Tom Rowland, Gary Coxon, Bruce Richards, Brad Wesner, Barry and Cathy Beck

One fly

In a last-ditch effort at sorting out my saltwater problems, without any hard work, I asked for the impossible: one fly, one flyline, one location; lots of fish. Well I had to try... one never knows :-) This is The Panel.

Tom Rowland

If I am going to a completely new area for saltwater fishing I first go over my flies and make sure that I have a good representation of the food fish eat. That is to say, I would make sure I had lots of general baitfish patterns that I could fish throughout the water column. I would also have shrimp patterns, and crab flies.$

For fly lines, I would have a Rio Versi tip saltwater line that would allow me to change heads if needed. I would also take along a slow intermediate and a floater. To begin, I would choose the floating line, a 10 foot leader with a 12 inch shock tippet of Rio 25 pound Flouroflex tippet for unusual fish with teeth. I would tie on a general baitfish fly that I had confidence in and begin to alter the strip until I had success.

If this resulted in no takes, I would proceed to go down through the water column until I reached the bottom with my flies.

Of course, if I was in a new venue I would have an idea of what I was after and tailor my presentation accordingly, but this is a good way to approach new water that you do not know what to expect. The gear that I have listed could easily be carried in your pocket or a small pack and not take up much room in a suitcase.

Once the fish targeted has shown himself, I would then alter my tactics to make the tackle even more productive.

Brad Wesner

First, we need to tie a fly on. But what fly to choose. When standing on the edge of water that I have never fished and looking at the massive amount of flies that I take with me to the water (Yes, I confess I am one of those guys) I always come to the same decision: Chartreuse and White Clouser Minnow 2/0. Why? This is a great fly to go exploring with. You can fish deep or shallow, and you can give it whatever action you wish it to have just by varying the retrieve. The damn thing will catch nearly anything that swims in the sea, and with a 2/0 hook, it is strong enough to land a big fish if it happens to grab on. Also, the chartreuse is generally regarded as the best overall color to use in the salt. Finally, this is a fly that can imitate two of the most common things that fish in the sea eat: bait fish and shrimp. It is the perfect all around fly, and if I had to pick just one fly to take to the water this would be it.

Flyline density: I like floating lines. All in all, I think that they give you the most versatility. When I am working a new flat, I like to cover a lot of water quickly. In that situation, I find that having a floating line with a nice weight forward taper on it gives me the ability to pick up the line faster from the water and relocate it. I do this a lot when I am out for bonefish. In that situation, you sometimes have to make a second cast quickly. If this is the case, it is easier to pick up a floating line than it is a sinking one. You can reposition and shoot quickly, and that is mandatory when you are after bones. Remember, the more times they get to see the fly, the better the chance that they will eat it.

For my money on the first cast, and I do love to hook up on the first cast, I look for a fish to toss my fly to. This gives you the best shot nine times out of ten. In the absence of a fish that I can see, I am going to throw at structure. In the absence of structure, I am going to try to hit an area of color change that would indicate deep water close by. If none of that is out there then I just shoot a hundred feet or so out there and strip like hell.

Bruce Richards

If I had to make the choices you posed without knowing anything about the venue I'd choose the following:

1 -WF-9-F Mastery Saltwater line - works in any SW climate, most fish we are after are either in shallow water or will come up to take a fly. If the water is deep and murky however, won't work.

2 -Clouser minnow in chartreuse/white - this fly will catch anything that swims, especially the ones fly anglers like to target

3 - If I can see fish, I'd cast where they are (easy decision!), if no fish are visible I would cast to the best looking structure I can find, whether it is a wreck, coral head, drop-off, mangrove shoreline, etc.

I hope this is what you are looking for Paul. Obviously if I was out in the open ocean my choice of line would be different, but that isn't where I'd go first.

Barry and Cathy Beck

I've given the first question to Barry. So, this is from him. "If we had only one fly to fish with in saltwater it would be a white Deceiver because it's one of the best search-type patterns that we've found. Although I'd hate to be limited to one fly line. If I had to be, it would be a floating line. And where would we make the first cast? That's a real hard one because it depend on the environment we're fishing in. In a blind casting situation, we would simply shot-gun the area in front of us starting with short casts and working out to longer ones. If we had structure to work with we would work the edges, but the best scenerio would be that we could see the fish and get the fly out in front of it. Back to the fly, in saltwater it's hard to be fly specific to all species, but in this situation a Deceiver imitates a baitfish and all saltwater gamefish feed on minnows."

Cathy & Barry
Gary Coxon

Dear Paul,
I have decided that my new year resolution is to be nice to be polite to you from now on and not call you swampy or crocodile dundee ever again - or though I can't promise how long it will last !!!
Hope everything is going well for you and that you had a great christmas - an all the best for the new year. In reply to your questions - yes you can use the photograph which you lifted from the web and I will try and get a 'salty one' to you in the new year. On the Q & A scene the following answers should get the ball rolling............

Q 1 ANSWER - With tackle now being designed for specialised techniques, specific destinations and ever individual species the question is far more complexed than it may first appear. However, sticking to the set criteria the fly I would choose would have to be a clouser, probably tied quite sparsely in chartreuse and white, although I would have to insist on several different sizes as the bait fish it would be intimidating can vary in length and species from day to day, these being normally shouls of sandiel or herring.

As for fly lines, the new scientific anglers "striped bass" which is available in intermediate and fast sinking would take some beating for the type of location and fishing I have chosen. They call the colour 'surf' with a WF profile and length of 40yds/36mts the slick coating lends itself well to long casts which are sometimes needed. The other factor which I am impressed with is the fact that it remains reasonably stable in the extremes of variable weather conditions.

Regarding location, well, there are so many to choose from, all of which are different and exciting in their own way.

However, considering the fly and fly line chosen I have obviously somewhere a little different in mind and for pure excitement and variation it would have to be somewhere along the west coast of B.C Canada. Anywhere from the southern point of Vancouver Island up as far as the borders of the Alaska.

Salmon in the salt would be my choice (mainly Coho and Chinook) although the odd rock fish and ling cod also readily take the fly adding variety. If I need to be even more specific and pinpoint a place along this coastline to use as a base, I can think of no better location that the small town of TOFINO. Tucked away amongst the many small islands referred to as Clayoquot Sound the town has many indian style craft shops and restaurants together with its own fishing resort called Weigh West. Here, tackle, boats, guides and all the advice required to ensure a brilliant trip can be obtained. Weigh west also provides comfortable accomodation with its own restaurant and pub (obviously sea food a speciality). They also run a shuttle service from the local airport which caters for charter flights to and from vancouver (south terminal), for further info....
Tel - (025) 725-3277
Fax - (025) 725-3922
E-mail -
Paul, I hope this is the type of reply you were after, if you need to want anymore info just let me know.
Happy Fishing Swampy


Brilliant; I just knew this was going to be fun. Thanks so much guys.

Unfortunately, however, as appealing as TOFINO sounds, I am currently in New Zealand. Oh damn. But thanks Gary I'll be sure to keep this in mind...

The New Zealand Tour