Bill Beckett's California Striped Bass Tips | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A man sitting in a kayak casting a fly rod. Photo by Bill Beckett

Bill Beckett started fly fishing at eight years old. He grew up chasing local trout in the California highlands. Then, he turned to shuttling rivers for trout and chasing striped bass on California’s Delta. Last summer, he became a licensed fishing guide for Headwaters Kayak Shop. “I love that I can go bass fishing and catch largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass.”

To go deep into grass, kelp and rocks, Beckett recommends a fly with an up-turned hook like a Clouser. “If you’re still getting hung up, try a bendback streamer,” he goes on. The hook shank is curved to prevent the point from getting caught. “It’s about the most snagless fly I know.”

Beckett likes a shorter rod when targeting warm water fish. “A seven-foot, six-inch to eight-foot rod will throw a tighter loop to fire your fly into the narrowist nooks and crannies.” Match the rod to a shooting head line. “This line will turn over a big bass fly,” he explains, “and give you the ability to cast farther.” In fact, he encourages his anglers to practice skipping the fly under overhangs and tree limbs. “Master all of the casts, side arm, backwards and offhand.”

The retrieve is just as important as the cast. “Always pause the fly,” Beckett insists. He says some of his best bites come just as he picks up after a pause. “Fish can’t stand to see a bait get away,” he says.

For new anglers, Beckett recommends joining a fishing club. “Find a mentor or hire a guide,” he says. “That will vastly shorten the learning curve.” Still, nothing beats beginner’s luck. “Don’t be afraid to try something new just because you’re inexperienced.”

When it comes to rigging the kayak, Beckett keeps all of his gear behind him so he has plenty of open deck for fly line. To hold his fly rods, he switched out the rod tubes on a YakAttack BlackPak with Ram-Rod 2007 rod holders on gear tracks. “I can adjust them and they hold the fly rods better,” he explains.


Rod: Gloomis 9' Long Handle Predator 9/10wt.

Reel: Redington Behemouth 9/10wt

Line: Rio Outbound short 10wt

Leader: 20-lbs Quigley's Heavy-

Weight: Furled Leader

Flies: Umpqua Pole Dancer in shad color, Haskins Gurgler in 1/0, Umpqua swim baitfish shad color size 2, Clouser minnow in all white or white/chartreuse in size 2-2/0


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