Articles With the Tag . . . Smith

What water type? Where are they eating?

Fast, heavy, deep runs have always been my favorite water type to fish. I can spend a full day in the big stuff. I love the mind-clearing washout of whitewater. No average sounds penetrate it. And the never ending roar of a chunky run is mesmerizing. I also enjoy the wading challenge. The heaviest water requires not just effort, but a constant focus and a planned path to keep you upright and on two feet. Constant adjustment is needed to stay balanced, and one slip or misstep ends up in a thorough dunking. It reminds me of the scaffold work I did on construction crews in my twenties. I always enjoyed being a few stories up, because the workday flew by. When every movement means life or death, you’d better stay focused. I always liked that . . .

New Structure | Old Structure

One of my favorite places in the world is a deeply shaded valley that runs north and south between two towering mountains of mixed hardwoods. The forest floor has enough conifers mixed in to block much of the sunlight, even in the winter. The ferns of spring grow tall, and thick moss is spread throughout. The ground remains soft enough here that all large trees eventually surrender to the valley. When they can no longer support their weight in the soft spongy ground, they fall over, leaving a broken forest of deep greens and the dark-chocolate browns of wet, dead bark. It’s gorgeous.

Fallen timber also dictates the course of this cold water stream. The fresh tree falls force the creek to bend away from the hillside. Rolling water carves away the earth and lays bare the rocks — these stones of time, as Maclean puts it. And when water cuts into a neighboring channel, previously dry for centuries, new river banks are undercut and fresh roots exposed . . .

Tight Line Nymphing — Contact Can Be Felt at the Rod Tip

. . . But Smith had also drawn out of me one thing that I’d never fully put into words before explaining it to him. Namely, that contact is felt as much as it’s seen. While tight line nymphing, I’d told Smith, an advanced angler can feel contact with the nymph on the rod tip. Essentially, you could very well fish with your eyes closed. And because Smith was skeptical, I’d suggested some after-dark tight line nymphing as a way to prove to my friend that he could feel that contact just as well as anyone . . .

Tight Line Nymphing — How Much of this is Feel?

Smith was still puzzled, and I suspected I was about to join him. He held up his rod, with the long Mono Rig leader, two nymphs and a sighter, and pointed to it.

“But if strike detection is mostly visual, what part of this is feel?”

Smith had asked a question that I’d never fully considered. Then I answered. “At the rod tip you can feel when you’re in contact with the flies . . .”

New Structure | Old Structure

New Structure | Old Structure

One of my favorite places in the world is a deeply shaded valley that runs north and south between two towering mountains of mixed hardwoods. The forest floor has enough conifers mixed in to block much of the sunlight, even in the winter. The ferns of spring grow...

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Egg Tips

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Egg Tips

Smith and I found ourselves on another late December, post-Christmas fishing trip. But Smith was fishing and coming up empty, while I was catching trout . . .

. . . “Alright, Dom. What the hell are you doing?” he demanded boldly. Smith takes pride in finding his own path and solving his own puzzles. But like every good angler I know, he’s humble enough to ask the right questions at the right times . . .

The predictability of the winter egg bite can be excellent — if you’re nymphing skills are tuned up. It also takes some extra refinement . . .

. . . So here’s what I told Smith . . .

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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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Smith and the Tree

Smith and the Tree

Right on time, Smith’s signature worn-out ball cap crested the hill on the north side of the gravel pull off. When his full frame came into view, I motioned to the propane grill and smiled with a nod. It was preheated. Resting on a large chunk of limestone, I had the portable grill ready for meat. When Smith approached, I handed my friend a beer without a word. Glass chimed and we nodded again.

This is what I like about Smith: We planned for noon, and he’s so reliable that I knew it was worth lighting the propane at 11:50 . . .

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Play it as it lies

Play it as it lies

The shifts and evolutions that a river succumbs to is captivating to watch.

It’s a slow motion reel in your mind, spanning twenty years of fishing around the same small island. Until one day, after the flood waters recede, you walk down the trail to find the whole island gone.

I want an experience as close to what nature intended as possible on this twenty-first century planet. And messing with a river’s placement of things just isn’t for me.

It’s the river’s decision.

Keep it wild . . .

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When should you change the fly?

When should you change the fly?

My buddy, Smith, is stubborn. Whether traveling across the country or fishing our local rivers, he fishes the same handful of flies, year round. Smith can literally hold his selection of nymphs, wets, dries and streamers in one hand without them spilling over. With patterns that are fine-tuned from experience and a selection ruthlessly stripped down to the bare bones, his handful of hooks is the very definition of confidence flies.

Smith’s trust in those patterns is so spot on, you might assume that he rarely changes flies. But you’d be wrong. Ask Smith, and he’ll tell you he changes flies whenever it’s necessary.

Now, what does that mean? . . .

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At the front door of every rock

At the front door of every rock

Before I could even offer the challenge, Smith had already accepted it. He shifted his pack high onto his shoulders and stripped out line, wading deftly through the first thirty feet of water. Now stationed in the hard and swift side seam of the pocket, Smith’s six foot frame towered over the same rock that had challenged me.

He ignored the stall behind the rock. He cast no flies to the edges of each lane, because I’d already covered them. His first shot was a measure of distance. His second cast was a gauge of depth. On the third cast he had all the information he needed, and he tucked the stonefly into the flow — five feet above the limestone boulder — and let it drift . . .

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