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Getting Ready for Fly Fishing the Vineyard

Birds are diving, water is warming, stripers are in hot pursuit of squid and sand eels... the saltwater fly season is in full swing on Martha's Vineyard!  If you're planning to fly fish the Vineyard for the first time this year, here are some tricks, tips, and advice to shake those cobwebs off and help ensure your trip is successful. 

Check that Backing

I mean, really check it. Nothing is worse than landing your first big fish of the season and realizing your backing is a mess from the last albie you caught in the fall. If you have kept your backing the same in the previous three years, stop by the shop to replace it. We'll tie on a Bimini Twist for your backing-to-fly line connection, so you'll never have to worry about breaking that big one off!

Pick the Appropriate Fly Line


An intermediate fly line is the most versatile if you only have one line for fly fishing the Vineyard. However, there will undoubtedly be times when a floating or full sinking line is optimal. An intermediate line can be a solid choice for flats fishing, but a floating line with a long leader is preferred when the bass are super shallow... and spooky.

 Airflo's Coldwater Salt is our top choice for early season flats fishing, and it's available in intermediate and floating. Unlike most striper lines, the Coldwater Salt has a longer, lighter taper similar to a bonefish line but won't stiffen in chilly water. Unfortunately, a cold water line will turn into a bowl of soft, lumpy noodles in the heat, so switch to a tropical line during the dog days of July and August.

 An intermediate line is an excellent place to start for fishing the rips. However, Airflo's Coldwater Salt, while great on the flats, is far too light to turn over the bulkier flies we typically fish in the rips. Opt for RIO's Outbound Short or Scientific Anglers' Sonar Titan Intermediate. Both lines feature heavy, compact heads to shoot the gnarliest patterns quickly.

 When the current moves too quickly, an intermediate line will not get your flies deep enough into the strike zone; switching to a full sink will significantly increase your hook-up rates. The Outbound Short and Sonar Titan now come in various density options, so finding the appropriate depth has never been easier!

Organize your Fly Box and Stock Up

Clousers, sand eel imitations, and squid patterns comprise the bulk of our spring boxes. Squid flies are our absolute favorite flies to fish because stripers go wild for them, and it is so visual. You will see bass surfing the waves in pursuit of squid. Red, white, pink, and purple flies all work effectively. We have custom-tied flies from New England's premier tiers and the best selection on the island!

 A general rule of thumb is to use darker colors for cloudy days or low-light conditions. Go for that white or light pink squid if it is bright and sunny. Single-hand jerky strips work well, making your fly appear alive. Bass are aggressive. Make them want that fly!

 We are throwing Clousers, specifically in tan and white, and crab patterns for the flats. I have seen even the pickiest bass turn around to chase a crab, and the eats are voracious! Unlike baitfish, a crab's natural defense method is to burrow in the sand, so a long, slow retrieve with incremental pauses is critical.

 The Right Fly Rod is Key!

An eight-weight rod is the perfect tool to deliver lighter flies to belly-crawling bass on the flats. It has enough backbone to handle a little wind and average-sized bass. Sage's R8 Salt is the perfect sight fishing tool thanks to its slightly softer tip that allows for delicate presentations.

 A 9wt is the most versatile rod for fly fishing in the Vineyard. In our humble opinion, Thomas & Thomas' Sextant is the best 9wt ever made! Handbuilt in Greenfield, Massachusetts, with heirloom-ESQ components, it's powerful enough to deliver bigger flies but provides enough feedback for refined shots.

 If you want to throw the gnarliest flies to voracious predatory bass in hair-raising conditions that are often a component of striper fishing, consider a 10wt. Hardy's Marksman Z ten-weight is the rod of choice for handling sinking lines and Beast Fleye's in the wind, rips, and surf. It's robust and durable yet surprisingly light.

Practice Casting

Lastly, get out and cast! This isn't dinky trout fishing; a proficient cast definitely helps strengthen your odds at success. Take your set up outside and brush off those cobwebs. If you're fishing with us, booking a casting lesson before getting out is a good idea!  

Everyone benefits from casting lessons and practice, from beginners to experts. The beauty and bummer about fly fishing is it can never truly be mastered! The most important thing is to have fun doing it, and the more confident you feel in your casting, the better time you'll have out on the water. Our casting lessons are $60 an hour per angler.

Book a Charter

If you haven't done so already, book a guided fly fishing trip with Kismet Outfitters. Our guides are out daily and have extensive knowledge and experience fly fishing the waters around Martha's Vineyard. We fly fish from four different boats and offer walk and wade trips in the shallow water estuaries.

Please do not hesitate to stop in the shop, call us at 774-549-5921, or email if you want to book a trip or casting lesson or have any questions!