Don Reed, owner of Oyster Creek Outfitters in St. Augustine, has been fly-fishing since he was 12 years old.
“My father had an old bamboo rod that he didn’t use and after I fouled his bait casters the 100th time, he banned me from playing with them,” Reed said. “So I picked up the fly rod instead and fell in love with it.”
His store at 314 S. Ponce de Leon Blvd. is a showcase to his love. Full of brightly colored flies, rods, reels, personal watercraft and outdoor clothing, the store specializes in backcountry fishing, especially fly-fishing.
He also sells items worldwide on his website, saltwaterflytyers.com.
According to Reed, saltwater fly-fishing is relatively new, but it is one of the fastest growing areas of fishing in Florida. And Florida is the largest market in the United States for fishing in general.
“Fly-fishing is a subset of fishing, but it is one the most exciting and fun ways to fish in Florida,” Reed said. “Big fish, small rods, smaller flies and a little more skill.”
For those new to the sport, Oyster Creek Outfitters offers fly-fishing lessons, fly tying classes and independent fly-fishing guides. They also host an event monthly on the last Wednesday where people get together to tell jokes and tie flies.
One of the store’s specialties is a fly in “destroyer” pattern. Made from yellow synthetic material called Finnish raccoon, it is what Reed calls a simple fly.
“I like simple flies because they work really well. They do the job and they don’t take a lot of time and they don’t cost a lot,” Reed said.
The fly is made to attract redfish, trout, tarpon or any other local saltwater fish.
Fly-fishing uses light artificial lures. The fly line itself carries the fly, not the fly carrying in the line. As opposed to bait casting where you use a really light line and then you cast live bait or an artificial bait to the fish. With the fly, the angler works to get it in front of the fish.