Pro Staffer, Scott Jontes: Cover of The Fisherman’s Journal

Why Fly Fish From a Kayak – by Scott Jontes

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As kayak fishing becomes more popular by the year, naturally fly fishing from a kayak is also growing in popularity. When I decided to start kayak fishing I knew I would incorporate my passion for fly fishing to the kayak. Fly fishing to me is one of the most rewarding types of fishing you can do. I love the whole experience of fly fishing, from tying my own flies and leaders to making that well placed cast to a fish and watch it take fly that you tied.

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At times a kayak can give you the ability to get closer to the fish than you can with a boat, and it surely can get you into places that a boat is not able to go. I honestly prefer to fly fish from a kayak because, it’s just you and the fish. It’s the ultimate game of cat and mouse, and you’re solely responsible to find the fish and to get yourself into position to make the cast. That is the big draw for me is to do all the work by myself and when all of those things come together and you have the satisfaction of catching that fish, it’s such a feeling of accomplishment.

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Fly fishing from a kayak is not difficult but it can be a challenge and that is how I feel people should look at it. You should challenge your self to leave your regular set up at home and only take a fly combo with you. It will take you out of your comfort zone and could open up a whole new world of fishing to you. You may try it and end up not liking it, but it could also lead you to a new passion in the world of fishing. It will surely add another arrow to your quiver that you may want to pull out and use from time to time.

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You can set your kayak up in multiple ways for fly fishing and honestly it all comes down to your own personal preference. I like to keep my kayak very clean and clear, I do not have rod holders or any other mounts on my kayak other than a camera pole. If you do have something on your deck that fly line can get hung up on IT WILL. This is one of the biggest issues you will run into while fly fishing is your line management. You have all of the extra fly line laying on your deck just looking for something to get snagged on. A few of the ways you can help to deal with this issue is to use a stripping basket or a stripping mat. You can buy ready made stripping baskets, or you can make a DIY one from a collapsible laundry basket that you can buy at Walmart or Target. One advantage of a collapsible laundry basket on the kayak is you can stow it away so it does not take up room when not in use.

Just like the stripping basket you can buy a pre made stripping mat or you can make one yourself. I decided to make a stripping mat for myself using a rubber floor mat and wire nuts and I have been really happy with it. You can look up online the many DIY ways you can make either a stripping basket or mat. You can also look into stripping baskets that you can wear or that can attach to a stand up bar if you have one rigged on your kayak. Another thing you can do to minimize your fly line getting caught on your kayak is to lay a towel on your deck to cover any hatches, snags or even peddles.

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If you are new to fly fishing it can be helpful to go to a local pond and start out catching Bass or Bream to help you to learn how to play a fish and to manage your fly line. This helps you to learn to cast efficiently with no added pressure before you get out on the water with your kayak. If you are not able to stand in your kayak you can practice by either sitting in a low chair or even on the ground to help your back cast to not hit the water behind you. Obviously casting from the seated position has a few disadvantages compared to being able to stand up and cast but can still be plenty effective. On the kayak you are adding a lot of factors when a fish takes your fly and in a short amount of time. You have to make sure the fly line does not get snagged on your kayak while your fighting the fish and trying to keep yourself balanced. I would recommend being comfortable with all of the things before you head out on your kayak with the fly rod.

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To get started in fly fishing you do not have to break the bank to get your first set up. You can get good starter combos for under $200.00 that come with everything you need to get on the water. As you progress in fly fishing and get a feel for it you can then step up to a more expensive combo that will suit your casting style. A good all around fly to start out with would be a Closuer Minnow. It will catch anything and not only are they inexpensive but they are also very easy fly to learn to tie if you decide to get into tying your own flies. A few other good patterns to start out using would be shrimp fly patterns and also any of the Enrico Puglisi flies. If you do get interested in tying your own flies I highly recommend getting yourself a good quality vise. Starting out tying your own flies can be expensive to start but you will save money in the long run. I find that tying my own flies can very relaxing and it is a hard feeling to beat when one of your flies you tied caught that fish you were after.

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If you do decide to go down the rabbit hole of fly fishing I will warn you that it can consume you to the point that it is all you can think about. It can become such an obsession in your life that it can lead to multiple fly combos that can range from a 1wt for trout or panfish to a 14wt for Marlin or Sailfish. You will have vises, leader material for tying your own leaders, multiple boxes of fly tying materials and boxes and boxes of flies that you tied. You will find yourself constantly day dreaming about getting that next cast. But if you ask me all of that is not a bad thing.

Fernandina Fishing Rodeo

The Fernandina Fishing Rodeo is a boat tournament that added a Kayak Division allowing anglers to launch anytime with a 6:30AM fishing start time.  I set out in my Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 kayak into the St. Johns River about 6AM. I went to my trout spot and fished for about 15 minutes before several boats showed up and proceeded to fish all around me.  I was not getting any action and saw all the boat fishermen were catching sand trout so I moved off and fished down the shoreline.  By now it was 8:20am and I was starting to think a skunk was a possibility.   With no bites, I switched from soft plastics to a Rapala Skitterwalk chartreuse topwater lure on a whim and noticed that the lure was attracting swirls about 10 feet off the bank.  After repositioning my yak parallel to the shoreline so my lure would stay at that 10 foot distance during the entire retrieve, more fish seemed interested and within 5 minutes had a hit so violent I thought it was a redfish. When it got close to the yak I saw it was a beautiful large speckled trout.   I had a nice 5 minute fight before playing the net game with it for a heart stopping minute, but finally got it boated and measured it out at exactly 24”.  Since I had only hoped to catch a trout in the 20” range I felt a surge of confidence and felt I had a chance to do well in the standings.

Choosing the Slayer Propel

My first thoughts when I finally set eyes on my brand new Ultimate FX 12 was simply this: Native Watercraft hit a home run with this kayak.  This kayak screams “designed by fishermen”.  The first thing I noticed was the seat.  It not only has the Native First Class High-Low seat, but it also gives the paddler the option of moving it forward or backward in the kayak.  I have spent a solid 7-8 hours in this seat with absolutely no discomfort or leg pain.  The seat also has an organizer that offers 2 slots which can hold up to 2 of the Plano 3500 tackle trays.  The rear of the kayak has a built in rear thwart with a gear track on each side, which are perfect for adding accessories like rod holders, light, and/or camera mounts.  There is also a large open hatch area perfect for carrying a crate, cooler, or a BlackPak.  The rear cargo area also has bungees to help secure your gear.

Heroes on the water at Brown Creek

The Northeast Florida Chapter of Heroes on the Water along with Browns Creek Fish Camp held a Veterans Day Celebration on Sunday at Browns Creek Fish Camp.

Events are volunteer-led with the purpose of helping wounded military personnel and their families escape to the outdoors, enjoy camaraderie with other warriors, and transition into their communities around the sport of kayak fishing.

First Coast News was on the scene.

A kayak fishing discipleship!

We met with the 14 brave men battling various forms of cancer and paired off to embark on our journey to catch fish on the fly. This retreat wound up being the retreat that had the 2000th man to attend a retreat.

We had the vest signing ceremony and also recognized the 2000th man.

Then it was time to go fishing.

Based on the fact that the river was dry we made a decision to fish a local pond instead.

The pond was beautiful and the fish were very cooperative. My participant “BJ” was the first to catch a fish. He proceeded to catch a number of huge copper nose bluegills before other also started catching a few.