Fly fishing is generally looked at as a style of fishing that is more challenging than other traditional techniques. There are some places though where this bucks the trend, such as where I guide in Alaska for rainbow trout. I could take anyone out there without any experience and put him on a pile of fish on the fly in no time.
There is another place like this that no one talks about and that is the Florida Everglades. The canal and marsh systems in this freshwater haven are home to millions of fish, namely largemouth bass and a variety of cichlid and panfish species. Some of these canals will net you a bite on every single cast if you scale down - and that is where the rod of choice comes into play.
I like to fish simple streamer and topwater patterns while chasing largemouth and cichlid in the Everglades. Clouser minnows in any size will get destroyed, as will gurgler and popper patterns. The smaller the fly, the more oscars and mayan cichlid you will catch. When I get clients that want to learn how to fly fish, this is where I bring them.
Rod size is not to important unless you want to try to catch the biggest fish in the canal. When I am throwing flies, I don’t really care about that; instead I will focus my tackle size on what properly matches the majority of the bites. This is where you can get away with your “ultralight” fly rods - rods from the 1 WT size all the way to a 4 or 5 WT are a great choice here. I think a 2 or 3 WT rod is the perfect match for thelargemcouth and oscars, which are mostly in the 1/2 pound to 2 pound range. I like to throw a bunch of 20 Lb Bullbuster braid behind the backing for good measure. It is shockingly fun and even extremely experienced fisherman will have a blast catching these tackle busters every cast!
Next time you are in a cichlid infested canal in the Everglades, don’t get frustrated by it. Break out the fly rod!
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