Can you learn fly casting in Port Charlotte? Yup, as well as in Englewood and Placida areas.
My backyard of Southwest Florida is home to world-class fishing and honestly, I don’t take advantage of it enough. It’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s that I fear I don’t have the knowledge. When I was married and lived in the Everglades I fished quite often, which was made easier by having a boat and being able to escape the mosquitoes during the summer. When I fished with my then husband, I had more confidence. I suppose my biggest fear with fishing solo is catching a fish and being unable to release it.
Since leaving the Everglades, I’ve taken a Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing class (they practice the “no yelling school of fishing”) which has given me more confidence and in the eight years living in the community I am now, I’ve been out on three charters (two were deep sea excursions into the Gulf of Mexico and one of which was to learn about barotrauma and the other was an inshore fishing trip in Charlotte Harbor where I caught some nice snook and redfish) and that’s it.
Regular readers know I’m up for almost anything when it comes to trying new things so when Debbie Hanson of SheFishes2 invited me to a Women, Waders & Wine event to learn to fly cast, I was all in for it. Back in the ’90s, I attempted to fly fish in Yellowstone National Park but didn’t have formal training in it. Actually, my fly casting was beyond embarrassing.
Later in the ’90s while living in the Everglades, a member of the Naples Fishing Club gave me a crash course lesson and encouraged me to keep up with it. My husband and I invested in a fly rod, reel, etc., which looked really nice hanging on the living room wall but it hardly tasted Flamingo’s salty air.
Times have changed, interests have expanded and the art/sport of fly fishing is something I can get behind, I think. I hope.
On a recent Friday night, I joined about a dozen other women from Southwest Florida at the West Wall Fly Shop in Port Charlotte, Fla., to sip wine and learn some history and technique by International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified Casting Instructor Capt. Rex Gudgel of Englewood, Fla.
“Women is the fastest growing segment of fly fishing,” he told us.
After a brief overview of fly fishing history, which included learning briefly about Dame Juliana Berners who left 12 to 15 fly tying recipes in 1496 and Joan Wulff, the matriarch of fly fishing, it was time to learn about the loop.
“The loop is the Holy Grail,” Capt. Rex said.
“Your entire existence in fly fishing is based on your loop,” Capt. Josh Greer, local fishing guide and owner of West Wall Fly Shop, added.
In groups of four, we moved outside to try our hands, err, arms, with working on our loops.
Capt. Rex told the group it was all about physics and when you use his simple technique, the loop will come. Lined up at the edge of the parking lot facing the grass, four of us at a time practiced our cast, hoping to see perfect loops.
“It’s a great trip, don’t give it up. Don’t get frustrated,” Capt. Rex earlier told the group. I tried to remember this with each back and forth movement. My technique, thanks to the expert, was to raise my forearm, stop when my wrist was even with my ear then push the rod down and stop just above my waist.
The captain coached me and showed me where to stop by my ear and above my waist.
“Stop it with authority,” he instructed and was my cheerleader when that loop was finally born.
“There you go!”
Did I perfect my fly casting skills that night? No, but it’s given me the encouragement to keep on trying. I like the concept of fly fishing because it seems like more of a skill as compared to casting with a spinning rod and reel. It seems as though it would be both relaxing and a satisfying challenge.
I’ll be giving Capt. Rex a call to learn about future lessons and hopefully, will have the confidence to continue with it and pick up my own fly rod and appropriate gear from Capt. Josh’s West Wall Fly Shop. I love the idea of being able to travel with a fly rod and get a little fishing in no matter where I go.
Do you fly fish? Have any tips you can offer me?
Looking to fish Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor, Placida, or Punta Gorda? Check out Capt. Rex and Capt. Josh at West Wall Fly Shop.
Cast with Rex
Charters and Fly Casting Lessons
West Wall Boats and West Wall Fly Shop
787 Tamiami Trail
Port Charlotte, FL 33953
Tel: 941) 875-9630
View additional images from the event on my Flickr stream.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to help me support my traveling habit. All opinions are my own.