Q: "A popular ball cap for years in the Northeast has been one with a long bill. Is there an advantage or disadvantage to such a hat?"Randy Harrison Boston, MassachusettsA: For sight-fishing, a long-billed hat is a decided disadvantage. We may not realize it, but when casting, we monitor the fly line as it unrolls to the target. A standard baseball-cap brim allows you to see the line throughout its flight. A long bill does not.
Q: “I have been casting a 9-weight with a 350-grain sinking line. My casts have been going 70 feet into the wind, and when I want more distance, I haul faster. However, my leader is not extending all the way. When I strip my line, it takes anywhere from two to seven strips to pick up the slack. As you well know, this is not ideal. By the time the fly starts to move, the fish are almost always past the fly. So what am I doing wrong?” Stephen Fauer,New Jersey
Q: “Though I feel that I am a decent caster, sometimes when I shoot my line to make a presentation, the line will wrap itself around the rod handle or reel seat. How can I correct this problem?”-Anonymous ReaderA: On a recent trip to the Bahamas, I witnessed a couple of anglers miss bonefish because of the problem you are having. It’s a common casting fault, but don’t worry; it’s easy to correct.
Q: “With all of the hook-sharpening tools available, which one do you feel is best for the job?”
Q: “Braided gelspun lines are now often used as backing on offshore reels in places where fish are expected to make long runs. Is there any one source that explains the details of these lines?”A: I never mention manufacturer names in this column because I believe most tackle available today will perform better than we can. But there are a lot of misunderstandings about braid. For example, while the Bimini twist is a superior knot for older styles of backing, it isn’t preferred by some experts for use with braided lines.
Q: “I use tippet rings for trout and find them to be a great advantage. Do these rings have a place in saltwater fly-fishing?” —Jim Wilson
Q: “I saw a fly-casting article that said you should not shoot line through your hand to reach the target. Do you have any comments on this?”–Randy SummersA: I don’t agree, and neither would almost any widely experienced fly-fisherman. To obtain accuracy with spinning tackle, your finger traps the line over the target, and with plug-casting, your thumb does the same.
Q: “I’m planning to go to the Ambergris Caye area of Belize with my family next year. I will definitely use a guide for most of my fishing but was wondering if this area offers opportunities for wading on my own.” —Edward Jacoby
What is the best way to test a knot?
Q: “I really enjoy using popping bugs for all kinds of saltwater species, and I think sometimes larger fish will take a bug faster than a normal streamer pattern. But I have missed a number of strikes when I thought I should have gotten a hookup. Any suggestions?”—Dan Bowers