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Flip Pallot: A Life in Fishing

I started fishing in brackish canals near my home in south Florida and at the edge of the Everglades where my Mom would drop me off in the mornings and pick me up later in the day. The deal was that I absolutely HAD to be at the pickup spot or wouldn’t be allowed to go again.

By Nicolás Schwint and Luis San Miguel

Flip Pallot is a fishing legend; he is part of the past, present and future of fly fishing.  We grew up watching Flip’s show on TV, he is one of our idols and distant mentors. It is our pleasure to share Flip’s wisdom and life experiences with you.

FD: When did you start fishing? Could you tell us about your memories from those times?
 
Flip:
  I started fishing in brackish canals near my home in south Florida and at the edge of the Everglades where my Mom would drop me off in the mornings and pick me up later in the day. The deal was that I absolutely HAD to be at the pickup spot or wouldn’t be allowed to go again.

FD: Who was your mentor?

Flip: My mentor has always been Lefty Kreh!

FD: During your stay in Panama as a linguist for the Army: Did you have the chance to fish?
Flip:
In Panama I fished almost every day during my three years there. I worked nights so had plenty of time to fly fish for roosterfish, snook, bonefish, peacock bass and cubera snapper.

FD: When did you become a professional fly fishing guide? How?

Flip: I had a retail shop in the early 80’s and shut it down to guide. I guided the Keys, Everglades, Central Florida and the Rocky Mountains for 14 years until Hurricane Andrew destroyed my home, boats, trucks and everything else!

FD: How was your guiding experience?

Flip: I really loved guiding until the later years when it became so crowded. It was a wonderfully free life that allowed me to share the natural world with some wonderful folks. After guiding I shared again through television.

FD: When you visit a new place: Do you prefer to be guided or fish on your own?

Flip: In a new area it’s wonderful to be guided!!!!

FD: How much weight do you bear to the cast in the general equation of a complete angler?

Flip: The Cast is EVERYTHING!!!!! It’s the most important arrow in a flyfisher’s quiver and the greater the casting skills brought to the game, the greater the level of enjoyment of fly fishing.

FD: You have been travelling all over the world for many years. Which are your favorite spots? Could you tell us some of your memoirs from your trips? Any very risky situation you’ve been into?

Flip: The Florida Everglades continues to be my favorite fishing hole because of the variety of fishing situations and fish. Although most of my Everglade memories wrap themselves around fish and friends….’some conjure up recollections of being completely lost for days and thinking I would end up found in a bone pile years later.

FD: The Walkers Cay Chronicles was the most thrilling TV fishing show. You inspired people everywhere. We started applying what we saw for local species such as golden dorado and wolf fish. How did you start it? How was the experience?

Flip: The Walkers Cay Chronicles were a happy accident that brought me in contact with a bunch of talented TV producers and field technicians who taught me the ropes. TV really started for me because of good friend, and childhood idol, Stu Apte who got me involved as a camera boat operator in some of his early TV projects. Some of the people that I worked with then became collaborators with me in the Walkers project…which ran for 16 seasons. Many of those same folks have become close friends. The glow of the Walkers series has lasted for many years since the last episode and it’s been wonderful visiting with people who remember the series.

FD: What are your future projects?

Flip: I’m now filming the third year of “Ford’s Fishing Frontiers” which airs on the Outdoor Channel. I hope everyone will get a chance to tune in and that they enjoy it!!!!!!!!

FD: What is your favorite freshwater specie? Why?

Flip: I love fishing for trout in the American Rocky Mountains. I’ve fished for trout all over the world but the Rockies provides the freedom to fish thousands of locations and situations. (I must say that I really enjoyed trout in Chile).

FD: What is your favorite saltwater specie? Why?

Flip: Snook and tarpon in the Everglades would be my number one choices with bonefish in the northern Abaco, Bahamas a close second.

FD: Do you remember any fish in particular? Could be one that you loss.

Flip: I remember my first tarpon, over 100 pounds and can still see his face actually leaving the water to inhale a grizzly streamer. I was with good friend John Emery. When the fish came to the skiff I took a scale from the fish which I still have today….That was 54 years ago!!!!!

FD: Is there any fly fishing technique that you prefer over the others?

Flip: I most enjoy fly fishing against shorelines. The casting challenges are wonderful and ever changing and the expectation of a blind strike spring eternal!

FD: Which spots and species are in bucket list?

Flip: Those Cook Island bonefish look fun!

FD: Do you consider important to know fly fishing history?

Flip: Fly fishing history is the glue! I hope to be remembered as some small part of it.

FD: What would you recommend to the starting angler?

Flip: Bring fly casting skills to the game. It’s more important than the tackle or anything else. You’ll enjoy it more if you develop those skills at first…then apply them to fishing situations. Fortunately, these days, there are learning opportunities that never existed when I learned. Take full advantage of them!!!!!!!!!

FD: What is fly fishing for you? How do you feel when you fly fish? What do you feel?

Flip: For me, and I think for most, fly fishing is a form of escape. The degree of difficulty of fly fishing forces us to focus more and in the process take a break from the parts of life that mire us. That focus and freedom affords moments, hours and days of healing which are needed more and more as modern life becomes more complicated.

FD: What about fishing friends?

Flip: Fishing friends are the biggest part of why I fish! They are the people who feel the same way about friendship as it relates to fishing and life. I love fishing alone…but friends multiply the experience and are around later to share them memories!