Fly Fishing --- a well orchestrated dance between the fish and the fisherman. Using the rod as the conductor’s baton, the fisherman rhythmically entices the fish. Fly Fishing is more an art than sport. You are hunting and luring the fish. You are enticing the fish to eat. Presentation is everything. It takes patience and study, waiting for the perfect moment. Yes, all this is true in sport fishing yet; the presentation in fly fishing takes harmony of balance, rhythm, and motion.
When we think of fly fishing, the first thing that comes to mind is Brad Pitt’s character in “A River Runs Through It.” Standing in swift running freshwater streams, we watched the line dance through the air as he gracefully lured in the trout.
So… when we think about fly fishing, we see a cool mountain stream, surrounded by towering trees with trout jumping after bugs…Or maybe… let’s see…. How about South Padre Island. REALLY? You fly fish in saltwater? Is that even possible? Answer: Yes. It is not only possible it takes fishing for the Gulf’s inshore fish to another level.
South Padre Island has several professional fishing shops that carry fly fishing rigs and plenty of expertise. Roy Lopez at Bass Pro Shops is one of these avid fly fishermen. He has found a way to marry his love of fly fishing with his love of saltwater fishing. I came into the White River Fly Shop specifically looking to get my husband started in a sport that he has wanted to do for years. Here’s what I learned.
What are you fishing for off the shores of South Padre?
Tarpon have a natural migrating pattern from Florida and the Yucatan Peninsula. Their arrival at South Padre is still a mystery. They seem to follow the Gulf Coast. The tide dictates feeding patterns and their location. According to the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, the migrations take the tarpon up the eastern coast of the U.S. to at least the Chesapeake Bay, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, and southward to the Caribbean Sea.
Tarpon are fished for sport. Roy says, “I wait all year for the tarpon to come back around in the annual migration. I put the time in to find out their patterns and eating habits. I have respect for the fish. They travel from Florida and the Yucatan to get to Padre. “
But there is more than Tarpon off of South Padre’s shores. Fishing Kingfish, Red Fish, Speckled Trout, Jack Crevalle, Spanish Mackerel and Bonita can all be found on the surf or jetties during ideal summer weather conditions. They can be found off the Gulf Coast year round. Typically flashy, obnoxious flies in loud colors with a wire tippit can be used to entice these toothy fish to bite
South Padre offers wading from the East Side sand flats to the West Side silt and estuaries. Fishing from the rocks or in the water, we use different tools for different fish. Consider the rig.
Roy generally ties his own flies, but has a few that he might use if needed. The picture shows four of the possibilities. A) Tarpon Toad – Premier Tarpon Fly. B) Red Fish Toad – great fly for south Texas red fish and trout. C) Merkin Crab – another red fish fly typically used when red fish aren’t feeding, generally the fall months. D) Sea Ducer – fly that you would use in shallow water from 5 to 15 inches of water. It has a real soft lay down.
9’ 8-weight rod typically with a stiff backbone to punch heavy flies through the wind (we have horrible prevailing south winds that don’t let up) for red fish, trout, flounder and any other species you’d find inshore. http://www.basspro.com/World-Wide-Sportsman-Gold-Cup-Fly-Rods/product/13082906212339/
9’ 10-weight rod with heavy backbone to punch flies for bigger fish from the beach or jetties – kings, Jacks, Spanish mackerel.
Inshore reel doesn’t necessarily have to be top dollar. It needs a sealed drag system and is tolerable to the salt. Roy suggests: Lamson Konic/Guru and any of the Sage line-ups from the 1800 series to the 2200 series. They retail anywhere from $150 to $185. http://www.basspro.com/Lamson-Konic-II-Fly-Reels/product/1209270507043/
10-weight series – you are dealing with bigger fish. You need a reel with stouter drag. The Lamson offers the Konic/Guru 4 and Sage 2210 ranging anywhere from $150 to $250 for catching these bigger fish.
Your line in the inshore scene will typically consist of a weight forward floating line that can be matched to a rod. The line is dictated by the rod or the casting preference of the fisherman. Bass Pro Shops can typically fit the fisherman with an ideal rig to fit his/her preferences. This is true for the 8-weight or the 10-weight.
Recently, Roy hooked a tarpon of about 5 feet/100+ pounds and watched it swim away after breaking the line. With a smile, he remembered the “dance” and walked away satisfied. Ok… maybe a little disappointed.