Fly Fishing from Small Craft

By Nick Curcione


In all my years on the water I think I’ve fished on practically everything that floats from multi-million dollar yachts to paddleboards. Some of my fondest memories date back to the late 1940’s when I first started fishing Western Long Island Sound in heavy wood skiffs with my uncle who was more interested in rowing than actual fishing. We didn’t call it sight-fishing back then, but I remember the tremendous sense of excitement and anticipation I felt when my uncle rowed me into the shallows where I would look for doormat size fluke lying on the sandy bottom. I’m convinced that the absence of obtrusive engine noise allowed us to glide over these fish without spooking them.

In the late 1970’s in Southern California I started fishing from a float tube. The late Harry Kime was the first person I knew who used one in Baja in the Sea of Cortez. Harry told me the story of being pulled almost a mile from shore by a big yellowtail that inhaled one of his “Tutti Frutti” flies. He became concerned when he realized he was being towed further and further offshore. He couldn’t break the fish off because every time he reared back the float tube shot forward like it was attached to a giant rubber band. He finally managed to pop the 15-pound tippet by wrapping the line around the reel, and yanking back on the rod while kicking frantically with his swim fins. There have been many recorded shark attacks since then and I don’t recommend this for salt-water environments.

Since around the mid 1990s kayaks have become one of the most popular personal watercraft for all classes of anglers. They are affordable, easy to transport, virtually maintenance free, and can provide a fairly extensive fishing range. Similar in concept, but even more barebones are paddleboards designed for what is referred to as Stand Up Fishing (SUP). For fly anglers at least they are the latest rage in personal watercraft.