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Saltwater Fly Fishing: Looking for Something Bigger Than Trout

Jul 22, 2008
The term "fly fishing" usually conjures images of gentle rivers or running mountain creeks and streams as the angler waits that first strike from the trout. Others see scenes from a movie like "A River Runs Through It," but one of the last things most people think about when they hear fly fishing is the ocean. But saltwater fly fishing has become extremely popular over the past twenty years, and is now a favorite of many anglers.

Saltwater fly fishing is done with heavier tackle and usually with wet flies that will resemble local bait fish. Another common method is to fish using surface lures called "poppers," which are similar to the same type of lures used for bass fishing, although these are much larger in order to attract the larger saltwater fish.

There are a large number of different fish that saltwater fly fishermen can go after, including bonefish, tuna, mahi-mahi (official state fish of Hawaii), sailfish, tarpon, striped bass, salmon, and even marlin. In addition, saltwater fly fishing looks quite a bit different than normal freshwater fly fishing.

Saltwater fly fishing does look quite a bit different from other forms of fly fishing, and anyone trying this for the first time should be aware of that. The equipment is different, as well, adjusting accordingly with the fish that are being sought. A freshwater fly rod and reel isn't going to hold up against a tuna or marlin. Saltwater reels have to be larger, heavier, and more resistant to corrosion because of the salt. Some of the best saltwater reels can cost $500 or even more for the absolute top of the line models.

To go saltwater fly fishing, smaller species such as bonefish or striped bass can be caught from shore, while fishing for larger saltwater trophies will require a boat. Going out deeper with a boat is referred to as deep water fly fishing, and is the least popular of the two methods of saltwater fly fishing. The other more traditional method is to fish from shore, which looks far more like the freshwater version, is technically referred to as inshore fly fishing.

While saltwater fly fishing hasn't come close to the popularity of its freshwater cousin, the popularity of this sport has exploded over the last two decades and continues to grow as more and more anglers are finding the joy in this niche form of fishing. As more people continue to move to the coasts, this sport is sure to continue to catch on and continue to gain in popularity.
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