equipment Qs from new salt fisher

Hi all,

I am new to the area.

I have fished the streams around here for trout, but would like to try my hand at the sea run cutthroats and anything else that prowl the shores. I am hoping to try all the areas around: Golden Gardens, Edmonds, Tacoma....

I have the standard trout setup: 8.5 ft, 5 wt rod, and the 5/6 reel. I suspect I would need a separate setup for salt.

What would be your suggestions for a rod/reel/line combo, if I also have faint aspirations fo steelhead in the streams come fall? I would think a 6 to 8-wt line with a 9 to 9.5 ft rod. Floating line vs sinktip?

The gears should be specifically designed for salt, right? Many makers have designated salt vs freshwater there a big difference and should I pony up for the ones designated "saltwater?" Are there saltwater-specific rods too?

Finally....any good fly shops you could recommend? I live in Seattle, near downtown (Magnolia). I know Creekside has a shop in Rainier Square and Issaquah (which I've been to and is good but the opposite direction if I'm heading out to the shores).



You should stop by Puget Sound Fly Co. down in Fedeal Way/Kent. They specialize in fishing the salt. You might consider giving them a call, nice guys who will provide you with lots of good information. They're also a sponsor of this website, so by supporting them, you support this board.
Thanks ibn. I will check them out.

I did a search also on this forum, and will go get the "Fly Fishing Sea Run Cutthroat" by Les Johnson book.
newcaster2 said:
... and will go get the "Fly Fishing Sea Run Cutthroat" by Les Johnson book.
Now you're clicking; most of your initial questions will be fully answered as you read the book. You can use your fresh water gear, just rinse/soak thoroughly after each use, and dry before putting away. A 6wt rod is all you'll need for the beaches for SeaRuns, with a dry, and clear intermediate lines. Some also prefer a 7wt rod if salmon are available. A stiff 6wt rod should be just fine for summer run steelhead as well. I use a 9.5' 6 wt. rod, though a 10 footer works well too, and is helpful mending lines for steelhead.

Look for reels that are fully anodized, as they resist salt water corosion. Otherwise, you may want to pick up a low cost reel, and just be sure to wash thoroughly, and it should get you several years of use.
See the excellent article called Fly Fishing the Salt for SRC written by Greg Tims on this web site. It is an excellent primer. But I agree with others that Les Johnson's book is among the best.

In addition, you will want a stripping basket. Line management in the salt is critical, especially when standing in a bunch of sea grass. I prefer the more rigid style of basket. LL Bean sells a decent one for less that $20. See their web site.

I also took the class offered at Avid Angler in Lake Forest Park. Wealth of information at a reasonable price. I benefitted by hearing not just about the SRC but also about habitat and normal questions about fishing the salt.

Good luck in getting started!:thumb:


Active Member
Brian B said:
In addition, you will want a stripping basket. Line management in the salt is critical, especially when standing in a bunch of sea grass. I prefer the more rigid style of basket. LL Bean sells a decent one for less that $20. See their web site.

Good luck in getting started!:thumb:
iagree ....stripping basket is nice to have...on certain days when the green gunk is making a munk of your line and casting. Your current FW gear might be good for SW fishing...just like SD said make sure to treat it afterwards with a good rinse of fresh water. SW fishing requires a little more maintenance of your gear....not a lot but some.
You can use almost any reel and rod for the salt, however I would focus on the care for your gear. There is a section in the search for taking care of your gear. Pamper your gear and it will be there when you need it. Neglect it and rust is a guarentee.

Richard E

Active Member
You're received great comments, so far!

1) Buy Les's book.
2) If you're down in South Puget Sound, visit the Puget Sound Fly Co. The owners are fishing junkies and spend tons of time in the salt. Nice guys that have lots of information to dispense and great stuff to buy. :D
3) A fast 6 weight, with anodized reel, will work great for most of the year. (The 6 will work for summer steelhead; you'll eventually get an 8 for winter steelhead and larger salmon. Trust me.) Clear intermediate lines are popular, but I've gone back to the old sink tip; less memory and tangle less often. A good line for you would be a multi-tip line. You get a floater, intermediate, Type 3, and Type 6 tips. It's an expensive line initially, but it's about the same price as two lines, and you effectively get four lines. And, you don't have to buy and carry extra spools!
4) Buy a stripping basket. LL Bean has one at $20 that is a screaming deal.
5) Take a class from a local shop. The Avid Angler instructors know that their stuff, as do the Creekside folks (I don't think they do classes as often as Avid Angler), and as noted in 2), the Puget Sound Fly guys are super knowledgable (but I don't they offer any classes).
6) Get a stripping basket. I know I already said it, but it needed to be said again. Very underrated piece of equipment.
Thanks for all the helpful comments.

Armed with newfound expert advice, I went out yesterday morning at 5AM to Meadow Point at Golden Gardens (7 minutes from my home) to try it all out.

Definitely agree with stripping basket: helps with casting and preventing kelp from getting on the line. Can't help keep kelp off the fly, though, which was a big part of the tedium.

Was in the water when the freak rainstorm came down, just on me it seemed, since beyond the cliff behind me it was blue sky. Such is the "no rain at all for Fourth of July" forecast in Seattle!

Saw fish jump, not too big, @ 8 inches maybe, but did not get any to check out my fly. Still, nothing beats standing in the middle of water just as sun peeks out.

I will go south this Friday early morning and check out some South Sound locations, maybe around Tacoma Narrows. And then visit Puget Sound Fly Co. and get myself a basket.

Thanks again, everyone.