northeast saltwater fly fishing

Tackle and Tactics: Getting Started in Northeast Saltwater Fly Fishing

Captain Corey 34 lb

Seems more and more people are interested in getting started in northeast saltwater fly fishing. We get questions from surfcasters who see the benefits when the bait is close or small, trout fisherman recognize the northeast is the “Montana” of saltwater fly fishing and as a result of the large Navy presence in Newport we see many anglers familiar with the fly rodding the salt in Norfolk, Jacksonville and San Diego; but curious where to start with striped bass and bluefish.  And are still other folks are looking for a new challenge to help them enjoy the out-of-doors.

Fly Tackle for the Northeast Salt

SWE basket

Selecting tackle for saltwater fly fishing in the northeast does not have to be complicated. If asked to use one rod most anglers chose a 9 foot 9 weight rod as it is reasonably well suited for the surf, boat or kayak. You maybe be over gunned in the estuaries and perhaps wishing you had length to mend your line and in a boat you will be wanting more backbone to throw larger flies and to fight fish in inshore rips. The intermediate line will settle below the surf and that is helpful assuming the water is not skinny or fast-moving. An aggressive saltwater taper is helpful to turn over bulkier flies and the subtlety of trout fishing is rarely required. Saltwater fly reels have come a long way and they need to be a bit over built to hold up in the saltwater environment over time. Unlike freshwater reels they need to hold more line and are often used to fight the fish.

Northeast Saltwater Fly Selection

rude flats vise

Selecting flies is a matter of being aware of the habitat and what baitfish inhabit that environment. Thoughtful observation would confirm that the bait generally matches the bottom color with lighter shade on the belly, sparse flies suggest life as opposed to trying to replicate it and the bait tends to get bigger as the season progresses. A handful of flies will get you started. There are thousands of flies that work; but it if the angler that gives them life. There are two classic books on presenting flies to striped bass. Both written by Rhode Islanders. Striper Moon by Kenney Abrames and Stripers and Streamers by Ray Bondorew. Both authors are surf fisherman with a deep understanding of how tides effect the movement of striped bass. In addition, their background in trout and salmon fishing enables them to share the best use of a fly rod to present flies in current. Both books are highly recommended.

Lots of Resources Available

We have had a number of students participate in our free Saltwater Fly Fishing 101 Class which provides a basic introduction to the concepts of casting, rigging and fly selection. This exposure is followed by an in-depth Introduction to Saltwater Fly Fishing 102 class that revisits the casting instruction, introduces the double haul, a variety of retrieves and goes deeper into rigging and fly selection. Those interested go on to our 201 On the Water class that brings the skills developed to the water for practical application. Please refer to the blog or call the shop at 401-842-0062 to reserve your spot for any of these educational events.

What follows is a recap of the resources and tools we provide in the 101 class.


Orvis How To Fly Fish Leaning Center – this great resource includes Saltwater Video Lessons, a super selection of podcasts and a very slick animated knot tutorial. As company nobody does a better job of minimizing the fly fishing learning curve that the Orvis Company. Good stuff. Check it out.

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The Ocean State is home to the oldest saltwater fly fishing club in the country; the Rhody Fly Rodders. They have monthly meetings in the winter and on the water meetings during the fishing season. Learn more here.

The One Thing…

northeast saltwater fly fishing

If there is one thing a new or experienced saltwater fly rodder can do everyday to improve their success rate it is to practice casting before you get to the water. Leave a rod strung up and cast a couple of times each week. The wind a is common condition along the shore so you need to prepare for it. While you are out there work on accuracy as well as distance as different scenario’s require different skills. It’s a good idea to cut the hook of a common sized fly and utilize that during your casting practice.

saltwater edge fishing report

Earl Evans with a fine flats fish.

Saltwater fly fishing in the northeast is a challenge with rich rewards. It is certainly the case that the anglers around you with bait and plugs will likely catch more fish; but there is a lot of satisfaction when it all come together. And there are occasions where the fly rod may be the best tool for the job on a given night in the suds.

Have fun and we are here if you have questions







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