When developing their new saltwater rod the SALT R8, Sage sent their senior rod designers to the birthplace of the discipline in South Florida. During their lengthy saltwater immersion, they listened carefully to the shops, guides, scientists, stories, and legends to truly understand what was happening on the water and what was really required to shape and hone a more perfect tool for saltwater sight fishing.
We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes with Captain Michael Guerin, an OG down in the keys. We hope our time talking to Mike gives you some background as to why he picked up the SALT R8 on the flats.
Flylords: Tell us about yourself… Who are you?
Capt Mike Guerin: I am a husband, father, and grandfather first and foremost. Professionally, I have been a fishing guide for the past 35 years in the Florida Keys. I have also been fortunate to guide steelhead in Alaska and trout in Montana. My passion really comes down to discovering; places, ideas, people, books, flies, etc. Guiding has allowed me to enlighten the way people think about fish, fishing, and the outdoors. I’m a lucky guy.
Flylords: Why do you think people are so crazy about permit fishing?
Mike: The difficulty of fly fishing the flats tends to divide people into those willing to work toward success and those who try it, struggle, and walk away. Permit being so difficult divides up anglers even further. Those who have the tenacity to play the permit game become obsessed in large part because it is a game they can never master.
You win permit battles you do not win the war. After all these years chasing permit I still think, “oh my God he ate it” each time the line comes tight. Unlike tarpon, bonefish, redfish, or snook I’ve never heard someone say, “that’s ok” if the fly falls out or the line breaks. You hook a permit you want to touch that creature and keep it close if only for a minute. Those willing to take a minute, relax and look around will see they also feed in a wonderful transition world between deep and shallow. The currents will be pushing, the bottoms full of life and the colors brilliant. It is my happy place.
Flylords: Why are you picking up the SALT R8 when you’re targeting Permit?
Mike: Being a little older, a bit more skeptical, and maybe a little crusty, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the new young rod design team at Sage. Spending the time, on land and water and listening intently to the guides and anglers in the Keys has paid off. The Salt R8 rods are just superb. They have a smoothness and ease which feels wonderful in hand which will be appreciated by casters of all levels. However, as I harped to Peter Knox initially, all that sweetness needs to be backed up when the wind is blowing 20, your knees are shaking and a guide is yelling(adamantly telling) you to get the bug in the fish’s face! This mandatory need to deliver the goods when the excitement is ramped up is a tricky place for a rod maker. You certainly want the rod to feel great at the shop casting pond but it just can’t end there. Conversely building a stick that only 5% of casters can manage on the water is no answer either. The Salt R8 just delivers the goods whether short or long and will allow a wider range of casters to do it.
Flylords: Would you rather be on the polling platform or the bow?
Mike: I love poling a flats boat. I love the hunt and I love the bite. Quite honestly the best place to do these things is on the back of the boat. There probably aren’t a lot of veteran guides who would rather be on the bow. Those guides that wanted up there left the guiding business, made money and are now on the bow! I certainly get excited if I know I’ll be fishing the next day with somebody that’s a pro on the pushpole–in fact, I won’t get much sleep!
Thank you Mike for taking the time to sit down with us to answer a few questions. If you are going on a flats trip soon, you can check out the Sage SALT R8 HERE or at your Local Sage Dealer.
Behind the Scenes: The Ghost of the Flats | SALT R8 Applications