I will never forget it. The sudden, impossible tightening of the line. The way the rod - once gangly and pointlessly long - was now alive in my hands. The screech of the drag on a reel I didn't fully understand - and then quiet. Everything stopped. The little tarpon cut a silent arc through the air over that mangrove canal. In that moment, everything changed.
I've been fishing as long as I can remember, but never seriously. Cane poles in farm ponds. Trips to Canada with my Dad. I enjoyed the activity but never thought of it as a part of my identity. I don't even remember what got me interested in fly rods. I had lived in the Cayman Islands, previously, directly across the road from a bonefish flat and it had never once occurred to me to give it a try. But living in Kansas City, in the dead of winter, I ordered an 8 wt. rod with tropical floating line.
I don't remember the "why", but I practiced casting in the grassy field at the park by our house, and became accustomed to thinking of fly fishing as a steady, relaxing pursuit. Then that little tarpon burnt itself into my brain.
I don't think I slept a single moment of the night that I caught that first fish on a fly rod. Digging through forums, looking at maps, not even understanding half of the vocabulary being used… I'll learn later, but for now, I need MORE.
I spent the rest of our trip wandering through the maze of mosquito control canals, casting at every splash or swirl, tangling my back-casts in the mangroves and jumping countless baby tarpon. I was hooked, if you'll forgive the awful pun.
I bought a vise the week we got home, and completely immersed myself in saltwater fly fishing culture. What started as a way to stave off the winter doldrums has become an absolute obsession.
The activity of fly fishing is, itself, wonderful and all that, but it also doesn't hurt that such incredible species are found in such beautiful places on the globe. Baby Tarpon in my beloved Cayman Islands. Fire-log-sized snook in yacht marinas in St. Maarten. Scampering between nude sunbathers to throw little crab flies at trigger fish in St. Barth. Every bit of it deepening the obsession.
AND, the product of this obsession - Duppy Fly Co. The world is vibrant and colorful and so, too, should you be. We make clothing that we want to wear. We tie flies that we want to fish. We obsess over our products the same was that we obsess over the sport we love so very much.
The most beautiful thing in the world , of course, is the world, itself. The fish are a bonus.