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Cobia on fly

As a sportsman that has had a spinning rod in my hands for most of my fishing life, I was indeed a bit taken back when my middle son Victor introduced me to serious fly fishing.

I had a brief stint with a fly rod as a western Pennsylvania trouter. Growing up, I was even a small-time camp fly instructor so I was not a total neophyte. After several sessions with my proficient middle son, however, it was apparent that I indeed needed to hit the books a bit if I was to be anywhere at all profient with the long rod.

I read as much as I could on the subject and then proceeded to travel to the neighborhood golf lakes near my home. I watched wind knots and errant casts slowly become a thing of the past. I started out with a nice 8-weight rod and a matching reel that held 300 yards of 30-pound test Gel Spun backing (regular Power Pro works just fine too) and attached that with a nail knot to the 8-weight floating line. The integral loop at the end of the fly line makes changing leaders easy. Choose a leader based on conditions, the size of the fly and the fish you are targeting.

As frustrating as that was (and still is) I managed to send a hand tied imitation bug across the slick surface of the pond one night and after a barely detectable "slurp" I was fast to a nice bass. The bass' initial surge took most of the fly line out on the first rush and after several harried moments and one brief mini tangle I soon had a 2 pound bass lying on its side. I took a pair of my son's hemostats and twisted the barbless hook out of the fish, and in a small swirl, that fish was gone.

Fly fishing in Florida has been going great guns and recently there has been a tremendous resurgence in the sport. I have noticed that there has been a recent change to include fly fishing awards and divisions in most major tournaments. In the Keys I have been fortunate enough to win several titles and a few extra bucks toting the long wand to these events. My largest dolphin on fly to date is just under thirty pounds and was good enough for a first place finish in the annual Caloosa Cove marine event held each year in the Islamorada area each May. Offshore fishing for dolphin with a flyrod has its challenges and its limitations, but working within those areas offers and angler a thrill that convention tackle simply cannot even come close to offering.

I have branched out lately to include cobia fishing on fly now and here is what I can share with you from my experience.

First off you do not need to be a Joe Brooks type fellow to enjoy flyfishing for cobia. These fish are easily at home close to the boat. They also are attracted to the surface once one of their buddies is hooked, so you can easily go the route of watching and waiting. By this I mean take your fly rod cobia fishing with the guys that are using the spinning or conventional gear. Once a fish is hooked stand by for your chance to throw a fly at the trailing fish.

That is the extact technique that my son Victor and I used to get a nice limit of cobia while fishing with fellow charter Captain Mike Biffel out of Key Colony Beach in the Keys. Mike who is also a charter captain and a true fish nut( I would know what the qualifications are for that title) took my son Victor and me out recently into the Gulf of Mexico to do some fishing for cobia. Once we were on the spot Mike slowed the boat down and then drifted a bit to get a line on the current and then we proceeded to anchor up quietly above tide on the spot. Mike likes to let a spot settle down a bit before flailing begins and also we a sent chum line out the back to see who we could interest in a game of tug and war.We did not have to wait too long as a smart tug on one of the spinners we sent downstairs soon had a drag chirping and before you know it it was time to cast a fly.

That first fish came up and soon was followed by another 25-pounder that looked like it was its twin. Being careful to land the fly away from the first hooked fish I let the fly settle a bit and then when the cobia came near I stripped it away in a hurry and it was immediately pounced on. I pointed the rod at the fish and then quickly stripped hooked the fish using a sharp tug and sweep of the arm to set the hook.

Using the rod to do this is a sure way to break even the finest made rods, as a fly rod's length is used to slowly and surely tire a fish and should never be used to drive a hook home. They are simply too whippy in the tip to do this. Learning to strip-strike is something you need to practice on the fish in the pond before trying it on the bigger saltwater fish. Most saltwater fish have very hard mouths compared to the freshwater pond dwellers. Keep that hook sharp for easier penetration on the hookset. Steady pressure will prevent the hook from slipping out. When it come time to release your fish it is easily done and you will not lose the fly as most flies are tied to a very light leader that can break easily on thrashing fish at the boat.