Search Month: November 2019

We watched daylight race the river downstream …

The best thing about a float is seeing miles of water as if in one frame. It’s like a filmstrip that you can take out and hold in your mind for a while. If you’ve done this long enough, then every rock around every bend carries a memory. The best island channels hold a group of those stories and offer them up as you float by. It’s a photo album: the river is a flowing film of your best and worst times on the water — moment by moment passing by. And if you’re lucky, you might create a new highlight for the reel . . . . .

We added to the memories of a year gone by. A gray winter day with little sun and a lot of wind provided the last page in a final chapter — the last casts of a good year. And we watched daylight race the river downstream . . .

Gear Review: Simms Bulkley Wading Jacket

Weather be damned. We’ve come a long way from your grandfather’s yellow rain slicker. The Simms Bulkley insulated wading jacket is the perfect cold-weather fishing coat. And after spending about a hundred days in it over the last year, I can tell you why . . .

Fighting Big Fish — How Strong Are Your Tools?

It takes about five minutes to feel the flex of a rod and learn the breaking strength of our chosen tippet. And a simple experiment is all that’s needed. Once you’ve tested both the tippet and the rod’s strength, a new confidence follows. Then, when the fish of your dreams shows up, you are ready.

When you know the maximum pressure available from your fly rod and tippet , you can put more pressure on a trout and bring him in quickly . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Your Hands

I fish with some very tough, die hard trout fishermen. But cold wind and colder water gets the best of everyone who isn’t prepared. And when we get temps down into the low twenties and teens, that’s when the guy who stubbornly wants to wear a ball cap and no gloves simply doesn’t make it.

The toughest thing facing a winter angler is not picky trout. It’s the weather.

There’s a good solution to every winter situation we encounter. And all of those solutions require your hands to operate.

Good winter fishing starts and ends with warm fingers . . .

Gear Review: Simms Bulkley Wading Jacket

Gear Review: Simms Bulkley Wading Jacket

Weather be damned. We’ve come a long way from your grandfather’s yellow rain slicker. The Simms Bulkley insulated wading jacket is the perfect cold-weather fishing coat. And after spending about a hundred days in it over the last year, I can tell you why . . .

Fighting Big Fish — How Strong Are Your Tools?

Fighting Big Fish — How Strong Are Your Tools?

It takes about five minutes to feel the flex of a rod and learn the breaking strength of our chosen tippet. And a simple experiment is all that’s needed. Once you’ve tested both the tippet and the rod’s strength, a new confidence follows. Then, when the fish of your dreams shows up, you are ready.

When you know the maximum pressure available from your fly rod and tippet , you can put more pressure on a trout and bring him in quickly . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Your Hands

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Your Hands

I fish with some very tough, die hard trout fishermen. But cold wind and colder water gets the best of everyone who isn’t prepared. And when we get temps down into the low twenties and teens, that’s when the guy who stubbornly wants to wear a ball cap and no gloves simply doesn’t make it.

The toughest thing facing a winter angler is not picky trout. It’s the weather.

There’s a good solution to every winter situation we encounter. And all of those solutions require your hands to operate.

Good winter fishing starts and ends with warm fingers . . .

Where to find big trout | Part Three: The Special Buckets

Where to find big trout | Part Three: The Special Buckets

Somewhere in your favorite stretch of a river there’s a depression at the bottom. It’s wide enough and long enough to hold a trout, nose to tail. It’s as deep as the trout is tall — or a bit deeper. The river flowing over this depression in the riverbed is fast enough to bring a continuing buffet of food. And the water comes with the right shade, ripple or depth to offer good protection. This is a special bucket. Let’s break it down . . .

Olives at the Tailout

Olives at the Tailout

I sat. And I laid the fly rod across my knees like a hunter’s rifle. I waited and watched. I scanned the river and sank deeper into the mossy earth until my breathing evened out.

My heartbeat slowed and recovered its normal pace, having accelerated on the walk in. I was warm and content. I sat with a stillness reserved for moments like these and watched only with my eyes. The silence calmed me until I could feel the blood pulsing beneath my skin. I sat, alive and aware, eager and anticipating, serene and satisfied all at once.

Angler Types in Profile: The I’ve been doing that forever guy

Angler Types in Profile: The I’ve been doing that forever guy

Fly fishing is full of it — full of anglers who take themselves too seriously, and full of others who support it. Everyone knows everything.

So as fly fishing churns out newish concepts like articulated streamers and euro nymphing, it’s no wonder there’s some resistance to it all. No wonder  at every turn we find guys with arms folded, shaking their heads and saying, “Nah, I’ve been doing that forever. . .”

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Cover Water — Catch Trout

Cover Water — Catch Trout

John crossed the bridge with his head down. He watched each wading boot meet a railroad tie before picking up his other foot for the next step. Cautiously, he walked the odd and narrow gait required when walking the tracks. And with nothing but air between each massive railroad tie, he could see the river below.

I’ve never known anyone to fall on a railroad bridge. I suppose you couldn’t fall through. But you’d surely break a leg or twist an ankle with one wrong step on that slick wood.

So I stood by the “No Trespassing” sign, next to the edge of the bridge, and watched my friend slowly make his way toward me. He looked disappointed. And when gravel filled in the gaps between ties, when John was back on solid ground, his head stayed down.

“Did you catch a Namer?” I asked with feigned enthusiasm.

“Ha! Nope, I surely didn’t do that,” John said, waving his hand and brushing off my next question.”

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Split Shot vs Weighted Flies

Split Shot vs Weighted Flies

So you hate split shot, right? I’ve never had anyone tell me that they like using it. But for me, split shot is a convenient and useful tool in my vest, and I think it’s underrated. It does things for me that can’t be done any other way, and I like it. Yes, I like split shot. Sure, I prefer weighted flies over having shot crimped to the line. (My nymph box is full of tungsten beaded flies.) But I also carry a selection of unweighted patterns that get a regular workout while using split shot for the weight.

Here are some thoughts about all that . . .

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Tight Line Nymphing: Drift with a Stable Sighter

Tight Line Nymphing: Drift with a Stable Sighter

A simple piece of colored monofilament might be the most important element in a tight line nymphing rig. The sighter, placed just above the tippet section of the leader, shows us everything about the drift. When fished well, a Mono Rig or a euro nymphing setup provides the angler with amazing control over the course of the flies. So it’s important to use it to our advantage.

Reading the sighter is an unending education. Like so many interesting pursuits in life, tight lining is something you can refine to no end.

Everything we read from the sighter follows from first gaining contact. Learning to make that contact happen, and learning to see whether we are in touch with the flies, is the primary skill. Everything else follows from there.

In a future article, I’ll break down all the elements of reading a sighter, but for now, let’s focus on just one important aspect — keeping the sighter stable . . .

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Tending your tags and point flies — A DIY hack for multiple hook keepers

Tending your tags and point flies — A DIY hack for multiple hook keepers

One of the more irritating trends in the fly rod market these days is the absence of a hook keeper above the cork. Plenty of us think it’s an oversight. And I’m tired of the worn out excuse that there’s a hook keeper at every guide. Rod guides aren’t the same. Give me that thin little u-shaped hook keeper just above my cork, please.

Even with a hook keeper for the point fly, those of us who use tags for a second fly are often frustrated by the tangling tag while walking to the next honey hole.

Solution: mini rubber bands.

Here are a few tricks to get it just right . . .

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