PNW Beach Fishing – Match the Hatch

Match the Hatch for PNW Beach Fishing

Salt Water Fly Fishing - Tuesday Tips - Week #1

Brita Fordice kicks off the November’s United Women on the Fly Tuesday Tip theme of Salt Water Fishing.  This week Brita, Rio Flies Signature Fly Designer, walks us through not overthinking your flies when fishing the beaches of the Pacific Northwest.  Follow Brita at @seafly907.

“If you hear hoofbeats you should expect horses, not unicorns?”

You know the term “if you hear hoofbeats you should expect horses, not unicorns?”   Well that’s what I think of any time I hear an angler mention how intimidating it is to come up with patterns needed for their upcoming PNW beach fishing trip.  My answer is always the same:  Don’t overthink it!!   Every fish I’ve ever targeted on every beach will eat a worm or a baitfish.

Every fish I’ve ever targeted on every beach will eat a worm or a baitfish.

Aquatic Worms

My favorite fly to fish is an aquatic worm.  Technically they could be of the polychaete type, or cinder worm, or bristle worm, etc., but in person they all look like your typical worm.  They can be found throughout the water column in sand, mud, and in rocky floors.   A worm is an easy target, and fish can’t seem to resist them.   My favorite worm patterns for saltwater are cream, peach, or white woolly buggers (conehead work too), squirmy wormies (yup, these work well), and rabbit tail leeches.   I’ve found the best size for these is a 2-6 saltwater hook.

Polychaete Worm

Bait Fish

As for a baitfish, there are three profiles of bait in Puget Sound:

  1. Teardrop (like a sculpin)
  2. Long and skinny (like I dream of being one day) but in this case means a Sandlance
  3. Typical “baitfish” shape (like a smelt or Herring).   

As long as your fly meets one of these shape requirements you can use whatever color you desire and a fish will likely eat it.   After all, one of the best baitfish I tie for Puget Sound is a baitfish in the “electric chicken” color combo of chartreuse and pink….. which we all know is not a color of bait found in nature.  

puget sound sculpin

Teardrop Shape

Sand Lance Pattern

Long and Skinny

Herring Pattern

Typical “Baitfish” Shape 

Meet the Author - Brita Fordice

Brita Fordice is a native to Washington state and learned to fly fish at the age of 8 and taught herself to tie flies at the age of 10. Spending summers at her family house on the Stillaguamish river fed her desire to explore new fishing water.

After a few years in Idaho and Alaska following college she returned to Seattle in 2004 to begin guiding and working at the Avid Angler Fly Fishing Outfitters. In 2016 she was hired as a Product Developer for RIO Products to design RIO signature flies for RIO.  In addition to guiding Puget Sound saltwater for salmon and sea-run cutthroat, she has also extensively fished the waters of the Bahamas for bonefish, the Florida panhandle for migratory tarpon, Louisiana for bull redfish and beyond.

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