Hard Goods

Wet Fly Ways

  • By: David Hughes
  • Photography by: Greg Thomas
  • and David Hughes
Davy Wotton   

Click image for slideshow.

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.

The Ice Cream Cone Chironomid

  • By: Brian Chan
  • Photography by: Brian Chan
Rainbow on a Leech  

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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.

2012 Kudo Awards

  • By: Zach Matthews
  • , Darrel Martin
  • , Buzz Bryson
  • and Greg Thomas
2012 Kudo Awards

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.

Fab 5 Fall Hatches

  • By: Skip Morris
  • , Tom Keer
  • , Matt Supinski
  • , John Holt
  • and Greg Thomas
  • Photography by: Louis Cahill
October Caddis Serendipity

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.”

Cold-Weather Trout

  • By: Dave Hughes
  • Photography by: Dave Hughes
Oregon's Deschutes

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.

Sight-Casting for Black Drum

  • By: Chico Fernandez
  • Photography by: Chico Fernandez
Black Drum

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.

Midges in Moving Water

  • By: David Hughes
  • Photography by: David Hughes
Midges in Moving Water

The most difficult part of solving any moving-water midge situation is figuring out when you’re in one. Midges are usually so small, and so often hatch at either dawn or dusk, that it’s often impossible to see them. You see trout rising, you suspect they’re not doing it as a hobby, but you can’t see anything they might be taking. When that happens, make midges your first thought because they might be dying in those rises.

The Gurgler for Steelhead

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This post courtesty of Angler's Tonic,

Take those metalheads on the swing
Let's say you've just been through a few days of bliss, banging up steelhead on light sinktips and whatever your delivery of choice is—Fall Favorite, sunken Muddler, Pick 'yer Pocket...

New Gear

  • By: Ted Leeson
  • , Zach Matthews
  • and Buzz Bryson
Hardy Fortuna X Reel

Why on earth do we need a fly reel that pulls over 30 pounds of drag? That was the question when Hardy unveiled its new Fortuna X fly reel at the recent International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, in New Orleans. Jim Murphy, President of Hardy North America, and Andy Mill, renowned tarpon angler and author who helped develop the product, said it’s all about big fish. They explained: If you’re fishing IGFA class tippet, you are limited to a maximum10kg breaking strength, so you don’t need that much drag. If you’re going for big billfish, tuna, shark or the like, however, and aren’t concerned about records, this reel allows an angler to really put pressure on a fish. That said, if you’ve never fished an outfit with 20-plus pounds of drag, especially on a longer rod giving more leverage to the fish, you’ll quickly find out why people use fighting harnesses.

The Glass Renaissance

  • By: Ted Leeson
  • Photography by: Greg Thomas
Glass Rods

Like most anglers of a certain vintage, I began fly-fishing with fiberglass rods. Cane rods, aside from their prohibitive cost, were considered a bit old fashioned, and “graphite” was still a word that applied to pencils. Fiberglass was modern technology, a lighter, stronger, more versatile, “high-performance” material, and to many fishermen, that automatically meant that we had to have it. Some things never change.