One of the many advantages to fly fishing is when the bite is on, a lot of fish can be caught. We don’t have to fool around with weights, swivels, snaps and finicky braided line, but especially bait. Procuring live baits and keeping them healthy, the time needed to rebait and release smaller or nontargeted fish, and the chance of frequently harming them are greatly minimized. Cut bait is not a great resource. Once the proper fly is selected to “match the hatch,” a single fly can last a long time, especially when constructed with synthetic materials. Since most of our flies that imitate shrimp, crabs and baitfish have a single hook, catch and release or catch and keep is simple once the fish is on. Filing or crimping the barb will not hamper your catch rate as long as adequate pressure is kept on the fish. Many hooks are available that are barbless. Use adequate leader strength and nonabrasive tippets that are strong enough for fish we seek. When fighting fish, keep your rod tip low and close to the water, always maintaining a soft bend. A mechanical gripping device and a dehooker similar to the ones used to quickly remove bait from a Sabiki rig minimize or eliminate the need to handle fish while keeping them in the water. When taking a picture, lift the fish horizontally from the water with wet hands and never hold it out of the water longer than you can hold your breath.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpatdamico.com and (727) 504-8649.