Fly fishing for whiting

Whiting are a tricky fish to catch on a fly. After a few years trying I finally landed one.

In the summer months whiting are great surface lure targets. Light spinning outfits with stickbait surface lures produce the goods. Long casts are important because whiting are attracted to a steady retrieve, so the more distance you cover the better your chances of hooking a fish.

That’s why I’ve always struggled with the fly rod. Getting enough distance and retrieving it quickly enough was difficult for a beginner with a fly rod like me.

Then one day I happened upon whiting fishing paradise. A remote sandflat full of schools of ravenous, kamikaze whiting.

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I’d never seen anything like it before. I could see their fins out of the water as they chased bait in no more than 15 cm of water. Miniature bonefish right in front of me.

I started by casting lures with my regular spinning outfit. I would wait until I saw a school of whiting, cast beyond them and then retrieve through the fish. Most times I would have half a dozen fish chasing the lure. Great fun and a lot of hook-ups.

It was clear to me that if I couldn’t catch a whiting on fly in this situation I would never be able to. So away went the spinning rod and out came the fly rod.

What surface fly to use? I started with a few medium-sized varieties. They made a lot of splash and attracted a few fish but all I managed was a few half hearted nudges. I felt the flies were too big, so I put on a tiny surface popper fly with a bit of flash in the tail.

It cast well on my six weight. I had visions of laying out a long distance cast and hooking up in grand style. Then, just as I was ready to cast into next week (and probably hook myself in the back of the shirt for the third time), I noticed some surface splashing no more than 20 feet to my left. I made a respectable cast, stripped the fly a few times and came up tight.

After a brief tussle I had my first whiting on fly.

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Completely stoked and happy to see the fish swim away.

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