TAMPA - The sport can trace its lineage to the time of Christ. The ancient Macedonians caught trout on artificial flies while the apostles were throwing their nets into the Sea of Galilee.
The first book on the subject, Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle, published in the 15th century, mentioned 12 flies, six of which are still in use. Yet despite its rich history, fly rodding, especially in saltwater, long was considered an oddity.
That changed in 1992, with the release of A River Runs Through It. Suddenly, thousands of amateur anglers picked up fly rods, hoping to look just like Brad Pitt.
Specialty shops catering to serious fly fishermen popped all over Florida. Serious anglers are willing to pay top dollar to catch exotics such as peacock bass in the Amazon or tiger fish in the Zambezi River.
People fly all over the world to catch fish, but to be quite honest, some of the best fishing is right here in Florida.
The shallow grass and sand flats off Homosassa are known for big tarpon and the dedicated fly rodders who follow these silver kings with near religious devotion.
Hidden clusters of rocks help keep pleasure boaters away, so these "poon" hunters can pursue their prey in peace. Each May, the grass flats draw some of the world's best anglers to test their skills against the granddaddy of sportfish.
The Nature Coast is the Tampa Bay area's fly-fishing hot spot, but the Florida Keys still reign supreme as the state's premier saltwater fly-fishing destination.
Year after year, the same anglers return, booking personal guides during the peak seasons for tarpon, permit and bonefish, the gray ghost of the grass flats.
The most versatile rod is 8-weight and 9-feet long. This can be the most costly tool when considering fly-fishing. The reel's primary purposes are to retrieve and hold line when not in use. There are several types to consider when buying.
Anglers must choose between floating and sinking line. Floating is better for beginners because it's easier to pick up off the water and subsequently cast. Advanced fly casters often prefer sinking line.
A log book benefits both the seasoned veteran and beginner. Keeping track of locations, time of day, responses from fish and lures used are a good way to improve your catch and prepare for your next trip.
Hat and sunglasses are important to help keep cool for a sport that demands patience. Polarized sunglasses help reduce glare off the water and give the fisherman a better view of fish beneath the surface.
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