front casting a streamer. He stood there like he was in line at the dmv and held his rod with a matching amount of ambition. He made lazy cast after cast and stripped his fly back with rhythmic boredom.

I couldn't help to think that even if a fish struck his fly in no way was he prepared to react. He held his rod with a lazy grip, high out over the boat, creating a bow in his line. No focus...Not prepared...No enthusiasm!

There are those who hunt and there are hunters just the same there are those that fish and there are anglers. This guy is clearly neither. On that day, his wrong opened my eyes to what would be right. I slipped into deep thought about how often we decide our own fate without even knowing.

My vision for writing this article mostly has to do with predator style streamer fishing whether it be for bass, pike, musky, brown trout or whatever you find yourself pursuing in what I refer to as predator fishing mode. These tactics also apply to predator top water fishing and may also apply to many other styles of fly fishing.

Stand Ready

The lazy guy I described above wasn't sitting down but he wasn't hunting.  The Phrase from the kick off article, "Never Sit Down", has a much deeper meaning than just a physical state. Your stand, or stance needs to put you in a state of preparedness. Prepared to cast, strip, sight, set and fight.


I like to put one foot in front of the other. Unlock your knees. Focus your vision on where you're casting and your fly where it lands. If your fly, for whatever reason is not in sight, still create a mental image about where it is and track it as you strip in.

Grip your rod

After your cast put the rod tip to the water pointing in the direction of your fly. Eliminate any slack from your line immediately . Grip your rod firm but try to avoid a death grip.

Strip like you mean it

You will need a gloved finger or stripper finger in order to achieve proper strips. DON"T wait until you have line burned your finger. Equip yourself before you start fishing and you will strip better all day. Streamer strips should be aggressive with demanding intent. DO NOT DRAG your fly. The topic of stripping deserves much more attention than I can give in this paragraph. Watch for a future article on this subject.

Watch you fly

Most predator fishing I do allows me to see my fly in action. Topwater and shallow sub surface streamer flies allow us to see what's going on. Keep sight on your fly at all times. Watch for shadows, swipes and be particularly aware if suddenly it disappears out of sight. Also, watch the water for movement such as swirls or pushes. Pay attention to your flies action. Many flies require specific strips and/or even rod tip jerks to get the desired action the fish want.

Strike Back

I like to use the term "Strike Back" rather then "set hook". Key point is...DO NOT trout set. I'm sure this subject has difference of opinions but this is how I like to approach the strike back hook set. Strip with a lift. A strip set alone is great but there are times when these fish are swimming toward you making it nearly impossible to get a set with a strip alone. If you strip set and lift rod at the same time you increase the amount of line taken up. But here is the key, you must lift your rod in a horizontal plane while you strip set. Combination strip and lift will draw power from the butt of the rod and take up the slack quickly for a solid hook set.


Predator fish often try to go down and under a rock or brush pile and when they get there you very likely won't be able to bring them out. They can wrap your line around objects and either get free or break you off. Be aware of your structure and take action immediately to pull it away from possible escape.

Watch for my next article about stripping your fly

I'll see you on the water...But you probably won't see me!

Greg Darling 

"My Passion For Fishing Is A Lifelong Pursuit Of Discovery"

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