There’s a tailing red digging for crustaceans 60-feet off your bow. Your knees quiver as the wind blows in your face and the sun simultaneously disappears behind a big, dark cloud. Not wanting to risk getting closer and spooking the fish, you fire off a surprisingly perfect cast. Your fly lands only inches from the target and as you had silently hoped, the hungry redfish maneuvers in for the kill. It can only be described as poetry in motion. While you surely could have tossed out a frisky live bait or scent-enhanced soft plastic, there is no way it would have evoked the same sense of accomplishment.
Maybe you choose not to fly fish at all because you think it’s unpractical and you’re convinced a better way exists to land your limit. If this is what goes through your mind than you probably can’t drive a Merkin past your nose and you may very well believe that fly fishing is simply pointless. Those who enjoy fly casting know that this is certainly not the case. Even though there are more effective ways to fill a fishbox, the techniques and tactics involved with saltwater fly fishing, which take years to master, are extremely rewarding. Just don’t think for one moment that you’ll be throwing tight loops and fooling fish after fish on your very first outing.
When practicing your casting, it’s best to do so in an off-the-water environment. A park or open field is ideal.
In a day and age when conservation is the name of the game and catch-and-release is becoming the norm, it’s no surprise that fly fishing is dramatically increasing in popularity. While this style of angling isn’t about quantity, it is about thoroughly enjoying each and every catch regardless of how large or small. It’s about being one with the environment and achieving the most natural and subtle presentation possible. It’s also about finesse and sensitivity—feeling the fish’s every turn, tug, and twist. That’s why if you can’t decipher a Deceiver from a Clouser, do yourself a big favor and join a fly fishing club. Make it a point to attend fly fishing classes and clinics. Across the state numerous venues exist for novices and experts alike to expand their knowledge base and further their skill set. Whether you attend classes, clinics, or hire a certified casting instructor to help you master the skills required to drive a fly into a headwind, make the commitment to develop your skills. One day when you land a hundred pound tarpon after an excruciating battle, you’ll look back and thank us for the advice.
Even when you think you know it all, there’s still a wealth of knowledge to be uncovered. Something new is around every corner with the latest tackle and techniques constantly evolving. And unless you’re already a master casting instructor or long distance casting champion, you can always improve your casting technique. Maybe you just have a few bad habits that need to be broken. Whatever the case, be patient and set reasonable expectations. In the meantime, there are a few things that all beginners can do to keep our pastime headed in the right direction.
This is fishing. While it’s certainly important, it’s not a life threatening emergency or career-ending scenario. If at first things don’t go well, don’t get overly disappointed or frustrated. Keep practicing and push through it. I can tell you in advance that while learning to cast, your fly WILL fall out of the sky. You will snag the fly on your hat, shirt and EVERYTHING else within a 50-foot radius. You will likely be tempted to break your fly rod in multiple pieces, stomp on it and use the reel as a paperweight.
A well-balanced outfit is key. In order to progress and advance your skill set, you must utilize the proper tools. Accurate, long distance fly casting is more about technique than it is about strength, and the right combination of rod, reel, and line can make all of the difference. Consult an expert before making a final purchasing decision.
Keep your leaders simple. In the very beginning don’t be afraid to use a straight length of monofilament as a simple leader. Once your casting and catching skills evolve, you can explore advanced leader systems and specialty knots.
Fly fish where there are fish. When practicing your casting, it’s best to do so in an off-the-water environment. A park or open field is ideal. During the learning process you can even go through the motions in the middle of your living room with the butt section of a fly rod. This will help acclimate your hand. Practicing off the water simply allows you to focus all of your attention on technique and form with zero distractions. However, when it comes time to put what you’ve learned to the test, grab the fly rod only when and where you know there are fish. Catching even a few juvenile jacks on fly will provide a huge boost of confidence and keep you coming back for more.
Fly fishing is an awesome pastime and while it certainly isn’t the answer to all of your angling woes, it provides an exciting approach to many of Florida’s fabulous game fish and simply helps you become a more well rounded anglers.
Federation of Fly Fishers
The Federation of Fly Fishers is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of fly fishing through conservation, restoration and education. The only organized advocate for fly anglers on an national and regional level, visit fedflyfishers.org for a wealth of information including a comprehensive list of certified casting instructors in your region.
Further Your Fly Fishing
- Black Fly Outfitters / saltwaterflytyers.com
- First Coast Fly Fishers / fcff.org
- The Salty Feather / saltyfeather.com
East Central Florida
- Backcountry Fly Fishing Association / bffa-brevard.org
- Backcountry Fly Fishing Association / backcountryflyfishingorlando.com
- Complete Fly Fishing School / jonbcaveflyfishing.com
- Mid-Coast Fly Fishers / mid-coastflyfishers.org
- Orlando Outfitters / orlandooutfitters.com
- Stuart Flyrodders Club / [email protected]
- The Back Country / verobackcountry.com
- The Fly Fisherman / flyfishermaninc.com
- Bahia Honda Sporting Club / bahiahondaclub.com
- Florida Keys Fly Fishing School / floridakeysoutfitters.com
- Key West Fly Fishing School / 305.296.0700
- Emerald Coast Fly Fishers / [email protected]
- Fly Fishers of Northwest Florida / flyfishpensacola.com
- Old Florida Outfitters / oldfloridaoutfitters.com
- Panhandle Fly Fishers / pan-fly.com
West Central Florida
- C.B.’s Saltwater Outfitters / cbsoutfitters.com
- Florida Big Bend Fly Fishers Club / fbbflyfishers.com
- Sun Coast Fly Fishers / suncoastflyfishers.com
- Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club / tbffc.org
- Tampa Bay On The Fly / tampabayonthefly.com
- Tarpon Coast Flyfishers / [email protected]
- The Calusa Fly Fishers / floridaflyfishing.com/calusaff.htm
- The Nature Coast Fly Shop / naturecoastflyshop.com
- Tri-County Fly Fishers Club / tcflyfishers.com