Iron Fly - Lander, WY

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

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.