Last week's article touched on salt water fly fishing and spawned a ton of emails with questions about equipment choices, techniques, what fish can be caught, how to get started, etc.
Again, our fishing grounds are very fly-rod friendly due mostly to the abundance of very shallow water and the fly-friendly fish that inhabit them.
Every species of fish inshore, nearshore and offshore will strike a properly presented fly. If you have resisted trying the "long rod" you are missing out on a great part of the sport. Many pick up the fly rod and immediately are deeply hooked for a lifetime.
Capt. George Tunison
As I previously stated, many think it takes years of practice to fly fish and that simply is not true. A beginner can be catching fish in 30 minutes or less with a little instruction. To get started, become familiar with the gear. Fly rods are categorized using a weight system. They start with tiny wispy rods rated as a 3-4 weight for small trout fishing to powerful 12 (and larger) weight rods for tarpon, sharks, sailfish, and other big game.
Wind affects choice
A good all-around rod for our waters would be an 8 weight rod, which is fine for most general fishing in our neck of the woods.
Typically, most fly fishermen have multiple weight rods to pursue different class fish. I go sea trout fishing with a tiny 3 weight rod. For reds or snook or other medium size game fish I use a 7 to 9 weight rod. When large powerful fish such as tarpon, shark or sailfish are the quarry, a 12 weight rod is my choice.
Most times weather conditions help dictate your rod choices. Windy days typically call for a more powerful rod. For example, my tiny 3 weight trout wand is left at home on windy days and a 6 weight rod is used to catch trout. A 6 weight along with a 9 and 12 allows you to catch everything in our waters.
Good quality hi-tech rods start at $200 and go as high as $700. A starter rod can be purchased for $75-$150.
The fly reel used for smaller species generally is just a tool to store line. For larger fish the reel is an important tool to help fight the fish using high quality drag systems. A small species reel will cost $35 on up. A high quality salt water service fly reel with a good drag system will start around $175 and go to as much as $700.
Match line to prey
The other major component is the line. These are classified by the weight system as well, and have to be matched to the rod. A 9 weight fly rod uses a 9 weight line. There are different fly lines for different applications. Some float, some sink, and all have different line tapers for different uses. A good choice for these waters is a floating-weight forward- line weight matched to your rod. Good fly lines cost $40 to $70 and will last for years if properly cared for.
To load a fly reel first spool on a backing line, then knot your fly line to it. At the end of your fly line attach your 6-10-foot mono leader, tie on a fly and go fishing. A fly line is about 90 feet long. The backing allows a big fish to strip out the fly line and extra backing line. A 20-30-pound mono makes for cheap backing, although I use braid lines.
Learn to fly fish with a buddy, guide or instructor. Many guides like myself offer private lessons at a reasonable cost and learning to tie or make your own flies is a great lifelong hobby.
Fly fishing is a unique and exciting aspect of our sport that many miss out on in their lifetime fishing adventures.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.