Articles in the Category Commentary

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 . . .

Life On the Water

Accomplished and skilled fly fishing requires that you give part of your life to the river. That’s evident in the first few trips, and I think the depth of all this surprises would-be anglers. It intimidates some, and it captivates others . . .

The Red Amnesia Problem

The Red Amnesia Problem

It’s not red anymore. It’s burgundy, but it “might” be red again someday. I’ve been alive long enough to know that when something you love leaves, it’s best to start moving on. And yes, I’m a leader junkie . . .

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 . . .

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 . . .

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 . . .

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!

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Are We Taking the Safety of Trout Too Far?

Are We Taking the Safety of Trout Too Far?

At some point, our worry about the perfect protection of the animal we pursue becomes so involved, so extreme, so overbearing, that the only logical step is to stop fishing altogether. I don’t want that. And I don’t think you do either.

If we’re not careful, one thing will lead to the next. I think we’ve taken the safety of trout far enough. Let’s educate every angler to these standards and stop moving the goalposts.

Fish cold water. Fight ’em fast. Handle gently. Release quickly . . .

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They Don’t Have to Eat It to Learn to Reject It

They Don’t Have to Eat It to Learn to Reject It

You’ve probably heard this a lot: “These trout have been caught on that fly before, so they won’t take it.”

Or this: “Once trout are caught on a fly a few times, they learn that it’s a fake.

But trout don’t have to be caught on a fly to learn that it isn’t real. In fact, just seeing one bad drift after another is enough to put trout off of a particular pattern . . .

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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 . . .

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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 . . .

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