Welcome to The Bonefish Flat

There's a stiff wind in your face as you squint in the sun trying to see what the guide sees. "Bonefish at 12 o'clock about 90 feet, do you see it, mon?" You don't and keep squinting, your hat pulled low to keep the sun out of your eyes. "Bonefish at 11 o'clock 70 feet out. Come on man, do you see it?" As the guide is calmly shifting the skiff into position, this time you spot the fish, "I got, it," you reply.

"OK, Mon, Bonefish 50 feet at 10 o'clock. Cast when you're ready."

Cast when you're ready. And with that you drop your fly, roll out a cast, false cast once, and then...

Welcome to the bonefish flat.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tom Bie is The Drake: Interview with Tom Bie

The Drake is just getting started.- Tom Bie

During writer’s week at Long Island Bonefishing Club, I had the chance to spend some time with The Drake editor Tom Bie and he was kind enough to sit down and do an interview with me. 

In my opinion, The Drake is hand’s down the best fly fishing magazine available today.  If you have been fly fishing for any length of time, your magazine interests will eventually graduate to The Drake.  A lot of magazines focus on the how to.  The Drake assumes you're comfortable with a double haul or a slack line cast and instead of telling you where to go fish or how to fish, it focuses on good writing and top notch storytelling. 

Me and Tom Bie in Long Island, Bahamas

There's a lot to admire about Tom.  It becomes clear quickly that the guy loves to fish.  His passion for fly fishing is truly genuine.  I had a great time talking to him about fly fishing in general and about some of the places he’s travelled to and some of the things he’s done.  Tom has earned his stripes in the fly fishing world.  He started out as a fly fishing guide, began writing in smaller publications, and eventually started The Drake and built it into what we all love today.  The next issue has been finished and I was psyched to get a sneak preview. 

Tom is really in-tune with the fly fishing “world” and one thing I learned from him is how truly small that world is. For example, did you know that Tom officiated the wedding of Travis Rummel (of Felt Sole Media fame) and his wife Melissa at R.A. Beattie’s ranch?  Without going into too many details, he's was very candid with me about the ups and downs of the fly fishing business.  The whole conversation was a fascinating learning experience for me.   

The last few interviews on the Bonefish Flat have allowed me to talk to some people I really admire.  Tom Bie was no exception and this interview did not disappoint. 

When you started The Drake, did you envision it as mainly focused on trout fishing or more of an all inclusive fly fishing magazine (meaning saltwater, too)? 

I didn’t envision it lasting this long.  I really didn’t have a five year plan.  I looked at it as a local publication to start with.  I do think we do a good job of covering saltwater fly fishing.  Maybe 60-40?

What’s your favorite saltwater destination?  Where are you headed next?

Ascension Bay.  I like the variety of species available.  The quality of the guides and the ease of access make it a great destination.  After I leave here I’m headed up to Grand Bahamas for more bonefishing.

Who are some of the people you look up to in the fly fishing world?

David James Duncan. Tom McGuane. The Felt Sole Guys.

Who are your favorite writers?

David James Duncan, Monte Burke, McGuane, Ted Leeson, John Larison, Kirk Deeter.

I know you are heavily involved in the F3T Festival.  What are some of your favorite films?

The Felt Sole guys are putting out amazing stuff.  I also think that the guys from AEG had more talent than people gave them credit for.  Dave Teper for his creative and technical knowledge.  R.A. Beattie has really been a pioneer at the age of 23-24.  I would also say Dave Teper and Will Benson, both together and separately are doing some great stuff. 

Who are the up and coming guys in the world of saltwater fly fishing?  Both writers and fisherman. 

There are a lot of guys in Florida to look out for.  Will Benson, Drew Delashmitt, and David Mangum.  In Louisiana look out for Bryan Carter.  I’d also say Seth Vernon in North Carolina is doing some really cool stuff. 

Are all good writers big boozers?

With a sly grin on his face, he thought about this one for a minute.

I would say no, but there is an obvious connection.

What will The Drake look like in 10 years?

We are going to be more active digitally.  I like print, but for me it’s all about the quality of the writing.  If you think about it, Twitter didn’t even exist five years ago so things are changing fast.  I’d like to think that The Drake is just getting started. 

Do you read a lot of books and magazines outside of fly fishing?

I read the other magazines to check out the competition, but I mostly read things outside of the fly fishing world.  I go to bed every night reading the New Yorker.  I think pound for pound they have some of the most in depth and well written pieces out there.  For business news I read Fast Company.  I read Wired because I like their take on technology. 

You’re fishing Long Island for bonefish and the wind is blowing 30 mph all week.  Would you pick up a spinning rod?


A big thank you to Tom for his willingness to sit down with me.  Hopefully our path’s will cross again someday and we can fish together again.  


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