Tag Archives: fly rod

My Quest to Catch Bass on Fly

how to catch bass on fly

Debbie Hanson with a nice bass from a kayak. (Photo Pamela Mess)

My story from Hatch Magazine.  This is an unedited excerpt from the original piece.

By Mike Hodge

It’s the start of summer in Northeast Florida, a tad too early for tarpon and a bit too early for flood-tide redfish. Given the break in the angling calendar, it’s time to take inventory of every species I’ve caught with a fly rod.

So far, I’ve conquered three types of freshwater trout along with a handful of bluegill; in the salt, I’ve landed reds, seatrout, snook, jacks, bluefish, ladyfish and tarpon.

I’ve caught a few bass, but none of them were worth bragging about. True story: The biggest bass I ever caught was more than 40 years ago on a small mountain pond in North Carolina. The fish probably weighed 5 pounds or so. Catch-and-release was not part of my young, boyish mindset back then, but the bass had the last laugh.

I put my quarry on a stringer and pushed the stake into the muddy shoreline. Big mistake. Moments later, the sturdy green fish gathered enough strength to pull the stringer out of the muck and swam off — along with two panfish destined for the frying pan.

I’ve yearned for redemption ever since that summer day. But I’ve never mustered a big bass on a fly rod. To help fulfill that quest, I called upon two anglers who have kicked a little bass: Debbie Hanson, a guide, women’s sport fishing advocate and blogger (SheFishes2.com); and Shaw Grigsby, Jr., a professional bass tournament angler. Hanson has caught more bass than I’ve dreamed about, on foot and out of a kayak near her home waters in Fort Myers, Fla. Grigsby, from Gainesville, Fla., has surpassed more than a two million dollars in career earnings with conventional gear, but his true passion is topwater bass on fly. Below are a few of their tips that should help you land a big bass on fly.

For more info check out the link below.http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/largemouth-bass-fly-tips-pros/7714386

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The Thomas & Thomas Exocett Delivers

My story on the Thomas & Thomas Exocett for the Blackfly Outfitter in Jacksonville.

Thomas & Thomas’ motto is “the rod you will eventually own.” Their belief is by the time you try other fly rods, you, the customer, will want the Thomas & Thomas brand.

T&T’s quality consistently shines brighter than the competition. After all, the Massachusetts-based company has been making fine fly rods since the late 1960s. They do so one rod at a time, with painstaking attention to handcrafted detail, from the butt section to the tip.

So it is with the Exocett saltwater series. If you want a rod that’s sensitive enough to cast well for all skill levels, but strong enough to handle everything from tarpon to tiger fish, the Exocett is for you. Trouble turning over those bushy tarpon patterns?
The Exocett can help you punch through that afternoon wind — without wear and tear on your shoulder. Furthermore, the Exocett has proven its durability world-wide, slaying giant trevally and monster tuna in the Seychelles.

The Exocett is known for its performance, but it has a sleek, sexy design as well. The 9-foot, four-piece setup features a matte blue, low-friction finish.

For more info, check out http://www.flyfishingworldheadquarters.com/?p=1496

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Filed under Education, Fly casting, Fly fishing

Fly-rod Frustration for an Afternoon

I thought I was so smart.  For the past few years, I have not kept my fly rods broken down in cases. Instead, I broke down each section in half — two pieces secured with a hair pin at the top and a rubber band at the base. It made for easy access for early-morning trips. No fussing with stringing the rod up and attaching a fly. I was good to go in seconds — as soon as I could detach the hair pin and rubber band.

All was well until I wanted to take a bike ride with my rod. To do that, I had to put the rod back in a case and attach the case to my Patagonia backpack. Easy peasy, right? Wrong.

Because both my primary rods were rarely completely broken down, the ferrules became stuck and they were an absolute beast to loosen. I tried pushing, pulling and cursing for hours while I searched the internet for solutions. The best thing I read I was to apply ice to the male ferrule. That helped with one sticky section, a TFO I have for traveling.

But the base of my Orvis Helios was particularly fussy. No amount of ice and brute strength was going to break that seal. So I called Orvis and the tech rep recommended a slight twist and pull. My bare hands didn’t get the job done, so I grabbed my rubber kitchen mat and each ferrule for a better, and more secure, grip. A better grip yielded more control and, finally, I wrestled the two sections apart with a quick twist and pull. So, the next time you need to loosen your ferrules, grab a bag of ice and a rubber mat. Those tools of the trade should help you get back on the water faster when your stored fly rod won’t cooperate.

A bag of ice helps loosen sticky ferrules.

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Filed under Education, Fly fishing

Working in a Fly Shop


Editor’s Note: I apologize for the lack of content over the last few months. I’m in the last stages of a of divorce and have moved from S. Florida to St. Augustine, where I work in the local fly shop, Oyster Creek Outfitters at Saltwater Flytyers.

Here’s some info on our open house on May 21.

New store. New Name. New location. But the commitment to quality service remains.

SWFT at Oyster Creek Outfitters will celebrate its past, present and future Saturday, May 21 with an open house. The day-long event (9 a.m. until 6 p.m.) will feature experts from Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Whitney Laboratory Marine Science Center to talk about the area’s unique environment, along with an assortment of demonstrations, including dressing for the area’s outdoor activities, fly-casting, fly tying and a cookout.

Much of the hands-on instruction will take place on the banks of the Oyster Creek pond, adjacent to the new shop at 314 S. Ponce De Leon Boulevard US 1, 32084 in St. Augustine.

The new store is nearly three times bigger than the old Saltwater Flytyers. Yes, we’re expanding. Our goal is serve the community and visitors with the most complete outfitter in Northeast Florida.

Among the new brands we carry are Skinny Water Culture and TrueFlies. The new inventory will complement current merchandise — Hardy, G.Loomis, Scott, TFO, Echo, Lamson, Nautilus, Patagonia, Abel, Ross and Simms among others.

Company representatives and Oyster Creek Outfitters staff will be on hand to answer questions about all of our gear. If you’re on the water, we want to serve you.




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Filed under Entertainment, Fly fishing

How to Break a Fly Rod

UPS, anyone?

UPS, anyone?

I fished for nearly 25 years and NEVER broke a fly rod. Ever. Until now.

For the record, I’ve broken two in less than two months. The first was on a drift boat in Western North Carolina; the second was on the beach in Sarasota. Different states. Different types of water. Different fish.  Same result.

The one common denominator: I was high sticking. For the uninitiated, high sticking means you lift the rod straight up, toward the heavens, either while hooking the fish, landing the fish or pulling line from the reel.  I pulled off a combination of all three feats.

The first break came about when I tried to pull the leader through the guides in a drift boat. Space was limited, so I reached up and pulled the leader straight down.

Snap. The tip broke.

The second snap-crackle-pop happened while beach snook fishing. I hooked a snook in the foam and tried to make sure I released the fish in the water. I reached up to grab the line, and a wave pushed my quarry toward me simultaneously, forcing the rod to bow. The tip could only take so much.

Snap. So much for that rod. Note: I still was able to land the fish.

Both breaks could have been avoided. In the drift boat, I should have laid the rod down flat and then eased the line through the guides. On the beach, I should have applied side pressure and let the surf push the fish up on the sand. Rods can take side pressure. Vertical pressure applies too much force to the tip.  With freshwater trout, the fish are small enough that high sticking is doable, but not advisable.

The good thing is most rods have a warranty. Temple Fork Outfitters has a no-questions-asked guarantee. I paid $25 to cover TFO’s shipping and handling and about 10 bucks for my shipping.  It could have been worse, much worse.  It was a worthwhile lesson learned, but, fortunately, not a costly one.



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Filed under Education, Fly fishing