Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fly fishing is a ticket to fish and fun

Why fly fish?

Why not?

It's a really neat way to fish. It's calm, peaceful and relaxing. And you don't have to be a rocket scientist to use a fly rod in your pursuit of saltwater or freshwater fish.

For years, though, fly fishing was thought of as an elite sport. I know that's the way I viewed it. But it's really not.

Fly-rod manufacturers and others that make reels, line and accessories helped perpetuate that myth by inflating the prices of their merchandise. Some fly rods sell for $700 or more. And you might faint when you see the price of an upper-echelon bamboo rod.

Can you say $2000?

Then along cam Temple Fork Outfitters, a Dallas-based company that produces great fly rods for great prices. You can buy a TFO for $200 or less. You don't have to mortgage the house to own a TFO.

Just because TFOs are affordable doesn't make them inferior. Quite the contrary. They're really good rods that have drawn raves around the world. Some of the best fly anglers I know use and recommend TFO rods.

Sarasota's Pete Greenan is one. Owner of The Gypsy Guide Service, Greenan is one of the most-experienced fly anglers in Florida. He was flinging flies here in the 1970s.

Ron Whitely is another. The Rotonda resident catches a lot of fish on his TFOs.

And Lefty Kreh, the guru of fly fishing, is a spokesman for TFO.

So, there you have it. There's no excuse not to get into the sports. TFO rods are affordable. You can own three for the price of one rod of another brand.

The late Ad Gilbert said it best when asked why he used a fly rod.

"I've already caught a thousand redfish on spinning rod," he said. "Do I want to catch another thousand on spinning rod."

In short, Gilbert had conquered and wanted a different, exciting challenge.

That's the usual route of many fly fishers. They begin with a cane pole and worms and worked their way up the fishing ladder. They end up with fly rods.

Truth be known, you can can just as many fish on fly rod as you can on spinning tackle in most cases. In some cases, you can catch more -- if that's your goal.

Last summer, I spent a good deal of time on local beaches, pursuing snook in the surf. I regularly fared better than my spinning brethren.

Fly rods are great in fresh water, too. I love nothing more than to fish local lakes, streams and canal for bass, bluegill and whatever else might be lurking in the depths. I usually do pretty well.

One of my passions is fly fish in The Everglades for oscar, Mayan cichlid, bass, bluegill, shellcracker, speckled perch and other species.

To be a successful fly angler, you first must become a proficient fly caster. Realize that fly casting and fly fishing are two different things. Once you learn how to cast, then you'll have to learn how to fly fish.

But that's really not too difficult. You're desire to do so usually is enough to spur you on.

How far do you have to cast?

Some experts claim that you must be able to cast a full fly line (about 100 feet). While that might be an advantage, I'm happy when one of my clients is accurate at 50 feet. Most of the fish we encounter are within 50 feet (and that includes redfish, snook, tarpon, bonefish and others).

Accuracy at 50 feet is much better than being off-target at 100.

How do you learn to cast? It's best if you hire a certified casting instructor. Those certified by the Federation of Fly Fishers do an excellent job and should have you casting easily in an hour or two.

I'm not sure I can remember them all, but here are the species I've landed on fly rod in salt water:

1. Spotted seatrout;

2. Redfish;

3. Snook;

4. Flounder;

5. Ladyfish;

6. Dolphin;

7. Cobia;

8. Mangrove snapper;

9. Mutton snapper;

10. Bonefish;

11. Permit;

12. Little tunny;

13. Spanish mackerel;

14. Tripletail;

15. Bluefish;

16. Pompano;

17. Pinfish;

18. Blowfish;

19. Houndfish;

20. Needlefish;

21. Bonnethead shark;

22. Amberjack;

23. Gag grouper;

24. Sheepshead;

25. Black mullet;

26. Black drum;

27. Black seabass;

28. Tarpon;

29. Umbrina roncador.

In fresh water, I've landed:

1. Largemouth bass;

2. Smallmouth bass;

3. Bluegill;

4. Stumpknocker;

5. Speckled perch (black crappie);

6. Shellcracker;

7. Channel catfish;

8. Rainbow trout;

9. Brook trout;

10. Brown trout;

11. Common carp;

12. Grass carp;

13. Oscar;

14. Mayan cichlid;

15. Butterfly peacock bass;

16. Ronkador;

17. Guapote;

18. Barramundi;

19. Sunfish;

20. Golden shiner.

I'm sure I've forgotten a species or two.

Nevertheless, that's a lot of fish. If I can do it, anyone can.

Grab a fly rod and go catch fish!

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