Ask FR&R

Ask FR&R

Mastering the strip-strike, how to recycle your leaders and calculate a fish's weight.

  • By: Buzz Bryson
Mastering the strip strike is critical if you want to hook certain saltwater species such as tarpon  Try NOT to lift the rod
I'm planning a trip to do some saltwater fly-fishing and have come across references to the "strip-strike." What is its purpose and when do I use it?
Most saltwater fish have bony or cartilaginous mouths (such as tarpon) and a hook-set like you'd use when fishing a dry fly for trout won't provide enough force to drive home the hook. Also, you'll need to maintain contact with the fly as you strip it in so you can feel the take and set the hook firmly and quickly-with the emphasis on quickly.

So here's what you do: As the fish approaches your fly and inhales it, give a smooth and firm pull with your line hand but do not lift the rod as it is important to keep the tip low and pointed at the fly. Chances are you will blow your first (OK, dozen) chances before getting this down, but once you overcome your trout-fishing instinct you'll have a lot more successful hookups.

There is another benefit to the strip-strike. If you miss the hook set, the fly has only moved a foot or so, and you can continue with the retrieve. The same fish, or another one, might strike again while you're "in the meat."
-Buzz Bryson

What is the length-to-girth formula used to determine a fish's weight?
The most commonly used formula is Weight (in pounds) = (G2 x L)/800, where G = girth (in inches), and L = length (in inches). The formula is particularly useful when fishing for saltwater fish such as tarpon or bonefish, which are catch-and-release species, but can also be applied to species such as trout and bass with some caveats.

Of course, running the numbers through the equation will not be as accurate as weighing a fish on a certified scale, but for most species it's accurate to within 10 percent of the fish's true weight. West Coast saltwater guru Dan Blanton has used the equation for years, despite its lack of scientific precision, and said "it's pretty damned close" and is confident of the results.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the equation works best for fusiform-shape fish-trout, tarpon, bonefish, stripers-and less well for fish with compressed-shape bodies, such as bluegills and permit. Second, with "sowbelly" largemouth bass in particular, the equation begins to lose some of its accuracy. How much is a good question, which leads to perhaps the most interesting aspect of this equation: its unknown origins.

Inquiries to several biologists, prominent anglers and a page-by-page search of McClane's New Standard Fishing Encyclopedia came up empty. In fact, preeminent trout scientist Dr. Robert Behnke told us he'd never given the equation's origins much thought because it is so widely used. However, he was unaware of any scientific studies that tested its accuracy. But, he said, "It must have been tested at some point to have been made up" in the first place. It seems more investigation is required, but if any of you know of the origins of this equation send an email with the source to [email protected].
-Buzz Bryson

What is a good way to store and dispose of old leaders and tippet clippings while on the water, and can the used fishing line be recycled?
Few things are as irresponsible as tossing used leader and tippet material into the water or the bushes-the stuff persists in the environment for up to 600 years and can entangle birds and other animals. On the other hand, nobody likes filling their vest pockets with bird's nests of used leaders and tippets.

The solution to the problem of storing your old leader material can be as simple as keeping a ziplock bag in your vest for the spent line, or, if you are feeling crafty-and if you can find one in this digital age-taking a 35 mm film canister and cutting an X-shape hole in the lid. The flexible plastic lid allows you to easily cram in the line without allowing any to spill out.

Now that you have your used leader and tippet organized, the question remains of how to dispose of it. The best thing to do is recycle it. Some tackle shops accept used monofilament for recycling, but if your local shop does not, you can mail discarded monofilament to Pure Fishing, the company that makes Berkley and Stren fishing lines, where it will then be recycled; however, they don't accept fluorocarbon, so take that into advisement. Stuff your old line into an envelope or box and mail it to: Pure Fishing Attention: Recycle Program, 1900 18th St., Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360. In the 15 years the recycling program has been around, Pure Fishing has recycled 15 million miles of monofilament.

And if you have a tangled mass of fluorocarbon and mono that can't be recycled, chop it into small sections-like you would when pitching the ring holder from a six-pack of beer-and place it with the rest of your household trash. Sure, this isn't as "green" as recycling it, but at least it keeps the line out of the beaks and feet of animals.
-Buzz Bryson