Home » Axiom II

Tag: Axiom II

Peacock Bass Are Closer to Home Than You Think

I am not, by nature, a morning person. Give me an evening drake hatch over morning tricos any day.

When I lived in West Palm Beach a few years ago, peacock bass fit into my daily routine just fine. I could never get up early enough for morning largemouth bass, but peacocks were usually waiting for me as the afternoon climbed high in the sky.

Peacock bass, native to tropical South America, are alive and well in Florida, which means you don’t have to schlep to the Amazon to catch one. However, if you have a chance to travel abroad for peacocks, do not hesitate to do so. The fishing can be phenomenal.

Closer to home, we have the Florida Keys, which as we know, offer world-class fishing. If you happen to stop in Miami on the way during a bonefish trip, it’s not a bad idea to try your hand at landing a peacock. You won’t need a boat; you won’t need a guide. Here’s what you need to know:

Where to Find Peacock Bass

In the continental United States, you have one option: South Florida. The farther south you go, the better. For instance, you won’t find many peacocks in Palm Beach, but you might find a few in Lake Worth, which is a few miles south. Fort Lauderdale and Miami afford even more opportunities.

The reason: Water temperature. Peacocks need warm, tropical temperatures. Eighty degrees is their sweet spot. Anything lower than 60 degrees and they struggle to survive.

Peacock bass were first introduced to Florida by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in the mid 1980s to combat the burgeoning population of Oscars, which gorge on juvenile bass. So, in essence, one bass helped another.

The best place to find peacocks is the maze of flood-control canals that cover much of southern Florida. Many are no wider than 40 feet. Most are accessible by foot and are home to baby tarpon, snook and many exotic species — Oscars, tilapia and mayans among others.

How to Fish for Peacock Bass

You don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn. In fact, mid day is often the best time to target peacocks. Look for structure and current. Culverts often produce.

You can blind cast, but I prefer to sight fish. Sight fishing requires stealth and accurate casts. Once the fly has been presented, strip fast. If one hand is not fast enough, try two hands.

The Gear for Peacock Bass

For fly, use a 5 or 6-weight Axiom II rod with a floating line. Some anglers use a sink tip, but I’ve found peacocks usually run pretty shallow, so you don’t necessarily need the extra weight. For leaders, I use a 7 to 9-foot leader with a 10, 12-pound tippet.

South Florida peacocks usually run a few pounds, so you don’t need a heavy-duty reel to land one. However, baby tarpon, carp and snook abound. If you happen to hook one these fish, you will have your hands full. I recommend a Power or BVK reel, just in case.

You’ll likely be fishing in un-mowed, long grass and brush. A stripping basket helps manage excess fly line.

For those who like to spin fish, use a light outfit. TFO’s Trout-Panfish series is a good option.

Flies and lures are fairly straight forward. Clouser Minnows,Dalhberg Divers, Gurglers, Top Dogs and Rat-L-Traps serve as the usual standbys.

Safety

It’s hot in Florida. South Florida stays hot year round. Make sure to stay hydrated. Bring water and your sports drink of choice. Wear comfortable, light-weight clothing with a hat. Polarized glasses offer better visibility and eye protection. Use sunscreen to prevent sunburn.

Walk carefully and keep a close eye out for alligators and snakes. Both try to avoid humans, but if you do see one of these critters, walk around — and away —- from them to ensure a stress-free day of angling.

Questions, comments about peacock bass fishing? Feel free to weigh in on one of social media pages.

Part II: How to Buy Your First Fly Rod

So you want to learn to fly fish? First things first. You will need a fly rod.

Don’t be intimidated. There are a lot of rods out there to choose from — saltwater, freshwater, two-hand and single hand, all in different heights and sizes. Where to start?

Welcome to Part II of our learning-to-fly-fish series. Part I was the overview. Now it’s time to start assembling your equipment — and that starts with purchasing your first rod. Here are a handful of things to consider:

What do you want to fish for?

Are you interested in freshwater or salt? Big rivers or small streams? Bass or trout? Redfish or tarpon? Where you fish and what you fish for dictates the type of rod you’ll need. Although some fly rods are more versatile than others, there is no all-purpose, do-everything fly rod.

I, for instance, started with one fly rod; I ended up with more than a dozen after making the transition from trout to bass and freshwater to saltwater. However, the weekend trout/bass fisherman can get easily get by with one, maybe two rods.

What’s your budget?

Fly fishing is not a cheap sport. Although TFO offers reasonably priced rods compared to other fly rod manufacturers, our single-hand rods start at $89.95 (Bug Launcher series) and run as high as $399.95 (Drift series) with lots of options in between those price points. If you buy a rod, reel and line separately, you’re looking at investing two, three-hundred dollars, cheaper if you buy one of our NXT Kits, which includes a rod, reel and line.

Let your interest in fly fishing dictate your initial purchases. If you’ve taken a lesson or two and you’re in love with fly fishing, buy the best single-hand rod you can afford. It will perform better and last longer.

If you’re dabbling, it’s best to take a wait-and-see approach. Buy a rod at a reasonable price point —- the Axiom II (suggested retail: $339.95-$359.95) is a good option — and then decide how much you’ll actually fish. That way, if you fish only a handful of times a year, you haven’t invested a chunk of change in a rod that’s collecting dust.

What do you like?

Fly rods are categorized by length and weight. Length is self-explanatory. A 9-footer is your standard freshwater rod. You can buy longer rods, but they’re mainly for specialty types of fishing.

Rod weights are assigned to define the types of flies you can throw. The lighter the rod, the lower the number, the smaller fly you can cast and vice versa. For instance, if you were fishing for tarpon, you would want a 10 or 11-weight rod, which is sturdy enough to propel a fly the size of your hand 60 or 70 feet. For the record, the standard trout fly rod is a 5-weight.

Armed with the basics of this terminology and an idea of what you want to fish for, it’s best to go to your local fly shop and try out several different rods. What feels good to you?

Some fly rods are stiff, some are soft. Each angler usually has a preference and that’s largely defined by how they cast. It’s a decision each newcomer has to make. I recommend a slighter softer rod, which should help you feel the butt of the rod bend, very important as you learn to cast.

Are you prepared for the unexpected?

My first fly rod was handmade, gorgeous and casted like a dream. Unfortunately, it was made by local rod maker. The one drawback? It had no warranty.

You may not think you’ll break a rod, but chances are you will. I’ve broken three in a 30 years. The latest was a TFO Professional Series. It was my fault. I left it unattended in the back of my SUV and my dog’s crate rolled over on it. We all have our moments of carelessness that can cost us.

You will want a good warranty and trust me, even with the best intentions, you will use it. TFO’s no-fault, lifetime warranty covers breakage for any reason. My TFO rod was fixed and back in my hands in about a week or so. That type of customer service is hard to beat.

Suggestions on buying your first fly rod? Stories about your first fly rod? Feel free let us know about these experiences on one of our social media pages.

It’s Back to Basics for Smallmouth

Tis the time of year for freshwater transition. It’s September. It’s still a bit too hot for trout, and the largemouth bass is a morning and evening proposition. However, the most willing sparring partner in early fall is not hard to find. The smallmouth bass is a viable fly-rodding option as summer yields to autumn. Smallies love to take a fly and fight hard, from the hookset to the release.

Even though the bronzeback is a formidable foe, it’s a fish I’ve consistently neglected throughout my 30 years of fly fishing. I’ve always found trout sexier. It’s true that trout, as a species, boast loads of tradition, but if you honestly evaluate the attributes of each species, the smallmouth compares favorably and is well worth pursuing.

And since trout usually need a break, I’ve decided to give smallmouth a fair amount of love from now on during each fishing season.

So, it’s back to basics. Below are a few key components of my strategy.

Time Year for Smallmouth

Geography, of course, plays a role. I live in Western N.C., where the southern smallie season starts in late spring and ends in late fall. My fishing calendar starts in March and April with trout. As soon as the trout start to feel the heat of summer in late May and early June, it’s time for smallmouth. And when the autumn leaves start to turn, it’s about time for trout.

Temperature and Time of Day for Smallmouth

Smallmouth can be caught if the water temperature lingers in the 50s, but cold water is better for trout. Smallmouth like water temps in the high 60s and 70s, about the time trout head for the oxygen of the riffles.

For most of us, fishing revolves around work and family commitments, but the ideal time for smallmouth is early or late in the day. Low light is better than bright sun simply because the fish feel more secure. If you can fish on a cloudy day, take advantage of such conditions. The fish will hold shallower longer.

Where to Find Smallmouth

Smallmouth are not easy to find on your local river. But if you find one smallmouth, you will usually find several. And once you pinpoint a fishy spot, remember it, because chances are, fish will hold there consistently.

Smallmouth are ambush feeders. They use structure — logs, rocks and boulders — to hide and wait for unsuspecting prey, not unlike brown trout. And don’t forget your trout training. The tails of pools usually hold nice fish. Deeper runs are also a good option.

Food for the Smallmouth

If you don’t have a specialty box of smallmouth flies, don’t despair. Trout love dragon flies and crayfish. The venerable woolly bugger works well for both. I like to use bead-head versions of this pattern. When fish are feeding on the surface, I love poppers, and there’s no better smallmouth popper than the Sneaky Pete, which can be fished with a small woolly bugger or similar substitute as a dropper.

For trophy fish, there’s no better option than Blane Chocklett’s Game Changer. The Game Changer’s movement rivals many conventional lures.

The Equipment for Smallmouth

Heavy trout or light saltwater setups work well. A 5 or 6-weight rod is about as light as you would want to go. A 7, 8-weight can be used to throw bigger poppers. If you throw small flies, you can bring your lighter rod. Big flies, obviously, need a bigger stick.  For instance, you would not want to fish a Game Changer on your 5-weight rod. Step up to a 7-weight or bigger.

Temple Fork’s Axiom II series is a good option as is the BVK series. As for reels, our Power or BVK are good choices.

I fish for smallies with standard weight-forward line, but specialty lines and leaders come in handy when you need to throw bigger flies into a headwind or find yourself fishing deeper water, where you need to get the fly down fast.

Most of the time, I keep the leaders simple —- with a 9-foot 2 or 3X approach. Again, the main variable here is the size of the fly. There’s a difference between casting a size 10 woolly bugger and a 5-inch Game Changer.

If you have any other smallmouth suggestions, feel free to leave a comment on one of our social media pages.

Five Tips to Catch Flood Tide Redfish

The sun came up early. After a long drive from the North Carolina mountains to the beaches of north Florida, I was dog tired.

But I got up to go fishing anyway. The allure of tailing redfish on the marsh is intoxicating. Sleep would have to wait.

I arrived at my favorite marsh in time. The sun was up and the tide was trickling in. After 30 minutes of walking, I arrived at my favorite spot and looked for fish. The water was shin deep, and I waited for it to reach the bottom of my knee caps. And I waited and waited and waited.

The projected flood tide never arrived. And neither did the tailing redfish.

The culprit was Hurricane Florence, which was several days away, but close enough to yield a west breeze, which stymied the tidal flow. There just wasn’t enough water for the fish to feel comfortable enough to feed.

So I trudged back home. I knew the west wind might be an issue, but I fished anyway. I have a soft spot for tailing reds. The mere sight of a spotted tail in the grass takes my breath away.

It doesn’t matter if it’s in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina or North Carolina. Where there’s a marsh, there’s usually a tailing redfish. And I will go to just about any extreme to find them.

Below are a few flood-tide tips that I learned along the way.

The Tides For REDFISH

Tidal flow is huge when it comes to flood-tide redfish. You need enough water to reach the dry areas of the marsh, so the big reds can feed on fiddler crabs. Each area has its required tidal flow to entice tailing fish. In Northeast Florida, for instance, you generally need a high tide of at least 5.2, but that designation is a mere guideline. Flats near Jacksonville don’t need as much water to flood; flats near St. Augustine and points south need a tide of 5.4, 5.5. In short, each area, each flat, has different tidal requirements. Local knowledge is key to ferreting out these nuances.

The Wind FOR REDFISH

Wind is a big factor in tidal flow. In north Florida, north or east wind pushes water on to the flat. That means you can fish longer, because you’ll have ample water. By contrast, a south or west wind pushes water off the flat, which means you’ll have less time to fish, or even worse, not enough water to cover the flat.

If you have a big tide, a southwest wind may not ruin your fishing, depending on the strength of the wind. However, if your tide is borderline with a southwest wind, the fish might not have enough water to tail, which is exactly what happened on my most recent trip.

Timing for REDFISH

Once high tide arrives, you generally have about an hour or so of good fishing before the water will recede and the fish will leave. It’s important to prepare the night before. Get up early and be on the flat well before high tide, so you can be in position before the water rises and the fish move in. If you cut it too close, you might miss opportunities. If you’re late, head to the next flat.

Mobility FOR REDFISH

Wading is a possibility and has its benefits. You don’t have to prep a boat or a kayak. All you need is a rod, reel, a sling pack and a pair of flats boots. In a matter of minutes, you can be on the water and fishing — before or after work or on your lunch break.

A boat or kayak/paddleboard requires more preparation, but offers the advantage of mobility. You can cover more ground and potentially reach more fish. Boats need a two-person approach. One fishes; the other poles. Kayaks and paddleboards are solo affairs. Kayaks are more stable; paddleboards have a better casting platform, but require above-average balance and core strength. I’ve used both. For longer trips, I use a kayak. For shorter, quick trips, I use the paddleboard.

The Equipment for REDFISH

An 8-weight Temple Fork Axiom II with a Power reel is the ticket. The Axiom will punch through the wind and the Power will handle any flood-tide red with ease. As for fly lines, I use a weight-forward line. The Rio Redfish or Cortland Liquid Crystal Guide are both good options. Rio’s lines tend to be heavier. Cortland’s lines, in my opinion, are lighter and easier to cast.

With flies, you can’t go wrong with a crab pattern. The primary food source on the marsh are fiddlers. I load up my fly boxes with EP crabs in black and tan, toad style. It doesn’t hurt to have a Gurgler or two. When fish are feeding intensely with their nose in the muck, I will cast a popper in their general vicinity to get their attention. Though counter intuitive, this approach sometimes works.

Any other advice or questions, feel free to comment on one of our social media pages.

Five Tips on How to Catch Tarpon

The Gold Cup features the best of the best in tarpon fishing. The invitation-only tournament is one of the most prestigious events of the competitive fishing season. TFO advisor Rob Fordyce has set the standard for Gold Cup consistency with 13 second-place finishes, the last of which came earlier this summer.

And he’s always learning.

“I’ve never been satisfied with my knowledge of tarpon,” Fordyce said. “I take fishing seriously. I do it for a living. Tarpon fishing, I take to a different level. That consistent (success) comes from never being satisfied with my knowledge of the game. I’m always trying new things and I’m trying to get better at it.”

TFO blog editor Mike Hodge chatted with Fordyce about his success, and the host of the outdoor series, Seahunter, offered a few tips. Among them:

Get In Shape

Tarpon fishing is not for the meek. It’s physical and fast paced. Many newbies assume the rough stuff comes once the big fish is hooked, and there’s no doubt your biceps, core and thighs will burn as you try to land your quarry.

Often overlooked, though, are the skills needed before the hookup. Good balance is essential. Why? Because if you fish the flats near a pass or a beach, swells can rock the boat. Sea legs aren’t a big deal for a hardened tarpon fisherman, but the newcomer needs to be strong and flexible to maintain good enough balance to spot fish and make accurate casts.

“It’s not a controlled environment,” Fordyce said. “A trout fishing setting is somewhat of a controlled environment. The fish aren’t moving. The fish are holding behind a rock and you know which rock that is. If you make a bad cast in a trout scenario, you get another shot. In tarpon fishing on the ocean side, there can be wind. There’s often extreme current, and sometimes both are in different directions. You can have waves over the bow with wind, and the fly has to end up in a six-inch diameter circle. It’s a game of inches.”

Use the Right Gear

Use gear that’s heavy enough. You don’t want to be under-gunned. A rod that’s too light will result in prolonged battles. A 10 weight is adequate. An 11 or 12 weight is better. For conventional gear, try medium heavy to heavy rods.

The Axiom II is a good choice for those who prefer fly. Our GIS Inshore or Seahunter Series works well for conventional enthusiasts.

Picking the Right Fly/Lure

The Cockroach may be the most famous and productive tarpon fly. I personally prefer the tarpon toad in black and purple. It’s easy to tie and it works. Rabbit strips are one my tying favorite materials simply because of the movement generated. And movement, as TFO advisor Blane Chocklett explains, is key to enticing strikes. I had never really thought about this concept before, but it makes perfect sense. Fish are predators. Feed them what they want.

When it comes to movement, conventional lures are hard to beat. Obvious choices are Bombers and DOAs and Yo-Zuri minnows.

“In sight-fishing scenarios we often use unweighted bass worms or flukes,” Fordyce said. “These baits will almost suspend allowing a lot of movement with a short, twitchy retrieve that can still be pretty slow without having to reel much. This can entice traveling fish to bite that aren’t in a feeding mode much the same way as a fly retrieve.”

Entire blog posts have been devoted to tarpon lures and flies. If you want more info, talk with your guide. Local knowledge is always best.

Seeing the Fish

There’s also a mental challenge involved with tarpon fishing. Count on long periods of time between schools of fish. The ability to concentrate through the doldrums is essential and usually acquired with experience.

“There can be times when you’re getting a shot every thirty seconds, and then there could be hours in between shots,” Fordyce said. “It could be four, five hours of just nothing. That’s when you really have to dig deep and focus hard. That’s when the shots are few and far between and you only get so many.”

Teamwork

You and your guide are a team. Ideally, he puts you on fish. The client’s job is to make an accurate cast, hook the fish and then land it. Rarely is it that easy. Mistakes happen and tempers can flare. The key, as in any relationship, is communication, particularly when it comes to the client’s skill level and expectations, so the chaos can be managed.

“There’s a lot of moving parts,” Fordyce said. “It’s a team sport. Your guide is trying to set you up for the most productive shot. There’s a lot going on.”

 

Headed out to pursue the Silver King? Let us know how you do on one of our social media channels. Want to add more tips or suggestions, feel free to speak up.

A Few Father’s Day Gift Ideas from TFO

Father’s Day is almost here. Temple Fork Outfitters has you covered when it comes to gifts for dad —- rods, reels and accessories that are sure to make him smile on his special day. See below for a handful of options.

Bug Launcher

Suggested retail: $89.95-$159.95

This is the perfect starter rod for father and son. It’s light (3 ounces) and relatively short — it comes in lengths of 7 and 8 feet — so it’s great for short casts for pond fishing or to stay out of the tree limbs on small trout streams. Comes in a candy-apple red hue in weights 4-6. Cork grip is downsized for smaller hands. The NXT LA reel is the perfect companion to this little rod and reasonably priced at $79.95.

NXT Kit

Suggested retail: $199.95-$209.95

The perfect rod-and-reel setup for the novice adult angler, but it can also serve as a backup rod for the veteran angler. This outfit comes with fly line and leader, so you’re ready to hit the water instantly. The NXT Kit comes with an NXT LA reel spooled with weight-forward line, backing and leader. The rod case is a bonus, making it easier to store and travel.

Axiom II

Suggested retail: $339.95-$359.95

Arguably one of the best fly rods that TFO has made. What sets it apart is its versatility and the ability to accommodate a broad range of casting strokes and styles. Usually the angler has to adjust to the rod. Not so with the Axiom II. It tracks well with a nice feel. But fishing is more than just casting, and the A2 delivers with a degree of sturdiness that can withstand the pull of the fiercest fish. As for a reel, there’s no better option for dad than TFO’s Power ($399.95-$499.95) reel, a good-light weight, durable complement to this fine rod.

BVK

Suggested retail: $249.95-$295.95

Designed by the late Lefty Kreh and Flip Pallot, the BVK is light weight, but offers loads of power and strength. Both of TFO’s Advisors got it right in this TFO classic, which features a slick of olive finish and carbon-fiber reel seats. If you need a reel to go with this rod, look no further than the aptly named BVK reel. It’s machined aluminum, highly ported and has a stainless steel drag system, all for a good value ($159.95-$299.95).

New Zealand Strike Indicator Kit

Suggested retail: $16.95

Tis the time for nymph fishing in the heat of summer when the trout are stacked in the riffles. In this situation, you’ll want a strike indicator that rides high in the foam. And the New Zealand Strike Indicator fits that need. It’s easy to rig, adjust and it’s light enough to cast efficiently. And most important, it stays on the leader securely.

These are just a few items that TFO offers for dad. Any suggestions or questions, let us know.

Five Tips for Beach Snook

It’s almost May. It’s Florida, and it’s about get hot as spring is preparing to yield to summer’s swelter. It’s a little too early for tarpon and too late for redfish. Nevertheless, inshore fishermen have a viable option — snook on the beach.

From early May through late August, snook roam the surf on both coasts of the Sunshine State, providing anglers an excellent opportunity for sight fishing. It’s not as exciting as bonefish in the Bahamas, but it’s an affordable, fun way to spend summer mornings.

Below are a few tips to help you get started.

Geography

Beach snook is largely a Florida affair. The linesider can be found on both coasts of the state in the spring and summer as the sporting fish leaves the passes in search of baitfish along the beach. Buyer beware: You won’t find many sight-fishing opportunities on the beach north of Tampa or Fort Pierce.

Snook need warm water. Anglers need calm, flat surf. Both are available in the southern parts of Florida. Top spots on the gulf coast are Honeymoon Island and Fort DeSoto (Tampa/St. Petersburg), Casey Key (Sarasota) and Sanibel (Fort Myers area). On the Atlantic side, Hobe Sound and Bathtub Beach near Stuart are worth the trip to the Treasure Coast.

The Right Conditions

As with any form of sight fishing, the sun, wind and surf all have to work in concert for prime visibility. You want the sun at your back. That means an early start on the west coast; and a later start on the east coast. I start around 8:30 or so in Tampa and around 11 in Jupiter and Stuart. You can fish later, but may have to dodge afternoon thunderstorms.

With the wind, you want an east wind on the gulf side; and a west wind on the atlantic. Both scenarios help flatten the surf and make casting a little easier. Ideally, I like the wind 10 miles an hour less.

Even more important is the height of the surf. Waves of a foot or less make it easier to see the fish. Waves of 1-2 feet are manageable. Anything bigger than that leads to a lot of bind casting. Surfline is one of the best sources to evaluate these conditions.

Positioning

Beach snook fishing requires a lot of walking but little wading. Stay on the sand as much as possible. You’ll scare fewer fish.

Scan the surf. Look where the secondary waves form and break. Fish use the waves for cover, or they merely wait for the wave to break and try to pin the bait — mullet and pinfish — along the trough. Most of the fish will be in mere inches of water —- ankle to knee deep.

To ensure better visibility, wear a hat with a wide brim with a quality pair of polarized sunglasses.

Flies

I like to keep things simple. I use two main flies — Lefty Kreh’s Deceiver and Norm Zeigler’s Schminnow — and have caught scads of fish on sizes 1, 2 and 4. The Schminnow is easy to tie. The Deceiver is more time consuming at the vise, but a classic that almost always produces in darker colors. It is one of my all-time favorites.

 Equipment

I use two different rods —- an 8-weight on the gulf coast and a 10-weight on the east coast. The reason? Atlantic snook are bigger and it’s not unusual to run into a tarpon on the beach on that side of the state. My favorite TFO rod is the Axiom II. It’s sturdy yet smooth. The same could said for the Power Reel, which is sexy but very serviceable under difficult saltwater conditions.

Wind and waves constantly tug at your fly line. A stripping basket is a must.

You can either use a floating line or an intermediate line. If the surf is a tad high, I use the intermediate. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Leaders are simple — 5 feet of 40-pound mono attached with a blood knot to 4 feet of 20 or 30-pound fluorocarbon.

For conventional gear, I like the 7-foot GIS Inshore, an ideal rod for blind casting when conditions don’t allow for sight fishing. Regardless of your weapon of choice, beach snook are a blast.

 

Thoughts? If you have additional tips, feel free to comment below or drop us a line on social media.

Winter is Prime Time for Redfish

I started my saltwater fly-fishing quest nearly eight years ago when I lived in Tampa, Fla. Having spent most of my life inland, I had visions of daily tailing redfish.

Reality quick set in that spring. I saw a handful of fish my first few months, and that learning curve didn’t happen by accident.

Fly fishing for reds is largely a winter pursuit. Sure, there are exceptions. Tailing reds in the grass are summer and early-fall affairs on the Northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts, but generally speaking winter beats summer almost every time for quality reds with a fly rod or light spinning gear.

Here are a few tips I learned along the way to this realization. A few of these nuggets of info may help you if you have time to fish the flats before spring and summer arrive.

Sleep In

You want to fish late in the day, if possible. Pick a later tide and get out when the sun has had a chance to warm the water. Can you get out early? Yes, but early birds will often be disappointed by sluggish, lethargic fish.

If the stars align and you find a strong afternoon tide, mud flats produce the best results. Reds often use the heat of the dark bottom to warm up. A word of caution: Do not get out and wade. Muddy flats rarely yield secure footing.

Tidal Tips

Fish when you have time, but if you can, schedule your outings around a strong incoming tide. Reds often feed on moving water and the less water you have to deal with means two important things: The fish have fewer places to go; and equally important, they’re easier to see in skinny water.

A negative low afternoon tide is ideal, but it’s not crucial. You can live with an extra inch or two of water, so don’t stay home because you don’t get the perfect tide.

As far as depth, I like shin to knee deep height, which amounts to about a foot or so. It’s enough water that the fish feel relatively secure, and you should be able to notice a few wakes and maybe a tail or two.

The Wind Is Not Your Friend

Wind is a reality of saltwater fishing. A breeze of 10 miles an hour or less works for me. If the wind picks up, I generally try to find a leeward shoreline. Many anglers only take wind into account as it relates to casting, but even more important is the wind’s effect on tidal flow.

In Tampa Bay, for instance, a south wind pushes water into the Bay; a north wind, by contrast, pushes water out of the Bay. Generally, you want a north wind, at least in Tampa Bay. The goal, of course, is to fish a flat with as little water as possible.

Wind can also delay the tide. True story: I went out with a guide near Fort Desoto in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tails were everywhere. The next day, I went out solo and didn’t see a single tail on the same flat on the same tide. The reason: A steady breeze held up the tide. There wasn’t enough water for the reds to come up on the flat, and unfortunately I didn’t push out a bit farther towards slightly deeper water where the fish were holding. It was a matter of wading out a few hundred yards, but I wasn’t confident enough to adjust.

Flies and Equipment

You can’t go wrong with an EP Crab (size 4) in brown or tan. I tie them toad style, but I’m not sure the shape really matters. A mylar spoon fly is my go-to for a searching pattern. A dark Clouser is always a good stand-by for just about any species, saltwater of fresh.

As far as conventional lures, a Gulp shrimp or gold spoon are good go-to options and should be in anyone’s saltwater tackle box.

My go-to fly rods are the TFO’s Axiom II. Before that, I was smitten with the Lefty Kreh’s TiCR X. The AII adapts to your stroke. I’m a fast-action caster and it loads quickly with enough juice to pierce a formidable breeze. Pair the AII with a Power Reel and you have a quality saltwater setup that will handle just about any fish on the flats.

For standard gear, TFO’s GIS inshore series offers an array of sticks to match your saltwater needs, durable enough to handle just about any situation, sensitive enough to provide just the right feel and good-looking enough to impress your buddies back at the dock.

Try these tips with your favorite TFO gear. Let us know how you fare.

Fifteen Minutes with TFO’s Rob Fordyce

TFO blog editor Mike Hodge caught up with TFO advisor and television host Rob Fordyce for a few minutes after the Florida Keys guide finished up working the Miami Boat Show. We discussed a number of topics, everything from outdoors television to University of Tennessee baseball. Enjoy. 

How did you get started in TV?

RF: “Actually the first experience I had with television was in 1991 with (TFO’s) Flip Pallot, a friend of mine, who had a show called the Walker’s Chronicles. And he asked me to be a camera boat for him for the first episode of that whole series. And after we did that episode, the show took off. Shortly thereafter, he asked me to do a couple episodes with him in front of the camera, not in the camera boat, but as a co-host. Things went on from there, and I did a lot of shows with a good friend of mine, Jose Wejebe, who was one of my best friends. Shortly before Jose passed in a tragic plane accident, he decided after a 13 years of being in front of the camera that he wanted to be behind the camera and produce, and he asked me to host his show. That didn’t ever come to be, because of the plane accident. The same crew we were going to move forward with to host that show decided that since Jose thought enough of me to host his show, that maybe I should pursue this opportunity myself and that’s what we did. That’s kind of where we’re at now.”

So Seahunter evolved out of your involvement with Jose, correct?

RF: “That’s basically it.”

What’s your favorite part of television, being a television host and being in front of the camera?

RF: “Several things, being a co-host with other people’s shows, I didn’t really have a say. The show didn’t have my personality so to speak, my efforts, my view of how that story should have been told. What I’ve really enjoyed about the Seahunter show, I produce it and the final episode you end up seeing is how I wanted that story to be related to the viewer. It’s a very cool process to go out and do the fishing part. And then when you take the footage, with the fishing part, back in the studio and start editing that and start telling a story and basically taking the viewer on an adventurous ride, it’s really fun to do that whole process.”

What do you think the biggest misconception is from people on the outside, who are not involved in the television process? From the viewers? The public? Other anglers?

RF: “One thing that I run into on a regular basis is I tell people I have to go to work tomorrow. They laugh and say, ‘You’re just going fishing. You’re not going to work.’  I don’t think people understand, whether you’re guiding or filming a TV show, how much work is really involved. There’s a difference when you’re fishing for fun and when you’re paying up to $10,000 a day to shoot a fishing show. You’re paying all these camera guys and for all the fuel and all that kind of stuff, there’s a lot of pressure to make that happen. One of the biggest misconceptions is I don’t fish for a living; I take people fishing for a living, whether it’s on film or as a customer on the bow of my boat, as a guide.”

You live in the Keys now, correct?

RF: “I actually live in Homestead, the last town before you enter the Keys. Most of my fishing is in the Keys and the Everglades.”

Do you have a favorite episode of Seahunter? I remember the one with Chico Fernandez. …

RF: “The most memorable was the one I did with (fellow TFO advisor) Flip Pallot. Flip was a mentor of mine going back to when I was 10 years old, when we started fishing together. And my first TV experience was fishing with Flip on his TV show. It was coming around full circle when I invited him to be on my show. I think it was an emotional experience for him, too, to be part of that circle. Flip and I are great friends. He’s like a brother to me. Though I’ve had other episodes where I thought the fishing was more cool, that is definitely one I’m most proud of.”

I read in your bio that you’re an athlete? What sport do you compete in?

RF: “I grew up as an athlete. I don’t compete now. I do get up and work out five days a week in the weight room, 4, 4:30, five o’clock in the morning before I go fishing. That’s a carryover from competing earlier in sports. I went to the University of Tennessee on a baseball scholarship. Before the baseball scholarship, I had a full ride to Florida State for football, but I injured my neck before I could make that happen, so I always played football and baseball. I went to Tennessee and played there a couple of years. … Going back to the sports thing, one thing that’s allowed me to be successful as a fisherman and TV host is I’ve always pushed myself. Every day is a competition with me. I always try to learn more and become better at what I’m doing. I’ve never been satisfied with my knowledge of the game. I think that stems from being pretty serious about sports in my youth.”

Where are you from originally?

RF: “I was born in Miami, so I’m a native South Floridian.”

Back to the fishing. What is your preferred type of fishing?

RF: “If my last day to fish was tomorrow, and it was my last opportunity, I would take a big fly rod, go down to the Keys and fish for giant tarpon, in clear water.”

How long have you been with TFO?

RF: “I want to say more than 10 years, 12 years going back to where there wasn’t any conventional. It was just a fly company.”

Who was your connection to the company?

RF: “I’ve known (TFO Chairman) Rick Pope for 25 years. We’ve been very good friends. The only reason I wasn’t with TFO from the inception was because I was with a couple other companies for a couple years. Once those contracts ended, I immediately called Rick and he accepted me on as an advisor and I’ve been thankful ever since. I’ve been working with TFO hand-in-hand the last 10 years or so making some pretty cool stuff.”

Describe your relationship with TFO, how it’s helped you and maybe how you’ve helped them?

RF: “I’m fortunate I was able to work with some other companies before I went to work with TFO. I was used to the normal where you give the company a lot of input. It’s up to them whether they take it or not. Some companies do not use their advisory staff to the fullest extent. TFO is the opposite of that. What separates TFO from everyone else is you take their advisory staff and the amount of years those people have been professional fishermen, and it’s hundreds of years of experience behind every rod that you use that says TFO on it. I think that’s something that not everyone realizes when they go into a tackle shop and see a rod with TFO on it. When they look at that rod, there’s hundreds of years of experience in building that rod.”

Any TFO rod that you’re particularly fond of by any chance?

RF: “My favorite until lately was the BVK series. Since the A2 (Axiom II) has come out, I like it the best. I still like the BVKs, but I love the A2s.”

What do you like the best about them?

RF: “I’m kind of a fast-rod caster. It allows you, although it’s not as fast as the BVK, for the short game. We deal with so many quick casts in sight fishing that you don’t always have time to get 30 feet of line out of your rod tip. I think the rod, as a tool, is a good all-around tool. I really like the rod. It does everything well. It casts short and long. If you overpower it, it doesn’t collapse. And when you get a fish on, it’s got plenty of backbone behind the butt to land a big fish quickly.”

 

Let us know what you think of the interview with Rob with a comment or two below. Your feedback is always welcomed.

                       

It’s Show Time: A Guide to the 2018 Fishing Shows

It’s winter, too cold to fish, but it’s not too cold to do the next best thing — and that’s talk about fishing.

And what better way to do that than at a fishing show. The 2018 winter show circuit has already started, and Temple Fork Outfitters is scheduled to be on hand at nearly two dozen events with an array of staff, advisors and ambassadors. You can check out the Drift Rod with Jason Randall, get casting tips from Wanda Taylor and Sandi Roberts, talk bass fishing with Cliff Pace, chat about the Axiom II with Blane Chocklett or rub elbows with Chris Thompson, the Virginia Fly Fisherman of the Year.

TFO promises to have something for just about everyone.

“Fly Fishing shows have always been core to TFO’s special connection with anglers,” TFO President Frank-Paul King said. “Whether one of our Ambassadors working with a new angler or Lefty teaching a group class, we all benefit from the relationships fostered at these wonderfully unique gatherings.”

Below is a list of shows that TFO is set to attend in 2018, from late January until July. Please stop by and say hello.

International Sportsman’s Expo, Sacramento, Jan. 18-21

The Fly Fishing Show, Marlborough Mass., Jan. 19-21

Heartland Fly Fishing Festival, Lebanon, Ind. Jan. 20-21

The Fly Fishing Show, Somerset/Edison, N.J., Jan. 26-28

Carolina Outdoor Expo, Greenville, N.C., Jan. 26-28

Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show, Shepherdsville, Ky., Jan. 27

The Fly Fishing Show, Atlanta, Feb. 2-3

Greater Cincinnati Fly Fishing Show, Loveland, Ohio, Feb. 3

Troutfest/GRTU, New Braunfels, Texas, Feb. 16-18

Surf Day/Jersey Shore Surfcasters, Lincroft, N.J., Feb. 18

The Fly Fishing Show, Pleasanton, Calif., Feb. 23-25

The Fly Fishing Show, Lancaster, Pa., March 3-4

Fred Hall Show, Long Beach, Calif., March 7-11

Northwest Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo, Albany, Oregon, March 9-10

New England Saltwater Fishing Show, Coventry, R.I., March 9-11

Midwest Fly Fishing Expo, Warren, Mich., March 10-11

Texas Fly Fishing and Brew Festival, Plano, Texas, March 10-11

Saltwater Fishing Expo, Somerset, N.J., March 17-18

Northwest Sportshow, Minneapolis, Minn., March 22-25

Spey O’Rama, San Francisco, April 19-21

TFO Day, Oakland (Calif.) Casting Club, June 1

Skeeter Boat Owner’s Tournament, Lake Fork, Texas, June 8

Spey Nation, Pulaski, N.Y., June 23-24

European Tackle Trade Association Show, Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 28-30

ICAST, Orlando, Fla., July 12-14