jon cave

There is no disadvantage to becoming the best caster you possibly can.

Jon is a Sage and RIO Ambassador who has an M.S. Degree in Natural Resources with special concentration in fisheries and water resources. In addition, he is a member of the Renzetti Legend Fly Tyers. He spent over 25 years as a fly-fishing guide and is the founder/owner of the longest established fly-fishing school in the South. His articles, casting tips, columns, and photos have been featured in many fly-fishing publications. He is the author of "Performance Fly-Casting" and "Flyfishing Odyssey, The Pursuit of Great Gamefish". He has also contributed to several anthologies including "Gray Ghosts and Lefty’s Deceivers, Fly-Fishing Wisdom from the Masters", and "Feather Brain". The results of his research on hooking mortalities have been published in several prestigious journals including Progressive Fish Culturist, Journal of Freshwater Ecology, and the textbook Centrarchid Fishes. He created the popular Rattler Fly Pattern and his ground-breaking Wobbler Spoon-Fly is exhibited in the American Museum of Fly-Fishing as the forerunner of all spoon-flies. Jon is only one of a handful of individuals to be honored with the prestigious FFI Silver King Award for his contributions to saltwater fly-fishing. He currently serves on the advisory council for the ASMFC and has served on the FFI Casting Board of Governors.

home town

The Black Hammock near Oviedo, FL

HOME WATERS

Saltwater Flats: Mosquito Lagoon and The Greater Indian River Lagoon System. Freshwater: St. Johns River. Off-/Near-Shore Atlantic.

local fly shops

White’s Tackle, Vero Beach, FL and Black Fly Outfitter, Jacksonville, FL

target SPECIES

Lagoon System – redfish, spotted seatrout, tarpon, snook, pompano, black drum. St. Johns River – Florida largemouth bass, bream, specks, sunshine bass, American shad (in season). Off-/In-Shore Atlantic for various pelagics.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Author of 2 books - Performance Fly-Casting and Flyfishing Odyssey, the Pursuit of Great Gamefish; recipient of prestigious IFFF Silver King Award; have had the opportunity to flyfish extensively throughout the world for a wide variety of fresh- and salt-water gamefish; association with Sage, RIO, Renzetti Vise, and other outstanding fly-related companies.

PHILOSOPHY ON FLY FISHING

I’m pretty traditional in my approach to fly-fishing – that’s part of what drew me to the sport. I love immersing myself unobtrusively in natural surroundings and testing my skills against a fish’s instincts and the forces of nature. It’s the polar opposite of the annoying in-your-face hip-hop style that seems to have become increasingly in vogue.

PERFECT DAY

Any day spent casting flies to favorite gamefish is the “perfect” one.

PERFECT SETUP FOR LOCAL SALTWATER FLATS

Rod – The light-weight, fast-action Sage SALT HD 8-weight rod is ideal for delivering small to moderately-sized flies on the flats. It is capable of throwing extremely tight loops and a delight to cast even when the wind is blowing hard. There is also plenty of lifting power to fight big fish, yet the rod can deliver a quiet presentation to tailing fish without spooking them – even in calm water. It’s simply unequaled for fly-fishing saltwater shallows.

Line – I absolutely love the RIO Flats Pro Line and it is an optimal match for the SALT HD 8-weight regardless of whether the cast needs to be a long or short one. The line can deliver relatively large flies with ease and a minimum of false-casting regardless of whether conditions are windy or calm; yet, it dissipates the energy sufficiently for very quiet presentations to spooky fish. It also floats higher than any other saltwater line I’ve ever used – an extremely important feature when wading or in situations where a quiet pick-up is essential. In addition, it is resistant to coiling up like a Slinky Toy as some lines from other manufacturers are prone to do. The line is always my first choice on the flats.

Reel – The light-weight Sage SPECTRUM MAX 7/8 reel is the perfect compliment to the SALT HD rod and Flats Pro Line. With precision machining and an ultra-smooth sealed drag, the reel never misses a beat when fighting fast and powerful marine gamefish.

PERFECT SETUP FOR FLORIDA LARGEMOUTH BASS ON THE ST. JOHNS RIVER

Rod – The St. Johns is a highly unique in comparison to almost all other largemouth bass fisheries. Long casts and speedy presentations are common. That’s why the Sage Method 9’ 7-weight rod is my go-to rod for the river. It’s fast action helps reduce false casting when bass are attacking fast moving pods of bait and the rod’s inherent power lets me make really long casts with poppers and Clouser minnows to opposite banks and distant sandbars without scaring fish by approaching them too closely on foot or by boat. That same power allows me to stop a fish making a run for deadfalls, thick vegetation, and other structure. Furthermore, the METHOD 7-weight can easily handle the wind that seems to be pervasive on the flat and wide St. Johns flood plain.

Line – RIO’s Flats Pro Line also happens to be a fantastic line for largemouth bass. It loads the rod quickly for speedy presentations and the relatively short taper delivers poppers and weighted flies with ease – even in a stiff wind. Unlike saltwater lines from other manufacturers, the Flats Pro floats high even in freshwater environs. Bass tapers are fine, but for my money the Flats Pro is a perfect match for the 7-weight METHOD and the best choice for largemouth in the river and its tributaries.

Reel – The reel doesn’t play a significant role in successful bass fishing. Nevertheless, I appreciate light-weight, beautifully machined reels with smooth drags and go with either a Sage SPECTRUM MAX 6/7 or a Tibor Backcountry to complete the ideal bass fishing outfit.

PERFECT SETUP FOR NEAR- AND OFF-SHORE ATLANTIC WATERS

Rod – Since there is the possibility of encountering any number of different fish species, large and small, during a day’s fishing in the Atlantic, there is no one ideal set-up. Generally speaking, I like to have 8-, 9-, and 10-weight rods on every trip and quite often there’s also a 12-weight version on hand as well. Regardless of the line-weight, my first choice is always one of the SALT HD series rods because they have the kind of extraordinary lifting power required to move big fish and they make casting a “breeze” (pun intended) in the seemingly ever-present wind.

Lines – On every trip, I always include several RIO lines of various densities so that I can fish at different depths... regardless of whether fish are on the surface or hanging around a submerged wreck.

Reels – I rely one of the various models of the SPECTRUM MAX series reel for most situations and will sometimes go to a Tibor Gulfstream for the largest pelagics in my area.

conservation work

Current – Advisory Council for the ASMFC. Past – Board of Directors for the FCA; Conservation Director for FFI; Saltwater Director for FFI.

philosophy on fly fishing

I’m pretty traditional in my approach to fly-fishing – that’s part of what drew me to the sport. I love immersing myself unobtrusively in natural surroundings and testing my skills against a fish’s instincts and the forces of nature. It’s the polar opposite of the annoying in-your-face hip-hop style that seems to have become increasingly in vogue.

One Tip to Improve One’s Fishing

Developing an efficient casting technique is key to deriving maximum enjoyment, and ultimately success, from flyfishing.