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How to Use the Inverted Loop Cast for Those Heavy Flies

Editor’s Note: This is a story by TFO Advisor Bob Clouser. It was first published in the 2014-15 edition of the Loop Newsletter. To see Bob’s story in its original form as well as gather a wealth of other fly-casting info, you can access the Journal of Fly Casting Professionals at the Fly Fishers International website by clicking on the following link: https://www.flyfishersinternational.org/Casting/TheLoopNewsletter/tabid/208/Default.aspx

 

You don’t need to throw a wide loop when fishing weighted flies and lines. In fact, you’re more efficient if you don’t. Lefty Kreh and I developed a casting stroke that, when properly executed, delivers weighted flies and lines with a tighter loop and less work.  I call it the Inverted Loop Cast.

Begin the cast after you’ve already retrieved the fly from deeper water, so the line is near the surface of the water.

Step 1

Without breaking your wrist, begin your back cast by rotating your hips and shoulders in the direction of the back cast with the rod traveling to reach a 45-degree angle by the end of the back cast. The line travels below the rod tip to create an inverted loop. After your hand passes your left shoulder, speed up and stop the rod to send the weighted line and fly rearward. The inverted loop will unroll and send the weighted fly in an upward trajectory at the end of the back cast (instead of the downward direction with the standard cast).

Step 2

Without pausing, elevate the angle of the rod from 45 degrees to approximately 60-75 degrees (closer to upright/vertical) without lifting your hand or elbow. This keeps constant tension on the line and avoids shocking the line when you begin the forward cast.

Step 3

As the casting hand changes the rod angle to 90 degrees, simultaneously begin rotating your body for the forward cast. Once the casting hand and shoulder passes the plane of the opposing shoulder, accelerate and stop the tip of the rod in the direction of the target to complete the cast.

Remember to apply constant tension on the rod through the entire cast. It is almost like pulling the weighted line and fly through the entire back and forward casting motion. Don’t pause between the back and forward cast; merely change the plane of the rod from 45 degrees to 90 degrees as the body begins forward rotation. For better accuracy, pull the line directly away from the target on the back cast before speeding up and stopping the rod.

Tips for Casting Weighted Lines and Flies

  • Learning how to fish with weighted flies and lines will improve your catch rate for sure.
  • Keep constant tension on the fly rod through the entire casting stroke.
  • Use your body. Bring your casting-hand shoulder back with the motion of the back cast. When making the front cast, bring the casting shoulder forward until it passes the non-casting shoulder. Then apply the same forward speed-up-and-stop by pushing the palm of the hand forward. This kind of like throwing a dart, baseball, or hitting a golf ball. Use no-up-and-down wrist movement.

Very important, never use the wrist and arm where it moves in an up and downward motion.

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3

 

A Primer on TFO Rods: What Makes Us Different

Editor’s Note: TFO Bass Category Manager Collins Illich discusses TFO rods and a little bit about what we do and how we do it. Enjoy. …

Talking fishing rods should be fun. Sadly, we all get caught up in industry jargon and techno-babble that can be at best, confusing and, more likely, misleading. TFO wants it to be fun and easy for our anglers.  When we talk rods, we want our anglers to understand why the rod was made. Keeping it fun means we don’t spend a lot of time talking about the modulus of the material, flag patterns, resins or mandrels.  What we do talk about is what a rod does. We want our anglers to be armed with the correct tool for the specific job.

If you want to talk about the specs of an individual rod or why it was made the way it is made, our support staff in Dallas is always around to help. But, you won’t see this information in our catalogs or on our website. What you will see is why a rod was made the way it is.

TFO has unique capabilities based on having their own factory. It provides TFO the opportunity to work with materials our designers demand, control quality and consistency and to experiment with cutting- edge materials before they hit the market.

TFO has had the same factory from inception. It has made all our rods for our 21 years in the industry. Industry icons and TFO designers Gary Loomis and the late Lefty Kreh both acknowledged that our engineer, B.J. Im, is “the finest rod engineer they ever worked with.” B.J.’s production and design oversight is crucial to our success. Working closely with TFO’s worldwide design team, B.J. oversees daily operations, controls and most exciting, development.

Consistency from our factory means defects are minimized. Every rod is loaded and specs are confirmed before it is prepped for delivery. The few defects that make it down our production line are tossed and don’t get into our anglers’ hands.

Consistency is everything when it comes to warranty, too. Damaged rods are turned around within 48 hours. Our team inspects every section, replaces damaged sections and finally assembles the entire rod and puts it under load.  Each rod is thoroughly tested and inspected before being boxed up and shipped out.  Ferrules are ground to 1/10,000 of-an-inch tolerances. That consistency allows for a simple swap of a damaged section with a new one.

TFO is already gearing up for ICAST in July and the 2019 consumer show circuit. Check our schedule online or follow us on Facebook for updates. Drop by one of our shows or better yet, drop in on one of our dealers to check out the lineup. Our gear line covers everything from ultra-light trout to 50-pound class with bass, walleye and inshore in between. TFO’s fly lineup has the right tool for you, from bluegill to tuna.

Want to know more about our rods or have a question, then let us know with a comment on below or on one of our social media pages.

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.

Another Perspective on Lefty by Rick Pope

I met Lefty Kreh back in the mid-80s on a hosted trip to Turneff Island in Belize to learn more about bonefish and fly fishing in saltwater. Flip Pallot and Mark Sosin joined us in a week of the absolute worst bonefishing trip ever — but one that I’ll never forget.  I met Flip first – as Lefty suggested Flip as a guide on my first trip to Florida in the early ‘80s. Like all who met Lefty, he was and has been a friend since.

A career change and my entry into the fishing business in 1995 meant that I would see much more of Lefty and, like all of us, I clung to every piece of fishing advice that he so generously dispensed. He honored me with acclaim for TFO’s entry into rods that were “affordable” – as he lived a frugal life and he believed affordability would allow more folks to enjoy the sport.

Our friendship grew along with our opportunities to spend time together at various fly-fishing events around the country. Lefty’s personality, people skills, humility and candor began to impress me even more than his casting skills.  His interest in TFO’s affordable concept also grew, and ultimately, I decided to write him a letter and beg him to join us and help design our rods. That was in late 2002. Unfortunately, he suffered a “minor” stroke just before Thanksgiving, so I delayed my pitch. Then between Christmas and New Year’s Day, he suffered his first heart attack. Not wanting to add to his stress so again, I delayed.

I got a report in mid-January where Lefty performed at the Denver ISE show that he was in fine form. He even shared with everyone the story of both the stroke and heart attack.  So I sent the letter. He replied with a phone call “I can’t say yes, but I’m not ready to say no. Can we talk about this for a while?” What was essentially an interview with Lefty lasted almost a month and consisted of much more than rod design and concept discussions. Life stories, family, relationships and business philosophy dominated the many conversations we had. Not one mention of money was made. Ultimately, he called me in late February and confirmed that he made the decision to leave his rod company of 20 years and would enjoy helping us with rod design. The press release was written February 25, 2003 – the day before his 78th birthday – and TFO’s business world changed dramatically.

By that point, we had established a good consumer following – although many dealers and certain rod companies threw stones at us for being Korean made and “too cheap.” I even had advice, or a threat, from one dealer that we needed to raise our price, that the rods are too good for their price. Even more upsetting were the complaints levied against Lefty for working with a cheap rod importer.  Our exclusive Korean factory was (and still is) owned by a brilliant engineer who both Lefty and even Gary Loomis claimed is one of the best they’ve ever worked with.

With the benefit of hindsight, splitting design from engineering proved to be very beneficial. Lefty could see transition issues in a rod by analyzing loop and shock wave issues in the fly line.  He could quite accurately predict where within the blank such issues exist – and how much line weight or fly resistance caused them to appear. To this day, I’ve never seen another with such an intuitive understanding of rod dynamics.

His first trip to Dallas was in March of 2003 and involved three days of evaluating every rod we had while we took detailed notes on action, performance, power and finish out. Changes and modifications were made while he took over the design of our prototype TICR series that, after six different 8-weight prototypes, we were able to introduce the family at IFTD in September.

Lefty proved to be more than the “pied piper” with consumers following him as he would call and ask, “Do you know Ed Jaworowski … then Nick Curcione, then Bob Clouser, Jake Jordan and Flip Pallot? They might be interested in working with us and each has excellent insight into rod design.” Through the 15 years and one month Lefty worked with us, we prototyped over 2,000 rods and he gladly accepted final responsibility for every one we’ve introduced. We became a true family, with epic sales meetings, dinners, stories and jokes – all because of Lefty.

Our incredible family of Advisory Staff members – four of whom are inductees into the IGFA Hall of Fame – have ideas and solutions to enhance rod performance and fishing enjoyment. Lefty always enjoyed the group discussions whether small or all inclusive. From talking knots with Cliff Pace and Larry Dahlberg to rod design with Flip Pallot and Gary Loomis to casting with Ed Jaworowski, he learned, taught and made us all better people. Ed, as one of his closest friends, convinced him to join us on an epic three-year production of The Complete Cast DVD set and watching its evolution remains as one of my life’s highlights.

He loved women and always seemed to pick one out of the crowd when on stage while claiming he could “teach any woman he wasn’t going with or married to” how to fly cast unlike “hardheaded guys who don’t listen well.” Lefty even coached a Catholic girls’ basketball team for a while after his return from WWII.  He always claimed, however, that his greatest catch was Evelyn – his wife and best friend for 65 years. Ev Kreh passed away November 25, 2011 after several years of declining health that caused Lefty to limit the length of his travels as he didn’t want to be away from her for more than two nights. With her passing, he came to Dallas the following weekend for an event with our major dealer, and we met a couple with a lodge on Ascension Bay that offered great permit fishing. We booked for the spring of 2012 and I caught my first (and only) two permit the same day with Lefty as my boat partner. After that, we always kept a couple of trips planned and enjoyed many until his health and lack of stamina began to slow him down.

Over the past few years, I came to realize that Lefty was much more than one of the best fly casters, teachers and rod designers in the world. His humility, people skills, passion and insights proved to be incredibly valuable to me as well as all who were fortunate enough to know him well. I regret that I never begged him to write the Lessons on Life book. I was blessed to work with him for the past 15 years and I pledge that his teachings on life will eternally remain part of our corporate ethic as his rod design influence will continue to exist in every TFO rod we make. May he rest in peace.

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.

Recollections of Lefty and Reflections on his Legacy

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Lefty Kreh. It was nearly 30 years ago. I had just started to fly fish and was mingling with a local glad-hander at a fly-fishing show near Charlottesville, Va.

A weathered looking fellow walked in wearing a pair of khakis, a chamois shirt and a sheepish grin. And in mid-sentence, the local celebrity I was chatting up shot out of his chair toward Lefty like a spring creek brown after a hopper.

Though somewhat startled, Lefty handled the social ambush with a firm handshake and a pat on the back.

I was a relatively young adult, but I learned two things that winter afternoon. People are drawn to Lefty, and there’s a good reason why. He makes everyone, no matter where they are on the social pecking order, feel like a rock star, even though he’s the rock star.

I’m sure others have similar stories that have been shared since Bernard Victor Kreh passed away last week at the age of 93. He is nationally known for his books, lectures, videos and the ability to teach us to throw a fly farther and more accurately than we thought possible. But to those at Temple Fork Outfitters, he is considered one of the initial bedrocks of a proud company.

Lefty joined TFO 15 years ago. As the company’s first advisor, he had a significant say in every single-handed fly rod TFO produced since February of 2003, from the Signature Series to the Axiom II, which was released this fall.

But Lefty was more to TFO than a mere gatekeeper for affordable, quality fly rods. He believed in TFO’s mission and its people. He was the type guy who would rather promote others than himself. He asked there be no funeral. Cremation was more his style. And those close to him made sure those wishes were carried out, along with the request that he spend his last hours wearing his favorite TFO hat and shirt.

How’s that for loyalty?

Below are memories and anecdotes about Lefty from well-known folks in the fly fishing community. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section.

 TFO Chairman Rick Pope on Lefty’s legacy:

“Fly casting is the easy answer. …Affordability would be neck and neck with fly casting. He’s a guy that wore $14 Sears Chinos. As has often been quoted, by the time you spent more than $150 on a rod, it’s often going to outperform the caster. Barrier to entry. He was not flashy. He was a frugal guy. It was a way that he saw to get more people in the sport, which all circles back to our mission statement.”

 TFO advisor Rob Fordyce

“I knew who Lefty was. I had read a lot of his books as a young person, by young I mean 8, 9 years old. Unbeknownst to me, he had written a book, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, which I had. My parents had given this book of Lefty’s to Flip (Pallot). Flip sent it off to Lefty and he wrote a nice note inside the book and actually glued a fly in there and made sure when he sent the book back, to list his phone number, to call him. Lefty Kreh, I mean here is this little kid, who is just eat up with fly fishing, Lefty Kreh was Babe Ruth, the Babe Ruth of fly fishing, so the thought that he … I was scared to even call him. My dad told me that if he put his number in there, he wanted me to call him. And I did, Lefty spent probably 20, 30 minutes on the phone with me. We met later, through Flip, and we became good friends and have been good friends our whole lives.

“The reason I told that story is it fits what I’m going to say about Lefty and the fishing industry. Lefty, to me, was probably the most iconic ambassador of fly fishing. There’s obvious things. He wrote books and did classes all over the world and taught tens of thousands of people how to fly cast. More importantly, Lefty, as a man, when he went somewhere everyone knew who he was, everyone wanted to talk to Lefty. He took the time to talk to these people not with a handshake or a hug, but he took time to hear their story. What was their background? And if that doesn’t say something. … There’s not a lot of people like that on this earth. Lefty, as a whole, was the greatest ambassador for those reasons as much as any of the other things he did.”

  Ross Purnell, editor, Fly Fisherman Magazine

“Lefty Kreh changed fly fishing more than any other person because he was the greatest teacher we’ve ever known. Yes, he knew more about casting, knots, fly-tying, and tackle than the rest of us, but his humble and outgoing personality was his greatest contribution to our sport. Because of that, he became a mentor to an entire generation of guides, writers and instructors. Whether they realize it or not, literally everyone who fly fishes has learned directly or indirectly from Lefty. He’s changed all of us . . . for the better.”

 Vaughn Cochran, artist and president/owner of Blackfly Outfitter/Lodge/Restaurant

“I recognized what a powerful personality he was many years ago and I wanted to paint him for lots of reasons. Never one to go along with the crowd, I decided to paint Lefty in a ‘Pop Art’ style. I completed the series of nine paintings that were featured in a one-man show at the IGFA gallery several years ago. Every time I saw Lefty at a fishing show he would always say, ‘If you think I look like that, you need glasses.’ We had conversations about all sorts of subjects, but our favorite was all the different portraits I did of him over the years. One of my favorites was the portrait I did of him when we decided to name the rooms at the Blackfly Lodge in the Bahamas after famous fishing personalities. Of course, his name came up first so I came up with this painting. Around the top of the painting is one of Lefty’s more famous quotes, ‘Throwing a crab to a permit is like rolling a wine bottle into a jail cell.’’’

Another painting of Lefty, this one by Vaughn Cochran. Photo courtesy of Vaughn Cochran.

 Lori-Ann Murphy, President of Reel Women Fishing Adventures, former cast member of Buccaneers and Bones

“Lefty has recently written a letter to his fly-fishing friends. It strikes me so funny because he even explains in this letter his (health) condition so everyone can understand what is going on with him! It’s like he is showing us his cast or explaining why he invented a pulley system for his mail from the mailbox. Who does this? Special characters who want to share their life findings. And we thank them! We thank you Lefty! Thank you for taking the time to share you with us.”

 John Randolph, former publisher Fly Fisherman Magazine, as told to FFM.

“Famed British fly-fishing writer John Goddard, whom Lefty called the best trout fisherman he ever saw, told me once of a Lefty encounter on the River Kennett. There was a large brown trout there that no one could catch. It lay in a particularly difficult spot to which it was virtually impossible to present the fly without drag. Goddard pointed out the trout to Lefty, who was his guest on the club water. Goddard explained: ‘Bloody hell, he caught that trout on his first cast! No one else could have made that fly presentation, only Lefty.’’’

Flip Pallot, TFO advisor, as told to Fly Fisherman Magazine

“My house in Homestead, Florida, was totally destroyed (after Hurricane Andrew). There was not a tree left standing, and most homes were reduced to rubble. Miraculously, after a day or two, with Diane and me living in the bed of a pickup truck, Lefty materialized through mountains of debris. We hugged . . . and cried . . . . and Lefty handed me a paper sack. In it was $25,000 that Lefty and his wife Ev had stashed away for an emergency. ‘You and Diane may need this,’ he said. ‘Ev and I will not. Don’t worry about paying it back, we really don’t need it.’ I had thought to have the measure of Lefty. I was short. As it turned out, we had no need for the money either, but Lefty was there for me all the same.”

TFO advisor Blane Chocklett

“Lefty’s been everything to me as far as a lot of things in my career. He’s introduced me to tons of people. He got me hooked up with TFO. Back in the late ‘90s, he got me hooked up with Umpqua with my first patterns. He’s always had a place, definitely, in my career. I owe him a lot.”

TFO advisor Wanda Taylor on her favorite Lefty quote:

“I can teach any woman to fly fish as long as I’m not married to her.”

 TFO advisor Bob Clouser

“I have known and fished with Lefty for over 50 years and his honesty, integrity and loyalty was with him all his life.”

A Note from the Kreh Family

Dear friends,

I am sorry to relay sad information to all of you.

Bernard Victor Kreh “Lefty” passed away today  in the presence of his family. He passed without pain. He told us multiple times during the worsening of his illness how lucky he was to have so many friends. During these last few weeks he was so sick and without energy that he was unable to respond to any emails and the many phone messages left for him. I can say this was a-great comfort to him.

There will be a celebration of his life in the upcoming weeks. We will update you when plans are made. 

Lefty would want us to celebrate life and not mourn him.

Tight Lines, best wishes,

The Kreh Family

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to:
Greater Baltimore Medical Center / Gilchrist hospice in honor of Lefty Kreh

Mail to: GBMC Philanthropy, 6701 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21204
or contribute online at: https://www.gbmc.org/donate (Under “Designation” choose “Other.” Then in the next field, type: “Lefty Kreh Memorial”)
or call: 443-849-3303.  

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.

Chocklett Makes His Mark as a Writer

Blane Chocklett is a professional guide and fly tier. The TFO advisor is also a writer. His first book, published by Headwaters, is due out this fall. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect.

 I know you haven’t definitely decided on a title other than Game Changer, which is the name of one of your patterns. But what about the content — patterns, tying techniques, I assume?

“It is going to be that with fishing anecdotes and my thoughts on that side of it. The other part of it will be fishing techniques as well. Maybe a little bit of everything. Fishing techniques, using these style of flies and my thought process on those, predatory fish and how they respond to the bait that they feed on. Also tying techniques, my patterns and fishing techniques and anecdotes.”

Where are you at this juncture in the editorial process?

“I’m pretty much done with my part. The editing part is where we are right now. They might have a couple questions, to add stuff or change things. So the writing part’s done. We’re still in the process of piecing it all together and putting it all together. (Editor Jay Nichols) said it probably would be available September or October.”

Since you’re done with the bulk of your work, how long did that take?

“Way longer than it should have. Six years, probably. But that was because of my scheduling and me not getting to it when I should have.”

That’s a lot of work.

“It is a lot of work and life gets in the way and stuff. I had a bunch of different things going on, but it was a good thing, too, because a lot of things (in the book) developed during that time that I can add to it. But during that time frame, Lefty (Kreh) told me I could have written two or three books.”

Who’s the Publisher?

“Jay Nichols. Headwater Books.”

How did the relationship come about?

“Lefty invited me up to his house with my wife and we spent the day with him (and) Jay. He said he had a lunch meeting set up for us. The meeting was with Jay Nichols. Lefty had said before we met that I was going to write a book. We were able to get a contract done at lunch. My original contract was with Stackpole, but since I was not able to get it done when they wanted it done, we felt like it would be less stress on both us that we worked on it with (Jay’s) publishing company that he owns. Jay has a unique deal where he’s the head editor of Stackpole on the fishing side of things and also has his own publishing company, too. He has a different deal. When we switched over, it was a whole lot less stress.”

Obvious question: How big was Lefty’s role in this?

“Lefty’s been everything to me as far as a lot of things in my career. He’s introduced me to tons of people. He got me hooked up with TFO. Back in the late ‘90s, he got me hooked up with Umpqua with my first patterns. He’s always had a place, definitely, in my career. I owe him a lot.”

I assume, when you started this book, you had a pretty clear objective. Now that you’re almost done, did you accomplish what you wanted?

“I think we definitely did. There’s also a lot more we could add. Jay said there’s definitely enough for two more books. That’s probably something we’re going to do in the future. Get this one out and then the next year or so get back on it and work on a couple more. There was so much information that Jay felt like we had to leave a lot of things out. You have to have a cutoff at some point. There’s definitely room for future books since we didn’t cover everything, that’s for sure. But did we cover the most relevant things that I’m doing at this time.”

I know it’s not over, but what was the most enjoyable thing about the process?

“I would say working with Jay and getting to know him and forming a great friendship with him and some of the things that go with it. Jay has a huge background in the industry with a lot of great authors. He was the editor for Fly Fisherman Magazine. That opened the door to work with (Fly Fisherman editor) Ross Purnell. Just working with Jay and his patience and seeing how good he is with what he does in holding my hand through the process. I’m not a writer at all. I don’t pretend to be. A great editor makes you look good. That was my favorite part. Also, there was learning about myself. He would ask questions that would really make me think about what I’m doing, the fly design and my fishing. That really opened my eyes to the things that I wasn’t really aware of with the way I was thinking about things. I learned a lot about myself and how I am designing these flies. It was really introspective and makes you start thinking about things. Teaching me how to write was really cool as well.”

What was the most difficult or challenging thing about the book?

“The act of getting down to it and putting it on paper. The discipline to get it done.  The only way Jay could get me to get down to it was where we would block days off where we would spend four, five days at my house. I would spend four, five days at his house. We’d rent a cabin and get away from everything. That was the biggest thing, finding the time and making yourself sit down and do it.”

Any advice to someone doing this?

“Make sure you have a really good editor, one that you can trust and feel comfortable with. Make sure you’re ready for the task at hand. It is a huge undertaking.”

 

Blane reviewed TFO’s Axiom II in this post. And when you take a look at his book, let us know what you think.

How to Accelerate Your Fly Casting

I must be getting older, because, I am, by nature, a fair-weather fisherman. When I was younger, I fished hard, regardless of the weather or household responsibilities. When I wasn’t working. I fished, I bird hunted or piddled around with my Lab. I was outside all the time.

I probably was a better, more skilled outdoorsman back then. The tradeoff now is I have a more balanced life. But as I sit and ponder the possibilities of 2018, I’m slowly running out of excuses not to improve on my fishing. Maybe you don’t have enough time to fish, but you can improve as a fisherman.

The avenue to my angling progress sits just a few feet away from me next to my fireplace, almost within arm’s reach of my computer.

Say hello to the TFO’s Accelerator, a fly-casting aid that looks like a miniature fly rod in a slender plastic tube. I’ve tinkered with a handful of indoor yarn rods, but the Accelerator intrigued me even more.

I’ve always struggled with too long of a casting stroke. Some people use too short of a stroke. I cast with too long of a stroke.

I admire how Lefty Kreh can lengthen his stroke and maintain tracking with clean, crisp stops. I, unfortunately, am still trying to find that harmony.

The Accelerator has helped me take the next step, but more on that later. First, let me explain how the thing works.

It’s really pretty self-explanatory. Grab the cork handle and mimic a casting motion. As you do that, you’ll hear a ball bearing roll back and forth in the top section of the tubing. Two clicks from the ball bearing on each part of the cast — the back cast and forward cast — means your timing is spot on. Hear only one click? Your timing or stroke length is off.

As you get more comfortable, extend the handle to imitate longer casts and tug on the rubber band attached to the top of the cork handle to simulate the double haul.

The Accelerator, invented by IFFF instructor Floyd Dean, is largely an auditory device. Yarn rods are visual. Loop formation — or the lack of it — provides feedback. The Accelerator’s feedback is more definitive, particularly for the beginner.

With my long stroke, the clicks initially lacked fluidity. I then shortened my movements, and the bearing flowed in perfect harmony. Incrementally, I lengthened my stroke and the bearing obliged.

The moral of the story: It’s better to start short. I, of course, was seduced by the insatiable desire to see how far I could cast. Longer, of course, is not always better.

Now, after a few sessions with the Accelerator, I can consistently cast farther — 80 or 90 feet — with less effort. Giddy with excitement, I called Dean at his Sausalito, Calif. home. We chatted for about 30 minutes.

A couple nuggets of info emerged from our gabfest. Dean invented the Accelerator about 10 years ago.  He’s only had one complaint — that it’s too noisy — but 99 percent of the feedback has been positive. Casting guru Peter Hayes likes it. I like it, too.

Watch Floyd Dead demonstrate the Accelerator here and be sure to let us know what you think about it as a casting tool.