Fly Fishing for American Shad Basics

It’s about that time of year. Spring is around the corner and the annual run of American Shad is expected in the coming weeks. This is something many look forward to, including myself. I have written an ebook on how to chase American Shad with a fly rod to share this tradition. For those that does not have my book, I want to summarize some of the key elements for you to get started; fly rod setups, fly/lure, where to find them and how to fish them. These are my recommendations, as you spend more time on the water, you will find tune things that will work best for you.

I do all of my shad fishing in the Western Mass area. The thing to remember is that the fish are not feeding but heading to their spawning grounds. You want to get the fly/lure in their face to aggravate them for the take.  

Fly Rod Setups

                Single Hander: 9’ 5wt to 8wt.

                        Reel: click pawl or drag disc with 100yd of 20lb backing.

Line: floating WF line will be fine while wading, if you are fishing from a boat, you will want to use full sinking line.

                        Leader/tippet: 7-9’ of tapered leader down to 8-12lb tippet.

                Switch Rod: 5wt to 7wt.

                        Reel: click pawl or drag disc with 100yd of 20lb backing.
                        Line: I prefer to use a Skagit shooting with mono running line and a sink tip.

                        Leader/tippet: 5-7’ of straight 8-12lb.
     Shad fly: very similar to a clouser profile but very flashy. An assortment in different            sizes, colors, and sink rate will cover different water conditions.

                 Shad dart: go with a smaller shad dart (ie 1/64oz, 1/32oz), a size you are comfortable                          casting.

                Fish the Connecticut River and its tributaries. 

    Figure out their mood by using a variety of retrieves.
    From slow to fast strips and from short to long strips.