Articles in the Category Remix

A Slidable Dry Dropper System

A friend of mine once described a truly slidable, easily movable, dry dropper as the Holy Grail of fly fishing. I suppose it depends on where your goals and interests lie, but if you like fishing nymphs under a dry, then you’ve surely wished the dry fly was easily re-positioned without tying more knots. There is a way . . .

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tippet Rings For Tag Droppers? No Thanks

Fishing dropper rigs should be easy. But judging from the amount of questions I field about knots, dropper types and tangles, fishing two or more flies causes a lot of angst out there.

Last week, I wrote about fishing tangle-free tandem rigs, and a popular question repeated itself in my inbox: “Tippet rings would be great for droppers, right?” My short is answer, no. My long answer is . . . usually not. Tippet rings for tags can work, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

Learn to Love Rigging

There are precious few situations where one leader setup does the trick all day long. And taking the middle of the road approach leaves you average at both ends.

Take the time to make the changes.

Use the moments while tying knots for breathing a little deeper — for reflecting a little on where you are. Because trout take us into some amazing places. Look up at the swaying hemlock boughs as you make those five turns in a blood knot. See things and enjoy them. That kind of time is not wasted . . .

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 . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #30 — The best-laid plans of fishers and men often go awry

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #30 — The best-laid plans of fishers and men often go awry

All of the things we plan for and dream of in our downtime — the river conditions, access points and locations on maps, the hatches that should be, the expectations of success — all of it is variable. It all can and will change. Truthfully, the variations — that randomness — is the heartbeat of fly fishing. It’s the essence of the allure. The unpredictability is the draw. Adapting to the day-to-day river conditions and meeting the trout on their own terms is half the fun in all this. Plan, but plan broadly and expect the unexpected.

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

In a world of oversized, articulated streamers drenched in flash and draped with rubber legs, the Bunny Bullet is naturally sized and tied on a single hook — with just a little disco . . .

If the average modern streamer is an exotic dancer, then the Bunny Bullet is a stay-at-home Mom who gets stuff done . . .

It’s olive. It looks exactly like something trout love, and it’s designed to look vulnerable. (It seems like an easy meal.) The cut points of the deer hair head provide the angler visibility from above, it fishes well with or without split shot, and It looks good stripped or drifted . . . . .

The shakes, and why we love big trout

The shakes, and why we love big trout

. . When I hooked him, I felt a tremendous release of emotion. Satisfaction merged with adrenaline. My yearning for such a moment finally came to a close as the big wild brown trout slid onto the bank. I killed the trout with a sharp rap at the top of its skull, because that’s what I did back then. I knelt by the river to wet my creel, and when I placed the dead trout in the nylon bag, the full length of its tail stuck out from the top.

. . . Then I began to shake. The closing of anticipation washed over me. The fruition of learning and wondering for so many years left me in awe of the moment I’d waited for. I trembled as I sat back on my heels. With two knees in the mud of a favorite trout stream, I watched the water pass before me. I breathed. I thought about nothing and everything all at once. I felt calm inside even as I stared down at my wet, shaking hands.

. . .When a gust of wind pushed through the forest, I stirred. Finally my lengthy revery was passed, and I stood tall with my lungs full of a strong wind. Then I walked back to camp . . .

Fly Fishing Strategies: No Limits — Fish every type of weight available

Fly Fishing Strategies: No Limits — Fish every type of weight available

Casting to the bank with my back against the wind, the medium copper conehead on the Half Pint wasn’t enough to drop my fly through the stained water and out of site, so I needed split shot . . .

. . . I turned into the wind with my head down. The rain pummeled the hood of my raincoat, creating a buckshot spray that sounded like small hail on a tin roof. With soggy fingers poking out through wool gloves, I reached into my vest for the disc-shaped container of split shot. I plucked out two #4 shot and quickly squeezed them onto the line . . .

. . . Use whatever kind of weight makes sense. Use whatever fits the situation and matches the objectives, and I don’t limit yourself.

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #29 — Read Trout Water

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #29 — Read Trout Water

Gravity pulls it downstream. All of it. Every drop of water merging into a river, whether fallen directly from the clouds into a small brook, or bubbling from a spring seep on a large and open river, is under the consistent influence of a force none of us can see. But we feel it. It’s predictable. Gravity holds few surprises. And though its mystery runs deep, we’ve each learned, from birth, to expect the unseen force holding our world together to continue doing just that — to keep all the pieces and parts stuck tight — trusting that the center will hold and things won’t fall apart. It’s consistent enough to be boring. But as an angler, the effects of gravity on flowing water is fascinating. It’s fundamental. And it’s the key to reading trout water . . .

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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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #18 — Imagine a Target — Fish to the Fish

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #18 — Imagine a Target — Fish to the Fish

You can roam the river, mending, drifting and stripping, casting into every corner pocket and straight channel. You have the skills to present the fly, the consummate awareness of currents and flows and the stamina to wade rough water for hours on end. But can you imagine a target? Can you picture a trout feeding in the hydraulic swirl behind an unseen chunk of bedrock on the river bottom? Can you believe the trout is there? . . .

The capacity to imagine a trout in the river is a next-level skill that’s only earned by thoughtful time on the water . . .

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Quick Tips: See beyond the sighter

Quick Tips: See beyond the sighter

New to tight lining? Then staring at the bright piece of colored line is a good place to start. But as soon as you gain some skills for reading the angle and speed of the sighter, when you can quickly gauge contact with your nymphs by glancing at the sag of the sighter, then it’s time to look ahead. Get to the next level.

. . . We do everything possible to improve the visibility of the sighter section in our leaders. We leave tag ends, add backing barrels and use super-bright opaque colored material. Good anglers also learn to fish from the best angles for visibility — usually with the sun or brightest light at their backs. So it’s easy to be mesmerized by those colors. And I think most nymph fishers catch themselves staring at the sighter too often, missing all the other available signals.

. . . What are those signals? Most of them are beyond the sighter — past the last visible piece of yellow, red, orange, etc. and into the water . . .

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Quick Tips — Hook set at the end of every drift

Quick Tips — Hook set at the end of every drift

I watched the line, waiting for some indication of a strike and intently expecting a fish to eat the nymph. Then at the end of the drift I looked away, scanning for my next target upstream. When I lifted the line for the backcast, I was surprised to find a trout on the line. He bounced off quickly because I never got good hook set.

That’s happened to you a hundred times too, right?

Nymphing is an art of the unseen, and no matter the material attachments we add to the line for visual aid of a strike, trout take our flies without us knowing about it — probably way more often than we can imagine.

That’s why it’s best to end every underwater drift with a hook set. Do this with nymphs and with streamers, at the end of every dead drift presentation, and you’ll find unexpected trout attached to your line. The short set also prepares the line and leader for your next backcast. Here’s how . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #35 — How to Fish With Friends

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #35 — How to Fish With Friends

Fishing with a stick and line is a solitary endeavor by nature. It always comes down to the two hands of one angler: one on the rod, and the other in control of the line. Sharing the water with friends is great, but fishing, inherently, is not a team sport. It’s more like pole vaulting than a baseball game. It comes down to individual performance. And at its root, fishing is just a contest between one man and a fish.

. . . But we fish together to share our experiences, to learn from one another, to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We choose to fish together because the bonds formed on a river are like none other, and because flowing water and shared moments can heal friendships and mend grievances . . .

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We watched daylight race the river downstream …

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 . . .

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