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Fly fishing surprisingly easy to learn

By Staff | Oct 10, 2009

Capt. George Tunison

Most of the time you will find me using spinning or baitcasting gear, but I am no stranger to the fly rod.

Nowadays nearly half of my charters are fly fishing types, whether I’m guiding in salt or fresh water. Some of my most memorable and satisfying catches have come on the fly rod, including tarpon, sailfish, stripers, snook, kingfish, wreck permit, and even inshore grouper along with other prized inshore species.

When I was a young man living in the Mid-Atlantic states I spent many hours on a beautiful little river fly fishing for big carp. I know guides who have steady clients from Europe that come to fly fish for the lowly but hard-pulling carp, which believe it or not is the most sought-after game fish in Europe, besides pike.

Give fly fishing a try

Our shallow water fishery is tailor made to fly fishing and now is a super time to learn and hone your long rod skills. Thousands of redfish have made their way to our area and are pushing and feeding around the flats of Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass, Burnt Store Bar, Estero Bay, and Charlotte Harbor. The better news is they readily will take a fly along with the trout that will be here all winter.

To this day I still have spin clients pick up or glance at the fly rods that are always rigged and ready on my boat, and say, “I always wanted to try this, but I heard it’s really hard to learn.” Well, that’s not true in the least.

Whenever someone tells me that I snatch their spinning rod from their hands and have them catching fish on the fly rod usually within a half-hour or less. Fly fishing is fairly easy to learn and there is no other fishing method that gives you the feeling of being one on one with the fish.

Top-of-the-line fly rods and reels can cost a fortune and it’s easy to spend $500 to $800 on a super high-tech rod and $400 to $800 on a top-of-the-line reel, but to get started invest no more than $100 to $300 on a starter outfit to see if it suits you.

The basic setup is 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 setups.

Nearshore bite solid

Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters reports “fishing is hot!” The bays and passes are full of bait with Spanish mackerel, jacks, bluefish and ladyfish feasting on the plentiful bait. (By the way, a great place to try fly fishing.) Throw almost any bait or lure and you will catch fish.

Redfish are schooling up in large packs just off bars early when the sun isn’t too high in the sky. Most are over slot size, but fun to catch. Keeper trout are still around. Fish around schools of bait.

Capt. Rob Modys of SoulMate Charters said the nearshore bite continues to be solid with lots of action both early and late in the day. During the outbound tides the Spanish macs are starting to gather in huge numbers in the passes of Estero Bay and are heavily feeding on both artificial lures and live bait. He suggests rigging with light wire to prevent bite-offs.

The back country bite is really turning on. Work the oyster bars during low water for reds and snook. They are readily chasing live white baits and also will hit D.O.A. Shrimp and GULP Shrimp under a cork.

Modys also recommends keeping your eyes open around the deeper cuts for the occasional tarpon.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at captgeorget3@aol.com, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.