Fly Fishing the Surf
Fishing in the UK & Ireland.
It may seem at
first a bit mad, but you can have a lot of fun
standing on rocks facing the sea and flicking a fly
into the depths, you may get some strange looks, but
it can prove a very successful form of fly fishing.
It is getting increasingly popular in the UK and
Ireland, with Pollack, Bass, Mullet, Flat Fish, Cod,
Mackerel amongst others all catch able on the
Best of all the
fishing is free and can be very productive indeed if
you hit a shoal of fish. However timing and location
Tides are key, you
ideally want the fish 3 or so hours before high tide
and the 2 hours after, this is because the fish will
come in close to the shore to feed between these
times closer into the rocks.
I will mainly look
at Pollack, this is the main species I have caught
on the fly, this is due to most of my fishing being
on the West Coast of Ireland, where Pollack is the
most common fish to catch. Similar principles apply
to Bass, Cod, Mackerel and others.
Firstly you need
to find a location, rock fishing marks are quite
widely published by various sources such are Fishery
Boards, Sea Fishing Associations and clubs as well
as the internet. In the Republic of Ireland, they
are very helpful by sign posting all rock marks and
sea fishing points and provide species catch able on
the brown signs, sadly they do not do it in
You need to find a
place with a sharp drop off or cliff where you have
deep water close in and plenty of kelp beds for the
fish to feed on. A ordnance survey map can help with
Secondly you need
to find out the tide times and coincide your fishing
time with these as mentioned.
In terms of
tackle, I use a 9ft 9wt Saltwater fly rod with a
saltwater reel and fast sinking lines and saltwater
Fast sinking and
lead core lines can prove useful when you need to
get down deep quickly to the level of the fish. It
is also of note that saltwater will make you line
sink slower. Some people favor shooting heads so
they can get extra distance, they are also quite
cheap to make. I have found the Jim Teeny T series
fly lines to very good as they give a good sink rate
and cast well, I mainly use a T300.
For reels, I use a
fancy saltwater proof reel, however a cheap basic
reel with do the job and it won't matter so much if
you bash it against rocks.
In terms of a rod,
to start with your usual 9-10ft 7-9wt trout rod will
do, if you discover you have a passion for it,
something more serious might be required.
For a leader a
good stiff nylon does the job, breaking strain is up
to you but between 10-20lbs with do the job.
The Flies is an area you
can have a lot of fun with and let your imagination
run riot with a feast of colors and flashy stuff.
They need to be on saltwater hooks so they don't
rust however. Flies with a bit of weight help if you
want to get down a bit. Cloucer Minnows, Deceivers
and the like work well in a wide range of colors such as green, white, yellow, red and blue or a
mixture of them. You could also go the budget route
and buy a pack of sea fishing flies, cut the leader
off and tie them on, they work and provide a cheap source
of flies. The flies will take quite a tool as
you bash them of rocks in casting.
It can be a dangerous
sport, always take someone with you when rock
fishing and be careful with the tides.
Good Luck and Tight Lines.
Saltwater Fly Fishing in Britain
and Northern Europe, by Peter Morgan.
UK website provide information on Saltwater Fly
Fishing in the UK, a great resource with a online
A freshly caught Pollack
on the bonnet of my Morgan, from the
near Clifen, Co
Fishing the surf at St
John's Point, Co Donegal, Ireland.