Search Month: June 2018

Hell-Hot Sun and the Strawberry Moon

I’m not a big fan of summer.

It’s the heat. Thing is, you can’t really get away from it. If you want to be outside in all seasons (and I do) you have to somehow make friends with or tolerate the weather. Against the cold of winter, you can add layers to fend off most discomfort, but in the summer heat, once the shirt is off and the flip flops are on, your done — that’s as cool as you’re gonna get. So there’s no option but to mow the grass, play baseball and have the family picnic in a thick, wet blanket of summer heat. People still tell me that I’ll get used to it. I doubt it.

The same people also tell me how much they love summers. I don’t believe them. I think they like the idea of it, and they like the parties, the parades, the fireworks, the longer daylight hours and the lax work schedules. But the actual season? The weather? Nah. Bitching about the heat (like I’m doing here) seems like another common summer recreation from the list, and I see a clear majority looking for the next air conditioner, cold lake or swimming pool.

Nymphing: Tight Line vs Indicator

I’ve watched a lot of anglers fish nymphs. Most of them pick up at least a few trout, and some guys are like a vacuum cleaner. But I like to watch how differently everyone approaches the game. It’s curious to see so much variation, because essentially we’re all striving for the same thing — we want a drift that looks a lot like what the natural bugs are doing down there. (And yeah, usually that’s a dead drift.) But while the refinements and nuances between anglers are plenty, I think we can fairly group all approaches for dead drifting nymphs into two camps: tight line or indicator nymphing styles. The next question: Which one is better?

Of course, the merits of each method have been and will be argued for decades. But it really comes down to this: Which one puts more trout in the net?

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #47 — See the Dead Drift

The dead drift. That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s the baseline for a decent presentation and the starting point for real success in fly fishing. Oh sure, we strip streamers. We swing wet flies. And on occasion we may dance an Elk Hair Caddis on its hackle across the river. But by and large, the dead drift is our objective when fishing for trout — especially wild ones . . .

All the Things

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.

Nymphing: Tight Line vs Indicator

Nymphing: Tight Line vs Indicator

I’ve watched a lot of anglers fish nymphs. Most of them pick up at least a few trout, and some guys are like a vacuum cleaner. But I like to watch how differently everyone approaches the game. It’s curious to see so much variation, because essentially we’re all striving for the same thing — we want a drift that looks a lot like what the natural bugs are doing down there. (And yeah, usually that’s a dead drift.) But while the refinements and nuances between anglers are plenty, I think we can fairly group all approaches for dead drifting nymphs into two camps: tight line or indicator nymphing styles. The next question: Which one is better?

Of course, the merits of each method have been and will be argued for decades. But it really comes down to this: Which one puts more trout in the net?

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #47 — See the Dead Drift

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #47 — See the Dead Drift

The dead drift. That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s the baseline for a decent presentation and the starting point for real success in fly fishing. Oh sure, we strip streamers. We swing wet flies. And on occasion we may dance an Elk Hair Caddis on its hackle across the river. But by and large, the dead drift is our objective when fishing for trout — especially wild ones . . .

All the Things

All the Things

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.

Angler Types in Profile: Goldilocks

Angler Types in Profile: Goldilocks

On the sweetheart days, the Goldilocks angler is there. Any other time? This morning? Not so much.

It seems that some fly fishermen are constantly looking for reasons not to fish. Provide them with a logical reason to stay home, and they will — and they’ll feel good about it.

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

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

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.

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

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 . . . . .

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

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

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.

read more
Finding bite windows — Fishing through them and fishing around them

Finding bite windows — Fishing through them and fishing around them

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 . . . . .

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

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

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 . . . . .

read more
Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #44 — From the Wrist to the Rod Tip

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #44 — From the Wrist to the Rod Tip

I’ve not taken a fly casting class. I’m not Federation of Fly Fishers certified, nor do I have any similar credentials. But I daresay I can put a fly just about where I want it, within a reasonable fishing range of, let’s say, fifty feet.

I can land a Parachute Ant in a small shady pocket, upstream of the overhanging limbs and downstream of the rock. And perhaps more challenging, I can usually land two nymphs in one current stream on a tight line, with the point fly directly upstream from the tag fly — and that’s with a moderate tuck cast providing just an instant of slack.

Is that bragging? I hope not. But lacking the aforementioned credentials, I figure I should at least state my competence for your judgement before offering any advice.

So with that preamble delivered, here’s tip #44: Good casting happens from the wrist to the rod tip. . . .

read more
Walking

Walking

It started with a walk. When the short gravel-to-dirt trail melted into weeds and underbrush, I followed the narrowing path into the woods. And when that too ended beside the small river, I cut to the right and forged my own trail beside the water’s edge.

Abundant cold rains and a cloudy spring season had postponed much of the life to be found in mid May, and I noted the delay everywhere. I walked through budding ferns, with expectant tops waiting to unfold at the next peak of sunlight through the shadows. And where there was green, it was new — fresh-faced, clear and vibrant, standing out in contrast against the dark, wet bark and a forest floor of decaying maple leaves.

read more

Pin It on Pinterest