Tuesday, April 12, 2016


I had a different idea for today's postings but when you wake up at 4:30 a.m. and there is an email from Chico Fernandez in your inbox with photos of him holding onto a large tarpon with one hand and a rebuilt Fenwick in his other, well that trumps anything else I might have thought of putting up today.

Hopefully you get as much of a kick out of his email and photographs as I did.

Chico wrote...
"Hi Cameron, 

As you know, I started fly fishing in Cuba, with bamboo, rods, mainly an Orvis Battenkill 9 1/2 foot for a GFA line, like an 8 weight these day.  Then around 1962 or so, when Jimmy Green invented the internal ferule, I moved to glass.  Caught many big fish, including a tarpon with Flip Pallot close to 170 on a Fenwick FF116. 

Anyway, I just can’t forget glass, its feel, how effective they can be on short and mid cast, and how far they can cast given a longer stroke.  So, recently I got a hold of a Fenwick rod FF106 I think, a ten weight, 8 feet 10 inches, and had my friend David also rebuild it to my specs, using the lightest guides, the smallest wraps, smallest tip top possible and so on. 

Then I went out of upper Key Largo to fish the big outside tarpon that come every Spring.  I was using a Nautilus ten-eleven, a Cortland Liquid Crystal ten weight line and eleven foot leader with a chartreuse Toad.  We found a school of about 20 tarpon, with 15 mph wind, I made about a 75 foot cast that place the fly in the school itself.  But with the clear line, long leader and stiff wind it did not spook them, after the third attempt, one of them crash the fly on the surface.  The fight last under 45 minutes, a bull shark tried to eat is but we ran the boat over him and he ran away.  The fight ended in the shallow end of the flat, against the mangrove shoreline - I think the tarpon still wanted to stay away from the share, don’t blame him.  He swam away happily. 

All the best, 


Without a doubt, Chico Fernandez is one of the coolest fellows within the fly fishing industry and the little bit of time I've spent with him has been full of stories and laughter.

P.S.  Thanks Kristen Mustad of Nautilus Reels for making this post happen.


Dan Mitchell said...

Great story, but never mind the Fenwick for a moment.., tarpon on a bamboo stick? What a stud!

Nooksack Mac said...

Fiberglass, not bamboo, but still a major feat. When Fenwick became one of the first major graphite rod makers, I built a 9 foot ten-weight on a Fenwick HMG blank, and used it as my winter steelhead rod for many years. Chico's rod probably shares a lot of DNA with mine.