I could start this post by telling you that I’ve fished my whole life, which would be true, in a way. As a kid I fished the lakes of Valrico,FL for bass, catfish, bluegill, and even alligators. Basically anything that would bite my lure was what I was after. I loved fishing back then, but that’s not when my obsession truly started.
I purchased my first fly rod and reel combo 5 years ago. Bought it from a fellow co-worker who happened to be a captain and had no use for the fly fishing “stuff”. It was a beginner kit, so I assumed it was perfect for me. I went to my backyard ponds not knowing what the hell I was doing and just started casting. Mind you, I’ve never even held a fly rod before this, much less tried to shoot line. I was terrible, couldn’t get the line farther than 10ft and gave up. Tried a few more times and still, I sucked. At this point I thought it would be easier to just keep using my spin rod and put the fly stuff to the side.
Fast forward a few years. My wife and I married, moved to Nashville for a year, realized it was too cold, and moved back. Living away from saltwater for that long really enhanced my fishing urges. When I got back to Tampa I heard that our local shop, Flint Creek Outfitters, was offering a fly fishing 101 class, taught by Captain Ethan Kiburz. So one weekend my brother and I decided to give it a shot. Picking up the fly rod this time seemed different. Don’t know if it was the fact that I was being taught the correct way or if it was knowing that I was using good fly gear, but something was different. I still sucked at casting, let’s get that straight. At this point I couldn’t even imagine my arms working the way they are supposed to in order to do a double haul. But I stuck with it, blind casting on shorelines hundreds, maybe even thousands of times. Going to my backyard for an hour or two at a time until my shoulders wore out. The fact that just the fly cast by itself is so detailed, how the slightest change in your wrist, arm, or hand can change the entire outcome of where your fly lands, intrigues the hell out of me.
After casting, my interest in fly fishing grew tremendously. My need for flies increased, and after purchasing a few dozen from my good friend Capt. Matthew Cox, I thought “I should start tying my own stuff.” I got online and did a bunch of research on the best “startup” materials. I struck a goldmine when I came across a huge bundle of material and tools one gentlemen was selling from an estate sale on eBay. This purchase was the first of a hundred more, vises, deer hair, feathers that I didn’t even know existed, thread I never thought I’d buy, and all types of glues. Now that I’ve caught a few fish on flies others have tied, I had to catch one on a fly I tied.
Now I needed a boat, and not just any boat. I needed a boat that accommodates a fly fisherman. After telling most of my friends (who fish more offshore), the type of boat I was looking for, most of them said that’s not what I needed and or wanted. I’m pretty stubborn, and sometimes I think I know more than I do. But at this point I was dead set on owning the skinniest boat possible. Then I found her, 2010 Ankona Copperhead Gen 1 side console. She was perfect and close to home. So I bought it, even before I owned a truck to pull it with. I had to borrow a friends pickup just to get the boat home. Even though I had to wait a whole month to take her out on the water, it was worth it, I love my boat and couldn’t be happier.
The sport of Fly Fishing is one of the most frustrating, complicated, and rewarding things I’ve ever done. My wonderful wife has put up with many of my come and go hobbies, but this is much more than a hobby. Making a fly out of feathers and thread, attaching that fly to a 9ft tippet, and making a fish think that what you made is food is so cool to me.
It’s kind of hard to wrap my brain around how much I still have to learn about fly fishing and tying, but I’m learning more and more everyday. This sport has introduced me to some of the nicest and most talented people I could imagine. From Jenn and Vince (SWC), with their huge hearts who decided to believe in a kid who was no more than a guy with an Instagram page. To Ethan, Trenton (Flint Creek Outfitters), and Chase (SWC), who have taught me so much about fly tying, fishing and just being a good example in this sport. It is my hope that this post may be an inspiration to any angler out there who thinks that the rush of fly fishing may be for them. Trust me, if you put your heart into this sport, it will pay you back what you put in tenfold.