Watching the teaser spread dance about the wake, I can’t help but think about the others who have been in this same spot over the years: Hemingway watching the wash off of Pilar; the leviathan hunters of Cabo Blanco; the Grander hunters of the 1930s. In a bizarre twist of fate, Jeremy would end up with a son-in-law who has the same name as the 33ft Lochin we’re heading out of Lamu on, Cheza.

Jeremy begins clapping, and the entire crew and even the captain, Karisa, begin to clap. In the periphery, deck hand Phillip gestures up with both hands, in a manner you’d use to submerge yourself under the surface of the water, attempting to summon up the denizens of the deep. Superstitions go hand in with offshore fishing, as you’d expect with any endeavour so seemingly reliant on sheer luck.

Bluewater fly fishing is a team sport that requires a basketball size team, every member and element probably more important than the fly angler, who is only really there for the prestige in the magic act that involves teasing in billfish.

In fly configuration, the spread is in the inverse to the casting side of the boat, and in this case, the rods will be set left with the port side our post. Jeremy is fierce in his defence of the rules, and doesn’t count any fish caught in gear, including swords that have been hooked and subsequently deliberately broken off due to this violation, generally due to a miscommunication between skipper and angler.

I’ve been quizzed multiple times now, in true Jeremy fashion.

“What DON’T you do?”
Strip, Jeremy.
“no matter what. DO NOT STRIP”.

The technique post tease is something that has evolved from the methods employed by Trey Combs and co. The reason for not stripping? Well, very light tippet. I’ve finally agreed to fish to Jeremys ruleset (and the IGFAs), and its 20lbs on class tippet. It feels like a silk strand in my hands while tying the leader. This is normally Triggerfish class tackle for me. The fact that Jeremy is trying to get me my first Blue Marlin makes this all seem that much more ridiculous. Queue insecurity.

The instruction for the tease is clear. You cast across and over the teasers as they come in, strictly, only after the boat is in neutral. Jeremy will make the call to Karisa and I will cast thereafter. Post cast, a mend is made away from you. The reason is quite clever. The mend makes use of the last bit of the boats momentum to speed up the fly, but, more importantly, presents a fly across the direction of the tease, lowering the chance of a straight on, or scissor take.

We have been alternating duties, and unlucky for Jeremy, his turn has only yielded Wahoo and Tuna, and Jeremy is almost insulted by their appearance. Wahoo can be expensive guests, they aren’t welcome.

We alternate seats on the canvas chair below the stairs to the flybridge, and I sit reflect back on the night and fumbled Swordfish tease at 5am. A comedy of errors had lost us that fish. We’d written off the night and the crew had gone to sleep, when a scream had come from Karisa. I jumped up, switched on the charge tube and picked up the fly rod. Asleep on the flybridge, The crew could not have been in a worse place. We all knew what was happening. The sword was following the belly strip lined teaser from 100 feet down, post it breaking the elastic free of the downrigger. Visually, you could see a phosphorescent glow slowly getting larger. Crew now back in position, they began to reel to continue the tease, but the fish had most likely had too much time on the bait, and it turned and disappeared back into the abyss.

The sharp snap of the outrigger brought me back to reality. Looking back into the spread, a bill greyhounding behind the left flat line teaser. I re-played the instruction, quickly realizing I didn’t ask how to return the fly to me if I could not strip. Well, hopefully it doesn’t get to that I thought.

The fish was teased perfectly into the wake, probably less than 20m from the stern. The shout from Jeremy for neutral like a gun to a sprinter in the blocks, and I began my cast. A 650 grain fly line is never a delicate thing to handle, but the cast went off perfectly, the fly landing at a 50 degree angle across the wake. My recent double hander experience came in handy for the mend, and the fly began to accelerate following the extended arc of the line. As the line straightened and the momentum vanished, I held the rod out straight, line straight onto reel. A setup to ensure that the set would be on the reel. With the fish and momentum gone, it all kind of felt out of place. The line now sinking, the fly bobbing around statically. I look at Jeremy briefly after he instructs me to reel in, but in my periphery I see a flash of blue. The fish had accelerated vertically and ate the fly in a textbook fashion. I set twice (one shy of the mandated 3), and the fish erupts into a series of jumps.

The rest matters less, but I learn how hard you can pull on 20lb. We convert our only other strike of the trip and the entire team is elated. We can head back to Manda Bay now. Thank you Cheza, thank you Jeremy, thank you Kenya.

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