Below is a reprint of an article that ran in the Summer/Fall 2013 USA Today Hunt&Fish Magazine.
Blackfly Fly-Fishing School
Locations: Abaco, Bahamas and Jacksonville, Fl
Nearest major cities within a 4-hour drive: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, Fl.
Dealer’s choice is the theme of Vaughn Cochran’s program. Since his time as a member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, the painter/fly-fishing industry entrepreneur has established schools that take unique fly-fishing conditions into account.
“Casting is easy to learn, and once you get the basics down it’s a lot of fun,” Cochran says. “One cast is never the same as the last one.”
He’s teamed up with co-owner and native Bahamian Clint Kemp to offer a destination school at their Blackfly Lodge on Abaco in the Bahamas.
Kemp teaches students how to fly-cast for bonefish, largely considered the holy grail of saltwater fly rodders. The school is oriented toward all ages, which makes for a perfect family getaway.
Cochran’s Blackfly Outfitters school in Jacksonville, Fla., targets tarpon, redfish, snook, bonefish and permit. And a new Blackfly Outfitters freshwater school is being built in the stunning countryside of Charlottesville, Va., where anglers will learn about fly-fishing for trout as well as bass, bream and panfish.
Kemp’s Tip: “The casting stroke is all about timing and (has) little to do with strength. I try to have all my students feel the rhythm of the cast with the pull, wait and push.”
Kemp’s casting exercises feature a piece of yarn on a pencil “to get the student to feel the rhythm and dynamics of the cast. By the time they pick up the rod we are over halfway there. Some even practice at work.”
Cochran’s Tip: “Understand that the path of the rod tip is critical to the path of the fly line. The casting stroke is not an arc; the path of the rod tip should be in a straight line parallel to the horizon in order to throw a tight loop.”