By Capt. Pat Damico, Fly Fishing Editor
Can you remember the first time you hooked a large Jack Crevalle on a fly? On one of my first trips in the Tampa Bay area, we were drifting the flats targeting Trout. All of a sudden, the serenity of the morning was interrupted by a loud roar caused by a school of large Jacks slamming unsuspecting finger Mullet against a nearby sea wall.
Casts by my fishing companion and I into the melee resulted in instant hookups, accompanied by bent rods, screaming drags, and disappearing backing on our fly reels. Our baitfish patterns were instantly inhaled. A typical Chinese fire drill ensued.
If you are waiting for this experience to still happen, this is the time of the year to set your sights on big, aggressive Jacks. Our last several trips to both river mouths and nearby flats have been rewarded with crazy, knuckle busting displays from these muscle bound brawlers.
Most encounters with Jacks occur when we are fishing for some other species, like Trout, Snook, or Reds. Far from selective, they will take any fly that is presented in front of their noses as long as it represents a fleeing baitfish. My first experience had us a little under gunned with light seven weight rods, ten pound test tippets and small flies. I have learned to carry one rod that is setup primarily for Jacks that are in the ten pound plus category.
A nine or ten weight fly rod with a floating weight forward line is strong medicine for most large Jacks. A leader of about eight feet in length is constructed with Ande monofilament. Six feet of thirty pound butt section is attached to a two foot length of twenty-five pound Mason tippet material. A loop knot will secure my favorite Jack fly, a size 1/0 Edgewater Products Flute Fly, white head with chartreuse over white bucktail dressing. With this outfit a down and dirty fighting technique can be applied so that the fish is whipped before you, allowing another shot at the school.
Capt. Pat Damico
St. Pete Beach
Web Site: http://captpat.com/