How to Saltwater Fly Fish

How to Saltwater Fly Fish
There were nearly 30 million recreational anglers in the United States in 2006, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Game fish caught on flies experience minimal injury and have excellent survival rates when released. While fly fishing is often thought to require a great degree of skill, most saltwater fish are forgiving when it comes to casting ability. Saltwater fish readily eat flies, making it possible to catch fish as you improve your skill.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • stripping bucket
  • fly rod
  • fly reel
Step 1
Find a stable platform to fish from. It is possible to fly fish from shore, but obstructions behind you often limit your back cast and you will be limited to fishing the water within your casting range. The best platform for fly casting is a center-console boat with a clear casting area.

Keeping your casting area clear of potential snags will allow you to drop the fly line on the deck as you strip it in. If the boat you are fishing from does not offer a clear casting area, use the stripping bucket to keep your fly line free of obstructions.
Step 2
Cast to fish or to a specific target. Point the fly rod at the water and retrieve the line by stripping it in with your reel hand. Hold the fly line between two fingers on your rod hand and let it slide between your fingers as you strip it in. These strips make the fly dart through the water in short bursts. Vary the length and speed of your strips to imitate bait fish in the area.

Present your fly to fish on the bottom, by casting and letting the line sink. Strip line from the fly reel and feed it into the water, allowing your fly to sink. Sink tips are rated by how deep they sink per second; it's easy to estimate the time needed to reach bottom. Make a strip of 6 or 8 inches, and allow the fly to settle back to the bottom. Repeat that motion as your boat drifts, hopping your fly across the bottom.
Step 3
Hold on to the line when a fish hits. Give line to the fish if it is particularly large. Your two fingers that the line passes through on your rod hand are important. Maintain pressure as the fish pulls line. This skill takes some practice, but after a few large fish you will get the hang of it.

Tips & Warnings

Use an 8- to 10-weight fly rod when saltwater fly fishing.
Avoid casting in a cross wind. When the wind is on your side, it can blow your fly into your face when you cast.
Avoid stepping on your line.

Article Written By Stephen Byrne

Stephen Byrne is a freelance writer with published articles in "Nor'East Saltwater," "Sportfishing" magazine, "Pacific Coast Sportfishing" and "Salt Water Sportsman." As a fishing charter captain, he was also interviewed for a feature in "Field and Stream." Byrne studied environmental science at the State University of New York at Delhi.

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