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Saltwater Fly Fishing rods

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2 fly rods lined and ready for action

One of the most common questions I’m asked is what saltwater fly fishing rods to bring. The next question is what lines do I prefer? And lastly, what are my favorite flies?

I recommend 8 and 9 weight fly rods. 8 weight rods are perfect unless the wind kicks up when it is definitely helpful to have the bigger rod. Fishing from a boat, you don’t need a bigger rod to play the fish as you are never lifting the fish out of the water, nor will you need to “drag” a fish up on to the shore. Choice of fly rod is based on casting and wind conditions. Also, when you are fishing with me, you will be casting a lot so you want the right rod for the job.

Another thing to remember is that it is only tip top part of the rod that engages in casting. The butt section of the rod is for bringing a fish to the boat and the top end of the rod is what is “loaded” to build line speed for each cast.

Modern saltwater fly rods are strong. You can turn a significantly sized striped bass with an 8 weight fly rod. However, I do not recommend lighter rods as I want my clients to bring the fish to the boat quickly. The longer a fish is “played”, the more likely it will not survive.

With that in mind, I also use heavier leaders, typically 15 lb. test. Again, I want my clients to be able to bring the fish to the boat quickly without fear of the fish breaking off. Lightweight leaders and “tippet” is reserved for those chasing world records, a goal that requires a whole different level of consideration.

Saltwater Fly Fishing rods

Back to question #2. What type of line do I recommend? My answer: intermediate lines. More detailed answer: RIO Outbound Short Fly Lines.

There are some situations where a sinking line or a floating line might be preferable, but for versatility, I opt for the intermediate fly line. If you want it to sink, count to 3, 5, 10… If you want to used a surface fly such as a gurgler or a popper, you just have to strip quickly to keep the fly on the water.

The RIO Outbound Short Series is a fantastic fly line! They make casting a lot easier as they are super slippery and load the rod easily. I recommend that you match the weight of the fly line to the weight of the rod with the RIO lines. Sometimes people like to “over-line” their rods, but with the RIO intermediate lines I do not find this to be necessary.

Saltwater Fly Fishing rods

Fishing flies lined up.  Olive and white bucktail with white feathers.

Finally, there are the flies. I call them clousers, but it turns out because I tie them with some feathers they are actually “half and halfs”. Either way, I like them! They represent sand eels and/or silversides. Mostly, it’s their action. I love how they dive on the pause…

The Pause! That is the most important part of the retrieve. I cannot emphasize that enough. Strip, strip, PAUSE, slow strip… BANG!!!!

There you go. This is the secret!