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with the Merkin crab pattern among other notable flies that are still used. Andy Mill, Olympic skier, noted

angler and author of the book, “A Passion for Tarpon,” wrote that Huff is “bar none, the best tarpon guide alive… the best there ever will be.” Mill is not the only one to lay such titles on Huff, but the humble fishing guide doesn’t make much of all that. He says he just wants to put his clients on fish. If you want to become a client, however, you’ll have to wait in line. He fishes with repeat customers almost exclu- sively, and rumor has it he turned down a former president in favor of a loyal customer.

INNOVATOR In 2010, the International Game Fish

Association inducted Huff into the Fishing Hall of Fame. The organization noted his lifelong commitment to ethical angling, his many tarpon world records, and passion for the marine habitat. “Steve is totally dedicated to the

integrity and ethics of the sport, and has never rigged a piece of tackle that didn’t conform to the IGFA’s rules,” says the IGFA. “He knew knots were often the weak link in light-tackle fish- ing and created the Huffnagle, now the standard for attaching light tippet to heavy shock tippet. He has designed fly patterns that consistently catch bonefish, snook, tarpon and redfish, and is the go-to guy for tackle compa- nies that want their new products put to the utmost test.” When fiberglass boats began to

grow in popularity in the early 1970s, Huff took it upon himself to create a better flats-fishing platform. He sawed off the top of a Sidewinder ski boat and rebuilt it. Shipoke Boat Company took notice and used many of Huff’s inno- vations. In 1978, Huff modified a Dolphin, which developed into the Super Skiff, and later gave rise to the Maverick Mirage. In those days, true flats skiffs were mostly used by guides, not the general public. That’s changed as more manufacturers specialize in skinny-water skiffs. “The skiffs today make people more

successful because they can get you where the fish are,” Huff says. “The object is to go fishing with the highest expectation of being successful. You need a boat that doesn’t make lots of noise, goes shallow, is stealthy and sneaky.” And while some guides get angry as

more anglers find their way into once hidden waters, Huff does not.


“I don’t think it’s a negative as far as

getting people in places they don’t belong,” he says. “There has always been a vessel to get you to where the fish are, like a jon boat, but you’d get your ass beat coming home.” Huff says he is no connoisseur of

boats, but that’s highly debatable. Few others can say they’ve spent upwards of 300 days a year fishing for nearly 50 years. “I was one of the first to really pole

and focus on quiet,” Huff says. “And I have to say up until really not that long ago, the history of skiffs was from a boat builder in the Florida Keys named Willy Roberts who built ply- wood boats. That was really it until Hell’s Bay that I know of. The Hewes was a ski boat, the Sidewinder was a ski boat redesigned. The Super Skiff, which I helped get started, was a run- about type of boat with leather seats — a mistake that worked well with ride and design. Hell’s Bay was really the first to design and build a boat to go flats fishing.”

Many other builders have followed

suit, specializing in a new breed of “micro-skiffs” that can glide across eight inches of water, or less. But lots of guys still opt for big power plants and other bells and whistles that weigh the hull down and make a larger imprint on the water. “If I see a boat at the ramp with a

couple of Power Poles and a 200-hp engine, I know I’ll never see that guy where I’m going,” Huff says. “My wife (nags me) about slowing down, but I love being out there. It’s a big puzzle and I just keep putting pieces in. You never finish the puzzle but every once in a while you find a big piece. I’m still looking for that next big piece.”

Charlie Levine has covered sport fishing

for more than a decade with editorial posts at magazines such as Marlin and Sport Fishing. Currently he is the editor and publisher of, which provides how-to articles, reports and satellite imagery for the world’s best fishing locations.

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