Newbie Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips

Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips usually not written

Newbie Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips - UWOTF Saltwater Series by Clairey Grubbs

Things you probably won’t find in a book about your first few flats fishing trips.  Especially coming from a Wyoming angler and salty noob.

Before my first trip to the salt I did my research.  Spent months reading, watching YouTube videos, using the google machine, calling experienced saltwater anglers and utilized my fly fishing groups on social media. I mean I really got after it.  I was over the moon excited to be leaving the frozen arctic circle (I mean the greater Jackson Hole area) and heading to get some long overdue vitamin D and potentially “gasp” a big three flats fish.

While I gathered quite a bit of intel, I found that  there are somethings that are not openly discussed or shared. You know, those things you learn from experience but never really think anyone else could benefit from. 

Support Your Girls

No, I’m not talking about your friends on the trip. Although, yes, they too need love. I’m talking about THE GIRLS! I can not express this enough. One of the best tips I ever received about “what to pack” was from my friend Heather. She told me to pack a good sports bra. 

Truer words have never been spoken! I don’t care what size TaTa’s you have when you are going 30 mph over waves to head out to the flats or get back to the marina while sitting on a yeti cooler, you will want to support those puppies! Holy smokes, jumping jelly beans, and unicorn farts if you take nothing else away from this piece take this advice!! Invest in your chest!

I suggest something with great support and with wicking properties. 

Newbie Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips - Support the Girls by Support the GIrls

Wear Compression Socks on the Plane

This is something I have recently added to my list. After noticing that my ankles swell to the cankle level of “are you sure you’re not pregnant and about to go into labor” proportions, I started doing research. Apparently this is a fairly common phenomenon. While it could be that you are pregnant and about to go into labor (if so please call 911 and disregard this tip! ) you must likely have been traveling from high elevations to low elevations, standing on a tiny platform for days, sweating and probably not drinking enough water which all play into the flats fishing cankles.

This is where a bit of pre-planning maintenance comes into play and you get to wear the sexy compression socks on the plane. They look especially becoming with flip flops. You’re welcome. This tip will help alleviate some if not all of your swelling.

You might even want to wear the compression socks to be bed if you have daily salt water cankles. Also, remember to drink extra water! Hydration plays a part into all things!

Newbie Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips - Wear Compression Socks

Know what time it is

You’re probably thinking what on earth is Clairey talking about? Who cares what time it is? I’m about to be on vacation time! I want nothing to do with a clock! Cue obnoxious noise now. WRONG! Probably the most frustrating part of my first saltwater fishing trip was learning that at the age of 42 I had forgotten how to use an analog clock. Huh you say?

Let me paint you a picture. We’ve motored across the Atlantic while watching a glorious keys sunrise. My girls are happy cause I had a sports bra on (just in case you were worried about them) and we arrive to the spot. Tarpon are starting to roll in the distance as you step onto the platform. You start stripping line out and await a shot. “Start casting” your guide calmly states. Ok, now they’re excited, “11:00!” And sh$t starts to fall apart. 11:00? It’s not even 7am! What are they talking about? The guides voice elevates, “point your rod, 12:00” annnnnnd stop. That’s when Clairey got her first lesson in telling time in 25 plus years. True story.

In the heat of the moment in a  digital world, having no prior flats fishing experience and filled with adrenaline; I was completely lost. And I lost a shot at my first tarpon because of it.

Now a days, I quiz myself before I go!! Seriously, #clocking is real. Just like the bow of the boat is noon, the front of my sequoia is. I call out times and point to them now as practice! Noob Tip: buy an analog clock and or watch.

Newbie Salwater Fly Fishing Tips - Know What Time it Is
Newbie Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips - Casting Clock from a Boat1

Keep your expectations in Check. This is a journey.

It has been said that “Expectations are Premeditated Resentments”. In my experience, truer words have never been spoken. I have thus far only fished with my husband while flats fishing. God bless that man. He’s an amazing natural angler and athlete y’all and for some reason I’m ridiculously competitive with him… This has proven to be not only unhealthy but not fun for anyone.

Knowing your skill level and capabilities ahead of time will set you up a bit better. Yeah, we’d all love to go on our first flats trip and get a grand slam but that’s a bit of an unrealistic expectation. I’m all for dreaming big and all but as with everything in life, balance is key. As Wayne Dryer said, “if I change the way I look at things, the things I look at change”.

For me, working on my expectations for each trip is so important. I need to focus on my journey and not only accept that I often fish with a far more experienced angler than myself but also acknowledge their journey as well. If I’m in a healthy reality I’m better set up to successfully enjoy my trip and better able to celebrate my fishing partners accomplishments too.

All in all, if you’re on a boat, fishinghard,  in the elements for 8 hours,  you’re going to build relationships and experience all sorts of things and feelings with your guide and fishing partner. Having harmony is kind of a big deal. Just saying.

Finally (but by no means, “the end” as stated, “this is my journey” and it’s ever changing and evolving) I’d like to share with you a couple of my silly but helpful practices as a noob.

Try a Mantra or Two

As a trout angler heading to the salt water, whether noob or seasoned salty pro, this tip WILL and I say that with 100% confidence, help you.

Repeat after me:  STRIP SET!

No, not just read it, I need you to say it out loud and mean it! Let’s try that again….

Repeat after me:  STRIP SET!!!

Ok. Now you’re smelling what I’m stepping in! Now is when I’d like to remind you I did say “silly but helpful”. Muscle memory is legit. No joke. It’s for real. Ask any trout angler who’s ventured south or better yet ask a salt water captain about trout setting. Fortunately for me this has been one thing that I’ve been widely successful at. Weeks before venturing out I get the “strip set” mantra going. Better yet, when my hands are free I actually practice the movement to the mantra and I can’t begin to tell you what it’s done for my salt water game! Do it!!! What do you have to lose?

The other mantra I am now using in all aspects of my life is a quote I got off a post in the UWOTF closed group. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Not only did that quote change my life but I’ve implemented it into everything. It also ties in perfectly to remembering that this is my journey just like, you too will have your own journey flats fishing.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Remember, trying new things is often hard, challenging, even frustrating at times.  Chasing the high of jumping your first tarpon or seeing backing for the first time in your fly fishing journey shortly before you hook and land your first bonefish is a feeling like no other. Be patient and kind with yourself. Ride the wave friends! Just be sure to do so with a good bra.

Much Love-  Clairey

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