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Top tips for sea trout fishing

Top sea trout tips

Fyn 21

When the spring sun has begun to warm the winter cold salt water, it’s not only you that begin to feel the effects of spring.  The coastal sea trout that have gone the whole winter in energy saving modus, are now ready for the spring feast. For most of the coldest part of winter the sea trout are as little active as possible and hold to areas that are warmest. They can be difficult to tempt on regular fly fishing equipment, but a good colorful  large streamer, fished slowly can work a winter fish up.

Right now when the water temperature begins to rise, they will become much more active in their pursuit for food.  The sea trout is an aggressive predator and during spring and early summer has a need to fatten themselves up after winters fast. This is why they are best to fish for now.

But you are still not guaranteed success, even if the sea trout is hungry and hunting. So I have put together a few tips -that work- for you that wish to fish for sea trout from now into the summer.


Find the fish:

Success for sea trout fishing relies on finding the fish. And in the winter and spring you have to  look for warmer water, 4 degrees or more. If it is 12 or 14 degrees in the water in June it makes little difference for the sea trout, but in March-April 4 degrees is much warmer than 2 degrees.  It doesn’t need big changes in temperature to get the sea trout going. Shallower south facing, sun rich bays and beaches with a  flow in the water. Here it doesn’t take much more for the sea trouts menu to awaken from the winters sleep.


Because the temperature is important a thermometer is also important for the serious sea trout fisherman.


If it is an extra cold, spring brackish water areas generally hold fish, because the salt content of the sea here is smaller, the sea trout like this ! Also look for structure in the water large stones islands or cliffs. These structures collect and store heat from the sun, this will warm the surrounding water.



As a rule, No rules:

We don’t know the reason why, but in some cases you can experience fantastic fishing just on the edge of frozen water or floating pack ice. But in most cases it’s small fish, that should be returned that are in shoals.



Rag worm swarming:

The rag worms wedding as it is known, is called the springs most exciting adventure for the sea trout fisherman. And if you are lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, there is no danger for you not connecting.  You can find rag worms the whole year in the stomach contents of sea trout, but in the spring under large swarming you can find that they fall out of the mouth of the sea trout that have gorged themselves, when you land them.

winter sea trout


When doe’s the swarming happen ?

The chances of experiencing a large swarming are best after the water has gone up in temperature above 6-7 degrees and around the full moon in April, but this is not a fast rule, and last year we experienced swarming, during a warmer day on a full moon in early March.



Sea gulls show the way:

Rag worm swarming can be very local in most situations, and it’s not easy to know where. Then you should look to the sky’s, because the greedy and forever hungry sea gulls can show you the way.  If you can see that screaming sea gulls are in a flock and circle around a area of coast, this shows you where to fish – just like the pelicans when tarpon fishing.



When darkness falls:

Think that the sun has been high in the sky all day and warming up the shallow’s, especially with dark muddy bottoms. These shallow areas retain the days heat during the first couple of hours of darkness.  It’s during this period that larger sea trout dare to venture into the shallows to feed.  You should fish at least a couple of hours into the night. Try using streamers or Muddlers that will give a little movement in the water. Fish slowly and listen for splashes.



Fish shallow:

During darkness, night or early morning sea trout hunt in much shallower water than most fishermen think.  In small bays and harbors, rocky shoreline and long shallow beaches. Here you can encounter fine fish in water not deeper than you need nothing more the rubber boots. But remember in such water they are also spooked easy.

Fyn 17


When is the best time ?

There are many different thoughts about the best time to fish for sea trout.  The best advice is to fish when you have chance to fish.  Those that fish the most catch most fish and get the most experience.  The sea trout is effected by the moon and it’s fases, and some times fishing can be best on a spring tide, and other times in periods with extreme low water in the high pressure periods you can experience during late spring.



High & low tide:

There is also many thoughts about this, if fishing is better at high or low tide in the sea.

During winter it’s most rewarding to fish at the warmest part of the day, between 11:00 – 14:00, no matter high or low tide.  When the water warms, in most cases it’s best to fish a couple of hours before high water  into a couple of hours after.


When is high and low tide ?

In the good old days you could buy a tide time table from the news agents but now you can find them for Norway on




Only for early birds:

From early April it can prove to be rewarding if you fish early in the morning. Early means a couple of hours before sun rise, so you must have a alarm clock and a good dose of self discipline.  Even if it is cold, you may be lucky enough to find large sea trout who cruise shallow water after being out hunting at night.


All nighters:

If you are not a early bird by nature, you can also try your luck from the end of March  into  April between 19:00 – 23:00 especially if you have high tide within this time period. And so it will continue out towards the summer, but try fishing in deeper water with flow in it.


Bad weather:

Even if warm is the key word with sea trout fishing in the spring, fishing can fantastic in bad weather.  Don’t look out the window and decide to stay home because it’s blowing and raining.  Under the cover of bad weather and high waves shy and big fish come into the shallows to feed.  This type of weather can be a fishing fest for spin fishermen.



Shore wind collects food:

When the wind blows from the sea against the land all the food in the top few meters of water will blow towards land and collect near the shore. And where there is most food, there are sea trout.  This wind direction produces the best fishing.

Francis 3


Sunny and wind still:

Use a fine clear line or leader on clear sunny and wind still days.  Smaller flies also produce more fish in good weather.  Sometimes sea trout can be selective on such days, where only the very smallest flies will work.  This is when only fly fishing will work, with tiny flies 16-18 and a long fine leader and very slow retrieve.



Sea trout are shy:

Start fishing before you come down to the waters edge, and for no price begin to wade before you have fished the shallows thoroughly.



Slow or Fast:

It doesn’t matter what you fish with, a rule of thumb is, slow in winter and through out spring. It’s here that fly fishing has the edge, use a very slow figure of eight retrieve.




Even if the rule is slow in cold spring water, you can experience that the opposite is more effective.  For example: a rag worm should be fished slowly, so that it swims like it’s flowing in the water. If you experience that fish follow and will not take, it some times works if you place your rod under your arm and make a “roly poly” retrieve using both hands. The best rule is try what is the norm, then try to vary your retrieve until you find what is right.

Don’t pull your spoon or fly out of the water when it is 5-6 meters from land. You will get much better results if you fish your spoon/fly all the way into land.  Sea trout like to follow the bait a few meters before they take, and the very last meter is the most dangerous for the sea trout.



Keep on the move:

Its said that the most important piece of equipment while sea trout fishing is the car!

Trout in a river are like trout eating at a restaurant, they sit and wait for the food to come to them. Sea trout on the other hand race from restaurant to restaurant. Especially in the spring months the sea trout is eating on the move. If you dont find fish move a little.



Take your time:

If you dont find the sea trout, let the sea trout find you! Take many breaks while out fishing, make sure you have coffee with you and something to eat.

While you sit and take a break, dont take your eye’s off the water it’s now you may spot the rise of a passing sea trout, or a silver flash from the side of one hunting.



There is always hope:

If you really want to catch more and bigger sea trout, there is only one expert tip that is 100% guaranteed to work, “Dont give up” even if you are not catching. The more you fish, the more you will catch!


E-Z Sand Eel

A great pattern for salt water sea trout and Sea Bass.

Hook Mustad S70SNP-DT Big Game Light # 4-6

Thread Dyneema

Body E-Z body tube

Tail 15 strands of Flashabou 

Eyes Fleye Foils

Head Bug Bond

The original pattern this is based on is form the vice of my late, old friend Jack Gartside. This is not only an extremely effective pattern but also requires the minimum materials and once you have mastered the technique is very quick to tie.

Like the most effective coast wobblers that represent Tobis this pattern is a darter, and has next to no movement in the materials, but like a fleeing sand eel it “darts” in a short fast “zig zag” movement.  Another “problem” for many fly fishermen is that the hook on this pattern is mounted at the head of the fly, leaving a good length of body for the sea trout, sea bass to bite at without being hooked.  This can be the case with smaller fish but larger fish tend to take this pattern contant.  Also a interesting little experiment that I have undertaken a few times is, if you are cleaning a fish that you see has been feeding on sand eels just have a look at which way the head of the sand eel is facing in the stomach of the fish, nearly always, has the sand eel been swallowed head first!  The attach point for pradatory fish is the eyes and these new Fleye foils from Bob Popovics make very realistic sand eel and bait fish patterns.

Sand eels shoal in very large numbers, but are seldom seen during the day in the shallows as they lie buried in the sand, away from predators.  They first appear during the evening, when they come out to feed through the night.  But despite there nocturnal habits sand eel patterns can be fished around the clock the whole year.

You can also try other colour combinations, but keep in mind the general rule of the lightest colour on the stomach and the darkest colour on the back.

Secure your salt water hook in the vice. I like to use a Mustad C70SNP Big game light for this patter beacause of its wide gape and short shank.

Take a length of medium E-Z Body tubing about 6-7-cm long. Measure the the tubing along the hook shank, so that you know where to insert the hook eye into the tube.

Make a opening in the tube where you are going to thread it onto the hook shank.

Thread the tube onto your hook as shown.

Slide the tube back and attach your tying thread behind the hook eye.

Thread a long loop of mono through the E-Z body tube towards the tail.

Thread the bunch of Flashabou through the mono loop and pull this through the tube and out at the hook eye.

Tie down the Flashabou just behind the hook eye.

Tie in the end of the tube and make a neat tight head.

Select your chosen Fleye Foil product. I have used small 25 mm. sand eel foils.

Remove the Fleye Foils from there card and stick them in place, one each side of the eel head and tie down using the small attachment on the foils.

Once you have whip finished and removed your tying thread, turn your fly in the vice so you can tie down the tail at the base of the E-Z body tube. Once secure give it a small drop of Bug Bond just to hold it in place. Remove tying thread and reset hook the correct way in the vice.

The sand eel should now look like this. You can trim the Flashabou tail down to your required size and shape.

You can now colour your sand eel if wished with water proof felt markers.

Carefully coat the foils and head of the eel with Bug Bond and cure with the UV light as you go.

If you want a more three dimentional effect make small colour ajustments with felt pens after every coat of Bug Bond. This builds up layers and gives more depth.

If you ‘open’ the tail of Flashabou and place a tiny drop of Bug Bond at the base and cure! the tail will remain flaired and open.

One of the great things about E-Z body tube is that it remains flexible.

Fleye Foils. Orders and info at:

Bug Bond. Orders and info at:

E-Z Body Orders and info at:

The Virtual Minnow: A zonker with a twist…

This is a great method of making perfect strong minnow bodies, that make a good baitfish attractor in both reflected and back light situations.

The original zonker pattern was tied by the American fly tyer Dan Byford in the 1970s and was quickly recognised the world over, as a big fish fly and extremely easy to tie, yet realistic imitation for most smaller bait fish. The original pattern used a lead or tin sheet that was folded and glued over the hook shank and then cut to shape to make the underbody.   This melt glue body technique gives the zonker a new life. If viewed by a fish in reflected light the shine and flashing of the maylar mixed with the animation of the pulsating fur strip, makes it a first class bait fish attractor pattern.  But when viewed by a fish in a back-lit situation ( in  silhouette ) this pattern really comes to life,  with the light penetrating through the transparent melt glue / maylar body and fur guard hairs.

Hook: Mustad S74S SS Salt water R74 freshwater # 6

Under body: Melt glue

Over Body: Mylar tubeing

Thread: Dyneema

Wing/tail: Fur zonker strip

Eyes: Prizma tape eyes.

The flexibility of the Zonker as a bait fish imitation pattern is only limited to your own imagination. There are a huge amount of rabbit fur strip materials on the market in just about every colour imaginable, not to mention fox, squirrel, mink etc. Along with the vast array of tubing materials available the combination possibilities are endless.

I was first shown this melt glue body technique in 1993 by the innovative Danish fly tyer Dennis Jensen who developed it for salt water sea trout fishing in Denmark. He used a home made mould constructed from plastic padding. He would insert the hook in the mould and then inject melt glue into it and wait a few seconds for it to dry before removing it. The result was a perfect and identical minnow body every time.  Dennis also made very clever subtle body colour changes to his flies by wrapping the hook shank first with tying thread in fluorescent orange, green or blue.  Orange when he was imitating sticklebacks, green for other small fish and eels and blue when fishing in deep water.

This technique shown here requires no mould. It does take a little practice to master and a few minutes longer, but still produces the same effect.

Another advantage with the zonker, unlike bucktail and feather wing streamers, is that it is an extremely robust pattern. If tied correctly the fly will normally outlive the hook, although the eyes and Mylar tubing are somewhat vulnerable to the small sharp teeth of trout. This can be improved by coating the eyes and Mylar body with varnish or head cement.

When fishing this pattern or any long tailed streamers in general for that matter. Many fly fishermen are of the thought, that when fishing a long tailed streamer the fish tend to “Nap” at the tail and won´t take the fly properly! This can be the case for smaller trout but generally speaking a large trout will take this pattern hard and fast. If you do experience napping at the tail when fishing, stop the retrieve dead and let the fly sink a little for two or three seconds, nine times out of ten the attacking fish will pick it up on the drop.

Plug inn your melt glue gun as it takes a few minutes to reach temperature.
Meanwhile secure your hook in the vice, making sure that the hook shaft is in a relatively horizontal position.
When your melt glue gun is warm, run a small amount of clear melt glue along the top of the hook shank as shown. You may find that when you try to remove the melt glue gun you get a long strand of glue that stretches from the hook to the gun. This can be avioded or resolved by wrapping the strand quickly around the hook shank behind the eye of the hook. This pattern as described sinks slowly but well when fished, but if you would require a faster sinking pattern you can attach one or two lead strips along the hook shank before you apply the melt glue body.

When the glue is dry ( use 10 second melt glue) carefully apply a little more to form the under body and belly of the minnow. If your glue is too runny you can shape the body with a wet finger and thumb. This also quickens the drying process.

Continue forming your body to the required shape and size.

If you are not satisfied with your minnow body shape, warm up the glue with a lighter (taking care not too burn it) and re model again with wet finger and thumb. When the glue has dried you can even shape it first with by trimming the glue body with scissors and then take off the sharp cut edges by warming it again with the lighter.

Attach your tying thread right behind the melt glue body at the base of the tail.

Cut a 5-6 cm length of the Mylar tubing and remove the string core. Mylar tubing comes in a variety of materials, sizes, diameters, weaves and colours. Not all Mylar tubing works for this particular pattern, so its advisable to experiment a little before hand. The originator Dennis Jensen used a clear mother of pearl Mylar wich gives a wonderful transparent effect to the body. This can also be achieved to a degree by eliminating the Mylar tube all together and just using the raw melt glue as the finished body (see illustration 17). Now thread the sleeve over the melt glue minnow body.

Tie this in, fraying 1cm if wished, to give a little more flash at the tail base.

Select a strip of zonker fur (I have used red fox for this pattern) and prepare the tail end by cutting it to a even point. Taking care not to cut or damage the fur.

Part the fur with the help of a dubbing needle and moist fingers at the desired position and then tie it in over the foundation wrappings used to secure the Mylar sleeve as shown. I use a simple materials clip to hold the fur strip in place. Finish off with 2 or 3 half hitches and remove the tying thread. Apply a drop of cement to the tail whippings, taking care not to get any on the fur strip.

Place the zonker strip back over the tail of the fly, and secure in a material clip if needed, this will keep the fibres out of your way and make the next step easier. To attach your tying thread, make a couple of loose turns around the maylar sleeve so as to catch it just in the right position for the head. Now before you tighten these pull the access maylar through the tying thread so as to tighten the sleeve around the body, and then pull up on your bobbin holder so as to tighten the tying thread and secure the Mylar tube in place.

Once you have trimmed off the access maylar use your lighter again to burn off the rest. This is the advantage of using Nylon tying thread, it has a much higher burning point than plastic, so this should remain intact.
Pull the zonker strip over the body and while holding it tight separate the fur at the required position and tie in, but only with a couple of tight turns, tight in too the melt glue body.

Carefully trim off the zonker strip and burn the head once again with the lighter. If done correctly you will see the remaining head of tanned hide, shrink and disappear under the tying thread,( giving a small neat finished head) whip finish.

If you have used Dyneema thread you can now colour the head red with a waterproof flet pen.

Glue on your chosen colour and size of Prisma tape eye and then varnish both tail and head whippings.

The colour combinations for this pattern are endless…

“The foil speaks, the wise man listens”


After many requests regarding my Gammarus pattern and where to obtain the foils heres a up dated re post with a little more info.


This photo was taken last week, while on a fishing trip to Shetland. Some of the small Lochs had huge amounts of gammarus and the fish refused everything else! Every fish we took in such Lochs where full to the gills with these small fresh water shrimp. Having a good imitative pattern proved to be seriously effective!


The fish that where feeding on Gammarus where in exceptional condition!

Some of you may have seen, that a couple of weeks ago I received some shrimp foils from ‘the fly people’ in Germany to test, they where very successful. After playing a little with them I reversed one and tied a gammarus pattern as this is one of my post productive for salt water sea trout. When Lutz, from the fly people saw my pattern, he asked what I would change on the shrimp foil to make it a gammarus foil ? I went straight to the drawing board and made him a sketch. Yesterday these prototypes arrived.


 This is a photo I took while fishing of the contents of a sea trout’s stomach, need I say more !

There where only six foils on the sheet so I haven’t had so much practice or opportunity to play around with the design but this is the result so far. If you would like more info about the foils or to order some, you can send an e mail to:

Hook:  Mustad C67SNP-BR # 12-6

Tying thread:  Olive

Feelers:  Pheasant tail fibers

Rib:  Fine copper wire

Shell back:  Gammarus foil

Shell back coating:  Bug Bond

Under body: Virtual nymph Seals fur

Legs:  Pheasant tail fibers


Secure your hook in the vice, make sure its horizontal.


Run tying thread along the whole hook shank and down into the bend.


Make a small dubbing loop at the tail of the hook.


Load a Petitjean magic tool with pheasant tail fibers, you only need a few for the beard so use the smallest tool.


Wax your tying thread, and run your tying thread to the hook eye. Spin the pheasant tail fibers in the dubbing loop.


Wind on the dubbing brush, making sure that you brush all the peasant tail fibers out with each turn so you dont tie them down wrongly. Tie off the dubbing brush.


Select the right size foil for your hook size.


Remove the foil from the sheet.


Tie in the foil by the small tag at the base of the feelers.


Make another dubbing loop a little larger this time and hang out of the way on your vices material clip.


Tie in a length of fine copper wire. This should be a few mm up from the dubbing loop as shown. This is so your first turn of rib will be in the correct position in respect to the foil later.


Dubb the whole body with seals fur. First a couple of turns under the copper wire and the over. The gammarus body should taper from thick to thin as you approach the hook eye.


Spin a larger amount than before of peasant tail fibers in the rear dubbing loop. Remember to keep them short. Wind in an open spiral to form the legs.


Tie of the dubbing brush at the head of the fly and brush down the legs each side of the body.


Now fold over the foil and tie down so it sits tight over the whole body of the shrimp.


Now wrap the copper wire rib in between each plate segment on the foil. But as you go brush out the leg fibers with each turn so you dont trap them and tie the down flat. Tie off the copper wire at the head of the fly.


You can now colour your shell back if required with a waterproof felt pen.

IMG_0636 18

Give the whole shell back foil a coat with Bug Bond. If your careful you can do each segment at a time to give it a more three dimensional effect. Rough up the fibers in the feelers and legs with a tooth brush.


The finished Gammarus.

Wooly Muggler: A big streamer for big fish

Wooly Muggler

September 2007_2

 For me there are two big fish flies that I just dont go trout fishing without, Wooly bugger and Muddler minnow.

Hook: Mustad S74SNP-ZS # 6-4

Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Marabou and crystal hair

Body: Dubbing

Hackle: Webby tapered saddle hackle

Wing : Marabou 

Head & Collar: Spun and clipped deer hair


This is a combination pattern that I made a few years ago for sunk line fishing in lakes and deep pools.  This pattern has both the great attractor qualities of both flies. The flowing pulsating marabou and the bubbling buoyant spun deer hair head. If you are fishing in a river with regular dry flies or nymphs, where the average size of fish is around 300 g, you can be quite surprised when fishing with large flies by taking much bigger fish that normally dont show themselves. Natural selection takes a favorable view of effective and adaptable feeding, a proficient predatory fish when feeding will maximize energy intake and minimize energy consumption by taking easy large meals instead of many small insects when the opportunity arrises. Its important when choosing deer hair for spinning that you use the densest hair from the winter coat. In order to get the hair to spin evenly you should also remove ALL the under hair/wool from the deer hair before tying in, if you dont the under wool will bind the hair together and restrict it from being evenly distributed around the hook shank when spun.

You can of course tie this in any colour or colour combination you wish!



Secure your hook in the vice as shown. If you intend fishing in fresh water only you can use a regular brown streamer hook or a single salmon.



Cover the whole hook shank with tying thread. Finish where the tying thread hangs between the hook point and barb.



Make a double dubbing loop at the tail of the fly and run your tying thread up the hook shank.



Spin some fine tapered marabou in the dubbing loop and wind on hackle style to form the tail. When buying marabou make sure you pick the plumes that have a fine even taper and finish in a sharp point. This marabou will give you, not only the best looking flies but also the best movment when fished.



Tie in a few strands of crystal hair in the tail.



Take a well tapered saddle hackle for the palmered body hackle and tie in at the hackle point at the tail base.



Dubb a tapered body about 2/3 along the hook shank. Again the choice of dubbing is your own.



Wind in the palmered body hackle over the whole body and tie off.



Make another dubbing loop and spin some more marabou for the wing.



Cut a good bunch of deer hair and remove the under fur. Even the points in a hair stacker and tie in as a regular muddler head, using the deerhair points as a collar as shown.



Tie in another bunch of the deer hair towards the hook eye. Whip finish and remove the tying thread.



Trim the deer hair head down into the correct muddler shape.  There you have your finished big fish fly, Muggler Minnow.

FisHeadz Mackerel

Mackerel 1

Back to the tying bench again, this time with a salt water pattern. I must say, Its nice to see that salt water materials being made in smaller sizes, not just for the monster warm water fish across the pond. These FisHeadz from Deer creek in the UK , are perfect in the two smallest sizes for salt water fishing in Europe, for both bass in the south and sea trout here in the North.


I still haven’t had much time to play with these, I’v only tied half a dozen flies with them, but they are that easy to use, that I’v been relatively pleased with all of them, which is unusual ! Anyway if you are tying salt water patterns you have just got to give these a go they give the flies a real edge. But beware, one of the flies I tied wasn’t up to par, and when I came to attach the fisHeadz, it was like putting lipstick on a gorilla!  Without doubt it would still catch fish, but if you want flies tied with fisheadz to look good, the rest of the fly has to be as good as the headz.

This is an extremely quick pattern to tie, the only thing you really have to be careful with is the proportions and quantities of materials.

Hook: Mustad 60004NP-NZ # 12

Tying thread: Dyneema

Wing: Ultra hair and buck tail

Sides: Blue grizzle hackle

Head: Deer Creek Blue jay sand eel headz coated with Bug Bond



Secure your salt water hook in the vice.



Take about 10 strands of transparent Ultra hair and tie in, about three times the length of the hook shaft. This stiffer synthetic hair will give the wing of the fly support and structure.



Now cut a small bunch of straight white buck tail, you only need about 15 strands, this will give the wing a little more volume but keep it light and mobil when it swims. Remove all the underfur and shorter hairs from the bunch. I didn’t stack this hair because I wanted the very tail of the pattern to be broken up, and not too uniform. Tie this in on top of the Ultra hair.



Now select two dyed blue grizzle hackles and prepare by stripping off the base of the stems and cutting both down to the correct length. Tie in one each side over the under wing.



Place your Fisheadz one each side in the correct position, they are sticky backed so they will stay there. Once right just make a couple of turns of tying thread to hold them steady.



Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Give the whole head a coat with Bug Bond and cure with the UV light.



For the last stage I have added additional hi-viz tape eyes, just to give the head a little more three dimensional feel, if thats possible?



Heres a sand eel tied with FisHeadz.