Besides oppressive heat, this time of year floating weeds and grass are things to contend with when fishing with a fly rod. If we don't make a fly look natural, fish will refuse it. Green stuff on the fly hook will always get a refusal. Flies that represent baitfish must be moved through the water to look natural. Select fly patterns that have the hook pointed up with relatively stiff hair extending past the hook bend, thus giving a weedless option. If weeds are on the surface, use a weighted fly and even a sink tip line that will get your offering deeper, thus avoiding the weeds. Clouser minnows and bendbacks are good examples. Floating flies can also have the hook point upward that are completely protected. Examples are mouse patterns tied with deer hair. If you tie your flies or have a fly tyer who keeps you supplied, use a strand of 20- or 30-pound hard monofilament tied in at the head to protect the hook point. Single strand wire is also an effective alternative, especially for darker flies. Flies that encourage strikes with little movement are also a great choice; crab, shrimp and sand flea imitations fit the bill. Before casting, wait for an opening in the grass and pay attention to wind and tide. Accuracy really is important. Your fly should hit an open spot that is weed free. Practice casting to targets in your back yard to improve your ability to hit a small spot. When fishing canals or channels, the windward side will frequently have all the debris, leaving the other side open. Catch and release beach fishing is another great option, targeting fish in the wash close to the sand, usually a weed-free zone.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.