Interview with Derek Rust

Derek Rust is a guy I’ve actually fished with, which isn’t a common theme in terms of interviews I’ve done.  Derek and I fished for surf perch and were largely unsuccessful in doing so.  Derek is pretty big in social media, which is how I got to know him in the first place.  He picked up and moved from the mountains of Northern CA to the flats of Southern Florida.  It is a move I think many of us have at least toyed with in some fantasy world.  Derek actually did it.  That got me thinking that he might make a pretty interesting interview.

You moved from Tahoe to the flats of Florida… a big move. What was the pull?

The pull….Permit,Tarpon and Bonefish!  It was an easy decision.  I was lucky enough to get an opportunity of a lifetime to work in the Keys as a guide, and since I was spending all of my free time and $ to go to the Keys to fish, it was a no brainer.  I love Tahoe, but guiding there was part time at best.  Florida offered a year round job on the water, and the opportunity to fish all I want on my days off 🙂

Nice bonefish there Derek

I think a lot of folks have part of them with a bit of a dream to go be a flats guide. What is one of the highlights and lowlights from your journey?

I guess some of the highlights so far would be catching my first Permit and first double digit Bone on fly, guiding people into the fish of a lifetime, meeting new people, exploring new water all over Southern Florida, and getting to fish just about every day!  I am lucky to say that the highlights are still coming.  The lowlights…..hmm.  I guess the biggest one was leaving Tahoe itself and all of the incredible people I spent so much time with.  I miss the guys I use to guide with out there, and I also miss the beautiful Northern Sierras, the pristine water, the evening Caddis hatches and Steelhead, and summer time sight fishing for Carp.

I’ve heard a lot about how rough the guide culture in Florida can be. What’s your experience with that?

The guide culture in FL….wow.  That is a tough one.  It can be extremely rough down here fitting in.  I am the new guy in a place that is full of guides.  Newcomers are not always welcome.  I have taken a few licks from some of the older salty Captains down here,but, it is all part of being accepted.  I never knew that fishing had so much politics! Tarpon season is the worst.  Learning what is acceptable, and what is not takes a bit of time.  But, it seems like courtesy will get you a long way down here.

Poonage... nice.

Favorite rod and reel?

My favorite rod and reel down here would have to go to my Scott S4S 9 wt with a Galvan Torque T-10 on it.  It is a versatile rod and can get the job done.

Have you hopped over to the Bahamas? Some cheap flights that way.

I can sadly say that I have not made it to the Bahamas yet.  Hopefully I can get over there really soon.  BUt, you know how it is, too many fish to chase, too little time and $ to do it.

What advice would you give to an angler heading to Florida for the first time?

My best advice I can give to someone heading down here for the first time is practice your casting.  Accuracy is key on the flats. A guy who can cast 100 feet of line and is wild as hell will not do as good as a guy who can only cast 50 feet and can put it on a dinner plate almost all of the time.  It is almost always windy down here, so you MUST learn to cast into the wind.  It can make or break a day on the water.  Learn to cast straight into the wind, with the wind over each of your shoulders, with it at your back and from left to right. If you can do this it will greatly improve your odds of hooking up.   Another thing to practice is shooting line.  Minimalizing false casts is crucial.  The water is clear down here, and waving a fly line around 25 times to deliver is cast of 40 feet is no good and will scare the hell out of these fish.    Learn to shoot line on your backcast as well as your forward cast will give you better shots and getting a spooky fish to eat a fly.  And lastly, I would highly recommend learning how to backcast, and, learning how to do it with accuracy.  Not every shot down here is head on, and these fish can appear out of nowhere sometimes making turning the boat impossible.  You will get more shots if you can backcast because frequently you just don’t have time to adjust the skiff for a perfect shot every time.

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  1. Nice Bonefish Derek! I hooked my first two there and broke off both, but as a guide in Honolulu over 8 years now, I have landed hundreds. I did land my first Florida tarpon on fly, about a 100 pounder, and caught many other great species there on fly. You have a great spot to live in and fish!

  2. Short accurate casts, dealing with wind, making back casts…all solid advice I should take to heart more often

  3. bonefishbjorn

    It has come up more than once…

  4. Nice work Rusty, glad to hear you’re doing well down there. Sounds like like you’re learning the game and hopefully I’ll see you sooner than later from the bow of your boat.
    I make sure not to mention the hatches from the past week, or the toads coming out of LPC this year…or the…
    Talk to ya soon buddy.


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