I had spent years fishing on the Oregon Coast before I had figured out the pattern. The stand by jig-and-shrimp fly rig ever present, and lighter weight spinning rod were always at the ready. My 7wt fly rod tucked inside the kayak. I even broke a fly rod inside the kayak because I had forgotten it was there. But, then came the day when I finally pulled the fly rod out of the stows and had one of my most exciting days fishing on the Big Blue.
As suggested, I use a 7wt fly rod. When I bring it out, the fish are generally close to the surface so I use a floating fly line. An intermediate sink tip can also be used, but I find them much more difficult to cast when seated on a kayak. A lower weight rod will make for quite a workout, and heavier rods are better suited for other fishes, say salmon, tuna and lingcod. I find the 7wt to be the best choice. To that I attach a 6’ leader of 12lb monofilament. These fish are not line-shy at all, and the leader can be as short as 3’.
Any experienced fly angler could probably guess the three flies that produce rockfish all the time: the Clouser, the Clouser Minnow, and the Clouser Baitfish. Yes, they’re all one in the same. I tie several variations on 3/0 Gamakatsu “SC15” hooks in blue/white, green/white and black/orange. Since we’re fishing some nasty saltwater fish, I use synthetic materials most of the time, only breaking out some natural materials like rabbit strips, on occasion. There are a many other fly patterns out there that also produce.
Putting it Together
When you find your spot with suspended rockfish, break out the fly rod and start casting. You’ll not have to cast far, as little as 15’ feet.Give the fly some time to sink and start stripping line back to the kayak. I have had day where I was hitting fish on four out of five casts!