A taste of Salt

As more and more fishermen head for the British coast, saltwater fly fishing is currently becoming the fastest growing area of our sport.  After all, what beats the excitement of pitching a fly into an untamed vastness and waiting for that next arm wrenching tug?  In fairness, much of our inspiration has come from distant shores and those warm water destinations where fishermen are fortunate to pursue large, exotic species in clear water situations.  Add the breath taking surroundings that go with a tropical climate and suddenly we’re talking about a lifetime experience.

Having learnt so much from my first tropical saltwater trip I’d urge everybody to try it at least once as you’re almost guaranteed to be blown away by the whole experience.  And whilst the first timer will be full of excitement there’ll be also be last minute nerves when you first step out onto the golden sand of a remote bonefish flat.  So what can be expected once you’ve booked on a trip?

Obviously, target species include; bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook.  Though the nutrient rich waters of the Caribbean support a diverse number of other fish like barracuda, triggerfish, jacks, snappers and even sharks, all of which can be tempted on fly.  Given this, it’s as well arm yourself with at least a couple of different outfits.  An 8-weight takes care of bonefish, snappers and small permit.  Though when it comes to dealing with tarpon, snook, cuda and large permit you’ll be glad of the authority a 10-weight rod commands.   Over the years much has been written about the fighting capabilities of many saltwater fish and all I’ll say is that ever species punches well above its weight.  So expect searing runs with plenty of head shaking and of course airborne fish.  Needless to say, whatever you’re outfit, be sure at least 250 yards of 30lb backing occupy the reel.

As for flies, a selection of crazy charlies, gotchas and cuban shrimps in sizes 4-10 appeal to bonefish, small permit and snappers.  Crab patterns will be needed to fool the large permit and as for tarpon, poppers or tarpon bunnies in various shades should serve you well.  Remember a couple of long, sparkly flies too as these attract small sharks and barracuda.  Of equal importance is a decent pair of polariods, not just for eye protection against a wayward cast, but to help you spot fish.

Finally, a few casting lessons before you board the plane is money well spent.  Coastlines are usually exposed and if you can cope with a defiant breeze it makes your trip a lot more enjoyable.  Don’t panic here, as we’re not talking of shooting a whole fly line into the teeth of a gale!  Casts of 50-60ft are sufficient to get you any number of hook-ups though it’s vital that you’re able to deal with a crosswind.

Paul Procter

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