When fly fishing saltwater, there are a dozens of factors that help determine our fly fishing success. When it comes to flats fishing, there is one factor that is hugely important, tides. Good guides understand tides and know what the fish do on a given tide in a given area. However, there are certain tides that are far superior to other tides in a given area and for a specific species of fish. For example, giant trevally and permit normally need and desire more water, such as with a spring tide. Knowing this can help us plan our trips when fly fishing saltwater so that we are in the right place with the best tides for a given species. Having a basic understanding of tides can be a game changer when fishing the salt and will put the odds in your favors. In this podcast, Scott Heywood discusses how we should think about tides when planning a saltwater fly fishing trip. Also, a quick correction, both Scott and I were into the podcast and glossed over the fact that Scott said “Gulf of Alaska” for “Gulf of Mexico.” He, of course, meant to say “Mexico” since the Gulf of Alaska is nowhere near Mexico. Enjoy the podcast!
KEY TAKEAWAYS: FLY FISHING SALTWATER AND TIDES
- The sun’s and the moon’s gravitational pull determine the type of tide.
- The new moon and the full moon coincide with the spring tides.
- In between the new moon and the full moon, we have the neap tides.
- There are two spring tides and two neap tides per 28-day cycle.
- Spring tides have lower lows and higher highs: greater variance between low and high.
- Neap tides are more uniform but lower in general: lesser variance between low and high.
- There is a huge amount of variables that will affect tide size on a given day or time period: wind, geography, topography of the bottom of the water, nearby bodies of water, weather, and deflection.
- Deflection is the distance an area is away from where the water filters in.
- You can have two lows and two highs in places like the Bahamas, so the particular type of tide is happening twice a day at times.
- Places like the Yucatan can have wide variance in types of tides because of other external factors. Because of this, you need to consider the tide patterns of a given destination before you plan your trip.
- Tides are hugely important when it comes to fish species. Certain species, like permit and giant trevally, prefer deeper water while bonefish often prefer shallow flats, so you want to be at your destination when these conditions are present.
- Scott has some really telling examples in the podcast about specific species and destinations and how tides affect them.
LINKS AND RESOURCES FOR THE PODCAST
Fly Paper: Scott’s blog
Angling Destinations on Facebook
Scott’s article on bonefish and tides
Nautical software (No longer available)
Helpful site on everything having to do with tides
We can only control so many things when fly fishing saltwater. No matter how much money we spend on our trip, we still need to work with the tide to help us cast to as many fish as possible. There’s no need to make it harder on ourselves when we target permit, giant trevally, or any other saltwater species. To have the best success, we need to go to the best destination with the best conditions during the time that we have available. This can mean choosing a different location within a given region, for example, in the Bahamas. When we have a basic understanding of tides, we work with mother nature, and because of this, we will have more chances to do what we love, catch fish in the salt.