homepage logo

Southwest Florida is a perfect spot for fly fishing

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Nov 20, 2020

New fly rod anglers looking to purchase equipment may be sticker shocked to find that a top quality fly rod and reel outfit can cost $1,500 to $22000 or more, fly line not included. The latest hi-tech graphite technology and materials go into today’s magic wands driving up prices. High-end reels are machined from bar stock aluminum requiring time and labor and the results are beautiful examples of the machining arts.

Before making a big investment then deciding that the long rod isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps try shopping for an entry level package at a reasonable price. Companies like Orvis, Temple Fork Outfitters and ECHO, offer complete saltwater grade packages in the $350 to $400 range. A combo includes a rod, a reel, fly line backing, a fly line, leader material and a rod case.

After you’ve fallen in love with fly fishing (or broken the rod into 8 pieces in frustration) and you’re ready to step up to a high dollar rod, use these tips to save hard earned cash.

If you have rod building experience or access to a local rod builder/finisher, buying the company’s rod building kit or just the rod blank, can save hundreds.

Winston, a quality rod company, offers its finished saltwater grade 12 weight rod (rod only) for about $1,000 but you can purchase just the blank for $488 or buy its rod building kit for $648 and have it finished.

A kit would include the blank, a reel seat, cork handle, all necessary hardware and a guide spacing chart.

Shopping online is another great way to save on top shelf equipment. Friends have bought lightly used $1,000 rods for $350-$600 and nearly new $800 reels for half or less.

Be it an entry level rod or high tech wonder stick, having more than one is always better. Rod size is defined under a weight classification. For our local redfish and snook, an 8 weight rod is a good all-round choice for salty mangrove or flats work and also throws big hair bugs for freshwater largemouth. For lighter game like sea trout, step down to a 5-6 weight outfit. If you want to challenge larger tarpon, a 12 weight rod would be a good bet.

Sage makes fly rods up to 16 weight in case you want to fight a 1,500-pound marlin or super-heavyweight tuna on fly.

When purchasing a fly line for your rod, simply match the line to the rod. An 8 weight rod requires an 8 weight line.

Fly lines can be level or tapered, sinking or floating. Some are floating with a sinking tip. For working mangrove shorelines and shallow flats a floating (F), weight forward (WF) line is a good all-round choice.

A fly line is typically 90-100 feet long. In fly fishing you cast the fly line not the weight of a lure like when using spinning gear. To help you cast the fly line, a WF line is constructed so it has the same thin diameter for about 70 feet then gradually increases in diameter for the remaining 20-30 feet. So, when shopping for a floating fly line for your new 8 weight rod you’ll look for an 8wt-WF-F line.

Sinking line or sink-tip lines drag your leader and fly under water for deeper work on structure or suspended fish.

Saltwater fly fishing has become really popular over the last 10 years and is easy to learn. First step is to go to school. The internet has hundreds of instructional videos. A fly fishing friend or local guide will usually be glad to help. Each year I have 40 or more students that take my 2-hour beginners saltwater fly fishing course and find that most are able to get a good basic understanding within 30 minutes.

Southwest Florida and fly fishing, a perfect combination, don’t miss out.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.