Saltwater Fly Fishing -- A Tide Runs Through It
Saltwater fly fishing is all the rage these days. This excitement is quite understandable because there's hardly anything more thrilling to a saltwater fly rodder than a bluefish blitz, a tailing red drum off the coast of NC, or a bonefish battle on the flats of south Florida waters.
If you are just getting started in saltwater fly-fishing, there are a few tips that will make your conversion from freshwater easier and more productive.
Get some gear just for fishing saltwater
You're best bet is to get another fly rod and reel for your saltwater fishing adventures. Your freshwater gear is undoubtedly going to be lighter than may be necessary to deliver that big fly in a stiff offshore breeze, and you're better off leaving your high-dollar equipment out of the punishing salt air.
Get a good 10 weight rod
There are a number of reasons you need to use heavier tackle. One is because you will need to make longer casts with larger flies in typically windy conditions. Another is because when you see that fish you need to deliver the fly IMMEDIATELY. Doing that will be considerably easier with heavier equipment.
Put your money in the rod
If you have to make a choice between spending money on rod or reel, choose rod. You can get away with a less expensive reel but you will not get the control you need with a cheap rod because it will flex more when you try to cast. The rod is more important than the reel.
Buy a reel made for fishing saltwater
You will still have to clean it after use but it will hold up better than one designed for freshwater.
Buy the best fly line you can afford
More expensive fly lines last longer and perform better than cheaper lines, it's as simple as that. Your lines are the one place you can't afford to pinch pennies. Also be sure to keep your lines clean and dressed with a good line dressing if you expect top performance from your lines.
Keep direct contact between your rod tip and fly.
Beginning saltwater anglers often do not realize the lighting speed at which a marine game fish is apt to strike. Every little bit of slack from our rod to the fly means a greater chance your hook-up will be unsuccessful.
Keep your rod tip pointed toward the water
Your best chance of hooking a saltwater game fish is by not lifting your rod from the water and setting the hook by stripping the line, keeping the rod pointed down before lifting it. Eliminate as much slack as possible between your rod and the fly and you will find your attempts will be more successful.
Try the shooting head system
Because of the heavy head section, a good caster can achieve a good 80 to 90 feet of distance with only one false cast. You may often find yourself in a situation where an 80 foot cast is sometimes not enough for open water fishing so a long cast with a shooting head is what is needed.
Keep in mind what your game fish eats and mimic it (most of the time). Sometimes the fish will only bite the bizarre, but usually you're better off with flies that look like minnows, shrimp, crabs, worms, and various other small saltwater creatures.
Whether you are just getting started and testing your fly-fishing "wings" or are a veteran who simply loves the sport, give saltwater fly-fishing a try this fall or spring. You'll be hard pressed to find a more exciting fly fishing adventure than a saltwater one.
E. A. Edwards is a free-lance writer with a variety of professional and personal interests.