Saltwater Fly Fishing In The United Kingdom

Destination Reviews
Courtesy of Carl HutchinsonBass caught by ColinSteve searching for salty Sea TroutBass caught by CarlFin Fly WalletSplash of a sea troutPerfect SunsetPerfect Sunset



Go take a look at a beach at low tide, a spring low tide is even better. You will see a lot structure that will be hidden under the water come high tide. A beach is not as featureless as one might first think. 

Fish the beach on a low, high, flooding or ebbing tide. Observe what happens on each state of tide, get to know your beach. Generally fish a moving tide, a flooding tide is often the best as fish will follow the tide in hunting shallow pools. Use any currant or rip to sweep your fly over structure

Begin by casting parallel to the beach into the trough of breaking waves. If there is no noticeable structure, fan cast from one spot and vary your retrieves. No action? take a few steps down the beach and repeat. Wade slowly and feel your way along the beach. Fish will move with the tide from  one feeding spot to another, you must move with them, do not stand in one place casting into the same area for hours on end.

Small schools of baitfish do cruise parallel to the shoreline, so don't neglect fishing the breaking waves close in, rough water, your quarry is watching for those disorientated baitfish.

On calmer days you may spot spraying baitfish, this is a sign that your quarry is on the attack, get your fly into this area. Terns and gulls diving into the water will also show where baitfish are under attack from predators below.

Dawn, dusk and night being the prime times for fishing, cloudy days can also be productive.

Beach, Photo coutersy of Photo is copyright
You're asking yourself  "Where do I begin" as you look down onto the beach. A high vantage point is a good start. Note the troughs of water, these are fish highways allowing your quarry access to shallow water on a rising tide.
Structure. Photo is the property of

Shingle, sand, rocks, wooden stumps, a fresh water stream, troughs and pools.

All these structures will attract baitfish and will hold food, and your quarry will gravitate to this type of structure.

Sandbar. Photo is the property of
Sandbanks create movement, drift a fly around them and through the currants and rips. If drifting achieves nothing mix up your retrieves. Fish will swim up through the deep water pockets into the troughs in their search for food.

Sand and rock. Photo is the property of

Sand meets rock, fish will patrol these sandy areas on the lookout for food being washed out of the rocks by wave action. When the incoming tide begins to cover the rocks fish will also move over the same searching for food.

Bedrock. Photo is the property of
Bedrock, rotting seaweed and lots of small rock pools which hold crabs, shrimp and small fish. The incoming tide will bring your quarry in to dine.
Stump pools and concrete structure. Photo is the property of
Rocks, sand, a fresh water stream and wooden stumps. Perfect food holding areas and ambush points for your quarry.


Some excellent advice below from UK Guide Justin Anwyl.

"I've found that Bass don't seem too keen on holding over loose sand, as it seems to irritate their gill rakers, they pass through it chasing bait that's in it, but don't hold there. They seem to prefer broken ground, I look for tethered kelp which holds peeler crab and you sometimes find good bass just mooching around cherry picking them off the fronds, good for popper fishing. Also look for where a large expanse of beach has a very slight undulation, where I guide there is a flat 2-3miles round with a 9" furrow running through it, you probably wouldn't even notice it but what seems to happen is the more homogeneous the area (wide open spaces) the greater the potential for prey to get eaten,,i.e no cover for them, concentrations of baitfish congregate around this one furrow as do the bass, so even though the beach may look bleak or featureless you need to look for the "edge" i.e any change in contour no matter how small, in fact the more featureless the beach the greater the concentration will be. I think it's called "herding instinct"

When you see "Spraying baitfish" I usually guide clients to the margin of where the main action is occurring as larger Bass have a habit of letting the smaller predators do all the work while the more experienced hunters conserve their energy and just pick up stunned or injured quarry getting washed through them, you find that this is very common with most predators, as the older they become the more expedient they are.

Access to some sandbars could involve wading, remember on a flooding tide you have to wade back through those channels to arrive back on safe ground. Use fixed points to measure the rising water level. Rocks or shingle spits will help to gauge the time for crossing.

A flooding tide hides even the smallest undulation on a beach which when dry you don't even notice but can be "uncomfortable" if retreating with the tide at your maximum wading height!

Wind does play a factor, a flooding tide could be pushed in early by a onshore wind, the same tide could be delayed by a offshore wind, keep this in mind".  

UK Guide    Justin Anwyl

Be aware of what's happening around you, watch the wave action and always face into the incoming surf, heavy surf can knock you over and the undertow can pull your feet away from under you. Never panic, see the Info section on this website for guidance on rips, currant and wave action.

There is an element of risk associated with SWFF but if approached in the right way it is no more dangerous than any other pursuit or interest which involves water. Be prepared, let someone know where you're going, have a mobile phone on you, have the number of the local coastguard, wear a PFD ( Personal Flotation Device ) see the Tackle section.

Enjoy the beach and the surf, and learn about their environment.

                See you in the Forum




We run this site on an "Honest Box" system. Instead of charging for content like other sites, we offer it free.
If you feel this information has been worth something please support us by visit our SHOP and purchase something.
Your custom is appreciated!