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June 2002
Silver Spoons
August 2002
Starting Flats Fishing
September 2002
Beginning Gear - pt. 1
October 2002
Beginning Gear - pt. 2
November 2002
The Courteous Angler
Dec 2002/Jan 2003
Reflections at the
Tide Change
February 2003
Jerkbaits, another look
March 2003
How important is presentation?
April 2003
When to fish...?
May 2003
New ideas
September 2003
Flats Fishing 101 (recap)
December 2003
Another flats fishing year ends
Jan - Feb 2004
New year, new opportunities
March 2004
Flats fishing on any budget
August 2004
Special Request - Hurricane Report
Beginner Flats Fishing (aka Flats Fishing 101)
A recap
September 2003

Flats Fishing - the basics

This article is in response to a note I received from a visitor to the site. Information on 'beginning flats fishing' was introduced August '02 followed by articles on gear selection. This article will not provide as much detail but maybe give a better overview and add some new pointers gleaned from another year of fishing and lessons learned from other anglers.

Flats Fishing, What is the Difference?
A good place to start is a look at what makes 'flats fishing' or 'shallow water angling' unique compared to other fishing. Whether you have fished a neighborhood pond, creek or a saltwater pier you have different considerations on the flats. You can go to the lake and fish most any day or time. Streams and creeks can flow fast or slow depending on rainfall. If you go out on the pier you can wet a line but you do have some of the same concerns with tide as you do on the flats. Probably the most important factor for fishing the flats is that in many places the tide changes the environment drastically. In some coastal areas a low tide makes vast areas too shallow for fish and a foot path for anglers who have not planned well. A paraphrase of a cliche, it is ALL about the tides. I personally do not know near as much as I need or want about the tides. The better an angler knows the tides the more successful they will be. This may sound obvious but I stress it because it is more than whether the flow is in or out, high or low.

Working together with the tides is the topography of the bottom on the flat. This can change subtlety over time and with major weather events. Similar to streams, water can be forced through narrow cuts that cause increased flow. This in turn will shape the underwater habitat. Add to the various potholes, table flat or cuts in the bottom what it is or is not covered with. Whether sand, various grasses, in small or large patches it will determine which species frequent the flat and where you can find them.

I mention this last but it is still significant, the wind. It can push water in or keep it out completely changing the expected tides. Wind can also push grasses around making retrieval of your lure difficult.

Different Fishing, Different Gear?
As noted, there are past articles covering many questions regarding gear. Future articles will add more detailed information. You can use almost anything to catch fish (and I have seen it done) you increase your chances though by using better quality equipment. You don't need to go the top of the line but you are likely to get better results than fishing with a low end department store combo. Following are the basic guidelines I would suggest.

The rod can be made of either a graphite compound or fiberglass. Fiberglass rods are having a resurgence. There is much better feel the the whippy rods of the 60's and 70's. No matter the material you want a rod that has some 'backbone' or resistance to bending but also enough flex that a big or fast running fish does not end your day early. The flex of the rod tip can be important depending on your terminal tackle. Some high end rods note the tip flex. If not noted you should look for a tip that has a slight spring to it. Some rods very stiff all the way to the tip.

You should also make note of the line strength and lure weight the rod is rated at. Sure you can use heavier or lighter line and exceed the lure weight. You will not get optimal results though. Over lining a rod can cause it to fail. As a general rule you will want to use the lightest line possible for the game you target. Heavier line may reduce the likelihood of you breaking off but it will restrict your casting distance and possible alter your lure action. More about line later in the article.

The next consideration for your rod are the eyelets. They should be of good quality. That is, a material that reduces line drag, heat build up and is durable. A 'Fuji' guide is usually of a good quality. The technical term for the 'mount' which holds the guide ring eludes me and I will correct it later. The main point here is that if possible it resists corrosion, is durable and provides good support. No point going any deeper on that for an overview. As you can see, your equipment can be important. Right down to the smallest component.

There is a point to this discussion on equipment. Not only does your equipment need to be capable of handling the large or fast running fish you are after but it must be efficient to allow you the best opportunity to put your lure in front of a fish initially.

Get out and fish. Wherever you go, whatever you use make it a point to enjoy yourself.

Let me know what you think.

Good Fishing,

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