Greatest of All Time

  • By: E. Donnall Thomas

Are steelhead to fly-fishing what Mohammad Ali was to boxing?

The Secret Life of Walter Troutty

  • By: R. C. Hooker

"Walter looked at the Lucite containers of pelts and parts surrounding him like circles of ice. The fur and hair ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous—antron, kip tails, hare hair, micro mink, monkey pelt and yak."

2009 Traver Award Winner: The Land Beyond Maps

  • By: Pete Fromm

The 2009 Robert Traver Fly-Fishing Writing Award Winning Story: "She casts again, the backcast too low, almost onto the rocks, but there’s only beach back there. This time she strips too fast, the fly skittering across the water, which is all the trout needs to bust after it like some hog bass. Totally hooks itself."

Mousing Around in Alaska

  • By: Greg Thomas

Unforgettable is the way anglers describe a good day of mousin’ when big rainbows rise to the surface, often in a splashy, all or nothing style; these fish aren’t just trying to sip in a mouse, like a Montana rainbow might lip-kiss a PMD, they’re trying to kill it. They have to react that way because Alaska provides some of the harshest winter conditions in the world and those fish need every ounce of protein they can get.

Cover Stories

  • By: Joe Healy
FRR 0304 1979.jpg

The front cover is the face of a magazine. The façade. The entryway. Done well, through the image chosen and the cover lines written, it’s the summation of not only the pages to follow; but the feeling of the magazine. The cover strikes a nerve, triggers an impulse and arrests our attention. It causes the reader to pause after shaking the magazine free from the mail pile—or, to the enduring satisfaction of we editors and art directors who create these canvases, convinces a customer to buy this magazine from a retailer. More than a mere cloak, a cover is the magazine’s personality. Here, we went back to our beginnings, March/April 1979, marched through the decades and selected some of the most engaging of the past 178 FR&R front covers.

Creative Solutions

  • By: Tom Keer

From 1929 to today, Winston has based its business on designing and building quality fly rods for specific angling situations.

Simple Gifts

  • By: Yvon Chouinard
YC fishing Tierra Del Fueg.jpg

FR&R’s 2009 Angler of the Year declares his move toward ultimate simplicity, on and off the water.

Blitz Season at The End

  • By: Pat Ford
  • and Paul G. Quinnett
  • Photography by: Pat Ford

Montauk, the terminus of land off Long Island, New York, is known as “The End.” During autumn anglers consider it one of the country’s best fly-fishing locations for striped bass, bluefish and false albacore.

Trout Realism

  • By: Peter Thompson

he artwork here is excerpted from Freshwater Game Fish of North America: An Illustrated Guide by Peter Thompson, available from Fly Rod & Reel Books.

New Gear

  • By: Fly Rod and Reel

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.


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.