Fly fishing rod

On the fly: switch to saltwater fly fishing

With all the visitors arriving on the slopes, the reverse also tends to happen. Locals know it’s time to get on a plane and continue fly fishing in warmer, salty climates. Winter and spring are the best times on bonefish flats, lowland rockfish marshes, and backcountry mangroves for juvenile tarpon and snook.

Saltwater fly fishing tends to be the next step in a series of natural progressions for the trout angler. Once someone “masters” the art of trout and fly, they tend to wonder what else they could pursue. Mountain fishermen will have to throw away everything they know because it’s a whole new game when you target a more powerful species in a totally different climate that focuses on very different foodstuffs. The casting, the hook set, the visuals and the way you work the fly are totally different from the trout games we play here.

Roaring Fork Valley guide Kyle Holt takes on a Florida Keys tarpon. (Courtesy of Captain Kris Suplee)

It all starts with the rod and reel, so you can leave weight 5 behind. Most saltwater species require a weight of at least 8, plus the reels are bigger and the fly lines are different right down to the core. Practicing before you go can save your trip, as this large rod will look like a piece of wood compared to your whipped trout rod. Being able to have the fly in your hand (the ready position) and then accurately positioned 60 feet from the boat with two or three casts doesn’t come naturally to most. On a dish, you usually have a few seconds to react to a cruise, rockfish, or bonefish license.

To make a saltwater trip worth it, it’s worth researching what species you may encounter, what they eat, where they like to hang out and why, as well as the most popular local guides. competent (if there are any). If you can find a guide, be on time, listen, be humble, and follow their directions until a T. Being prepared is key; investing in the right gear, glasses, clothing, tools, and flies can make or break your trip.

Most of the people behind the counters of our local fly shops tend to be part-time or budding saltwater fanatics. Ask questions, create a map, save money and plan the next progression of your passion for fly fishing. We all need something to look forward to in this life – anticipation is one of the purest forms of pleasure.

This report is provided weekly by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or at