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Classic Saltwater Flies

Saltwater Fly Fishing Patterns

Most saltwater flies are ‘attractors’. There are patterns are designed to mimic bait fish, shrimp, and small crustaceans but even these are mostly a passing likeness for quite a few different species. In general saltwater flies tend to be less representative. Above all, the way they look and move is designed to grab attention and trigger a bite from a predatory fish.

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The growth of Saltwater Fly Fishing

By the 19th Century pioneering anglers on both East and West coasts were trying to catch fish in the sea using traditional (i.e. freshwater) fly fishing equipment and technique. Despite the fact that no flies, rods, or tackle for saltwater fishing were available commercially, they persisted, and by the turn of the next century manufacturers were starting to catch up.

Each successive generation of saltwater anglers benefited from new technology, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s before things really took off. New materials enabled new fly patterns, and the manufacture of rods, reels and lines that could take the weight of larger fish without being too heavy and resist the corrosive effect of salt water.

Nowadays, saltwater fly fishing offers exciting opportunities to catch big fish. Freshwater anglers within reach of the Atlantic will be familiar with Striped Bass but perhaps not Sea Trout, who grow larger and are found in Northern areas on both the East and West coasts. Depending on location, there are also Snook, Bonefish, Redfish, Permit and even Tarpon.

Saltwater Fly Patterns

Traditional materials such as animal hair or feathers don’t last long in salt water. Although there are some patterns that use fur or other natural materials, saltwater flies are mainly constructed from synthetic materials that can cope with the corrosive effect of salt (although we’d still recommend rinsing used flies in freshwater for the sake of the hook). Modern materials have two other benefits: first, they lend themselves to very bright colors; second, they are stiffer and so create more of a disturbance in the water when moved.

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