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The Saltwater Experience - Fly fishing in saltwater

December 8 2008

As a lad, about 45 years ago I owned a fabulous little rod, about 8ft long, split cane, with a handle that you would reverse, making the reel seat either at the very end, or about a foot up the rod. This made it a great all-rounder, a fly rod, spinning rod and short bait rod and everything else in between. I was very lucky, growing up in the town of Bude, on the North Cornish Coast with a variety of fishing on my doorstep.

I would walk up the canal tow path to a little stream known as Sharlands, at it's widest no greater than 10ft where I could fish for magic little brownies with either fly, or spin with the proverbial Devon minnow. Sharlands then ran into a feeder, which divided into the Bude Canal and into the River Neat, which ran for about 2 miles before reaching Bude. At this point if you chose the canal you could coarse fish for roach, rudd and the like, and if you could keep well out of sight of the farmer, you could either fly fish, or trot a worm down through some swims on the Neat.

As river and canal met the sea I would fish with fly for mullet, and then off the breakwater into the surf for bass. It was as natural to me then, to fly fish in saltwater as it is to fish for trout in still waters today, yet we are led to believe it's a whole new 'ball game'.

Most of today's information, tackle and literature on saltwater fly-fishing is based on fishing abroad, for game fish used to warmer climes, but do not despair we have fine opportunities for fishing the fly in saltwater here in the U.K

As a professional game angler and instructor, and after experimenting over the many years with many combinations of rods, from double-handed salmon rods to heavy single-handed trout rods, I finally came up with the ideal rod for fly fishing from the rocks or from a boat. I have been using the superb Bruce & Walker fly rods for my casting demonstrations for some considerable time and after talking over my ideas for a fly rod specifically for saltwater use in the U.K they are now manufacturing a rod to my design. It is called the Bruce & Walker 'Derek Aunger Saltwater' rod and is now included in the Bruce & Walker brochure.

I suppose the word 'fly' is something of a misnomer. They are in fact fairly large streamers or lures, some up to about 8.5 cms long (that's about 4 inches in old money). The flys are best cast on a rod with a shooting head #9 line. You could be fishing just below the surface for top feeding bass, or deeper for mackerel or pollack. The excitement comes in knowing that you do not know what may take your lure. It's often the case that you only know what it is when it reaches the surface. One problem I wanted to overcome was to be able to fish two lures on one leader, as you would imagine this does present some problems with casting so after hours of experimenting I have finally come up with the solution, which I have named the 'Kernow Slider' and this is how it works.

The Kernow Slider

This set up consists of 2 parts.

1. The Main Leader With the Point Lure:

On the end of your fly line you attach 4ft of leader material (about 10-12lbs) and at the end of this tie on a barrel swivel (about size 6), on the other end of the swivel you attach a further 3ft of leader and to that your main lure. You now have a lure on the end of about 7ft of cast, with a swivel part way up the cast, this you will be able to cast quite easily.

2. The Slider or Dropper Lure:

The dropper is made up separately by tying about 6 inches of leader onto a hooked snap swivel, and the other end to your dropper lure.

The Method:

You first cast your main lure, and when it is below the surface of the water, and the fly line is taut, you clip your slider dropper onto the fly line and it will then slide down the line until it hits the swivel on the leader. You then do your retrieve, but now fishing with 2 lures, about 3ft apart, with the dropper, or slider lure achieving