If you’re an experienced kelp paddy fisherman, our previous posts had quite a bit of review material. In this post we summarize and simplify some of the points made earlier, especially as it pertains to managing expectations of conventional gear fishermen trying to fly fish kelp paddies for the first time.

This is the last post in the series. Our previous posts covered: why kelp paddies are important, finding kelp paddies, kelp paddy fishing techniques, and fly gear for paddy fishing.

Kelp Paddy Yellowtail on 6lb Tippet

A near-WR on 6lb tippet, caught from a kelp paddy near the 425 Bank. It took about 45 minutes to land the fish, after convincing it not to head back into the paddy. Click for larger image

Kelp Paddy Fishing – Gear vs. Fly

Depending on the situation, you might need to careful with chum.

  • At times, there will be a zone where too much live chum will make it hard for fly fishermen to get a strike
  • When mixing conventional gear and fly fishermen on the same boat, this might mean having to give the fly fishermen first shot at hooking up, or adjusting the amount of chum to better fit their needs
  • Or conversely, especially with tuna, having the conventional gear guys hook up first might help bring the fish closer to the boat
  • Of course, if you have a foamer at the corner, it really doesn’t matter what you throw. We have caught tuna on fly gear off the stern with 6 inches of leader out.

Don’t expect to get the fly deep

  • If it’s a true yo-yo jig or torpedo sinker situation (meaning the fish are 100 – 200 feet below a paddy), it isn’t likely that you’ll be able to a get fly down deep enough without a lot of patience.
  • If you’re committed to catching fish on the fly instead of conventional gear, see what you can do to bring the fish up. This might mean using a slow trickle of chunked baits, or using a chum block. We’ve successfully used chunks to bring both dorado and tuna up to the surface.
Floyd Sparks with a nice fly-rod sized yellowfin tuna

Floyd Sparks with a nice fun-sized yellowfin tuna

If you’re fishing IGFA-legal tackle (e.g. 20lb class or lighter tippets), and are after yellowtail:

  • You’ll probably need to work on drawing the fish far enough away from the paddy so that you’ll be able to stop a hooked from making it back to the paddy (or divert it away from the paddy).
  • Hooked yellowtail like to wrap the line around the kelp fronds that extend down into the water from the paddy. If your boat-mates are OK with it, you can try following the fish around the paddy in the boat, in order to keep it from getting a turn around the fronds. This, of course, messes up the other people’s opportunities to fish, so it might not work for you, but it’s a thought.
Randy Norris fighting a big yellowfin

Randy Norris fighting a big yellowfin tuna. Photo courtesy James Dwyer.


Don’t let all the info in the previous posts fool you. There’s still lots of room for figuring out improved ways to fish kelp paddies with fly gear.

Whether it’s a new way of enticing a finicky yellowtail or dorado to bite, stopping a yellowtail determined to make it back to the safety of the paddy, or trying to draw a tuna up from the depths, there are a lot of challenges to catching fish from kelp paddies on fly tackle. We encourage you to give it a try, and share your successes (or frustrations) with us here at BTB. Good Luck!