Jenny Tates is one of those people that you could fish with for hours and then sit around the dock and chat for a couple more. Her knowledge and passion for fly fishing and new life experiences is inspiring and contagious. That's why she's a great ambassador for Free Fly and has even started her own business: FlyandFlow to get more women out on the water fishing and protecting our wild and science waterways.
Recently, we were speaking with Jenny about a few tips that she would give other anglers about saltwater fly fishing and she put together a great list for us to share.
While these are certainly not the only things to consider when getting out in the salt, as that's a life long journey of knowledge, these tips should certainly be in the back of your mind next time you're out on the bow in search for the next great catch.
The Double Hall
Whether your sight fishing on the flats to tailing bonefish or casting to blitzing striped bass, efficiency of the double hall is extremely important to learn when it comes to saltwater fly fishing.
Fish holding in the ocean are constantly on the move and very rarely stay in one place. The double hall technique helps anglers punch through wind, turn over a heavier fly, and ultimately reach fish at a far distance with accuracy.
The strip or retrieve varies greatly depending on the type of species that the angler is targeting. Before heading out, try to have an understanding of what the fish are eating in an effort to best imitate the bait. One guide down in The Keys once told me many years ago to “make it dance” which is a phrase that has stuck with me on my journey as an angler.
Try changing up the speed and length of your strip. For instance, when targeting striped bass a six inch aggressive popping strip usually gets them to charge the fly. When targeting bonefish it’s more of a 1-2 inch strip or tick tick.
Each day is different when it comes to species and their feeding habits but whatever the case, make it dance.
The Strip Set
If you’re a freshwater angler that is starting to dabble in saltwater fly fishing, it’s extremely important to remember to use a strip set when setting the hook. A strip set is done by tugging the line towards you when you feel the fish take.
Lifting the rod with a trout set will cause the fly to pull away from the fish and result in a missed opportunity. Over time the strip set becomes a natural reaction. The feeling of the line becoming tight on a saltwater species is something most anglers never forget.
Too many fish are missed or lost due to poor fly line management. It’s so crucial to have your line cleared when you begin your cast or are hooked up to a fish. Watch for anything your line could get caught on whether it’s your feet, the strap of your backpack, or even the boat engine. Whether you’re the angler or captain, it’s almost a right of passage within saltwater fly fishing to get a line caught in the engine. A free standing stripping basket or bucket is a great way avoid this.
Clean Your Gear
Make sure to thoroughly and carefully clean your rod, reel, line, and any other accessories that may have been exposed to the salt water after a day spent on the ocean to avoid corrosion and rust. Fly fishing gear isn’t cheap.
If cared for properly, it can be passed down for generations to come.
Catch and Release
I am a big proponent of catching and release fishing. It’s the best way to protect and conserve our fisheries for years to come. Remember to wet your hands before holding the fish and to keep the grip and grin photo opp to a minimum. Memories are just as valuable and the fish will greatly appreciate this.
About the Author:
Jenny is a Free Fly Fishing Ambassador and a New Englander with a love for the ocean. There's no place she'd rather be than on the water in search of everything and nothing at the same time, especially with a fly rod in hand.