Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.

Saltwater Fly Fishing For Inshore Game Fish:
Part Eleven: New Saltwater Flies

By Capt. Douglas Sinclair

Congratulation Doug - You Made It!

Anyone making a living on the water fly-fishing will tell you they tie flies out of necessity. It's true. Purchasing flies in the large quantities used by guides would be very expensive. In the process of tying, I think it is only natural to modify designs that, even though they work well, get over used. Plus it gets boring tying the same flies over and over again. The objective in changing a known design is to make the fly just a little better for the conditions that you fish. A lot of tweaking can sometimes alter the appearance of a fly; hence a new fly is born. Sometimes we make minor alterations by adding some tan marabou or find ways to eliminate dumbell eyes and still have the fly sink. Dumbell eyes tend to hang up in the grass. Their purpose is to get the fly down on the bottom and come to rest inverted (hook up).

It isn't simple just making a new design. It must be tested. So multiple copies are made so that friends and fellow guides can try them. The fly must be durable and hold up in many situations. They are tested for casting characteristics, sink rate, activity in the water and most important will they catch fish. Here are three such modifications which I have tied, tested and guarantee will work under the conditions discussed.

Redfish Diver

Redfish Diver

This fly looks similar to a deceiver and has some of the same characteristics of Liz Steele's Purple Passion (one of my favorite flies). The Redfish Diver has a fast sink rate, the same as if it were tied with a 1/50 oz dumbell. Here are the details.


    Hook:  Mustad #34007 (#1).

    Thread:  Orvis G Smoke monocore thread (02RR-6207).

    Head:  No. 25 Lead Wire.

    Tail:  Red Buck Tail (1 inches), Orange and Tan marabou (2 x the hook length) Tie in six strands of gold Krystal flash.

    Body:  Tan Ultra Chenille.


1. Tie off a small section of thread, then place a 1-inch piece of No. 25 lead wire folded and crimped and tied 1/8 inch behind the eye. Tie to the back of the lead wire; wrap once behind and over to secure the lead wire (you can also super glue the wire to the shank).

2. Run the thread to the curve of the shank and tie in the red buck tail (about a pencil thickness). Tie six strands of gold Krystal flash and then the tan ultra chenille (cut about 7 inches of chenille). Wind the mono thread to the front just behind the eye.

3. Wrap the chenille forward tightly and bring to just behind the eye. Tie a uni-knot over the eye with the chenille.

4. Braid the Krystal flash by twisting or twirling the strands together and wrap them over the chenille leaving about 1/32 inch between as you spiral the wraps forward and tie off behind the eye.

5. Turn the hook over so that the shank is down and the hook is on the topside.

6. About inch behind the eye, tie in a small clump of orange marabou, then tan marabou. The marabou should just cover the hook point, making the fly weedless.

7. Now tie off and whip finish the fly.

This fly is very effective in clear water or in cloudy water (not murky). The fly sinks fast and will be in on the bottom in about 6 seconds (18 inches deep). The retrieve is a slow constant retrieve. Only strip about 3 inches at a time. Because the weight is forward and there are no dumbbells the fly will not hang up in the grass. Redfish really like this fly. I've lost a number because they inhale it into their throat crushers, if this happens just cut the line. The hook will dissolve in about 4 hours.

Redfish Bugger

Redfish Bugger

This fly is similar to a fly pattern designed by Dana Griffin of Gainesville, Florida, except without dumbell eyes. This fly uses lead wire as a head weight


    Hook: : Mustad #34011 (1/0).

    Head: : #25 Lead Wire Wrapped to Bend.

    Thread: : Rust colored 6/0 mono thread.

    Tail: : Orange and Tan marabou (2 x the hook length), tie in six strands of gold Krystal flash.

    Body: : Tan Ultra Chenille with orange dyed grizzly hackle palmered.


1. Tie in #25 lead wire 1/8 inch behind the hook eye.

2. Lead wire is wound around the shank leaving about 1/8 inch to the hook eye. Thread is wrapped forming a collar in front of the wire and behind the wire before the shank bend.

3. Select marabou feathers of orange and tan and tie in at rear of hook bend, tan above and orange underneath.

4. On each side of the wing, tie in 6 strands of gold Krystal flash and leave hanging.

5. Tie in a 6-inch segment of tan chenille and at the same point at the rear of the hook tie in the orange grizzly hackle at angle suitable for palmering. Run your thread up to the hook eye and leave hanging.

6. Wrap the chenille forward in tight winds to just behind the hook eye and tie off.

7. Take the 6 strands of flash and twist to make a kind of rope and pull straight forward so the strand runs along the side of the shank and tie behind the eyes. Do the same thing for the other side of the shank.

8. The final step is palmering the feather, making space between the turns so that the gold flash will show through.

9. Now tie off and whip finish.

This fly is very effective in grass flats in windy conditions, and in situations where there is sand (white holes) scattered throughout the flat. This fly will sink fast and a slow retrieve is recommended.

Tarpon Bugger

You'll notice that this fly resembles a Woolly Bugger (another of my favorite flies). I tie it in a number of ways including my Tarpon Bugger.

The Tarpon Bugger is tied in the same manner as a Woolly Bugger, but uses Purple and Blue marabou, purple chenille, chartreuse super hair and Purple Grizzly Hackle. The Tarpon Bugger is really effective at night and daytime in brackish backwaters and creeks. I've had redfish hit this fly at night.

Redfish Assassin

I got the idea for this fly after watching a guide using a Bass Assassin. I didn't have a trip and was actually about 150 yards away from a guide working a mangrove line. I was intrigued by his work and watched intently with my binoculars from a distance. I had used Crazy Charles type jerk worm before but it hadn't occurred to me to try tying a fly to emulate it. Jerk worms work best in cloudy, murky or dark water, or on a cloudy day. The action is similar to a shrimp, but more than likely imitates a sand worm or eel.

I've tried many different renditions of this fly and these three work best. You'll find a similar fly imitating a needlefish. This fly has been effective with redfish, black drum, jacks, catfish and snook. I've caught a flounder on a fly made of white super hair. So there are many ways to tie this but here is the simplest.


    Hook:  Mustad #34007 (#1).

    Thread:  6/0 mono thread.

    Head:  1/50 oz yellow/black eye dumbell.

    Tail:  Orange super hair tail (1 inches), Black buck tail 2 inches long.

    Body:  Black Ultra Chenille.

    Guard:  80 # mono or gold Mylar weed guard is optional,


1. Tie in dumbbell eyes behind the hook eye.

2. Select orange super hair and tie in at rear of hook bend.

3. Tie in a 5-inch segment of black chenille and at the same point at the rear of the hook tie in silver Mylar. Run your thread up to the hook eye and leave hanging.

4. Wrap the chenille forward in tight winds to just behind the hook eye and tie off. Take the Mylar and pull it straight forward so that the strand runs along the belly of the shank and tie behind the eyes.

5. The final step is tying black buck tail in over the eyes to just behind the hook eye. Now tie off and whip finish.

This fly is a killer in dark or brackish water. Reds attack this fly with fury. Most hits are made on the second or third strip. Strip is slow, pause, and slow. The fly will sink pretty fast, so you want to keep it off the bottom and just hopping. The strip action will pick it up and allow it to sink again. After the cast count to five and start the strip. This is a deadly fly at dusk. I'm sure it would work in freshwater even though I haven't tried it there.

Most flies are modifications of old designs that still work well. Try some of your own. Make the same ones or modify the ones here. Experiment, have fun and go out and fool some big fish. ~ Doug

About Doug:
Doug is a fly-fishing guide from New Smyrna Beach, FL. He is a member of CCA, FFF, AFF, APCA, and FOWA. He can be reached at 386-679-5814.

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