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.


Costa Rica Recon

By Captain Scud Yates, Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Several guides got together and headed to the southwest part of Costa Rica to try the sailfish-on-a-fly venue. It was only a three fishing day trip but took five days over all with party time in San Jose, the capital, for a night on the way down.

This style of fishing is really quite different from the flats fishing I am used to. You troll flies with no hooks, "teasers," and when the fish appear the teasers are pulled out of their mouths and the fly is tossed in. The fish are all hot and bothered and jump on anything at that point. From then on, the fight is like any other large jumping fish, you bow to them during the jumps and have a hard pulling fight after they tire of jumping. At least this is the theory, as I only got one jump on one fish and Unk never got a shot at a fish.

We had a heck of a grand party the first night, as a first class hotel was included in the package. The trip was pricey even after Ted Johnson got a special deal from Crocodile Bay Resort. Ted runs Leisure Time Travel out of Crystal River, FL and he lead the trip to check out this new, to him, lodge.

Next morning, with large heads, we boarded a small airliner for the hour and a half trip to the southwest corner of this beautiful country. The weather was spectacular and the view of the mountains and waterfalls would have been worth the $90 (included) flight itself. We got in just after the headache from the night before was in full bloom and headed out to sea in a 33 foot Striker fishing boat for six hours of trolling.

Unk and I were armed with about three dozen flies, between us, and two very heavy 15-weight rods we had put together for the trip. This armament ended up being a massive overkill as the fish were few and far between and, from what I saw, our normal 12-weight tarpon rods would have done perfectly well.

The method of trailing teasers included having three of them out. Two were dragged from the back of the boat on conventional rods and one was from an outrigger managed by the boat captain driving from the top deck of the boat. There were three guys on the boat fishing, one "up," a second on deck and the third bothering the captain or napping. The on-deck man had a job to do before he could take up his rod and join in tossing at fish if there were multitudes; he had to pull in the teaser that was not being hit. The mate would work the "hot" teaser up to the stern while the other two were pulled out of the water. The primary fisher would toss his fly out in the water as the final teaser was pulled giving the fish just one choice to bite. Again, that is the theory.

I was up after a couple of half hour periods had passed without a fish and things finally got going. Up came two sails on the teasers. One was pretty big but the other was only about five feet long. We were told all the fish would be in the 100-pound class, thus the big rods. I was using one of my "innovative" eight-inch new flies and the fish jumped right on it. The hook set pulled it right out of the fish's mouth but the second bigger one jumped right on it. The two of them tag teamed the fly about a dozen times without me being able to get the hook to grab. This was all going on about twenty feet behind the boat so seeing the action was easy. Finally, I just let the line go the next time the little one grabbed it hoping the fish would turn away and I could pull it back into the mouth. It seemed to work and the line went tight. Out of the water came the little fish and back at me came the fly. The fish all left. Looking at the fly, it had been mauled and looked like a tennis ball without a hook showing. The trailing hook was hooked in front of the popper head and the massive amount of material used in tying the fly was balled up around the front hook. I would have had to wait until it was digested to have set that one.

We went back to the empty sea for several more turns until I got back up again and another fish came up. This was a fair sized marlin and he started attacking the teasers. My rod was now going to be the correct size after all. The captain got his teaser out of the water and the boat mate teased the hot one up to the casting distance with fish in tow but something was wrong. The other teaser did not come out of the water and a fly other than mine was drifting back to the fish from my left. The on deck fisherman was putting his fly out instead of removing the other teaser. I tossed mine to add to the mess and the mate got really confused, just like the fish did. The fish hit the hot teaser again and then went back and chomped hard on the other "cold" teaser leaving the two flies with hooks floating as he departed the situation, never to be seen again. Any more lines out and we could have netted the fish. That was the last fish to be seen for the rest of the day. We redefined responsibilities that night so that would not happen again and the rum made it into a good laugh.

The next day ended up with not a single fish coming within range of even the teasers. There was some conjecture that El Ni`no was making the water too warm but I had had enough of that type fishing.

Our last day was set up to be on a smaller boat and we would try for snook or roosterfish. The manager of the camp offered me another day on the Striker and I was not too cool in saying, "no thank you." This was to cost us, as he was hurt. The offer was for a freebee and the big boat cost a lot more. Anyway, Unk and I were set up with some guy who had never guided before last month and may have never had fly casters on his boat either.

The day started with the "guide" asking us where we wanted to fish. We said, "Where the fish are." He countered that he was not sure where that was. Great start! He took us to some place that he though might work and wasted the first two hours. Not wasted, really, as the water and wildlife were spectacular and the mountains all around to look at. Big red parrots were calling from shore and all sorts of none-catching-type fish were flowing by. Of course, the guide did not know what kind they were.

We tried to get the guy to take the boat out of the harbor to look for better fish but he was not checked out in waves or some such thing. We noticed an area were jacks were breaking the surface and talked him into letting us catch something. For several hours we drove into the schools of feeding jacks and caught something every time we got a fly into them. The wind was blowing and the boat driver had no idea of where to put a boat with a console T-top so we could cast. Unk did what was necessary to throw every chance he could but I passed up many shots. I did not catch things I did not want to eat. Consequently, Unk set new records at "other than fish" catches. He got the boat, the antenna, the captain and even once hooked his own upper lip. It was rough out there and the driver was going from afterburner to idle but Unk fought on while I held on.

The roosterfish is a big black-stripped jack with a long multi-finned dorsal fin. This guide was trying to bring them up the same way they fished sailfish, by trailing a teaser of sorts. He used a live fish on a string and bumped it along the bottom. We stood by with a fly either dragging in the water or with it in hand waiting for a fish to arrive. Late in the day one did and I never got a shot taken as it happened too fast for me to figure out when or where to toss. I was waiting for the guide to pull the fish out of the water and he dragged the rooster and fly right up to the boat and never pulled it out. I was supposed to throw the fly behind the fish, I guess, as anything in front would have tangled in the teaser line. That was it for the day and the trip.

The lodge was a spectacular place with all sorts of fancy things like hot tubs and pool bars. The rooms and food were super. It was a family place or nice enough for a wedding party…one was going on when we arrived. The newly weds headed off to a beach house up the coast and the families stayed for some fishing after the party. We, on the other hand, treated it like a fish camp and got banished to the far side if the dining room as rum soaked stories and toasts did not fit in a Christian wedding very well.

The flight out went well and we got home safely. I, for one, did not really like the venue but seeing it once was worth it. I guess other times or without the warming ocean this year, the fishing is really good. If you get off on big fish trolled up behind nice boats and living in fairly inexpensive luxury, this is super place to do that. I prefer living in a hammock with hard tack for food and stalking fast fish on a flat in clear water. That is not to say I will not go back for a party with friends. You don't need fish for that. ~ Capt Scud Yates


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