Imagine fishing the crystal clear, sweet water streams and rivers that quietly work there way through the valley bottoms, beautiful green fields lined with broken down stone walls, the water shaded only by the trees and the lowered sun, it’s silence, broken only by the birds and the water as it cascades over ledges and boulders to the gentle lapping of waves on the shores of the lake, with fish sipping buzzers from the surface only a cast away, both seem a long way removed from fishing along the coast, but if we look a little more closely, they have a lot more in common than you’d think.
For most, fly fishing the salt is a very daunting thought, the wind, waves and the sheer ruggedness of it all, are but a few, but the main reason i feel is the vastness of the ocean compared with most still water's and river's, but with a little help and know how, you can make the transition from one to the other without to much worry, all it takes is some effort and an open mind to learn a new set of skill's.
fishing the salt requires certain skill's that both the river and still water angler's already have to a degree and this will be a great help to him on his journey into the abyss.
Just as the river angler will look to find fish in the seams, pools, and tail outs, the still water guy will look for wind lanes, points and fish being pushed into coves, the fish in the sea work to very similar rules.
so one of the first problem's to deal with if you've never fished in the sea is the water level, much like a river or stream the water is in constant flux be it a little slower, unlike the sea, one minute it's there then it's not, then it is again, let's try and make this simple, you get 2 high tides and two low tides during a period of approx 24hrs and 50 minutes, biggest tides are called spring tides, these occur during new moon(dark of the moon) and full moon cycles approx every 14-15 day's, then there are neap tides(smallest tides) these occur during half moon cycles, a flooding tide is when the water rises, a ebb tide is when the water lower's, tide is the vertical movement of water, current is the horizontal moment of water, slack water can be any time during the tide lasting from just a few minutes to 20+ minutes.
so now we've given you a little info on how the tide works, when is the best time to fish it, this is going to be the hardest thing to find out, each piece of structure will require a different approach and may take many countless hour's of fishing to even gain any idea of how to fish it for the best result's, but given the choice, fishing moving water will give you your best chances of catching fish consistently, while the slow or dead looking water is the poorer choice of the two.
Just as trout/salmon use the current's, water depth and cover to it's feeding/comfort advantage's so do saltwater fish , if there on the feed the more turbulent the water from surf/current the better the odds that there going to be there, so how do we find these magical marks, you've got a couple choices, you get shown by a very kind person under pain of death or you spend lots of time doing research with maps, stream atlas books, tide tables and lots of hours trekking up and down the coast, the latter of the two is the most rewarding even though it takes the longest.
Once you find these area's spend lot's and lot's of time fishing it, different size tide's and different wind's, different times of year, only when you have fished an area for a long time(at the very least 1-2 seasons) can you be sure of it's potential, you should not form an opinion on the area with anything less than at least 30-40 trips that includes fishing at all times of day and night, you must have a good memory or write down all the information you can, this will help and you may well see a pattern forming for a certain set of tides and winds.
The type's of structure you fish will be determined by where you live and what you have available to you, we'll break this down and make it a little easier for you, you've basically got two type's of structure, hard(rock) and soft(sand) i'd say that rock structure offer's the better choice of venue for more and usually bigger fish, but don't worry if you only have sand beaches because they will hold fish as well, but can sometimes take a little more time to find them.
If your the lucky one's and have got hard structure near by, try to fish area's of constricted flow, look at it and fish it as you would a river, look for seam/crease lines, pools, pocket water, it’s all there if you look, it should have good structure and cover along it's length for fish to hold during the full flow of current and easy access to deeper water.
now you've got the idea of the area's you should start looking for, how you going to fish them, well for me i fish them as deep as possible with out hanging up all the time, either with weighted flies or sinking lines, wetfly swing and dead drifting the flies through, i'll fish it just like i'm fishing a jig, just deep enough to occasionally trip the rocks on the bottom but not dragging bottom, most fish spend about 80% of there lives on or near the bottom sheltering from the currant around structure day and night in search of food, so why put your fly any where else unless there showing them selves on or near the surface, any way hope this may be of help to someone out there.