Call them ladyfish, skipjack, tenpounder, giant herring or…our favourite, springer, but whatever you do, do not neglect these high-speed tarpon cousins from your bucket list. In this excerpt from our issue 34 Wish List Fish pages, Ed Truter gives us the skinny on skippies.
In terms of technique – fly tackle, favoured flies, retrieve etc, what works for you?
“Skippies can be maddeningly frustrating, and far more picky than just about any trout. The thing is they often focus on extremely small prey, and especially tiny crustaceans and very small baitfish. They will chase and eat a 20cm mullet, but most of the time they’re hunting small stuff. Skippies are one of the fastest fish in the sea but that doesn’t mean that what they eat is always dashing around at Mach 3. A shrimp caught in the tide isn’t going anywhere but with the flow, so keep this in mind for your retrieves. Fish hover or slow intermediate lines.
If you’re casting around skippies and not getting bit immediately, keep scaling down, and keep going more subtle with your approach
e.g. fish slower, drift the fly rather than strip it, and especially try different presentation angles and adjust the direction from which you’re casting, etc. Natural materials, especially flies tied with natural coloured feathers that kick and breathe are often best. The usual suspects of sparse bucktail Clousers, calf tail Charlies, Mud Charlies (Charlies with hackle tip kickers), Gotchas etc. all have their days (size 8 to size 2), as do traditional Cockroach tarpon flies (size 4 to 2/0) and suggestive shrimp patterns (glass shrimp to swimming prawn size – swimming prawns are cocaine to skippies). Many bonefish patterns make for good skippy flies. In low light conditions, and if the fish are chasing aggressively, big, chunkier flies like Finger Mullets, Whistlers, and Andinos and even surface chuggers/pushers/flippers will work (on the hardware side for example, skippies often love a walk-the-dog style presentation).”
From tidal surges, to time of year and feeding habits, get stuck into the rest of Ed’s skippy advice in issue 34 below. As always, it’s free.