Saltwater Fishing Flies


Saltwater fly fishing is a world away from other inshore and offshore applications. It looks like fishing, but it may as well be a whole sport in its own right. I have met plenty of veteran fishos who have taken a dip in the saltwater pool, only to find they are in way over their head and have to go back to the basics and start at the beginning.

Finding the right flies, in particular, can be daunting. With so many on offer, each specifically designed to match conditions, species, and location, choosing a fly can feel like completing a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, blindfolded, in the dark, where all the pieces are different sizes.


If you are unsure where to start, start with a clouser fly. These are pretty versatile and are designed to look like a wide selection of baitfish. They come in heaps of different weights and a whole spectrum of colours making them ideal for starting out because they can be presented and used in so many ways. You can give them a fast retrieve, leave them static, or flick them erratically, and should still get some interest. Start with some clouser minnow lures in a variety of sizes and see what works for you.


Deceivers are another popular fly pattern because of their popularity among such a wide variety of species. I have taken everything from Mullet to Kingfish, sharks, and even small billfish with a deceiver. For smaller species, tie them onto a size 6 hook, for Kingfish and bigger species, go for a size 7/0 or bigger.


Throwing poppers out near structures can often pay dividends. You can pull these back with some speed and you’ll get fish coming from all over to see what’s going on. Another nifty trick is to use a popper when there is a school just a little outside of your casting range. Throw a popper out and pull it back with some vigour and you might just lure them over out of curiosity. Depending on the species, poppers can work well when they are drifting or stripped along the water. In the case where fish are just interested in taking a look, once you get them in close, you can move onto something else to get them to take a bite. Either way, poppers should have a place in your tackle box.


If you live on the East coast, like me, and you want to hunt Australian Salmon, add some surf candies to your tackle box. While I am told Salmon on the West coast prefer poppers or something a bit bigger, the East coast Salmon love surf candies. They have the same profile as their prey. I recommend choosing something transparent with a black eye.


For Kingfish and Snapper, a piper fly is the order of the day. For Snapper, give them a twitch and you will see how wild it drives them. Kingfish prefer to take them on the retrieve with a little bit of pace.

Once you start catching serious fish, your tackle box will swell with tackle you have tried and tested. Nevertheless, these patterns make for a great place to start with the most common saltwater species lurking around Australia’s coastline.


What do you think? What works best for you? Share your thoughts and experiences with other fishos through the comments section below.

Peter Hollingsworth

Peter has been fishing all around Australia since he was a boy. He loves camping, fishing and kayak fishing.