San Diego Offshore Saltwater Fly Fishing

Abacore tuna caught off san diego fly fishing
Albacore Tuna

Venturing offshore from San Diego's sportfishing landings and launch ramps brings opportunities for bluewater fly fishing for mako sharks, blue sharks, yellowtail, dorado, bonito, skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, albacore tuna, and bigeye tuna, all of which provide truly thrilling  experiences. Variations in water temperatures from year to year will dictate the available angling opportunities and the distance that must be traveled to reach these species. During banner years tuna and dorado can be caught within five miles of the beach. During cold water years runs of 100 miles or more may required to reach the tuna. However during most years fly fishing for tuna and other species is available within 20 miles for at least a couple of months. Peak months for tunas and dorado are usually August and September but some years see these fish available as early as May and as late as December. On the other hand, sharks are almost always present nearby, though the ocean can be very rough during the winter. Angling for sharks provides one of the best west coast opportunities to tangle with a fish over 100 pounds on fly tackle.


Yellowfin Tuna caught  fly fishing off San Diego
Yellowfin Tuna

For offshore angling, recommended tackle includes 9wt to 16wt rods and high quality reels with a backing capacity of at least 200 yards. Flylines with heavyweight cores and designed for bluewater angling are preferred for targeting big sharks and tunas.   Standard flylines are fine for the more common tuna that run from 10 to 40lbs. Sinking lines will be employed most often with intermediate lines coming into play for surface and near surface presentations.   Leaders for sharks can be rather specialized but for most other species a simple non-tapered length of nylon or flourocarbon monofilament ranging from 8 to 20 pound test will suffice. Some anglers will use a short bite leader of heavier mono when using the lighter leaders.

Mako shark caught fly fishing off San Diego
Mako Shark

Streamer fly patterns imitating baitfish and squid ranging two to 10 inches in length tied on size 2 through 8/0 hooks are useful with patterns in the smaller third of that range being appropriate most of the time.   As with the inshore venues, a collection of Clouser Minnows and Lefty’s Deceivers in chartreuse/white, blue/white, olive(or green) /white, and all white cover a wide range of conditions. Various styles of poppers, crease flies, sliders, and gurglers can also be effective at times with explosive topwater grabs being the highlight of many trips.   Useful accessories including stripping guards or fighting gloves to protect fingers, fighting belts to rest the butt section of heavy rods, sharp gaffs if you plan to eat your catch, and large nets to facilitate catch and release.

Skipjack tuna caught fly fishing off San Diego
Skipjack Tuna
Yellowtail caught fly fishing off San Diego

Dorado caught fly fishing off San Diego