Friday, June 26, 2009

Interview with Captain Pat Damico

For those of you who don't know of him, Captain Pat Damico is one of the Tampa Bay Area's top saltwater fly fishing guides (not to worry, he uses spinning gear too), a great fly tier, and patient teacher of fly casting. Captain Pat is also very involved in Project Healing Waters which is an organization that helps disabled veterans learn how to cast and tie flies. Plus, if he agreed to an interview with me, that makes him so much more gracious in my book.

Captain Pat has been in the Tampa Bay Area for a while and knows the flats and fish well. He has written articles on a regular basis and is a frequent contributor to Captain Mel Berman's online fishing magazine, Fly Fishing in Saltwaters, The Fly Bench, and Full Creel's saltwater moderator. He's also a Federation of Fly Fishers certified casting instructor.

Check out his his articles....go out on a charter!

Without further ado....

RD-After fly fishing and casting for as long as you have, what starter fly rod/reel combo would you recommend to someone buying gear for the first time? Good to buy a combo?

PD - Most companies make combo's that are cost effective. More importantly, get one at a fly shop that can help you through your learning process. Fly fishing clubs have swaps where very good equipment can be purchased often half of retail. Use the fly club's equipment until you have a feel for what you want. SA, Cortland, Redington, are all good. I lean toward TFO for very reasonably priced gear with a lifetime guarantee.

RD - As a newbie hack fly tier, I found your fly tying videos on Fishbuzz TV to be quite informative. Any plans on doing any more of those?

PD - We have talked about more videos. I wanted them to be more about helpful hints than on tying a specific pattern.

RD - As you show simplified ways of doing things in regards to tying on those videos, do you also simplify things when giving casting instruction?

PD-Yes, I pursued my Federation of Fly Fishers casting certification because I felt that much of the information in books, videos and demonstrations did not separate substance, what is really necessary, from style, the individuals own technique. I have learned and continue to learn more about casting from other certified instructors. If you use a certified instructor, you will find we all follow the same principles developed by the leaders in our sport. It is important to teach in a non threatening environment. Students must be committed to practice!

RD-I’ve heard about some of your casting clinics and I need to attend one. Are there any scheduled in the near future?

PD - I give individual instruction, but I have a class scheduled with the Suncoast Fly Fishers club at Ft. DeSoto park Aug. 1. This is free to all club members and includes lunch. Another good reason to join a club. If you go on the FFF website, local clubs and contact information is provided.

RD-I know that bonefish aren’t located in the Tampa Bay Area but do you have a “go to” pattern that you might share when you’re after bones? (my “secret weapon” bonefish fly is a Sweet Ernie - that worked wonders at Long Key when I was down there in April)

PD - A Gotcha in various sizes, and weights would be mine.

RD- You pointed me towards Aaron Adams website where I found the always valuable book “Fly Fisherman’s Guide To Saltwater Prey” (this is an awesome book that every saltwater fly fisherman should have on hand). Is his previous book “Fisherman’s Coast” required to get the most out of “Saltwater Prey”?

PD-I read Fisherman's Coast three times and constantly use it as a reference. One of the best books for the saltwater fly fisherman.

RD-Any tips on fly fishing photography?

PD-I am still learning. Many expo's and fly shows have a session available on this subject. With digital cameras, take a lot of different pictures then download them at home for your review. If you know a wildlife photographer, they are usually a great source of information.

RD- Do you have a favorite time of year and target species that you like to fish?

PD- Baby tarpon and snook during the summer. Redfish in shallow water during the winter. I love freshwater trout also.

RD- You’re quite involved with Project Healing Waters – can you tell me a bit about that and how a hack fly caster like me might be able to help?

PD - Check out their website Over 70 programs are active. We are devoted to helping physically and emotionally disabled veterans through fly tying, fly casting, and fly fishing trips. It is one of the best programs available for those interested in fly fishing. Fly fishers and tiers at any level are welcome as volunteers. You will learn a great deal and really see what this sport can accomplish. Area coordinators are listed and will welcome your interest.

RD- Got a good fishing story for us? Could be anything….

PD- I remember the first trout, a brookie, that I caught on a fly that I tied. I was ten. Last week I watched my grandson Jonathan, age 9, catch and land several rainbow and brown trout on flies, wooly buggers, that he tied, one of which was over two pounds. This was in PA where I grew up fishing with my dad and friends. It doesn't get any better than this!

RD- And finally, after having huge problems making spoon flies for a buddy in Texas (I ultimately failed) any suggestions on how to make the pattern and cut out the holographic tape for #4 spoon flies?

PD- FlaBob that posts on capmel's website has the most tier friendly pattern that I have seen. They are not easy!

Thanks Captain Pat!

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