Salt Water Fly Fishing Tips For Newbies

by Mary

casting tips, fishing spots, saltwater fishing

salt-water-fly-fishing-by-Sam-Beebe-Ecotrust.jpg When you’re fly fishing in salt water, it can be difficult to locate fish at first.

Why? Because in salt water, fish have a vast territory to move around.

A sure sign of fish being present are sea birds that soar in one particular area and then dive. This tells you that the presence of large fish have sent baitfish scurrying for their lives to the surface of the water. You’ll want to move into that area as quietly as you can to avoid alerting the larger fish of your presence.

Also important is the time of day you fish.

You want to fish in prime time when the fish will be feeding. Large fish tend to stay hidden during the hours when people are swimming or boating, so the best time to fly fish in salt water is at dawn or dusk. Low-density light allows predator fish to spot prey easily because of the lighter sky overhead that outlines their silhouette. This is when you will see the baitfish surface and become easy targets.

Salt Water Tides

If you’re in a boat, use the tide and currents to show you where the fish are.

Tidal pools are an excellent place to fly fish salt water. If you find the spot where the tidal pool empties into the ocean, it’s a perfect spot to cast your fly fishing line. As the tidal pool empties, a smorgasbord of food will enter the ocean. Large fish wait here to feast on crabs, minnows and sand eels.

Tidal creeks and rivers have influence on both fresh and salt water. For example, if you are fly fishing in northern salt water, school species such as bluefish, mackerel and striped bass will be plentiful. In southern waters, you’ll find a lot of tarpon there.

When tides are several feet deep around islands and flats that obstruct the flow of water, there will be strong currents when the tide is at certain stages throughout the day. If a food funnel is created by a narrow cut, then large fish will lurk nearby to feed on crabs, minnows and shrimp.

Casting & Catching Fish In Salt Water

Using your fly rod as a backup can be to your advantage when salt water fly fishing. Try surf casting or trolling to hone in on a school of fish that is feeding. Once the fish become active on the water’s surface, then use your fly fishing rod.

When fishing salt water flats in southern areas, use a long fly rod. These areas are a good place to fly fish for barracuda, bonefish, redfish, and mutton snappers. Salt water fish species move to flats looking for food. However, flats have various patterns, and you need to study them.  If you are unfamiliar with the area, hire a guide to ensure that you hook a fish or two.

Most saltwater gamefish feed only on baitfish. Salt water baitfish are fast, so be sure to use a swift retrieve. (Yes, you will cast more, but strikes will increase.)

The best bait to use are bucktails and streamers. Your flies should be large and on stainless steel hooks.

If you find that fish follow your fly but don’t strike, try a more rapid retrieve. For example, barracuda will strike more often if retrieve is frenzied. You will find that many other salt water fish species will also strike better on a fast or frenzied retrieve.


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