Fly fishing is a sport that is much more intricate than you might at first think. To be fair, it does look visually more impressive than regular spin fishing as you’ll most likely be wading into the water and casting out huge amounts of line.
But most people still can’t shake the idea that fishing is actually just a matter of standing and waiting for something to bite!
This image couldn’t be further from the truth however! Actually, fly fishing involves not only a great arm for casting out, not only the best gear and not only some intricately cast flies – but also incredible strategy.
And moreover, that strategy and even the tools you use will change greatly depending on where you’re fishing and the type of fish you’re looking for!
Fishing for bass means fishing in saltwater and it means fishing for a different type of fish altogether. Thus, your strategy needs to change entirely. Here’s how…
One of the first things you need to get right when doing any kind of fly fishing is the fly. The job of your fly is to mimic the prey of the fish you’re trying to capture and thus they will be intricately crafted to look like insects, birds or just ‘appealing’ animals.
In the case of sea bass, the best type of fly will be the same as it is for pollack, garfish, bream and mackerel. That said, the type of fly that will get the very best result is also going to depend somewhat on the area that you’re fly fishing. In general though, these fish like things like eels and like crabs.
They love anything that moves and with that in mind, streamers might be a good choice. Try to get something that will look a little like they are shimmering and don’t worry too much about close copies of real food. You’re just going to try and create the impression of something kicking around in the water.
Retrieves can be fast, slow or staccato. The good news is that you can fish at most depths too.
When saltwater fishing, you’ll have a lot more work if you can get yourself out on the water. Forget about your kit bags and waders and instead, get yourself over the tide and maybe get a friend to steer. You’ll need a net ready to catch any bass that you land and you’ll need to make sure that net is big enough.
The other advantage of a boat, is that it will allow you to head on over to areas where you think you might catch bass more quickly and thus exhaust the possibilities.
Because there will be waves and other noises, you need to worry less about disturbing the water and frightening away the fish.
Now head where they’re likely to be biting…
That said, it is possible to fish for bass off the shore as well. Just try and make sure you can cast your line out deep enough and maybe use a heavier weight.
This is generally good advice for all fly fishing but it has some unique connotations when we apply it to saltwater fly fishing. In this case, thinking like a fish means reading the tide and knowing where the fish are likely to be in relation.
Likewise, it also means looking for signs that you might have luck in certain spots. For example, if you notice a lot of seagulls circling overhead, then that might just be a sign that they’re on to something. Look as well for shimmering patches of water where the bass are likely to be feeding.
Note that when using seagulls as a clue, you need to be cautious that they don’t fly off with your flies!
Another clue is the light. Bass like to move into shallower water when it is darker because they feel more confident then. Fishing when it is darker will generally yield more success but more important is to read the signs and act accordingly.
A bad workman may blame his tools but it’s just dumb not to have the right tools! Make sure you are kitted out with the appropriate gear for saltwater fishing and for looking for bigger fish. That means that you’re going to need a heavier line weight and it means you’ll want less action on your rod.
Many people say that 8wt is a good range to hover around for your fishing.
There is no need to necessarily buy a specialist saltwater reel. You can instead just use an 8wt or 7wt and then rinse it off straight after. Look for an exposed reel and about a 16lb tippet leader.
If you find that you are a fan of fishing in saltwater conditions and you intend on doing it more often, then of course you might decide to invest in some saltwater-specific gear and head out with that!
As you can see then, there are a lot of considerations to take into account when choosing the type of fishing you want to do and the type of fish you want to catch. At any rate, it’s a matter of picking the right gear and getting into the mindset of that type of fish.
For a bass, it means going where the san eels are and then mimicking their movements. Get out into the deeper water and make sure your rod and reel is ready for the salt!
As mentioned though, it also comes down to the specific place you’re in and the type of fish that live there. That means there’s always going to be an element of trial and error and slowly honing your game. That’s what it means to be a great angler!