Published Jul 16. 2007 - 14 years ago
Updated or edited Aug 8. 2015

saltwater flyfishing - advice needed!

Hi everyone,

I'm new to saltwater fly fishing and I need a little help on a typical setup for sea trout. :oops:

[b:dd3e3afd84]1[/b:dd3e3afd84] - What breaking strain of leader?
[b:dd3e3afd84]2[/b:dd3e3afd84] - What length of leader? ( My rod is 10.5ft #7/8 )
[b:dd3e3afd84]3[/b:dd3e3afd84] - Tapered leader or just "straight from the spool"?
[b:dd3e3afd84]4[/b:dd3e3afd84] - Weight Forward or Shooting Head?
[b:dd3e3afd84]5[/b:dd3e3afd84] - Floating line or intermediate?
[b:dd3e3afd84]6[/b:dd3e3afd84] - Are "polyleaders" recommended?

Thank you

DistantStreams's picture

One question = many...

Hi Jonathan,

I am sure you'll get hundreds of answers, all different.
There's no real formula or correct way. As you progress, you'll find what works for you.

I can answer with my experience and what works for me.

What breaking strain of leader?
Basically you want a tapered leader to allow a good turn over and presentation, tapered to a tippet of around 23mm. Some, and including myself, have used tippets as fine as 15 to 20mm. But as a beginning, I would go for 23 to 25mm.
Expect average fish weights of 2 to 4kg.

What length of leader? ( My rod is 10.5ft #7/8 )?
That's weather permitting.
Normal conditions - 9ft.
Night and strong wind - 7ft
Calm, summer, crystal clear water - up to 12ft, maybe more...
A 7/8 rod, for some, may be to heavy. But that depends on what species your targeting.
I use, and always have used a #5 in all weathers and seasons. I have never had a problem.
As an average, good all round rod...A #6/7 handles everything.
Tropical species, the above does not apply.

Tapered leader?
I answered that. Tapered.

WF or SH?
Personal preference. I use WF.
As most sea trout lurk CM's from the shore line, distance isn't a priority. If you love casting...Then perhaps a SH.

Floating line or intermediate?
I use floating.
Intermediate still catches fish but I think most use floating in Denmark.

Are "polyleaders" recommended?
That's up to you.
I make my own and always have done with standard "bob's your uncle - any line I have", leaders.

Hope it helps.
You'll get many answers but don't stress to much. Experiment and enjoy the experience.
Happy chappies at the GFF will help, point you in the direction and some...May even point out a few sea trout for you?!

REMEMBER: GLOBALFLYFISHER have all the answers to your questions and with answers that are proven also to work.

See you out there at the GFF summit.

Hi Rip...

Hi Rip

You are using a #5 rod for seatrout on the danish coast ......, is it one of those special saltwater rods which is typically classified one or two classes below?

To get a lighter rod for the coast, I bought a Fenwick Techna AV Saltwater #6 , but actually
it is a lot heavyer than my class 7 Fenwick Ironfeather :wink:

What specific class 5 rod are You using for the coast?

By the way, the 8 feet #4 Zeplin & König rod, I bought from You worked very fine for me, under my trip to Slovenia. I caught a lot of grayling, brown trout, rainbows and a single marble trout :D

Kind regards
Allan Wermuth

DistantStreams's picture


Hi Allan,

I have been using a class #5 at the Danish coast for longer than I can remember. Regardless of conditions and seasons, I have never experienced any problems with a 5 weight.

The rod I started with up until 2005 was a Fenwick HMG AV #5 (gavf 905-2 9ft #5), and a medium action.
The fact of the matter is...I still have the rod and it's still in excellent condition, including the cork.
I even used it at the last GFF summit and landed some nice fish on it. Pictures are ever present on the GFF '06 article.
It's not mean't to be for saltwater but it copes - and very well.
It is very light and browsing the weight charts and characteristics, it seems rated well and simillar to other 5 weights.

Many put down Fenwick but I havenever had any problems with them.

Last year, I picked up a Vision #5 for dirt cheap and, although rated a freshwater rod, it handles the salt well but I am reluctant to retire my Fenwick. Call me sentimental but the Fenwick has given me much luck and nice fish so as long as "she" continues to do me proud, I'll abuse "her"!

I suppose the main reason why I always enjoy to argue that a rod between a 5 and 7 weight is perfect for the Danish salt, is because I know the weight in question can handle Danish salt and the size of fish present.
I see many thrashing the water with heavy #9 and even #10 weights. Why?

My Fenwick will be back in action at the GFF summit '07. No doubt, "she'll" do me proud - again.

Maybe Fenwick should pay me for this promotional piece?

Rip Van "I love my Fenwick".

Jonathan's picture



Great fish Ripley, looking forward to hooking some of those in the summit this year!

I'm looking to buy a new saltwater fly reel and was wondering if you had any recommendations?

At the minute I'm leaning towards a Vision GT, do you have any comments on this reel?


Hi Rip...

Hi Rip

Actually I have a Fenwick HMG AV #5 4-piece rod in my possesion. Maybe I should try it out on the coast, and se if I get lucky :wink:

I have no appointments this weekend, so from friday afternoon to sunday evening I will be hunting seatrout at the coasts on Fyn :D


DistantStreams's picture



Unfortunately, I can't give any recommendations for the reel you mentioned.
For 4 years I have used a Fenwick Nighthawk, as in the picture. It's pretty robust and takes a hammering and to be frank...What ever you are going to use for the salt - must be able to stand the most corrosive element on the planet - salt.

I also know that the VISION XLA is pretty darn good and most of the reels made in Composite from Loop, Vision and Scierra. There are so many on the market so choose well and don't be sucked into buying something that equals a household mortgage.

The main thing you want is a reel that can stand the salt, minimum moving parts and a good drag.

I have just received today, a LOOP CLWC.

I have heard it robust and thought I'd treat myself and besides...It looks dandy.

My Fenwick is a 2 piece but I doubt there's little difference between the two.
Good hunting. I am also out this weekend for sea trout.
I am sure the Fenwick will do you justice.

Tight lines

Jonathan's picture

Re: Salty...

Hi Ripley,

I've been looking at those [url=]Loop CLW[/url] reels as well, they're not too expensive and they get great reviews!

Done a bit of researchl! Apparently the clear one is better as its stronger and lighter than the black one! It is made from the same material that riot shields are made of and is virtually indestructable! [url=]click here[/url] its the thread posted by "TheKeeper" close to the bottom!

They are selling them in the UK at the same price for black or clear!

Might be tempted to go for the clear as well !!! (Hope that wouldn't spoil your street cred!)

See you at the summit.


DistantStreams's picture

Street Cred...


I have no street cred. By all means buy it, use and catch with it.
I tried the reel today and I am really happy with it. Very impressed.
As for the GFF summit...I imagine I will result back to the old battered Fenwick Nighthawk but I will certainly have the LOOP CLWC as a back up in the car.

The waters very Ripley

Saltwater flyfishing...

Hi there, I usually use 9ft 8wt rod for my salwater fishing. 10,5ft rod seems to me too long. It is not so easy cast whole day into the wind with so long rod. And danish coast can be very windy. So that is the main reason for me to use shorter rod.
I also use tappered braided leader made from monofilament in lenght of 5 feets. 4 feets of tippet made from 0,23mm fluocarbon are attached to the leader. I have used WF lines so far, but I have recently ordered RIO Outbond line, so I will try it soon

Hi again Jonathan....

Hi again Jonathan.

It both agree and disagree with the advice you've got so far. I guess you'll be fishing Oslofjorden and those areas, and if you'll be fishing with flies directed towards sea trout, you'll be picking up cod, pollack and bass as an added bonus.

I've SWFF'ed now in the last 5 years about 5-6 months a year. My standard set-up is a 9ft stiff rod rated for an #8. This rod has the back bone to handle strong winds and big fish. Anything lower than an #7-8 will be too light to handle big cod and pollack.

Now I don't know whether you're a profficent caster, but using a #5 for a relative beginner along the norwegian coast will cause too much frustration due to wind and the such. I use a #6 when the wind isn't too strong, but this is only after I really got to grips with shooting heads and double hauls.

So my advice is:-

Get a light weight 9-9.5ft 7 or 8 weight rod with a saltwater resistant/proof reel and a shooting head set-up. A floater is mostly used with a slow sinker on cold days and a fast sinker for getting done to the cod/pollack if you're out after them.

After you're happy with your casting or in flat calms or near flat calms, progress to a 5 or 6 weight.

Most I know use a #7 as standard, and even go down to a #4.

Good luck with whatever to choose to go for.

Jonathan's picture

Hi Wiggy,...

Hi Wiggy,

Thanks for the advice/words of wisdom!

Are you going to the summit :?:

I have a 10ft #7/8 reservoir rod which I'm going to take to the summit, it's got a fast action and can throw out a good line in a wind. I've used it on the Oslo fjord and it's had no problems so I'm sure it'll be fine for the Summit!

My casting is not the best, I'm self taught :roll: so never had lessons - hopefully some of the guys at the summit can give me some advice on technique!

Thinking about going for the LOOP CLWC 5eight reel as mentioned in one of my previous threads, should be just the job for SWFFing!

Thanks again

Th etrip over to the GFF...

Th etrip over to the GFF summit looks doubtful. In the next three months shall be going to GB twice and Bergen, so I've been assured by the boss that the holiday pot is empty! Maybe next year.

As regards your 10ft'er. Shouldn't be a problem, though your arm may get tired quicker from casting with a 10' as opposed to a 9'. Though with that said, you'll be able to spey/roll cast alot better with a 10ft rod in hard to cast areas.

The reel you describe is just the ticket. By all accounts a very good reel and saltwater proof I believe.

So it sounds like you're sorted!

Martin Joergensen's picture

Rod weight...

Jonathan and others,

I don't want to be the one who tries to be "the wise guy" here, but just recap my own and a few fellow angler's experience from our last many years of coastal fishing in Denmark.

Most of us fish with 5 or 6 weights these days - whenever the conditions allow it. Some use 9' rods some slightly longer 9'6" rods. We usually have some sturdier rods as a backup, mostly 6-7 weights, rarely 8 weights and never 9 or 10 weights.

The reason for choosing 5 or 6 weights are manyfold, but my personal reasons are the following:
- Casting a 5 weight is a lot more fun than a 7 or 8 weight. And coastal fishing is a lot about casting, particularly if you don't have well trained eyes to spot fish and likely lies.

- Catching a fish is a lot more fun on a 5 weight than on a 7 or 8 weight. The average fish is fairly small (40-45 cm) and no problem handling on a 5 weight. Larger fish can be challenging, but we have caught and landed sea trout and rainbows up to 5 kilos and more on these light rods.

- Modern 5 weights are a far cry from past time's stream rods. You can get fast and firm rods with saltwater eyes and a fighting butt.

- Presentation is A LOT more important than most people fishing for sea trout think. Spooking fish is probably the most common reason for not catching anything when fish are around. Sea trout (and escaped rainbows) sometimes go VERY close to the shore in VERY shallow water, and heavy gear is the last thing you need and want.

- Personally I use WF-lines more and more often over shooting heads, and stress the importance of distance less and less. I have shooting heads for 5 and 6 weights, but prefer a good WF-line in most situations. The 8 weight might have more backbone for distance casting, but when distance is second to presentation, well...

The 5-weight can be hard to cast in really severe wind, but so can an 8-weight.

I will bring a bunch of rods for the Summit in the 5-7 weight range, and provided I get them back in one piece (or at least as many pieces as they were on the outset), anybody can borrow and test these rods during the weekend - provided I have one to fish with myself. The Summit is as a whole a very good place to try out all kinds of rod and line combinations.



DistantStreams's picture

Just what I wanted say - and did....

[quote:347c4a59fa]I suppose the main reason why I always enjoy to argue that a rod between a 5 and 7 weight is perfect for the Danish salt, is because I know the weight in question can handle Danish salt and the size of fish present.
I see many thrashing the water with heavy #9 and even #10 weights. Why? [/quote:347c4a59fa]

Even a 7 could be to heavy..?

The below taken on 5 weights.


Re: #5...


Many put down Fenwick but I havenever had any problems with them.

Could you elaborate a bit on this? I have heard the same thing once a while ago, but never really got deeper into it.


You have probably made your purchase(s). Here's a my quick input, however. First a bit on the leader issue.
For a couple of years now I have used fluorocarbon leaders, which have an ability to sink as the leader is a bit heavier than the water itself. However, it is as easy to cast with as a regular leader. In this way you get the best from the regular leaders and poly leaders. I have been using these: but I know that for instance Loop also make them.

Poly leaders fish excellent, but are too heavy to cast with in my opinion.

By the way. I also use a Loop CWL (the black one). It's working flawlessly - and has been for more than two years now. The handle has corroded, however - even though I have put it in water after most trips.

suitable light rods in the salt...

Can I come in with a request for help on this topic?

This year my wife, Nan, offered to buy me a new rod for my birthday. I fancied a 9foot #5 to use at the GFF Summit so looked through the catalogues and settled on a Vision 3Zone six-piece. Described as "medium fast/mid tip" I thought it would be just the ticket for fishing and travelling. Wrong!
I tried it and quickly put it away at the summit, to be investigated further back home in UK. Tried it today on a small lake fishery, and it handles like a wet noodle! It feels very much "over-lined" and seemed happier with half a DT4F line. Does anyone else have experience of this rod? Have I just got the duff one in the bunch or is this typical?

Anyhow, I've complained to the seller, and we are getting somewhere but not too far yet.

Recognising all the caveats about recomending rods for other people, is anyone prepared to advise on "what works for them"? Sage is out of my range - [u:750e613079]too [/u:750e613079]fast (usually) and too expensive. I'd fancy a Scierra but am unsure what weight to go for (4/5 or 5/6?? I'd presume the 5/6)and which model in my mid-price range (round the 200 pounds mark). Anyone care to venture an opinion?



I think a #5/6 weight rod is good for allround purpose fishing in big rivers and light saltwater.
An example: Scierra HM3 rod ( 3 pcs.) 9 ft #5/6 can fill your dreams :wink:
(I am using the same rod in #7/8 since a few months here in Stavanger (Norway) Coasts and i am really happy with it.)
The price is good for the quality ! not too expensive and not too cheap. Buy this rod (Rec. weight 11 gr) and you can choose between floating 6 weight or 5 weight double taper line.

Dear Ripley, what kind of flies are you using with your 5 weight rod at the Danish coasts for seatrout? an example: with a Mallard or Polar Magnus in big sizes must be difficult or not? :roll:

I am using for Seatrouts, Pollacks ([i:99936ff559]Pollachius pollachius[/i:99936ff559]) and sometimes for Torsks ([i:99936ff559]Gadus morhua[/i:99936ff559]) here in Stavanger coasts:
SCIERRA HMS Scandinavian Saltwater rod in 9'3 ft, # 7/8 , 3-pcs with a Traxion 7/9 Reel. (This is my favorite equipment)

I am not using Shooting Heads anymore > too much work for me :lol:
GUIDELINE Pounch Pro is now my favorite floating line at the coasts. But be careful: they wrote on the original flyline packs 32 Meters and its not true ! I got them in 29 meters and one of them was only 26 meters :evil: But 25 meters are long enough for my mission :wink:

I am using STROFT GTM 0,25 mm in 8 ft.


DistantStreams's picture


Hi Feriden,

Basically, I use small flies for Danish sea trout. I never use the Magnus or own any of those varied patterns.
The standard size of hook I use is a size 10 but in Autumn I tend to use smaller 12's and 14's. I have always used small flies and see no need for anything larger than a 8 but I have seen some use a size 2. Slight over-kill in my books.
95% of my fly box is based on small shrimp / scud patterns. I like to use natural imitations like:

I have a few of these: tied on small size 10 and 12 hooks.

However the remaining 5% of my patterns are good old British wet flies. My favourite by far is the Teal , blue and silver:

I can't say this enough but don't worry to much about fly patterns. I have caught sea trout on everything. It's more the movement through the water.
Most anglers I know, familiar to Danish salt use 2 or 3 of the same patterns as a religion.

Stay small, simple and natural.


Re: suitable light rods in the salt...

[quote:b0a8d3c952="Les"]Can I come in with a request for help on this topic?
Recognising all the caveats about recomending rods for other people, is anyone prepared to advise on "what works for them"? Sage is out of my range - [u:b0a8d3c952]too [/u:b0a8d3c952]fast (usually) and too expensive. I'd fancy a Scierra but am unsure what weight to go for (4/5 or 5/6?? I'd presume the 5/6)and which model in my mid-price range (round the 200 pounds mark). Anyone care to venture an opinion?



You could also try a custom made rod instead of the well known brands. Ik got myself a custom made 3/4 from the USA for the little streams but they also make heavier rods. I used to own a 'brand-rod' but since i have the custom i wouldn't want anything else. Check out [url=]RDPflyrods[/url]. And with the current dollar value it can be very low priced as well. Good luck!

DistantStreams's picture



Would you like to buy my tried, tested and well broken in Fenwick HMG AV?
You've seen it in action...



Thanks for taking the time to reply to my request for fly-rod info. - both in the forum and via email - that was very kind.

@Feridun - I think you made a good recomendation there, as did Jesper via email, but before I buy again I will have to try the rod, I was silly to think that a catalogue description would give me a proper idea of rod-action. Be warned, anyone else who thinks its o.k. to buy without a try! A copy-writer's "Med Fast" can feel like a sloppy overlined and incapable twig when you use it!! I'll let you know whether the dealer comes up trumps (I'll sing his praises if he does) or lets me down eventually.

Ripley, you are so kind, but I think you've had the best out of that rod, and you owe it to the dear old thing to keep it into its old age!!

Thanks everyone,

DistantStreams's picture



I was joking. Do you think I'd part with the old faithful?! :D



Stephen Wade's picture

Ripley is right.. Dont worry...

Ripley is right.. Dont worry about having 100's of different flies to fish the coast. I use 3 patterns only. They are the simplist to tie and they catch fish. Ripley knows my rusty fly box so he can vouch that one. :)


Les, Hi,...

Les, Hi,

best rod is 1 p rod! I also have 3zone 6 p but weight 4. i have it only for trips when i combine biz trips together with fishing. My friend got the same 3zone 4 weight but 3 p and it is compleatly different rod much , much better than mine 6 p.

I will come to you with some offers on private.



Salwater gear...

A couple of days ago I returned from my trip to danish salt. During this fishing trip I used 5wt rod instead of my traditional 8wt. The wind was terrible, espcially from north. On many places no heavy rods helped us. When the wind was not so strong, 5wt rod was sufficient for my fishing. The only problem I had was cigar handle. The solution is easy, I will change from 5wt with cigar handle rod to 6wt full wells handle rod.

Hi All,...

Hi All,

I said that I would report on the result of my complaint to the firm that sold me a six-piece Vision 3Zone #5 rod. The firm (a LARGE one based in Glasgow, Scotland) swapped the rod for me, despite not being obliged to do so in law. :D

They sent me a 9ft Scierra CTC #5/6. A three piece, so it won't fit inside my rucsac, but it seems a lovely rod and feels like it will be able to cope with the fishing and the fish on the Danish coast next September. Bring it on! In the mean time, I'll give it a good work-out here in Devon, might even try it in the estuaries for mullet and bass next year, + anything else that'll look at a fly. Trout season is finished here till next spring :cry:


best rod is 1 p rod! I (...)...

[quote:31e1aa8597]best rod is 1 p rod! I (...) [/quote:31e1aa8597]

there are some really nice multi piece rods on the market where I definetely wouldn't say a one piece is the better rod.
I'm sure that the "same" rod of one manufacturer with different no. of pieces isn't the same, but I'm also sure that the rod with less pieces isn't always the better one.



Yes, o.k. but I know what Rolandus means. In the hand while actually fishing, the one-piece rod (theoretically) has less weight and no stiffer spots where the ferrules/joints/spigots are. so, all things being the same, its going to be a better rod.

Of course, when you try to put it in your car, or take it on the train, bus or aeroplane its going to be a d*** nuisance. There was a short-lived craze (in the 1970's) for one-piece beach-casting rods in the UK, but they were always taken to the fishing on top of a car. At 11-12+ feet long, they must have required a garage to store them!

Multi-piece rods are a boon when you want to shove the rod in a rucsac, and the modern rods seem well-designed with good actions despite all those joints. Still, with a double thickness of carbon on the overlaps, they do weigh quite a bit more, and that must affect the action compared to the "same" rod with less joints.



sure you have 4 more or less stiffer spots on a 6pc compared to a 2pc (I think 1pc is theory) and that will affect blank action ... at least in theory. But what I wanted to say is that I'm not sure if the rod with less pieces must always be the better one.
Regarding weight: A 6pc Five Rivers FTL blanks, 9', 6 wt, weighs only 45 gramms (a least on my letter scale). Compared to e.g. Sage blanks (that are blanks where I find blank weights on their website) that's a lot lighter than many 4pc blanks.
Maybe another draw back of multi piece blanks can be that the risk of loosen blank parts while fishing of 6pc at least in theory is 3 times greater than with a 2pc. But I think modern manufacturing techniques has minimized that risk in the last years.
In my eyes a 4pc rod is a good compromise.



Thanks for that, and I agree with you.

I am very happy with the 3piece CTC I have been given in return for my #5 weight 6piece 3Zone. My intention with the 6 piece was that I could carry it in my rucsac, keep it close in the aircraft in case they lost my baggage containing other rods, etc. I had no problem with the action of the rod as a fishing tool, but it was just too sloppy for use with a #5 weight shooting head in the Danish salt.

I could have found plenty of other uses for the rod, but that was the use I wanted, so I now don't have the multi-piece option open to me, and a 3 piece it is. I agree with you that the 4 piece compromise is probably the best compromise when transport, convenience, and use are all considered.

Regards and tight lines to all.



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