Of the many questions that we receive here at Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures regarding destinations, fishing equipment, techniques and travel, we probably get more about fly patterns and fly selection than anything else. This is especially true when people are headed to the saltwater flats for the first time or to a new saltwater destination. With that in mind, we’re happy to make a few general recommendations and suggestions when it comes to tying, selecting or purchasing your saltwater fly selection for the flats.
Many people feel that the most important factor in proper fly selection when fishing the saltwater flats is color; specifically how the color of the fly relates to the color of the bottom. Many of the small creatures that live on the flats have evolved to blend in with their surroundings, camouflaging themselves to easily hide in the sand, coral and turtle grass. Consider that a bright white crab on a dark, grassy bottom would stick out like a sore thumb and would not last long! For this reason, many experts feel that it is important to match the color of the fly being fished to the general color of the bottom — be it grass, coral, mud or sand.
When it comes to selecting the size of the fly, a good general rule is the shallower the water, the smaller the fly. While this is not always the case, a smaller fly that makes a smaller splash when it hits the water is much less likely to spook fish feeding in skinny, shallow water. It is a good idea to have a variety of fly sizes, as you will encounter a number of different fishing situations and scenarios throughout the saltwater world. Larger flies can be fished in deeper water and on windier days, when more surface chop hides the splash of the fly as it’s presented.
In many shallow-water saltwater environments, you will also want a selection of bonefish and permit flies that are tied with weed guards, as turtle grass and coral can be a factor. Weed guards tied with mono seem to be the most effective. These weed guards can easily be cut off and removed if desired.