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Page 249

Rods, Reels, and Line

Most saltwater flyfishing can be divided into two categories: that for small fish, or those that weigh less than 30 or 40 pounds, and that for larger fish. The popular smaller species frequent inland and inshore waters, while many of the larger fish are fished for in deep waters or offshore.

The smaller species can be fished for with a variety of fly rod weights; the 8/9-weight outfit is probably the best all-around size for most of them in most situations. A 12-weight rod will handle most of the bigger fish. However, all of the species encountered when saltwater flyfishing are extremely powerful for their size. Long casts are frequently necessary to reach them, and they can burn a lot of line off your reel once hooked. When also considering the corrosive nature of the saltwater environment, it's obvious that specialized equipment is necessary: long, beefy fly rods that can get fly line way out there and stand up to the surges of powerful fish; fly lines that match these rods but can still be used to make a delicate presentation; reels with great line capacities, excellent drag systems, and corrosion-resistant parts. Most freshwater tackle just isn't sturdy enough for the task.

Manufacturers have quickly responded to the increased interest in saltwater flyfishing with rods, line, and reels specifically designed for salt water use. Rods are generally fast action and have particularly heavy butt sections. Many also feature a ball-like fighting butt, allowing the angler to comfortably place the bottom of the rod against his or her body to apply more leverage to a fish when fighting it. Saltwater fly lines are sturdier as well, with hard finishes and longer tapers to facilitate long casts. Many lines are customized for fishing for a certain speciesbonefish, tarponand are labeled as such, as well as with its weight, taper, and buoyancy.

Fly reels are perhaps the most specialized (or different from freshwater versions) part of the saltwater outfit. Besides the necessity of corrosion-resistant parts, saltwater reels must be sturdy and have a large line capacity. Most important is the drag system. Ratchet-type drags have no place in saltwater fishing. A disk drag reel is mandatory because many popular species are incredibly fast swimmers; a standard ratchet-drag reel wouldn't even start to tire a fish out. Disk-drag reels have a knob that adjusts the amount of drag; palming of the spool is still possible but not absolutely necessary as it is with ratchet-drag reels.

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Of course, all of this equipment doesn't come cheap. Serviceable saltwater fly rods start at about $100; decent ones at about twice that. And that's the low end. Reels have a similar but somewhat higher pricing structure, with about $125 price tags on the acceptable models. A good line will cost about $40. When adding incidentalsbacking, leaders, some fliesfigure on spending at least $300 just to get into the game.

Right now it may not seem worth that cost, plus more down the road, just to catch a fish that you're probably going to release anyway. But the incredibly fast growth of this sport does suggest that many people, upon discovering its unmatched challenge and excitement, think it's a bargain in comparison.

Flies and Other Tackle

The forage consumed by saltwater species is represented by flies that, with few exceptions, look much different from those you'd use for trout, bass, or pike in fresh water.

Shrimp flies, for instance, are tied in various patterns that closely or somewhat resemble that crustacean. These flies, which are popular for bonefish, permit, sea trout, and redfish, are weighted so they will sink to the bottom quickly with the hook point up, where they're retrieved in short hops. Popular patterns include the Crazy Charlie and the MOE (Mother of Epoxy, which has an epoxy head).

Streamers are tied in various sizes in a rainbow of colors and patterns. Some imitate specific forage species; others are considered attractor patterns. They're used for most all species, with the Lefty's Deceiver, Clouser Minnow, and SeaDucer being good all-around patterns (in the proper sizes) for bonefish, redfish, snook, and striped bass. Specific-forage patterns resemble bunker, squid, mackerel, anchovies, and sand eels.

Crab flies are usually intended for permit but will take bonefish, redfish, and other bottom-oriented feeders. Del's Merkin Crab is a good pattern.

Flies for tarpon are smaller than you'd suspect for such a huge fish. They're tied on wide-gap hooks to better penetrate a tarpon's bony mouth. A variety of patterns work, with some patterns being favored on a local basis. The Huff Tarpon Fly and the Ruoff Tarpon Fly are popular.

Poppers effectively take redfish, snook, and sailfish, as well as bluefish and dolphin. They're also exciting to use, as fish will sometimes blast the popper hard enough to knock it out of the water. Ruoffs Backcountry Popper will take a variety of species.

Big-game flies are used for sailfish. These are extra long (generally longer than 6 inches), flashy, and often have a second trailing hook to ensure a hookup. Curcione's Big Game Fly is used successfully.

101 Flyfishing Tips For Beginners

101 Flyfishing Tips For Beginners

101 Ways A New Report Can Make You A Better FlyFisher... Right And Wrong Flyfishing Methods - And Little Pointers That Will Bring That Fish Home. How bad do you want to make your buddies look on your next fly fishing trip? Even if your cast is a little awkward at the moment and less than effective, when you add 101 expert fly fishing tips, tricks, and techniques to your game...

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