Capefish Outfitters & Fly Shop

By Captain Matt Kelleher

After the mild winter we just had, the arrival of daylight savings, and my March Madness brackets busted, I have started to think about getting organized for the early striper season and preparation for guiding. The fly tying bench is a plethora of feathers, synthetics and hooks, and the rods and reels are still, well…

Ok, time to get to it.  I always like to take stock of what is on hand. If you are a die hard fly fisherman like me, knowing what is in the quiver and making sure it is still in good shape is the first thing I do each spring. I recommend that you have two fly rods, two reels and 1 extra spool at a minimum for the season. I tend to carry an 8 weight and a 9-weight fly rod.  First thing I do is check the blanks for any fractures and all the guides to see if the feet are still solid. If your guides have inserts, you can check those too. Hopefully all this is ok. If there is a fracture and you registered your fly rod, usually the manufacturer will fix or replace it for a small fee. If you see that the guides need attention, replacing them on your own is not too difficult. A few of the rod building supply companies like Mud Hole for example have great demos on how to do it on their website.

Reels need to be checked too. If you took the time last fall to clean, lube and store the reels correctly, then all you need to do is check the fly line and straighten it, check the loop to loops, and attach a new leader. You are ready to go. If not, take the fly line off the reel and feel the line as you go. It’s probably a bit dirty and you can wash it no worries.However you need to feel the line for any cracks and/or roughness kinks or chafes. If you find any of these things, this tells us that your line has probably seen the end, and needs to be replaced. As for the reel, make sure the drag is working properly, all the dirt or sand is cleaned out of the internal section and that there is sufficient reel grease and or cork oil in the system. Maintaining your reels is a game changer.

For the extra stuff like leaders, tippet, flies, just take stock of what you have on hand. You can always add to it as you go, however make sure you have at least a few clousers, four or five leaders and a spool of 16 and 20 lb. tippet. This should be enough to get you started for the season.

Stripers are on the feed in the month of April in the estuaries and warmer backwater. There are always a few holdovers looking for that first springtime meal.

White, yellow, olive and chartreuse have always been the go-to colors for me. Good luck and have a great spring!


FORECAST BY: Captain Matt Kelleher is a certified fly fishing guide with Fat Tuna Guide Service. A native of Beverly, Massachusetts he fishes the waters on the North Shore. Matt is the owner of Capefish Clothing Co. located in Hamilton, MA. The store offers premium fly tackle equipment as well as lifestyle apparel such as Patagonia, Simms, and Mountain Khakis. Visit