The 10 All-Around Best Saltwater Flies

10 best saltwater flies

Fly Fisher Pro is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Selecting the best saltwater flies can be a daunting task, considering the vast oceanic expanses and diverse fish species. Nonetheless, a select few saltwater flies can get the job done virtually anywhere. Believe it or not, these universal patterns and designs work globally. Whether you’re angling for sea bass off the English coast or snapper off Florida’s shores, these flies are foundational to your fishing success.

In this article, we’ll explore the crucial aspects of a good saltwater fly and delve into the top 10 patterns for your fly box. If you’re in the market for a new fly box for your saltwater flies, offers several excellent options.

What Makes a Saltwater Fly Work?

What Makes a Saltwater Fly Work

Like any fly design, three factors are crucial: attraction, imitation, and action. Most saltwater fish are larger predators found in rougher waters. As such, mobile designs with soft hair or long feather patterns are particularly effective. The instinctual nature of these larger predators prompts them to attack any potential food source, meaning even smaller fish often strike at lures that might seem too large.

For a comprehensive overview of fishing lures, check out our detailed post on


In saltwater, action should be more aggressive. The movement needs to be exaggerated to be noticeable under these lighting conditions. Typically, hair wing patterns and poppers work well, as tidal movement brings them to life, attracting the big fish.


Unlike freshwater fishing, where precise imitation of a specific food source is required, saltwater flies just need to resemble a baitfish. That’s generally enough to entice a hungry predator.


Given the instinctual nature of saltwater fish, attraction may be the most crucial aspect of a saltwater fly. Anything shiny or bright, especially in tropical waters, is a surefire attention-grabber.

Types of Saltwater Flies

  • Hairwings – These flies are presented similarly to freshwater flies.
  • Plugs – While not traditional fly fishing, they can be effective.
  • Poppers – These marvels create sound by trapping air bubbles on the water surface. A simple wrist pop will release the lure, sending a sound signal like a dinner bell for fish.

10 Best Saltwater Flies

1. Oz’s Live Bait Fly

oz's live bait fly

Check Amazon US/UK Price

Exceptionally effective hair wing pattern for shore fishing, featuring brown or olive top hair on a lighter underbody, finished with bead eyes. Originally designed for European bass, it’s globally versatile.

2. Lefty’s Deceiver

Lefty’s Deceiver

Check Amazon US/UK Price

This bright orange and red feathered hair wing pattern is a reliable fallback for many saltwater anglers. With over 100 variations, it’s likely produced more catches than any other modern fly design.

3. White Deceiver

white deceiver

Check Amazon US/UK Price

Unlike the darker options, this white hair fly is perfect for changing lighting conditions.

4. Sunray Shadow

sunray shadow

Check Amazon US/UK Price

With its long, skinny back wing and high contrast black and white coloring, it’s easily spotted in muddy water. Initially used for bass and salmon, it’s also great for saltwater fish.

5. Crab Patterns

crab patterns

Check Trident Fly Fishing Price

These foam body, weighted flies with rubber legs are a good backup when other options don’t deliver.

6. Classic Hairwing

classic hairwing

Check Amazon US/UK Price

Sporting a shiny cordage-wrapped body, tail, and bucktail wing, this fly is a surefire eye-catcher.

7. Clouser Minnow

clouser minnow

Check Amazon US/UK Price

With a plethora of color options, this design, originally for smallmouth bass, has proven effective on several species.

8. Poppers


Check Amazon US/UK Price

These mylar flies emit a loud popping sound and give off a bright flash, perfect for bright days.

9. Cuban Shrimp

cuban shrimp

A slimmer version of the standard shrimp design, featuring flexible legs for movement.

10. Avalon Fly

avalon fly

Check Amazon US/UK Price

A typical bonefish and tarpon design, with much of the body separate from the tail.

Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need dozens of different flies for global fly fishing. Many saltwater fish respond similarly to flashes of light and any movement resembling a meal. This allows us to focus on the flies that fulfill these criteria.

While it takes practice to work with these different flies, the presentation of several of them is similar. Once you master these 10 flies, you’ll be equipped for success. You can venture to any ocean, confident in your chances of reeling in some saltwater fish.


Arm yourself with these ten best saltwater flies, and you’re ready to venture into the vast blue and reel in your big catch. Remember, the key to successful fly fishing lies in understanding the behavior of your target fish and choosing the right fly that mimics their food source. So, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned angler, these ten flies are your secret weapon to an exciting and rewarding saltwater fly fishing adventure.

Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, why not dive deeper into the world of fly fishing? Download our series of fly fishing books below and embark on your angling journey with confidence.

Save Up To 50% At Trident Fly Fishing

We’ve partnered with Trident Fly Fishing to get you EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS on a huge selection of fly fishing gear. I highly recommend checking out their USED GEAR SECTION to save a ton on a premium rod and reel.

Trident Fly Fishing Deal

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top