Also, consider where the active fish will
be hunting if they aren’t orienting to the
structure. Contrary to popular belief, they
won’t usually feed in the lee of the structure. Sure, they may hide behind a piling
or a boulder, but this isn’t where they
hunt; this is where they hang out. And
quite often, casting into a pocket of calm
water surrounded by a rip – dropping your
lure right on top of the fish’s heads – will
spook them instead of generating a strike.
So rather than shooting for that calm
piece of water, aim your lure for the “
feeding zone” of the rip. This is just outside of
the calm water, just upcurrent of the structure. Why upcurrent? Because fish swim
into the current and spend the majority of
their time facing that way. Send your lure
downcurrent of them, and your lure may
land mere inches away from the fish – but
they’ll never even see it.
Or maybe they’ll get an eyeball on
your lure but decide not to pursue. Why
didn’t you get that hit? There are countless
possibilities, but there’s also one standout
reason why some anglers get fewer hits
than others when fishing a rip: boat
position and the direction of the retrieve.
Position your boat downcurrent of the rip,
then cast into it, and you’ll be retrieving
your lure with the current. Remember
when we mentioned how fish spend the
bulk of their time swimming into the cur-
rent, not with it? This is a control thing.
Just as an airplane needs to take off and
land into the wind to maintain control, a
fish needs to head into the current. It may
dart across the current and make short
bursts of speed downstream using the
current to it its advantage. But it’s very
rare to see a prey species meander down
the current in a lackadaisical manner –
which is exactly what your lure probably
looks like moving with the current, since
its action is squelched as it gets pushed
from behind. Bearing this in mind, to
maximize the catch, you’ll want to posi-
tion your boat upcurrent of the structure,
far enough to the side to cast into the base
of the feeding zone and retrieve upcurrent
or across the current.
Now, what about those less common rips?
There are a couple of heavy-duty fish
attractors you need to know about. The
first are rips that form along points of land
that jut out into the water. In most cases,
these won’t have any obvious structure
disturbing the flow of water other than
the land itself. So in this type of rip, you’re
not going to find fish relating to any single
item; the fish will be relating to the abrupt
change in the water flow itself.
Viewed from above, these rips usually
look more or less like half of the V-shaped
or U-shaped rips created by solid objects;
in other words, they appear as a more or
less straight or slightly curved line. And
the disturbed water itself should be fished
exactly as you’d fish other rips: position
yourself so the retrieve is into or across
the current, cast to the upcurrent side of
the rip and into the feeding zone, and as
you continue casting, work your way up
the current from there.
Here’s the weird thing: Point-generated
rips often have a secondary feeding zone,
which can be to either side of the rip (but
not to both sides, just to one or the other),
somewhere between 10 to 50 feet from
the rip itself, and close to the shoreline
or to an adjacent drop-off. And here’s the
even weirder thing: in the secondary feeding zone, you’ll usually catch a fraction
of the number of fish you find in the rip
itself, but often, these fish will be significantly larger than the average-sized fish
found in the rip. So after fishing a point-generated rip, always probe the shorelines
and drop-offs to either side of it.
Ocean currents provide a second form
of unusual rips. Any oceanic troller worth
his salt knows to troll through and across
visible rips on the surface, which are caused
by colliding bodies of water. They often go
hand in hand with temperature breaks and
with differences in water clarity or color.
When it comes to this type of rip, all
of the normal rules go out the window.
And it’s not at all unusual to pass through
dozens of rips in a single day with zero
bites, then encounter one single rip which,
for whatever reason, is loaded with fish.
This makes it easy to figure out how to
approach oceanic rips: hit them once or
twice, and if nothing happens and you spot
no other strong indications of fish on the
feed (diving birds or slicks), then move on.
Whether a rip is in the middle of
the ocean, a clear-running river, or an
estuarine bay, one thing is for sure: once
you understand the features of a rip and
how to apply that knowledge, you’ll catch
BoatU.S. electronics editor Lenny Rudow, a
fishing expert, is the author of several fishing books and a senior editor for Boats.com.
This lighthouse provides a great example
of a rip created by current hitting structure;
note the visible ripples on the water’s
surface, to the right of the angler.
Offshore fish like marlin, mahimahi, and
yellowfin tuna can often be found along
rips, where temperature and color
breaks are common.