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



A excellent place for the newcomer to begin SWFF, river anglers will find estuaries more familiar than the stillwater angler.

Estuaries come in all shapes and sizes, and have moving water with both a flood or ebb tide. Fish move in on the flooding tide and back out on the ebbing tide. You have to make sure you are in the right place at the right time?

High tide can take longer to arrive the higher up an estuary you are than it does on the actual seashore, and the ebb tide could be late on an estuary as a large volume of water needs to empty back into the ocean. You need to mark the time it takes on the estuary for the tides to rise and fall at specific spots.

Undercut banks and mussell beds are great attractors to fish in an estuary and structure of whatever nature will create current where fish will lie. Floating, sink tip or intermediate lines it's trial and error?

Watch for the fish appearing on the flood tide, they will travel up the main channel rising up in the water as the tide floods in . Once the tide fills the channel and begins to spill out onto the shallows the baitfish will do so too and your quarry will follow . Water now  on the shallows has created a drop off into the main channel, big fish holding area, work your fly over that drop off and expect action. As the tide ebbs your quarry will be waiting in ambush for the baitfish to return from the shallows back into the main channel, make sure your fly is there too.


Courtesy of Malcom

Estuaries come in all guises, whilst some will have sandy banksides others will have woodland nestling down to their shores.

Two saltwater fly fishers work the mussell beds.

Cortesy of Malcom

Main channel in middle of photo, note the steep banks and shallows to the right. Fish this drop off on a flooding and ebbing tide.

Fish your fly around islands and groynes at low water, you may catch an odd sea trout or two?

Courtesy of Malcom
Mussell beds and sandbanks can be very productive, especially the former, find mussells and you will find your quarry, just take care you don't stand on your fly line.

Courtesy of Malcom

Little gullys of sand, shoals of baitfish will shelter here. Sit down back from the water edge, take time to see what's going on. You may see a shoal of baitfish being rounded up and pushed in tight to the bankside by your quarry.

Courtesy of Lee

Rip ( disturbed water ) over hidden mussell beds. A magnet for your quarry, work your fly through this water. Cover the whole run by casting in at the head and slip feed the fly line, effective for Sea trout. No need for big casts.

Courtesy of Lee
Wading through channels at low tide to gain access to sandbars is fine, but remember you have to wade back through the channels come the floodtide.
Courtesy of Colin Courtesy of Carl HutchinsonCourtesy of Carl Hutchinson

Do your homework and you will be duly rewarded. Colin, Carl and Steve each with a nice thick lipped estuary mullet.

The mullets feeding patterns were observed and then tactics were planned and rewarded when put into practise.


Some excellent advice below from UK Guide Justin Anwyl

"Estuaries (effectively flood plains) are usually flat and the spring tide cycle oxygenates a huge head of land mass which is not normally subject to oxygenation,this creates a large movement of all kinds of crustacean to follow the water out with the tide, not just fish. When the tide reverses and starts to flood, these creatures move back to their burrows right on the tidal edge, sometimes you can see Bass almost herding up on the foreshore chasing their food back into their homes, obviously the larger the tidal range the greater the propensity for food moving about and I think that acts as a catalyst for feeding".

UK Guide    Justin Anwyl

Estuaries can offer fishing similar to "flats fishing" fishing the shallows on a flood tide is great fun, a floating line and a popper or gurgler fly will produce swirls and follows betraying the presence of fish.

In the main currant ( only wade if safe to do so) cast across and down allowing your fly to swing round and dangle for a while then begin the retrieve. Make that fly work the currant, give line as it swings to cover a larger amount of water, mix up the speed and pattern of fly line travel and also the retrieve. And don't forget to try a few casts upstream as you would a dry fly, you could be surprised.

Mud can be a real danger on the banks of estuaries, you could be stuck up to your knees before you know it. Never venture out alone unless you know  the area like the back of your hand. Using a hard structured stripping basket can help when you're stuck up to your knees. Place the basket directly in front of you and push down on this with your arms, lifting your legs at the same time, crawl forward using the stripping basket like a zimmer frame until you reach a firmer area. Do not panic or struggle as this will make things worse.

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.


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