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Commentary Stories

All the Things

on
June 22, 2018
There’s the fly box with a broken hinge. Half of the pin on the backside is missing, and I don’t know how that happened. I do know I’ll be standing in fast water someday; I’ll unfold the box, and the open leaf will fall off. I won’t even have a chance for a proper goodbye to the drowned flies and wasted hours — no, the days — of ordinary time spent focused on one square inch of space (that’s what fly tying is). So I’ll fix the hinge today. I could transfer all the flies to a new box, but that would probably take more time.


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Angler Types in Profile Commentary

Angler Types in Profile: Goldilocks

on
June 20, 2018
I have an old college buddy who won’t take the time to fish unless things are either perfect or damn close to it. I call him Goldilocks, and he hates me for it.

Last month, on a whim, I gave Goldilocks a ring. He’s one of the few people left who still answers his phone when you call, and he picked up within seconds.

“Hey. Want to fish tomorrow?” I asked quickly. I figured that rushing him into a decision was my best chance at the preferred result.

“Where? Up your way?” He asked.

“Yeah.”

“Didn’t you just get a pile of rain over the weekend?” He asked.

“Sure, but the creeks are coming down and the fishing has been fine,” I replied.

He paused and stammered for a moment. My fast pace was thrown off, and I already knew what was coming . . .


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Fifty Tips Tips/Tactics

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #46 — Fight Big Fish Upstream

on
June 17, 2018
Midday. High sun and an overpowering heat. I stalked the banks of a large Montana river with my Border Collie at my side. I mirrored his shepard’s crouch: low, with my head forward, almost crawling through the dry sage brush.

We paused strategically under the thick Douglas Firs, not only for a break from the unrelenting sun, but for a real chance at deception. The large wild trout, it seemed, were at the moment, predictable — laying close to the banks (sometimes within inches), and waiting for the next overhead meal from a hapless hopper or any other random terrestrial occurrence. The evergreen limbs provided the shade for true cover — our only opportunity for real stealth.


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Commentary

The Downstream Fisher Yields to the Upstream Fisher

on
June 15, 2018

Most sports have a set of unwritten rules, generally agreed upon by those in the know. But the trouble with the unwritten rules of fly fishing is that many newcomers aren’t aware of them, and it might take seasons of error before realizing that you were pissing everyone else off…


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Tips/Tactics Troutbitten Fly Box

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

on
June 13, 2018
In a world of oversized, articulated streamers drenched in flash and draped with rubber legs, the Bunny Bullet is naturally sized and tied on a single hook — with just a little disco.

If the average modern streamer is an exotic dancer, then the Bunny Bullet is a stay-at-home Mom who gets stuff done.

It’s olive. It looks exactly like something trout love, and it’s designed to look vulnerable. (It seems like an easy meal.) The cut points of the deer hair head provide the angler visibility from above, it fishes well with or without split shot, and It looks good stripped or drifted . . . . .


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Fifty Tips Tips/Tactics

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #45 — The Dry Fly is a Scout

on
June 10, 2018
The fly is an explorer tied to the end of a string. It bounds along with the current, making discoveries and telegraphing its collected information back through a line. Whether nymph, streamer, wet or dry, our fly is an investigator sent forward to probe the water and search for trout -- and to collect more information than our eyes can see.

Standing riverside, pinching the hook of a caddis dry fly between forefinger and thumb, with slack line and a rod poised to send our fly on a mission, we scan the water for signs. We look for rising trout and likely holding lies. And we look for  much more than is easily visible. The currents of a rocky, rolling river are a converging and confusing mix. And what we may decipher through polarized lenses is a mere scratch of the surface. So we send a pioneer.


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Tips/Tactics

Finding bite windows — Fishing through them and fishing around them

on
June 7, 2018
Predicting when a trout will eat is about as difficult as predicting the weather. You get it right sometimes, but just as often you’re dead wrong. Even experts with all the tools of observation and experience can’t really crack the code. But we look at the weather report anyway, don’t we? They get some of it right part of the time, and that’s better than nothing, I guess. Correctly forecasting trout feeding patterns, and finding bite windows can turn lousy days into the most memorable ones.

The best fishermen I know seem to have a theory for everything. Fishing success is so ephemeral that we need somewhere solid to drop an anchor. We want predictable things to believe in. So we search for events that are possibly repeatable and hold onto them. We look for bite windows — the times when trout eat with regularity and (perhaps) some predictability . . . . .


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Commentary

Is your new fly really new? What makes a fly original?

on
June 5, 2018
When is a fly original enough to deserve its own name? And do a few material changes result in a new fly, or is it the bastardization of an existing pattern?

“That’s just a Woolly Bugger with flashy chenille, bigger hackle, rubber legs, and dumbell eyes. Oh, and it’s two of them hooked together.” That’s the first comment I heard about Russ Madden’s Circus Peanut. And to that I say, sure it is. But aren’t there enough material and form changes there to be a unique fly? When we think Woolly Bugger does it really look anything like a Circus Peanut? No, not really. So I’d say the Circus Peanut deserved a name, and it got one.

I have a similar fly stored in my own meat locker. I call it a Water Muppet, but it’s mostly a Circus Peanut. I tie it smaller, dub the body instead of wrapping chenille, and I use a tungsten bead instead of dumbbell eyes. And while I have my own name for the pattern that amuses me, it’s pretty much a Peanut.

But I think there’s a genuine desire on the part of many fly tyers to get this right. We want to give credit for inspiration, and we know that all good ideas stem from somewhere. At the same time, we’re proud of the material or form changes we’ve made that catch more fish in our own rivers. And sometimes those innovations define a genuinely new fly pattern, so they deserve a unique name . . . . .

Domenick Swentosky
BELLEFONTE, PA

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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