Articles in the Category Commentary

Do We Really Want Fly Fishing to Grow?

We want more anglers who appreciate the best things about fishing. We want anglers who fish hard for the experience, who reject fake fishing, who boast not about the numbers of trout caught but are proud of the miles of water they’ve explored and appreciate what they’ve been through to get there. We want wild trout advocates and woodsmen. We need knowledgeable teachers to inspire young people by revealing the complex mysteries of chasing river trout.

Be a Voice for Wild Trout — Your Most Effective Conservation Measure is Also the Easiest

The Pennsylvania Fish Commission needs to hear your comments. And a simple, short email makes a BIG difference. Stop stocking over wild trout. Let’s support all policies that eliminate the stocking of hatchery fish over wild trout. Pass it on . . .

Dry or Die?

. . . There’s a segment of fly anglers who will never see streamers, nymphs or wet flies as a legitimate offering. That’s fine. Keep it to yourself.

There’s another segment of fly fishers who believe trophy hunting for big browns with big streamers is the only way to live out there. And everything else might as well be tweed hats and waxed catgut. That’s fine too. Keep it to yourself.

The majority of us are fishermen, just having fun, trying to catch a fish and then catch another one . . .

Q&A: Long Drifts or Short — What’s Better and Why?

I play the odds. I’ve seen what works best, so I repeat it the most. And I’d rather get two or three good casts against the next log for the next thirty seconds rather than just one cast to the log and twenty five seconds of stripping away from it. This is the mindset of having tight targets, of getting short and effective drifts . . .

Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves — The Bead on a Hook Challenge

Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves — The Bead on a Hook Challenge

Testing rigs and flies on the water is fun. It provides the next reason to get back out there, and it center-focuses us on something new. Testing also takes the pressure off. You’re not out there to catch every trout. You’re out there to experiment — to investigate and assess results against a theory.

Do trout eat the bead-on-a-hook better than a nymph with dubbing or micro-tubing behind it? Maybe . . .

When Gear Gets In the Way

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

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

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?

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.

Asking the Best Questions to Catch More Trout

Asking the Best Questions to Catch More Trout

Fly selection is important, but it’s one of the last questions to ask. There’s no denying that catching a few trout helps lead us to the promise of catching a few more. One trout is an accident. It’s just as likely that you found a maverick as it is that a single fish can teach you the habits of the rest. Two fish is a coincidence, but three starts to show a trend. And at a half dozen fish, there’s enough data about who, what, where, when and why to build the pieces of a puzzle.

To the die-hard angler, adaptation and adjustment to what we discover is one of the great joys of fly fishing for trout . . .

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Strategies for Pressured Trout — Something Different or Something Natural?

Strategies for Pressured Trout — Something Different or Something Natural?

Trout learn to see some colors, some materials, some shapes and movements as fake. And when they see the same fake fly often enough, they stop eating it. That’s what we mean by angler pressure. So, part of the game becomes a guess about what flies the trout have learned to reject and how we can turn the fish on again.

That’s the unnatural thing about trout seeing too many fishermen and too many flies . . .

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The Advantages of Working Upstream

The Advantages of Working Upstream

For the majority of our tactics, fishing upstream is the best way to present the flies. And sometimes it’s the only way to get the preferred drift.

So too, working upstream allows for stealth. The angler becomes the hunter. With a close, targeted approach to smaller zones, we get great drifts in rhythm, one at a time . . .

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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 . . .

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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.

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