July 2009

July 2009

Editor's Note

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For the past several months, we’ve been poring through, reading, studying back issues of the magazine to gather material for our 30th Anniversary special section that begins on page 36. Some of the pleasant surprises: Gary LaFontaine writing about his early fly-design discoveries and also about general fly-fishing techniques such as the Yo-Yo Retrieve (November/December 1996); Verlyn Klinkenborg, now often read in National Geographic or The New York Times, writing the book-review column; Earnest Schwiebert’s 1980 essay on perch fishing and later (1987) his several-thousand-word rebuttal to greased-line theories for Atlantic salmon; seeing bylines such as Lefty Kreh, Robert Traver, George Reiger, Eric Leiser, Sylvester Nemes, Russell Chatham, Geoffrey Norman, Howell Raines, Jim Bashline; and of course the work of columnists Lee and Joan Wulff, John Gierach, Darrel Martin, Ted Williams, A. K. Best, Dave Hughes, Jack Samson, Jeffrey Cardenas, Ted Leeson, Chico Fernandez, Buzz Bryson, Seth Norman—and many, many others. (Mea culpa for the names I’ve left out, only for space reasons.) About 180 issues have worn the name Rod & Reel (adding the word Fly made the title complete in 1989) in these past three decades, a canon filled with masterly work of the best thinkers and doers in our sport.

One story that caught my attention was published in Volume 1, Number 2 in 1979. The title was “It Looks Like The Devil To Me” and profiled not a fly fisher or tier (though some of us certainly look like the devil after a long weekend of fishing); but a fly—the Devil Bug. Rod & Reel began as an all-tackle fishing magazine, so having a fly profile that early in the game called out attention. I also had a sense of déjà vu: the bug looked familiar, or maybe its name did. Somewhere out of my youth came memories of this bulbous creation. I don’t recall fishing one; more likely, my father had one in a tackle box or I had seen it in Fredon’s bait shop in Syracuse, New York, sometime in the 1970s. (Bubbling bait tanks, the sweet-rank smell of minnows and worm bedding; row upon row of plastic-packaged lures.)


The plot thickened when I read Tony Atwill’s story and learned that the Devil Bug originated in Old Forge, New York, and was an Adirondack bass standard. O. C. Tuttle developed the fly; his wife named it (“It looks like…”). Eppinger tackle, makers of the Dardevle, bought the rights to make the fly in 1977. Sensing history, I called Eppinger. I spoke with Karen Eppinger—who still ties Devil Bugs the way Tuttle’s daughter taught her more than 30 years ago. The company had seven full-time tiers making the bugs back then—“All we did was tie!” Karen says—to supply retailers from the local bait shop to Kmart. Atwill’s article is as fresh today as it was in 1979—you can still buy Devil Bugs from Eppinger—which is why we’re republishing it (with updated photos by Ted Fauceglia) on page 26. Isn’t it nice to know that much has changed and advanced in our sport in these three decades—and much also hasn’t.

  • By: Joe Healy

A 30 Year View

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In my address book, Fly Rod & Reel Magazine is still listed under “R” for “Rod & Reel: The Journal of American Angling,” which is what it was called when John Merwin started it back in 1979. It was originally intended to be a high-class, thoughtful publication that would cover all methods of sport fishing. I appreciated that egalitarian ideal (fly casters don’t have a monopoly on a love of the sport) but it wasn’t until the word “Fly” was added to the title that the magazine found its true voice and its readership—although it never did make the move to “F” in my address book.

I wrote occasional articles for the magazine early on, and then signed on as a regular columnist in 1992 and went on the masthead as an “Editor at Large.” That’s one of those honorary titles that can sound more impressive than they really are, especially in my case, since I’ve never done a lick of real editing in my life. I’ve now lasted through 17 years, five editors and, as of this issue, 106 columns. To a freelance writer, that almost begins to look like steady work.

For the most part, my columns have been as well received as the rest of the magazine, but I have heard from some who I rubbed the wrong way. All writers secretly crave approval (that’s why we sign our work) and discouraging words always smart a little. On the other hand, I come from a newspaper background where it’s believed that if your columns aren’t pissing off at least some readers some of the time, you’re probably being too careful. So with that in mind, I treasure every critical letter. Of course, no one on the staff could top the great Ted Williams for sheer volume of angry mail.

I know the magazine has evolved over the last 30 years. The Kudos and the Traver Awards come to mind as once-new features and the look of the publication has changed from time to time, but most of the rest happened slowly and I barely noticed. The same goes for fly-fishing itself. There always seems to be something new, but at the same time rods, reels, lines, leaders and flies are all still entirely recognizable. Waders may be made from different materials now, but they’re still intended to keep the water out and you still put them on one leg at a time. Fish are still as fascinating and maddening as they’ve always been and people still go fishing without knowing if they’ll catch anything that day.

There was that big boom in the sport in the early and mid-1990s that brought more people into fly-fishing and changed the charming little fly-tackle business into a full-fledged industry. That expansion was widely attributed to A River Runs Through It (the movie, not the book) but I actually think it was the other way around. I think that by then fly-fishing had become popular enough in its own right that the movie would have an audience. Whatever the cause, fly-fishing gradually became fashionable and entered the mainstream. It began to show up in TV commercials for everything from credit cards to pain relievers—unfortunately, most of the supposed fly fishers in the ads dress too neatly and put too much wrist in their casts.

If the sensibility of the sport has changed over the last 30 years, I haven’t really noticed that, either. There have always been competitors for whom a fish was nothing more than a checkmark on a scorecard, but there have always been others who could go to great lengths to catch a few fish, only to spend the next hour sitting on a log wondering what it all means. There’s either room for all kinds, or at least there’s no sergeant at arms to eject people for wrong thinking.

For that matter, beginners still learn the ropes from older fishermen—in person, in print or electronically—and older, supposedly wiser fly casters still learn new tricks from the young guns. I know some older anglers who get grumpy when they’re having a slow day and some whippersnapper walks by and says, “Dude, we’re killing ’em on Girdle Bugs.” But most of us aren’t above accepting generosity from strangers and I, for one, have caught too many fish by taking that kind of advice. I no longer even wait till the guy’s out of sight before changing flies.

By all accounts, there are more people fly-fishing than there were three decades ago, but again, that happened gradually, so it snuck up on some of us. I have noticed a few more fly fishers on some of the small mountain streams in the Rocky Mountains, but I’ve been told I may have had something to do with that by waxing poetic about creek fishing every chance I got. Oops.

You do hear more about rudeness than you used to, but I don’t think it’s any more prevalent than it ever was, nor is it confined to any one group. It’s also not a recent development; so don’t let any geezers tell you that back in the old days everyone was a perfect gentleman. Honestly, I fish a lot and on average see maybe two or three cases of outright assholery in a season, and some of those are caused by ignorance rather than actual evil intent.

Bad behavior among fly fishers might seem more prevalent than it really is because we tend to vividly remember anyone who we think screwed us over on the water. What we don’t always recall—or even consciously grasp at the time—are the many other fishermen who get out of the river downstream, quietly walk around behind us and leave us three-hundred yards of water before getting back in. I guess that’s just a characteristic of the sport: as long as things are going our way, we’re oblivious.

John Gierach is…John Gierach. We’re honored to embark on our next 30 years with John as our back-page columnist.

  • By: John Gierach

Favorite Flies from 30 Years (And Beyond)

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Today there are many variations on old and new patterns. What has transformed modern tying is not a handful of patterns, but rather the wide and creative gathering (as well as the use) of tying materials. Now we have CDC feathers, gallo de Leon, epoxy compounds, metal and glass double-drilled beads, rubber legs in rainbow colors, tungsten body shapes, scintillating synthetics, colorful foams and so on. Our feather merchants, such as Whiting Farms, have introduced some new uses for feathers. Have you seen Whiting’s Bird Fur? And the Internet has made materials and tying techniques available world-wide. Finally, what is the shape and color of your hook? The choices are myriad. We have never had such innovative and rich tying. With that in mind, we asked FR&R writers and editors to pick some of their favorite trout patterns through the last three decades.—Darrel Martin, contributing editor

Ted Leeson

My top choice for the most influential fly of the last 30 years would without a doubt be a bead-head anything—probably a generic Bead-head Hare’s Ear (below, top), one of the first bead-head patterns to show up here in the West, though my personal favorite of the bead-head patterns is a Bead-head Prince (below, bottom). In terms of changing the way people fish (dry-fly/dropper combinations) and a style of fly that has become perfectly ubiquitous, the bead-head seems well beyond the others. I like the Sparkle Pupa, too. I might argue as well for the Quigley Cripple, since the dressing style is now widely used on a variety of flies. Something like the Zebra Midge is not a bad choice, acknowledging the small-fly/tailwater phenomenon of recent decades. I’m not sure when the Clouser Minnow showed up—not primarily a trout pattern, but one that does cross a lot of boundaries. I think that CDC flies have been very influential as well; the problem is that there is no archetypical CDC pattern, something that capsulates its importance over the decades. The Stimulator is a reasonable choice, though not a terribly original design, really just tweaking an older pattern, the Bucktail Caddis. But of course there’s nothing new under the sun.
—Ted Leeson is our gear-test maven

Seth Norman

One of first flies I learned to tie came advertised as a Warden’s Worry, which it is not. By most folks lights it’s a long, short or standard, thin, fat floating or weighted, minute or monstrous Renegade. Simple by any standards, it worked for me for years—still does—tied wet or dry. We could do this in one sentence; let’s not: Take two wraps of barred brown hackle at the hook bend, tie off. Follow with a body of peacock herl; rib with pearl Flashabou for dry, copper wire for wet. Add two turns of grizzly hackle up front. Drink, deeply, but wisely. You may wish to time yourself: For me, a pace of one Jim Beam per two pals per hour—it’s hard to describe—will pump out a spring’s worth of these in a period of time I forget. (Note: It does help to admire them at the end of the evening, because by the next morning the later ones may have gone off a bit. Humidity, I’m guessing.) I’m reasonably sure fish have taken tiny versions as a midge or midge cluster, size 18 to 8s as both mayflies (green drakes in particular) and caddis, especially in broken water; and a few fools will mistake fat floaters for snails in lakes. I also do love a parachute tie, and except in white water prefer these to standard patterns. But for me, the Compara-dun style addresses so many mayfly “issues.” To wit, it catches fish—even selective fish, often; also, I can usually see it on the water and tie it at the vise. I even use the wing for a foam-bodied Hex that will withstand an entire evening of toothy cutts and smash-jawed smallmouths. (Note: it helps to—lightly-lightly-lightly!—dab the wing base with a little Soft Tex.)
—Seth Norman is our longtime book reviewer

Jim Butler
I’ll start with the McMurray Ant: Essentially, two cylinders of balsa wood, painted, and strung on a short length of mono, then lashed to a hook; a few turns of appropriate hackle added. More than once, when I’ve been unable to adequately match what was hatching, a McMurray (or some other small terrestrial) has helped me camouflage my angling shortcomings and catch a few trout. Next, an Elkhair Caddis. Not just a fine imitation, but also a terrific searching fly (somehow, its jaunty attitude as it floats down a run almost gives it a personality). Thanks, Al Troth. Gold-Ribbed Hares Ear nymph: The bug that took my first fly-caught trout. Nuff said. Now, in a nod to modernity, I often fish’em with a bead.—Jim Butler is the magazine’s former editor-in-chief

Joe Healy
I’m partial to a Yellow Humpy or a Yellow or Orange Stimulator (hmm, is this sounding like a personal ad?) as searching patterns, or a Joe’s Hopper (of course). Also, a gray CDC Caddis has worked well for me throughout New England waters, and the combination of CDC and a turkey biot in an CDC Biot Spinner is another winner. Also the Compara-Dun is a favorite, particularly in the years since I had a tying lesson from Al Caucci.  —Joe Healy is this magazine’s associate publisher

Val Atkinson

My favorite flies from the last three decades: Quigley Cripple, Black Ant, Poly-Wing Trico, Monroe Leach, Dave’s Hopper. They’re still my favorites. First choice on the top: Quigley Cripple; first choice on the bottom: Monroe Leach. Get’s them every time.—Val Atkinson is a contributing editor. Dave’s Hopper photo by Ted Fauceglia

James Prosek
My go-to flies are Elkhair Caddis, Caddis nymph and Caddis emerger—a la Gary LaFontaine. Also, the Woolly Bugger and Squirreltail Streamer.—James Prosek is a contributing editor.

  • By: Fly Rod and Reel

Letters

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After reading your article on cold feet I was compelled to send you some information about a product I have used over the last couple years. My passion for steelhead puts me in some cold and unforgiving environments. Cold feet are an everyday occurrence. I met a fellow steelhead fisherman some time ago named Tony Gullo. Tony owns a sock company called Tech Spun. Tony’s sock concept is a two-part system just as you have described in your article—a thin liner and a heavyweight insulating sock. When I first met Tony I was steelhead fishing but out of the river trying to get my feet warm. Through conversation Tony offered to send me a pair of socks and I have to tell you they are worth checking out. I have several pairs to date and they wear like iron. I cannot tell the first pair from the new ones. Tony recommended that I size up my boots for proper fit and this has made all the difference. I routinely am on the river all day in water temps in the 30s. Tony has two insulating weight socks available. If you have the opportunity you should contact Tony. He’s got a great product that works—www.techspun.com.
Rick Aspinwall
Sent via e-mail

Like the Pike

Looking at the pike photo essay in the June issue “Pike of the Midnight Sun” took me back to my boyhood days more than 40 years ago in Michigan’s Upper Pennisula (I am an ex-patriot now). My buddy and I would take my dad’s duck boat into the harbor in Menominee. We were 10 years old and on summer vacation, which meant a lot of fishing. We would regularly catch “northerns,” as we called them. We always fished as a pair because it took both of us to haul the fish into the boat. To get them home we had hooks made from coat hangers stuck into the handlebar grips of our Schwinn balloon-tire bikes. The trick was to keep two pike that were the same size so the bike would balance. Usually, 8 inches of tail would drag and that would make them 48 to 50 inches long. We would ride past office windows going home for lunch. The next day there would be 10 men from that office fishing our spot during their breaks! I really miss those fun-filled days and your articles always transport me out of the cubicle farm. I plan on fishing back there in the UP when I retire. By then I’ll be so old I’ll still need a buddy to help me get the fish into the boat!
Peter Dallman
Irvine, CA

Sneaky Tactics
I received a subscription to your magazine as a Christmas present from my son-in-law and have found it to be my favorite reading. Your articles are always entertaining and educational. I especially enjoyed the June article “The Approach” by Galen Mercer. I really need to work on a sneaky approach and his article fits the bill. This is definitely a subscription I will renew.
Larry Tucker
Hayden, ID

Presentation Mayfly

We received many responses to our Presentation mayfly quiz last issue. In sending his correct answer Yellow Quill or Epeorus, Rick Sanders of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho wrote “I understand that they are delicious.” We’ll choose two other winners at random and will notify them by e-mail. Each will receive a collectible fly-fishing print. Thanks to Ted Leeson and bug guru Rick Hafele for their assistance in verifying the bug’s identity.

Hawaiian Bones
It was with some interest I read the article last issue in Short Casts on Hawaiian bonefish. I have been fly-fishing for bonefish on the island of Kauai for the last two years with some limited success. What was not mentioned in the article was the size of the environment to be fished. Kauai might have 5 square miles of bonefish flats. If you are going to Kauai to bonefish you better have a Plan B for the rest of your time. This isn’t the Keys or the Bahamas with miles and miles of flats. If you go, good flats boots are a must. The “flats” are all dead coral reef, which is extremely sharp and is difficult to walk on. There are large bonefish and you might actually see two or three in a day’s fishing, but you will not see tailing fish as the water the fish occupy is too deep.
Paul Franko
Sent via e-mail

Send your comments to editors@flyrodreel.com. Please include a daytime phone number and your hometown. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

30 Year Moments

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In the Beginning From the March/April 1979 issue of Rod & Reel, Volume 1, Number 1: “We freely admit that, as long as it’s not damaging, gossip is a hell of a lot of fun. Time, Inc., has laughed all the way to the bank with its magazine, People. Other people make good reading, especially when they share with us the common ground of angling. That’s why you’ll see features on various fishing folk in this and subsequent issues, although we hasten to add that such articles will extend beyond mere gossip.” —John Merwin, founder and first editor Rod & Reel

  • By: Fly Rod and Reel

Double-Figure Bones

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"There are more large bonefish in the shallow waters of the Florida Keys and Biscayne Bay in Miami than any other place I know."

  • By: Chico Fernandez

New Gear

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SIMMS
Headwaters Packs

The Headwaters Day Pack is a multi-use backpack designed to carry gear to the water, around town or on a plane. With 1,730 cubic inches, or 30 liters (and weighing in at 43 ounces), the Headwaters Day Pack has an internal compartment for laptop storage, side stretch mesh pockets to hold water bottles or rod tubes, a zippered front pocket for additional storage, a bottom dry zone and removable pack fly and zippers and compression straps designed to eliminate line-catching. It’s designed to be used in conjunction with the Headwaters Chest Pack, which adds to the versatility; $119.95. The company’s Headwaters Chest Pack holds fly boxes and other on-stream gear conveniently and without inhibiting casting or mobility; this spiffy little pack has internal pockets for your iPhone or camera, a retractor docking station, a molded foam front pocket that holds large fly boxes and an easy-pull adjustment system that eliminates traditional line-catching hardware. It can be used on its own, or clipped to the Headwaters Day Pack for bushwhacking excursions. The chest pack weighs 13.6 ounces, has a 500 cubic inch capacity and retails for $69.95. simmsfishing.com

 

WINSTON
Boron II-MX Two-Handed Rods

Recently, I was standing on the banks of Washington’s Skagit River, lamenting the merit of my Spey cast. In contrast, three seasoned guides traded off with Winston’s new Boron II-MX switch rod, saying things like, “This isn’t fair! Now I have to own one.” I understood what was in store; with rattled nerves and a lack of confidence, I took my turn with the stick and readied for verbal abuse. And then, the strangest thing happened. I set the line downstream, performed the lift and sweep, and effortlessly launched my cast, which ended about 60 feet from where it began as the line stretched tight in midair. I turned to the fellows with mouth agape. One of the guides said, “Look at his face.” I replied, “How much are these?” Love at first throw.

That was my introduction to Winston’s new line of Boron II-MX switch rods, the 12-foot, 3-inch 7/8 two-hand model to be specific. Those new rods are touted as perfect for midsized steelhead rivers, such as the Deschutes and Grande Ronde, but we found the 7/8, when paired with Airflo’s 540-grain Skagit Compact head, to throw all the distance we desired. This rod, which was designed with input from leading Spey caster Andre Scholz, throws distance like a dream.

Dave McCoy, who owns Emerald Water Anglers in Seattle and who hosted me on the Skagit last winter said, “I am surprised how subtle that switch rod is. I thought it would be too fast for the average angler to pick up and enjoy. But it’s not heavy or clunky at all, even with a heavy tip. It’s easy to handle and extremely light. With the right instruction, even a novice could pick it up and cast really far—maybe 80-to 100 feet—in five or ten minutes.” The Boron II-MX two-handed rods are available in the aforementioned 12-3 7/8 model and in an 11-foot, 5-inch 6-weight design; $795 to $895. winstonrods.comGreg Thomas

 

The Hook & Hackle Company
Tippet Material

Available in a co-polymer and fluorocarbon, H & H’s tippet is made in Japan in a factory with long-time experience producing these materials. According to the company, the fluorocarbon numbers test at 20 percent stronger than nylon of the same strength. You can go from 5X co-polymer to 6X fluorocarbon and not give up any strength, H & H’s Ron Weiss reports. The spools are 50 yards, not 30 like most others (except in sizes 0X, 1X and 2X). Price is $9 for the fluoro and $3.25 for the co-polymer. “The guides out West use this and when I found out what it was, I had it private labeled for us,” Weiss says. The company also offers packaged leaders, from tapered nylon in a dull olive color to hand-tied fluorocarbon leaders. hookhack.com

  • By: Fly Rod and Reel

The Power of One

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"Eventually, my confidence grew and I was punching casts within inches of the brush-riddled and trout-saturated banks."

  • By: Greg Thomas

Born in the Basement

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In the mid 1970s, Connecticut native John Merwin was living the back-to-the-land dream in northern Vermont, tending a herd of beef cows and growing his own food, when he came across an issue of Fly Fisherman magazine. A writer and lifelong angler, Merwin was intrigued. “My first thought was ‘This is awful,’” Merwin remembers, but he liked the idea of the magazine, which was edited by its founder, Don Zahner.

Merwin submitted a couple of fly-fishing articles to Zahner, who was impressed enough that he asked Merwin to become managing editor of the magazine. So, Merwin sold the farm and moved south to Dorset, Vermont, to begin a career as a writer and editor that has lasted more than 30 years.

A few years later, Zahner sold Fly Fisherman to publishing giant Ziff-Davis, and in 1979 Merwin decided to strike out on his own. His goal was to launch a fishing magazine featuring better writing and more diverse content, produced at “a higher level of intelligence” than the titles presently then on the newsstand. Thus was Rod & Reel born, in the basement of Merwin’s house, with the help of Kit Parker, whom he had lured away from Fly Fisherman as a partner to run the business side of the operation. Although at first the magazine covered all kinds of fishing, Merwin decided after a few issues that a more narrowly defined publication, devoted exclusively to fly-fishing, would work better.

Promising that his new title would be a cut above the competition, Merwin was able to convince authors such as Lefty Kreh and Charlie Fox to write for him. But his biggest coup was landing Lee Wulff, who at the time was a columnist for Sports Afield, one of the “Big Three” national sporting magazines, with a circulation in the hundreds of thousands.

When Tom Paugh, the editor of Sports Afield, told Wulff that he could not write for Rod & Reel, Wulff quit his prestigious post and took over the back page of Merwin’s untested startup—a testament to both Wulff’s stubbornness and his belief in Merwin’s ambitious vision.

From the beginning, Merwin tried to offer his readers something different from the standard fare. “It’s important to have a surprise or two per issue,” Merwin says, and his Rod & Reel included articles ranging from Robert Traver essays to an analysis of trout vision, as well as no-holds-barred reviews—even negative ones—of fishing gear. (See the All About… column on page 58 of this issue for Ted Leeson’s input on his decades of gear reviews.)

Merwin remembers those early days fondly, but he was working like a one-armed wallpaper-hanger: reading submissions, editing stories, designing and laying out the pages, and “running around New York City to raise money.” The son of a photographer, he also took many of the photos that accompanied articles. To add to the workload, Merwin also started a trade magazine called Fly-Fishing Retailer, which served the fly-fishing industry and offered a way for mom-and-pop operations and new businesses to get the word out on their new products.

The recession of 1981-1982 and grind of producing and financing two magazines took their toll, and Merwin sold both titles to Down East Publishing in 1983. He then served as director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing until 1986, when he returned to writing full-time. He is the author of more than a dozen books on fishing and has been writing for Field & Stream since 1994, and currently serves as the magazine’s Fishing Editor.

Phil Monahan is the former editor of American Angler magazine. He lives in southern Vermont.

  • By: Phil Monahan

Striper Signals

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If you care about fishing along the Atlantic coast for striped bass, be afraid—very afraid.

  • By: Ted Williams

Favorite Flies from 30 Years (And Beyond)

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Today there are many variations on old and new patterns. What has transformed modern tying is not a handful of patterns, but rather the wide and creative gathering (as well as the use) of tying materials. Now we have CDC feathers, gallo de Leon, epoxy compounds, metal and glass double-drilled beads, rubber legs in rainbow colors, tungsten body shapes, scintillating synthetics, colorful foams and so on. Our feather merchants, such as Whiting Farms, have introduced some new uses for feathers. Have you seen Whiting’s Bird Fur? And the Internet has made materials and tying techniques available world-wide. Finally, what is the shape and color of your hook? The choices are myriad. We have never had such innovative and rich tying. With that in mind, we asked FR&R writers and editors to pick some of their favorite trout patterns through the last three decades.—Darrel Martin, contributing editor

Ted Leeson

My top choice for the most influential fly of the last 30 years would without a doubt be a bead-head anything—probably a generic Bead-head Hare’s Ear, one of the first bead-head patterns to show up here in the West, though my personal favorite of the bead-head patterns is a Bead-head Prince (seen here). In terms of changing the way people fish (dry-fly/dropper combinations) and a style of fly that has become perfectly ubiquitous, the bead-head seems well beyond the others. I like the Sparkle Pupa, too. I might argue as well for the Quigley Cripple, since the dressing style is now widely used on a variety of flies. Something like the Zebra Midge is not a bad choice, acknowledging the small-fly/tailwater phenomenon of recent decades. I’m not sure when the Clouser Minnow showed up—not primarily a trout pattern, but one that does cross a lot of boundaries. I think that CDC flies have been very influential as well; the problem is that there is no archetypical CDC pattern, something that capsulates its importance over the decades. The Stimulator is a reasonable choice, though not a terribly original design, really just tweaking an older pattern, the Bucktail Caddis. But of course there’s nothing new under the sun.
—Ted Leeson is our gear-test maven

Seth Norman

One of first flies I learned to tie came advertised as a Warden’s Worry, which it is not. By most folks lights it’s a long, short or standard, thin, fat floating or weighted, minute or monstrous Renegade. Simple by any standards, it worked for me for years—still does—tied wet or dry. We could do this in one sentence; let’s not: Take two wraps of barred brown hackle at the hook bend, tie off. Follow with a body of peacock herl; rib with pearl Flashabou for dry, copper wire for wet. Add two turns of grizzly hackle up front. Drink, deeply, but wisely. You may wish to time yourself: For me, a pace of one Jim Beam per two pals per hour—it’s hard to describe—will pump out a spring’s worth of these in a period of time I forget. (Note: It does help to admire them at the end of the evening, because by the next morning the later ones may have gone off a bit. Humidity, I’m guessing.) I’m reasonably sure fish have taken tiny versions as a midge or midge cluster, size 18 to 8s as both mayflies (green drakes in particular) and caddis, especially in broken water; and a few fools will mistake fat floaters for snails in lakes. I also do love a parachute tie, and except in white water prefer these to standard patterns. But for me, the Compara-dun style addresses so many mayfly “issues.” To wit, it catches fish—even selective fish, often; also, I can usually see it on the water and tie it at the vise. I even use the wing for a foam-bodied Hex that will withstand an entire evening of toothy cutts and smash-jawed smallmouths. (Note: it helps to—lightly-lightly-lightly!—dab the wing base with a little Soft Tex.)
—Seth Norman is our longtime book reviewer
Jim Butler
I’ll start with the McMurray Ant: Essentially, two cylinders of balsa wood, painted, and strung on a short length of mono, then lashed to a hook; a few turns of appropriate hackle added. More than once, when I’ve been unable to adequately match what was hatching, a McMurray (or some other small terrestrial) has helped me camouflage my angling shortcomings and catch a few trout. Next, an Elkhair Caddis. Not just a fine imitation, but also a terrific searching fly (somehow, its jaunty attitude as it floats down a run almost gives it a personality). Thanks, Al Troth. Gold-Ribbed Hares Ear nymph: The bug that took my first fly-caught trout. Nuff said. Now, in a nod to modernity, I often fish’em with a bead.—Jim Butler is the magazine’s former editor-in-chief

Joe Healy
I’m partial to a Yellow Humpy or a Yellow or Orange Stimulator (hmm, is this sounding like a personal ad?) as searching patterns, or a Joe’s Hopper (of course). Also, a gray CDC Caddis has worked well for me throughout New England waters, and the combination of CDC and a turkey biot in an CDC Biot Spinner is another winner. Also the Compara-Dun is a favorite, particularly in the years since I had a tying lesson from Al Caucci.  —Joe Healy is this magazine’s associate publisher

Val Atkinson

My favorite flies from the last three decades: Quigley Cripple, Black Ant, Poly-Wing Trico, Monroe Leach, Dave’s Hopper. They’re still my favorites. First choice on the top: Quigley Cripple; first choice on the bottom: Monroe Leach. Get’s them every time.—Val Atkinson is a contributing editor.

James Prosek
My go-to flies are Elkhair Caddis, Caddis nymph and Caddis emerger—a la Gary LaFontaine. Also, the Woolly Bugger and Squirreltail Streamer.—James Prosek is a contributing editor.

  • By: Fly Rod and Reel

Ask FR&R

Q: I messed up. I have dozens of fly lines and I’m usually pretty good at labeling them, but when I moved recently I ended up with one unidentified line. I do know that it’s almost certainly a 7- to 9-weight line, the main line is chartreuse or key lime in color and it’s got a 10-foot dark-green tip. I suspect it’s either a Rio or a Scientific Anglers (SA) line. The dark tip tells me it’s a sink tip—I think. In any case, I tried to look up info on line colors of older lines (it’s probably two to five years old) and nothing seemed to match. I’ve never used it. Any suggestions on identifying it? I guess I could simply throw it on my 7- or 8-weight rods and verify if it casts okay. Thanks, I’m a longtime reader of your fine magazine—Dan Calcaterra, Canton, Michigan

I’D AGREE WITH YOUR ASSESSMENT. The dual colors pretty much identify the line as having a sinking tip. You indicated that you had tried to look up (presumably on manufacturers’ Web sites) information on the line, and didn’t find a definitive match. I can completely understand that “problem” (in most cases, we’d consider it a blessing), in that fly-line manufacturers offer us a wealth of lines with sinking tips and heads. Notwithstanding the plethora of lines offered by others, SA (www.scientificanglers.com) lists at least one line, the Mastery Wet Tip, that appeared to pretty closely match the line you describe.

I called Bruce Richards, SA’s chief line designer, an avid curler, auto-crosser and fly caster and angler extraordinaire —he is either a true Renaissance Man or a true redneck (yes, it does take one to know one) displaced to Michigan’s north woods—seeking his wisdom. Bruce confirmed, as is too often the case, that I was right…almost. He said the line description more closely fit the SA Air Cel Supreme Wet Tip (which was discontinued in 2008, in favor of the improved Supra Sink Tip series).


Bruce made an excellent point about the line weight, as well. He said a couple of diameter measurements would confirm exactly which line weight it was. But he quickly added that the “test” you suggested—casting the line on a couple of rods, matching it with the rod that cast the line most comfortably for you—was as good if not a better option. Remember, line weights come with standards, but rod designations are subjective. Better to use the combo that best suits your casting!

Q: One of the guides on my favorite fly rod got bent on my last trip. I have an unlimited warranty on the rod, but would really rather replace the guide myself, and not spend the time and money to send it back to the manufacturer. How difficult is this?

 
A: YOU’RE REALLY ASKING TWO questions. First, are you capable of replacing the guide satisfactorily? Second, will the do-it-yourself nature of the repair in any way void or limit the rod’s warranty?


The latter is really more critical, since the unlimited warranty is: 1) not free; 2) too valuable to be voided by your own action, however simple the repair and capable you are; and 3) For instance, Sage’s warranty program (http://www.sageflyfish.com/Resources/Warranty) specifically excludes “modification or customization” of the rod. The warranty department advised me that Sage has no control over home repairs. Should you replace a bent guide, and the rod subsequently breaks, Sage cannot determine whether the breakage was a covered (under warranty) repair, or in fact related to the replacement guide not having sharp edges removed, or being wrapped on too tightly, either of which can create a stress point and ultimately lead to rod breakage. So, to be perfectly compliant with the warranty program, either take the rod to a dealer, or send it directly to Sage, with the $50 fee, and you’ll get it back, good as new.


Temple Fork Outfitters’ Rick Pope says: “I’m fine with somebody taking a rod to a repair shop; most of them will replace a single guide for $5 or $10. Or, send it back to us with the $25, and we’ll make it good.” Question One takes a little more explaining. Go to www.flyrodreel.com Skills section for some advice on replacing a rod guide.

Send your questions for Professor Buzz to editors@flyrodreel.com.

  • By: Buzz Bryson

40 Years of Fishing Travel

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Since the company’s founding in 1969, Frontiers International Travel has opened up some of the world’s most exciting fishing destinations.

  • By: Tom Keer

Devilishly Good....

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Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from the July/August 1979 issue of Rod & Reel magazine, as Fly Rod & Reel was then named. It was the first fly-design feature in this magazine’s 30-year history.

  • Photography by: Ted Fauceglia