started on a budget.
O.K, so you have decided you like the idea of trying
saltwater fly fishing here in the U.K. The problem is, either you have a limited
amount of money to spend getting set up, or you don't want to break the bank until
you know the sport is for you. Obviously the latest offerings from Sage or Hardy
won't fit into your budget. The following is intended as a guide to tackling up
on a limited budget, rather than a shopping list of exactly which tackle to buy.
Tackle purchases are a very personal thing and what's right for you may not be
suitable for others. I have broken the guide down into sections ( rods, reels,lines
etc. ) and have based it on purchasing brand new rather than used. As always it
pays to buy the best you can afford, but there are ways to save a few pounds here
and there. Internet search engines can be useful for locating reviews of tackle
on the many fishing bulletin boards and discussion forums.
For SWFF in the U.K. an #8 or #9 rod is generally
considered most suitable. There are a few #9 rated rods available for less than
£100, but the range is limited and I cant recall seeing any #9 rods for
around the £50 mark. A rod rated for #8 lines is capable of coping with
most UK SWFF situations and there are many more models available in this size
at lower prices. Many anglers favour 3 or 4 piece rods, for ease of transport,
but the same rods, as a 2 piece are often slightly cheaper. Rods specifically
designed with saltwater in mind come with a higher price tag generally , so money
can be saved by looking at rods designed for Trout reservoir fishing that co-incidentally
have SW proof fittings. Surprisingly, a lot do. Bear in mind that you will need
to give these rods a good clean in freshwater after a session in the salt. Whilst
some bargains are available online, by purchasing from a tackle store you have
the advantage of getting a feel of the rod before you buy, as well as advice from
the dealer and if paying by cash, you can sometimes haggle over the price ( especially
if buying a reel and line at the same time ).
There are many budget priced reels on the market.
Ideally for SWFF you want a reel with a level of saltwater resistance , a decent
line capacity and some sort of drag system. This narrows down your options a little.
Both Ron Thompson and Masterline market copies of the System2 reels and these
can be bought for as little as £30. If you prefer a large arbour reel then
there a several manufacturers who produce suitable reels. Okuma is a name that
springs to mind, having seen positive reviews on U.S. websites about these reels.
This is probably one area where it really pays
to buy the best you can. Personally, I do most of my SWFF with a 15 ft Sink tip
line, so I would recommend buying a fairly decent line and then saving money by
buying a cheaper Intermediate and / or sinking line. Certainly line selection
will be reflected by the areas you will be fishing, so seeking advice from others
who SWFF in the area or posting a query on a web forum such as http://www.ukswff.co.uk/forum/ will help you select the right line for you. Mill
ends/ factory seconds may seem cheap but can be a real lottery. You may be lucky
and get a line where the colour has come out wrong or the range has been discontinued,
but you could easily get a line that has manufacturing defects or is too short
Ultimately the cheapest flies are those you tie
yourself. However this can be time consuming and the initial outlay on tying vice,
tools and materials can be expensive. There are many people selling saltwater
flies, but much of the product they sell is unsuitable for U.K. use. I would recommend
purchasing from OceanFlies Contact them to discuss the areas you will be fishing
and the species your attempting to catch and they will be able to advise you on
which flies are most suitable.
Ask 10 SWFFishermen what leader they use and you'll
get 10 different answers, but none will be wrong. It's another area where it's
very much personal preference. One area where there seems to be unanimous agreement
is the use of Fluorocarbon, rather than Nylon monofilament line, especially during
daylight. It's not cheap, but it can make the difference between catching fish
or blanking. Buying it by the spool is cheaper than buying tapered, ready made
leaders, which aren't really necessary anyway.
Stripping Basket or Bowl
An essential item. There's nothing worse ( or more
dangerous ) than have loads of fly line wrapped around your feet when stood on
rocks or washing around in the current when wading. Quality, hard plastic ones,
such as the Orvis are very expensive. An alternative is the folding baskets designed
for reservoir use. The best option is to make your own from washing up bowl or
similar with a luggage strap or belt to secure it to your waist.
Waders - Chest waders are a must. I started SWFF
with a pair of thigh waders which are OK, but can restrict where and when you
fish. Breathable waders are becoming cheaper, but lightweight Nylon/Rubber waders
are a cheap, effective alternative as long as you don't mind sweating a little.
There's no need to buy a specific fishing waistcoat. Most of the things you need
when fishing can be hung round your neck on a lanyard or tucked in the top of
your waders. Most hiking /camping stores sell waterproof 'butt' bags should you
need extra storage. You will need some sort of eyewear to protect your eyes from
the glare off the water as well as wayward casts. Polarizing sunglasses can be
bought quite cheaply as long as you don't mind looking like an extra in CHiPs!
Line snips are no more than nail clippers.
Obviously there are other little bits and pieces
you will need - Fly boxes, forceps or pliers for hook removal, head lamp or small
torch, a wide brimmed hat or baseball cap and are just a case of shopping around
to find what you want.
There are a lot more questions and advice in the Forum