Articles in the Category Commentary

When Gear Gets In the Way

No matter what we’re into, there’s a time when the learning of skills reaches a critical mass, when it’s time to do rather than read more about it and buy more gear.
. . .There’s a time for learning. There’s time for preparation. And then there’s time for doing — for putting all of it into practice, making the casts, covering water and catching fish . . .

Angler Types in Profile — The Fly Tying Artist

It’s easy to understand how tying flies makes you a better angler. And many fly fishermen take their passion for the river directly over to the vise. With that passion follows artistry. And for that kind of artist, what is wound around wire and bound to a hook comes with beauty . . . or there is no point.

One of the best tyers I’ve ever known would tie a dozen of the same fly and keep only two or three, stripping the rest with a razor blade to the bare hook. Why? He said he only fished the ones that had a soul . . .

Hook Sets Are Not Free

Mike had landed on a common phrase that usually triggers a response from me. It’s one of the myths of fly fishing, and it carries too much consequence to let it go. Hook sets are not free. There’s a price to pay. Oftentimes that cost is built into our success. And other times, the costs of too frequently setting the hook pile up, stealing away our limited opportunities . . .

Will An Expensive Fly Rod Catch You More Trout?

A great fly rod responds to the angler. The slightest motions and refinements in the cast are transmitted to the rod, and it flexes — it responds in kind. The angler’s thoughts and instincts flow through a great rod, so our accuracy and adjustments become effortless.

We can be in tune with a great rod and perfectly connect with its performance. With some time spent fishing a great fly rod, it becomes an extension of our will. The fly hits the target because we want it to. The leader lands with s-curves in the tippet because that’s what we decided. And the rod makes it happen.

A go-to fly rod is like an old dog or a good friend. We know them, and our connection is natural.

What to Trust

What to Trust

Of the good fishermen I know, one thing I see in all of them is how easily they can reach conclusions about fish habits. They have a knack for knowing what to trust and when to trust it.

The damned thing about a river is that it changes every day, and the habits of trout follow. If you’re observant enough to see the dynamics of a river, you can predict how the fish will respond, just by correlating their behavior patterns with the changes in water level, clarity, food availability, etc. Often, though, that’s a big leap to take. And it requires trusting in your observations enough to act decisively on them . . .

Thirty-Inch Liars

Thirty-Inch Liars

Every fisherman in the parking lot seems to have a thirty-inch fish story, don’t they?

You know what I hear when someone says a fish was “about two feet long?” I hear: “I didn’t measure the fish.”

Bass guys don’t put up with this stuff. My friend, Sawyer (a dedicated bass and musky guy), is dumbfounded by the cavalier way trout fishermen throw estimates around. In his world, if you didn’t measure it, you don’t put a number on it. They take it seriously. We trout fishermen embarrass ourselves with estimates.

In Defense of Catching and Counting Fish — Why numbers in the Net Matter

In Defense of Catching and Counting Fish — Why numbers in the Net Matter

As we pursue trout and aim for perfect presentations that convince, it certainly matters if we catch one, five, ten or twenty.

One trout is luck. Three or four signals that we’re doing something right. And a few more trout starts to be enough data to dial in a tactic, or a water type, or a fly pattern. This is the true joy of fishing for numbers. With enough response from the trout, we can honestly learn the trout habits. We aren’t lucking into a couple fish. Instead, we’re refining a system that meets the trout on their own terms. What are those terms? Catching more than a few trout is the only way to find out . . .

May We Have the Hook Dimensions, Please?

May We Have the Hook Dimensions, Please?

So, if there will be no industry standard on sizing and strength for hooks (and there won’t be), can we at least have the dimensions for each hook that we’re sold? Give us the measurements: hook length, wire diameter, gap width. Why is this so hard?

. . . Given the proliferation of hook brands — many of high quality — this seems the only logical thing to do. Give your buyer the information. Tell them what they are buying. This is the information age, friends! Yes, we can handle this!

Never Blame the Fish

Never Blame the Fish

When everything you expect to work produces nothing, don’t blame the fish. Think more. Try harder.

When your good drifts still leave the net empty, then don’t settle for good. Make things perfect. Never blame the fish . . .

read more
Super Fly — The Story of a Squirmy Wormy

Super Fly — The Story of a Squirmy Wormy

Occasionally (rarely) something comes along that makes trout go a little crazy. Why? Who the hell knows. But it trips some trigger in trout that makes them move further and eat more than they do for just about anything else. In my life there’ve been only four of these super flies.

In dark bars and seedy internet gatherings, I keep my ear to the ground for rumors of the next super fly. Because those who find one can’t keep a secret for long. And I want to be in on the next fly from the ground up again. I want long months of virgin trout that lust for something original yet familiar, the right mix of bold but non-threatening, curiously edible and irresistible. I want to fish another super fly . . .

read more
How the Bobber Hurts a Fly Fisher

How the Bobber Hurts a Fly Fisher

Don’t be a bobber lobber. Bobbers are an amazing tool in certain situations. But learn to cast it with turnover first. Avoid the lob.

Instead of using the bobber as a shortcut to getting the line out there, first learn a good casting stroke — with speed, crisp stops and turnover. Then, attach the bobber and see the supreme advantage gained when the fly hits first and the bobber comes in downstream, with the fly and indy both in the same current seam. Oh, hello dead drift. Nice to see you . . .

read more
Why Everyone Fishes the Same Water — And What to Do About It

Why Everyone Fishes the Same Water — And What to Do About It

For every big name piece of water that’s overcrowded, there are hundreds of miles of trout water that are rarely seen by any angler. If ten percent of the water sees ninety percent of the fishermen, then be that small percentage angler who finds wide open places in a high percentage of water.

read more
Fly vs Bait

Fly vs Bait

I know this is a minority opinion. The average angler assumes that bait will fool more trout than an artificial. Just yesterday, I came across the frequently repeated assertion that bait outperforms flies. I saw it in print and heard it in dialogue on a podcast. It was stated as fact, as though no one could possibly argue otherwise. But it’s wrong. It’s a common wisdom that isn’t very wise. And I think those who believe that bait has the edge over flies have probably spent very little threading live bait on a hook and dunking it in a river . . .

read more
Natural vs Attractive Presentations

Natural vs Attractive Presentations

. . . Let’s call it natural if the fly is doing something the trout are used to seeing. If the fly looks like what a trout watches day after day and hour after hour — if the fly is doing something expected — that’s a natural presentation.

By contrast, let’s call it attractive if the fly deviates from the expected norm. Like any other animal in the wild, trout know their environment. They understand what the aquatic insects and the baitfish around them are capable of. They know the habits of mayflies and midges, of caddis, stones, black nosed dace and sculpins. And just as an eagle realizes that a woodland rabbit will never fly, a trout knows that a sculpin cannot hover near the top of the water column with its nose into heavy current . . .

read more

Pin It on Pinterest