Saltwater Fishing Tips for Beginners

Kent Goodman with a monster permit.

As a saltwater fly fisher and when helping others reach magical fishing destinations on the flats my two biggest concerns are; the weather during the trip and can the angler cast well enough to get it done. Here are a few saltwater fishing tips for beginners.

Weather

As far as the weather, don’t sweat it, you or I can’t change it. I just book my fishing trips and go with optimism that I will have great fishing conditions. Basically, I have no control over that concern, so I don’t let it be a concern nor do I waste time worrying about what might be.

Practice Your Casting

For the casting, that is something you and I certainly can control and something that we should seriously focus on. When I help a client plan a trip to the salt, I spend time talking about their flats fishing experience. The more time one spends casting bugs to any fish, the better off you will be on the salt. Many trout anglers venture to the salt without a knowledge of how the change in venue can be so difficult to adjust to.

Be prepared to fight the wind.

When you’re fly fishing in the salt, you are casting from a boat, which may be moving, the fish will most likely be moving and there is a 99% chance that the wind will be blowing. All these variables accompanied by an excited angler and a guide barking out commands in Spanglish add to the challenge of putting the fly in the right spot at the right time.

I have been on trips with first timers and it is common to hear them say, “man things happen fast out here”, or “this wind is killing my cast.” I felt the same way with my first trip to the tropics, and I had been a guide and certified casting instructor. Now with over 20 saltwater trips under my belt, I can change gears and adjust more quickly to the faster paced game.

Take a lesson from a good casting instructor and one that has been to the salt.

If you don’t have a fly shop close, look online for casting lessons, or buy a DVD from expert casters like Joan Wulff or Lefty Kreh. Learn how to tighten your loops, and learn how to change your rod angle in the wind. Learn how to double haul and shoot line. I live in Idaho and before my trips, I get out the 10 weight and stand in the winter cold and throw line into a stiff wind. This helps me work out the kinks in my casting motion, stretch out and strengthen my shoulder and arm muscles that have been dormant, and it gets me used to the heavier weight rod.

You earn it in the off season.

Think about it, we spend thousands of dollars to get to amazing destinations. We buy the best fishing gear, tons of great flies, really cool cameras and drones that fly above. We do so much preparation with our gear and researching the best locations to fish. And I get it, this is the fun stuff. Practicing in the wind at the park with people watching and wondering if you have lost your mind, isn’t fun. Many of us neglect the most important piece of equipment we have, our bodies and their ability to make the cast. But when you are on the front of the boat and make the perfect presentation to that permit and feel the line come tight, you will know you earned that fish in the off season.

Tight Lines and best of luck on your next adventure!
Kent Goodman

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