By Paul Lebowitz
Andrei "Drei" Stroman's hands are a blur. They work in concert, seemingly without thought or effort, propelling his fly line through the air in graceful loops. With one final double-haul, the tiny hand-tied shrimp-fly on the business end gently lands at the foot of a mangrove, instantly drawing the violent strike of a waiting snook.
"He was just where I thought he'd be," Stroman says with satisfaction, reeling in to try the base of another gnarled mangrove trunk. He slides the delicate tip of his 10-foot Tica into a narrow tube aligned with the bow of his Prowler 13 and slots the butt and reel into a unique rod holder just aft of his seat.
"The tip protectors keep my rods from getting jammed in the mangroves," he says of the lengths of capped PVC pipe fastened to his deck lines. He's into them for about five bucks, including a can of black spray paint. With the rod butts cradled by RAM Tubes--he's cut a lengthwise slot in each to accommodate his large arbor saltwater fly reels--his precious sticks ride safely through narrow, gnarled mangrove channels.
There's one more specialized wrinkle to Stroman's fly-centered rigging: a console-mounted rod holder with several jointed sections. The lifetime fly-caster--he started at the tender age of 12--keeps it low to the deck when he's paddling. When he stands for extra casting distance or to better read the flats, he raises it to its full 2-foot height so that it's easily in reach.
Drei Stroman feels there's nothing more gratifying than catching fish on hand-tied bits of fluff and thread artfully crafted to match the natural forage. He teaches flyfishing for Cape Coral, Fla.-based Kayak-Charters.com.
Stroman's Tip List
Despite many rewards, kayaks pose several challenges to fly-anglers. The master instructor advises new kayak anglers to overcome by making a few adjustments:
-- To make up for reduced casting range when seated at water level, use your upper body to impart more energy to the rod. Extend your arm and shoulder travel, and expect to do a lot of double hauling.
-- Use a "tuck" strip. With you elbows close to the sides of your body and the rod held angled left or right as appropriate, strip the line onto the uncluttered deck between your thighs.
-- New kayak fly-casters will find floating line easier to manage. On the flats, try poppers first. The appropriate action comes easy.