One of the great life lessons of fly fishing is it forces you to adapt. New water or a different species often demands a different skill. For me, the transition involved a canoe.
A move from Gainesville to Tampa a few years ago yielded the purchase of a Native Ultimate 14.5, then considered the premier fly-fishing paddlecraft. I had to have one.
At first I used it quite a bit as I learned the Tampa Bay flats. But, it didn’t take long before frustration set in. Managing a canoe solo while fly fishing is difficult simply because it’s darn near impossible to do two things at once — managing the drift and fishing. You have to stalk the fish, stop the drift, put down your paddle, grab your rod and make the cast — all in a matter of seconds.
I spent much of the spring and summer trying to master these skills. Limited success resulted and eventually winter arrived and I started wading. The Ultimate sat in the garage for months. In fact, I wondered why I even bought it.
Fast forward to this summer when I moved to the Jupiter area. Flats fishing is non existent. It’s intracoastal and rivers. Paddle or perish. So I learned how to paddle and fish at the same time. To do that, you have to know how to paddle —- well. Once I committed to that skill, I was able to fish more effectively, even with a fly rod.
Wading has its benefits. It’s quick and it’s easy. The Ultimate is a bit of a chore. There’s loading and unloading. And it’s more fun to cast wading than it is sitting down or standing in a moving object. But the Ultimate allows you to cover more ground and you get a workout if you’re willing to paddle a few miles.
Honestly, I’d rather walk the beach or wade, but I’m glad I finally mastered enough skill to become confident with the Ultimate. I’m certainly more versatile.
Below is a video from Orvis. It looks easy, but it’s not. Trust me.