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Peter Morse:  

Peter Morse

Saltwater Fly Fishing Fundamentals

Saltwater fly fishing attracts an extraordinary amount of press and attention generally and this seems to continue unabated. All around the country plug and spin rods are gathering cobwebs or being sold off to raise funds to buy new fly tackle. You can speculate about why this fly fishing boom has happened, and what drives anglers to adopt what is initially a fairly inefficient method that requires a greater degree of commitment than other forms of fishing, but eventually, when you get proficient at it, anyone reading this catalogue doesn’t need to be told that this is simply a great way to fish.

Fishermen come to saltwater fly fishing from many different sources. As a broad spectrum they come from the base of two groups, either trout fishermen who are tired of never seeing their backing, or saltwater sport fishers who are looking for a new challenge. Both have strengths that they should use as the foundation for their saltwater fly fishing. The trout fisherman has a knowledge of the tackle, casting techniques, and the basics of fish fighting. The saltwater angler has the knowledge of saltwater fish, where they live, when to fish for them and knows what to expect from each species. Neither group should be intimidated by what they don’t know, or underrate the value of what they do know. Knowledge in either field is very valuable.

Freshwater fly fishermen need to simply put in time in productive water to get results. These will of course come with a growing understanding of saltwater fly tackle and flies, adoption of different techniques, and an expansion of the knowledge of what can be done, and caught with fly fishing tackle. Trout fishing is a single species pursuit with the biggest variables being what fly pattern the fish are eating today and how today’s conditions will affect presentation. The terminal end of the leader, leader length, fly line selection and rod weight are all pretty well fixed. What the trout fisherman needs to understand when he moves into the world of saltwater fly fishing is that the many different species will all present different challenges. Getting to know these species and their particular idiosyncrasies is the challenge. To meet this there is one great piece of advice I can offer - GO FISHING.

Experienced saltwater fisherman who are new to fly fishing face a different set of problems. For them the tackle and the methods used are the challenge. In many situations fish are caught on fly tackle rather than true fly fishing techniques being used. In the tropical north fish-feeding frenzies that happen almost at your feet are not uncommon. Sometimes the challenge for the fly fisherman is to hit the water, avoid having your knuckles skinned by the reel handle and to have your knots hold together. This can be very loosely described as fly fishing, but it lacks the subtleties and challenges for those who fish the saltwater is learning how to cast very well so that in no situation are you left saying -”Geez I wish I had my lure fishing tackle with me!” At the heart of fly fishing is fly casting, and it is the poetic grace of good fly casting that really separates this style of fishing from any other - that and the shock and impact of a strike from fish that comes directly through your hands. My advice to any saltwater fisherman who wants to take up fly fishing is to get some fly casting lessons from a reputable casting instructor and then to just GO FISHING.


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