It’s called fishing, not catching. What’s your relationship with the two?
///// Drew Chicone (DC) ///// I definitely spend a lot more time “fishing” than “catching”… Just ask my Wife and Daughter. Some fish are just harder to catch than others, but for most species, I think the Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule) holds true. My crusade for a 40+ inch snook and persnickety permit has been obsessively driven and often maddening, but the more time I spend on the water, the less I seem to care about catching. Don’t get me wrong, I still love fishing myself, but it’s also exhilarating to see other people, especially kids, get all pumped up when they catch their first fish on fly. It’s like reliving that excitement all over again!
Why tie your own flies?
///// DC ///// Whether it’s the camaraderie, the creativity, the art, or simply a means to catch fish, folks are passionate about tying flies for a lot of different reasons. For me, it’s all those reasons and a lot more. Tying is part of my daily routine, and teaching people how to tie is one of my favorite activities.
You’ve written a lot of books. Do people even read books anymore?
///// DC ///// I think so… They might be reading them on their Ipad or Phone, but the desire to learn is still there. For what I teach, I believe the ebooks are actually better because you have them with you as a reverence no matter where you are, and you can zoom in on the pictures and get a much better look at the materials and techniques used for each pattern.
Why should they read yours?
///// DC ///// I do my best to write the books that I wish I had when I was learning to tie flies. Easy-to-follow directions with lots of clear pictures help the reader get from point A to point E without skipping any critical steps in between. It may seem like overkill as you get more proficient or if you’re a seasoned tyer, but I think it’s vital to avoid frustration for beginning tyers.
Do you also write and publish cliff notes? Or do we need to hit up Chat GPT for those?
///// DC ///// No, no cliff notes, but over 130 Salty Fly Tying Chronicles. My goal with my free newsletter is to spread the word about new or unique materials, techniques, and patterns that I come across each month. If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions for saltwater fly patterns, check out the “Archive” on my site www.saltyflytying.com
“I do my best to write the books that I wish I had when I was learning to tie flies. Easy-to-follow directions with lots of clear pictures help the reader get from point A to point E without skipping any critical steps in between.”
– Drew Chicone
Describe your spot in Fort Myers. It sounds like a fishing paradise!
///// DC ///// It’s most certainly an extraordinary and diverse fishery with plenty of options no matter what type of fishing you’re into. I spend most of my time chasing snook via paddleboard or on the beach. Each year is a little different, but typically around late April or early May, the snook starts their annual migration from the rivers, creeks, and backwater estuaries and head to the gin-clear water and sandy beaches to spawn. The massive funnel of fish disband into small pods or strings of individuals and cruise up and down the shoreline at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River in knee-deep water before they hit the beach. This is my favorite kind of fishing because you get to sight fish massive fish in shallow water.
You travel throughout the year, hosting hunting and fishing adventures. Where are some of your favorite locations to return to year after year?
///// DC ///// I’m really glad you said “some” of your favorites because I could never choose just one favorite. Cosmoledo Atoll in Seychelles was mind-blowing and at the top of my bucket list for the last decade. I love Pira Lodge in Argentina’s Ibera Mash, and the Bahamas have always enchanted me. Abacos gin-clear waters have palpable therapeutic qualities for me that penetrate bone deep, and Blackfly Lodge has become my home away from home.
Why do you wear Astral shoes?
///// DC ///// That’s an easy one … They are the best travel shoe I have ever worn, whether you’re on or off the water! Over the past decade, my career in the saltwater fly fishing industry has taken me to some of the world’s most beautiful and remote locations, where often time, traveling light is a necessity. With size 12 feet, finding shoes that can be worn both on the water and off is a tall order. The Loyak is the only shoe I have ever found that is lightweight, comfortable, stylish, and fast drying. Designed as a water shoe, the Loyak is constructed from hydrophobic canvas, with a self-draining, flexible sole that provides you balance and superior grip whether you’re on the boat or at the beach bar. I don’t leave home without them; I usually travel with two pairs!
Describe the most epic moment you’ve ever had fishing.
///// DC ///// Words just don’t do it justice, but catching a GT on fly off the back of a Tiger Shark cruising the flats while we were anchored up during a lighting storm was pretty extraordinary. Fishing the Seychelles was like an out-of-body experience for me on its own; however, that particular memory has been permanently etched in my psyche.
Where’s your dream fishing trip?
///// DC ///// I have a few species on my bucket list, but my dream fishing location is The Wessels in Australia. It’s a long run from Ft. Myers, Florida, but with opportunities to catch two species of Indo-Pacific Permit, Blue Bastards, Queenfish, Barramundi, Giant Trevally, and Black Spotted Tusk Fish on the flats, the pearl is unequivocally worth the dive. I had to pass on an opportunity to go during the pandemic, and I have been haunted by the decision ever since. My grandfather used to say, “Every trip you miss is one you’ll never get back,” and I try to live by his words.
PHOTO CREDITS ///// SEAN MURPHY + DREW CHICONE