Fixed line fly fishing in saltwater

Next Summer, or whenever I can get to the coast here in the UK, I am intending to use my Tenkara rod(s) for some salty fly fishing. I hope to target flounders, which take a fly well, especially if it is ‘bounced’ along the bottom. In the past I have used jig flies on my spinning rods and had a few. I also fancy fishing for the smaller species which live down the side of the harbour wall or in the rock pools.

Although none of the rods I own are very expensive I have some concerns about them being used in such an environment. Obviously a good rinse down in freshwater then drying off seems the obvious maintenance answer but I am interested to hear of anybody else’s experience in saltwater or suggestions.



Not sure of the size of your rods or your target, but in general saltwater critters have a little more power than the freshwater.

My experience has been that the general water pressure plays a larger role as well. In rivers there is more soft water, where in the surfline and general tidal flow there is far stronger currents at play. A small fish turning in current can really fight harder with less effort.

In terms of salt and sand. Its just a horrible combo for a jointed rod. So easy for sand to find its way into joints. It requires care.

I am using carp rods…they are about 250…USD. I think they are around a 57-68 penny rating. I can cast a 4-6 weight flyline as my mainline. I have also fished them with furled leaders but the leaders do not load the rod very well.

I bought the carp rods to target both salmon and striped bass up to 15 #. Most of the fish I have caught have only been in the 2-4 # range and include fluke.

As a tip. I have found flatfish easier to land if landed side-armed instead of lifting. Less fish lost and they tend to glide in once you turn their head.

If I were you I would not risk your tenkara rods in the salt. I would find a budget 5m rod that will accept a minimum 4-5X tippet…something on the 40 penny stiffness rating.

the nissin 540ZX might be good…not that is a budget rod, but close to the other criteria.

Its not to say that you cannot just use a regular tenkara rod. You can probably do it…you may ruin it though. Either the salt/sand or hooking into a larger species that you did not intend on as a target.

I see my salt rods as being sort of an experiment. I take apart my rods and soak the segments after an outing. On a couple of occasions, I heard/felt the grind of sand in the joints. In the field, I did my best to rinse out the joint the best I could…then did a more thorough job at home.

It is a lot of fun for sure, but a far less practical tool compared to a fly rod. You really need to pick your spots and conditions to use it. Sort of a super niche set of conditions. I personally feel that even a fly rod has little place in the New England surfline, and the fixed line version, even less of a place. Its just not the best engineering for the task. For trout in streams…yes! For the surf…you really want to pick your moments.

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Thank you. I am very grateful indeed for your helpful comments. I think if I do go ahead I will buy another budget rod solely for saltwater use. However I may just have a fishing free holiday or see if I can find a bit of trout fishing in the area that I can get to.


Even though I’m fishing in warm waters, in summer we usually go to seaside (Mediteraneean sea) and in the last years I took with me the Tenkara equipment. I used a classical approach: rod, level line tippet and 1 fly. I did manage to hook 2 times some kind of garfish but due to the rod used, the hookup was not perfect and the fish managed to unhook close to me. It is fun but limited in the same way. I think that a keyriu rod would be more appropiate to use in salt water. And maybe some heavy flies or even squirmy wormy “flies”. Also looking on youtube channels I could fine these links that could be a starting point to anyone trying salt water tenkara :slight_smile:
Carlos channel:
Someone in Hawaii:
and Fisherman spoon: and

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Thank you. I have watched all the videos you have linked to. Now I can’t wait to have a go in the sea. All my rods are keiryu rods but I think I will duplicate my 360 rod and use it specifically in saltwater. It’s not an expensive rod.

I have already been tying up a few ideas but the squirmy worm ‘flies’ will feature. I used to do a lot of ultralight spinning with soft plastics and thought the ‘flies’ in the attached photo may work.


Thanks for all your help. Much appreciated


I would tie up a bunch of clouser style flies too.

Sort of a universal baitfish pattern. For a light rod you could probably skip the weighted dumbbell eyes…or buy weightless ones.

I have caught all of my saltwater fish on clousers. If I had to pick color combos, chartreuse and white…or just white.