Can You Use a Normal Fly Line in Saltwater?

If you are an avid angler, you must have realized that fly lines come with different features, including colors, weights, densities, tapers, and sink rates. Some fly lines are ideal for freshwater fishing, while others are used for saltwater fishing. But can one use a regular fly line in saltwater?

You can use a normal fly line in salt water if you clean it afterward. However, the line will not last long, as it will quickly decay and break, forcing you to buy a new one. Therefore, using a specific saltwater fly line is preferable when fishing in saltwater.

This article explores a few topics related to fly line fishing, including the differences between freshwater and saltwater fly fishing, the features of saltwater fly lines, and their properties. Read on to learn more.

normal flies will work in salt water

Differences Between Freshwater and Saltwater Fly Fishing

Freshwater and saltwater fly fishing are popular methods that anglers have used to catch fish for decades. However, the two fishing techniques differ in various features, such as:

  • The size of the equipment used.
  • The fishing environment.
  • The fishing strategies you should employ.

So, despite overlapping at some point, freshwater and saltwater fishing are uniquely different activities.

Saltwater is highly corrosive compared to freshwater. As such, the fly line you use in saltwater fishing should be made up of high-quality materials that are rust and corrosion resistant. These include:

  • Polyurethane
  • PVC
  • Polymer

In addition, saltwater fish, found in water bodies such as oceans and seas, are larger and more aggressive than fish in freshwater bodies like:

  • Rivers
  • Ponds
  • Streams
  • Freshwater lakes

For this reason, use fly lines that are strong enough to handle big and aggressive fish when angling in salt water.

Below are other factors to consider when fly fishing in freshwater (normal) and saltwater:

  • Nature of the fly rod. An 8-weight rod is suitable for smaller saltwater fish up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg). However, if you are fishing in strong winds and for larger fish weighing up to 50 pounds (23 kg), consider using a 10 or 11-weight rod. For freshwater fly fishing, use 1-7 weight rods.
  • Nature of the reels. In saltwater fly fishing, you will use the reels most of the time, requiring a powerful drag system. Freshwater fly fishing reels, on the other hand, have less drag, and you will rarely use them. 
  • Type of flies used. Freshwater and saltwater fly fishing require different kinds of flies. Wet flies and crustacean flies are the best for saltwater angling, while dry flies and baitfish flies are ideal for freshwater fly fishing. Moreover, dry flies float on water and look like sipping flies, but bait flies sink and mimic the swimming motion of tiny fish.
  • Size and weight of the lines. Saltwater angling involves catching large fish in potentially deeper water. As such, you will require heavier lines compared to fishing in freshwater. Also, the lines for freshwater fishing are smaller due to the reduced size of the rod, flies, and the leader.
  • The target fish species. Your fly should represent the bait of the target fish, whether freshwater or saltwater. For saltwater, your target could be redfish, bonefish, snook, and permit, or some prize fish such as tuna, sailfish, and tarpon. You may target bass, carp, and trout in freshwater, among others.
wire used is important

Features To Look For in a Saltwater Fly Line

You might be wondering what to look for when acquiring a fly line for saltwater fishing. Well, it’s vital to consider various features when acquiring fly lines for this fun-filled art. 

Below are some of the popular features to look out for in saltwater fly lines:

  • Color of the fly line. The fly line’s color is essential, especially when throwing streamers or using a sinking line. So, choose a color that matches the clarity of the water. You can use a blue fly line for clear water, while a green one will be perfect for murky water. Additionally, some manufacturers offer a clear fly line which will be the most camouflage. 
  • The density of the fly line The best sinking saltwater fly lines have tungsten added to their coating. On the other hand, suitable floating fly lines have hollow micro balloons on their coating. And these regulate how much your line sinks or floats.
  • Type of taper. There are two options: the weight forward taper and the shooting taper. Therefore, go for a fly line with the former if you are targeting close fish that require quicker casts. Choose a shooting taper if you are making longer casts to fish that may be more easily spooked.
  • Temperature. You will carry out saltwater fishing either in freezing water or in warm water with humid air. Therefore, go for a line that can tolerate both extremes. Otherwise, it will break due to expansion and contraction.
the line used is important

Types of Saltwater Fly Lines

Various types of saltwater fly lines are available in the market, each with advantages and disadvantages. Hence, it would be helpful to know the kind of line you need. 

Some of the fly lines you’ll find on sale include:

  • Weight Forward Taper (WF). This line has its first ten feet (3 m), being heavier and thicker than the rest. Thus, this allows for strong and accurate casts. Moreover, it enables you to place a fly into the water gently. It also makes casting easier, especially on windy days. This line is ideal for short, quick casts. 
  • Double Taper (DT). This line is tapered at both ends, which enables it to hold the loops with more stability. It is ideal for roll casts and delicate presentations.
  • Level Taper (LT). This is a straight line that is very affordable. However, it’s difficult to control in most circumstances.
  • Shooting Taper (ST). This is the best line to use if you want to cover a lot of water with a streamer or need to make long casts to wary fish. 

Parting Shot

It’s best to use the most appropriate fly line for the waters and the fish species you are targeting for a successful day of fishing. However, you can use a normal fly line in saltwater if you’re in a pinch. Just make sure you clean your fly line soon after to prevent the saltwater from further damaging your fishing materials!