As a primarily freshwater angler I could not help but feel intimidated by the salt.
A world known only to me by images. Some printed others in my mind.
For me it was the mangroves. Poling down that ragged edge, hunting. I poured over charts, read and reached out to anglers with experience. I was building a starting point as the place had already found me.
A brackish system containing miles of creeks, mangrove shorelines and open flats – all perfectly representing what the Florida backcountry is.These fisheries are massive and several could be fished for a lifetime and In that time you would only have a brief view of what it truly is. That view, is a privilege and the vastness is just more room for opportunity.
I started close and worked outward. You learn what areas need to have to hold fish.
These fish know exactly where they are and why they are there at any time .This world lives and dies on the tides. It dictates everything and knowing how these fish move at certain times is key. The day’s low tides would give me a glimpse of what was there and with enough time, why.Each spot had to be checked time and again.A education that takes time and that information is currency. Even on the worst day I came back with something.
Although the majority of the fish you’ll encounter are not 9wt fish a few are and that’s what I throw.My Mangrove Coast rod matched with a longer tapered bonefish line has done an incredible job of hitting fish and keeping them out of the trees.The leader is simple, #50 tapered down to #30 fluorocarbon.I will build that out to #25 when targeting crawling fish although it makes landing bigger snook very difficult.If big snook and smaller tarpon are around I’ll run a #40 or #50 bite guard.Sight fishing the flats I’ve had to drop all the way down to #15 fluorocarbon to get the take.
My two tarpon rods are both 11wts in the Mangrove Coast and the Axiom ll-X. One rigged with a match floating line and the other a match intermediate line.My leader is a straight section of #80 with a #100 bite guard. Tarpon leaning in on that 200 mark are a real opportunity and I rig to go toe to toe with that fish.If big North American GTs (Giant Trevally) are busting bait, I will run a section of #80 hard mono to a popper on the floating line rod.
I rig as heavy as I can to beat fish quickly. I believe the longer the fight lasts, the less likely the fish will survive.
Once in this world you’ll have stepped into story with no ending and that story is just now being told. Many of the anglers who made possible what we can do today are still with us. It’s that new. The innovations continue with every single push toward the edge of what can be done. That cost is so high because the reward is so great.
Once paid for it has to be respected.
Blog written by TFO Ambassador Jon Lee (@kalamazoo_river_guide). Jon spends half his year fishing and guiding in Michigan for smallmouth, carp and pike, and the other part of the year you can find him in Florida putting clients on tarpon, redfish, and snook.
It’s hard to believe we’re already upon the holiday season, but here we are again! If you’re having trouble finding the right gift for the angler in your life, we’ve put together a list of popular choices that will make their holidays (and year) extra special.
**Also, from November 24 – December 1, anyone that places an order at tforods.com will automatically be entered to win a signed copy of TFO Advisor Blane Chocklett’s new Game Changer Book, as well as a certificate for a free TFO rod of your choice! Good luck and Happy Holidays!
For the angler that loves to do a little bit of everything, the Professional Series of spinning and casting rods was designed for the versatile angler of any skill level and is perfectly suited for a wide variety of species and environments.
Highly durable, standard modulus, and moderate fast action blanks with powerful butt sections, come together to create one of the best values ($99.95) of any rod on the market. Find yours today here.
Whether as a gift for someone new to saltwater fly fishing, or for the angler or guide that has spent many hours on the flats or the bow of a skiff, the new Mangrove Coast will definitely make their day (and year). Designed by TFO Advisor and fly fishing legend, Flip Pallot, the Mangrove Coast series utilizes a medium fast action blank to give anglers the ability to step up to the bow and quickly load and unload an accurate presentation to a tailing fish. Starting at $289.95, these rods are offered in a 6 through 12-weight and are packaged in a labeled rod sock and rod tube. Find out more here.3)Blue Ribbon Series – For The Freshwater Angler
From small mountain brook trout streams to cold/warm water rivers and lakes for bass and carp, the Blue Ribbon is an excellent tool for the freshwater fly angler that loves to do it all. The Blue Ribbon series is designed to load easily with minimal back cast allowing the angler to make quick accurate casts with very little effort. Whether its casting indicators, or multi-fly rigs from a drift boat, or bait fish patterns to the bank all day the Blue Ribbon series is engineered to deliver cast after cast with ease. Starting at just $239.95, these rods are available in a 2wt through 7wt and come with a labeled rod sock and TFO rod tube. Find your rod today here.
Our most popular BVK SD reel will be a great pairing to any fly rod. From rainbow trout and bass all the way to bonefish and baby tarpon, this reel features fully-sealed drag system with super easy LH/RH retrieve changes and minimal maintenance. All four models of the BVK SD come packaged in a black nylon reel pouch and retail starting at just $209.95. Get yours today here.
This is a comprehensive and essential reference guide for all fishermen (72 pages, over 50 knots). Small enough to fit in the sling pack, boat bag, or even for the coffee table – any angler will appreciate this book. Grab one today for just $6.95 here.
I can’t remember the last day that passed without hearing someone talk about “the new normal”. With the way the world has changed, I grow increasingly fond of things that haven’t. The plain old normal: the way I feel when my wife smiles, the taste of tacos, the smell of salt air, the sound of screaming drags on fly reels, Albies…ALBIES! ALBIES!!!
On the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, fall has always meant albie season. Although found other times of year, fall brings a temperature change that sends massive bait schools from the sounds, marshes, and estuaries out to sea, bringing swarms of hungry false albacore in from the Gulf Stream to the near shore waters surrounding Cape Lookout. It is an angler’s paradise, and droves of fishermen with long rods descend on the area to enjoy the fishery.
False Albacore (Euthynnus alletteratus) are called many things: Albies, Little Tunny, Fat Alberts, Bonita, and Spotted Bonito to name a few. Regardless of your chosen moniker, they are pound for pound one of the strongest game fish a fly angler can hook. Lacking swim bladders, they must remain constantly in motion. This perpetual activity results in a fish capable of swimming 40 mph, and that means blistering runs when they take a fly. Albies in the 10 to 15 pound range are common, and 20 pound class fish, locally referred to as buffalos, are often caught in North Carolina waters.
Albies hunt together like a pack of wolves. Pods of fish crash through bait balls, chomping away. It is a scene of utter carnage. Seabirds dive to the surface, picking at leftovers as the water boils beneath them. Approaching and often casting into the birds, their calls all but drown out the sound of the boat motor. The water’s surface bulges as blue-green and silver flashes rise to the surface through the bait. Careful not to put the fish down, a good captain will slow the boat down within casting range of the angler at the ready. Line piled on the deck, fly dangling in hand or trailing in the water, a well-placed cast into the ruckus can result in an immediate hook up. In the words of my dear friend John Snipes, “Get it in the gunk!”
Many anglers associate fly fishing with peaceful serenity. Albie fishing is anything but that. Whether approaching bait under gulls, or pulling behind a shrimp trawler, the atmosphere is charged. Fish are racing through the water, often disappearing as quickly as they appear. Birds are swarming, sometimes snatching your fly and creating an altogether different angling experience as they fly off with your line. Sharks enter the picture, chasing the albies. (Note: It’s always a good idea to have a nice hefty rod rigged with a steel leader and large fly. The TFO Baby Bluewater is a good option, but a nice 12 weight of your choice will do. Trust me. It helps a lot with the ensuing tug of war after hooking a 100 pound or better black tip!) Your heart will be racing, your hands will be shaking, and that’s before you even cast. Then the real fun begins as over a 100 yards of backing gets ripped from your reel as the first, of what will be several, runs begins!
Fishing for albies in the Cape Lookout area is most frequently done in boats. There are times when they are close enough to shore for kayak and beach anglers to reach them, but they move so quickly and often that the speed of a motorized vessel is preferred. The fish are moving, and from day-to-day can be active along different parts of the coast. For those without access to a boat, there are numerous guides in the area that specialize in the fishery including TFO Advisory Staff members Captain Jake Jordan and Captain Gary Dubiel. If you’re going to book a guide, do it as early as possible – their schedules fill quickly!
When you come, and you should come, you’ll want to have the right tools. The Cape Lookout/Harkers Island area has been called the place “where 10 weights go to die.” ~ Raiford Trask – The Saltwater Sportsman (Oct 3, 2001). 8 and 10 weight rods with floating lines are the norm. Having a sinking line on hand is never a bad idea either. I prefer moderate-fast to fast action rods that can deliver the energy necessary for long casts and the tracking and recovery required for accuracy at distance. Being able to load and unload quickly with good presentation is critical, and the TFO Axiom II Xand Mangrove Coast rods deliver when it counts. Machined aluminum reels with a powerful, reliable drag are a must. Remember, you’ll be fighting powerful saltwater fish, so having enough spool for your line and 250 yards of backing is a good place to start. I like the TFO Power II or III reels, but whatever you choose needs to be sturdy and reliable.
Fly selection is important. Fly selection isn’t critical. What!? Yeah, that’s kind of how it goes with these guys. Some days they’re keyed in on one color and size, and nothing else will do. On other days, you could probably throw a Wooly Bugger in there and they’d eat it. You just never know, so I recommend bringing a variety. My dear friend and mentor, Rick Pope, is fond of saying, “Too much is the right amount!” My fly boxes resemble that approach, at least at the beginning of the season. During the fall, you may encounter fish feeding on Bay Anchovies (or brown bait), silversides, or spearing just to name a few. There are also tiny, clear, slender minnows with black eyes referred to as snot bait. Bottom line, there’s a whole lot of bait out there during the fall and fortune favors the prepared.
Baitfish patterns are the key, and I recommend a variety of sizes and colors. Lefty’s Deceivers, Surf Candies, Game Changers, Clouser Deep Minnows, and just about any other baitfish pattern will work. Tie or buy patterns ranging from size 6 to 1/0, or smaller and bigger if you’d like, in numerous colors. All white, tan over white, pink over white, brown over white, chartreuse over white, pink over chartreuse (Ahhh! The tuity fruity!), olive over white, and even brown over pink over white are all good choices. With flash and without flash, 1/2 an inch to 5 inches, weighted and unweighted…I think you have the idea by now. The flies don’t have to be fancy, they just need to look like baitfish and try to be ready for anything.
Besides the powerful runs, excitement of the hunt, and fish that are willing to eat, is the camaraderie of the anglers. Upon experiencing the fishery, many anglers return year after year to enjoy the albies and time with their friends. Built on the communion of albie anglers, and the area’s deep military roots, the TFO sponsored Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival was born. The 3-day event is a fishing tournament and day on the water for disabled veterans. Local captains, businesses, and citizens converge on Atlantic Beach, NC to raise funds for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. and to take their participants fishing for these glorious fish. Around 50 disabled veterans are provided an opportunity for a full day on the water, followed by a captains’ party, silent auction, and tournament. Although the pandemic has postponed the tournament until 2022, it’s a great time in support of a worthy cause that was featured in an episode of the Outdoor Channel’s “The Seahunter” with Captain, and TFO Advisory Staff member, Rob Fordyce.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time. Right now! The albies are here and they’re willing to eat. Hotels are open. Restaurants are serving. Hitch up your boat and try for yourself. Book a guide. The gulls are singing and reels are screaming. What do you have to lose? It’s almost like the albies didn’t even know life wasn’t back to the good, old normal.
Blog written by TFO Ambassador Chris Thompson. Chris has been a TFO Ambassador since 2008. He is retired Marine, Chairman of the Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival, and Program Lead for the Camp Lejeune Program of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. He is also a self-professed albie addict.
We can all agree that 2020 was a tough year. Between many places being shut down and inventory issues brought on by unprecedented demand, it was (and in some cases still) a mess. Not being able to attend fishing shows was one of the many aspects that we (and others) missed about 2020. Needless to say, the return of ICAST last week was a blessing and a long overdue meeting of friends and family, ambassadors, pro staff anglers, and more – both new and old.
For those unfamiliar with the changes in ICAST and IFTD (International Fly Tackle Dealer), the shows are now happening at different times of year – ICAST in July, and IFTD now taking place in October. Historically, both shows happened at the same time – which was ALOT to take in, but great for those wanting to get the most of both worlds. Needless to say, even though ICAST is now more focused on the conventional side of fishing, we still had a TON of people stop by the TFO booth to check out our fly gear, and make trips to the casting pond to try out the new Mangrove Coast and BC Big Fly, as well as some familiar favorites like the Axiom ll-X. While the fly stuff was getting plenty of love, there was a lot of attention aimed at the newly redesigned Professional and Tactical Inshore series, as well as the new Tactical Elite Bass swimbait models.
We were able to film a few videos with TFO Ambassadors Rob Fordyce, Joey Nania, and Jonathan Moss going over some of the new stuff, as well as some classics.
Our good friends at Tackle Warehouse stopped by for a bit to interview Joey Nania, and go over some of the new Tactical Elite additions. Check out those videos below.
Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Tactical Elite Swimbait Rods with Joey Nania | First Look 2021
New Temple Fork Outfitters Tactical Elite Spinning Rod 7’6″ Med Lt w Joey Nania | First Look 2021
Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Tactical Bass and Tactical Elite Comparison | First Look 2021
Be on the lookout for more content from ICAST. We had several friends and dealers stop by to shoot some content on the new conventional gear, and we can’t wait to share them on our socials as they become available.
“Don’t get too deep. No more than ankle deep at most,” I remember Nick Curcione telling me on a beach in Coronado years ago. It didn’t make sense until the first one I saw bolted between my legs from behind me in three inches of water. “I told you,” came his response. That began an obsession and a quest that has pulled me from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara almost every summer since. All for a shot at the “ghost of the coast.”
There are numerous axioms associated with the sport of fly fishing, and fishing in general. If you fish the surf in Southern California, you’ll hear a few specific to one of the most difficult and rewarding species you can chase on fly: the California corbina. This member of the croaker family, known throughout SoCal as a “bean,” ranks along with permit and white marlin in its finicky and frustrating nature. And like those other species, taking one is a prize well earned and worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears shed in its pursuit.
Chasing corbina is a summertime pursuit, however, depending on conditions, they can be taken from early spring into late fall, from the northern reaches of the Baja Peninsula up to Santa Barbara. Traditionally, those hardcore enthusiasts that chase them say that when the jacaranda trees bloom, its time to chase beans, but knowing what time of year they are supposed to show up barely answers the question of “when.”
With any shallow water or surf species, tide and time of day are critical. Beans ride the surf in and out, chasing sand crabs, clams, worms and small baitfish, and in doing so, depend on the tide to make much of their diet accessible. At low tides, crab, clam and even worm beds are often high and dry, or in such skinny water that they are inaccessible to most fish. Like bonefish, permit, and even redfish, as the tide begins to rise, flooding the beach, beans push up farther up the beaches in pursuit of prey. In general, big tides allow greater opportunity, but experience will teach you when exactly in the tidal swing your favorite beach fishes best. In some cases, beans prefer the last of the falling and first of the rising tide. On other beaches they will feed on all but the lowest tides, but the safe bet is always begin your search on the incoming, or rising, tide during the summer months.
Keep in mind that tides around the full moon are larger than those on the new moon. Just as important to the state of the tide is the time of day the lows and highs occur. Remember, the highest form of chasing beans is sight fishing, so ideally, the best tides to fish are early in the day, but with enough sunlight to allow fair visibility. Sure, you can catch them blind casting, and arguably, most beans are taken while doing so, but for those that prefer to test their skill and patience, sight fishing for corbina is the acme of achievements. It’s not just their permit-like persnickety nature. They will ignore a well-presented fly with the same willful nonchalance of a teenager at a family event, only to nearly beach itself to grab a fly about to be picked up and re-cast.
Their behavior is bad enough, but when you add onto that the dynamic nature of their environment, sometimes the quest almost feels futile. They ride the incoming surf to push farther up the beach in pursuit of food and dart back to deeper water the instant the water ebbs. But the surf is never a simple ebb and flow. Waves compound themselves, break at odd angles and roll in heavily on one set and dribble in the next. The beaches along the Pacific coast are often deep very close to shore, and those troughs make perfect staging grounds for beans waiting to charge the beach. As the waves roll in, they dart up the beach, digging, rooting and often tailing if the water is deep enough, and, as the surf begins its withdrawal, in the blink of an eye they are gone.
Their nickname “ghost of the coast” is well deserved. Just as you line up the perfect shot, the light shifts, a wave breaks, and they disappear, sometimes to reappear ten feet farther down the beach, or sometimes they disappear altogether. Your window of opportunity can be timed in seconds that can be counted on one hand with fingers left to spare.
Add to this frustration that these fish squeeze into the shallowest of conditions. Another corbina axiom is if your feet are wet, you’re too deep. I’ve had beans square in my sights twenty feet in front of me, as a six-inch wave rolls through only to see the wake of a skittish fish darting back to deeper water from three feet behind me. Understandably, good light is critical to seeing these fish in the surf. Since most of our beaches here in SoCal face west, or mostly west, morning light works best to keep the sun over your shoulder rather than glaring in your face. The only issue with that is the May Gray and June Gloom—a heavy inversion layer of fog and mist that blots out the sun along the coast practically daily, often until late July. Under these conditions, the best you can hope for is spotting “signs” of a bean’s presence: wakes, tailing fish, or the bronze backs protruding from the surf as they push shallower, or more likely, head for deeper water.
As if that all isn’t disheartening enough, you have to remember that SoCal beaches are hardly isolated or remote. Indeed, some of the best corbina fishing lies in the very heart of Los Angeles. Try making a back cast with scores of tourists trying to take photos of the sunrise, kids darting into the surf, joggers shuffling past, and dodging surfers like that digital frog in that old video game, all while jockeying for position among other anglers. None of these bystanders seem aware of your backcast, meaning that for safety’s sake you always have to watch behind you while trying to keep an eye on a wary, wiley target in front of you.
As for lines, I prefer a sinking line over an intermediate line because I feel the intermediate gets washed around too much by the surf, pulling the fly along with it. The sinking line keeps the fly in the zone within the washing machine on the beach. Shooting heads were the standard for years by those who pioneered the fishery, like fellow TFO Advisory staffer Nick Curcione, who began chasing these fish decades ago, but the newer integrated sinking lines are easier to handle in my opinion. There are even surf lines produced by several manufacturers, designed by SoCal surf fishermen for this specific application. I prefer a triple density line, however, but the choice is very much one of comfort and personal preference. A stripping basket, like the Linekurv, will help you keep your line, and your sanity, under control as you stalk the beaches and is an essential piece of equipment for surf fishing.
Leaders are even simpler. I used 8 to 10 feet of 8-pound mono or fluorocarbon. You could use 10 or even 12-pound test, but I feel lighter is better and I’m comfortable with 8. These fish are already spooky enough. Just remember to check your leader often. The surf and sand can wreck the material, quickly making a once clear material an opaque white cord. Fly choice is controversial and depends on who you ask—if they are even willing to tell you. Surf Merkins and sand crab patterns in bright pink or grey work best. You want them to be weighted, but not overly so, because the “plop” will undoubtedly spook beans. You need some weight, however, to keep the fly anchored to the bottom during your retrieve. Most tiers include a hint of orange along the bottom or back of the fly, mimicking an egg sack. Sizes should not be larger than a 4 but don’t need to go smaller than a 6, either. Stout hooks are necessary because beans pull. Hard. Sharpen your hooks often, too. Dragging through the sand will dull even the sharpest hook in minutes, and you’ll need a solid strip-strike and a sharp hook to penetrate the rubbery lips of a bean.
Over the past few seasons, I’ve seen more and more fly anglers hitting the beaches here in SoCal in search of the elusive bean. It’s a challenging pursuit well worth exploring, and a prey worthy of any angler, no matter how skilled they think they are. Beans will humble you. The challenge is not for everyone, but the great thing about them is they are readily accessible to everyone. A little grit and determination, a good rod, and a heap of patience is all that’s required.
Blog written and photos provided by TFO Ambassador Scott Leon.
For many years, while guiding, I spent most of each day on an elevated poling platform at the back of my skiff, watching angler/clients struggle with ultra high priced, high performance rods that they had purchased in hopes that dollars spent, would enhance casting skills…They had raced in exactly the wrong direction with their credit cards!
The higher the performance design a rod incorporates, the smaller, or narrower, the window in which the line loop is formed. The advanced caster can take advantage of the increased tip speed, within the window provided by a high performance rod. A caster lacking expert skills will benefit from a rod action that provides a longer “window.”
The Mangrove rod family offers the longer “window,” super quick start ups, strong butt section for tough fish fights, and solid, no nonsense components that won’t let you down on some far flung, tropical beach.
This week, Temple Fork Outfitters announced three new fly products to the TFO family: the BC Big Fly, the NTR reel, and the Mangrove Coast. Find out more below, and be sure to check out these new additions at your local TFO dealer later this summer!
BC Big Fly
Introducing the all new BC Big Fly series. Designed by TFO Advisor Blane Chocklett, the BC Big Fly delivers big flies to big predatory fish with ease.
Evolving from the Esox series, the BC Big Fly will feature the our popular Axiom technology in the blank design, while incorporating updated componentry including elongated composite cork handles, extended fighting butt, Black Pearl REC stripping guides, blacked snake guides, laser engraved Game Changer fly logo on the reel seat, and much more.
The BC Big Fly will be offering in a 9’ 8wt, 10wt, and 12wt and will retail for $399. To find out more about specifics and details of the BC Big Fly, click here.
Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check out the BC Big Fly at your local TFO dealer later this summer!
Introducing the all new NTR reel series. This new reel series offers anglers a ‘No Tools Required’ solution in a high-performance, fully sealed and machined aluminum fly reel.
The NTR reels will be available in four sizes, two-color options (Black/Gold & Clear/Gold), and will retail for $139-$169. To find out more about specifics and details of the NTR reel series, click here.
Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check out the NTR reels at your local TFO dealer later this summer!
Introducing the all new Mangrove Coast series. Designed by TFO Advisor Flip Pallot, the Mangrove Coast was built for the hardcore saltwater angler seeking a medium fast action blank. Easy to load and precisely deliver a fly to spooky saltwater fish, the Mangrove Coast delivers all the necessary components to be successful.
This series features full wells grips with an instant rod weight burled cork LINE-ID system, fighting butts on all models, and cleverly machined hook keepers built into each side of the aluminum up-locking reel seat. All rods are topped with saltwater safe FUJI stripping guides and ultra-lightweight chromium-impregnated stainless-steel snake guides.
The moderate-fast action Mangrove Coast will be available in a 9’ 6 weight through 12 weight and will retail starting at $289.95. To find out more about specifics and details of the Mangrove Coast, click here.
Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check out the Mangrove Coast at your local TFO dealer later this summer!
Once again, these new rods will be available later this summer! To see our entire catalog of fly fishing products, click here.