Basic tips and equipment for turkey hunting on the fly


Have you ever heard the song “You Make Me Wanna Die” by The Shivas? You’ll want to activate that track after your first day chasing the turkey on the beach. They will humble you and take your passion and love for fly fishing to the next level. It was all downhill from the moment I saw a rooster’s comb come out of the water and explode a pile of bait. This fish is aggressive, intelligent, fast and does what it wants when it wants. He tells you he’s the boss and you’re never in control.

Chasing these fish from the beach is the pinnacle of our sport. You will be running and exerting a lot of energy just to have the chance to throw these fish; if that fish decides to hold back… well, you just had a spectacular day. Don’t be too hard on yourself, just enjoy the hunt. My goal is to give you some tips and tricks that will help you have a better experience on your hunt.

Chasing Rooster in Boat vs. Beach:

Turkeyfish can be found from Baja Mexico to Costa Rica. There are many ways to pursue these fish. You can approach them from land or boat, but the most rewarding and challenging way is from the sand. You will be able to find a variety of guides to pick you up from a boat, if you choose this route do your best to avoid crowding these fish. This practice has greatly affected some of the fisheries in the depletion of sardine and the behavior of the fish. Baiting with a spinning rod is a much more consistent and realistic way to chase a turkey from a boat.

Fly fishing equipment for turkey:

Ross Reels Evolution R Salt is working.

Recommended rods and reels:

Let’s take a look at our equipment. To start you will want to equip yourself with a 10 to 12 wt rod. I like to use a 12wt. I use a TFO Axiom 2X in both 12wt and a 10wt. I find that anything easier than these methods is very underpowered if you hook a bigger fish. For reels I prefer Ross Reels Evolution R Salt 11/12, this reel is fully enclosed and can hold the power that Roosterfish has.

Recommended flight route:

The line of flight is the next important thing to evaluate in this hunt. I have found the Airflo fly line to be my personal favorite, whether or not we are talking fresh or salt water. The biggest advantage of these lines is that they manufacture their fly lines with polyurethane instead of PVC. This allows the line to stretch more and I will usually have this line for many years before it wears out. They do not crack or break like PVC lines.

With that said you have a few different options, I have found to be effective. Most people like to use an intermediate sink line, the Airflo Sniper 4 Season Line is a perfect intermediate sink line that offers a bigger fly with ease. Airflo will also produce intermediate versions of the Superflo Ridge 2.0. The lines. The surf can be rough to cast and you want your baitfish pattern to sink about 4 inches below the surface fairly quickly as the fish usually move quickly.

After discussing it with Jeffery Feczko and fishing it, I found the Airflo Depthfinder Big Game to be my favorite line on the beach and in the boat. It hits the wind and lets you shoot faster in big surf. Not only that, but there is no delay in sinking the fly once it hits the surface, you can immediately start your two-handed retrieve. With intermediate lines I find it makes quick shots with light flies, they often end up splashing towards the surface. I like the sinking line on a 300G and a 400G on my 12wt.

Shop the Airflo Great Depth line here.

How to shoot turkey from the beach:

The approach to these fish on land is very methodical. It has purpose and must be executed properly to get this fish to look at your fly. Jeff will often talk about how Roosterfish chase they don’t move too erratically until they have cut the bait. As such, you will mostly see these fish coming from deep water out of range with a fly rod. This is where you have to react, as soon as you see the fish move from the depths and come in, you have to start running with it, not with it. Try to position yourself in front of the direction in which you are moving. Sometimes they won’t come all the way, but at least you’re ready if they do. As the fish comes in and you’re running with it, once it’s within a fly’s range you need to pass it by 20-50 yards and make a 45 degree angle cast. When they approach, they often move right to left and left to right.

Once your fly has hit the water in front of them, you can start casting with two hands. This drag is often vital as it keeps the speed of the fly as consistent as the bait they are chasing; you don’t want to miss a strip! I’ve found that starting your comeback at a good pace is key, once they see it and want it – hurry! They will come at a 45 degree angle which gives them plenty of water to chase it, casting at a 90 degree angle towards them rarely works. Typically, once this fish is interested, it will speed towards your fly, once they want it, that comb will come out of the water. Your heart will be pumping, your blood will be boiling, you will be sweating and out of breath from running. If you get to this point, that’s what it’s all about. Even if you get that reaction, be pleased with yourself that you did your part. The fish must do their thing.

This is not an easy game by any means, as an angler being physically capable of running long distances and often casting the backhand up to 40 feet into the wind are regular variables for hunting. I wouldn’t suggest this is for everyone, if you prefer to fish from a boat, this option is available, it will have its challenges, but you won’t be sprinting and maxing out. The challenges of this game are unmatched. This fish is one of the most viciously violent creatures in the ocean and hooking one will just raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

If you choose to participate in this hunt, please feel free to reach out with questions, you can email me at southernrootsotf@gmail.com or message me on social media (@fish_a_day). If you’re looking for a guide, do yourself a favor and contact Jeffrey Feczko (@tothegills) if you want the best.

Additional photos by Zento Slinger (@zentosahn)

Costa behind the guides: Jeff Feczko

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