Ten percent of saltwater fly-fisherman catch ninety percent of the fish. Here's how to join this successful elite.
Starke’s reasons for writing the book were simple: he recognized from guiding beginners that saltwater fly-fishing has one of the most challenging, even intimidating, skill-sets for the beginner to learn. “In the process of trying to learn everything, many people get lost in the detail,” he writes. “People tend to learn more by understanding major concepts, themes, or what I call strategies.” His “seven strategies” of saltwater fly fishing are the focus of this book.
His first strategy is one that many fishermen overlook: Learn Continuously. He demonstrates how learning is key not only to the beginner but also the seasoned fisherman, and gives specific examples of how learning and research can enhance angling success. The next three strategies, “Become a Proficient Caster,” “Spend Time on the Water,” and “Use the Right Fly,” cover the nuts-and-bolts of saltwater fly fishing, emphasizing the key elements that the beginner needs to know, and include color plates that illustrate over fifty flies. Strategies Five and Six, “Maximize Your Presentation,” and “Hook Up and Stay Hooked,” cover many of the most important skills that catch fish. Strategy Seven, “Plan Your Fishing,” encourages planning to maximize success. “Like many things in life,” Starke writes, “in fishing you can wait and take your chances, or you can plan your future to increase your odds of success.”
WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING
“Mike Starke has spent a lifetime gathering the advice contained in this book. . . . Written by a true fly fisherman, it will benefit both the angler just getting into the sport and anyone who has spent years chasing saltwater species. I highly recommend it.”
--Lefty Kreh, from his Foreword
"Saltwater Fly Fishing - Seven Strategies for Success is a terrific approach to understanding saltwater fly fishing. Thorough and concise, Capt. Mike Starke shares his vast knowledge with his interesting "seven strategies." This is a solid foundation for the beginner and offers many new ideas for the hard to please veterans. Well done!"
--Bob Popovics, author of Pop Fleyes
“Mike Starke's Saltwater Fly Fishing is an unusually well organized to guide an angler through all phases of saltwater fly-fishing. His clear writing and the nuts-and-bolts information will surely help the vast majority of anglers who fish a whole lot more than they catch.”
--Dave Ritchie, Editor, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters
“Saltwater Fly Fishing provides veterans and first-timers with fish-tested techniques and strategies to catch fish on fly tackle. It is sure to become a classic reference for salty flyrodders.”
--Pete Barrett, Editor, The Fisherman
REVIEWS- Steve Raymond… Fly Fishing in Salt Waters
Considering the popularity of self-help books in recent years, it was probably inevitable that somebody would finally apply the self-help formula to fly-fishing. You know the formula we mean; Seven Steps to a Better Sex Life, Seven Ways to Beat the Stock Market, or whatever. So now we have Seven Strategies for Success in saltwater fly-fishing. (Ever wonder why the number is always seven, not three or five or something else? Answer; Seven is about the minimum number of chapters needed to make a full-length book).
But just because this book follows a familiar formula it doesn’t mean you should dismiss it lightly. Mike Starke, an Atlantic Coast fly-fishing guide, has done a good job of pulling together things saltwater fly-fishers need to know. As he says in the introduction; “The book not only covers the ‘how-to’s’ of the core strategies such as becoming a proficient caster, spending time on the water, using the right fly, maximizing your presentation, and hooking up and staying hooked, but it also explains and provides examples of ‘why’ these strategies are so important to different fishing situations.”
Some example “strategies”:
•“ Choose a special time of day to spend time learning about saltwater fly-fishing, even if it’s just five or 10 minutes during lunch or in the evening.” Learn from magazines, books, videos, the Internet and other anglers. Join a fly-fishing club, adopt a mentor, hire guides.
•“Spend time on the Water.” (This strategy I like.) Learn where, how and when to fish. Keep a detailed diary.
Starke weaves in plenty of fishing anecdotes to help make his case. He writes clearly but occasionally throws in a few surplus words and split infinitives at no extra charge. Photos and line drawings augment the text.
As with all self-help books, much of what Starke says is common sense. The advantage with his book is that everything is well-organized and cogently presented. Follow Starke’s advice, and you can hardly fail to improve your angling success ght Fly.” (Now why didn’t I think of that?) From the maze of simulators, imitators, attractors, experimental patterns and customized flies, select a “vital few” for your own use
REVIEWS- Art Scheck… Saltwater Fly Fishing
We all know the cliché; 10 Percent of the anglers catch 90 of the fish. And we all know that it’s true-unless it’s an understatement. That painful statistic allows publishers of angling books to produce an endless parade of new titles aimed at helping those of us who belong to the 90 percent. One of the latest is by Capt. Mike Starke, a New Jersey fly-fishing guide. Starke’s book, however, is more than just another saltwater fishing primer. It deals with the topics you’d expect it to-knots, flies, casting, fish-fighting techniques-but it also contains hundreds of tips, observations, and instructions from a professional guide. Some of Starke’s chapter headings-“Spend Time on the Water,” “Use the Right Fly,” “Become a Proficient Caster”-might seem to belabor the obvious, but the detailed and specific advice in each chapter is subtle stuff. Saltwater Fly Fishing: Seven Strategies for Success is a useful and easily used book, and it might let you join the 10-percent club a few years sooner.
REVIEWS- Tom Keer… Fly Fisherman
Mike Starke’s Saltwater Fly Fishing offers beginners a thoughtful approach to fly fishing in saltwater.
For a living, Starke helps companies become more efficient and is a charter fly-fishing guide. He has written a book that combines those two careers, and his format groups seven principles for success.
Starke weaves anecdotes, photos, and line drawings to describe the main points that are detailed in an outline format throughout the chapter as well as at the end. The writing is colloquial and most of Rick Bender’s line drawings are clean. The Mentzer’s, a husband-and-wife team that operate a fly-fishing school and frequently fish with Starke, also contributed some excellent photographs.
The book’s focus is based on the old saying that “10 percent of fisherman catch 90 percent of the fish.” Strategies Three through six attempt to document this statement but they fall short by not shedding
significant insight into the reasons that make this premise true. Successful charter captains earn their reputations by knowing what to do to catch fish in all situations.
Starke uses words like “generally” or “usually” much too frequently to offer a reader the meat of what makes the 10 percent successful. For example, he states that diving birds generally reveal fish and that gulls usually favor larger bait and terns usually target smaller bait. That is sometimes true but it doesn’t cover the topic fully, and a more detailed description of what species of birds are present in the ocean would add substance to why 10 percent of fisherman catch 90 percent of the fish. Birds such as shearwaters, petrels, gannets, herring gulls, cormorants, and kittiwakes and the kind of baits they feed on should have been included for what they can mean to an angler encountering them.
These details, and more details in general, would help the readers become better fisherman. Starke doesn’t provide the 90 percent majority with the keys to unlock the door to the 10 percent club.
Good savvy elevates a fisherman’s level of play. Starke changes his opinions on some critical issues that are the cornerstones of his book. On page 82 he states that fishing is most important and catching is an added benefit. On page 132 he says fishing is OK but catching is most important. These are two different approaches to fishing and are critical to the book’s success.
If fishing is most important then the angler will learn and observe nature, fish, and bait. Savvy fishing begets catching, and if a captain knuckles under the pressure of catching, then the cart is in front of the horse. Hence, Starke sometimes chums for albies and fly fishes in 20-to-25 foot depths where the angler must allow the fly to sink for 30 seconds. This shows a captain succumbing to fish-catching pressure.
Undoubtedly these tactics work at times, but they beg the question “is this fly fishing?” If Starke decides they are, then he should have explained his techniques and methods with the type of precision that would place him in the 10 percent club.
In short, Saltwater Fly Fishing is a book of organized tips for those who want to get the feel of fishing in the ocean, but intermediate to advanced anglers will be disappointed in the lack of established principals that will improve their fishing first and their results second.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Starke has been fly fishing for over 30 years and is a frequent contributor to Fly Fishing in Salt Waters Magazine. He is an FFF-Certified Fly Casting Instructor, a USCG Licensed Captain, and owner and operator of Fly-A-Way Guide Service. Over the past twenty years, Mike has fished throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida and the entire mid-Atlantic coast and Chesapeake Bay.
As a professional industry educator and lecturer, Mike frequently utilizes his skills in conducting fly-fishing workshops and casting clinics for novices and experienced anglers alike. Mike lives in Allentown, New Jersey with his wife and two children.