- By: Jim Bean
There are plenty of fly fishers who plunge boldly into swift and treacherous rivers without the aid of a wading staff. Indeed, there is a widespread sentiment that only a weenie or an overly cautious old fart uses one. I may fit both categories. It’s true that I have less to lose at this age, but I am also more loath than ever to lose it.
- By: Zach Matthews
With a few simple techniques, and someone else’s curling iron, you can build welded loops and any fly line you might need—on local waters or at the ends of the earth.
- By: Ted Leeson
At some point, every serious angler confronts the naked truth—no matter how many fly rods you own, the prospect of a new one is irresistible. Part of the attraction undoubtedly owes to an unspoken suspicion lodged in the fly-fishing heart—that a “better” rod will make you a better angler. This comforting (if vain) thought gives us hope, which is a primary component of fishing generally. Sometimes, however, the allure is less easily explained. A few seasons back, I somehow embraced the groundless conviction that the ideal trout rod was eight-and-a-half feet long, and my nine-footers were now insufficient. Time to replace them. Still, there’s often sound logic in the appeal of the new. Over time, your casting style or tempo may change, and you want a rod action that better fits the way you fish now. Or you might seek an all-purpose rod that performs all of its purposes with less effort and greater control. Conversely, you may need a rod for a particular water type or angling technique or fishing circumstance. Or maybe you just want to fish something that feels different from what you use now, just for a change. Sometimes it’s that simple.
- By: David Hughes
- Photography by: David Hughes
- and Greg Thomas
I wrote a book titled wet flies, and generally consider myself competent to fish them. Recently, however, I fished with Davy Wotton on the White River, near Cotter, Arkansas, and received a set of lessons that gave the effectiveness of wets a quantum leap for me. I was invited to present a workshop for the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, in Mountain Home, and did two smart things: accepted the invitation; and instantly booked a day to fish with Wotton.
I’d met him, discussed writing with him, studied his videos, but had never fished with him, and had not got around to incorporating his concepts whole into my own fishing. When I finally got that chance, I was astounded at the breadth and depth of his knowledge about fly-fishing. I also hung well behind him on the river, so that no contrasts could be drawn between his artistry and my ineptitude when we got fly rods in our hands.
- By: Brian Chan
- Photography by: Brian Chan
Fly-fishing continually evolves, be it advancements in tackle, the challenges of new fisheries, or the evolution of fly patterns and fishing techniques. In fact, what may seem like a simple fishing or tying advancement may turn into a significant step in the refinement of a fishery. That’s often the case with stillwater trout fishing, where creative anglers are attracted to the sport because it offers plenty of challenge and equal reward, in the form of skeptical trout that run much larger on average than their stream-raised counterparts.
One of the most productive lake-fishing methods is to fish with chironomids, also called midge pupae. In nutrient-rich waters these members of the Diptera insect family form a significant part of a trout or char’s diet. During spring and summer daily chironomid emergences cloud the water with pupae wiggling to the surface. Chironomid pupae must taste good, because the biggest trout gorge on even the smallest pupae. Fish literally swallow hundreds of the insects as they slowly ascend to become adults. But matching chironomids and getting a fish to take isn’t as easy as you’d think it would be. In fact, in lakes fish have the time to study them closely, and they’ll likely refuse anything but a perfect match. That’s why matching chironomids has become an art form, and Kelly Davison, who runs Searun Fly & Tackle in Coquitlam, British Columbia, made one of greatest advancements in chironomid construction of all time.
- By: Ted Leeson
Time has a way of muddling cause and effect. It’s difficult to know if the fly-fishing vest evolved because anglers needed something to hold all their gear, or if fly anglers carry so much stuff simply because someone invented a place to put it. Either way, it was love at first sight, and the vest now stands as the iconic representation of fly-fishing even among non-anglers. Although chest packs and fanny packs have emerged as alternatives, they seem most popular for less gear-intensive forms of angling—steelheading or the flats, for instance—where such packs are enormously useful. But for day-in/day-out trout fishing, far fewer anglers seem to have made the change. For them, a vest remains the most congenial approach.
- By: Buzz Bryson
- , Greg Thomas
- , Darrel Martin
- and Zach Matthews
In my opinion, the late Jack Charlton’s legacy is that he designed and built the two best fly reels ever made. Ever. We could debate that over a single malt, and I acknowledge there are exceptional fly reels other than the Mako—and its predecessor, the namesake Charlton reels—but I don’t know anyone who thinks he can trade up from a Charlton.
- By: Tom Keer
- , Matt Supinski
- , John Holt
- , Greg Thomas
- and Skip Morris
- Photography by: Louis Cahill
I enjoy watching friends fish, but this debacle was too much and I was on the verge of losing it. My pal Dan Summerfield had just missed, like, 15 eats in a row.
“WTF,” I shouted from my perch above Idaho’s North Fork Clearwater River, mocking our dreadful societal sway toward slaphappy acronyms, as if I were texting instead of sharing an afternoon on the water with a friend. He answered, “This size 20 Baetis is so small I just can’t get a good set.”
- By: Dave Hughes
- Photography by: Dave Hughes
The standard advice for trout fishing in nippy winter weather is TO rig with a sinking line and a big streamer (to coax idle fish into action), or with a pair of weighted nymphs (to roll along the bottom and right into open mouths). Both formulas have their appropriate places, when temperatures fall and also when water levels rise. But rigging takes second seat, in winter, to something far more important: Reading water to find the trout. If you cast those sunk streamers and tumbling nymphs in water that holds few fish, or just as often no fish at all, you’ll have system failure, even if you do everything else precisely right.
- By: Chico Fernandez
- Photography by: Chico Fernandez
Black drum get no respect. And I really don’t know why: THEY TAIL while feeding on the flats, you can sight-cast to them in shallow water, they are plentiful, they grow to more than 100 pounds (that’s not a typo), they can fight hard and they are not easy. If you haven’t cast to a big, tailing black drum, I recommend you give it a try. You may become a better angler for it. I have always thought that when you go after a new species, you can’t help but learn more about the fish’s environment and the different foods in their habitat, while improving your casting accuracy, fly manipulation and fish-fighting.