Iron Fly - Lander, WY

Iron Fly - Lander, WY Dec 3 6:30 @ Lander Bar's Coalter Loft

Merry Christmas everybody!

Have a great Christmas!  Thanks for reading!

Event Announcement - Flies for Fuel, a benefit to help warm some homes.

Join and co. for a night of fly tying to raise some money for people who can't heat their homes.  We're going to drink some beer, raffle some prizes and have a great time.  100 percent of proceeds raised will directly go to those in need.  

We all have been there.  Fishing in the cold, and at the end of the day, there's nothing better than kicking back with a tasty beverage in front of the fireplace.  Not everyone is so lucky, so we'll do our part.  Give back to your community and have some fun.

Tuesday, January 19 @ 6PM

Innovation Brewing
Sylva, NC

More details soon.  Look for the new "Flies for Fuel" tab above.

The orange hat

Back when fishing was new to me, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time on the water, and at the vise with some world class anglers.  This was a rare collection of people who cared deeply about their sport, and even more about the people that shared that sport with them.

When we met, it usually centered on our local shop, Clearwater Fly Shop in Conway, NH.  Stephen was gracious enough to give us a place to hang out, and also a reason to share the sport with our fishing family.

One of the most important pieces of gear that I ever picked up from Stephen was my Scott Fly Rod hat.  It's a really comfortable orange hat that has been with me on more adventures than I can count.  It has a permanent place in my wardrobe - for fishing and for casual life.

Stephen with the original orange hat.

It seemed that everyone in the club had the same hat.  It must have been that all of the great anglers I admired were wearing this, but I knew I had to have it.

Wearing my orange Scott hat.

There's something about a fishing hat that I can't explain.  Maybe it is some kind of good mojo to wear it.  Maybe it's just superstition, but if I'm fishing, I want to wear that hat.  It makes my trip better.  Sitting on a rock and scratching my head, I can look at the hat and remember some the amazing times that have led me to who and where I am.  

Nome still has hers.  And she made it look pretty.  

Recently, an old friend posted a picture of his orange Scott hat on the ol' Facebook.  I can't believe it's been so many years, but I recalled a trip to the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY.  We were there in some unbelievably cold and shitty weather on the hunt for "steelhead".  Joe had hooked into some fish, and opted to keep a few.  When you decide to keep steelhead in that area, the state requires you take it to a cleaning station.  There, you pay a small fee, they clean the fish, and you go home with your filets.  

Let me fill you in on the rest of the day before I proceed with the story...  

We had awoken to find about two feet of fresh snow that morning.  Parking at the Salmon River is about as dangerous and tricky as the actual fishing.  We could't find a spot, so Tim had worked some magic.  He spoke with the owner of Melinda's (a local shop and lodge).  Melinda herself gave Tim the thumbs up for parking, so we left the Subie there and hit the river.  

OK, back to it...

Joe had hooked into some fish, wanted to keep them, and for details not divulged here, I had to take a fish to the cleaning station with him.  At that point, we determined that I would call him "Uncle Joe" and well...nevermind, the fish were cleaned and we were heading out.  Back we went to the parking lot at Melinda's.  That's when all hell broke loose.  Melinda saw that we were in possession of those recently cleaned fish and proceeded to rip poor Tim up and down.  There was no way that she would ever let him park there if she had known that he would be associating with such assholes that would be insensitive enough to keep and clean those beautiful fish.  

It's one of those things - you had to be there, but it was one of the best days on the water.  That orange hat was there.

See you on the water.  If you see the guy with the orange Scott hat, say hello, and I'll tell you some more stories about it and the crazy shit it has been involved in.  

Oh yeah, haven't been back to Melinda's since then...

The after-Thanksgiving update...a new vid from GeoBass

With Thanksgiving in the rear view, and Christmas looming large on the horizon, many of us in the angling world head into an amazing time on the water.

Despite the chill in the air, there's plenty of action on the rivers, so don't give up just yet.  A pair of long underwear and a decent pair of socks can add warmth to your waders.  So, get out there and go fishing.

To keep you in the fishing mood, check out the latest from GeoBass...

The GeoBass guys spent some time at Christmas Island (how timely is that).  

The 2015 Holiday wish list - Part 1

Time for the second annual, Christmas wish list.  Here's what's on the radar so far this year.

It's time to start dropping hints to those significant others. Or just buy this shit for yourself.

You can't go wrong with something warm to wear on the river.  Patagonia has introduced their Down Snap-T Pullover.  $199 -

Also warm, but a bit more affordable and made by a good guy - check out sweatshirts from Crooked Creek Holler.  Designed by Danny Reed of Asheville, you can wear some fashion from a talented artist.  $40 - 

Tis the season to throw a two handed rod.  And, you can't go wrong with a Scott rod, so east your eyes on the L2H.  It's a 6wt, 11 foot, 4 piece setup.  $545 -

Good clean living' is what they say.  Check out Flood Tide Co.'s Grateful Red 3/4 shirt.  $34 -

Friendship, fishing and forgiveness.

You've maybe read some other posts here.  It's been a while, but there was (and will be again) a series about my fly fishing family.

A while back, I met some guys that shared a lot of common interests.  We spent a lot of time hanging out, working together, tying flies, fishing a bit (at least with one of them) and developing a friendship.

Everyone knows how life can be.  Sometimes, shit happens and things go pear shaped.  Sometimes, everyone needs a bit of time to work stuff out, and eventually there might be a day when it can start to get better.

Jeff, Bobby and Dale at Tuckaseegee Fly Shop - Bryson City, NC.

Fishing is better with friends.  Sometimes, shit happens.  Sorry it happened with all of us.  Hope to see you guys soon.  

Thoughts for the day

When you fish, what fills your mind?  Do you think about work? Money? The wife?  Kids?  Bills?  Sports?

Is your mind focused on fishing?  Do you watch that strike indicator go past with the patience of a saint?  Are you plotting every cast?

Yesterday, I made an effort to think about fishing while I was fishing.  I spent the morning in a spot that I haven't seen since the spring.  It was empty, but for me.  There was no traffic, no barking dogs, no pestering tourists.  It was just me and my thoughts.

At first, I could't get the stress of the world out of my head.  I was worried about some bullshit person at work, some unpaid bills and wondering how to get through this upcoming winter without the railroad to keep me busy.

After twenty casts, I realized I wasn't even really at the river.  I was back in town, at home, under stress.  Why the hell was I even holding a rod?

I took a deep breath, made the cast, set the hook and landed a small brook trout.  It was perfection.  The world around was in harmony.  There was no one else, anywhere, that could have any chance of changing this moment.  As the fish swam away, it all made sense.

I spent the next few hours hopping around the river.  There are a few hole in the stretch that I explored.  As I did, I thought only of fishing.  I did allow thoughts of other people to creep into my mind - but they were people that I have shared water with.

Stephen was reminding me to haul my line.  Nome was telling me to mend my line.  Dave was telling me that my cast sucked, but telling me that it would work.  Tim was telling me that a good cast is rewarded with a fish.

The voices came and went as I needed them to.  The morning was perfect.  It was nice to spend it with my thoughts and my friends.

Yeti Films: Engler

Great vid from Yeti.  Check it out.  

'Tis the season...for tying flies.

It wasn't long after I started throwing a fly rod that I was introduced to fly tying.  I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by world class anglers and fly tying experts, so it was inevitable that after learning enough about throwing a line, that I would learn to craft some flies suitable for catching a few fish.

Winter weather in the Northeast made for plenty of opportunity to learn the craft.  Clearwater Fly Shop was outfitted with tables, chairs and enough supplies to make pretty much anything that an angler could dream up.

Of course, I started with the basics.  There were Woolly Buggers and simple wet flies.  Streamers were my favorite from the beginning.  

At first, my crappy technique was tolerated, but soon, the real education began.  Dave had put up with sloppy measurements, poor thread wraps and the like, but there came the day that he ripped my "fly" from the vise and started tearing the materials off the hook.  He told me that the hook was worth more than that, and what I was doing was a real waste.  

That's when I began to pay attention to what went into the craft of building a proper fly.  Soon, my flies improved.  They didn't fall apart upon touching water.  They resembled actual invertibrates and various trout food sources.  Dave stopped tearing my shit apart.  Tying became a part of fishing life.  

One day of every weekend was spent at Clearwater Fly Shop.  There would be nine or ten of us.  Jim would bring a maple pie, Dave would have six dozen Reese's.  Nome would call the local Thai food place and order our food with a Thai accent.  But most of all, we would tie flies.  

One of the best things we ever did in our tying sessions was the "trash can challenge".  As stupid as it might have been, it taught me valuable lessons in tying.  We would take scraps of material, candy wrappers - actual trash from the bucket - and challenge each other to make something with it.  

Tying has become less and less part of my days.  Work gets in the way, and life has other demands.  This cool fall weather still encourages me to grab the vise and spend some hours crafting up some flies.  Fall fishing might be transitioning into winter fishing, but there's always hope that spring will be here soon.  Might as well start whipping up something for the longer, warmer days.  

Steelhead from the OP - Video

Cool weather and the upcoming winter has me thinking of steelheading.  Sigh.

Smith Optics Chroma-Pop

Not that long ago, I had to return my favorite pair of sunglasses.  They were called the Foley and they were made by Smith Optics.  

The lifetime warranty used to be an amazing feature provided by Smith.  I'd witnessed a friend call in a claim for a pair crushed by a drift boat trailer.  Smith replaced the shades with out a single hesitation.

The lifetime warranty isn't quite that great anymore.  After returning my Foleys, Smith notified me that though it was a defect on their side, they would only be able to offer a discounted pair of glasses.  I wasn't getting my favorite pair back, and they weren't giving me a new pair for zero.  I was going to have to pay towards new shades.  I wasn't going to win this battle, so I eventually relented.  

I picked out a new pair of Smith shoes.  I opted for the Dockside with their new Chroma Pop lens.  The lens is touted for amazing clarity and blah blah blah.  

What's the verdict?  Yeah, they are some clear lenses.  The polarization is top notch and the colors I see are great.  The price tag is scary.  $229 is a lot to spend on some shades that will most likely fall off the boat one day.  If you have some regular-ass polarized shades, you'll be ok.  If you've got cash to blow, check out some Chroma Pops.  

Now, that's a good way to start the evening.

Good beer and and the new Drake.  OK with me.

Hardly Strictly Musky 2016 - Registration opens soon

For the 5th year, Towee Boats is hosting the Hardly Strictly Musky tournament in TN.  The 2016 version is scheduled for May 12-14.

Registration opens up on October 1.  Go to this link for more info.

Last year, I had all intentions on joining the party.  I had a few teammates lined up, a campsite picked out and was planning on beer choices for each day on the river.  Flies were being crafted, the boat was being readied, and then it went pear shaped - a major sponsor sent me an email officially uninviting me from the tournament.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you can probably guess who was responsible.

In 2016, Team Wicked Fish will be there and will be ready.  There will be two empty seats for those willing to do some of the rowing in the drifty.

Colorado, the Animas River and a little time off...

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to head out to Colorado for about a week.  The parent company of my railroad is based in Durango, so we booked a trip from Asheville to Durango.  

A few days before the trip, our friends at the EPA went bat shit crazy and decided to add a few million gallons of toxic sludge to the Animas river (which just happens to flow through Durango ).  The river was closed to recreational use, and I was left to ponder the worth of even bringing a rod and gear on the trip.  

I opted to pack the bare minimum, taking a rod, reel and small bag with the basics.  I'm glad that I did.  A few days into the trip, the Animas was reopened for use by the public.  The water had cleared up quite a bit, but it was easy to see that the damage had been done.  

I fished through town without much luck.  The water was warm, which was expected considering it was August.  There was plenty of sediment in the water, which gave off a mustard yellow haze when disturbed.  

On the last day of the trip, I was able to hitch a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad up to a secret spot high in the mountains.  They dropped me off and told me they'd be back in five hours to get me.  That's when I was able to see what really happened to the Animas.

I fished the banks near the trestle for about an hour.  There was no sign of insect activity and no fish to be found.  The bank was coated in residue from the recent mining waste spill.  Turning over a rock would result in a big cloud of that hazy water.  

I crossed a trestle and made my way to a creek that fed into the Animas.  It was notably cooler and clearer.  I left behind the majority of my gear, taking only my rod and a box o' bugs, and set off to explore the creek.  I fished my way up and hooked into quite a few moderate bows and browns.  There were plenty of insects to be found. Just a few hundred feet from a decimated river, there was a thriving stream.  

After a few hours, I had to start making my way back to the rails.  Back on the train, I realized that despite the heartbreak of seeing a river in poor shape, it sure was nice to be fishing in Colorado again.  

The D&SNGRR leaving me behind in the wilderness.

The Animas River, not too far from Silverton, CO.  Notice the discolored sediment along the bank.  

Trying out the new JP Ross Black Dog on the Animas

Hiking and fishing at some altitude reminds one to take a minute to breathe.  

The death of my favorite rod and a review of the JP Ross Black Dog

The background...

Last year, in the month of July, I was out on a lake in South Carolina with Alfredo.  We were in the drifty, and as I recall we were doing more drinking than fishing (shocker).

I was using my ever trusty, and always favorite JP Ross K357 6wt rod.  I was slinging streamers at whatever lives in the lake, and noticed that the tip section of the rod was splintered.  Maybe I hit with a steamer, or maybe it just gave up the ghost after 7+ years of hard service.

I contacted JP Ross about this rod and asked if a repair was possible.  When I purchased this rod, it was custom made for me. It had my name on it, a feather inlay, custom grip, etc.  It was MY rod, and I didn't want to give it up.  Jordan informed me that it was just a rod, and even though his policy (at the time it was made back in the day) stated that it could be repaired once at no charge, and at cost after that, he wasn't going to be able to fix it.

The usual back and forth went on for a few days, and when he looked up the serial number and realized how long I had the rod, he offered to build me something new and unique.

Months went by.  Occasionally, we exchanged emails.  No rod was built.

Months went by.  No emails.  No rod was built.

Two hundred and seventy two days later, I emailed Jordan and told him to forget it.  I was done waiting.  I have other rods and with almost a year in the books without my favorite, I had moved on.

Within hours, I had email after email promising a new rod immediately.  I was asked what I wanted and within a few days was told that the rod was on it's way.

The review...

I opened the box to discover the JP Ross Black Dog. It is a six weight at exactly nine feet in length.

It is a matte black blank with green wraps.  The cork is simple, with a silver (I asked for black) reel seat on top of the fighting butt.

Simple is the word that comes to mind.  My name is on the rod, but there is no feather inlay.  The reel seat has a beautiful cut of maple with some great etching in it, and that draws the eye from a rather vanilla looking rod.

Casting the rod, I immediately missed my K357.  To be fair, I need to try it with a few different lines and dial it in, but my first attempt with this rod was in the mountains of Colorado, far from my loft full of goodies back in North Carolina.  

The action is fast.  It is nimble, but just lacks that buttery smooth feeling I loved in my K357.  

The jury is still out on this rod.  I need to put some time in with it, and with fall in the air, I'll be looking to do that.  

The best news is that my K357 was returned.  It is slightly shorter than before, and lost some action with the tip section seeing a reduction in length, but it is back!  

What's new?

New rod, camping, fishing the Animas and the return of fall.


Chaco likes to camp. So do I.

Putting pen to paper in July

Welcome to July.  It's officially summer and I haven't gone fishing in forever.  I'm just not feeling it. I hate fishing in the heat since it strains the fish so much, the abundance of tourists kills the mood, and I continue to hold a grudge against the WNC fishing community.

I was watching this quick vid and it reminded me that there's beauty and solitude out there:

Backcountry Brookie from Brett Winchel on Vimeo.

There was a tying night at my local brewery a while back.  It was good to see a new group of folks attempting to tie up some feathers into something useful.  Justin concocted the raddest bugger that was in Seahawks colors.

There might be a rod review coming up.  I had a great JP Ross rod for seven years.  It met it's demise last summer, and after 10 months, I have the replacement.  If time allows, I'm hoping to get out early one morning and give it a shot.  

May update

Not a lot to report on lately.  Fishing has been on hold because of work and also the hot weather.  The tourists are about to take over Western North Carolina, so those secret fishing spots become a bit more protected.  Please continue to do you best to keep fish in the water and avoid extended handling when releasing them.

There's a new Geobass.  Check it out below.

Tis the season to get back to work. And a quick rant.

After what seemed to be an overdoes of blogging, the world of work has interrupted my incessant posting of all things worthless to the land of fly fishing.

Living in a seasonal kind of town, it was a slow few months.  Now that the warm weather is arriving, it's time to go back to work on a regular basis.  My posts may be fewer, but I'll work to keep bringing you worthless crap that is at least semi-entertaining.

In other news, I ventured out for a rafting trip down the lovely Nantahala River yesterday.  While it wasn't a fishing trip, I took the time to see the signs of spring.  Fish were rising, mayflies were coming off the water and a few people were out wetting the lines.

One father and son angling team caught my attention.  The kid was not happy.  He was geared up in his Cabela's everything - waders, vest, etc.  Dad was busy giving the death grip to a small rainbow.  He had it in one hand and in the other was a stomach pump.  He was pumping out whatever that bow had consumed recently.  As we floated past at a snail's pace, I couldn't help but notice his disregard for the fish.  We asked if he was going to have dinner and he said, "No, it's going back in".  I watched him for a minute or so, so if that fish was going back into the drink, it was going as fertilizer for the environment.

If you're a catch and release angler, I don't need to tell you that thirty seconds is too much.  If you must yank a fish from the water, be quick and be as gentle as possible.  Got it?

Rant over.  See you on the water.

Work on your knots

A short film showing how to tie the perfect Improved Clinch knot from RIO Products on Vimeo.

Wild Fish Works: Oregon Coast

Keeping with the PNW theme.  Thanks to Greg Morgan for sharing this on the FB.

Matching the hatch - using what you have.

Most good guides that I know have a well stocked fly box.  Maybe some of them have ten well stocked fly boxes, but whatever.  The best guides I know have picked out a few patterns for the water they know and work on, and their go to box is loaded up with a whole bunch of the same patterns.  Six is the magic number that one of those guides told me.  He has six go to to patterns, and keeps a few dozen of each pattern at all times when on that specific body of water.

How was this selection been picked out?  It's all about logging time on the water, getting out there, practicing, and making that drift as perfect and natural as can be.  It's about learning the water, thinking like a fish and putting in your time.

You're probably not at the point where you've narrowed your selection down to six.  If you've played it smart, you've got the basics - some dries, some nymphs, some midges, some streamers, etc.  When you visit a region, you should hit up the local shop and find out what regional patterns are hooking fish.  If you take a trip with a guide, ask him questions about the flies.  What is that guide using, and why?  What is that fly attempting to imitate?  When you purchase those local flies, make sure you're not just buying one.  Get at least a few - just one and you're asking for trouble (it's guaranteed to be the go to fly of the day and you'll lose it on a rock just when things are getting hot and heavy).

But this entry isn't about what you should have.  It's about what you actually have.  Hopefully, you have something.

So there you are.  On the water and fishing for trout.  If you read yesterday's post, you might have your handy seine with you and you're looking at a collection of little water logged bugs in a net.
Hmmm, perhaps you're looking at all these squirmy little buggers and scratching your head.  What stuff in the box looks like these real life bugs?

Start with size.  Are those bugs tiny?  Are they so small that you cringe at that thought of tying a size 22 on some 7x tippet?  Good.  Those are the flies that often surprise the novice angler.  Look through your box and find those size 18s, 20s and 22s.  Getting close in size is the first step into fooling a trout to eat your bug instead of just letting float on by.

Next up, we go with shape.  Look for something similarly shaped.  It's pretty basic, yes?  Don't put on a wooly bugger when you're trying to imitate caddis larvae.

Color is the next thing we look for.  Does the light make that bug look kinda blue, kinda green, maybe a bit red?  Look for it.  Try it out.

You might not have the exact pattern in your box. It's not the end of the world.  You're there, on the water, and you've got something.  That puts you in a better place than others.  Start with size, then shape, and then color.  Put on that slightly big Copper John with a tiny little dropper under it (check your regs to make sure that's legal) and give it a shot.  You can bitch about not having the right pattern, or you can try out what you have.

From personal experience, I can tell you that if you don't try, you'll never know.  I spent an evening on the water with friends and fishing was rough.  I had been fishing a lot, and not tying.  My stocks were dwindling and there was an awesome caddis hatch coming off.  My caddis selection was hurting, and I didn't have the October Caddis pattern that I would have preferred.  What did I do?  I fished another color.  Did it work?  Not as well as I wanted, but it worked.  I had to work a little harder on my presentation to earn those fish.  When I had a rise, I couldn't afford to blow it on the hook set.  The moral of the story is that I was there and I used what I had.

I'll end this post with the suggestion that this is a great time of the year to get your fly box(es) in order.  Check your inventory and get prepared in the garage / den / shed / barn before you leave the house.  Have a good selection of bugs in all sizes, shapes and colors and be prepared for what you might run into.

Tight lines!

Do you use a seine?

Spring is here.  More and more anglers are on the river with each passing day.  They're out there flailing those lines.  Some are hooking fish, some are hooking themselves.  Some of them aren't just fishing.  There are some anglers that study their water, their environment, and there are anglers who study what insects are in the water.

It is a good idea to get to know what insects are in the water, and also to see which ones are below all that sediment and rock.  Those hungry trout are eating something other than those artfully crafted flies you whipped up last week, right?  But what is it?  How do we find out what they're eating?

Professor Melichar of Cutthroat Anglers putting on a clinic in the ways of using a seine.

Sometimes, we get lucky, and the trouts are munching on some flies that are swarming around.  We can see that the Hexagenia Limbata is hatching.  The fish rise and gulp down those big yellow bugs, giving us a pretty big clue that we should tie on a big yellow bug.  If you fish like me, that's not always the case.  I fish mostly under the surface with nymphs and midges (and big ass streamers, but that's another story).  When I first started to fish,  I never knew how much life existed under the rocks of the streams I frequented. Fortunately, there is a way for the average angler to access the elusive world of insect life that lives in the watery realm below the streams.  It is called a seine.

A seine is essentially a net that works to catch the insect life as it flows down stream.  Mine is two wooden dowels with a section of screen stretched in-between them.  It rolls up neatly and fits into my pack.  Using the seine is easy with two people.  I can hold open the seine below the surface of the stream and send my buddy upstream a few feet to do their best rendition of the San Juan Shuffle.  A few well placed foot movements stir up some gravel, releasing (hopefully) a deluge of insect life that floats down steam a few feet and lodges itself into my seine.  When I carefully lift the seine from the numbingly cold water, I should have a fair assessment of what's going on below the gravel.  To be fair, it doesn't always work that well, but when it does, it's quite amazing.

The seine allows us a look into the specific insects and invertebrates that are living in that precise area in which we're fishing.  Using this invaluable tool can make your day a bit more productive.  In the near future, I'll cover the next step - how to match the hatch with what's in your box o' bugs.

Using a seine in the Upper Colorado yields a variety of life from under the water and gravel.

Putting on a stonefly pattern might be a good idea, eh?

Haters gonna hate.

A week ago, shit hit the fan in my fly fishing life.  As long as I've been chucking bugs, it's been important for me to be involved in the culture of the sport.  Fishing is what it's about, but kicking back after a day on the water - be it camping drinking with friends, watching films, etc - is a great bonus to the passion that we all share.

I went to a bullshit film event that was supposed to be a good time.  It wasn't.  My rants about it brought in some crazy stats for this blog.  It also brought "unlikes" on Facebook, nasty emails and other unpleasantries that I honestly don't care about.  That wasn't my goal, but hey whatever.

I've been noticing that the majority of fly fish blogs are way too warm and fuzzy.  They're all glowing reviews of some new rod or reel.  Does anyone ever post a bad review of anything fish related? Every product seems to be the greatest product ever conceived.  And why do all of the bloggers write such glowing reviews?  Are you being paid to do it?  Does anyone post a trip report about the trip that sucked hard? No, every trip report should result in ten thousand anglers descending upon that ultimate spot that you shared.  Your GPS coordinates were two feet off so I had to work extra hard to have an even more amazing trip than you.

In life, we have opinions.  I choose to post some of mine here, especially opinions that revolve around the fly fishing scene.  I'm just going to go ahead and recommend that if you don't like it, don't read it.  My words can be cutting, rude and crude, so unsubscribe and go read Orvis' review of their new rod instead.  I'll bet it's the greatest rod ever made.  

Thanks for reading.  All of you.  It's fun writing this stuff.  I don't fish enough, but this helps me get my fill of our sport's culture.  

Go on and hate.  I'm going fishing.  Have a good Thursday.  


Spring Cleaning

It's absolutely gorgeous outside.  Thinking about breaking out of the winter blues and heading out to wet a line?  You might want to consider a little spring cleaning before you go.

This is a great time to clean that line, check that backing,  re-do those knots, maybe add a little oil on the reel, and maybe wash last year's salt off the ol' 12wt.

The F3T

Every year, it gets better.  There are more films, bigger crowds, more impressive venues and more hype to go along with all of it.  What is it?  It's the F3T - The Fly Fishing Film Tour.

In the past, I've attended the F3T at various venues throughout the United States. They're all good in their own way with colorful personalities and odd quirks that make this event so interesting.

 I've been to a relatively tame version at a high school in Fryeburg, Maine.  It was put on by a conservation group that wasn't involved in fishing at all.  They had a raffle to benefit their cause and through some miraculous happenstance, all of the winners were employees and their family members.  There was also a very noticeable lack of beer, which we all know is vital to a proper film festival featuring fly fishing.  Still, it was a great display of some filmmakers hard work.

I saw one in Denver and found myself sitting next to none other than Frank Smethurst.  He was the rep for about half of the brands featured at Cutthroat Anglers, where I was working at the time.  He had his family with him, and showed a very polite and gentlemanly side of his personality.  Drinking beer, and watching fishing films with one of the people who inspired my life as an angler (and the guy that actually taught me to throw a spey rod), was quite the experience.

There was the event in Seattle, where Melissa went with me.  We were having cocktails at a bar down the street when Steve Apple (Fishizzle and Hustle & Fish) walked in.  I had to say hello, but was given the GFY (figure it out) treatment.  The film event itself was hilarious.  It was a total sausage fest with the exception of Melissa and maybe two other women.  Melissa won a Ross Reel (so Jeff really won the Ross reel) and had to walk up front to receive her prize.  The show staff made some insulting comments about a woman winning a prize and pretty much assured that Melissa would never attend another F3T again (which is a bummer).

My favorite was Portland, Oregon's F3T in 2014.  Right before moving away from the PNW, I had a chance to meet up with one of my fishing mentors who was one of the guys that demonstrated just how cool it could be to fish / tie/ cook / drink beer /etc.  We met up in Portland for some amazing beverages - the best one was called The Bourbonic Plague - and then saw the year's collection of films.  Shahab was cheering when he spotted one of the industry celebs that he knew.  It was a blast and I don't think any other place could host such a good show.

Here in Western North Carolina, Asheville is our "big city".  The F3T makes the usual annual stop at Highlands Brewing, which has an amazing tasting room and surprisingly, it is a great place to see some fishing movies. They have tasty beer as well, so that's a bonus. I had seen the show in Portland, but after relocating to the deep and dirty South I went to check out the tour's stop in Asheville last year.

Tonight is the tour's stop in Asheville.  There will be films, beer and probably some really good food trucks. It will be a crowded event with all of the usual suspects from the region.

Have you been to this year's tour?  You might have missed it, and will have to wait until 2016, but maybe not.   Check out and see of there's a stop close to you.

Some vid from one of the best guides I've ever known.

Check out this vid from Owl's Roost.  Rick is one of the finest guides I've ever met.  Hs tying is amazing as well.

Upper Magalloway River Fall Fishing from Owl's Roost Outfitters on Vimeo.

Some winter fishing in the WNC

One of those lazy fishing destinations.  You could fish from the window,
but those who get out and explore are usually rewarded.
My 10' 4wt S4.  So much fun to nymph with it.

Spring doesn't actually begin for another few days, but it seems that Winter has relented it's grasp on Western North Carolina for the time being.  With a low 50's morning, I made a run for a the Nantahala Gorge.  The gorge was quiet.  The recent rain has muddied up the water, but I wasn't going to let that stop me.

I can't remember the last time I got to use one of my favorite rods - a 10 foot Scott S4 in 4wt.  I strung it up, shook off the dust and started throwing a size 10 Prince nymph with an 18 RS2 dropper and focused on a nice looking run.  After a handful of casts, I wasn't seeing anything and wondered if the conditions weren't in my favor.

I took a break and had a seat on a good sized rock.  I looked at the water and thought about my technique.  The pressure on this river can get heavy, but this isn't a popular time to be out.  Are these fish really that educated?  I thought about my presentation and resolved to really work on my mending.  It's all about that perfect drift.  A good natural presentation is key.

I got back into the water, tossed some line out and mended the line.  There was my fish.  It was waiting for me to bring my game.  A few more casts and a few more fish and the hole was pretty much cheesed up for the morning.  I made my way up and down the river for a while and decided to call it a morning.  No one else ever showed up which made it a bonus outing.

Delayed Harvest in WNC.  The throngs of people have been here and decimated the stockers.  The fish still here have wised up to the parade of bugs.  They're looking for your "A" game.

Never had to touch this little fella.  Barbless hook popped out in the net, so I took the time for a quick photo.

Looks fishy, eh?

Fishing in the gorge is beautiful.

Fish usually don't live in ugly places.

Hey there, it's been a while, eh?

How's it going?  Tough winter, huh?

Haven't posted for a while.  You still fishing?  Survive that crap weather?  I've been stranded at the top of my hill without being able to drive up (even with the Subaru).  Things are looking up, though.   Today, the Subaru started getting dressed for spring. The rod vault came out, got a quick washing and ended up back where it belongs.  Seems like Spring Fever has struck.

How about you?  Spring Fever taking over?

Anyhow, while I'm at it, I might as well share this pretty rad vid with ya.  You know it's a tough winter when they're wearing coats in the FL.

Get out and fish!  See ya on the water soon.

Support your local fly shop?

Shop Local.  Buy Local.  Keep your dollars local.  Boycott the Big Box.  We've all seen the signs and heard the campaign messages.  Is it something you buy into?


I used to have a local fly shop that I loved.  I would go there and spend too much money.  It was a few times a week kind of addiction.  The owner was one of my great friends in this world and I owe / curse him for ruining my life with this fishing addiction.  

But is it really healthy to be suckered into the whole "buy local" movement?  I don't know about you, but my budget isn't as large as it should be.  Life gets in the way of those new rods and reels, and when I'm in the market, I have to do some shopping for the best price.  If my local shop and Cabela's have the same piece of equipment and the price at Cabela's is a hundred bucks better, guess where I'm shopping.    

Have you been in a shop of any kind where they give you the hard sell using the "buy local" tactic?  Funny how I usually get it when I'm out of town.  I'm in some tourist driven mecca where "buy local" wouldn't happen if only locals shopped there.  I'm always asking the proponent of the shop if their product was made locally.  Was that fly rod made right there in BFE, Nowhere?  Usually, crickets are the answer.  No, the product isn't made locally.  The rod came from Colorado (hopefully) or the Puget Sound region, or quite often they were made overseas.  The flies we fish with were tied in Indochina and the waders were either made in Montana or more likely, in China.  

So, why the hard sell to buy local?  Did you know that most items at your local fly shop are being sold at a FIFTY PERCENT MARKUP???  Yeah, for real.  I've worked in a lot of fly shops and that's how they make money.  Do you think many fly shop owners are loaded?  The answer is no.  They buy that pack of hooks for 5 bucks and sell it for 10.  Sure, there's business overhead- rent, labor, shipping, etc., but unless that local shop is doing something to help make you a better angler, you shouldn't feel guilty about shopping for the best deal.  

I hope you're not taking this the wrong way.  If Steve were still selling bugs and gear, I'd be there this afternoon to pay him for being there. He would have made it the right price to hook me up with the gear.  He would have made some money and I would have supported him while keeping my budget intact.   I just can't get behind that shop owner that thinks I owe him since he's the local guy.  

What I'm saying is this: go down to your local shop and see what's up. They should have the pot of coffee on, the tying table set up, and they should have someone working there that gives a shit about fishing.  It should be more than walking in and grabbing a mystery bug before paying and leaving -total time spent of less than a minute.  Let's expect our local shops to step it up and grow the sport.  

Just in time for the crappy winter weather...  This Is Fly # 50

Happy V-Day. You're not fishing today.

You're not fishing today.  I'm not either.

Go make her happy...if that's possible.

Fontana Montana

Wednesday was warm.  It was near fifty degrees with a gentle breeze.  The sun was out.  Thursday was about the same after a brief sleet shower in the morning.  Did I go fishing on those days?  No.  I waited until Friday.  Winter was back on Friday.

Taking advantage of Thursday, I turned the water back on to the garden hose and gave the drift boat a quick cleanup.  I sorted through my gear and picked out a select few pieces and loaded up for Friday's plan outing with Tim.

Friday morning started with snow flurries, numb hands, and a desire to go back to bed, but I resisted the urge to be lazy and headed out to meet up with Tim.  Of course we were going fishing on the shittiest day of the week.

The trailer lights, of course, were all fucked up.  Do trailer lights ever work right?  Would it be possible, just once, for all the lights to work?  After ten minutes of channeling MacGyver and digging around the Subaru for duct tape, wire and pliers, the lights worked (for the most part) and the trip was on.

We threw the boat in the water below Fontana Dam.  Some call this the Little T, but this is a lake.  Like Cheoah.  The dam is controlled by everyone's favorite Valley Authority (yeah, the TVA).

With the dam cranking out 5K CFS for the morning, we didn't rush it to get there.  We put in and within an hour the water was shut off.  We rowed toward the dam, beating the bank with streamers on the way.

Tim spotted some risers, so he rigged up for dries and I set up a nymph rig.  Nothing was doing the trick, so after a while we switched it back to big ass streamers and worked the other bank.

As you know, they call it fishing (not catching) so we let the river lake claim the ultimate victory and we bailed with a big goose egg for the day.

I'll still go back.  Maybe with a few more beers next time, though.

Thinking about the Hardly Strictly Musky 2015 event.

Around the first of May, the Hardly Strictly Musky tournament will take place in McMinnville, TN.  The drift boat has three spots, so I'm in plus two more.  Want to join forces?

Here's a little something to entice you into joining:

The Beard Chronicles Hardly Strictly Musky 2014 - SCOF NO.12 from Marc Crapo on Vimeo.

For more info on the schedule, look at this:

Hit me up if you want to team up.

...and we're back!

What a crazy couple of weeks that was...

I'll sit down and write out a few new posts in the next couple of days.  Hoping to fish on Friday, so there might even be some pics going up.  Thanks for reading.

That's me navigating a treacherous "road" through Death Valley National Park.

The Mayfly

So this is the new year, and I don't feel any different.

With a new year upon us, I happy to say that is doing quite well.  I've been checking the analytics, and there are a lot of folks reading this trash...for real.

In December, there were almost 2500 unique visitors to the site.  For a small time blog about fly fishing, that's not too bad, eh?

Chaco hanging out near Fontana Dam.

What's going to happen in 2015 for  I hope that quite a few things actually come to fruition.  A few ideas:

  • I'm going fishing more.  That means pictures, reports, etc.  You should come fish with me.
  • Art. More on that soon.
  • A quarterly publication.  More on that soon, too.
  • More useless fly fishing blog posts.
  • A late spring fundraiser to benefit people that aren't greedy.

For now, I'll remain fairly quiet and go back to drinking my beer.  Have a great Saturday night!

Remains of a River

It's most likely cold where you are.  Take a break to warm up and watch this film about the CO River.