Author: Will Rice
This Week's Gear Head: Michael Gracie
Age: Unknown (we have yet to document his long-form birth certificate)
Born and raised: Florida
Q: Are you in anyway related to Telly Savalas?
A: My Auntie did live down the street from Mr. Savalas in Ft. Lauderdale back in the 1980's... that part of the story is true.
Q: You just returned back from South Andros Island, any highlights you want to share?
A:This year’s trip to South Andros was the best ever. We saw that tropical storm that hit Jacksonville, FL forming right over our heads all week, and I finally had a bona fide excuse for spooking every bonefish on the island. Despite being wet, we still caught a lot of fish (and a wide variety of them too).
The week included the Inaugural Chickcharney Invitational tournament, where the winning boat isthe one that catches the most different fish species. Lodge owner Andrew Bennett and I bagged seven, including a yard+ long barracuda, but got beat out by a two-inch pilchard.
Meanwhile, we also ran up on a couple of big permit, but I blew the shot.
Permit…that’s the fish Andros visitors should be thinking about going forward. The guides at Deneki’s Andros South have a growing understanding about how and where to find them, and I think the island, with its slim fishing pressure, could be a really heaven for permit anglers.
Q: It sounds like you had some rain and tough weather - how'd you manage to get it done?
A: When you are doing the fly-fishing travel thing, you have to learn how to improvise and adapt. For me, improvisation means drinking heavily each night, then garnering maximum (non-REM) sleep by waiting until the lodge manager is knocking on my door in the morning before getting up. Having blurred vision actually helps your fishing, particularly when facing heavy rains and wind. Your head sloshes around just like the water you are fishing. Adaption at its finest.
Q: You are a self confessed rod and reel geek. Tell me about your approach to evaluating hardware - what matters and what doesn't matter?
A: Rods and reel choices are 100% personal preference – both in terms of the angler’s fishing preferences (species, wade v. float, etc.) as well as their own personality (easy going, competitive, downright aggressive). Some people like fast rods while others adore fiberglass; some feel like they need a different rod for each situation, and some go the one-size-fits all approach. I’ve had a lot of time play with a ton of gear, figuring out what I like based on my own personal preferences, and I like to convey that to the purchaser as well – what suits me may not suit someone else, and visa versa.
For most trout fishing I go for medium to medium fast action rods, because when I am in the mountains generally like to tone it down a bit. I fish all Scott products, so for me that means the G2 series. The G2 884/4 is my go-to trout stick. I pick up the G2 905/4 when I know I might have to contend with a little more wind. I also plan on focusing on smaller water this summer, so I just picked up a 772/4 (2-weight).
When chasing carp or bass, or when in the salt, I go for faster rods, particularly those with stout butt sections for fighting fish. My aggressive nature comes out, and I like to bulldog the prey. Scott S4Ss are the stick of choice here, and I own a pile of them in different sizes. But my fave is the S4S 906/4 – I’ve caught carp, bass, walleye, bonefish and…trout…with that rod.
Because Scott rods tend to be a little lighter than average, I rig them with primarily Lamson Litespeeds, of course going up in size to match the rod. I like those reels because they have very few parts, and balance out the rods. On that note…I think it is very important for anglers to understand how a new reel will feel on their fly rod, and I often suggest people bring their rod in when choosing one.
And there you have it...