Fly Life Magazine

Tips & Tactics: The importance of being skiff smart

Being skiff smart means keeping things simple.

Think about it: Why wear shoes? Why strip off more line than you can cast? How does stripped line shoot off the skiff’s deck? How do you load a flyline fast? Well, your guide knows the answers and you should too.

Thin shooting lines seem more prone to tangles. Photo by

Thin shooting lines seem more prone to tangles. Photo by

Flyline seems to have a magnetic pull towards feet, buttons, shoelaces or any protrusion on-board

On a cold, late October day off Montauk, Long Island, New York you’re definitely going to want shoes, but on any summer day or in the tropics or subtropics any day of the year shoes on the casting deck of a skiff are nothing but trouble. If you so much as pinch the flyline with the outside of your shoed-foot you won’t feel it, but it could spoil a cast or end a hook-up. The solution is bare feet and keeping the line on the uncluttered floor of the skiff, not the casting deck you’re standing on.

Should your line end up on the casting deck and under foot, bare feet will sense that and maybe save the entire day.

No macho needed

Don’t pull off more line than you can cast – es no impresionante. Just strip off the amount of line you can cast + a couple of more pulls so if longer cast is needed you’re good to go. Excess line laying on deck is just waiting to snot-up in a tangle. Lefty Kreh said: “ . . . duct tape your shoelaces if fishing from a boat so the laces cannot tangle your line.”

Cast it first

Casting from the deck before the game starts accomplishes a couple of important things. One, you get to know how far is far for you, and the guide is now tuned to the same page. They’ll know what you’re capable of. When he or she says 2-o’clock 50-feet, you’re synched.

Second, the cast line retrieved to the boat deck will now shoot from the top, not the bottom coils. Had you just pulled off X feet of line and plopped it on the deck the coiled line would shoot from the bottom – tempting the fate of a tangled line.

Being ready

To begin a cast the rod has to be loaded with flyline. If you’re quarry is a bonefish, snook or tarpon you can’t afford 20 or 30 seconds loading the rod with false casts. The tried and true way to be ready is to keep at least a rod length of line outside the tip-top of the rod. The balance of “ready” is holding the leader in your off-hand just above the fly. No, you won’t hook yourself, but you could if you hold the fly itself.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler

Albert Einstein

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