The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 13 - January 11, 2012

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'A Few Great Flies ... And How To Fish Them'

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One of the last things I expected from an Aussie (Australian), especially a fisherman, was for them to be too serious about anything. On a recent trip to the Cook Islands, I had the pleasure of fishing with and spending a bit of time in a local pub with several professional fly anglers from Australia. We were on the atoll of Aitutaki to teach fly casting, tying and rigging to a group of local anglers who were hoping to become bonefishing guides.

That's where I met Peter Morse and learned that while you'll never find a more convivial mate to have a beer with, when it came to fly fishing, the Australians were serious with a capital S. Feeling totally unprepared by comparison, I even borrowed a fly Morse had tied the first day and hooked (and lost) a bonefish that approached Jurassic proportions. At a celebration at the conclusion of our stay Morse presented our hosts with a copy of his new book, "A Few Great Flies And How To Fish Them."

I leafed through the book while I was there and asked Morse if he had another copy that he would sell me. I always try to support other writers, but to be quite honest I seldom read fishing books. He had only brought one copy with him, but a week after I returned to the U.S., I received a signed copy from him by mail.

The book caught my eye instantly due to a spectacular shot on the cover of Morse with a barramundi, a fish like our snook. Leafing through the pages, I was instantly drawn to the beautifully photographed pictures of many great fish that I didn't recognize. As a photographer Morse had already drawn me into his book, when I started to read it I began to appreciate the professionalism that he had applied to his fly fishing pursuits and shared in the book.

Morse begins with a chapter aptly named Flies – An Overview. In it, he hooks the reader with his deceptively simple (and correct in my opinion) premise that anglers can approach all fish as being pretty much the same. He states that by adjusting just the fly, the depth and the retrieve, or FDR in his parlance, you should be able to find and catch any species of fish. He bases this on the assumption that the angler has his casting and rigging in order. He finishes the chapter with experiences from his fly fishing adventures to back up his claims.

Chapter two focuses on weed guards, how to tie them and why an angler should use them. Once again he backs up his argument with facts gleaned from fishing experiences. In chapter three he gives great advice and suggestions on why fly anglers should carry different density lines to reach fish at different depths and other suggestions on getting the fly to the fish.

Morse shares a lot of great advice with his readers in this book including retrieving the fly, line management and fly line selection before starting to discuss his favorite flies. While the chapter Fishing with Gusto, is about a fly called the Gusto, it begins with a description of some Australian fishing territory that is guaranteed to have adventurous fly anglers checking local flights from the U.S. to The Land Down Under.

The balance of the book covers Morse's favorite flies, their attributes, evolution, how to fish them and how to tie them. Tying sequences are described in clear terms and illustrated with more of Morse's excellent photography. That same excellence is displayed throughout the book in some stunning images that would have made the book a hit as a photo essay. In the final chapter entitled The Last Word, Morse uses an amusing anecdote to illustrate what every experienced angler has learned. On some days, you can have every base covered, try every trick in the book and still experience a completely bizarre outcome. That's what keeps fishing interesting!

I highly recommend this fine book to anyone who has ever thrown a fly and anyone who has considered doing so. There's a wealth of information here that will improve your fly fishing whether you're a seasoned professional or a beginner

To purchase your copy, contact Morse at

Review: The Hell's Bay Biscayne

I have to start this boat review with a disclosure. I've owned a Hell's Bay boat for close to eleven years and I count it among one of my prized possessions. When I got a call from Captain Todd Fuller with an offer to try out the Biscayne, Hell's Bay's newest boat, I jumped at the chance. Not only was there the opportunity to drive and fish the new model, but  I would also have the chance to meet and fish with Captain C.A. Richardson, host of "Flat's Class" a popular TV show that airs on Sun Sports, The Sportsman's Channel and The World Fishing Network.

We launched at the Green Bridge in Palmetto and ran a smooth Manatee River to Snead Island Cut where we passed into Terra Ceia Bay and an early morning chop. After navigating the slow speed zone we put the Biscayne on plane and I got my first taste of the ride. The smooth progress the Biscayne made over that early morning chop reminded me of my Hell's Bay Guide 18.  As the day progressed we were able to run and fish the boat under varying conditions that gave me a feel for the evolution and intent of the new hull's design.

Later in the morning I poled Fuller and Richardson on a shallow mangrove lined flat in Miguel Bay. While the new boat is only 16'4" long as opposed to the 18'4" Guide I'm accustomed to, it weighs almost the same . As the wind began to pick up I noticed that it pushed the stern downwind as opposed to upwind, a definite advantage when trying to control a flats skiff in a stiff wind.  The boat tracked extremely well and was easy to control when I poled upwind and then down to pot holes in the bay. It didn't take long before C.A.'s bait casting rod to doubled up as a redfish crashed his top water plug.  Holding the boat in place so Richardson and Fuller could work the area was a breeze.  I was also impressed with the quietness of the hull as I listened for wave sounds and heard none even with the increasing chop.

After catching a few more reds and trout, I asked to put the boat thru some trials on the now rough waters of the open (Tampa) Bay. I ran the boat downwind, upwind into the chop and then quartered the boat into the waves to test the ride. I was extremely impressed both by the smoothness of the ride and the degree of dryness that the boat maintained. It was the first flats skiff that actually kept me dry under theses rather extreme conditions.  After talking to Fuller I learned that the boat had been designed expressly for the demanding conditions that Keys guides encounter. Hell's Bay designers wisely enlisted the help of some of the Keys best guides in developing a boat that would handle rough water crossings, pole silently to finicky bonefish and permit and keep the guides and passengers dry throughout the day. A boat that can handle those conditions will be a great fishing platform for most anglers.

Contrary to what you'll often hear, there is no perfect skiff for every condition. The Biscayne's draft at seven inches is almost three inches deeper than the two foot longer Guide, and the hull weighs just five pounds less.  If you're looking for a boat that handles four people on a consistent basis you might want a larger boat. However, if you're a serious guide or dedicated angler the combination of dry, smooth ride, tracking and quiet approach makes the Biscayne a serious contender for your attention. Area anglers who want to get the feel of the new Biscayne can attend a "Demo Day' in St. Petersburg on Saturday December 2, 2011. For more information contact Hell's Bay Boatworks at 321.383.8223 or check out their web site at Check out C.A. Richardson's "Flat's Class" on TV or at

The Hell's Bay Biscayne

  • Weight - 595 lbs.
  • Draft - 7" with engine & fuel
  • Length - 16' 4"
  • Beam - 70"
  • Recommended Power - 60 hp - 80 hp

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