For the past 2 years when late-June rolls around & the Trout get their summer vacation from me, I switch to night-owl mode & focus on fly fishing for Stripers & Bluefish. They're not big, but they're so much fun. Thankfully, I have access to a very prolific private dock within a 15min. drive from home & I've fine-tuned my approach to these fish over the past year to make the short trip as productive as possible. Lately I've been getting a lot of questions about saltwater fly fishing in NJ & though most of my time is spent in a very specific way, I wanted to share some tips I've learned that will help anyone fly fishing for Stripers and Blues in-land in fast, deep water.
HEAVY: I use clousers with heavy-wire saltwater hooks (1-2/0), L or XL barbell eyes, 6-8 wraps of .025 lead wire behind the eyes (glue eyes & wire), & 300gr 30ft sink-tip fly line with 20lb leader & fluoro tippet.
OLIVE: many use black & purple at night but with the amount of artificial light I fish around I've found the combo of olive/white to be the most effective at matching the spearing & rainfish schools I mostly see.
SMALL: when tying I keep the Clousers 3-4in. max to "match the hatch." An exception is when the Bluefish cruise through and start nipping at the Stripers I bring in, I switch to 5-6in. white Clousers they tend to like.
NO WIRE: if Bluefish are around, just accept that you're going to lose flies whether they bite them off or tear them up. Wire leader will spook more fish than it catches.
DRAG: crank up the drag in tight quarters but don't be afraid to adjust it during the fight. If the fish is headed somewhere dangerous try to slow it down and turn it rather than stop it entirely. However, some fish you just aren't going to land & it's better for them to break off than get somewhere that could damage to your fly line.
SLACK TIDE=BREAK TIME: once the tide stops moving get a coffee & save your energy because until it turns & picks up again, you won't be catching. The only exception I've seen is with cinder worm hatches the Bass will cruise around & pick them off near the surface. However, if you don't have a fly that matches a cinder worm the Bass won't give you the time of day.