Saltwater Fly Fishing

One of the most common queries I get is around my approach to saltwater fly fishing. So here is a quick introduction.

I use 2 set-ups for most of my saltwater fly fishing. A 9ft 5wt with full floating line. This is my go-to kit when fishing over very shallow clean ground in clear water. One reason for this is the lighter outfit is less likely to spook fish. Another is that the flies I typically use here are small, similar to the size of most trout flies. Another plus is that this outfit doubles up as a mullet rod so I can target both species at the same time.

The other outfit I use is a 9ft 9wt. My personal favourite is the Mackenzie FX1 Salt rod. I have a few different lines that I use on this rod. Mostly I use a Rio Outbound Short coldwater line in intermediate and I also carry the full float in the same line (for surface flies). Another line I use is an OPST shooting head with various density tips. I find this line great for really big flies.

The majority of the time I am using the 9wt is for casting larger flies and or fishing over rougher ground. I also use it in estuaries in channels with a strong current.

October Bass on Lure and Fly

I recently spent a few days guiding Ken, Brendan and Lee for sea bass along the Copper Coast and around Dungarvan.  We had some of the best bass fishing in a long time.  It wasn’t just about the numbers of fish but the average size too.  We had some seriously well conditioned bass.


One of our best hard lures was the ever reliable IMA Komomo (sf125, slim 130 and Komomo II).  It really does do the business over shallow rough ground.  It casts well and works great on a slow retrieve.  The IMA Sasuke 120 is another similar and reliable lure.


I can’t explain the delight when Brendan caught his first bass in over 40 years!! He seems to be a natural when fishing weighted soft plastics like the Fiiish Black Minnow and HTO Artic Eel.


Ken was keeping up with brother and nailed some really good fish.


When everyone had caught the boys were very generous  and said I could fly fish for a while.  I didn’t need to be asked twice because normally I never get to have a cast when guiding and if there’s one thing I love to do it’s catching bass on fly.  I tie my own bass flies but also use some tied by friends of mine who are commercial tyers of predator flies.  Andy and Paula of Chasing Silver Flies tie some awesome  proven bass patterns.  My pal Dougie from Scotland also ties stunning predator flies.



We caught bass just about everywhere we fished, shallow rough ground – deep channels – clean sand bars and beaches.  Tactics were altered to suit the conditions – jigging soft plastics, weightless/weedless stick worms, shallow diving and surface lures.  Changing colours for different light conditions.  There is a lot to learn but what a way to do it!


The Copper Coast was just on fire and it one of the nicest places to pursue this hard fighting wild fish.


Of course when you are catching good numbers large fish it is important to practice catch and release.  Bass are a very slow growing species.


There are still good opportunities to fish for bass right through October and into November.  I’m looking forward to some more good sessions and I know the boys are itching to get back out there.

Silver September


I took a small break from guiding and blogging due to a family bereavement but got back into the swing of things towards the end of this month.  With still no water in the river and Brian from Tyrone coming for a weeks fishing things didn’t look great on the salmon front.  Maurice and Mike, also from Tyrone had some nice salmon the week before on natural bait but it was still tough fishing, even in the tidal beats.  Luckily, Brian has really taken to bass fishing so it he didn’t mind about the salmon.  I also spent a bass fishing session with Paul from the UK who was staying locally and hopes to come back around the same time next year.  I am lucky to have such a variety of excellent options on my doorstep.

Waterford Coastal Mark

Route to a Waterford Coastal Mark

Brian is a big fan of fishing surface lures for bass so I organised a few sessions over likely ground.  He was really enjoying the pleasant weather and the fishing turned out “better than expected” which was a real bonus.


The best fish Brian had for six days was an excellently conditioned bass of about 8lbs.  This fish alone made the trip worthwhile for Brian.


On his best session Brian landed 5 bass to 6lbs.


Releasing a Waterford Bass

Local angler/fishing photographer Kuba joined us on one of our sessions and he had a nice bass of about 4.5lbs.

Another nice fish

Another nice fish

Overall this set of spring tides fished well and I adopted a targeted and selective approach to our fishing sessions rather than flogging lures for hours on end.  The guys seemed to appreciate this as they were still a little tired even after these shorter sessions.  Although “bulging” surface lures seemed the most effective method, we still had fish on shallow divers and on soft plastics.  I had a lovely fish when showing the guys how I fish one particular mark with a weightless weedless paddle tail.

Revive and release

Revive and release

Brian landed a total of 11 bass for his 6 days.  He must have really enjoyed himself because he is talking about returning around the end of October or early November for one last throw!



Absolute Corkers

I generally don’t do any bass guiding outside of Waterford, preferring to leave it to the local guides in an area.  However, I do like to make the occasional visit to Cork every now and then.  There are great quality bass there too.  The forecast wasn’t too bad so Mike and I set off for Cork, boat in tow.  We launched and headed to a likely looking spot, where we were greeted by two IFI Fisheries officers traveling on Jet Ski’s.  I have to say this was a first for us.  We chatted for a few moments and then the guys left us to our fishing.  We made a good start with a nice bass of over 50cm on a plug.


This was followed by a very nice fish of 72cm also on plug.


Normally, when you get a large fish like this you don’t get another but Cork can be a special place for bass fishing.  I switched to a soft plastic and several casts later as we drifted along I felt a soft bump, bump, bump.  Everything went solid and I lifted into the considerable weight of a very good fish.  It put up a mighty scrap on my Teklon Concept Spin.  Finally the battle was over and the fish was aboard.  I took some scale samples and measured it at 75cm.  It was in superb condition too.


The tide was going out and we tried a few more spots.  2 more hits on plugs and then a nice little 44cm fish on the plastics again.  It was well worth getting up early to make the coming tide and considering we only fished for a few hours it was pretty awesome.  Can’t wait to get back there soon for another visit.


Fine Weather & Fine Fish

The dry summer has continued into August in the South East with high temperatures and little rain.  This fine weather is great for the beach etc but can make for some very tough fishing conditions . . . . tough but not impossible.  On the trout front the rivers have been down to their bones.  Still there was a rise in the evenings and this also included a rise of seatrout, particularly on the Munster Blackwater.  The opportunity to catch seatrout on light tippet and small dries was not to be missed and casting pupil Peter and I had some superb fishing.

Blackwater Seatrout

Blackwater Seatrout

Lovely Wild Brown trout

Lovely Wild Brown trout

Most of our productive bass fishing had been by night using soft plastics but the tides were springing this week and the brisk wind from the land was making a nice disturbance on the water.  This allowed for some decent lure fishing during the evenings.

Bass over 50cm

Bass over 50cm

Soft plastics continued to work well fooling some fine sea bass.

Bass over 60cm

Bass over 60cm

Salmon fishing had been really difficult.  A few fish were laded in the lower Suir on fly in the early mornings but it was very difficult.  The Blackwater was a similar story.  Regular visitor Brian had one nice 10lbr on spinning tackle from the tidal waters but nothing on fly on this occasion.

10lb salmon

10lb salmon

The Suir rose by 1ft on Sunday which gives very good salmon fly fishing prospects in the lower river for the coming days.