Ok in all honesty it looks like the Saltwater fly season may well arrive a little late this year for those of us who are super keen to make a start, me included! The very cold snap we have recently experienced in this country sent the sea temperatures plummeting setting the arrival of our Saltwater sportfish back by at lease a couple of weeks or more. Sea surface temperatures are probably half what they normally would be for this time of year. Where I live on the South coast on the Isle of Wight, In previous seasons my friends and I have caught Bass as early as mid to late March but more generally the first couple of weeks of April start to produce regularly. Despite this I am optimistic that we will get some milder weather that will hurry things along and regardless it will arrive in a few short weeks. Time to get the kit out and assess what if anything needs attention in preparation for the coming season. Or if you are new to the sport, time to get kit purchased and decide whether you are going to buy ready tied flies or tie your own.
Like any type of fishing, Saltwater fly fishing is a learning curve and it can be a pretty steep one, especially if you want to tie your own flies for the job as well. Saltwater fly fishing is a growing branch of the sport and this is reinforced by the number of new members joining forums and Facebook groups seeking information and guidance and wanting to sample the fantastic sport that ‘swffing’ can provide. I would always highly recommend tying your own Flies though, not only does it provide enormous satisfaction when you catch fish on your own hand tied flies but you can tailor them to suit varying conditions at your local marks as well as replicate the local baitfish populations which can vary from venue to venue.
If you are new to the sport and are considering tying your own flies please don’t think that you need hundreds of pounds worth of materials and tools and an art degree to be able to start tying effective flies! A few simple cheap tools and basic materials are all you need to get you started. How far you take it is up to you. Some are content to just tie a few simple patterns to catch them fish and others progress on to become extremely proficient tiers, tying complex and beautiful works of art. There is no doubt that fly tying is addictive and beware that once you get into it, it can become an obsession! It does help fill the void between seasons though, especially during the long dark nights of winter. A few hours sat at the vice can be extremely theraputic!
For the new tier as already mentioned a few simple, easy to tie patterns are all you need to get started. Look to the Clouser Minnow for probably one of the easiest but most effective flies a newcomer to Saltwater fly fishing can tie. This is the first pattern I ever attempted and whilst my efforts were mediocre at best, I caught well on them. Other simple but effective patterns are Ray’s fly and Brooke’s Blond. My first ever Bass was caught on a very simple version of a Ray’s fly and didn’t even have any eyes!
Nowadays I tend to use mostly Baitfish patterns tied with Synthetics but am always happy to tie on one of the more traditional patterns for a change or if I think it may suit the situation.
Bass are not fussy creatures most of the time and are very opportunistic in their feeding. They rarely pause to inspect a bait before snatching it up so don’t worry they are giving you points for your tying ability before deciding whether to eat it! The same goes for Mackerel, Pollock and Garfish, the only real consideration is which colour schemes to use on any given day but I will cover this subject more in depth another day. For now some of the most versatile colours are Chartreuse over white, and Olive over White, with Blue, Tan and Grey also all over white being a good bet to have in your box.
So if you are new to Saltwater fly fishing or considering tying your own flies for the job, don’t hesitate to give it a go. I am always happy for people to message me and ask questions, either fishing or tying related. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In future articles I will delve a little more deeply into Saltwater fly fishing, more about flies and tying, techniques for fishing them and how to locate and present your flies to Bass and other Saltwater species.