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Don’t wait to break out fly rod

October 29, 2011
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

When starting the season this year try out that fly rod you got as a gift about six years ago.

You know, the one that sits pristine in its dust-bunny-covered case. The one you pull out and admire annually while vowing to actually learn to use it.

About 35 to 40 percent of my clients are fly fishing anglers. Our fishing grounds are very fly rod friendly, mostly due to the abundance of very shallow water and the fly friendly fish that inhabit them.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Every species of fish inshore, nearshore and offshore will strike a properly presented fly. Many anglers pick up the fly rod and immediately are deeply hooked for a lifetime.

Most think it takes years of practice to fly fish and that is simply not true. A total beginner can be catching fish in 15 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, up to powerful 12 and up weight rods for tarpon, sharks, marlin and other big game. A good all-around rod for our waters would be an 8 or 9 weight rod, which is fine for most general fishing in our neck of the woods.

For small tarpon to 50 pounds a 10-11 weight rod works fine. For serious big game like sharks, tuna, big tarpon a 12 or larger will fill the bill.

Most times weather conditions also help dictate your rod choices. Windy days typically call for a more powerful rod. For example, my tiny 3 weight trout rod 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 would allow you to catch everything in our waters.

Yes, in Florida, if you dare pick up a fly rod the wind is guaranteed to blow. Get used to it, its part of the deal and should not stop you from fly fishing.

Good quality hi-tech rods start at $200 and go as high as $1,000. A starter rod can be purchased for $75-$150. A top-of-the-line reel costs $400 to $800, but to get started invest no more than $75 to $150 on a starter reel.

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 saltwater service fly reel with a good drag system will start around $175 and go to upwards of $700.

The total basic setup consists of the rod, reel, fly line, leader, backing and a handful of flies. Many companies make complete starter sets that include everything, for very reasonable prices. Lehrs Economy Tackle in Fort Myers is a great place to get solid information and all your fly fishing supplies, including starter sets.

Get with a fly fishing friend, buy a video, or hire guides like myself that offer reasonable private or group lessons. The long held myth is not true. Fly fishing is easy to learn and fun.

Nothing gives the one-on-one feeling with the fish as the fly rod does. It's something you actually have to experience to fully understand.

Fly fishing is a unique and exciting aspect of our sport that many miss out on in their lifetime fishing adventures.

Redfish continue to hit spoons, topwater plugs, flies, jerkbaits, Gulp Shrimp on jig heads, and DOA Shrimp with gusto. Experiment and if your lures fail pick a spot, anchor and fish shrimp or cut ladyfish chunks on the bottom under the bushes on higher tide phases.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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