Surf’s Up: Fly Fishing the Californian Coast

Living in the heart of San Francisco doesn’t exactly give one option when it comes to fly fishing. Well…within five hours, there’s just about everything. From Pyramid Lake to Coastal Steelhead and just about anything in between. However, if you’ve got 1/2 a day, the options start to narrow quite a bit.
A few years ago, I started to play around with some surf fishing. There were quite a few days of fishless casting but eventually, I started to get the hang of it. I’d landed perch on spinning gear in the past but the fly rod was an entirely different beast.
Now that  I’ve learned to read the water, select the flies, and time the tide, the fishing can be a ton of fun. There are a few different species of Surf Perch that I tend to find on the Central Coast of California. One is the Walleye Perch and the other is the Barred Surf Perch, both are a ton of fun to target on the fly. Pound for pound they’re pretty great fighters too. Most of the time, when you find a little bucket in the surf, you’ll find some fish. They’ll pod up and at times you can catch them cast after cast.
The gear is pretty simple too. A rod in the 6-9wt range should work fine depending on what size flies you’d like to throw. A single hand rod works but a lot of people use a switch rod in the surf these days. If you’re just getting started, you can use a versi-leader on the end of your float line but a full sink line will get you down a little deeper where the big girls live. If you decide to throw a two fly rig with one bigger Clouser and a smaller perch fly, you just might run into a good sized striper too.
 The surf is an entirely different beast, but once you get the hang of it, it can be pretty addicting. Get out there and give it a try!
Tyler Graff a.k.a. @baetisandstones on Instagram is a passionate fly angler and conservationist on the California Coast. Be sure to follow him for more epic content!

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