Search Month: January 2019

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try Some Finesse

The trouble with cheaper lines is threefold. Their breaking strength is inferior to the fly shop brands, they’re usually a bit stiffer, and the manufactured diameters only go down to about 4X — usually.

Then a couple of years ago I bought Seaguar Finesse. It was hard to track down when it first came out, because here was a line sold in smaller quantities, with a higher than expected price tag (for the gear guys). But to fly anglers, the 150 yard spool for about $20 was a steal. Easy decision. I bought it immediately, based on Seaguar’s own description and the specs.

Since then, Seaguar Finesse has become my go to fluoro tippet material from 2X to 5X, and a few of my Troutbitten friends do the same. It’s thinner, but stronger per diameter, and is indeed more flexible as described. (It has some finesse.) It’s as almost as good as some fly shop brands and better than many others. And because the type of tippet we use is not what catches trout, I don’t overspend on tippet . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Ice in the Guides?

Nothing about having a winter system or using a specific nymphing rig makes any difference if the guides of your rod are frozen. And every fly fisher who has stepped into a winter river with the air temps below, let’s say, twenty-five degrees has dealt with some kind of trouble. Every angler has his own advice about eliminating guide ice too. And here I guess it’s time to give you mine . . .

I’ve lived, and I’ve left some good things here . . . that is enough

Will climbed up the mountain path and out of the canyon. He walked through the back door and into the old sunroom to sit at his grandfather’s wooden desk. He paused in thought and then put pencil to paper.

When he’d finished, he looked up through the sunroom glass toward the fading orange October daylight. Will walked to the porch and felt the cool stone under his feet as he scanned the landscape of his life.

The rooster crowed before dawn . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Full Pint Streamer

The Full Pint is one of the only permanent additions to my streamer box in the last few years. I test a lot of patterns against my confidence lineup, and very few flies make the cut. My box of long flies covers all the bases, really. And because I’m (mostly) a minimalist, I don’t add anything that is similar to other flies that I already carry.

But the Full Pint dazzled trout at the first dance. It had a big night the first time out. Then, day after day when I set the hook on a swirl or felt the jolting stop of a large trout slam the fly in mid-strip, I marveled at the Pint’s effectiveness . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Ice in the Guides?

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Ice in the Guides?

Nothing about having a winter system or using a specific nymphing rig makes any difference if the guides of your rod are frozen. And every fly fisher who has stepped into a winter river with the air temps below, let’s say, twenty-five degrees has dealt with some kind of trouble. Every angler has his own advice about eliminating guide ice too. And here I guess it’s time to give you mine . . .

I’ve lived, and I’ve left some good things here . . . that is enough

I’ve lived, and I’ve left some good things here . . . that is enough

Will climbed up the mountain path and out of the canyon. He walked through the back door and into the old sunroom to sit at his grandfather’s wooden desk. He paused in thought and then put pencil to paper.

When he’d finished, he looked up through the sunroom glass toward the fading orange October daylight. Will walked to the porch and felt the cool stone under his feet as he scanned the landscape of his life.

The rooster crowed before dawn . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Full Pint Streamer

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Full Pint Streamer

The Full Pint is one of the only permanent additions to my streamer box in the last few years. I test a lot of patterns against my confidence lineup, and very few flies make the cut. My box of long flies covers all the bases, really. And because I’m (mostly) a minimalist, I don’t add anything that is similar to other flies that I already carry.

But the Full Pint dazzled trout at the first dance. It had a big night the first time out. Then, day after day when I set the hook on a swirl or felt the jolting stop of a large trout slam the fly in mid-strip, I marveled at the Pint’s effectiveness . . .

Streamer Presentations — Why “Always Strip Set!” is a Fallacy

Streamer Presentations — Why “Always Strip Set!” is a Fallacy

Ahhh, the strip set. Nothing’s been beaten into the streamer angler’s brain more than the necessity for a good S-T-R-I-P  to set the hook. When a trout eats, always set with the line hand, not the rod hand! Never set with the rod. Right? Oh my, no. Never do that.

Call me wrong, but I use both a strip set or a short rod jerk all the time. Whichever one I’m in position for when a trout takes, that’s the one that happens. It’s all pretty natural and not something I think about much anymore. On a trout, both methods are equally as effective at driving the hook home, and I’m not about to change over to strip setting exclusively.

I tried. Honest. But because I use a lot of rod tip motion to animate the streamer (jerks, jigs and twitches), forcing a strip set when I’m an instant away from the next jerk is just awkward . . .

Respect the spots, man!  | A fisherman’s thoughts on friendship and spot burning

Respect the spots, man! | A fisherman’s thoughts on friendship and spot burning

There are two ways to tell the experience of an angler: how he holds a fish and how he keeps his secrets. The latter is probably more important.

My secrets aren’t your secrets. The places and dreams that I find sacred and worthy of protection are likely much different than your own. Among good friends, though, the respect for another’s treasure is given. It’s hard to find a good fishing partner who yields to this tenet — to find a friend who will protect your secrets like his own — because secrets are a burden to carry, and most choose to shed that weight and give up a prize that isn’t theirs.

So we come to accept that holding secrets is a lonely affair, and that’s okay for me and the other introverts — of which I think the majority of the fishermen’s gene pool is comprised. It’s the damned extroverts that you have to be wary of. It’s the gregarious guy whose off-hand remarks about a river can sink the best of spots.

As most of us quickly realize, good fishing friends are hard to come by . . .

Streamer Presentations — Strips, Jigs and Jerks

Streamer Presentations — Strips, Jigs and Jerks

Using the rod tip is the other way to move a streamer. And I’ll argue that all jigs, jerks and twitches introduce some manner of slack . . .

. . . For my own streamer style, I welcome that slack. I use it for effect. I believe a streamer looks more alive — more natural — when it’s given a moment to rest, even if that moment is only a split second. Just a bit of slack allows our carefully-considered fur and feathers to puff and swoon with the current. Sure, a streamer has a similar chance to breath in-between strips too. But that look — that effect — is a little more dramatic when there’s no tension on the line . . .

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Explore | Learn | Return

Explore | Learn | Return

“Let’s go somewhere a little different today,” I said to him.

So at the bottom of the driveway I turned left instead of right. Then at the bridge a few minutes later, I headed upstream instead of down.

We followed a road that parallels a no-name creek for ten miles. Joey peered across the fallow fields, through leafless branches of standing maples, trying to get a glimpse of the water. All the while, I talked to him about having the heart of an explorer.

Then as I eased the truck off the blacktop, into a soft gravely mud, Joey sat attentively, leaning forward to see ahead. And where the gravel finally touched the grass, we rolled to a stop.

“What’s this?” he asked . . .

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I want to, but I don’t want to

I want to, but I don’t want to

My favorite eight-year-old looked at me exasperated, with his signature furrowed brow and troubled eyes. He animated the short speech with both hands and turned up the volume on his words. “Well Dad, I want to, but I don’t want to.”  Ahhh yes. That’s my son, because I’ve felt like that my whole life.

His tortured answer was a reply to my easy question: “Should we fish today?” But life decisions are hard for a boy so full of ideas and new plans for each day. I know it. I feel it. I remember it.

At that age, I hadn’t yet learned about the bargains we make with time — that we may do this thing now and the other thing later, accepting that upon fruition the second thing may be only half as grand as we’d hoped, if only because it wasn’t done first. These decisions are desperate when you’re eight years old.

He’s stuck right in the middle of two eras — old enough that the adults aren’t regulating every facet of his life, and yet not quite adept at wielding the freedom of choice. It’s overwhelming sometimes. I see it. I get it. I remember it . . .

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Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

You can get a trout’s attention with a host of different patterns. Bright beads, flashy materials, wiggly legs and sheer size all stand out in the drift, and trout take notice. But interest and curiosity do not necessarily lead trout into the net. In fact, many of the attention getting materials we attach to a hook simply turn trout off, giving them a reason not to eat the fly.

On the other hand, while drab and flat patterns have their moments, it often takes a little sparkle, a little color, flash or wiggle, to turn trout on. The trick then, is finding the right elements to seal the deal — a simple combination of materials that is just enough to convince a trout, but not too much either. Enter: the Sucker Spawn . . .

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Live the Stream, the Joe Humphreys documentary film, is screening in State College for Hump’s birthday

Live the Stream, the Joe Humphreys documentary film, is screening in State College for Hump’s birthday

Live The Stream is an intimate portrayal of Pennsylvania’s fly fishing legend, Joe Humphreys, a man who was born to fish, lives to teach, and strives to pass on a respect for our waters.

This beautiful documentary follows fly fishing legend, Joe Humphreys for one year both on and off the water as he shares the sport he loves with others. From teaching youth to helping Veterans, going after personal records, and spearheading a conservation dream – this intimate portrayal is a tribute to the power of positive influence, the richness of family and friendships, and Joe’s invitation to everyone to step into his fountains of youth, his streams.

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Fly fishing the Mono Rig — Thicker leaders cast more like fly line

Fly fishing the Mono Rig — Thicker leaders cast more like fly line

Thinner butt sections sag less. But the thinner they are, the more they lose that fly-line-style performance. And sometimes, that matters a great deal.

All of this is part of the the joy in being a fly fisher. There are hundreds of ways to make things work. And because every angler brings a unique set of goals and conditions, that’s why there are so many solutions . . .

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