Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page

Fly fishing again.

Salt-water fly fishing is definitely on the up and up - at least in the south of England. I was in my local tackle shop last week and my tackle dealer, "Deano," who's never done any fly fishing as far as I know, told me that he had just bought a 9wt fly rod and was going to have a try. Sure enough, a few days later one evening when I was fishing from the shore he turned up - fly rod in hand - to give it a go (I don't know whether he caught anything because I had to leave early but he made a pretty good fist of it while I was there and will soon be catching lots of fish I'm sure). The previous weekend the UKSWFF anglers were down at Worbarrow Bay flogging the water to foam with their fly gear.

At the beginning of the week I was in Littlehampton to help look after a few of my grandchildren while mum produced another little beauty (8.25 lb and fresh as a daisy), I took the rods and had a go near the mouth of the Arun. I caught nothing (and as far as I could see, neither did the locals) but saw lots of mullet and tried wet flies for them. I also had a flick in the river mouth, with a plug, for bass.

So - who are the new breed of saltwater fly men?. I suspect that many of them are what I would call 'all round' anglers who, like me, are happy to fish for anything. Carp, pike, bass or trout it makes little difference to their enjoyment. Most of the SWFFers have probably spent years catching rainbows on reservoirs and are already competent casters of fly gear. However, YOU DON'T NEED TO BE A GREAT CASTER TO CATCH PLENTY OF FISH ON FLY GEAR'. I was never a great fly fisher and these days have a seriously duff right shoulder (the legacy of many years of abuse playing volleyball, cricket, etc.) that makes it difficult for me to cast a fly line. However, it does not stop me landing lots of sea fish. In fact I generally start by laying out about five metres of fly line and often I find that this is the best range for getting bites. Of course, on occasions, you will do better if you fish at longer range but it is surprising how often the short cast catches most fish.

So - what should the novice salt-water fly angler do?. To gain confidence - TRY TO FISH WHEN THERE ARE A FEW FISH ABOUT. "The bleedin obvious!" you might say but in fact the only real criticism of our recent fly fishing video/DVD was that we did not reveal our hotspots. Of course there are such things as hotspots but these are more common than you might think. It is much more useful to look for the TYPE of place that will produce fish. If anglers using conventional tackle are catching bass, mackerel, pollack, coalfish, scad, garfish or what have you then, at times, fly fishing will be productive in the same places. Because you need a bit of space to cast a fly try to go when no one else is about. Early morning is a good bet if you can rouse yourself.

Hot, calm weather and strong tidal flows are also good for business. If you look out for feeding birds and/or surface activity from fish you will be ninety percent of the way there. Lastly, any aggregation of food items is sure to produce fish - seaweed fly maggots, Idotea, shoals of sandeels or sprats, even sewage outfalls, surface scum and rubbish from the fish dock are excellent indicators of fishing potential.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Fly fishing again.

Dawn or dusk.

Not only do the fish bite better but it is often calmer and less windy as the light changes.

Get up early or stay a bit later.

Bass are only one of the species that come within fly range in poor light.

Flat ledges - strong flows.

Sandeels are often the main attraction in spots like this.


Masses of weed washing about in the waters edge may be good places for Idotea and consequently bass and mullet.


Piles of rotten weed at the high water mark are the haunt of seaweed flies and attract fish on the top of spring tides.