Search Month: September 2018

Fly fishing the Mono Rig Q & A — Lines, Rigging and the Skeptics

This winter I’ll begin writing a book about the Mono Rig, compiling much of the material written here on Troutbitten, organizing it into a cohesive presentation and filling in the gaps. As I look ahead to that writing, I’ve been reading back through all the questions I’ve received about the Mono Rig. Many of the same queries pop up time and again.

This short series of articles separates those common questions into groups. All of these questions and answers will eventually make their way to a full FAQ section on the Mono Rig page.

This first article is about lines, rigging and skeptics: What lines? How long? How to change? And what should all this really be called anyway? . . .

Searching Through the Margins

I guess I was about ten years old when I started pushing past the boundaries of my parents’ twelve acres of hills and trees. I easily remember the day that I walked into the damp valley and past the tiny runoff stream which I always imagined may hold a few trout — or at least a few minnows. Instead of staying on the near side of the watery divide, I crossed it. I looked back once. Then I started up the hill toward the unknown. In my boyish, drifting thoughts, anything was possible . . . and I’ve been wandering ever since . . .

Quick Tips — Unbutton Snags from the Backside

Snags happen.

I’ve fished with guys that see every hang up as a failure — every lost fly as a mistake. But inevitably, that mindset breeds an overcautious angler, too careful and just hoping for some good luck.

Hang ups are not a failure. For a good angler, they are a calculated risk — an occasional consequence after assessing probability against skill, situation and loss. We all hang the fly sometimes. So what.

Now let’s talk about how to pop loose the underwater snag . . .

Quick Tips — The Fly Rod Quick-Dip

Some things in fly fishing are obvious right away. The concepts of casting and drifting a fly are intuitive for most anglers after just a bit of instruction and a few trips of experience. Advanced techniques are later pored over in conversations, books, articles and videos. We want to learn. But helpful friends and fly fishing authors probably make too many assumptions. (Myself included.) And a lot of what we take for granted or think is obvious has become second nature only after fishing for a long, long time. The fly fly rod quick dip is a problem-solving essential . . .

Searching Through the Margins

Searching Through the Margins

I guess I was about ten years old when I started pushing past the boundaries of my parents’ twelve acres of hills and trees. I easily remember the day that I walked into the damp valley and past the tiny runoff stream which I always imagined may hold a few trout — or at least a few minnows. Instead of staying on the near side of the watery divide, I crossed it. I looked back once. Then I started up the hill toward the unknown. In my boyish, drifting thoughts, anything was possible . . . and I’ve been wandering ever since . . .

Quick Tips — Unbutton Snags from the Backside

Quick Tips — Unbutton Snags from the Backside

Snags happen.

I’ve fished with guys that see every hang up as a failure — every lost fly as a mistake. But inevitably, that mindset breeds an overcautious angler, too careful and just hoping for some good luck.

Hang ups are not a failure. For a good angler, they are a calculated risk — an occasional consequence after assessing probability against skill, situation and loss. We all hang the fly sometimes. So what.

Now let’s talk about how to pop loose the underwater snag . . .

Quick Tips — The Fly Rod Quick-Dip

Quick Tips — The Fly Rod Quick-Dip

Some things in fly fishing are obvious right away. The concepts of casting and drifting a fly are intuitive for most anglers after just a bit of instruction and a few trips of experience. Advanced techniques are later pored over in conversations, books, articles and videos. We want to learn. But helpful friends and fly fishing authors probably make too many assumptions. (Myself included.) And a lot of what we take for granted or think is obvious has become second nature only after fishing for a long, long time. The fly fly rod quick dip is a problem-solving essential . . .

Pattern vs Presentation | Trout eat anything, but sometimes they eat another thing better

Pattern vs Presentation | Trout eat anything, but sometimes they eat another thing better

The other day I was listening to a podcast with Charlie Craven; I was dreaming of fishing while raking another giant pile of leaves in the backyard when something Charlie said caught my attention: “Trout are not very smart. They eat everything down there.”

It’s a point I’ve heard repeated time and again — that trout brains are small, and they eat sticks, leaves and rocks all the time. Ironically though, the next piece of the podcast interview rolled into what an excellent fly Charlie’s Two Bit Hooker is.

Does that duality make any sense? Sure it can. I think Charlie’s thoughts in the interview match what a lot of us think about fly selection — that trout will eat anything, but sometimes they eat another thing better.

Fishing With Kids — If you fall, get up

Fishing With Kids — If you fall, get up

“How long have they been fishing with you?” he hollered. The old man leaned over the wooden railing of the walking bridge and gestured toward my sons who were wading upstream. As Joey fished some thin pocket water in the shade, Aiden searched the shallows for anything unusual to add to his daily rock collection. The sun-drenched day was warm enough for wet wading, and the boys had been out with me for about an hour.

I waded downstream and stopped under the walking bridge to visit with the stranger. We watched my sons and chatted for a while. He told me stories about his childhood in Connecticut, of rivers and rope swings and cheap fishing gear. When Aiden turned downstream to hold up a new prize, and when Joey yelled down that he just missed one, the stranger and I waved back and replied with a big thumbs up.

“So, really . . . how many years have they been fishing?” He asked again.

“Well,” I said. Aiden is six and Joey is eight. I think they both started casting fly rods around five, but they cast spinning rods a little earlier.”

I explained that, from the beginning, Going fishing with these kids was less about catching trout and more about taking an adventure together. What can we see today? What will we find? Those are the questions to focus on more, rather than, How many will we catch? . . .

Ask George Daniel | Drop Shot Nymphing

Ask George Daniel | Drop Shot Nymphing

Drop shotting makes a lot of sense. Placing the weight on the bottom of the rig and tying in the flies above provides some significant advantages. Anyone who has tied a tag dropper somewhere above the point fly understands the effectiveness. Trout whack a tag fly riding anywhere from slightly above the streambed to mid column or even higher. They do it a lot.

I’d like to share the two most interesting points that George Daniel made about drop shotting. We got around to the subject about midway through lunch at Happy Valley Brewing Company in State College, PA.

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The I’ll just lay my rod here for a minute mistake

The I’ll just lay my rod here for a minute mistake

People do the same things. The instincts of fishermen find identical paths upstream through the river — watery trails lead to the best water with the greatest efficiency. You can easily see where everybody else fishes. And I guess the flies and tippet-tangles in streamside branches signal that we all make the same casting errors too. Presented with the same problems, fishermen come up with the same solutions, and we make the same mistakes.

That’s all pretty harmless and kind of fascinating. But then there’s that thing we (all) do where we leave our rod on top of the vehicle and drive away. WTF?

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Fishing With Kids — “Born to fish big”

Fishing With Kids — “Born to fish big”

Parenting is mostly guessing and then hoping you were right. My design all along has been to get the boys beside a river as often as possible.

Will they be fly fishermen at fifty? Will they take on fishing as a way of life? Will they need it as something to help them through difficult times? I don’t know. But I’m giving them that chance.

Joey waded through a knee-deep riffle, toward a bank side boulder that he’d never reached before. We’d fished for two hours with the fish count as zero as the skies unloaded a hard rain into the river. I waited underneath the half-shelter of a large sycamore and watched my son from twenty feet away . . .

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Gear Review — Grip Studs are the Real Deal

Gear Review — Grip Studs are the Real Deal

Grip Studs are single point carbide tipped studs with an auger style bit. The result is sticky traction, incredible durability and studs that don’t fall out. Simply put, they’re the best studs I’ve ever used.

Here’s more . . .

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Quick Tips — Hang up or Hook up

Quick Tips — Hang up or Hook up

Up top or underneath, we must cover water to catch river trout. My days astream are a constant push and pull between reasons to stay and reasons to move on. Hanging around in a tailout for an extra fifteen minutes may be wise if I see swirls and flashing trout at the lip. But moving on and working more water is my default approach. The challenge, then, is knowing when to give up the ship and knowing when to stay on. And for that, I have a strategy — hang up or hookup . . .

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Ask George Daniel | Nymphing Angles

Ask George Daniel | Nymphing Angles

I wanted to sit down with George because I knew he’d have interesting and unusual answers. George says things you don’t expect. I discovered this about him when we first met fifteen years ago, while he managed the TCO fly shop.

I wanted to dig deep into a few topics, into a few specific nuances of the tight line nymphing game. George is the mentor who helped me dial in my own understanding of mono rig tactics and all that is possible, and I knew he’d have thoughts that run as deep as we had time to dig. As usual, George’s answers were unexpected.

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