beginning salt water fishing [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: beginning salt water fishing

08-10-2005, 10:06 PM
This fall, I have the opportunity to try some salt water fly fishing. I've never done this before. I'm interested in any tips or advice anyone would have. I primarily will be surf fishing but will have a few opportunities to fish an inlet jetty. As for my gear, I'll have a 9 wt with an adequate salt water reel so I should be set from the gear standpoint. Just looking for some pointers.


08-10-2005, 11:00 PM
Here's one of the 'rules of thumb' I often use:

"early and late, moving water and bait"

Over the years I noticed that these factors produce good action most often (but not particularly sight fishing). Moving water refers to tide changes which create an advantage for predators over bait.

I've also put together a set of four precedents that apply to saltwater fishing situations (including sight fishing):

Most important: presence of fish
Next: mood of fish
then: presentation
finally: fly pattern

A dozen flies will do the deed, if the presentation is right. Just about anything presented any way will get a strike when the fish is in the mood. But if they are not there, nothing will work.

I use these tenets when I fish or guide for striped bass, which I assume you are pursuing (?)

Learn to read the birds. Large birds like gannets usually mean larger bait, and that often also means larger fish. Terns mean small bait, which can mean all kinds of fish, but not if they are hunting on their own. But when terns are whirling and diving and carefully timing their dives with the action of a force beneath the surface, or if some of the splashes are not made by the birds, there is a feeding frenzy beneath them.

Visual signs are everywhere. A tail or a flash, a swirl or a leaping baitfish could mean the presence of a stealthy hunter. I've walked up to flopping bunker on a beach to look up and see a bevy of large bass pushing them into the corners of a sculpted shoreline. A cloud shadow could be a mass of bait, a group of gulls standing on a point could mean a recent masacre site.

Observe, capture, adapt. Good luck, it's a fascinating venture.

08-11-2005, 09:46 PM
Thanks for the advice.

Just some follow-up questions:

I guess I'll be after striped bass. I'll be happy to catch anything that is around in September.
You mentioned the need for about 12 flies -- any particular patterns, sizes?
I imagine Clousers, deceivers in chartruese and olive colors. Anything else?

Likewise, with surf fishing, do people just cast into the surf in front of them or is there a way to read the surf, similar to reading the currents of a trout stream?

I realize these questions are extremely basic, but I'm looking for any help I can get.


08-11-2005, 10:06 PM
The best advice I can give you is to pick up one or both of the following...

"Inshore fly fishing" Lou Tabory

"Fly Fishing the Saltwater Shoreline" Ed Mitchell

Both of these books basically start with the assumption that you know nothing and walk you step by step on how to get started and catch your first NE salt fish on fly. Tabory's book is a little more heady in my opinion and goes a little more in depth. Mitchell will get you up an running with just a few nights cover to cover. Both are excellent and will save you a lot of time moving up the learning curve. There is just too much to address in a thread like this.


08-12-2005, 04:26 AM
Be warned too,

Anything in saltwater pulls waaaaayyyyyyy harder than anything in freshwater. You may feel you have ona 35 in northen and finally get it into sight to find out it's a 15 inch Jack. Good luck and have fun!

08-12-2005, 11:23 AM
thanks for the advice.
i'll be sure to pick up those books

08-18-2005, 10:10 AM
Practice your casting!!!!!

I tried surf fishing for the first time a week ago south of Virginia Beach. Standing in the surf and trying to cast is very challenging. I was not able to get a clouser out more than 15 feet in front of me. With wind and waves, the surf will bring out all of the errors in your casting stroke.

My lesson learned.....I need to take a casting lesson.

08-21-2005, 09:19 PM

i've got a stripping basket
i've been practicing the dbl haul cast
now we'll see what happens