Perfecting Performance: The Perfect Set Up For Chum Fry
The chum fry season is upon us. In the next couple of weeks we will start seeing the beginning of the biggest out migration of salmon in Washington state. Sea Run Cutthroat are the first predatory fish to get a taste at these baby salmon as they begin on their long hard fought journey to the ocean. Here are a few tips at how we keep our rods rigged for chum fry hatch.
When putting together our set up for chum fry season we consider these things:
- Adding action to a small baitfish
- Keeping our fly in the water
- Getting our fly to the bait balls without spooking them
First, add action to a small baitfish. This is actually a two step process. Tying a small “Lefty’s Loop Knot” will add a bit of action to the fly, allowing the fly to swim freely on the tippet. If you jump on “Animated Knots” it’s called the “Non Slip Mono Loop”. So far, this is a pretty darn good start.
However, we are not done adding movement to your fly. I typically fish 2x or 10lb Fluoroflex Plus tippet in the salt. For Chum Fry Season we are stepping down a notch to 3x or 8.5lb tippet. These are fairly small flies, and we are trying to make the best of it. Also, lengthen your leader a bit to 8-10ft. This will allow your fly to swim as free as you can get while still being manageable and attached to your fly line. Whew, we are now feeling trouty and light huh? Let’s move on to the next couple steps in our quest for greatness.
Next on the list, Keeping your fly in the water! While this seems like a no brainer, there is some technique to this. If you are fishing a sinking line, you are going to be on the bottom for this one. We want to move our fly and get the fishes attention, however we want to fish slowly… How do we do this? As short of strips as you can possibly do quickly. Keep that fly moving, however bring in a very small amount of line while doing so. Occasionally I will twitch my rod tip while keeping tight to my fly, but that is some next level teasing. Now picking out a fly line for this task is a bit harder. We love throwing the floating line when at all possible, however occasionally in the wind the intermediate line tracks the chop a bit better and detects more strikes.
Let’s review: We are throwing a beautifully tied chum fry (maybe it was one of the winners from the contest). To attach that fly to our tippet is a Lefty’s Loop Knot to keep it swimming freely. Furthermore we are extending our leader out to 8-10′ to add the extra stealth and movement to the fly. We are coming up in the water column to a floating or intermediate line to keep our fly from fouling on the bottom with a slow retrieve. Now, how do we get it to the fish with some grace so we do not spook the school of bait or the Cutthroat?
My favorite two lines for sending chum fry flying are The Rio Outbound Floater, or the Coastal Quickshooter Intermediate. Here’s why:
First, The Rio Outbound floating line is a smooth sailing rocket launcher. It’s fun to cast distance with this line smoothly, but if you need to punch it, the line preforms well under pressure. Also fishing a floating line is fun, and this one will handle the longer leader a bit better than the outbound short will.
Now for the Coastal Quick Shooter Intermediate line. If there is chop on the water during chum fry season, which early season, there often is. The Coastal Quick Shooter Intermediate line will get down in it and track straight on the retrieve rather than getting slack from the chop. This is even more evident when the boat is bouncing a bit. Also the Coastal Quick Shooter is just that, it’s quick! One back cast and get that fly back in the water. You didn’t get on my boat to look good casting, you got on to catch fish.
We have discussed the ammunition, now for the weapon of choice. I think the 691-4 Sage X is the best suited rod for the job. This rod is just plain fun. The 9′ length allows you to fish the fly with a twitchy retrieve without diving your rod tip to far off the boat, and the power and recovery of the rod allows you to shoot a line such as the Outbound with a 10′ leader without getting chatter.
Add your reel of choice and you have yourself a picture perfect set up for fishing Chum Fry in the Puget Sound off the beach or off of a boat. I’ll add that my real of choice is the Sage Spectrum Max for its toughness and smooth drag. Along with it’s polished looks and the ability to have it match most rods on the market.