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Join Australian fishing junkie, Jo Starling, as she retires her conventional tackle and commits to a full year of waving the long wand, in pursuit of proficiency, understanding and many a good fish.

Let me introduce “My Fly Gear Gap Year” (which I lovingly call “my Floggy”). I’ve been tossing this concept around the catacombs of my mind for some time. After years of running away from it, I’ve decided that the time is NOW and am committing to an immersion year on fly gear! Of course, I’m planning to take YOU along with me on the journey and hope that I can inspire and encourage many other fledgling fly-fishers.
Since pledging my commitment to this quest...
Since pledging my commitment to this quest, I’ve been stoked at the enormous support I’ve received from The Manic Tackle Project and Mako Polarised Eyewear. I can’t thank them enough! My Fly Gear Gap Year sponsors are Manic Tackle Project, incorporating Airflo, Simms and Lamson Liquid, as well as Mako Polarised Eyewear.
Here’s a potted history of my fly fishing until now
Here’s a potted history of my fly fishing until now, along with my ambitions for this year: I first picked up a fly rod in 2010 and, like many, did not take to casting instantly. It took me some time, observation, contemplation and frustration to get my rhythm, understanding and timing in sync enough to propel any line. I did it though, and the eventual sense of achievement was astounding. Since then, I would have to say that I have probably fished with a fly rod twice a year, on average. This sporadic approach has resulted in me notching up 18 species across salt and fresh water (which I’m incredibly proud of), but only attaining an adequate casting ability and a substandard understanding about the varied equipment I’ve been using. My life as wife and business partner of Aussie fishing icon, Steve Starling, sees me fishing many and varied locations, for equally varied species using whatever tackle and technique is necessary. I guess I can boast a surprising fishing repertoire… but fly-fishing requires more than ‘the odd dabble’ to attain proficiency and self-sufficiency. I believe that the only way I will ever be able to confidently and genuinely include it as a string in my bow is through complete immersion. Thus, I am pledging a break from traditional fishing and commit to a Fly Gear Gap Year!
It will be tough!
It will be tough! I fully expect tears and tantrums. I solemnly promise, however, to share those raw moments with you. That way, you can experience the truth of the highs, as you’ll have a genuine appreciation of the despair I’ve trudged through to achieve them 
One caveat
I had better ‘fess up about one caveat, though. As a tournament angler, I reserve the right to fish whatever tackle provides the best chance to perform for my team and my sponsors during any tournaments. That includes fly, of course.

  • Develop a strong understanding of technical fly fishing equipment
  • Build proficiency to a level of independence in all circumstances
  • Encourage more people to try fly-fishing by showing that the challenge is universal, not individual. Therefore, everyone can attain fly casting skills, with dedication and patience.
  • Provide infotainment and learning opportunities for novice fly-fishers.
  • Ultimately achieve Casting Instructor accreditation (a gauntlet thrown at my feet by Matt Tripet, upon hearing of my FLOGGY)
I will achieve proficiency through a total commitment to fly fishing only for one calendar year, regardless of where or when we fish. This will mean that all filming, magazine material gathering and fun fishing will be fly fished by me, regardless of what method Steve chooses, or what the weather is doing.
I expect that this will be a very steep learning curve, with high levels of frustration brought on by the comparison of “traditional” gear versus fly. The temptation to drop the fly rod when the going is tough— in favour of the simpler methods — will be strong. Making a commitment to the broader public is my strategy for keeping me “honest” and “on task”. As I get towards the middle of the year, I anticipate that my learning trajectory will begin to flatten out and I will be able to fine-tune my casting towards the goal of sitting the Casting Instructor’s exam in October. I’m as nervous as hell at this challenge, but thank Matt Tripet for his encouragement and belief in me. So, thank you in anticipation of your support. As you’ve made it this far through this screed, I can tell that you’re a stayer I’m grateful to have you in my corner. ~ Jo Starling

Fishotopia is home to the growing list of audio/visual material growing out of Jo’s quest for fly fishing knowledge. Here’s an entertaining taste from her interview with legendary Aussie actor, Garry McDonald, recorded during a windy moment on a recent fishing trip…

Why Fly — an interview with Garry McDonald (pt.1)

by Jo Starling | The Fly Gear Gap Year Interviews

CLICK the image above or the title of a blog below to go to the full blogsite.

Gap-titude Test

  Have you heard “The Church Of The Wandering Stream”, a song by Ben Winship and David Thompson? I’ve been singing it a lot lately. Nature is a wonderful mentor and, if there were such a church, she’d be its highest deity. This past month has been extremely uplifting...

Fighting The Wind

  In this blog, we drill down into the tin-tacks of the little tricks I picked up to help me cope with the bane of a beginner fly fishers life: The Blasted Wind! Anyone who followed My Fly Gear Gap Year from the beginning will know that this was a major challenge for...

My Floggy — A Retrospective

  Here we are in 2019! It’s officially one month past the end of My Fly Gear Gap Year and I’m well past deadline for a summary blog. So, here it is… I was very clear about my objectives and the outcomes I hoped to achieve during 2018, my nominated fly gear gap year....

Why Fly — A Chat With Garry McDonald

  Why Fly? ~ an interview with Garry McDonald Join me and legendary actor and comedian, Garry McDonald, on a the verandah of ‘The Owners Lodge’ at Currawong Private Lakes in Tasmania. The wind picked up, so it’s a great time to find out what lured Garry to fly...

Wind Me Up!

Blown Off Script In a recent “warm-up” for my Fly Gear Gap year in 2018, I was shaking my proverbial fist at the wind, whilst working away at the most astounding cluster BLEEP I've ever seen. Then, I realised my promise to share all such moments with you, in all their...

What The Hell Is A Fly Gear Gap Year?

  WELCOME TO MY FLY GEAR GAP YEAR (which I lovingly call My Floggy). I hope you will come along with me on what I'm sure will be a journey of self-discovery. I expect that through the tears, I will gain more insight than simply improved fishing skills... and I'm sure...

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