Drew Chicone (@drchicone) is a well-known saltwater fly tier, F.F.F. Certified Casting Instructor, and author of numerous books on fly tying, including his first publication in 2013, “Feather Brain.” Not only has Drew personally contributed articles to dozens of fishing-related magazines, but he has also been featured in numerous media outlets, including the Tom Rowland podcast, Fly Fish Journal, Fly Fisherman, The Drake, and Fly Fishing in Saltwater Magazine. In fact, he’s one of the very few anglers we know with their own Wikipedia page!
Drew is an ambassador and contributing writer for Patagonia and serves as an ambassador for several other outdoor brands such as Traeger Grills, BOTE, Keep Fish Wet, Costa Del Mar, the American Museum of Fly Fishing, and Dyna-King. Ultimately, Chicone is a true ambassador of the sport, helping thousands of anglers improve their fly tying and casting skills through his website (saltyflytying.com), books, in-person clinics, and articles, all through his conservation-focused approach.
Rapid Fire Questions
What does the perfect day on the water look like for you?
“My perfect day usually starts with saltwater. There’s just something about being on the flats, in gin-clear water, and being able to see your toes when you walk. It doesn’t have to be full of fish. My best days on the water I just learned a lot. I have been out with some pretty fantastic guides and never caught a fish, but had a memorable trip of a lifetime just from the camaraderie and the information that we shared.”
Is there a particular fly fishing memory that stands out to you?
“My best day would be kind of be a tie between my 40 1/4″ snook on fly with Captain Cody Pierce in a Gheenoe and my 34-pound permit in Abaco. We were literally rolling off the flats and saw one tipping and made a hail mary cast and that was all she wrote. Those two memories did pan out with a holy grail fish.”
What are a few pieces of gear that you never leave home without?
“I have a pair of Van Staals that have taken a licken’ and they keep on kickin’. They have been with me since I can remember. If I’m going to walk the beach or I’m getting on the boat with somebody, jumping on a plane – those Van Staals go with me everywhere.”
If you could fish with a celebrity, or anyone for that matter, who would it be?
“Ted who would be my grandfather. I would do one more day with him. Alive would be The Rock. I have tied a few flies for him and he fly fishes – he’s getting into it. I would love nothing more than to teach that man how to tie a few flies and then go rip some bonefish lips with him. I don’t know if we could get him camouflaged up…he’s a planet, but I think we could stalk some bonefish – me and The Rock. He does bass fishing. Recently I had a client that was working with him and they had me tie a bunch of bonefish flies for him. I don’t know if he got them. If you’re out there, Rock, let me know what you think!”
How does the process of identifying what fly you want to create to the fly pattern's fruition?
“Well, it’s kind of reverse. Usually, I’m out on the water, and I’ll see something. Recently I was in The Bahamas, and I was walking the flat with my daughter, and I kept seeing a green mantis. I saw four in one area! We chased them around and tried to catch them and take pictures without killing our fingers. That’s usually where it starts. I find a critter, then I come up with the materials, specific movements, and profile… whatever looks natural. Then it’s just trial and error. Put some stuff on a hook, throw it in the water, and see how it looks. It always looks way different on the vise than it does when you get it wet. That’s typically how it works, and I just start tightening in screws until I can get it where I want it. It usually takes four or five renditions, but sometimes you just see it right away.”
If you had a post-fishing cocktail named after you, what would it be?
“Me and my friend came up with a drink called “Soul Water.” It’s Frigate Rum and coconut water from a fresh coconut you knock off the tree out back of the lodge. It’s awesome! We call it Soul Water because it soothes the soul when you get in off the water, you sit back, knock a coconut down, knock the top off, and just pour a little Frigate Rum…it’s about as good as it gets.”
What are a few destinations that are on your angling bucket list?
“If you had asked me at the beginning of the year, I would have said Cosmo – I just got back from there a few months back. Currently, I really want to do the Amazon for peacock bass on one of those motherships. I think that would be pretty cool. I want to do Belize again, but some different locations. I really want to do some more offshore stuff – like Tropic Star or Pacific Fins – one of those lodges down in Costa Rica (Central America) for billfish. I do a lot of flats fishing, but I really like the idea of getting offshore and throwing at some bigger fish.”
Why Fly Fishing Destination Travel?
“My grandfather told me a long time ago that every trip you miss is one that you’ll never get back. I kind of live by that creed, and I always want to explore, see new places, and check the box. The fishing is just a piece of it for me. I am a huge foodie, and I like to learn, so going places and eating my way through their culture, learning new styles and fishing techniques…For me, it’s one big learning experience. I’m always learning something new, whether it’s a new recipe, a new fly, or a style of fishing – it’s all new and exciting for me.”
What's new with Drew?
“I just came out with a new book. This book is focused on the fish that are there but may not be the top priorities. So, it’s Saltwater Specialty Flies for unsung species like barracuda, mutton snapper, sheepshead, and all those fish you may see when chasing bonefish or redfish. And you say, you know what, I wish I had a fly so that I could catch that tailing sheepy or look at the size of that cuda – you should have a ten-weight loaded up with wire and a fly ready to go. It’s all the species that can turn an average day into an awesome day, I’ve got a fly for those. You’ve got to have a few arrows in the quiver – always outnumbered but never outgunned.”