Andros South guide, Josie Sands, plays chicken with a hefty South Andros barracuda. Our buddy, Logan Lewis, does the heavy lifting.
Nice fish, Logan!
Alaska | The Bahamas | Chile
Presenting the fly with the wind blowing hard onto your casting shoulder (blowing onto your right side for right handed casters, or left side for left handed casters) is arguably the most difficult cast in fly fishing. With each subsequent false cast, the force of the wind pushes the fly line (and thus fly) closer and closer to the caster making for a difficult and potentially dangerous casting situation.
Changing wind conditions are extremely common on the flats. Therefore, its helpful to be comfortable with a variety of casts in order to deal with wind from any direction.
One of the most effective casts for dealing with wind on your casting side is a simple back cast presentation – making a forward cast directly opposite from your target and presenting the fly to the fish on the back cast. A back cast presentation is a great tool for turning over a fly in a heavy cross-wind, particularly at medium to long distances, however we find many anglers struggle to present the fly quickly and accurately on the back cast at shorter distances.
Therefore, we also recommend that anglers practice casting with their fly line off of their opposite shoulder as well using a simple cast called.. Wait for it.. The off shoulder cast!
For the 2015 season, Sage introduced their newest line of premium saltwater rods called the SALT. We’ve spent a lot of time with the 890-4 model (that’s a 9 foot, 8 weight) here at Andros South, we really like it, and today we’re going to tell you why.
As fly rods have evolved over the years, particularly saltwater fly rods, the general trend amongst rod makers has been to develop stiffer, faster action rods to help cope with the heavy winds, bulky flies, and potentially long casts that are common in many saltwater situations. Modern fast action rods have enabled many anglers to throw tighter loops with higher line speed than ever before – but it hasn’t come without a cost.
While most saltwater-specific rods today do a fantastic job at creating extremely high line speed to blast long casts through the wind and turn over long leaders and heavy flies, they often lack the sensitivity needed to present a fly delicately at short-medium distances. On the other hand, softer ‘trout style’ actions are able to present the fly delicately, but generally fall apart when the wind kicks up or during the rare instance when you do need to punch a long cast.
We say it all the time, but contrary to popular belief, on South Andros you don’t have to cast very far to catch bonefish. Therefore, we’re usually more interested in a rod that can load quickly and easily and present flies accurately, rather than chuck an entire fly line every time.. There aren’t many rods out there that do both well.. Buy hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there were? The SALT is one of those rods.
Unlike its predecessor, the Xi3, the SALT has a much suppler feel, particularly in the midsection of the rod. The rod has a deeper load when casting at medium distances which translates into a smoother feel and more delicate presentations than we’ve seen from other saltwater rods in its class. That’s a big deal when fishing in areas like South Andros, where the majority of shots are under 50 feet.
However, one thing we really like about the SALT is that while the midsection is slightly slower than many super-fast saltwater rods, the tip of the rod is still quite fast. A fast tip coupled with a slower mid section means that it turns over flies exceptionally well at short distances (let’s say, 25 feet or so) with not a lot of fly line out of the rod tip – experienced bonefish anglers understand how important this is!
Probably the most surprising feature about the SALT we found was how well it performed at long-ish distances as well. It would make sense to assume that a rod that presents well at short-medium distances would be a bit of slouch at long distances, but surprisingly enough – it boosts! We’re not quite sure how to explain it, but when casting beyond 5o feet or so (or into a strong wind for that matter), there is a feeling of ‘extra power’ locked into the stout butt section that seems to take control once a certain amount of load is put into the rod that creates a lot of line speed.
It’s just all around goodness, in case you didn’t pick up on that already.
Like Sage’s other premium rods, such as the METHOD and the ONE, the SALT has an extremely accurate feel to it. The common factor? Sage’s Konnetic Technology.
We know, we know, more technical fly rod jargon.. We don’t always buy into it either (nor do we pretend to understand it all), but this is one feature we’re sold on. Cast one and you’re likely to notice it for yourself.
According to Sage, ‘Konnetic Technology’ reduces the lateral movement, or ‘east-west’ vibration of the rod, essentially allowing the rod to track in a straighter plane. You can actually feel less side-to-side vibration, giving it an extremely accurate feel.. Trust us on this.
We paired the SALT up with a Hatch 7 Plus Finatic and found it made for very well balanced rig. One thing we like about the SALT is that it is actually slightly heavier than its predecessor, the Xi3. We’re only talking fractions of an ounce here, but we’ve found that the slight difference in weight actually results in a better balanced rig when paired with most beefy saltwater worthy reels, making it actually feel lighter in the hand.
Don’t get us wrong, ‘heavy’ is relative.. When compared to most saltwater rods out there, the SALT is still an extremely light weight rod.
Sage also added some pretty snazzy new components to the SALT series that weren’t present on the previous Xi3 series. The most notable being larger locking hubs and threads on the reel seat which work much, much smoother around salty and sandy environments, as well as a slide band laser etched with the weight of the rod to identify your rod quickly.
According to the chief rod designer for Sage, Jerry Siem, the SALT is the best saltwater rod Sage has ever made.. That’s pretty tall cotton coming from the man himself, but after spending enough time with it, as far as the action is concerned we’d have to say we would agree. And, while we doubt it was made specifically for our fishery here on South Andros, it sure as heck seems that way!
Here’s our product review policy and FTC disclosure.
In light of the Thanksgiving holiday, this past week our staff at Andros South sponsored a benefit cookout to raise money for two great causes – hurricane relief for our friends still recovering from hurricane Joaquin, and the South Andros High basketball team who is traveling to a tournament on New Providence Island as we speak. The cookout was a great success, serving over 200 plates of food.. Wow.
So, we thought today would be a great chance to say thanks to all those who participated, we really appreciate it.
Furthermore, we also want to take the day to give a big thanks to all of you who have joined us at our lodges, or who have been following along on our blog/newsletter. We have a lot to be thankful for and none other than you to thank for that, so from all of us here at Deneki Outdoors.. Thanks!
Deneki guest, Charlie Loudermilk, recently joined us at Andros South for our 2015 bonefish school.
During his stay he landed this beauty.. Not a bad day in the classroom.
Nice work, Charlie!
Last week, Stuart Foxall shared with us a nifty fly tying trick for gauging the proper length of stinger loops when tying trailer-hook style flies for steelhead and salmon. Today he continues the topic with step by step instructions on how he attaches stinger loops to create not only tidy looking flies, but flies worthy of handling the big boys.
Stu’s flies have caught some of the baddest freshwater species around the world, so if tying flies for big anadramous fish is in your future, you’re going to want to keep reading.
I often get asked by folks how to tie tidier flies. When it comes to flies with trailer/stinger hooks, many folks run into trouble from the beginning by tying their wire loop onto the shank incorrectly. If you can get your wire on there neatly, then you have a much better chance of tying the rest of the fly tidy, leaving you with a nice smooth body. Here’s my method of choice:
It’s generally accepted that when fly fishing for bonefish, a standard 8-weight rod is the most versatile weapon of choice. Under most conditions, an 8-weight offers the best of both worlds – the back bone to turn over clunky flies in windy conditions AND the finesse to present a fly somewhat delicately to bones cruising in skinny water.
Alongside their trusty 8-weight, many of our guests at Andros South also like to rig up a spare 9-weight rod for a little more ‘oomph’ when the wind kicks up. It’s no secret that it can be a little breezy on the flats, and for most casters, bringing along a stouter stick is a good idea.
However, while most folks prepare for the days when the wind is howling, few prepare for those rare days when the wind is down and the water is glassy-calm. During these times, bonefish can be extremely spooky, requiring the most delicate presentation possible. Couple that with difficult light conditions and you’re stuck with the challenge of presenting a fly to weary fish at medium-short distances, making for some of the most challenging days on the flats. For these situations, dropping down a rod size can make all the difference.
Most saltwater fly rods today are available in 7 and even 6 weight models, and although they’re not typically looked at as your run of the mill bonefish rod, these lighter rods can be a valuable tool under the right conditions.
Could you get by with your 8-weight alone? Of course you could! But on those rare days when the wind dies out and the fish get finicky, a lighter rod just might save the day. Plus, it’s a good excuse to pick up a new toy.
We might be hiding out in the Bahamas, but that doesn’t mean our hats aren’t off to all of you out there planning to get after it this winter.
Winter will be here before you know it, and while it might not fit the description of perfect fishing conditions, fly fishing in the winter can be extremely rewarding. Therefore, today we’re coming at you with..