Fly Life Magazine

Big game fish on a fly – Jake Jordan’s rules

Jake Jordan with a tournament sail at Casa Viejo Lodge – Capt. Chris Sheeder image. Note tagging while being released.

Podcasts . . . Radio ga ga?

by Skip Clement

An hour drive to my destination in North Georgia’s Appalachians was perfect listening time for a podcast about a subject of interest – how to fight and land big game fish.

That category for some, it turned out in the show, was that they believed that big game were pike and musky in Minnesota and the Territories, and steelhead and salmons on the West Coast of Canada and the U. S. The special big game guest on the show was clueless. The advice on how best to fight a big fish was exactly how to lose a big fish.

Big game fish on a fly

But for a reality check, a 4-foot northern pike (Esox lucius) can be landed in a few minutes with a decent reel and any well constructed 8- or 9-weight made of glass or carbon fiber. And a ten or better for an over 80-pound king (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) – if one still exists and sorry Mr. Expert, toothy doesn’t qualify as big game.

IGFA rules

Big game landings on a fly rod that are International Game Fish Association qualified catches would be tarpon and a checklist of billfish, tuna and sharks. They’d be eligible if caught, fought and landed according to IGFA rules governing the use of a fly rod and rigging limitations.

Wanda Taylor, a close personal friend of Jake Jordan’s is also an apostle of Jake’s “method” of fly fishing for billfish. Her bill catching skills are headed for the record book.

Only on a fly rod using an artificial lure (fly)

Pescados in the big game fish league, for example, would be blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) 161-pounds on 8-pound test tippet, tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) 490-pounds on 16-pound tippet, and tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) 202-pounds on 20-pound tippet.

The men and women who fish big game on a fly, and follow IGFA rules, originated from the Florida Keys or were mentored/taught how to fly fish, tease-up, cast to, hook, fight, and land big game fish by someone from the Florida Keys.

Getting a Florida Keys diploma

Almost anyone that is an accomplished big game saltwater fly fisher has a diploma that reads –  Florida Keys deductim a schola piscantur magnum ludum musca. Just making that up, of course, but not the fact that the Keys are Meca for saltwater fly fishing knowledge.

There was a time when manufacturers came to the Keys with their saltwater “fly fishing” products looking for endorsements before hitting the shelves 

Here’s what Captain Jake Jordan and a handful of other Keys guides brought to the big game fly fishing table: 

Skip the knots – use only when necessary, never lift with the rod, let the fish run but tire it while ratcheting up the pound pull tension (1-pound, 3-pound, 6-pound…). Never lift the rod tip – ever. The reel has to be the best there is, Jake and many of his contemporaries use the Mako. Jake uses two different rods – both designed by him, both by TFO, both graphite.

Stay tuned for details on all of the above . . .

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