A lot of people like to fly fish yet it's hard to find
a partner to go out with every time. I thought I would
offer some suggestions to people who venture out on the
flats alone with a long rod in hand.
The hardest part of fly fishing alone in a skiff is handling
your equipment. Between the skiff, push pole, fly rod, and
fly line it can seem to be a task but with a few simple tips,
it's actually quite easy.
The key to fly fishing by yourself is having everything
ready in advance and at arms reach, I am mainly speaking
of your fly rod. The next important thing is what to do
with the push pole when it comes time to grab the fly
rod, we will address both of these issues.
First, when I am poling alone in my skiff, I do so from
the bow and suggest you do the same. It makes everything
much easier and it is much safer to fish from the bow
than your poling platform especially while fishing alone.
As far as equipment, to make all this easier to accomplish
two items are essential. First something to keep your fly
rod in and ready so its not sliding around the deck,
getting your line tangled. I use a Fly Line Tamer, made
by Alu-Marine products. It is basically a tall narrow
stripping basket that is heavy enough on the bottom to
allow you to keep your rod in it, in a vertical position
without it toppling over in the wind, it really is a nice
Second is something to keep your push pole under control
when you pick up your fly rod. Yes, you can just put it
between your legs but believe me, that can be a real pain
especially about the time the fish show up suddenly, and
you drop the pole spooking the fish. I like using the
Polemate. Its a wonderful little clip that allows you to
instantly clip the push pole quietly to your side. It just
straps on like a belt and works great.
Now the rest is basically simple though, it does take some
practice. Standing with your feet on the bow of the skiff,
place the fly line tamer between your legs as close as
possible to yourself. Strip about 25 feet of fly line
into the tamer and place the rod into the tamer. Hook
your fly onto a piece of foam glued to outside of tamer.
Strap your Polemate to whatever side is comfortable for
You will be poling the skiff backwards so here's the trick
when you pole up on a fish. I upon seeing the fish get just
in casting range (mine) and start pushing the front of the
skiff in an arc - a 180 turn if you will to put the front
of the skiff and yourself in a position where you do not
have to cast around the boat. Now when the boat is at aprox.
90 degree angle to the fish I give it a little added push
to keep it slowly turning, put the pole in the Polemate
on my belt, pick up the fly rod and begin my cast. With a
little practice and good timing you will be casting just
before the skiff is pointed at the fish. What you also want
to remember is that you want to think ahead of you can time
everything. With a little practice it really works well.
Once in a while, another 'trick' I use to control the
skiff is I will actually sit on the bow of the boat with
my legs in the water and literally walk the boat along
with my feet. You have to have semi firm bottom for this
and a boat with low freeboard and shallow draft. When you
are bone fishing in the Keys this works very well for me.
You pole along, swing the boat as I described and if you
don't get the fish to eat right away, or they are moving
around a lot (as bonefish always do) put your pole in the
pole hooks on your skiff, and walk the boat along. You
get the advantage of wading and keeping a low profile
yet without sinking into the bottom, try it, I hooked
my first bonefish while fishing alone doing just that.
Good luck and tight lines. ~ Tom Mitzlaff
President, Inshore Power Boats