Reel Talk: Fly fishing tips for beginners

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Fly fishing is a specialized type of fishing that requires a little more skill and finesse.

8 On Your Side’s Amanda Holly spoke with a local fly fishing charter captain, who has perfected this skill, and he gave her some beginner tips.

Fly fishing gets its name from the type of lure used, called a fly. These flies are made to imitate insects that gently land on the water. You do use a rod and a reel but it is a specialized ‘fly rod’ that is long, thin and flexible.

The fly reel is also different compared to the normal conventional or spinning reel. Two different types of line are involved and of course, the flies themselves are specially made to look like different insects, fish and crustaceans.

Captain Dustin Pack runs charters almost daily and told Amanda that we’re in a transition period right now as water temperatures begin to warm up. Tarpon, redfish and snook are all fish in our local waters to target.

Right now, redfish are “coming off their winter habits of eating crabs and shrimp and aiming more toward baitfish, although they will eat a crustacean year round.”

You’ll want to look for them in less than 2 feet of water. “The higher the tide, the closer the snook will be in or under the mangrove trees.”

He said to target redfish or snook, use some style of baitfish pattern like an ‘Everglades Special’ or a ‘Glades Minnow’ which are both fly names. The biggest difference between redfish and snook when it comes to rigging is the leader size and weights. For redfish, Pack said to use 20 lb or lighter leader because they have soft mouths. The snook have more of a sandpaper mouth and you’ll need to run 25-30 lb leader to have the best chance to keep them on.

As for the rod size, he said 7, 9, or 9 wt rods with a tapered leader.

The main tip Pack told Amanda was to “lead the fish, never hit them in the head.” Meaning, practice casting and landing your fly in front of the fish so they see it and it doesn’t spook them.

Captain Dustin Pack is experienced at fly fishing in our local Tampa Bay waters and has mastered this skill. His tips are sure to help you begin your journey to perfecting this hobby!

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