A World-Renowned Angler and Teacher Talks About Getting Started
Only a handful of fishermen have attained the reputation and status of Capt. Jake Jordan in the world of saltwater fly fishing. He attained his incredible bank of knowledge by catching almost every oceanic gamefish that swims on the fly. How many people can you name who have caught salmon sharks in Alaska on a fly rod?
Sailfish are a perfect target for the saltwater flyrod. Fast and acrobatic, they readily take a fly when lured into range with teaser lures.
Jordan has over 40 years of experience as one of the top flats and tarpon guides in the Florida Keys. He pioneered a series of exclusive saltwater fly fishing schools for bonefish and billfish, taking small groups of anglers to exotic locales like Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Exuma where he instructs them on how to fish for, and successfully catch, the world's premiere gamefish with fly tackle. The remainder of the year he splits between his home in North Carolina, where he charters for red drum and false albacore during the fall, and Marathon, Fla. in the spring, where he takes charters for his first love-tarpon. His clientele fish exclusively with fly tackle and they include some of the most accomplished anglers in the world as well as newcomers who want to learn at the hands of one of the true masters of the sport. During the winter months, he is a featured speaker and presenter at the top fly fishing shows around the nation.
"When I started taking charters fly fishing in the Keys the 1960s, there were probably not more than 20 fly fishing guides in the world," Capt. Jordan recounted. "And they were ALL in the Keys!"
Jordan has developed cutting edge techniques for casting, hooking and fighting big fish of every stripe, and has personally released blue marlin that would have crushed the current fly rod 20-lb. tippet world record except for his personal conservation ethic-he will not kill a billfish anywhere for any reason. In recent years, he developed a night fly fishery for Florida Keys tarpon that produces more hookups and releases in a three-month period than most guides can account for in a year. He has revolutionized the techniques for fighting big fish on fly tackle, and the technique is slowly catching on with other types of light tackle fishing.
The Yamaha team recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Jordan about what stepping up to saltwater fly fishing entails for a newcomer. When we arrived, he had just finished washing his favorite skiff, a Yamaha-powered 20' Jones Brothers built just a few miles away from his home. The boat is aptly called the Fly Reel.
Captain Jake Jordan is one of the nation's top saltwater fly fishing guides, with venues in North Carolina and the Florida Keys and travels worldwide.
"I spend a lot of time at fly fishing shows and fishing clubs giving presentations on topics from tarpon to sailfish to blue marlin," said Capt. Jordan. "Interest in the saltwater aspect of the sport is growing, especially interest in catching big fish with fly tackle. Most of the anglers I come into contact with are either accomplished saltwater anglers with spinning and conventional gear who want to try something more challenging, or anglers who use fly tackle in freshwater and want to make the move to salt. Anglers in both categories have some learning to do, but it has never been easier to access the information you need or obtain personal instruction."
Jordan is not only an International Federation of Fly FishersTM certified instructor, he was a member of the organization's original board of directors back in the 60s. He said that any angler new to the sport will benefit from casting lessons.
"Learning to cast the right way from the beginning is much preferred to picking up bad habits that have to be unlearned later," said Capt. Jordan.
"There is a major difference between casting with fly tackle and spinning or conventional," said Jordan. "With spinning and conventional, you are casting a weighted lure that pulls light line, monofilament or braid, off the reel. It's the complete opposite with fly gear where you are casting a light, often wind-resistant lure called a fly with a line that has a forward section weighted to pull the fly behind it. You're casting the line instead of the lure, and the dynamics are very different.
"The front 30 feet of most fly lines is weighted and tapered," Jordan explained. "Fly lines are rated (10-WT, 12-WT, etc.) for a specific rod designed to cast that weight line. You wouldn't use the same rod and reel for sailfish as you would for bonefish any more than you would use an 80-lb. class standup tuna outfit for casting poppers to striped bass. While the rating system might sound confusing at first, it's actually quite simple. The first thing you should do before you run out to buy fly tackle is identify what your main target species will be, and then get some good advice on the appropriate rod, reel and lines you will need to fish for it. You can do this at a fly fishing show, a local fly shop or in the fly tackle departments of big box stores where they have experienced and educated fishermen on staff.
Sails are capable of lightning runs and greyhounding leaps, making line handling a real challenge with fly fishing gear.
"You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get quality tackle anymore," he continued. "High performance fly rods are available for a fraction of what they used to be, and there are a host of very affordable fly reels to mate with them. I've worked with Temple Fork Outfitters to develop rods of a quality level that would have cost well over $500 a few years back, but now can be purchased for less than half the price."
Where can a neophyte go for casting instructions? There are hundreds of books and videos for sale from great fly fishermen like Joe Brooks, Lefty Kreh and Stu Apte. You can do a keyword search on YouTube® and pull up hundreds of free videos on all phases of fly fishing in saltwater. Do a search for fly fishing shows and you'll probably find one or two good ones in your area where you can meet casting instructors, fly tiers and compare rods, reels, lines and flies from dozens of manufacturers and pick up some great deals, too.
"Probably one of the best resources you can find is the International Federation of Fly FishersTM website www.fedflyfishers.org," Jordan suggested. "They have videos, seminars, libraries, lists of casting classes held all over the country by FFF-certified instructors, youth classes, fly tying how-to and much, much more. It's the ultimate information source and a great place to start.
"Fly fishing is a challenging and highly rewarding way to fish for almost any gamefish. Once you get bitten by the bug, you'll be hard pressed to put down your fly rod for any other type of tackle," Jordan advised. "With the right gear, knowledge and practice, you can catch pretty much any fish that swims."
For more information about Capt. Jake Jordan, visit www.jakejordan.com and be sure to sign up for his regular fishing reports blog - it's fascinating!