Commit to do something new: fish with fly

Commit to do something new: fish with fly

The beginning of a new year marks a time of commitments and resolutions for many of us. Whether the resolution is made regarding one’s health, or a re-commitment to personal and/or professional goals, resolutions have a couple of common characteristics: either commit to doing better something you already do, or commit to doing something new.
Anglers in our part of the world were raised using spinning or bait casting reels when fishing our waterways. But there is certainly another option: fishing with fly. And this technique would fall into the category for many of us as ‘committing to doing something new.’

San Marco resident and Captain Lawrence Piper knows a lot about fishing on fly.“When I mention to visitors that I offer fly fishing on my Amelia Island fishing charters they often reply, ‘where in the world would you fly fish in north Florida?’ A lot of people equate fly fishing with the trout streams up north or out west. Here in the Jacksonville and north Florida area we have excellent fishing and taking those fish on a fly is a challenging option,” says Piper.

Recent personal fishing trips have been centered more around site casting to fish than letting bait soak on the bottom. Fishing flood tides for tailing redfish or a dead-low tide around oyster beds during the early morning or late afternoon bite can both offer great opportunities for fishing on fly.

Tailing redfish are evident and offer a great target by their large tails waving above the surface while they comb the bottom. And fish moving and feeding around exposed oysters during a dead-low tide during the early morning or early evening bite (just before sunset) offer great targets as well.

“Flood tide fishing for tailing redfish, low tide fishing for backing redfish, sea trout fishing at night under the docks, and bream and bass fishing in our rivers and lakes are just a few of the great fly fishing opportunities that we have,” says Piper.

Fishing on fly around our First Coast will also offer great practice in the event you are traveling to another fishing destination. Due to the proximity of the Bahamas to Florida, many Jacksonville residents will schedule family trips to cross the gulfstream, and try their luck with fishing on fly for bonefish in the Abacos.

Piper says this practice is important to fly fishing success. “Casting a fly with a fly rod is unlike other any fishing you’ve ever done. For one, you will need to incorporate a back cast along

with the forward cast, which takes some getting used to. The fly is usually so light you will need to use your rod to form loops in a heavier fly line to carry the fly and leader along with it, thus making the cast.”

He adds, “The Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) is an international organization dedicated to the sport of fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying and conservation. Years ago dedicated fly casters with the FFF set forth five principles for a good fly cast. They determined that many casters would have different styles of casting but in order to make a good cast they all would incorporate the same five principles. San Marco, Avondale, Riverside and Ortega communities offer excellent park space where you can practice your fly casting. Use a piece of yarn as your fly and practice your casting on grass so that when you get out on the water you’ll be ready to catch some fish!”

Principle Number 1: Keep slack out of your fly line.
As you accelerate your rod the weight of the fly line is going to put a bend in the rod causing it to load with energy. When you stop your cast that rod is going to unbend or unload and propel the line forward on a forward cast (or backward on a back cast). If slack is introduced, the rod will not get its maximum load and the result will be a poor cast.

One of the most common errors is starting the back cast when the rod tip is held too high off of the water – slack is between the rod tip and the water. Always remove any slack between the rod tip and the water. You can do this by holding your rod tip down towards the water and stripping in any excess slack. Or you can perform a roll cast to get the line straightened out.
Begin the back cast with the rod tip down towards the water and you will see that the rod immediately begins to load (with pressure) as you accelerate back.

Another common error that introduces slack is called Creep. After making the stop on the back cast, some casters will “creep” forward before the fly line has a chance to fully unroll, then begin their actual forward cast. This introduces slack line in the cast and the rod will not get its maximum load and the cast will be poor.

If you feel like you are creeping forward you may want to consciously insert a technique called drift. Watch your back cast and after you have made your stop, “drift” your hand holding the rod back even further until the fly line unrolls. You should begin to feel the rod getting heavier which indicates a good load.
Now you’re ready to accelerate on your forward cast…which we’ll cover in next month’s principle!

Capt. Lawrence Piper is a San Marco resident who fishes out of Amelia Island. He is a FFF Certified Casting Instructor and a member of the First Coast Fly Fishers. The FCFF meet the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Southpoint Marriott Hotel. Capt. Piper can be reached at

By Nathan & Ted Miller
Send your pictures, stories and favorite destinations to The Miller Brothers at [email protected] or Ted at [email protected]

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login