Search Month: May 2018

The Trouble With Tenkara — And Why You Don’t Need It

The advantages of a Tenkara presentation are not exclusive or unique to Tenkara itself, and in fact, the same benefits are achieved just as well — and often better — with a long fly rod and (gasp) a reel.

I bought a Tenkara rod for my young boys a few years ago, because the longer a rod is, the more control the boys have over a drift. And the lighter a rod is, the easier it is for their small arms to cast. Long and light Tenkara rods flex easily, allowing them to load with minimal effort. That’s great for both kids and adults.

I’ve used the boys’ Tenkara rod extensively — long enough to understand exactly what I don’t like about Tenkara and to understand that a fisherman can achieve the same things with a standard, long leader (long Mono Rig) setup.

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #43 — Two Ways to Recover Slack

Much of what we learn about fly fishing comes from instinct. Fishing, after all, is not that complicated. It does not take a special set of talents or years of study to figure most of this out for yourself. It just takes a tuned in, heads up approach out there on the water, and a good bit of want-to.

Being self-taught has its own rewards, namely a certain individual satisfaction about doing and discovering things your own way. I would argue, however, that no one is fully self taught. And the motivated anglers I know all seek out information from a variety of sources to improve their game.

I like to think this Fifty Tips series and the Troutbitten site as a whole caters to that ambitious kind of angler — the one who takes pride in fishing hard and digging deep for new resources, mining information about the next small (or large) adjustment that hooks more trout to the line.

And many of these adjustment, these tips or discoveries are downright obvious. They’re the kind of thing that you certainly would figure out on your own if you thought about it long enough. They’re the things you already know, inherently, but perhaps haven’t thought about in much detail. And often, I believe within these simple things are the keys to the greatest discoveries — your biggest steps forward.

So here’s a “Duh” tip that has big consequences:

There are two ways to recover slack after the cast: stripping in line or lifting/moving the rod tip.

Modern Nymphing Elevated — More of What’s Possible with a Mono Rig

Devin Olsen and Lance Egan have released Modern Nymphing Elevated. It’s a follow up to their excellent video from a couple years back, Modern Nymphing.

The subtitle for the latest video is “Beyond the Basics”, and that’s a good way to look at it. Elevated jumps right into the deep end from the beginning, so without taking a look at the first Modern Nymphing video (rom 2016) or without a very firm grasp of long leader techniques to begin with, the viewer may be a little lost. Elevated is more of an addendum — like added chapters to a book — than a standalone work. There’s no recap of the basics and no rehashing of leader formulas . Instead, Elevated is two hours of video dedicated to the nuances of long leader fly fishing. And that’s a good thing.

Elevated covers better casting, common drift mistakes, arm and rod positioning, managing the line and leader, sighter angles, strike detection, drift principles, stream positioning, approach, and many other in-depth elements that simply catch more fish.

Modern Nymphing Elevated begins to cover a lot of the variations to a Mono Rig that are possible.

The Little League Series: Some Teams Are All Heart

I’ll always have a soft spot for kids this age. These young boys and girls are six to eight years old and learning to be hitters, with their own coaches serving up meatballs across home plate.

They are sophisticated goofballs with only minor control over their emotions, with conditional attention spans that are sometimes ripped away by the slightest and silliest things imaginable. They’re kids.

And for many of these little people, baseball is a first chance to learn the life lessons that build strong adults: that true success is earned through hard work, that passion exceeds wishful thinking, and that teamwork is a constant compromise.

At the Little League age, heart is everything. And I’ve seen teams with half the talent take down bigger teams with twice the power through sheer will and desire — they just wanted it bad enough. Determination is contagious. Belief is addictive. And when a team buys into one another, they don’t easily let go of that belief.

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #43 — Two Ways to Recover Slack

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #43 — Two Ways to Recover Slack

Much of what we learn about fly fishing comes from instinct. Fishing, after all, is not that complicated. It does not take a special set of talents or years of study to figure most of this out for yourself. It just takes a tuned in, heads up approach out there on the water, and a good bit of want-to.

Being self-taught has its own rewards, namely a certain individual satisfaction about doing and discovering things your own way. I would argue, however, that no one is fully self taught. And the motivated anglers I know all seek out information from a variety of sources to improve their game.

I like to think this Fifty Tips series and the Troutbitten site as a whole caters to that ambitious kind of angler — the one who takes pride in fishing hard and digging deep for new resources, mining information about the next small (or large) adjustment that hooks more trout to the line.

And many of these adjustment, these tips or discoveries are downright obvious. They’re the kind of thing that you certainly would figure out on your own if you thought about it long enough. They’re the things you already know, inherently, but perhaps haven’t thought about in much detail. And often, I believe within these simple things are the keys to the greatest discoveries — your biggest steps forward.

So here’s a “Duh” tip that has big consequences:

There are two ways to recover slack after the cast: stripping in line or lifting/moving the rod tip.

Modern Nymphing Elevated — More of What’s Possible with a Mono Rig

Modern Nymphing Elevated — More of What’s Possible with a Mono Rig

Devin Olsen and Lance Egan have released Modern Nymphing Elevated. It’s a follow up to their excellent video from a couple years back, Modern Nymphing.

The subtitle for the latest video is “Beyond the Basics”, and that’s a good way to look at it. Elevated jumps right into the deep end from the beginning, so without taking a look at the first Modern Nymphing video (rom 2016) or without a very firm grasp of long leader techniques to begin with, the viewer may be a little lost. Elevated is more of an addendum — like added chapters to a book — than a standalone work. There’s no recap of the basics and no rehashing of leader formulas . Instead, Elevated is two hours of video dedicated to the nuances of long leader fly fishing. And that’s a good thing.

Elevated covers better casting, common drift mistakes, arm and rod positioning, managing the line and leader, sighter angles, strike detection, drift principles, stream positioning, approach, and many other in-depth elements that simply catch more fish.

Modern Nymphing Elevated begins to cover a lot of the variations to a Mono Rig that are possible.

The Little League Series: Some Teams Are All Heart

The Little League Series: Some Teams Are All Heart

I’ll always have a soft spot for kids this age. These young boys and girls are six to eight years old and learning to be hitters, with their own coaches serving up meatballs across home plate.

They are sophisticated goofballs with only minor control over their emotions, with conditional attention spans that are sometimes ripped away by the slightest and silliest things imaginable. They’re kids.

And for many of these little people, baseball is a first chance to learn the life lessons that build strong adults: that true success is earned through hard work, that passion exceeds wishful thinking, and that teamwork is a constant compromise.

At the Little League age, heart is everything. And I’ve seen teams with half the talent take down bigger teams with twice the power through sheer will and desire — they just wanted it bad enough. Determination is contagious. Belief is addictive. And when a team buys into one another, they don’t easily let go of that belief.

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #42 — Work into the Prime Spots

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #42 — Work into the Prime Spots

The trout were on. They started with nymphs, but as soon as the emerging tan caddis popped to the surface, a green summer morning turned into something special.

Steve was the first to switch to dry flies. Around 9:30 a.m. I leapfrogged his position again and stopped to visit for a moment. Steve spoke as I approached.

“Man, these are the days you dream about,” he said while casting.

Standing in the creek, not far off the bank, he glanced over his left shoulder in my direction, judging the length of his fly line against the back casting space I’d left him. And I continued wading closer to my friend in the ankle-deep water.

“You switched to dries?” I used the statement as a question . . .

DIY — Put Your Wet Boots Here

DIY — Put Your Wet Boots Here

When my wading boots dry out I know it’s been too long since I’ve fished. Thankfully, they’re usually wet, so I like to have a good place to store them. Here’s an effective way to transport wet wading boots without draining creek water where you don’t want it.

I use a drawer from a plastic storage bin that I bought for $12 at Wal Mart a decade ago. That’s a small price to pay to keep my wife happy (enough) when I turn family visits into fishing trips by bringing fishing gear along.  She doesn’t want creek juice leaking onto the carpets of the van.  Yes, we have a mini van. No, I won’t try to defend it.  Let’s move on . . .

Some days are diamonds — Some days are rocks

Some days are diamonds — Some days are rocks

Austin and I left at dawn. We crossed the wide river at a tailout and entered a dense forest of hemlock and sycamore trees. Walking through dew and morning shadows, we quietly moved downstream toward a favorite, brushy island section for one final fishing trip.

Austin graduated from Penn State a few days before our trip last week, and he’s moving to North Carolina next week. And while many farewells are accompanied by a sincere “I’ll be back soon,” neither of us were willing to tell each other that lie. Sure, life may bring Austin back sooner than later, or ten years from now I may be talking about a good friend whom I miss and haven’t seen for a decade. It’s hard to predict.

I like that. A good life is unpredictable. If you have enough lines in the water, something unexpected is bound to happen. We might label those events good or bad, but I for one am happy for the variety. I’m glad this life is full of surprises.

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Tight Line Nymphing with an Indicator — A Mono Rig Variant

Tight Line Nymphing with an Indicator — A Mono Rig Variant

I dislike arbitrary limits. Placing restrictions on tackle and techniques, when they inhibit my ability to adapt to the fishing conditions, makes no sense to me. I’m bound by no set of rules other than my own. And my philosophy is — Do what works.

I guess that’s why I’ve grown into this fishing system. Most of the time I use what I refer to as the Mono Rig. It’s a very long leader that substitutes for fly line, and I’ve written about it extensively on Troutbitten. Tight line and euro nymphing principles are at the heart of the Mono Rig, but there are multiple variations that deviate from those standard setups. Sometimes I use split shot rather than weighted flies. Sometimes I add suspenders to the rig. I even throw large, articulated streamers and strip aggressively with the Mono Rig. All of this works on the basic principle of substituting #20 monofilament for fly line.

Tight line nymphing is my default approach on most rivers. I like the control, the contact and the immediacy of strike detection. But sometimes adding a suspender (an indicator that suspends weight) just works better . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #41 — Face Upstream

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #41 — Face Upstream

I’m not sure why, but it seems to be part of an angler’s DNA to face the stream sideways. Some guy with a rod walks up to the creek, faces the opposite bank and watches the water flow from left to right. He casts up and across and drifts the fly / bait / lure until it’s down and across from his position. Everyone does it. Repeat ad infinitum and catch a fish once in a while. To catch more trout, face upstream.

Most of this applies to dead drifting things to a fish, which if you’re fishing for trout, is arguably the most effective and consistent way to put fish in the bag. Dries and nymphs (and often wet flies and streamers) are most useful when delivered upstream and allowed to drift along with the current, without much influence from the line and leader that carries it. The dead drift is the first and most basic lesson of Fly Fishing 101.

And the easiest way to get that dead drift happening is to face upstream.

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The Aquaculture Culture (from Dirt Roads and Blue Lines)

The Aquaculture Culture (from Dirt Roads and Blue Lines)

This is too good to let pass. My friend Chase Howard restarted and rejuvenated his blog, Dirt Roads and Blue Lines. And recently, he penned a short commentary on the state of the stocked vs wild trout situation in Pennsylvania.

Chase calls the stocked trout syndrome “The Aquaculture Culture,” and his choice of words is appropriate. There truly is an ingrained culture. Many Pennsylvanian’s have grown to expect (and feel they deserve) stocked trout in their local creeks, not because the creek can’t support wild trout and not because there isn’t already a wild trout population that would thrive if given a chance. No, the Aquaculture Culture expects and downright demands stocked trout in the creek because that’s the way it’s always been, in their lifetime.

As I’ve argued countless times here on Troutbitten, stocked trout do have a place in Pennsylvania. Our state hatcheries should continue to raise trout and stock them in streams that cannot and do not already support wild trout. I’m thankful for stocked trout. I caught my limit of stocked fish today . . .

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