Informational Guide

Saltwater Fishing Tips

In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of saltwater fishing, pro-level tips and tricks, and all the answers to common questions.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

Saltwater Fishing Tips

In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of saltwater fishing, pro-level tips and tricks, and all the answers to common questions.

by Andrew

by Andrew

While freshwater fishing is thrilling and sometimes more accessible, many anglers prefer saltwater fishing whenever they get the chance. You encounter different kinds of fish in saltwater, several of which grow far larger or stronger than their freshwater cousins.

In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of saltwater fishing, pro-level tips and tricks, and all the answers to common questions about this popular sport.

As you may have guessed, Saltwater fishing refers to any kind of fishing done in saltwater versus freshwater. These can include:

  • Surf Fishing
    While surf fishing, you can either wade into the shallow part of an ocean or stand on the shoreline while you cast.
  • Pier Fishing
    Technically, pier fishing is a kind of surf fishing. Fish that don’t gather as close to the shore and prefer cooler, darker spots can often be found near or underneath piers.
  • Deep Sea Fishing
    Casting your lines into the ocean can bring in some huge, photo-worthy fish. Deep sea fishing is done in depths of 30 meters or more from a boat.
  • Bay Fishing
    Bay or inshore fishing allows you to use unique tidal patterns and geography to your advantage: you can fish reefs or channels and find an array of fish. 
  • Kayak Fishing
    The main difference between casting and catching from a kayak versus a larger boat is the limited space, but it’s also far less cost-prohibitive to get started.
  • Backwater and Flats Fishing
    Fishing in backwater or flats requires a flat-bottomed boat, also called a skiff, to navigate shallow inshore areas. These include saltwater inlets, oyster beds, channels, marshes, or tidal flats.
Saltwater Fishing Tips & Techniques

What Do You Need To Fish In Saltwater? (Essential Equipment)

Saltwater Rods & Reels

Short rods can help land those catches that really put up a fight, while longer rods let you cast much farther. Their materials are stronger than freshwater rods and resist corrosion better.

For saltwater reels, you can choose between high- or low-speeds.  The lower the speed, the more powerful your reel is. Fast speeds allow for very quick line retrieval, which is perfect when you’re targeting speedy varieties where a taut line is key.

Saltwater Fishing Tools

  • Gaffs and nets
    A gaff is a pole with a hook or spear. It can help you bring in those very large catches by spearing the fish once you’ve reeled them closer. Nets can also bring large catches aboard, but without as much of a struggle.
  • Pliers and scissors
    Fishing pliers can help straighten bent hooks, remove hooks from your catches, and cut lines if you don’t have fishing scissors. The advantage of fishing scissors, however, is that they prevent fraying.
  • Fishing knives
    You might think you won’t need a high-quality set of fillet knives until you’re back on land, prepping your catch of the day for dinner‚ but keeping fishing knives with you on the water is a smart move in case your pliers or scissors go overboard. Some anglers also use the heavy handles to stun their catch.
  • Hook remover
    When a fish has teeth or the hook is buried too deeply, a hook remover becomes invaluable. It has a long shaft with an extractor on the end and a handle to operate it.
  • Lines
    Strength is an important factor when choosing your line for saltwater fishing, but visibility needs to be considered as well. Generally speaking, a braided line is best for saltwater fishing because it’s much stronger than monofilament varieties.
  • Saltwater baits and lures
    Saltwater fish of all sizes will take live bait like shrimp, baitfish, or cut bait, although you should try to match your bait to what you’re targeting. Bluefish can be lured by chumming the waters, while black sea bass, redfish, or sea trout will snatch up shrimp in a heartbeat. When it comes to artificial lures, spoons, jigs, and feathers all work for several species of saltwater fish.

Saltwater Fishing Clothing

  • Light, breathable clothing, preferably with UV protection
    Guard yourself against hours of sun exposure from above and reflected beams from the water.
  • Hat
    A wide brim is ideal for keeping the sun out of your face and off your neck.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
    A sports sunscreen that’s formulated to withstand sweat or water is a must. For sunglasses, a quality polarized pair is a great go-to.
  • Waterproof light jacket, such as a windbreaker
    Even mild breezes can get excessively chilly, once ocean spray enters the mix. A light jacket also offers additional sun protection.
  • Rain gear
    Weather can change on a dime along the coast, so it helps to be prepared. Quality rain gear can protect you from mild mists to heavy ocean sprays and even sudden thunderstorms.

Saltwater Fishing Tips & Techniques From The Pros

How to Rig for Saltwater Pier Fishing

  1. 1
    Use a bottom rig with a leader. Pull your line through the leader rig loop and coil it around a few times (about 4-5).
  2. 2
    Drop the loop over the swivel.
  3. 3
    Remove the slack by pulling on the hook gently.
  4. 4
    Repeat for your second hook.
  5. 5
    Add a sinker of appropriate weight.
  6. 6
    Tie your fishing line to the other end of the rig.
Saltwater Fishing Bait Tips

How to Set Up a Fishing Line for Saltwater

  1. 1
    Choose an appropriate line material. Braided will withstand salt and sun best, but monofilament or fluorocarbon can also be used, or a combination.
  2. 2
    With a clinch knot, secure a swivel (3-way) to your line, then add approximately 3 feet of extra line (such as monofilament) to the bottom swivel. Secure a sinker of appropriate weight to this line.
  3. 3
    On the remaining swivel, attach a leader and hook.

How to Clean Saltwater Fishing Lures

  1. 1
    While fishing, spray or rinse lures with freshwater. You should also rinse your reels periodically, so the saltwater doesn’t corrode them.
  2. 2
    Remove any dried fish or bait remnants frequently, with a sponge or brush in some freshwater.
  3. 3
    Once you’re back on land, rinse your lures with a hose or tap water. Scrub with an old toothbrush and mild soap or baby shampoo. Rinse again.
  4. 4
    Dry thoroughly before putting them back in your tackle box.

Fishing with Soft Plastics in Saltwater

  1. 1
    Set up your rig for the waters you’re fishing, the kind of soft plastics you plan to use, and the fish you’re targeting.
  2. 2
    Choose a soft plastic bait with “eyes,” if possible. These beads increase the likelihood a fish will take your bait.
  3. 3
    Drop over the side or cast a small distance from your boat. Let the bait sink to the depth of your desired fish, then being a staggered retrieval: alternating slow and steady reeling with short, fast periods to increase attention.
  4. 4
    Rinse your soft plastic lures the same as you would any other lure, and frequently inspect for saltwater corrosion.

How Do You Fish in Saltwater at Night?

Most people prefer saltwater fishing during the daytime due to higher visibility, but it is possible and quite exciting to cast your lines in the dead of night. Take the same precautions you would with nighttime freshwater fishing: bring a headlamp and flashlight and know your surroundings well.

Keep in mind that fish rely more on scent and movement at night. A potent live bait or motion lure can catch their attention even in the darkest waters.

Some advantages of nighttime saltwater fishing include less competition from other anglers and better response from certain fish such as bass. You also won’t get a sunburn, and the experience can be much more tranquil.

Environmental Factors That Affect Saltwater Fishing

  • Weather
    Some light drizzles don’t have to ruin your trip. In fact, they might even enhance it! Fish have a harder time spotting your boat and lines.
  • Tides & currents
    When a tide is rising, fish move closer to the shore to feed. If the tide is receding, you’ll have better luck in deeper waters.
  • Light levels
    Cloudy or overcast days are actually better for catching fish than sunny ones due to reduced visibility for the fish and more natural feeding activity.
  • Time of day
    Dawn or dusk is usually best, but tidal patterns do play a role. High tide or a rising tide can be a great time to cast into saltwater during the day.

Saltwater Vs. Freshwater Fishing

When comparing saltwater versus freshwater fishing, the differences boil down to much more than the water. You’ll usually want a stronger pole and reel for saltwater fishing. Saltwater rods are also made with materials that resist corrosion better. 

Generally speaking, freshwater fishing is better for beginners. It’s easier to learn the basics when the water is calmer, and you’ll usually have an easier time reeling in your catch.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What kind of fish can you catch in saltwater?

Seatrout, tuna, bluefish, flounder, yellowtail, blue marlin, roosterfish, American red snapper, and black sea bass are just some of the fish you might catch when saltwater fishing.

What is the easiest saltwater fish to catch?

Seatrout, also known as the speckled trout, are generally very easy to catch when saltwater fishing. They thrive in a wide range of conditions, so they’re easier to find.

Do saltwater fish bite at night?

Yes, saltwater fish still bite at night. In fact, some varieties are rarely seen during daylight hours but feed after dusk.

Can you catch big saltwater fish from shore?

Catching larger fish from the shore of a saltwater body is easiest if the water is deep. A rocky shoreline, therefore, might be better than wading into some shallows.


From a relaxing day of coastline casting to the more advanced challenges of deep-sea fishing, saltwater fishing can amplify all the fun and challenges of fishing inland waters. Experienced anglers will encounter new challenges and stronger catches, while anyone new to the sport can receive a thrilling introduction from a boat, pier, or even the shore.