Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips

If we may, let’s return to the area I fish most often: the Texas Gulf Coast. Let us assume you want to use a boat for more mobility. Around Kemah, Seabrook, and Bacliff where I most often fish there are estuaries galore and the water stays shallow for quite a distance offshore. Some fly fishermen prefer to use John boats to get up close when the action is close to the shore but the best alternative is a fishing kayak. They are easy to get into and out of if you want to stretch your legs and do a bit of wade fishing. Alternatively, assuming you have good rod holders, you can follow the coastline and troll with a bait caster or spinning outfit as you move from one not so promising area to the next.

How about casting, you might be asking. You can review all the literature and ask the experts, but the trick to effective presentation and subsequent retrieval of your fly is experience and practice, practice, and more practice. You have to put in your hours in the water, use your mistakes to learn and cast on your lawn in order to perfect your casting skill set. The need for practice cannot be overstated. Fly casting is the same as golf; you must internalize your swing so that you can train all of your involved muscles to work in sync together, time after time while practicing

To begin, let’s look at the subject of presentation. Your fly should be presented at the targeted place with the proper amount of “plop”. This usually means a minimal amount of splash. At times though, you might want to create a bit of noise to arrest the fish’s attention. If you will recall your basic fly fishing presentation methodology, there is a need for your rod tip and your line to travel in a pretty straight line and as parallel to the water’s surface. This will result in an acceptable cast. In reality, the straight line should be angled in a forward direction such that your rod tip and line shoot out above your head, with line, leader and your fly coming to rest about one half foot above the water’s surface. If you do this properly, your leader will fully straighten and your fly will suddenly stop and lightly drop down a short way to the surface of the water. The intent is to create a minimum of disturbance.

Likewise, your line point will likely fall a shorter distance. This is considered the traditional fly cast which is the one which we typically want to nail. If an object stops you from delivering your cast near to your fish and you realistically can only get within ten feet, then you want to angle your cast in a more downward fashion, or at an angle that is steeper. This will let you plop the fly on the surface of the water at an accelerated velocity. This will get your prey’s attention as soon as your leader becomes taut. This plop may become particularly loud if you maximize the angle of the rod tip or line path by raising your back cast.

The “roll” cast is an excellent way to deliver the fly to the target when there are obstructions behind you which would prevent a normal back cast. You begin the roll cast by having about 20-30 feet of floating line in front of you. You then raise the rod until it’s about in the 1 o’clock position, hesitate, and then make a short but brisk forward cast. The surface tension between the line and the water temporarily anchors the line, and starts a large, rolling loop of line coming off the water and feeding the casting loop. Another method of dealing with rearward obstructions is to execute the “steeple” cast. Here, your back cast is unusually high, to clear the obstructions and your forward cast is very steep. Don’t make the mistake of attempting to make a forward cast parallel to the water following a high back cast; this is a sure formula for a severe tailing loop that might bury the hook in the back of your neck.

Another very useful cast is called the “reach” cast, which has several applications. First, it is used when you want the retrieved fly to follow a path other than straight back to you. In the situation where your boat is 8-10 feet off from a shoreline, your cast can place the fly right next to shore but a normal retrieval will pull the fly progressively away from the shore. With the reach cast, you start the cast in the normal way, but as the line is leaving the rod tip you swing the rod to the side and down so that it’s now pointing toward the shore, perpendicular to the original line travel path. If done correctly, the completed cast will result in the line, leader and fly laying on the water mostly parallel to the shoreline, permitting a retrieve that stays pretty close to the shoreline.

Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into the pastime of saltwater fly fishing. The main thing you will have to do is practice, practice, practice!

To get the full “Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips” article you’ll need to download it here.

Daniel Eggertsen
Dan Eggertsen is a fellow saltwater fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on saltwater fishing since 2004.

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