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Why the Fly | Kayak Fishing

With evidence of being around for hundreds of years, used in both freshwater and salt water environments, fly fishing has an appeal for almost anyone. Flicking flies can be accomplished from the shoreline, waist deep in a stream, from any kind of water craft including the kayak. Current kayaks actually give you the advantage of reaching waters inaccessible to other types of boats. Some kayaks are more stable than a canoe, also kayaks afford you the option of presenting flies from a sitting position or while standing.

While I have my own viewpoint I also enlisted the perspective of Tony Evans, former boat / kayak builder for Jackson Kayak. Evans also is a fan of the fly rod, and he crafts custom rods (including fly rods) and even takes the time to tie his own flies. With experience on streams, the ocean and every type of water in between Evans has a passion for the complete fly fishing world. First you must overcome the misconceptions, we’ve been influenced by media to view fly fishing as for just for trout. Of course movies (A River Runs Through It), images in magazines, others on the web and on TV typify and reinforce the targeting of rainbow and brown trout to take the fly.

Why the Fly | Kayak Fishing

The truth is your local farm pond, an urban creek, your close to home lake, some exotic locations or even a salt water site can all be successful with the “magic wand” aka the fly rod. You can pick up a starter rod and reel inexpensively, for less than $100 you can find a basic outfit rod, reel and line that can be yours. Evans offers rods for the more serious angler. Some might view custom “sticks as expensive.” You can order a custom rod in the price range of $150.00 to $300 or up depending on detail, rod components and amount of customization.” You can contact email Evans at or Instagram at tonyevans274.

Why the Fly | Kayak Fishing
Why: Tony Evans explains his reasons for kayak fly fishing. “The artistry of the casting, working the fly and reading the water is itself fun and a challenge for me. Small assortment of flies, a basic rod and reel will get the job done. Another thing is the rod is easy to transport and can be disassembled.” My own reasons, “Simplicity, the rod delivers the fly, the reel merely holds the line, retrieve is accomplished with the downward stripping of the line; yep simple.”

Tie or Buy: my opinion, “there’s a fly pattern to match any natural food source.” Tony Evans says, “A good tier can imitate any fish food source with natural or synthetic material not just wood, fur or feathers. Buy a small assortment to make sure you’re going to stick with it. Evans continues “Try to buy from local experienced fly tying folks and get their advice”

Why the Fly | Kayak Fishing

I did try tying my own for a while and realized It’s much easier to pick one off the shelf than tie one and it requires a certain degree of patience and spare time to be a fly tier like Evans. You can also get exactly what you want by going to an individual as opposed to a factory tied fly. I realized rainy days and severe winter would be okay for me to sit and create artificial bugs but if it’s nice enough to fish I’d rather be casting flies than tying them.

  • Imitating Life Forms: If it exists in nature it can be copied at a fly tying vice. The fly fishing and tying community observes the indigenous creatures and tries to match the look in order to fool fish. Limited on by their imagination you can go easy with a “wooly worm” or go intricate with crawfish, a reticulated frog pattern or some exotic creation. Deer hair is hollow and floats making it excellent for topwater flies like a deer hair field mouse and many more fake fly rod baits. Bug hatches like the infrequent cicada or the annual mayfly are effective for fish gorging on the creatures that hatch seasonally in profusion. Natural and not so natural material included are fur, feathers, wood, wood, tinsel, yarn or sponge. Again if you can visualize it can be produced and likely fool a fish.
  • Fly Friendly Kayaks: As with choosing any kayak there are several determining factors. What type of water are you going to be on? How will you transport your boat? What’s your price range? Stability and specific fly fishing requirements also are key considerations. . Tony Evan weighs in: “Room for you equipment is important, also an open deck for the fly line at your feet. Initially sitting to launch your flies sitting is better, once you get some experience you may want to try to stand.” (Life jackets 100% of the time) Standing makes it less likely you’ll snag on your back cast. I keep a fly rod in my kayak year round.” If I’m sitting I keep a towel in lap to avoid line tangling around my feet. My preference to stand is similar to Tony’s but also because I can see more clearly and get a sure hook set form the standing position. We agreed on the potential paddling kayaks that best suit the fly guy/gal. The Kilroy, Liska, certainly the MayFly, the Bite and my personal favorite the original Big Rig or the HD model.
  • Don’t fear the fly rod. Many prospective fly fans worry about the mechanics of working the fly fishing equipment. First in the era of everything electronic the cell phone if a great way to capture your early casting classes. Video the casting practice from the side and watch the line on the back cast and all the way through the forward delivery. To avoid the hook barbs simply tie a piece of yarn or a “hookless” bug to the end of your leader. For the sale of simplicity and cost effectiveness I use monofilament or fluorocarbon a foot shorter than the rod for my leaders. If on your cast you hear the sound of a type of cracking whiplash snap you’re bring the line forward too quickly. To correct this count one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, let the line “lay out” and then start the line toward the target. Always let the equipment do the job, power comes from the rod.
  • Fresh or Salt: “Using the fly rod can be applied on anything from a little farm pond or a vast section of the ocean, targeting anything from trout to tarpon.” Tony says, “don’t’ limit yourself to trout.” There are even fly rod tournaments for carp and musky. In our home state of Tennessee tournaments are held each year for these and other species. Evidence of this is Evans personal best catches, a Cobia on the Clouser fly that measure 32 inches, a largemouth bass that scaled 5 pounds 7ounces on a white “game changer fly.” My own bests include an accidental catch of a 25 pound carp on a Cicada pattern and from a numbers standpoint, over 100 bluegill in one day.” I live for the bluegill spawn when they’re easy to catch, and a few sponge spiders and maybe a wet fly or two will net you several dozen chunky bull bluegill. One trip to Tampa Bay chasing tarpon produces some good memories of sight fishing for the big salt water creatures but no hook ups. While trout certainly can be brought to the side of the kaya so can bass, crappie, catfish, musky and many other species. My own preference is freshwater because the ocean just looks like a big horizon, Tony chimes in with,
  • “Trout don’t live in ugly places.”

To get started Check local fly fishing groups, do some internet research, find a fly fishing friend for some guidance (and maybe borrow some equipment) and then jump right in. Soon you’ll know, Why the Fly.