The roots of fly fishing are deeply embedded in the trout streams of our youth, the salmon rivers of lore, and the literature that came before us.
But fly fishers have branched out from those roots, using fly tackle to deliver hair, foam, and feather creations that aren't really "flies" at all.
In nearly every state, there are people fly fishing for carp. And it's not because that's all they have. Colorado is one of the carp-fishing hotbeds of America and there, serious fly fishers pass up opportunities to fish blue-ribbon tailwaters for trout, instead choosing to sight-fish for urban carp tailing amid concrete rubble.
Pike and muskies aren't nearly as accessible as carp, but where they are around, fly fishers are studiously pursuing them. And while carp require bonefish-type tackle, and reasonably sized flies, some warmwater species require extremely specialized tackle. In the Oct-Dec 2010 issue of Fly Fisherman Rick Kustich penned "Hunting the Hunter" and explained how when pursuing apex predators like muskies, efficiency in both fishing and casting keeps your fly in the water longer. The industry has responded to this growing trend in pike and musky fishing with new lines designed for huge flies up to 16 inches long, and new rods designed with pike, muskies, golden dorado, and peacock bass in mind.
Make no mistake, warmwater fly fishing is not the realm of people stuck in Kansas. It's the cutting edge of a sport looking for bigger, stronger, toothier fish than they grew up with.
Sage Bass II $550
The original Bass series rods were deep-loading slingshots short enough (7'11") to meet tournament requirements. The new Bass II rods take advantage of new Sage technology for lighter rods that are stiffer through the butt section for faster-action rods with more leverage to pull a largemouth out of heavy cover, or to drive large flies against the wind. In addition to the Bluegill, Smallmouth, and Largemouth models, Sage also added a Peacock Bass model for 390-grain lines. You won't need to worry about line weight though, because all Bass II rods come with a Bass II taper line, so you'll get exactly the action rod designer Jerry Siem had in mind when he made the rods. The Peacock Bass model is also for large warmwater fish like pike and muskies, and for saltwater bruisers like snook and tarpon in the mangroves. sageflyfish.com
G.Loomis Shore Stalker $320-$350
FFM contributing editor Dave Whitlock is passionate about bass and bluegills, and you can feel it when you cast the Shore Stalker rods he designed with G.Loomis chief engineer Steve Rajeff. They are designed to make short, 20- to 50-foot casts into lily pads, weed beds, downed trees, and other structure where accuracy with large poppers and baitfish imitations is paramount. Whitlock said the rods load quickly in close casting quarters, but have the muscle to horse a fish away from snags, piers, weeds, and other obstructions. The 4-piece rods come in 5- to 9-weight models from 8' to 8'8" to handle everything from suburban bluegills to Lake of the Woods muskies. gloomis.com
Rio Pike $75
The name says pike but the line is also for muskies, and a good bet for any freshwater fishing with oversize flies. RIO calls the fat, steep front design a "bullet taper"—the bullet is a 14' front taper and front body, followed by a smaller-diameter 27' rear body and taper to provide stability while carrying line for the long, searching casts often required for chasing "the fish of a thousand casts." Available in line weights 7 through 10. rioproducts.com
SA Titan $80
What's the difference between SA's already popular Magnum Taper lines and the new Titan line? Compare XL to XXXL. Magnum lines are for " bigger flies " like an 8-inch bunny leech. In the world of the new Titan Taper, "big" means flies in the 12- to 16-inch range. The short tip and powerful 5-foot front taper help turn over anything short of a dead cat. Titan lines are part of the Mastery Textured Series, and use 3M microreplication technology for a bumpy line with less friction, less memory, and longer shooting. scientificanglers.com