It’s easy to tease enthusiasm out of Wanda Hair Taylor – she can ‘set fire to the rain‘ on that score, but a hint of boasting, impossible
By Skip Clement
Wanda Hair Taylor is known below the Mason Dixon as “The South’s First Lady of Fly Fishing.” She’s also one of the fly fishing industry’s best ambassadors, as well as, the real deal step-up to the plate conservation protagonists, and when it comes to help your sisters recovering from breast cancer via Casting For Recovery and other such organizations – she’s right there.
Last weekend, I got Wanda’s version of catching an International Gamefish Association (IGFA) Women’s World Record shortbill spearfish on a fly, which she did under the guidance of the most noted billfish fly fisher Guru in the world, Jake Jordan. That all took place after my waving goodbye to them after the Atlanta Fly Fishing Show in 0n February 2, 2019.
When you congratulate Wanda Taylor on any one of her seemingly never-ending accomplishments, saying nice catch to her on the occasion of her world record will only get you a polite (southern) thank you. Then she’ll be off… saying she only played a part in whatever it was she succeeded in accomplishing, or that somebody mentored her. It’s always thanks to whomever or whatever. She believes it too. And if something doesn’t work out, it’s her fault, of course.
Yup, go team
Well, she finally was right, but not to the degree she’ll admit. As the African proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, in billfishing, no matter your religion, fly fish or big game wind up reels and fat glass rods, it’s a team sport. The best onboard combination is captain and two mates, and a partner who knows the score who can always help keep the cockpit clear.
Being a success at landing a billfish on a fly in the sporting manner of being IGFA rigged takes a team. And the team, which includes the angler, has an excellent chance at success if ALL the players know what they’re doing. The captain is quarterback of the team and directs the mates managing the “active” teaser (the bait of interest to the fish), and the other mate managing the outriggers or whatever must be done. The captain has to maintain a visual on all the players – the angler “at all times.” More on that in another posting.
Wanda, what in the world did you do now?
She recently caught an International Game Fish Association World Record shortbill spearfish (Tetrapturus angustirostris) on a fly in Kona, Hawaii under the coaching care of her friend, Florida Keys icon Jake Jordan. It was a 33-pounds on a 20-pound tippet using a TFO Heavy Duty – Jake Jordan designed blue water fly rod and using a Mako model 9700 fly reel. The pair fished aboard the vessel Northern Lights on February 6, 2019.
While some will sit back and say that the shortbill spearfish is so small, compared to a marlin – it’s no big deal. Well, wrong. It’s the toughest of all the billfish to catch. Any billfish seeker with some nautical miles on their resume will agree.
The shortbill spearfish is a surface feeder species of marlin, native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is also little known that it is the most challenging billfish to catch of all the billfish. The current records (IGFA) are all caught in Australia or off Keahole or Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, west coast of Hawaii Island – the Big Island.
Hawaiian fish markets call spearfish Hebi, but native Hawaiian fishermen call it A’u.