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



Rocky areas are one of the best venues to SWFF from, and most of the time will put you over deeper water. Safety must always govern the actual point you fish from at this type of venue. 

Sit and watch the wave pattern for a while, time your casts so your fly is allowed to drift out from the rock face and preferably into deep water. Imagine baitfish trapped against the rock face, a wave washes onto them, this disorientates the baitfish, and a few get swept away from the rock face and safety where they become vulnerable to predators. You need to imitate the action of disorientated baitfish with your fly.

Allow  your fly to drift around, feed line if you need to achieve a longer drift allowing your fly to work and cover as much water as possible. Intermediate and sinking lines will take your fly deeper and under the top water turbulence.

Do not neglect where the wave actually crashes against the rocks, the turbulent white water can be productive. Try and drop your fly into the wave as it hits the rock face, this will drag your fly down into the water, slip feed line allowing your fly line to work the fly. Crab patterns for Wrasse are worth a try.

Some excellent advice given below from Justin Anwyl on choice of which fly colour to use over deeper water.

"Fly colour when fishing over deeper water which will be the case on rocks, I tend to use a lighter coloured fly in overcast conditions as predators have a habit of attacking bait fish from below and from the side and therefore they use the flies silhouette to gauge distance etc, when the sky is darker you can get away with chartreuse, when the light is up I tend to go darker and smaller as a blacker hackle shows up better in higher pressure / clearer conditions (not dissimilar to Salmon fishing). Also Bass seem to be inaccurate when they hit, if you find you get a lot of takes but they don't connect I scissor my hackles down to the hook shank as they seem to be nipping at the tail feathers… if you get what I call a "brush off", stop the retrieve as a Bass may have tried to stun the fly but not take it, leave it for a couple of seconds allowing the fly to drop in the water, imitating a stunned fry, and then draw the fly line slowly but progressively quicker, this can stimulate a second aggressive take, as if the fry has regained it's orientation and begins to move away from the predator ".

UK Guide    Justin Anwyl


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Just getting to this type of venue may involve some climbing down cliffs; you have to have the skill of a mountain goat at times.

Some venues only involve a gentle climb up from the beach onto the rocks themselves.

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The water washing around rocks creates current and rips.

Plenty of ambush points for predators to attack disorientated baitfish.

Allow your fly to drift around in the turbulent water.

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Your quarry could be right at your feet. Rocks are favourite haunts of Pollack and Coalfish.

Be prepared to lose flies, and do not attempt to rescue a fly hung up on the rocks, your life is worth more than any fish.

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Note how Austen fishes back from the actual point of the rock. His footing is secure, there is no need to balance on the rock tip, your silhouette could actually push fish away.
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Keeping a low profile when fish are just beneath you is important. Fishing over submerged rocks can be very productive.

Being able to roll or spey cast will help you in these tight situations.

High tide over rocks. Courtesy of UKSWFF member
Know your tides and the environment around you. A fast rising tide will sweep you off the rocks. Do not get carried away with your fishing.
Gully. Courtesy of Photo is copyright

Gullies have the advantage of easier access to deeper water. Be aware that the majority have lots of seaweed.

Seaweed = food = predators.


Be aware of what's happening around you at all times, pick a fishing platform that would put you above any rouge waves that could sweep you off the rock. Do not climb down the rock face below the high tide mark, you will place yourself on wet and very slimy seaweed. A nightmare to climb back up safely, a rising tide will not wait for you.

Always make sure you know  the tides and allow  yourself plenty of time to vacate your position to safe ground, know your escape route. A rising tide can quickly cut you off.

Locating a safe landing place for your fish is important to your safety. Drop landing nets can prove useful and are more humane then just pulling a fish up the rock face dangling from your hook, bashing against the rocks on its journey.

This type of venue is only for the experienced at night.

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.


                See you in the Forum




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