Fly Fishing Legends

fly fishing legends

Joe Brooks and Stue Apte are shown here with Joe’s then record 148.5-pound tarpon caught on a fly rod with a 12 pound tippet in 1961.

A few days ago I ran across an old picture in a magazine that I had saved that brought back a lot of memories about Joe Brooks.  Several decades ago he was widely considered the world’s best fly fisherman.

He was a close friend that I never had the chace to meet –- I knew him through his books and magazine articles.  To say he was simply an innovator would be an understatement. Through four decades (1940s-70s), he was recognized as the world's best with a fly rod as he pioneered this form of angling in salt water. He was the first person to take a bonefish on a fly . . . the first to land a permit on a fly . . . the first to take stripers in Virginia on flies.
He caught some 73 different species of saltwater fish on a fly rod.

Brooks was an expert, and had some 20 world records to prove it. One of his more spectacular catches (pictured at left) was a 148-pound tarpon, at the time (1961) the largest ever taken on a fly rod.


Pictured with Joe is Stu Apte, another fly fishing legend.  He was catching sailfish on a fly rod in the 1960’s including a 136-pound Pacific sail using 12-pound tippet. He was a Pan Am pilot and had the opportunity to travel to many great fishing countries.  As such, he had the unique opportunity to fish distant waters for a long list of game fish.  Apte ultimately became a legendary Florida Keys' guide. He holds over forty saltwater light tackle and fly rod world records.