Landing Larger Trout

landing larger trout

My friends and family members are making me envious. Yesterday, my friend, Greg, showed me photos of a couple steelhead he caught in Wisconsin on streamers. Both were about 20 inches. Last week, on the same day I enjoyed catching an 11-inch brown on a size 20 dry fly in the Wisconsin Driftless, my son, Luke, sent me a photo of a 22-inch rainbow he caught on a tiny Zebra Midge.

Gazing (with envy) at those photos reminded me how challenging it is to land large trout. I’ve landed my share of trout over 20 inches. But I’ve lost a lot of them too. Here are some practices I’ve learned for landing larger trout. If I had used all of them sooner, who knows how many more big fish I would have caught!

Use a stronger tippet

I’ve landed 20-inch rainbows in Montana’s Madison River on 5x tippet. But a 5x tippet is only 4.75 pound test. Going to a size 4x increases that to 6 pound test, and a 3x tippet increases is to 8.5 pound test.

Using a stronger tippet with streamers is a no-brainer. Admittedly, it’s a bit more challenging with tiny dry flies or nymphs.

When I’m fishing with nymphs, I will typically use a 3x tippet on my lead fly if it’s large – like a size 8 or 10 stonefly. Then, I’ll use the 4x on the smaller dropper—such as a size 18 Copper John. In most cases, the increase in size doesn’t spook the fish. It’s helpful, though, if there’s a bit of color to the water.

Pull the fish from side to side

Gary Borger taught me several years ago that pulling a fish from side to side tires it out more quickly than simply pulling it in straight. Pulling it from side to side works the fish’s muscles. So point your fly rod to the side when you’re trying to land a large trout.

If you’re using a stronger tippet, then you can be a bit more aggressive and land the fish quicker. That’s a win-win situation. The trout will be less stressed than if you prolong the fight. You’ll also have less opportunities for a trout to run on you and snap the line on a rock or submerged branch. I’ve had both happen.

Use a long-handled net

The net I carry when I have a chance to hook into large trout has an 8.5-inch handle. The extra length extends my reach. That can make all the difference when trying to land a monster. I’ve had the frustration of getting a large trout almost within reach but needing an extra 2 or 3 inches.

A long-handled net cuts down on that frustration.

I don’t always catch large trout. But when I do, I have a much better chance of landing them when I’m practicing these three tips.

S4:E45 Fly Care and Presentation

fly fishing

Scant attention is paid to fly care and presentation. So much of the focus is on fly rods, reels, waders, boots – and every other fly fishing gadget known to humankind. But without the fly itself, there is no catching. In this episode, we concoct a list of aphorisms – short witty statements about how to care for your flies.

LISTEN NOW TO FLY CARE AND PRESENTATION

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

Any advice that you’d like to share with our listeners about fly care and presentation? Where did we miss the mark? What should be added to the conversation?

Please post your comments below, and we’ll consider them for our Great Stuff from Our Listener’s segment.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a few fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Dry Flies for Spring Fly Fishing

dry flies for spring fly fishing

Spring is in the air. So are millions of flies. Mayflies. Caddisflies. Craneflies. It’s the time of year when dry fly fishing begins to work.

If you are new to fly fishing and wonder what dry flies to have in your fly box, here are the two basic patterns you need:

Parachute Adams

If the fly fishing authorities limited me to one dry fly pattern for spring, I would not think twice. My hands-down choice is the Parachute Adams. This pattern imitates midges and Mayflies — and especially the sub-species of Mayflies known as Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs). My favorite size is an 18.

However, last week in the Wisconsin Driftless, I saw trout rising to small BWOs. So I put on a size 20 Parachute Adams and promptly caught an 11-inch brown.

In the interest of full disclosure, the size 20 pattern I used was a Parachute Purple Haze. It’s the same fly as a Parachute Adams, only with a purple body. Honestly, I haven’t noticed that one works better than the other. Trout seem to like either one. Perhaps the Purple Haze gives them a slightly different look from the tried-and-true Parachute Adams. But that advantage is disappearing as more fly fishers give in to the “purple haze craze.”

What I like about the Parachute Adams – or its flashy cousin (the Purple Haze) – is the white post or “parachute” that makes it visible. Even a size 20 sticks out as it floats down the run.

The Parachute Adams works well in the West, the Upper Midwest, and (from what my friends tell me) the East as well. Wherever you find midges and BWOs, the pattern will work. Midges appear throughout the winter and into spring, while BWOs show up in March.

Elk Hair Caddis

My other go-to pattern for spring fly fishing is the Elk Hair Caddis. Caddisflies appear in mid-April in both the West and the Upper Midwest. Fly fishers in southwest Montana — on the Madison and Yellowstone Rivers — eagerly await the “Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch.” Of course, by the time Mother’s Day appears on the calendar, the rivers usually look like chocolate milk. However, late-April fishing before the spring runoff can be fantastic as Caddis hatches intensify.

The Elk Hair Caddis is a bushy fly, and the tan elk hair wing makes it quite visible. The only problem is that it doesn’t stand out among dozens of other Caddisflies on the surface of the water. You can solve this problem can be solved by tying (or buying) an Elk Hair Caddis with some red or pink fibers on top of the elk hair wing.

The best sizes range from 14-18. It all depends on the watershed you’re fishing as well as the time of year. The best way to figure out the size is … you guessed it … check with a local fly shop. Also, some rivers will fish better with certain body colors. When I’m on the Yellowstone River south of Livingston, Montana, I like a green or a tan body. When I’m in the Wisconsin or Minnesota Driftless, I prefer a black body. I’ve even used some flies with elk hair that has been dyed black.

Other Patterns

I’m tempted to end the article here because these two flies will work in the spring 80% of the time when bugs are in the air and on the water. However, the later you get into spring, you’ll start to see some other flies that require other patterns.

In the Upper Midwest, Hendricksons appear as early as mid-April. Sulfers, March Browns, and Craneflies show up in May. I remember an evening on a little stream in the Wisconsin Driftless when the trout refused everything but a Cranefly pattern.

In the West, March Browns in a size 12 work well surprisingly early on the big rivers like the Yellowstone. There are Stonefly hatches as well that happen in the spring. Even a Stimulator can be effective at times — even though I tend to think of it as a pattern for summer.

Your best bet, though, will be to have plenty of Parachute Adams and Elk Hair Caddis flies in various sizes and — in the case of the Elk Hair Caddis — various colors.

While nymphs and streamers are always a sure bet in the spring, don’t neglect dry flies. You might miss out on the fun!

S4:E44 Simplifying Your Fly Fishing Experience

fly fishing

Fly fishing tends to move from simplicity to complexity. You start out learning to cast. And you have one fly rod. You pick up a couple of attractor patterns. And you have one fly box. You purchase a vest, waders, and wading boots. And head to the river. Over time, however, you wind up with four fly rods, thirteen fly boxes with hundreds of flies, and a couple vests that are weighed down by every gadget known to humankind. Fly fishing has become complex. In this epsidode, we discuss ways for simplifying your fly fishing experience.

LISTEN NOW TO SIMPLIFYING YOUR FLY FISHING EXPERIENCE

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

How have you simplified your fly fishing experience? We’d love to hear from you. Please post your comments below, and we’ll consider them for our Great Stuff from Our Listener’s segment.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a few fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Fly Fishing Entomology 101 – Caddisflies

caddisflies

If Mayflies resemble small twin-engine airplanes, Caddisflies resemble B-52 bombers. The long wings of Caddis flies flank their abdomen, meeting at the top like the two slopes of a gable roof. This means Caddis patterns are easy to see on the water.

However, during the thick of a hatch, it’s hard to pick out your fly in the midst of dozens of other bugs on the surface. I’ve even had to scoop away Caddis adults that are crawling on my glasses, my nose, my hat, and my sleeves.

It’s no wonder that Gary LaFontaine called the Spotted Sedge Caddis the single most important trout-stream insect. I’ve caught fish on Caddis patterns from Wisconsin to Montana. Here is a brief profile of this important species:

Names

  • “No matter what the subspecies, fly fishers simply refer to them as “Caddis.”
  • “Caddisflies belong to the order ‘Trichoptera.’ Occasionally, books on flies and fly patterns simply refer to ‘Spotted Sedge’ — the most notable subspecies of Caddisflies for fly fishers.”

The Basics

  • Most Caddisflies have a one-year life cycle. Once they emerge, the adults can live for as long as a month—as opposed to a couple of days for most Mayflies.
  • Caddisflies, unlike Mayflies and Stoneflies, have complete metamorphosis, going from egg (1-3 weeks) to larva (9-10 months) to pupa (2-5 weeks) to adult (1-3 weeks).
  • Entomologists divide Caddisflies into five groups based on the way their larvae behave. The five groups are: free living (no case or shelter), saddle-case (dome-shaped case with an opening at each end), net-spinning (a case with a web next to its entrance to catch food), tube case (portable case that enables the larvae to move around when threatened), and purse-case (a case of silk and fine sand).
  • Spotted Sedge Caddisflies are net-spinners.
  • According to Dave Hughes, trout probably eat more Caddis larvae than any of the other stages. Trout are likely to feed more selectively on pupae than on larvae or adult Caddisflies.
  • Caddisflies hatch about any time of the day. To be sure, the 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. window is usually a given. But I’ve fished in Caddis hatches between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and as late as dusk—both in the Upper Midwest and in the Intermountain West.

Effective Patterns for Caddisflies

  • Most fly fishers will concentrate on patterns that imitate the larva and the adult stages. But since Caddisflies (like Mayflies) can get “stuck” in their pupal shuck, the right pupa pattern can be effective.
  • It’s best to check your local fly shop for the best larva pattern to use since there is such a wide variety of Caddis larvae. Some of the more popular patterns include the Tan Caddis Larva and the Olive Caddis Larva (both with beadheads). I’ve also used a Beadhead Red Fox Squirrel Nymph successfully in the Yellowstone River in Montana.
  • Popular pupae patterns include the Deep Sparkle Pupa (either brown or yellow), the Krystal Flash Pupa, and the Beadhead Caddis Pupa. Fly shops will typically have a particular pattern that works well in the local waters.
  • The most famous of all the adult patterns is the Elk Hair Caddis. This fly has tan elk hair, although we’ve used patterns with the elk hair dyed black in the Driftless region of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The body of an Elk Hair Caddis will typically be tan or green or (in some instances) black.
  • The X-Caddis pattern, developed by Craig Matthews and John Juracek, is a great option for imitating adults which are caught in their pupal shuck.
  • often tie a bit of red or pink antron body wool on the top of my Elk Hair Caddis pattern (see the above photo) so that they are visible to me when surrounded by a dozen other Caddisflies in the current.
  • Sizes 12-18 are standard for all stages, although I’ve done the best over the years with sizes 14-16.

Other Entomology 101 Articles & Sources

    THE PALE MORNING DUN

    BLUE WINGED OLIVES (BWO)

    Sources: Dave Hughes, Craig Matthews, Jim Schollmeyer, Bob Granger

S4:E43 Spring Dry Fly Fishing

fly fishing

Spring dry fly fishing is one of the most delightful stretches of the fly fishing year. While there are other hatches, the two most dominant in most streams and rivers, of course, are Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) and Caddis. In this episode, we discuss patterns that we like, the use of an emerger with a dry fly, and the importance (once again) of size and color.

LISTEN NOW TO SPRING DRY FLY FISHING

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

We’d love to hear your tips for catching more fish on dries in the spring. Are there any patterns that work especially well for BWOs and Caddis? Please post your comments below.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a few fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Best Fly Fishing Gear Developments in the Last Decade

fly fishing gear developments

Fly fishing gear has come a long way since I first started fly fishing in the late 1970s. Fiberglass rods have given way to graphite rods. Lightweight breathable fabric waders have replaced the body-hugging neoprene kind. Everything else from wading boots to reels reflect better technology. Fly fishing gear developments have made the sport a bit easier — if not more expensive.

Here are four noteworthy developments I’ve appreciated in the last decade or so. Some are arguably more significant than others. But each one makes the sport a bit easier for fly fishers — and even the fish we land.

4-piece fly rods

For years, two-piece fly rods were the standard. The first decent fly rod I purchased — an Orvis Silver Label — came in two pieces. The length wasn’t an issue except for backpacking trips to high mountain lakes.

Then, about the time I moved away from Montana, airline flights started charging for extra carry-ons. Thankfully, the four-piece rod became a thing about that time. Rod makers redesigned tapers and ferrules so that a four-piece rod performed as well as its two-piece counterpart.

Sure, some of the best casters can tell a difference between the way a two-piece and a four-piece rod handles. But most of us would be hard-pressed to figure out which is which if we did some casting with each one while blindfolded.

I am a big fan of the four-piece fly rod because its rod tube fits inside my suitcase. It also straps onto the side of my backpack frame without reaching into outer space.

Rubber nets

If you haven’t noticed, newer landing nets come with rubber netting. There are no strings attached.

This is a huge development for fish health for at least two reasons.

The first is obvious: Rubber nets flex, so they are less jarring to the fish than string nets. It resembles the difference between falling back onto your mattress (and the resulting bounce) and falling back onto your box springs (ouch!). Second, I suspect that rubber nets remove less mucus from a fish’s body than string nets do. That mucus is a vital protector of a fish’s skin.

Besides, I’ve noticed that the hook on my flies — especially the one the trout didn’t take on a two-fly rig — doesn’t get tangled in rubber webbing like it did in my stringed nets.

Foot Tractor Soles

Another great development was Patagonia’s Foot Tractor boot soles. There’s nothing like felt soles for traction on slippery rocks. But felt has fallen out of flavor (and is illegal in some watersheds) because of concerns about how it might trap microorganisms and transport them to the next river you fish.

However, before you rush out to buy a new pair of wading boots, you need to be aware of another new development. Patagonia’s Foot Tractors have retailed for the past few years at about $279. That price is hefty enough, but I could justify it for the sake of safety. Now Patagonia has collaborated with Danner Boots to produce a beautiful pair of leather wading boots with the patented Foot Tractor soles. But these boots retail at $549. Gulp!

Unfortunately, the “old” model is being phased out. You might want to buy the “old” model on closeout — if you can find them. I did that recently so I’ll have an affordable pair when my current pair of Foot Tractors wears out.

Zip-front Waders

I like this new development!

Admittedly, I haven’t purchased a pair of zip-front waders yet. But I’m going to consider them when my current waders wear out. Waders with a waterproof zipper make it easier to get in and out of them, as well as to answer the call of nature.

There is one downside. Yes, you guessed it—zip-front waters cost more than the traditional kind. However, I recently saw a pair of Cabela’s zippered waders for $149.

Honestly, fly fishers do not need every new gadget or model that shows up on the floor of a fly shop or the pages of an online store. But there are a few gear developments that make fly fishing a more satisfying experience — for both fly fishers and fish.

S4:E42 One Fine Winter Day on the Blue

fly fishing

It was a great day for skiing in late winter – a fresh foot of powder blanketed the landscape. But we were fishing. Recently, we got up before dawn and drove almost four hours to fish for a few hours on a stretch of the Blue River west of Madison, Wisconsin. The snow was fresh, and there were no tracks on what is often a busy stretch of river (er, small spring creek). In this episode, we recount one fine winter day on the Blue River, and we hope it evokes a great memory from one of your recent days on the water.

LISTEN NOW TO ONE FINE WINTER DAY ON THE BLUE

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

We’d love to hear about a one-fine-day story from one of your recent trips. Please post your comments below!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a few fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

How Closely Should You Match the Hatch?

match the hatch

Whether you tie or buy your flies, it’s tempting to think that if you’re not catching fish, one reason may be that your fly does not match exactly what’s transpiring in the water column. However, the Law of Diminishing Returns seems to apply to how closely you need to match the actual insects. Here are six mostly true statements about matching the hatch:

1. Trout are not like us.

While there are days when I think my teenager may have a single digit IQ, it’s more likely true of trout. No doubt that big brown is wily, but its feeding pattern seems to be driven largely by an evolutionary algorithm that takes into account calories divided by energy. The numerator always needs to be greater than the denominator.

Ergo, the calories need to be worth the effort.

While we may worry that we don’t have the perfect fly for any given situation, the trout may be ignoring what we’re casting for a different reason other than it is not the exact bug that is rolling along the bottom, emerging or hatching on the surface.

2. Some flies work everywhere.

A wide variety of nymphs are highly effective anywhere where trout are found. That’s no surprise, I’m sure.

Just to name two old standby nymphs: the Pheasant Tail Nymph and the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear. These are just gold, pretty much in any cold-water fishery across the world.

And then there’s the trusty, old-and-tired Parachute Adams, your grandfather’s dun pattern. In various body colors, this fly can represent nearly all the mayflies, caddis, and midges that are emerging at the film, where the adult pulls itself free from the pupal skin.

The Parachute Adams is not sexy, but it works. Somehow, the trout find it strike-worthy even though it isn’t a perfect match to the BWOs that are popping.

3. Suggestion is more important than imitation.

In fly fishing, the “close enough” principle seems to be at work.

I’ve been surprised how even a Colorado fly like the H & L Variant, a high riding attractor pattern, fools trout on the Driftless streams in the Midwest. It can be used to imitate Green Drakes on the Frying Pan in Colorado as well as the Crane Fly (also known as “leather jackets,” “daddy-long-legs,” and “skeeter eaters”) in the Driftless.

Perfection is not the end game; catching fish is.

4. Color and size trump the perfect match to the hatch.

This morsel of fly fishing advice is as old as the river you’re fishing, but it holds true and is worth repeating:

If you’re not catching fish, try a smaller fly. Or change color. That’s especially true with dry flies, but it also is true of nymphs and emergers.

On one fly fishing trip, I couldn’t figure out how to catch browns on a stream in the Driftless region during a caddis hatch in early May. It’s not like I’d never catch a riser, but I’d land one or two when I thought I should have caught ten or more. I finally grabbed an adult caddis one morning and analyzed its coloring. It was largely black. Then I looked at what I was casting – a tan-bodied caddis pattern.

Duh!

I picked up some black-bodied caddis later in the afternoon, and the next morning I was golden. Or at least more golden than I was the day earlier. I also dropped a size #18 Olive Serendipity about eight inches from my dry fly. The emerger seemed to work when the browns refused the adult caddis pattern.

5. Less is more, and more is more.

The knowledge that fish tend to prefer suggestion over imitation can help you simplify the number of patterns that you carry. Less is more as it relates to carrying all the possible flies for each hatch.

And more is more as it relates to color and size.

6. Some trout are more picky than others.

That’s certainly true on spring creeks, with even flows and temperatures, clear waters, and seemingly an unlimited food supply. You always need to refine your tackle and techniques when fishing on spring creeks.

Also, if your stream gets slammed during certain parts of the year, with fly fishers at every bend, fish seem to appreciate more precision or a different look.

S4:E41 Fair Labor Practices for Fly Fishing Products

fly fishing

Fly fishing is truly global, if for no other reason than most fly fishing products are created or assembled in other parts of the world. In this episode, we interview Peter Stitcher, who, along with his wife Jessica, is the co-founder of Ascent Fly Fishing in the Denver area. Peter designed his company with purpose, and one of the key elements of his vision is to sell sustainable flies. Listen to Peter describe his “fly tying factory” in Africa, where he has created a community of fly tiers who have become, essentially, part of his extended family and who participate in the profits of his business.

LISTEN NOW TO FAIR LABOR PRACTICES FOR FLY FISHING PRODUCTS

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

What are your thoughts on Peter’s vision for sustainable fly fishing products?

For more information on Peter Stitcher and his fly fishing business in Colorado, visit Ascent Fly Fishing.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a few fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

A Few of My Favorite Things About Spring Fly Fishing

favorite things of spring fly fishing

Raindrops on rainbow runs, hands without mittens
Bright colored Copper Johns, trout that are smitten
Browns slamming streamers so hard as they swing
These are a few of my favorite things

Perhaps this is not what Rodgers and Hammerstein had in mind when they wrote the show tune “My Favorite Things.” But spring fly fishing makes me want to break out in song! Here are a few of my favorite things about fly fishing in the springtime.

A new beginning

Spring is the new year of fly fishing.

After a long winter (and, boy, was it long in the Upper Midwest this year), this is the first of the three best seasons of the year for fly fishers—spring, summer, and fall. Let the fun begin!

Oh, yes, there’s a chance to use the new gear purchased with Christmas gift cards and, uh, money that could otherwise be put into savings.

Insect hatches

Spring is the time of year when the river bottom comes to life. The first brood of Blue Winged Olives shows up in March. Then Caddis emerge as the water temperature rises in mid-April. After a fall of slinging streamers and a winter day or two of drifting midges, the explosion of insect life is a welcome gift.

Runners

Spring is as a time for runners — the rainbows that head up the rivers to the redds (spawning beds), as well as other species of trout, which lurk behind in wait for eggs or small egg sacs to drift down the river. I’ve tied into some large rainbows on Montana’s Madison and Missouri Rivers during the spring rainbow run.

If you’re fishing during the spring, make sure to stay off the redds. There’s no need to add stress to spawning fish. Once you know what to look for, it isn’t hard to spot the redds. Look for shiny spots in gravelly places. You can fish below or above them. But please leave the redds alone.

Fewer crowds

Depending where you live, you still might see a lot of fly fishers in the spring — especially if you’re on a stretch of river where big rainbows are on the move. But tourist season is still a few weeks away. So you typically won’t have to deal with large crowds.

By the way, I have nothing against tourists or fly fishers who can only fish on a summer vacation. I’m now a tourist, I suppose, when I return “home” to Montana where I lived and fly fished for the better part of 25 years. The reality, though, is that you’ll have less competition in the spring than in the middle of July.

Crazy weather

Call me crazy, but I’m intrigued by crazy weather.

I’ve fly-fished in Montana and in Wisconsin on 60-degree days in March. I’ve also stood knee-deep in Montana’s Madison River in April when the snow softly falls. A few years ago, my podcast partner, Dave, and I floated the Upper Madison with a friend on a mid-April day. I think we saw at least three seasons, complete with sun, wind, sleet, and rain. It’s rather fascinating.

Alright, these are a few of my favorite things about fly fishing in the spring. Hooray for spring! It’s time to grab a fly rod and head for the river.

When no trout bite
When the sleet stings
When I’m casting bad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

S4:E40 What We’d Tell Our 20-Year-Old Fly Fishing Selves

fly fishing

If we had it to do over again, we’d do a few things differently. In this episode, we ask the question, “What would we tell our 20-year-old fly fishing selves?” One answer is that we’d have spent fewer years as do-it-your-selvers. That is, we’d have pursued more fly fishing instruction in our 20s. We’d be much better fly fishers today. We identify a handful of big ideas that we think could benefit fly fishers just starting out.

LISTEN NOW TO WHAT WE’D TELL OUR 20-YEAR-OLD FLY FISHING SELVES

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self, if anything? Some of you might say, “Get out on the river right now!” We look forward to your comments.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a couple fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Fly Fishing Entomology 101 – The Pale Morning Dun

Pale Morning Dun

We were getting ready to step out of the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon and head to our SUV when my son exclaimed, “Dad, there’s one of those pale flies!” He was right. I turned and watched a couple Pale Morning Duns flying near the opposite bank.

It was a late morning in July, and so we tied on a couple of “pale fly” patterns and caught a handful of 16-18 inch browns. Veteran fly fisher Dave Hughes says that Pale Morning Duns are the second most important mayflies for fly fishing — not far behind Blue-Winged Olives.

Here is a quick profile of this species.

Names

  • “Pale Morning Dun” is commonly abbreviated as “PMD.”
  • There are two species of PMDs—inermis (the most numerous species) and infrequens. It is impossible to tell the two apart, but it really doesn’t matter to fly fishers.

The Basics

  • Like Blue Winged Olives, PMDs inhabit all kinds of rivers and streams in the western United States. You will find the heaviest populations in spring creeks and tailwaters.
  • PMD hatches are most prolific in June and July, although they appear in May and continue into August.
  • The best time of day for PMD hatches is late morning to early afternoon. While hatches can begin as early as 9 a.m., PMDs are more likely to emerge around 11 a.m. and continue into the afternoon—until 3 p.m. or so.

Nymph Stage

  • PMDs nymphs belong to the crawler group of mayflies.
  • PMDs in the nymph stage are poor swimmers. They are slow and rather feeble, drifting along the bottom for quite a distance before they reach the surface.
  • PMD nymphs have blocky bodies with a modest taper, and their color ranges from reddish brown to dark brown with a bit of an olive tint.

Adult Stage

  • As their name suggests, Pale Morning Duns have a pale-yellow colored body with yellow-gray (female) or pale gray (male) wings. They also have small hindwings.
  • PMD Duns tend to have trouble getting off the water. So they drift for long distances while their wings dry. Frequently, they get stuck in their shucks as cripples. They often flutter in an attempt to lift off, but then end up back on the surface of the river.
  • Once PMDs emerge and molt into the spinner stage, they mate. Both the spent males and females end up on the water’s surface.

Effective Patterns

  • The classic PMD nymph pattern is a Hare’s Ear in an olive-brown color. A Beadhead Fox Squirrel nymph works too.
  • For an emerger pattern, a PMD Floating Nymph/Emerger is best.
  • For the dun stage, Craig Matthew’s Pale Morning Sparkle Dun is my favorite. A burnt wing pattern (like the one pictured above) usually works well, too.
  • For the spinner stage, try a PMD Parachute Spinner or Pale Morning Quill Spinner.
  • PMD nymphs need to be in the size 16-18 range. PMD Dun and Spinner patterns should range between size 16 and 20.
  • One thing to keep in mind about PMD patterns: they all seem to look different in color, wing type, etc. – depending on the tyer.

Other Entomology 101 Articles & Sources

    BLUE WINGED OLIVES (BWO)

    Sources: Dave Hughes, Craig Matthews, Jim Schollmeyer

S4:E39 Nick Lyons, Fly Fishing and the Good Life

fly fishing

For many fly fishers, fishing is more than the simple act of catching a fish. It’s not merely the transaction of hooking and landing a trout or salmon or bonefish. In this episode, we reflect on several quotes from Nick Lyon’s wonderful book, “Spring Creek.” The world of fly fishing has a few things to teach us about life, pointing us to something greater than a 30-fish afternoon.

LISTEN NOW TO NICK LYONS, FLY FISHING AND THE GOOD LIFE

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

Any reflections on Nick Lyon’s quotes from the episode? What stories did the quotes trigger for you? Please post your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a couple fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Why Fly Fishers Wear Waders When They Don’t Seem Necessary

fly fishers wear waders

Why do fly fishers wear waders when fishing a small creek on an 80-degree day?

I admit to doing an eye-roll when I’ve seen fly fishers do this. But as one of our podcast listeners recently reminded me, there are at least two good reasons for it. I added a couple more that came to mind. So here are four reasons you might want to wear chest waders even when they don’t seem necessary.

1. Ticks

Ticks spread Lyme Disease.

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 300,000 people a year get Lyme Disease. Most cases occur in the Northeast and upper Midwest. In fact, 14 states account for over 96% of cases reported to the CDC.

It makes sense that chest waders can provide an effective shield. Of course, long pants and long-sleeved shirts can help, too. But it’s possible that chest waders offer a bit more protection from a tick crawling up underneath your pants leg or untucked shirt and burrowing into your flesh.

2. Poison Ivy

I remember getting nasty rashes when I was a boy after tromping through the brush on my grandparents’ farm in Pennsylvania. The culprit was poison ivy.

Once again, a pair of long nylon pants and a long-sleeved might be sufficient. But waders might just be the ticket. If you know you’ve walked through poison ivy, be careful about grabbing the legs of your waders when you remove them!

3. Snakebites

I have a few friends who always wear waders when in rattlesnake or copperhead country. Sure, a venomous snake’s fangs could puncture your waders and sink into your calf. But it’s also possible the fangs could get caught in your baggy waders.

Honestly, I don’t know how effective this works — and I hope I never have to find out. But if you have had firsthand experience with waders preventing a snakebite, I’d love to hear from you.

4. Warmth

On a cold winter or spring day, chest waders are the ticket for staying warm. They provide an extra layer of insulation, and they are waterproof.

Do you think of any other reasons to wear chest waders when the temperature is so warm or the water is so shallow to make them unnecessary?

I don’t always wear chest waders when I’m fly fishing. But when I do, it’s for a good reason.

S4:E38 Our Simple Guide to Fly Fishing Wading Boots

fly fishing

Fly fishing wading boots are the undisputed, most important safety purchase you’ll make for the sport. There are felt soles, rubber soles, rubber soles with studs, and rubber soles with aluminum bars. In this episode, we discuss our philosophy of wading boots, given the number of days we fish each year – and make a case for one type of sole. We offer up several questions to help you determine which type of boot is best for you.

LISTEN NOW TO OUR SIMPLE GUIDE TO FLY FISHING BOOTS

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

Which fly fishing boots do you use? Do you have more than one pair of boots? How do you handle longer hikes? Do you pack a pair of wading shoes? Please post your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a couple fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Does a Landing Net Make Sense for Small Trout?

landing net

A sign in the dentist’s office caught my attention: “You don’t need to floss all your teeth. Just the ones you want to keep.” I think something similar can be said about using a net to land trout: “You don’t need to net all the trout you catch. Just the ones you want to protect.”

Landing Nets Versus Barbless Hooks

I’m a big advocate for using a net for 12-20 inch trout. Some of the veteran fly fishers and guides I’ve talked to claim that using a net is more important for trout safety than using a barbless hook—especially since barbed hooks today have much less severe barbs than those of yesteryear.

A Confession

However, I have to confess that I’ve never bothered to take a net when I’m catching small trout of the little streams I fish in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. By small, I’m referring to 8 to 11 inch trout.

Okay, perhaps I should say 6 to 11 inch trout!

In fact, I’ve even smirked inwardly at some anglers I’ve seen with nets clipped to the back of their vests on some of these small streams. Who needs a net to land an 8-inch brookie?! Or maybe the smirk was for wearing chest waders on an 80-degree day along a stream whose deepest run is three feet.

An Excuse to Buy More Gear

I repent, though.

I just ordered a Brodin Phantom Firehole Net. My old Brodin, which was made not far from where I used to live in Belgrade, Montana, has string netting. I wanted one with rubber netting since it’s much easier on trout. I have a Fishpond Nomad which works great for bigger trout. But that would be overkill for smaller trout.

At least that’s my excuse to make a new purchase.

The Brodin Phantom Firehole Net is only 23 inches long with a hoop that is 7 inches by 15 inches. That makes the handle 8 inches long. This will work nicely for small trout, and it would work in a pinch for a larger one.

An Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Benefit

One of the benefits of using a net for little trout is obvious. It prevents excessive handling of the trout. It also keeps them from flopping on boulder-lined banks. Even (or especially) smaller fish are not indestructible.

But there is another not-so-obvious benefit:

It’s the habit and skill this will form. If I commit to using a net every time I fly fish, then it will become a habit. Furthermore, there is a skill (maybe even an art) to landing trout. The more practice I get, the better I get—assuming that I’m using the right techniques (lifting up the net rather than stabbing at the fish, lifting my rod when I’m about the land the fish, etc.).

The next time you see me toting a net on a small stream, please don’t smirk. Or if you do, make sure it’s not because I’m using a net for small trout. You can shake your head or roll your eyes because I’ve justified yet another fly fishing gear purchase.

S4:E37 Peter Stitcher on Spring Fly Fishing

fly fishing

Spring is no where to be seen in the Chicago area. Winter is still roaring like a lion. If spring comes in like a lion as well, then we’re toast. But at least the days are getting longer, and inevitably, spring fly fishing will be in full swing. In this episode, we interview Peter Stitcher, an aquatic biologist and owner of Ascent Fly Fishing in the Denver, Colorado, area. We asked Peter to help us understand the nuances of spring fly fishing – what to look for when temperatures start to rise, which patterns seem to work best, and what times of day to fish. See below for more information on how to fish ethically during spawning season.

LISTEN NOW TO PETER STITCHER ON SPRING FLY FISHING

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the of every episode, we reflect on a comment from one of our listeners. We’ve learned so much through the years from the insights of our listeners.

How do you think about spring fly fishing differently? What have you found that works best as the water temperatures start to rise? Please post your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

FISHING ETHICALLY DURING THE SPAWN

In the episode, Peter mentioned a video on best practices when fishing during spawning season:

    FISHING ETHICALLY DURING THE SPAWN

Also, here is another short video on how to fish bead eggs:

    FISHING BEAD EGGS

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a couple fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Fly Fishing Entomology 101 – Blue-Winged Olive

Veteran fly fisher Dave Hughes claims that Blue-Winged Olives are the most important mayflies for fly fishing. I believe he is right. Trout seem to feed on them with the same intensity that kids (and adults!) eat popcorn. Here is a quick profile of this species:

Names

  • “Blue-Winged Olive” is commonly abbreviated as “BWO.”
  • BWOs are also known as “Little Olives.”
  • The Latin name for BWOs is Baetis. Technically, the BWO is a sub-species of Baetis, but many fly fishers use “BWO” and Baetis as synonyms.

The Basics

  • These flies are ubiquitous. You will find them in slow, medium, and fast currents. They live in freestone rivers, spring creeks, and tailwaters.
  • Although BWO hatches happen every month, they are most prolific in April-May and again in September-October.
  • The best time of day for BWO hatches is late morning to early afternoon — the warmest part of the day. Cloudy, rainy conditions intensify and lengthen these hatches.

Nymph Stage

  • While BWOs in the nymph stage are excellent swimmers, they tend to drift with little or no movement.
  • BWO nymphs have slender, tapered bodies which some fly fishers describe as “torpedo-shaped.” Their color ranges from olive to dark brown.
  • BWO nymphs have two long antennae and three tails—with the center tail considerably shorter than the outer two.

Adult Stage

  • The most prominent feature of a BWO dun (newly hatched adult) is its large wings in comparison with the rest of its body. The wing color varies from a pale gray to a dark gray with a bluish tint — hence the name “Blue Winged Olive.”
  • BWO duns ride the surface of the current for up to twenty feet until their wings dry and they can fly. Also, some BWOs get stuck in an “emerger” phase while they are trying to scape their nymphal shuck.
  • A fully mature BWO adult is called a “spinner.” Within twelve hours of emerging to the surface and flying to streamside bushes or brush, the sexually mature BWOs mate in swarms near the edge of a river or stream. So trout typically feed on BWO spinners in slower water near the river’s edge.

Effective Patterns

  • The classic BWO nymph pattern is a Pheasant Tail (or some variation of it).
  • One of the best emerger patterns is Craig Matthews’ Little Olive Sparkle Dun.
  • For the dun stage, a Parachute Adams will often work as well as a Parachute BWO. If the trout are not hitting one of these standard patterns, then switch to a Red Quill Spinner or a Blue Quill Spinner.
  • Hook sizes for BWOs will range between 16 and 24. However, a size 18 or 20 usually does the trick.

Sources: Bob Granger, Dave Hughes, Craig Matthews, Jim Schollmeyer

S4:E36 Live at the Lee Wulff TU Chapter

fly fishing

Trout Unlimited is a distributed army of passionate conservationists, united by the mission to save the coldwater fisheries of North America. Recently, the Lee Wulff Trout Unlimited chapter invited us to share the story of 2 Guys and a River at one of their monthly meetings. This episode is an edited version of that wonderful evening at the Village Pizza and Pub in Carpentersville, IL. The pizza was fantastic, the conversation invigorating. And for almost an hour, the delightful folks at the Lee Wulff Trout Unlimited chapter tolerated our ramblings and generously laughed at our feeble attempts at humor. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we enjoyed the January evening with them.

LISTEN NOW TO LIVE AT THE LEE WULFF TROUT UNLIMITED CHAPTER

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. Our theme in this episode is about why we love fly fishing. We’d love for you to post a story that captures the essence of why you love our sport.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a couple fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Nick Lyons on Life and Fly Fishing

life and fly fishing

Nick Lyons’ book, Spring Creek, is a masterpiece.

Here are some of his more reflective quotes. Each one makes me pause and ponder a bit more deeply about life and fly fishing. And about how the two intersect.

How many fish make a good day

“I’m always astounded when I read of someone catching forty, fifty, sixty trout in an afternoon, ten of them over such-and-such size. Why? Why continue? A few good fish make a day. More make an orgy. A flurry of fish-catching satisfies me completely. I don’t want to catch every fish in the river. I don’t want to “beat” my companion. I don’t want to break records.”

The newness of familiar water

“I never went to Spring Creek without seeing something new.”

Why life should be like a riverbank

“At times I have wished life as simple as this riverbank — the world a logical structure of bend, current, riffle, and pool, the drama already unfolding on the glassy surface, and me, here on the bank, armed with some simple lovely balanced tools and some knowledge, prepared to become part of it for a few moments.”

What he wants his writing to achieve

“I’d like the stew to be rich enough to catch some of the stillness, complexity, joy, fierce intensity, frustration, practicality, hilarity, fascination, satisfaction that I find in fly fishing.

“I’d like it to be fun, because fly fishing is fun—not ever so serious and self-conscious that I take it to be either a religion or a way of life, or a source of salvation. I like it passionately but I try to remember what Cezanne once said after a happy day of fishing: he’d had lots of fun, but it “doesn’t lead far.”

Why trout fishing is not enough

“I would like to be here for weeks, even months, but I could not live all my life in trout country. I have other fish to fry and, difficult as that other world might be, I’d rather be in the thick of it, blasted by its terrors, than sit outside and snipe. If all the year were holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work—and I have rarely found work tedious.”

How trout fishing benefits your life

“Tough fishing stretches you, provides you with skills and confidence for a thousand lesser moments–and it eggs you on to take great chances. It’s not just courage that’s required, of course, but some knowledge of the kinds of major tactics that can be necessary on a trout stream, and then a perfection of the skills needed to enact them.”

S4:E35 Best Fly Fishing Advice, Part 2

fly fishing

The best fly fishing advice comes in bits and pieces over a long period of time. One accrues advice. In this episode, the second in a series, we offer up some some bits of fly fishing advice that has helped us catch more fish. Some of this will be obvious to many of you, but to us, it’s some of the best we’ve received. If you haven’t yet listened to Part 1 of Best Fly Fishing Advice, do so here.

LISTEN NOW TO BEST FLY FISHING ADVICE, PART 2

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. We’d love to hear some of your best fly fishing advice. Please post your comments below.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a couple fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

The Wit and Wisdom of Nick Lyons

wisdom of Nick Lyons

One of the finest fly fishing books in the last three decades is Spring Creek by Nick Lyons.

It offers an account of 31 days Lyons spent on a spring creek in Montana. He originally published it in 1992. The writing is vivid and crisp, and it is full of wit and wisdom. Here are a few gems from the book that will make you smile and reminisce about your own fly fishing experiences. Enjoy!

First, though, a public service announcement: you may not be able to stop laughing after you read the final gem in the collection below!

How fly fishing resembles a tennis court

“Fly fishing is both a restriction (like putting up a net and outlining a court, so two tennis players don’t just smash a ball at each other, wantonly) and an opener of new worlds.”

The difference between spinning and fly fishing

“I’m not quite sure why one switches from spinning to fly fishing — it’s like going from something that works to something that, for a long time, doesn’t work.”

But Lyons has a tongue-in-cheek answer

“One cannot get enough equipment: seven rods are not enough; three thousand flies do not quite serve all possible contingencies. One cannot study entomology hard enough, read enough magazines and books. Marketers of such stuff call this an “information-intensive” period; I think the novice is just gut-hooked and loony.

“There’s so much to learn: plop casts and reach casts, subtler stream reading, twenty-seven different knots, wading techniques, insect cycles, ninety-three new fly patterns “you can’t do without,” new hot spots, new techniques … of which there are as many as rocks in a stream. By comparison, spinning is one-dimensional: it bypasses virtually all that makes fly fishing a joy and a consummate challenge, and it leaps solely to the catching of trout, which it does very well, but with a limited number of necessary options.”

The calming effect of the river

“I had come to the river full of tension and Saint Vitas’s dance, but by the end of the first week, the rush, the fret, the wolf, the tooth of the world began to slip away, over the bench past the far range of snow-capped mountain ranges, into left field.

“My eyes and ears began to catch more and more: the muskrat, the sparrow, the bald eagle, the white-tailed deer, the great wealth of wild things in this valley, which the two of us fished alone. But mostly I watched the water and listened to the water.”

A float tuber’s worst nightmare

“A friend, fishing from a float tube, was once blown across an arm of Hebgen Lake by heavy wind; he ended in a tangle of brush on the opposite shore and was contemplating the long walk back, around the arm, in flippers or bare feet, when he saw a helicopter descending in the nearby field.

“He began to call to them but then noticed that they were depositing something from a scrotumlike net beneath the plane. It was only a rogue grizzly — and my friend was persuaded to hide in the brush for an hour or so, until the wind died down, and then head back across the lake.”

To pick up the book, visit Amazon.

S4:E34 Taking an Exotic Fly Fishing Trip

fly fishing

Steve has fished in Alaska, but other than that, neither of us has gone on a fly fishing trip outside North America. We’ve recently been wondering if it is time. But where to start? We decided to interview Toby Swank, who owns one of the premier fly fishing shops in Bozeman, Montana, and has conducted hosted trips to places like Mexico, Belize, and New Zealand. In this episode we interview Toby on what fly fishers should expect when taking an exotic fly fishing trip. For more information on Toby’s fly shop, you can visit Fins & Feathers.

LISTEN NOW TO TAKING AN EXOTIC FLY FISHING TRIP

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. Have you been on an exotic fly fishing trip before? Would love to hear your stories. Please post your highlights below- and we may discuss your comments at the end of one of our next episodes!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a couple fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

More Winter Fly Fishing Hacks

more winter fly fishing hacks

Winter is a different animal when it comes to fly fishing. If you insist on heading to the river on a winter day in the United States north of Interstate 80, here are five more hacks to keep in mind. (I already offered seven in a previous article: Winter Fly Fishing without Losing It)

1. Don’t snap ice off your rod guides

It’s so tempting, but this can easily result in a broken guide. Simply dip your rod into the water. This will dissolve the ice because the cold water is still warmer than the air temperature.

If you’re into preventative measures, try coating your guides with lip balm. Some fly fishers like Carmex because it is not petroleum-based. The jury is out on whether lip balm with petroleum can damage your fly line. I suspect, though, that the risk is minimal. Another option is Stanley’s Ice-Off Paste which your local fly shop may carry.

2. Focus on deep pools as well as shallow water

Here I’m pushing back a bit on my earlier suggestion that you focus on shallow water rather than on deep pools. That was Bud Lilly’s suggestion. He observed that trout in shallow water will feed more aggressively than trout in deep pools. The reason is that the sun can trigger insect activity of even the metabolism of a sluggish trout in a shallow riffle. This is true.

However, the opposite can be true as well. It depends on the conditions and the particular river you are fishing. Tom Rosenbauer, another veteran fly fisher, notes that fish tend to “pod up” in deeper pools during the winter. So look for deeper, slower water if you’re not seeing or hooking trout in the shallows.

3. Get your nymphs deep

This is always good advice. However, it’s especially critical if you’re fishing a deeper pool in the winter. The fish may be deeper than usual. Besides, the current runs the slowest at the bottom of a river or stream. Slow is better on winter days when trout don’t move as quickly. So use more weight than normal.

How can you tell when your fly is deep and slow enough? Watch your strike indicator. You’ve hit the right depth and speed when it moves than the bubbles on the surface of the water.

4. Make a few more casts than usual

Trout do not feed as voraciously in the winter as in the other three season of the year. This means the feeding window for a particular trout is smaller than usual. So make more casts than normal to insure you’ve drifted your nymph through every possible window in a run.

5. Stock your fly box with Midge patterns

Mayfly hatches are almost non-existent in the winter. The same is true of terrestrials. So you want to take along plenty of midge patterns—both in nymphs (such as the Zebra Midge) and dry flies (a size 18 Parachute Adams works well for this).

Winter fly fishing doesn’t appeal to every angler. If it holds enough appeal to prompt you to venture out into the cold, stay safe and stay warm. Perhaps one of these hacks will make your day a good one to remember.

S4:E33 Setting Fly Fishing Goals for the New Year

fly fishing

Fly fishing goals may seem like a bit of overkill when thinking about the new year. But life often crowds out the good, so setting some fly fishing goals helps us focus on what, truly, is most important. In this episode, we discuss our goals for 2019, which includes more time on the water (with family), honing some skills, and definitely more days on the river (with no family!).

LISTEN NOW TO BETTER FLY FISHING GOALS FOR 2019

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. What fly fishing goals have you set for 2019? Please post your answer below – and we may discuss your comments at the end of one of our next episodes!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We would love a referral from you. Simply mention our podcast to your TU chapter or fly fishing club or even local fly shop. Thank you for your trust.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

Are you a new fly fisher? Or someone who needs a couple fly fishing hacks to improve your skills?

This book is like a plate of hors d’oeuvres. You simply can’t have one. Read one list, and you read the next. Visit Amazon to buy your copy today!

Making Your Fly Fishing Trip to the West Affordable

fly fishing trip to the west

Fly fishing the Madison or Yellowstone Rivers in Montana used to be no big deal.

I simply tossed my gear in the back of my Toyota pickup and drove for 45 minutes to one of the two rivers. If I only had a couple hours to fish, both the East Gallatin and the main Gallatin Rivers were 5 minutes from my house. The only cost for those trips was a gallon or two of gas.

Then I moved to the north suburbs of Chicago. This has made the trip to those rivers a lot more costly. Still, I have fished in Montana at least once a year since I moved to Illinois twelve years ago.

I have modest amount of discretionary income, so I’ve had to figure out ways to keep my trips to Montana affordable. Here are a few cost-cutting hacks which have worked for me. Some are big, some are little. Even the little ones help.

1. Go in the spring or fall

This is a great idea simply because spring and fall fishing in the Rocky Mountain west is fantastic. But it’s cheaper, too. No one is flocking to the beaches of Montana or Wyoming for spring break. Nor do families vacation in Yellowstone National Park in early October.

So hotels are cheaper (especially when you book them on Orbitz or Hotwire), rental cars are cheaper, and flights are cheaper (usually!). If you plan to book time on a spring creek for a day, rod fees are cheaper, too.

Summer is a great time to fly fish in the west. But it’s more crowded and more costly.

2. Go with a friend

Perhaps this is a no-brainer. But it’s cheaper when you can split the cost of a hotel room, rental car, and a guided trip. Yes, you need to invest in at least one guided trip if it’s the first time you’re headed west! Besides, going with a friend is safer and more fun.

3. Pack economically

Baggage fees for airline travel vary. But most airlines charge around $25 for each checked bag (one way) and then let you bring a carry-on for free. I have figured out how to get everything into a checked bag (an Eddie Bauer Drop-Bottom Rolling Duffel) and a carry-on suitcase.

Most of my fly gear goes into the duffel. It’s long enough for my 4-piece fly rod tubes and my net. If you insist on carrying your rod tube, it might pass as a personal item. Occasionally, if my duffel bag is pushing the airline weight limit (usually about 50 lbs.), I’ll put my wading boots in my carry-on.

Yes, my duffel bag cost me about $175. But eliminating the need to check 2 bags for a round trip saves me $50 a trip. My duffel bag has long since paid for itself. Of course, a cheaper large suitcase can work as long as your rod tube(s) fits into it—perhaps at an angle.

4. Eat strategically

Dave, my podcast partner, and I like to enjoy a good evening meal. It caps off our day of fly fishing and allows us to savor the experiences we had on the river even as we savor the food.

We don’t mind paying for an evening meal at a nice steakhouse because we cut corners the rest of the day. If we can handle the food at our hotel’s free continental breakfast, we eat it. If not, we find a reasonable café. Lunch is a cheap sandwich on the river or sometimes even protein bars.

5. Budget for the unexpected

Perhaps I should say budget for the “expected,” because you can always expect some unexpected expenses! We’ve had to replace damaged reels, leaky waders (which were beyond repair), and lost fly rods (don’t forget to check the roof of your vehicle before you leave the fishing access parking area!). We’ve even forgotten about national park entrance fees or the rising cost of a non-resident fishing license.

Trust me, you can count on losing, breaking, or forgetting something on your trip. So save a bit more than you think you will need.

6. Purchase fishing gear and flies strategically

There are no hard and fast rules here other than to shop with savvy. Do you need to replace your fly rod before your trip? That Orvis or Sage rod will typically be the same price at the fly shop in your town as it is in Bozeman, Montana. But there is no sales tax in Montana. Nor is there in Oregon. I typically need a new pair of wading boots every three years. Unless I find a great sale (and the boots that work best for me are never on sale!), I wait until I’m in Montana.

On the other hand, it may pay to stock up on flies before you arrive at your destination. If you tie, then that’s easy enough to do. If you don’t, then stock up on Parachute Adams, Prince Nymphs, and your other go-to flies from the cheapest place you can find. You always need a good supply of basic patterns.

Local fly shops definitely have the best intel for what to fish on the area rivers, and the hottest fly may be something you didn’t anticipate. Make sure you support the fly shops where you ask for advice.

Also, figure out where you are unwilling to cut corners. You get what you pay for. I’m willing to pay a bit more for the best quality wading boots and rods. But I’ll compensate by going for the mid-range waders, fly vests, and even reels. I’m fine with an off-brand fly fishing shirt. I think you get the idea.

It takes a bit of savvy, but you can make your next fly fishing trip to the western United States more affordable with a bit of thought and preparation. We will see in you Bozeman or Thermopolis or Estes Park!

S4:E32 7 Questions for Knowing Your River

fly fishing

Success on the river comes in part from knowing your river. There’s an intimacy that forms between the fisher and the river: You know the primary runs on the stretch you fish and the lies where the fish hang out and the time of year it fishes best. In this episode, we offer seven questions to give fly fishers a framework for a deeper knowledge of the rivers they fish.

LISTEN NOW TO 7 QUESTIONS FOR KNOWING YOUR RIVER

    GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

    What questions did we miss? What other categories should we have added to getting to know your river? Please post your comments below.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

    We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

    Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

    That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

    The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

    Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

    To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

    We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

    To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

    Buy it today on Amazon for only $12.99!

Give Your Fly Rod a Lift

fly rod a lift

Some of the most effective fly fishing techniques are so obvious that we overlook them.

Maybe we practice them instinctively. Or maybe we don’t. But if we thought about them a bit more, perhaps we would practice them more strategically.

One such practice (and there’s no need for a drum roll because this may seem patently obvious) is giving your fly rod a lift. There’s no mystery here. Just lift up the tip of your fly rod. Yes, that’s it!

It can make a big difference. Here are four reasons to give your rod a lift:

1. To pick up slack line on a close, short drift

On smaller streams, I frequently fish runs that are only three or four feet in front of me as I stand on the bank. These runs are typically short, so it’s easy to let out too much line when I make my cast.

Since the fly reaches the “hot zone” almost instantly, I need to retrieve slack immediately. Otherwise, I can miss a strike (too much slack to remove before the actual hook set happens) or risk drag (too much line on the surface for a swift current to pull). In either instance, a simple rod lift solves the potential problem.

2. To pick up my line at the end of a long drift

At the end of a long drift, a fly fisher needs to do one of two things.

Ideally, you will need to set the hook on the trout that has taken your fly on the swing at the end of the drift. Or, you will need to pick up the line to make another cast. In either scenario, you will have to reduce the surface tension. Otherwise, your hook set will be too slow or you will make a scene on the surface of the river.

The simple solution in each case is a quick, deliberate rod lift. Then continue your hook set or your back cast.

If you’re not sure why this is effective, give it a try the next time you’re nymph fishing and using a strike indicator. Let your nymph drift forty or fifty feet downstream from where you are standing. Then, give your rod tip a deliberate (but not violent!) lift. Make sure the lift is straight up and not to the side. You’ll be surprised to see your strike indicator shoot towards you!

It’s when you pull your rod to the side that surface tension messes with your hoot set or back cast.

3. To give your fly some movement during the drift

My podcast partner, Dave, and I watched our friend, Dave Kumlien out-fish us last fall on a beautiful tailwater creek in Montana. Our friend caught two or three fish to every one we caught. We were all using the same streamers. But it dawned on us later that he was lifting and lowering his rod tip to give his streamer a twitch and to make it move up and down in the current — even as he retrieved it.

This technique works well with nymphs, too. Lift and lower your rod during the drift, and you may be surprised at how it entices a trout to strike.

4. To keep you line from breaking when fighting a fish

When you are fighting a fish, you rely on both your reel and your rod to absorb the force created by the fish’s sudden lunge or race for cover. Too much force results in a snapped line.

This is where the drag on your reel comes into play.

When set properly, it provides some resistance – but not so much that the force of a running fish exceeds the strength of your line (or the knot which ties your tippet to your line or your fly to your tippet). Your rod can play an important role too. The lower your rod tip is to the surface, the more the pressure point on your rod moves from tip to butt.

When I’m trying to move a big fish, I lower my rod to a 40 or 45 degree angle (in relationship to surface of the water) so that the pressure goes to the mid-section. I also pull the rod to the side. But if the fish suddenly darts, I lift my rod tip. This moves the pressure point closer to the rod tip where there is greater flex. This means less force on my line However, you need to do this with caution. Lifting your rod tip too high (at a 90 degree angle to the surface) too quickly can result in a broken rod tip!

There are so many little things to remember during the cast, drift, retrieval, repeat cast, and (hopefully) fight with a fish. I know, it can seem maddening. But do your best to think about your rod tip. You may get better results if you give it a lift.

S4:31 Wading Commandments Revisited

fly fishing


Our most-read post on this site is the one Steve wrote on “The 10 Commandments of Wading.”
Using the phrase “wading commandments” is a good way to talk about a subject that carries with it the great risk of the sport. In this episode, we revisit each of the ten commandments, adding in comments from our listeners and telling stories of our close calls.

Listen Now to WADING COMMANDMENTS REVISITED

    GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

    What have we missed? What other wading commandments need to be added to our list?

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

    We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

    Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

    That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

    The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

    Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

    To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Book for a New Fly Fisher

    We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

    To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

    Buy it today on Amazon for only $12.99!

5 Disciplines of Highly Satisfied Fly Fishers

satisfied fly fishers

Fly fishing brings me a lot of satisfaction. If it didn’t, I’d choose another pursuit.

Sure, there are moments of frustration. Certain days leave a bit to be desired. But all in all, I find fly fishing highly satisfying. This is significant, I think, because I’m an average fly fisher. Yes, even fly fishers with average skills can find great joy in the sport. So what makes for a highly satisfied fly fisher? There are five disciplines which come to mind.

1. Competence

Let’s face it. You need a modicum of skill. If you can’t cast, tie a couple basic knots, or “read” a river, you’re not going to have an enjoyable experience. But the good news is that you don’t have to become a pro in order to find fly fishing satisfying.

Tim Wu wrote a fantastic article for The New York Times titled “In Praise of Mediocrity.” He argues that we get too obsessed with our hobbies, striving for a level of excellence which creates anxiety rather than joy. I love his description of “the gentle pursuit of modest competence.”

It’s fun to get better. Read a fly fishing book or watch a series of fly casting videos. Learn the improved clinch knot (for tying flies to your tippet) and the infinity knot (for tying tippet to leader). Concentrate on improving your cast.

Just don’t overdo it.

2. Simplicity

This goes for everything from acquiring new gear to learning skills.

Fly fishing is a gadget-intensive hobby. In some respects, that is part of the fun. But an obsession with the latest pair of waders or the upgraded version of the fly rod you use can leave you frustrated. Greed never says, “Enough!” It always wants more.

The same is true of learning new skills. If you’re interested in Euro-nymphing or learning to tie flies, go for it! If you’re not, that’s fine, too. Focus on what interests you. If there are fifteen practices of highly successful fly fishers, you probably only need to master five of them. Don’t let fly fishing become too technical.

3. Friendship

I like solitude as much as the next lone fly fisher.

But I get so much satisfaction out of sharing experiences with my podcast partner (Dave), my brother (another Dave), and my sons (Ben, Luke), and other friends with whom I occasionally fly fish (Kevin, Bob, and yet an additional Dave). The laughter and comradery is priceless. I go home with a full heart every time I fly fish with one or more of these folks.

4. Adventure

I’m not talking about high-adrenaline experiences. Rather, I’m referring to trips or days on the water that require more than just a casual stroll to the river’s edge. It might be a six-hour float on a picturesque river. Or, perhaps it involves a strenuous hike into a remote stretch of river. It might even be fly fishing in grizzly bear country. All of these adventures will provide experiences or sights that you’ll savor for years to come.

5. Variety

Sameness is a leech which sucks the life out of you. Sure, it’s fun to go back to the same spot day after day—or week after week—if it’s productive. But variety really is the spice of the fly fishing life.

So vary the time of year you fish. Take a fall trip one year, and a spring trip the next. Try fishing nymphs or streamers as well as dry flies. Fish different kinds of water—from large freestone rivers to small spring creeks to high mountain lakes. If you mix it up a bit, you’ll have richer experiences.

Sure, catching fish is a big part of satisfaction. Yet each of these disciplines, in their own way, contributes to a full, rich experience on the river. They reflect what satisfied fly fishers do.

S4:E30 Days of Mystique on the River

fly fishing

Have you ever had one of those days on the river that transported you to a different dimension? Not every day of fly fishing is a day of mystique, but through the years, we’ve had special moments that are burned into our memory. It’s not merely about catching lots of fish or hooking into a monster. In this episode, we attempt to describe the emotion or experience of mystique, that magical time when time is suspended and fly fishing becomes something more than fishing.

LISTEN NOW TO Days of Mystique on the River

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

We’d love to hear about a day of mystique on the river that you’ve had. Please post your comments below.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

    Crisp IPA

    Gold Moss

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Helpful Book of Hacks for New Fly Fishers

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $12.99!

The Gift of Fly Fishing

gift of fly fishing

Christmas came early this year. Whether you’ve received fly-fishing-related gifts and stocking suffers (or not), you’ve been enjoying the real gift of fly fishing all year long. Or at least during the seasons of the year when you were able to fish.

The new reel or fly rod or gift certificate to your local fly shop is great. But the real gift is fly fishing itself. It’s an experience that gives you more than you might think. Sure, there’s the joy of hooking and catching a trout. But there’s more, and Charles Orvis recognized this in 1883 when he wrote:

More than half the intense enjoyment of fly fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life thereby secured, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard, and done.

Orvis identified at least three gifts in this statement. These gifts are still a huge part of fly fishing today.

1. Beautiful surroundings

It’s one thing to see a snow-covered mountain range from your car or from a scenic overlook along a highway. It’s an altogether different experience to see it when you’re standing in the current of a river. It’s the difference between being a spectator and a participant. It’s also the difference between a quick glance accompanied by a photo opportunity and the chance to linger in the moment for an hour or more.

Even when the scenery is not remarkable, the pasture-land or the trees along a river exude their own beauty. The water is stunning, too. Riffles, eddies, seams, and pocket water provide an endless source of fascination.

Weather adds a flourishing touch, sometimes transforming a tranquil scene into a wild or a haunting one.

Fly fishing bids its participants to slow down and soak in the magnificent grandeur or the gentle beauty in and around the river.

2. A new lease on life

A day on the river can also secure a new lease on life—or “of” life, as Orvis said. A few hours can bring clarity to a situation, insight into a challenge, or energy to face a problem.

Tension dissipates. Ideas emerge. Calm prevails. Dreams form. Desires awaken. Anger diminishes.

If you fly fish, you know this from experience. That’s why fly fishing can be some of the best medicine for a weary or uptight soul.

3. Pleasant memories

Fly fishing gives birth to so many good memories—or pleasant recollections, as Orvis called them. Such memories lead us into peaceful sleep at night. They warm our hearts. They connect us with places and people long, long ago. They nurture a desire for what lies ahead.

I recall a warm summer evening on a little creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The year was 1978. My younger brother and I took turns casting the cheap fly rod we shared. Every cast resulted in a 10- or 12-inch brookie, rising to our size 14 Royal Coachman. As the sun began to set, I remember running back to our campsite in the Custer National Forest to report to our father what we had accomplished.

One of most striking memories from this past year is landing a brown trout in the Gardner River in Yellowstone National Park while a herd bull (elk) was bugling on a hillside about 200 yards above us. I’m sure I will remember this as vividly in 40 years (if I make it to 97!) as I do the memory in the Black Hills.

These are only three of fly fishing’s gifts. There are others. If you were able to enjoy fly fishing during the past year, then Christmas came early. It will next year, too, because fly fishing is a gift that keeps on giving.

S4:E29 Decisions that Make or Break Your Fly Fishing Day

fly fishing

A day on the river always comes with a series of decisions that can make or break your fly fishing day. In this episode, we identify a few of those and discuss how we go about moving from decision to decision. For example, one nagging question is, “How quickly should I move to something else if what I first put on isn’t working?” That’s only one of many small decisions that a fly fisher makes throughout the day.

LISTEN NOW TO DECISIONS THAT MAKE OR BREAK YOUR FLY FISHING DAY

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What did we miss? What other decisions, small or large, do you make as you make your way through your fly fishing day?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

    Crisp IPA

    Gold Moss

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Christmas

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $12.99!

The Fly Fishing Wisdom of Charles Orvis

fly fishing wisdom of Charles Orvis

Fly fishing changes. The sport is different in 2018 than it was 135 years ago in 1883.

However, some bits of fly fishing wisdom from 1883 still hold true today.

Recently, I’ve been reading The Orvis Story by Paul Schullery (2006, The Orvis Company). The beginning of each chapter includes a quote from Charles Orvis, the founder of what is now The Orvis Company. These quotes appeared in a book that Charles co-edited with A. Nelson Cheney in 1883, Fishing with the Fly: Sketches by Lovers of the Art. Incidentally, I ordered a re-print from Amazon for less than twenty bucks.

Here are some of bits of wisdom from Charles Orvis in 1883. They still make sense today.

The Last Hour Before Dark

    “Perhaps during the last hour before dark you may fill your basket, that has been nearly empty since noon. Don’t give up, as long as you can see—or even after—and you may when about to despair taking some fine large fish.”

Catch-and-release fishing was not yet in vogue when Orvis penned these words. But he’s right that the hour before dark—and even after—can be especially productive. It depends on the river, but I have some spots in Colorado and Wisconsin which I don’t bother fishing until dusk.

Wading with the Current

    “It is easier to wade with the current.”

If you’re not convinced of this, try wading against the current! Wherever you’re headed, be it the opposite bank or a better approach to a promising run, let the current work for you.

Fishing with an Expert

    “To one who has not acquired the art of fishing with a fly, let me suggest that a day or two with an expert will save much time and trouble. There are many little things that cannot well be described, and would take a long time to find out by experience, that can be learned very quickly when seen. It is not easy to tell one exactly how to fish with a fly.”

That quote is chock-full of wisdom!

Dave, my podcast partner, and I keep repeating this message. If you’re a new fly fisher, you need to fish with an expert. That may be a friend (free) or a guide (a bit more expensive!). But the dollars you spend on a guide for a day will be tremendous investment in your fly fishing future.

Enjoying Fly Fishing

    “Unless one can enjoy himself fishing with the fly, even when his efforts are unrewarded, he loves much real pleasure.”

My wife and I both go to the gym regularly.

Okay, she’s more consistent than I am. But she enjoys it; I find it boring. This is how folks approach fly fishing. Some enjoy it; others do not. You can only grow to love fly fishing if you find joy in the art itself–even if your fly casting does not look particularly artistic! There’s something about the rhythm of the cast and about a well-executed cast, whether the trout takes your offering or not.

Patience and Perseverance

    “In conclusion, be patient and persevering, move quietly, step lightly, keep as much out of sight of the fish as possible, and remember, trout are not feeding all the time.”

This is great advice. It’s as true in 2018 as it was in 1883. All the best to you, our listeners and readers, as you get ready for another great year of fly fishing!

S4:E28 One Fine Day on the East Gallatin River

fly fishing

The East Gallatin River would look like a piece of ribbon candy, if you viewed it from a drone. It’s a slow moving creek that for the most part runs through private property north of Bozeman, Montana. One fall day, Steve found himself in the middle of a BWO hatch. In this episode, Dave interviews Steve about one fine day of catching rolling rainbows rising to blue-winged olives on a rainy and occasionally snowy Montana September day.

LISTEN NOW TO ONE FINE DAY ON THE EAST GALLATIN RIVER

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Please tell us about one fine day you’ve had on the river. What made it special?

More Episodes in Our “One Fine Day …” Series

One Fine Day on Quake Lake

One Fine Day on Nelson’s Spring Creek

One Fine Day on the Madison at Bear Trap Canyon

One Fine Day on the Bear Trap

One Fine Day in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

One Fine Day on the Madison at Baker’s Hole

One Fine Fall Day in Yellowstone National Park

One Fine Morning on the Little Jordan

One Fine Evening on Wisel Creek

One Fine Day on the Blue River

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    1. Eucalyptus Yogurt

Cool Fresh Aloe

Deep Sea Goats Milk

Bay Rum

Spearmint Basil

Crisp IPA

Gold Moss

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Christmas

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $12.99!

Protecting the Future of Fly Fishing

future of fly fishing

Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road, tells the poignant tale of a father and son traveling through the ravaged landscape of America. The novel does not fill in back story. Yet the gray snow and ever-present ash suggests the aftermath of nuclear war. The novel ends with these haunting words:

    Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. . . . On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

While this grim conclusion unsettles any reader, it particularly troubles fly fishers.

Imagine there are no longer brook trout in mountain streams!

These days, our greatest threat to trout and the waters they inhabit may not be nuclear war. Rather, it’s likely a hundred smaller threats belonging to categories like invasive species, disease, pesticides, predators, mishandling (by anglers), and development. As another year ends, we might ponder what we, as fly fishers, can do to protect the future of fly fishing.

Here are four small practices that can make a big difference:

1. Pack out trash

There’s simply no excuse for littering the banks of a river with beverage cans or candy wrappers. Yet I frequently find these items along the rivers or streams I fly fish. My sense is that most fly fishers are eco-friendly; yet there are always a few bad apples in the bunch. Blessed are those fly fishers who not only pack out their own trash but do the same with the garbage others leave behind.

2. Handle fish carefully

This amounts to a bunch of small but significant habits:

    Land fish as quickly as possible
    Use a net. If you want a photo
    Keep your hands wet
    Don’t squeeze the fish too hard
    Stop fishing if the water temperature exceeds 68 degrees (or even well before).

I keep a thermometer in my fly fishing vest for the last habit.

3. Don’t spread aquatic invasive species

No one does this intentionally. At least I hope not. But we can unwittingly spread invasive species if we fail to clean waders, boots, and drift boats after use. So get the mud off! Rinse your boots and waders. Let gear dry. Switch from felt soles to rubber soles with some kind of metal studs or traction bars. All of this is especially critical when you’re moving from one river to another.

4. Donate to conservation efforts

Your local Trout Unlimited (TU) chapter is a great place to start. I’m also partial to The Missing Salmon Project of The Atlantic Salmon Trust. You can also donate your time as well as your money. Your local TU chapter may sponsor some cleanup days on a local river or some kind of restoration project.

We need a few thousand fly fishers pursuing these small practices. Then, hopefully, we will never have to utter words like “once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains.”

S4:E27 Best Fly Fishing Advice, Part 1

fly fishing

The best fly fishing advice often comes with a small dose of humiliation. Or at least with a palm to the forehead, “Duh!” That’s how we felt when a guide recently said to us, “Why are you trying to cast harder into the wind. It won’t improve your distance. Your mechanics need to be the same, wind or no wind.” Of course! That’s only one bit of advice that we’ve take to heart through the years. In this episode, we each offer up five pieces of “best advice” that we’ve received from listeners, guides, books, and mentors.

LISTEN NOW TO BEST FLY FISHING ADVICE, PART 1

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What is single best piece of fly fishing advice that you’ve received? We’d love to hear about it. Please post your comments below!

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – The Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Christmas

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $12.99!

5 More Suggestions for Safe Wading

Of all the pieces we’ve published, by far the most popular (per our tracking data) is “The 10 Commandments of Wading.” Based on your feedback, and on further reflection and on additional experiences, here are five more suggestions for safe wading. They may not be on the level of “commandments,” but they at least deserve consideration.

1. Use a second wading belt

This may seem like overkill, but it’s a wise strategy if you insist on wading in deep water.

Typically, a wading belt will go around your mid-section. The place to add a second belt is around your chest—that is, near the top of your waders. It can keep the top part of your waders from filling up, especially if they do not have some kind of a drawstring or mechanism to seal them around your chest.

2. Use a Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

Alright, this one might really strike you as extreme. But I can see the value in it if you need to wade in deeper water.

I remember floating the Wyoming Bighorn a few years ago and stopping to wade a few stretches. I was surprised how much deeper I could wade because the current was not as swift as, say, Montana’s Yellowstone River. Also, the river bed consisted of gravel instead of greased cannon balls (what I suspect lies on the bottom of the Yellowstone). But whenever I waded into deeper water, I noticed how the current gently drifted me into deeper water. I struggled to get momentum to back out of it or to turn around and walk towards the bank.

A PFD would have provided a great safeguard. I’m not suggesting that fly fishers need to take one along in most conditions. But if you insist on wading into deep water, a PFD might keep you from getting in over your head.

3. Wear Patagonia Foot Tractors

Full disclosure: I am not secretly sponsored by Patagonia!

I only mention this particular brand and model because I haven’t found any other wading boots (aside from those with felt soles) which provide such good traction. The aluminum bars in zig-zag fashion on the soles of these boots really do the job. Felt soles seem to be on the way out. They are now illegal in Yellowstone National Park, and I expect other watersheds or even states to follow suit.

4. Beware of Mud

I’ve had a few situations over the years where my feet have sunk a ways into the mud—both in the west (Montana’s East Gallatin River) and the Midwest (Canfield Creek in the Minnesota Driftless).

This fall, I was wading the inlet of Quake Lake (not far from West Yellowstone, Montana) when my boots started sinking into a sandbar. I was standing in knee-deep water at the time. I moved too quickly, and actually fell down. It was a bit tricky to stand back up with both feet being stuck.

It reminded me to test any suspicious looking spots before stepping into them. It’s quite a fight against suction to pull out your boots when they get stuck in the mud. Add a couple feet of water into the mix, and the situation can become downright dangerous.

5. Slow down

Per my previous point, the worst thing you can do when wading (or trying to stand up after you’ve fallen!) is to panic and hurry. I tend to hurry this most when I’ve crossed a difficult stretch and I’m nearing the bank. It’s tempting to run those last few feet. But a couple times, I’ve hurried too quickly and have slipped into the water. I have to remind myself to slow down. Slower is safer in most cases. It preserves your balance and helps you keep your legs together so that you’re providing only one pressure point – not two — for the current.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a hassle to following some of these suggestions. But your life may depend on it. Whatever you can do to stay safe while you’re wading is more than worth the inconvenience.

S4:E26 Avoiding Fly Fishing Burnout

Fly fishing burnout seems like a malady for someone with too much time on his or her hands. But there can be too much of a good thing. Some have taken time away from the sport, others have stopped fly fishing altogether. In this episode, we grapple with the topic and try to frame the issue into the larger context of our lives. We look forward to your reaction to the topic.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO AVOIDING FLY FISHING BURNOUT

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode. Have you ever experienced fly fishing burnout? Have you ever intentionally stepped away from the sport for a while?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $12.99!

What New Fly Fishers Need Most

New fly fishers have a long list of needs. They need to learn to tie knots. To improve their casting. Remember to mend their line. Figure out which fly to use. And to read water so they can cast their fly where the fish are feeding.

new fly fishers

But there is something more basic to success:

The Secret of a New Fly Fisher’s Success

What new fly fishers need most is intel. That’s right. They need intelligence about where to fish and what to use. I know, you can’t catch a trout if you can’t cast a fly. True. But I’ve watched brand new fly fishers catch fish because someone told them where to go and what pattern to use.

Poor casting in the right place at the right time always beats great casting in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A Colorado Success Story

My belief that new fly fishers need intel more than anything else came from a text message I received this fall. My nephew, who lives in Colorado, had tried his hand at fly fishing a few times. But every time he returned home with zero success. Then, he asked a generous fly shop owner for an idea about where to fish. A day later, I received a text from my nephew describing a couple of big browns he caught. He had the photos to prove it. I realized that while he needs work on casting, mending, and streamside entomology, his greatest need is for intel. He needed to go where the fish were hanging out, and he needed to use the kind of patterns they were attacking.

Where to Get Intel

If you are a new fly fisher, where do you get good intel?

The key is to develop a relationship with a more experienced fly fisher. Often, the place to start is at a fly shop. The best time to ask where you might fish and what you might use is immediately after you have purchased half a dozen flies—or better yet, a new fly rod or waders.

Also, a good friend who is an experienced fly fisher is invaluable. Birds of a feather flock together. This means that if you’re interested enough in fly fishing, you’ll develop some friendships with others who like to fly fish. If these friends are better than you, don’t resent them. Take advantage of their expertise. Hopefully, your friendship adds value to their lives, too. If it does, they will be happy to share some intel which will put you into some good fishing.

Of course, you can always hire a guide. This is the ultimate way to get good intel because your guide will take you to a good stretch of water and then help you fish it effectively. Believe me, it’s worth the cost.

Intel as Preventative

Sometimes, intel works as a preventative measure.

Last fall, my podcast partner, Dave, and I planned to spend a couple of days on the Gardner River in Yellowstone National Park. We had visions of brown trout dancing in our heads as a result of the success we had the prior fall. When we stopped by Parks’ Fly Shop in Gardiner, Montana (yes, the river and the town are spelled differently due to a mistake) for some intel, Richard Parks told us that the fishing on the Gardner for fall runners was the worst it had been in 25 years!

That was not encouraging. But it forced us to come up with Plan B (the Yellowstone River), and we ended up doing quite well.

Sure, we would have figured out soon enough that the fishing on the Gardner was not great. Yet without the intel, we probably would have spent much more time trying to catch fish on a river that was not as full of fish as in prior years.

If you’re new to fly fishing, learn to cast, mend, read water, and identify the hatch. But there’s simply no substitute for good intel. Don’t leave home for the river without it.

S4:E25 The Angling Interval: Key to Fish Survival

Catch and release fly fishing has been around for more than a half century. In recent years, there has been a renewed push for fish survival with the Keep ‘Em Wet movement (#keepemwet), the idea being to make sure the fish stays wet the entire time it’s out of water. In this episode, we interview Dave Kumlien, fly fishing guide, former fly shop owner, and coordinator with Trout Unlimited, on what he calls the “angling interval.” The key to the trout surviving the catch-and-release interruption is reducing the time from when the fish is hooked to the time it is released.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO THE ANGLING INTERVAL: KEY TO FISH SURVIVAL

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

We’d love to hear you tips for protecting your fly rod. As well as your breakage stories. Please post your comments below.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $12.99!

Thanksgiving Day Double

It is Thanksgiving Day 2004. My son, Luke, and I rise before dawn to spend the morning hunting whitetail deer. Hunting deer or elk on Thanksgiving morning has been a family tradition as long as I can remember. Luke is eager to join me even though he is a year away from being old enough to buy a license and carry a rifle. My son, Ben, is in his senior year of high school and wants to sleep in a bit.

So Luke and I head for the Dry Creek area north of Belgrade, Montana. The Dry Creek Road transitions from pavement to gravel where the Gallatin Valley floor gives way to the foothills at the base of the Bridger Mountains.

We turn off onto a side gravel road and drive past a grain field which sits below the butte we want to hunt.  I park my truck at the side of the road, and we close the doors quietly. Six years ago, my dad and I just missed getting off a shot at a big buck on the hill on the opposite side of the little creek we will need to cross. I tell Luke this story before we get out of the truck, urging him to be as quiet as possible. We cross a barbed-wire fence and prepare to sneak through the tall grass towards a plank that bridges the little creek.  Six steps after we cross the fence, Luke whispers, “Dad, there’s a buck!” Sure enough, a 4×4 whitetail peers at us from across the creek, about ninety yards away.

We are five minutes into legal shooting light, so I aim, fire, and drop the buck in its tracks. This is the easiest deer hunt I have ever had! Luke helps me field dress the buck, and then we drag it to the truck, the length of a football field away. It is now 7:55 a.m. We arrive home fifteen minutes later and hang the buck in our garage. I prefer to let a deer hang for a day before skinning it.

By the time we finish this, it is only 8:30 a.m. An idea begins to take shape. It is a rather warm day. Already, the temperature has risen past forty degrees. We have four or five hours to kill before we gather with some friends for Thanksgiving dinner.

So, why not spend it fly fishing!

Nice Buck, Fat Rainbow

Ben is up by this time, and he joins Luke and me in search for our waders, fly fishing vests, and fly rods. By 9:30 a.m., we reach the Warm Springs parking area on the Madison River where it exits the Bear Trap Canyon. Predictably, no one is parked here today. We enjoy the warmth of the sun as we walk in the trail. There is a bit of wind, but the conditions are pleasant. So is the fishing.

It would be an exaggeration to say that we slaughtered the trout on this day, but in the next two hours at our favorite spot, affectionately known as “Rainbow Run,” we each land three trout. One of mine is a seventeen-inch rainbow, which I catch on a San Juan worm. This is the easiest fly in the world to tie.

You simply tie the middle of a piece of red chenille to the shank of the hook Then, you burn off each end with a lighter or a match to make the ends bead. It may be simple to tie, but it is effective.

The wind picks up about 11:30 a.m., so we begin the twenty minute hike to the parking lot, then make the forty minute drive home.  By 12:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, I have accomplished something I have never done before. I’ve taken a nice whitetail buck and caught a seventeen-inch rainbow with my fly rod on the same morning.

It’s a Thanksgiving Day double! I don’t recall the Pilgrims doing anything like this on the morning before they sat down with members of the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth Plantation to eat the first Thanksgiving Day meal.

If you spend enough time fly fishing, you’ll have days that humble you and some that elate you. You’ll even have some that are crazy enough to provide a deep sense of satisfaction.

S4:E24 Protecting Your Fly Rod

Protecting your fly rod is as simple as obeying this rule: “Slow down!” We’ve lost rods, stepped on rods, and broke other fly fisher’s rods. In this episode, we step back to offer up some “Don’t be like us” tips – to help you protect your investment. Just a modicum of thought goes a long ways towards keeping your fly rod safe.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO PROTECTING YOUR FLY ROD

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

We’d love to hear you tips for protecting your fly rod. As well as your breakage stories. Please post your comments below.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Taking Time to Be a Good Fly Fisher

If you want to be a great fly fisher, it’s going to take some time — perhaps time you can’t afford to spend. Recently, I saw a blog post claiming it takes a minimum of 50 days a year on the water to be a great fly fisher. 100 days is ‘way better,’ and 200 days is “better yet.” According to the post, if you spend only ten days on the water per year, you can only be an “adequate angler.”

good fly fisher

I don’t dispute this. Yet, I’d argue that you can be a good fly fisher if the 10 days you spend on the water are well-spent. Not every day on the river is created equal.

Practice makes permanent

There’s an old adage that piano teachers and basketball coaches and, perhaps, fly fishing instructors quote: “Practice makes perfect.”

Well, not necessarily. The truth is, practice makes permanent. It takes practice to get better. But if your next practice is not better than the last one, then you are only reinforcing bad habits. This is the reason why a couple days on the water with a professional guide or with a fly fishing friend who is better than you will be more productive than ten days on your own — at least when it comes to the rudiments of fly casting and reading water.

Substitute for time on the water

Another comment I frequently read in fly fishing blogs is that there is no substitute for time on the water.

Actually, there is — provided that it takes place between the times you spend on the water. I realize that casting in your backyard is not quite the same as casting into a river. But I’ve seen newbies learn casting basics in their back yard and then translate those same basics into good casts on the river.

Between trips to the river

So then, if you can only fly fish 10 to 15 days per year, the key to improvement is what you do between trips to the river.

In addition to practice your casting, you can watch videos and read fly fishing books. Taking a fly tying class at your local fly shop will boost your skills as well. Even if you never tied a fly once you completed a class, your knowledge of streamside entomology (what bugs are hatching in what stages) will help you the next time you cast your fly upon the water.

Another difference maker

There is an additional difference maker that factors into whether you move from adequate to good to great.

It’s your natural aptitude and your athletic ability.

Perhaps “athletic ability” isn’t quite the right descriptor. But some people just have the fly fishing gene. I think of a guy who fishes fewer days than I do per year. He has not read nearly as much as I have about fly fishing; nor has he ever taken a fly tying class. Yet this guy is a natural fly fisher and can outfish me any day of the week.

Here, then, is the takeaway. You can be a good fly fisher if you make the most of the 10-15 days you spend on the water and if you use the time between them strategically.

I honestly don’t know if I’m an “adequate” or “good” fly fisher. I definitely know I’m not great. But as one who spends 15 days or less on the water a year, I get better every year, and I catch a lot of fish when the conditions are right. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

S4:E23 One Fine Day on Quake Lake

Quake Lake was formed in 1959 when an earthquake triggered the collapse of a side of a mountain. The mountain fell into the Madison River, creating a natural dam. This fall, we fished Quake Lake near West Yellowstone, both for the first time. In this episode, we reflect on the experience, describing the emotion of fishing this haunting lake. It wasn’t one of the best days of fishing we’ve ever had but one of the most memorable.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO ONE FINE DAY ON QUAKE LAKE

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Where do you draw the line in your pursuit of fly fishing or any other hobby? What’s “good enough”? Please post your comments below.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

More Episodes in Our “One Fine Day …” Series

    One Fine Day on Nelson’s Spring Creek

    One Fine Day on the Madison at Bear Trap Canyon

    One Fine Day on the Bear Trap

    One Fine Day in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

    One Fine Day on the Madison at Baker’s Hole

    One Fine Fall Day in Yellowstone National Park

    One Fine Morning on the Little Jordan

    One Fine Evening on Wisel Creek

    One Fine Day on the Blue River

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Why Fly Fishers Should Stop Wading

I have a novel proposal for fly fishers who are not catching fish. It may seem a bit extreme. But hey, if you’re not catching fish, you’ll try anything, right?

stop wading

If you think you have the right fly size and pattern, if you mend your line to reduce the drag on your fly, if your casts don’t send fish fleeing for cover, and if you’re getting your nymphs deep enough, then here is my suggestion:

Step away from the river.

That’s right, stay out of it. Stop wading.

What Fly Fishers Do

I told you my suggestion sounded a bit extreme.

Wading in the river is what fly fishers do. That’s what a friend figured the other day when he heard I was a fly fisher. He is not. But he was interested and said, “Oh, is that the kind of fishing where you stand in the water?”

Yes, I suppose that’s our mental image of fly fishing. And yes, I will admit there’s something enchanting about standing in a river as you cast—especially on a late fall morning when the snow is softly falling or at dusk on a warm summer day.

But I’m more and more convinced that fly fishers who are not catching fish should stop wading. It’s not a punishment! Nor is it always and forever. But fishing from the river’s edge should be your default mode; wading is the exception. There are at least two reasons why.

Fishing near the bank

First, follow the lead of the fly fishers in drift boats. They typically cast to the banks. That’s where the trout are lurking. Sure, there may be some runs on the other side of the stream or perhaps fifteen feet away from the bank. But a lot of feeding lanes crowd the bank.

If you must wade, find an entry point between runs and walk out far enough so you can cast back toward the bank.

Whenever I hike up the Yellowstone near Tower Fall in Yellowstone National Park, I leave my waders in the truck. I’m not a fan of hiking 3-4 miles up the river in waders before I start fishing. Surprisingly, there are few places where not having waders puts me at a disadvantage.

Honing your observation skills

The second reason is related to the first. If you commit to fishing from the bank (at least for awhile), you will likely pay more attention to what is happening near the river’s edge.

I remember a time on Montana’s Madison River when I was getting ready to wade out to a run about 20 yards from the bank. Seconds before I stepped into the water, I saw two trout rise five feet in front of me. If I had not seen them, I would have sent them racing for cover when I walked through the little run where they were feeding.

Have I over-stated my point? Perhaps. But with so many prime places for trout to feed along the bank, it’s worth fishing that area before you think about setting foot in the water.

So, when all else fails, step away from the river.

S4:E22 Are You Too Serious about Fly Fishing?

Is fly fishing truly a hobby for you? We recently read a New York Times column called “In Praise of Mediocrity,” which ripped on America’s fascination with turning every hobby into a “pursuit of excellence.” We fish less than 25 days a year; we’re not professionals. So how good should an amateur get? How should we think about our sport if casting 100 feet in 20 per hour wind is an unreachable feat. What is good enough for the time we’re able to invest in the sport? This is another fun episode in which we explore the edges of what makes our sport so enjoyable.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO ARE YOU TOO SERIOUS ABOUT FLY FISHING

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Where do you draw the line in your pursuit of fly fishing or any other hobby? What’s “good enough”? Please post your comments below.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

My Favorite Fly Fishing Streamers

I love fly fishing with streamers. I suppose it reminds me of those days long, long ago when I fished Mepps spinners with an ultralight spincast rod and reel. Streamers also catch large trout — especially in the fall when brown trout are on the move. Mainly, though, I love the shock of a trout attacking the streamer as I retrieve it.

favorite fly fishing streamers

If you’re new to fly fishing (or fly fishing with streamers), the good news is that there are a few basic patterns which work consistently — from season to season and year to year.

Here are my top five favorites.

Woolly Bugger

The Woolly Bugger is the poster-child of streamers. I’ll bet I fish with one 85% of the time I fish with streamers.

The construction of this “fly” (if you can call it that) is simple. It’s basically a chenille body – with hackle wrapped through it — followed by a maribou tail. This pattern looks lively as it darts through the water.

I prefer garden variety colors—black, brown, and olive. The color combinations are endless, though.

For example, I tie my olive Woolly Buggers with black hackle and sometimes with black maribou. I’ve even used red chenille with sparkles along with black hackle and then black maribou with a couple strands of red crystal flash.

Fly fishers often refer to patterns like this as Crystal Buggers.

My preference for size is anywhere from 6 to 10, and I rarely fish a Woolly Bugger without a beadhead or conehead. Weight is important.

You can find more information on Woolly Buggers here: Know Your Pattern.

JJ Special

Technically, a JJ Special is a Woolly Bugger with a bit different color scheme.

But the pattern is so popular and unique that it deserves (in my opinion) its own entry. The JJ Special features a brown (chenille) body with gray hackle and yellow rubber legs. Then, the tail is brown over yellow maribou.

The brown and yellow color scheme makes the fly resemble (you guessed it) a young brown trout. This has been a go-to pattern for me when I’m fishing browns in the fall. Also, I am partial to the conehead version of this fly — although a beadhead will work just as well.

Muddler Minnow

To be honest, I rarely fish with Muddler Minnows. It’s not that they don’t work. They really do. It’s just that I do so well with Woolly Buggers and can tie them rather easily.

A Muddler Minnow imitates a minnow (surprise!) or a sculpin. Or, if you skim it on the surface of the water, it can imitate a floundering moth or mouse.

The head consists of spun deer hair. Some fly tyers enjoy the artistry of spinning hair. Others, like me, find it time consuming compared to slipping a conehead or a bead onto the hook! The other prominent feature is a wing and an underwing.

Zonker

This is another pattern I rarely use since a Woolly Bugger works so well. But the Zonker is a classic. It can be terrific on big rivers because it is a super-sized meal for large trout. A long strip of rabbit fur with the hide attached gives this fly its heft.

Dolly Llama

I don’t always fish with something the size of a 1957 Chevy Wagon. But when I do, I opt for the Dolly Llama (aka Dali Lama, aka Dalai Lama).

Like a Zonker, it uses a strip of rabbit fur attached to the hide. But this fly is long because it includes a second hook which is connected by wire to the first hook, trailing behind a couple inches.

This fly worked superbly a few years ago when I fished Alaska’s Clear Creek a few hundred yards upstream from where it emptied into the Talkeetnah River. I caught several 19-20 inch rainbows on a white Dolly Llama. To be honest, I haven’t used it in the big rivers in Montana (that’s why Woolly Buggers exist), but my friends in the Pacific Northwest like the Dolly Llama for steelhead.

You can’t go wrong with any of these patterns. Learn to fish them effectively and you’re bound to have a blast.

And if you haven’t yet listened to our episode with Dave Kumlien, fly fishing guide and streamer fisher extraordinaire, you can do so here: Catching More and Bigger Fish with Streamers.

S4:E21 Top 10 Dont’s When Visiting Yellowstone National Park

You’ve read all about all the wonderful places to see or things to do the next time you visit Yellowstone National Park: Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, Yellowstone Lake – just to name a few. This episode, though, is all about the dont’s – what NOT to do the next time you enter the hallowed sanctuary of the Park. This is a light-hearted yet straight-up episode on making sure you enjoy the vistas and wild animals of Yellowstone without losing your life. Steve regales us with some hilarious stories about visiting Yellowstone National Park when he was a kid, and we recount some of our encounters with wild animals on our many fishing trips in the Park.

visiting Yellowstone National Park

LISTEN NOW TO Top 10 Dont’s When Visiting Yellowstone National Park

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What have we missed? What other “dont’s” should be on this list?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

The Truth about Trout Lies

If you want to catch trout, you need to know the truth about trout lies. I’m referring to the places where trout lie — as in “hang out and spend their time.”

trout lies

Gary Borger is the expert on this. In his book, Reading Waters, he defines a lie as the “place that the fish holds in the current.” Then, he identifies three basic categories of trout lies. Fly fishers who understand these will know where to look to find trout:

The Sheltering Lie

Trout need protection from predators.

According to Borger, these “sheltering lies” exist under something. This might be a place under the bank, under a rock, under a log, under deep water, or under vegetation. Typically, fish do not eat when they are in these places. Borger says they zip their mouths shut and hunker down until they feel it is safe to go out again.

The Feeding Lie

Trout, of course, need to eat.

They need protection from the currents in the river, yet they need those currents to bring food. So they will often lie in slower current, right at the edge of faster moving current. We refer to this spot as a “seam.” Borger notes that the slow current behind a rock or another obstruction is a great place for trout to feed.

One of the easiest ways to spot a feeding lie is to look for the line of bubbles which meander down the current.

This is the food line! It’s where insects drift through the current.

The Prime Lie

Fly fishers hit the jackpot whenever they fine a prime lie.

According to Borger, this is both a sheltering lie and a feeding lie rolled into one.

A classic example is an undercut bank. The bank itself provides protection from birds of prey. Yet, the current brings the food close to the bank. That’s why trout will dart out from under a bank to take your hopper pattern or even a tiny dry fly. Sometimes, you’ll find a prime lie in a deeper pool or in water under a foam patch. The key is to look for places which provide both cover and food.

Good fly fishers shouldn’t tell lies. But they should be able to spot them.

S4:E20 How to Learn the Basics of Euro Nymphing

At the request of our listeners, we’ve now published an episode on euro nymphing. Our take is a bit different. Instead of interviewing an expert, Steve interviewed someone who is clearly a non-expert – Dave. In the last six months, Dave picked up euro nymphing on his own, watching videos, reading books, and fumbling with learning a new technique. In this episode, Dave tells his story of starting the journey to learn the basics of euro nymphing. It’s not pretty. But this interview may inspire you to pick up the technique.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO How to Learn the Basics of Euro Nymphing

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Have you tried learning the basics of euro nymphing? Any advice for Dave? Have you purchased a longer rod? How long did it take to catch fish? What type of streams do you euro nymph?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Surviving the Fly Fishing Off Season

fly fishing off season

My nephew texted me a few days ago to ask me about winter fly fishing. He said, “I’m not sure I want to wait until spring to fish!” The same day, I saw on Facebook that a guide-friend from New York state thanked his clients and fellow fishing guides for a spectacular season.

It reminded me that the fly fishing off-season is here — or almost here. I consider the off-season November through February. If you’re a fly fisher, what can you do to survive it?

1. Go fishing

Personally, I’m not a big fan of winter fly fishing.

One year when I lived in Montana, I caught trout on a fly rod every month. But after doing it to say that I did it, I rarely made it to the river in December and January.

Other than Midges, the hatches are minimal. Plus the temperatures are frigid most days.

Still, if you’re patient and content to catch fewer fish, you can do well in the winter on nymphs and even on the surface with Midge patterns (yes, a size #20 Parachute Adams will work). My podcast partner, Dave, and I had a fantastic February day last year on the Blue River (really, a small creek) in Wisconsin. The temperatures were in the high 50s, and the browns were hitting our nymphs.

If you live near brown trout fisheries, play close attention to when these waters close for the year.

For example, the fishing season in Yellowstone National Park runs through the first Sunday in November. If I still lived in Montana, I’d take a break from elk and deer hunting to make one last trip to fish the Gardner River for the “runners” that are heading to their spawning beds.

2. Reflect a bit

I’m convinced we (fly fishers) need to get better at this. We need to savor the moments we’ve had over our past year of fly fishing.

So go back through your photos to re-live your best fly fishing memories. Review your journal if you keep one. If you don’t keep a journal, grab a sheet of paper (or open a file on your word processor) and write down your top ten favorite memories from the past season.

The tendency to rush from one run on the river to the next one can carry over into rushing from one season to another.

Stopping to reflect a bit on the past year of fly fishing can provide a lot of satisfaction. It will also create anticipation for next season.

3. Get ready

Use the time from November through February to do what you can never find time to do during the prime months of fly fishing (March through October).

Tie some flies. Watch some You Tube videos on fly casting. Read The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists (couldn’t resist). Go through your gear and take inventory. Re-organize your fly box. If you’re planning on purchasing a new rod or waders or whatever, the off season is a time to do some research—whether online or in your local fly shop.

It’s almost November, but March is coming! We will all survive the off-season (I think).

Photo credit: Jim Keena

S4:E19 Catching More and Bigger Fish with Streamers

Bigger fish on streamers is common promise. Often you hear, “If you want to catch bigger fish, throw on a streamer. Yet fly fishing with streamers is not popular among many fly fishers. In this episode, we interview Dave Kumlien, who has been a fly fishing guide for forty years, owned a successful fly shop in Bozeman, and now works for Trout Unlimited. One key part of this episode is what Dave Kumlien calls the “twitch” – a technique for stripping in the streamer. For more information on the twitch, see the link below to an article by Tom Morgan on the twitch technique. Catching bigger fish with streamers is not just a promise; it’s a fact.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO Catching More and Bigger Fish with Streamers

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Do you fish streamers? What’s the biggest fish you’ve caught with a streamer? Have you found that you catch bigger fish with streamers? Please post your comments below.

In the podcast, we reference something called The Morgan Twitch. Here is the article by the legendary Tom Morgan, who at one time owned R.L. Winston, the fly rod company, and also co-founded Tom Morgan Rodsmiths. Tom has passed away, but his legacy lives on in his fly rods and in his contribution to the larger fly fishing community.

You can find the article here.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Know Your Waters: Three Kinds of Rivers

When my son, Luke, played tight end for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, he played football on two kinds of surfaces. All his home games took place on artificial turf in an indoor stadium. He even played on red turf at Eastern Washington University on a field dubbed “the Inferno.” But when he traveled to the University of Northern Colorado, the game took place on a natural grass field.

three kinds of rivers

These two different kinds of surfaces — artificial turf and natural grass – required different kinds of cleats and different approaches.

This is true of the rivers you fly fish as well. While every place you fish is unique, you can group rivers into one of three kinds of rivers. The better you understand the characteristics of each type, the better you can make adjustments and set yourself up for success.

1. Freestone Rivers

Surface waters provide the main source of water for freestone rivers and streams.

This means rainfall and snow runoff.

Not surprisingly, then, freestone rivers rise and fall with the conditions. They can flood easily. When the spring temperatures warm and the snow melts, freestone rivers swell with water. This heavy water churns through the river or stream bed, displacing stones—hence the name “freestone.”

All this has a definite effect on fly fishing.

Of the three kinds of rivers, freestone streams may be the most volatile. Anglers must re-learn familiar stretches of river from year to year. A flood may scour out a larger undercut bank where large trout lie in wait for food. Alternatively, the same flood may deposit silt in a productive channel or run so that trout abandon it as a feeding lie.

Conditions can change rapidly, too.

I’ve had good fly fishing on Montana’s Yellowstone River one day, only to find it swollen the next day. In dry years, water levels drop, and water temperatures rise. This means staying off rivers when water temperatures creep into the high 60s. Fighting fish in such warm conditions endangers their lives.

One year, my podcast partner and I fished a creek that Dave and his brother had fished a couple years earlier with great success using hoppers. The stream is a smaller creek that flows into the Gallatin River. But the year Dave and I fished it, we could hardly find a run that was deep enough to fish. There was little snowfall the winter prior, and the creek was so low that the fish were bunched up in small pockets of water.

2. Spring Creeks

Since their main source of water is underground, spring creeks are more uniform in water level and temperature throughout the year. They typically flow through mineral-rich soil. This translates to significant aquatic plant growth which translates to an abundance of aquatic life (insects, scuds, crayfish, leeches, worms, etc.) which translates to a healthy fish population — both in terms of numbers and size.

The spring creeks I fish in the West and in the Midwest tend to have more silty areas than rocky areas. This makes for easier wading.

Spring creeks typically run crystal clear, so trout have the advantage.

When I used to fish Nelson’s Spring Creek south of Livingston, Montana, I found the trout to be more selective than spooky. These clear spring creeks have a few riffles, yet the runs tend to be gentle with slower current. Trout get a clear, long look at what you offer them. So fly size and tippet size matters.

In recent years, Dave, my podcast partner and I, have fished more spring creeks than freestones, given that we both now live in the Midwest. I’ve come to appreciate the more technical chops needed to catch fish in a spring creek.

3. Tailwaters

A tailwater is essentially the river or creek that flows out of a reservoir or lake created by a dam. These, these fisheries resemble spring creeks with their even flow. Because water is often released at the bottom of a dam where it is cooler and where the sediment is rich with nutrients, tailwaters can produce some large fish.

Tailwaters are often a bit off-color, so the fish tend to be less spooky.

I have been able to sneak up a lot closer to feeding fish in the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon — a fine tailwater full of brown trout—because it is slightly off color on most days. Like spring creeks, tailwaters resist the volatile swings that weather conditions create on freestone rivers. Conditions are more likely to change from of a discharge from a dam than from a snow runoff or a heavy rainfall.

So the next time you head to the river, identify its type. A little bit of understanding can go a long way towards success. All three kinds of rivers have their challenges, but all three are fun to fly fish.

S4:E18 Overcoming a Fly Fishing Plateau

When starting out in the sport, most fly fishers struggle to build skills in all the areas required for success: casting, reading waters, grasping a cursory understanding of entomology, and simply identifying places to fish. It’s a fire hose of information, knowledge, and skill. In this episode, we focus on a different set of problems – when you’ve plateaued. That is, you may be bored with your level of proficiency or you’ve simply stopped getting better. You’ve stopped making progress. This episode is for those who want to grow. We identify some ways to get off the plateau – and to fall in love again with the sport.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO OVERCOMING A FLY FISHING PLATEAU

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What kind of plateaus have you experienced? What did you do to begin a new growth curve or get better at the sport? Please post your comments below.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

You will also love the shampoo – and the beard oil!

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off your first order.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

5 Lessons from a Day Fishing Quake Lake

I recently fulfilled a long-time dream. I fished Quake Lake near Yellowstone National Park. A 1959 earthquake split off a chunk of mountain, and the 80-million ton landslide into Montana’s Madison River created a natural dam. The lake behind it, which backs up almost to Hebgen Lake, stretches 6 miles long and reaches depths of 190 feet. Fishing Quake Lake is something I can now check off my bucket list.

fishing Quake Lake

For years, I’ve heard about some of the large trout that lurk in Quake Lake. Finally, on a recent mid-September morning, my podcast partner, Dave, and I got our opportunity to fish its upper reaches. Here are a few takeaways — reminders or lessons — from that memorable day.

1. The early bird gets the worm

That is, the early bird gets the worthwhile spot.

We hired a guide to take us to a productive area near Quake Lake’s inlet. Shortly after dawn, we boarded a drift boat equipped with small trolling motor. We arrived first, so we had our pick of spots. Later in the morning, we could see a half dozen other drift boats in the surrounding waters.

It reminded me how important it is to arrive early if you want your choice of places to fish.

2. There is a haunting beauty unique to each fishery.

Perhaps the final line in Norman Maclean’s novella, A River Runs Through It, suffers from overuse.

But it’s true: “I am haunted by waters.”

Each river or lake has its own mystique. It’s hard to describe the eerie beauty of Quake Lake at dawn, with patches of fog on the water, clouds of Midges and Tricos fluttering in the air, and the ghost-like remains of tall trees poking up through the water’s surface.

3. It’s pure joy when you catch a trout you’ve hunted

The first fish I caught in the morning was a 17-inch rainbow. I saw it feeding while we were hunting for larger fish in a couple of feeding lanes. I tossed a size #20 Midge pattern a few yards above it and let the current take it above the trout’s nose. I expected the strike and set the hook at the right time.

Yet it still startled me.

This sensation is why I love dry fly fishing.

4. Soft landings work best

Lest my previous point give the impression that I’m a master fly fisher, I will quickly confess that I missed my share of fish on Quake Lake that day. I missed some strikes, made a few errant casts, and spooked a couple of fish when my casts thumped the surface of the water.

I had to remind myself to pull up my rod tip slightly on my forward cast to stop the forward thrust of the line. This makes the line go limp and then fall gently to the surface.

5. Sometimes it’s not your fault if you’re not catching fish

We caught some beauties during our day on Quake Lake — both on dry flies and later on nymphs. But it was a fairly average day of fly fishing.

At times I wondered how many more fish I would have caught if I was a better fly fisher.

At one point, one of us asked our guide: “What are we doing wrong?”

Our guide, who freely speaks his mind and offers blunt criticism when appropriate, replied: “Nothing. Sometimes it’s not your fault if you’re not catching fish.”

He explained that he has fished Quake Lake enough to know the difference between a day when the trout are feeding sporadically and they are in a feeding frenzy.

Our day was the former type. That’s simply how fly fishing works—or doesn’t work. We had a satisfying day, and between sporadic success and the mystique of Quake Lake, it’s a day that I’ll remember for a long time.

S4:E17 Mysteries of the Fly Fishing Universe, Part 3

The fly fishing universe is filled with mysteries. One deep, unsolvable mystery is how few calories a day of fishing burns relative to the large amount of calories consumed at the Supper Club or steak house later in the day. The mysteries are dense. Virtually impenetrable. But in this episode, we peer behind the curtain, identify a handful of new mysteries, and attempt to solve the unsolvable.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO MYSTERIES OF THE FLY FISHING UNIVERSE, PART 3

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Surely you’ve come across some fly fishing or outdoors mysteries. Please post your new mysteries below!

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We love Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

What a Fly Fisher Saw One Fall Day in Yellowstone

You never know what you will see during a fall day in Yellowstone. Here are 9 sights from a memorable day of fishing in Yellowstone National Park:

fall day in Yellowstone

1. A bull elk bugling at Mammoth

Even though this huge herd bull and his harem were occupying a manicured Park Service lawn, his raspy bugle reminded me of the days when my dad and I hunted elk during archery season about 35 miles north of Yellowstone National Park.

An elk’s bugle is one of the most stunning sounds in nature.

2. A tourist trying to coax a deer to eat an apple

No kidding. A tourist with a camera in one hand and an apple in the other outstretched hand had a mule deer doe within twenty yards. Apparently, the font size on the “Don’t feed the wildlife” sign at the park entrance wasn’t large enough for this tourist to see.

3. A grizzly track on the bank of the Yellowstone River

I felt a chill go down my spine when I spotted this track right along the river. At this point, my fishing partner and I were on a remote stretch of the Yellowstone about 3.5 miles from our trailhead. We both checked the position of our bear spray canisters on our belts.

4. Healthy cutthroat trout

We both caught some fat, colorful Yellowstone Cutthroat trout. They were all 14-17 inches with football-shaped bodies. I caught them on hoppers, terrestrials, and streamers. The fishing was solid. We each landed 8-10 cutts.

I’ve had days where I’ve caught more on this stretch of river. But it was still a satisfying day.

5. My fishing partner sliding off of a rock into the river

Since we had such a long hike (see below), we decided not to wear waders. We opted for hiking books and nylon pants. We knew from prior trips that wading the stretch of river we planned to fish was not essential.

At one point, though, my fishing partner was crouched on a rock fighting a fish when his feet slipped and he slide into the water. He got wet but was never in danger.

I may or may not have laughed.

Also, I will not confirm whether or not this fly fisher was my podcast partner, Dave.

6. A bull bison blocking our trail on the way out

On our return, we climbed to the top of a small plateau and instantly spotted a brown animal on the trail in front of us.

My first thought was “Grizzly!”

As I reached for my canister of bear spray, I realized a bull bison was lying down on the game grail in front of us. We made a wide circle and left the bull undisturbed. He stood up to face us and confirm we were leaving.

But he didn’t make any hostile advances (unlike the bull bison we encountered a few years before on the same trail).

7. My Fitbit watch showing 22,324 steps

At the end of the day, I felt like I had hiked 8 miles. But my Fitbit showed 22,324 steps and calculated the distance as 10.4 miles.

My response was “10-4, good buddy!”

8. An elderly couple struggling to stand on a retaining wall above Tower Fall

I saw this right after leaving the Tower Fall parking area. Their view was stunning. But so was the drop-off below them. I shuddered when I thought about how many people in Yellowstone have fallen to their deaths.

9. A wrecker pulling a jeep up a steep bank

The final “sight” which impressed me was a wrecker pulling a Jeep Wrangler up a bank. The driver had obviously driven off the road—whether by swerving or simply veering off the edge where there was no shoulder. Thankfully, the bank was not steep or the driver would not have survived.

So what should I make of what I saw?

I’m not sure I learned anything new. Still, what I saw on that fine fall day reinforced some long-held convictions:

    The sights and sounds of a fall day Yellowstone are stunning. Aspen leaves burst with color, and the bugles of herd bulls and satellite bulls pierce the morning air. It’s hard to beat mid-September.

    It is wise to carry bear spray.

    It’s better to share the experience with a friend than to be alone — especially when your friend provides a bit of entertainment.

    Fall tourists are no smarter than summer tourists.

    There is a new vista and a new danger around every bend in the road or trail.

    Mid-September is simply an awesome time for a fall day in Yellowstone.

S4:E16 How to Plan a Memorable Fly Fishing Trip

Planning a memorable fly fishing trip is pretty easy if you do a few things right. There are factors that you can control, of course, and then there is the weather – and whether the fish are in the mood. In this episode, we lift the veil on our do-it-yourself fishing trips. Which is probably not saying much. However, we have a lot of trips under our proverbial wading belt. All trips are memorable, we suppose, but some trips stick in our minds because we figured out how to catch fish while enjoying every day on the trip and keeping costs to a minimum.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO HOW TO PLAN A MEMORABLE FLY FISHING TRIP

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What are your best practices for designing a successful fly fishing trip? We want to know! What works? What doesn’t? Please post your comments below.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

5 Facts about Midges Every Fly Fisher Should Know

Midges account for about half of a trout’s diet. Plus, they are about the only hatching insect available to trout during the winter. So here are five facts about midges that you need to know if you are going to fish midge patterns effectively.

facts about midges

1. Midges in rivers and streams are tiny.

According to fly fishing author Dave Hughes, the average size for midges in moving water is around size 20.

A size 16 is a big one, and some midges get as small as 24 or 26. This is why I typically stick with midge patterns in the size 18-20 range for nymphs and in the size 20 range for dry flies.

2. Midges have up to five generations per year.

This means you can fish midge patterns all year.

Fly fishing expert Jim Schollmeyer claims that trout often feed selectively on midge larvae in heavily fished streams even when other insects are hatching. However, trout feed most heavily on midges from late fall to early spring when there are few other insect hatches. This explains why you must fish midges if you’re on the western rivers in February.

3. Trout eat midge larvae constantly

Trout are more selective when feeding on midges in their pupal and adult stages. Yet they constantly feed on midge larvae in moving water. That’s why I always have a handful of beadhead Brassie or Zebra midge patterns (both nymphs) in my fly box.

4. Midges cluster on the surface

Mating midges will form clusters on the surface of the water as groups of males gather around single females.

In my experience on Montana rivers, this happens especially during late winter and early spring. What dry fly patterns work best?

A Griffiths Knat is a great pattern to imitate clusters of midges, although I’ve used a Parachute Adams with success on Montana’s Lower Madison during the winter.

5. Spent midges end up in slow water

Have you ever noticed trout sipping on tiny black dead bugs in a pool or eddy (slower water behind an obstruction) at the river’s edge? These trout are feeding on spent females that have laid their eggs and have been swept downstream.

Some anglers like a CDC Biot Midge, although a Renegade or Parachute Adams usually works for me.

It seems like Mayflies and Caddisflies get all the press. But don’t head for the river without some tiny midge patterns — especially if you fly fish during the winter.

S4:E15 Organizing Your Fly Box Chaos

Fly box chaos is real. You start out nice and organized, with pretty little rows, and then the Law of Entropy kicks in. Next thing you know, your fly box looks like a tossed salad. In this episode, we interview Peter Stitcher, with Ascent Fly Fishing. Peter has come up with a simple but biologically organized method for making sense of your fly box. Peter is a legit biologist, and his solution is briliant. By the way, Peter has given our listeners a discount on his “Creating Order in Your Fly Box” film to help you implement his approach. Scroll down to get your promo code.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO ORGANIZING YOUR FLY BOX CHAOS

$5 off Peter’s Film on “Creating Order in Your Fly Box”. Visit River Oracle or Ascent Fly Fishing and enter the code “2GUYSANDARIVER.” You can also rent or buy the film at http://watch.riveroracle.com/.

By the way, we (Steve and Dave) receive no financial benefit from your purchase of Peter’s film in any way. This is simply Peter’s gift to you.

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS

At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Does Peter’s method make sense? How do you simplify your fly box? How many flies do you carry out on the river? What is your biggest frustration with managing your flies?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Two Weeks before Your Fly Fishing Trip

I am currently in preparation mode for a fly fishing trip. Dave, my podcast partner, and I are leaving in a few days for the West. Last week, I shared some tips for planning a fly fishing trip to a specific region—the area in and around Yellowstone National Park. In this post, I want to zero in on what I do to get ready for a trip two weeks in advance, what to do before your fly fishing trip.

before your next fly fishing trip

This is about preparation, not planning. Here are three simple ways I prepare:

1. I ramp up my workouts

I usually make it to a local workout facility about three times a week.

But when I’m two weeks away from a trip, I ramp up both the frequency and the intensity of my workouts. I take some longer walks on days when I’m not doing my lifting and elliptical regimen.

Yesterday was too nice to work out inside, so I rode my mountain bike on the Des Plaines River trail and stopped to run up a long sledding hill a couple times. On my way back, I paused to look at the muddy Des Plaines River and reflect on how I’ll see clear water in a few days! I make sure, of course, not to overdo it. I intentionally do not work out on the two days before I leave for a trip.

We have a hard hike planned for day one of our trip, so I want to give my body time to rest and recover from my intense workouts.

2. I read some “pump up” material

When my son played college football, he had his air buds in several hours before a game to get pumped up and ready to hit the field.

Honestly, I haven’t found any tunes that seem to fit a fly fishing trip. Suggestions, anyone?

Maybe John Denver’s American Child would work if I was “going up to Alaska” to fly fish. But it seems like overkill to jam to Taio Cruz’s Dynamite or one of U2’s more raucous hits.

So I read a good fly fishing book. It may not make the adrenalin run, but it does stir my sense of anticipation. Since I’m headed to the West, I’ve been re-reading Yellowstone Runners by Chester Allen—a memoir about three weeks of fishing the wild trout that migrate from Hebgen Lake into the Madison River.

Of course, any good fly fishing book will do.

3. I take inventory of my gear

This seems obvious. But if I start doing this two weeks in advance rather than the night before, I end up being a lot more prepared.

My fly boxes need re-organizing, and I need to figure out if I have enough tippet material, dry fly dressing, and first aid kit ingredients. I make sure my rods are and reels are ready to go. I also set aside some of the little items that can easily be left behind — neck gaiter, thermometer, headlamp, and plastic bags (for wallets and keys on days I wet wade).

Then I remember to look for my favorite hat and favorite fly fishing shirt. How can I expect to enjoy the trip if I forget them?!

T-minus two weeks. What will you do to get ready for your next trip?

S4:E14 What Fly Fishing Does for Our Day Job

What fishing does for our day job is more than just relieve stress. That’s important, of course. But fly fishing is about something bigger, or maybe deeper. While both of us would love to fish more days each year, we certainly don’t wish we could fly fish full-time as professionals (and certainly not possible, given our chops!). We like our day jobs. In this episode, we explore the edges of what keeps us focused on our work and how fishing rounds out a full life.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO WHAT FLY FISHING DOES FOR OUR DAY JOB

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

How you think about fly fishing and your day job? How does fly fishing fit with the whole of life? If you could fish more days a year, how many more would you fish?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Tips for Fly Fishing Trips to the Greater Yellowstone Area

Fly fishing trips to the Greater Yellowstone area in Montana or Wyoming are not cheap. I’ve made not a few fly fishing trips to the Greater Yellowstone area. And I’ve assembled a few tips that come from a decade of making annual trips from the Midwest to the West, as well as from the two decades I lived and fly fished near Bozeman, Montana.

fly fishing trips to the greater yellowstone area

I suspect these tips will apply — at least to some extent – to other regions in United States. But they relate specifically to fly fishing in and around Yellowstone National Park.

1. Go in the Fall or Spring

If summer is your best or only option for a trip, you can have a great time. But there are a couple reasons for planning a fall or spring trip.

First, you will avoid the crush of tourists and crowded rivers which come with summer. Second, you can fish “runners”—the fish headed up-river either to spawn or to wait below spawning beds for eggs which drift down the current. If you’re new to fishing, rainbows spawn in the spring, while brown trout spawn in the fall.

You can even catch the tail end of grasshopper season if you go early in September.

I should also point out that fall flights, vehicle rentals, and hotel rooms or cabins are cheaper during the off-season.

2. Choose a Fly Shop

Fly fishing success depends on knowing where to fish and what fly patterns to use. The best information you will get comes from the staff at a fly shop. I recommend visiting a handful of local fly shops on your first trip. Then pick one and build a relationship with the fly shop owners. The advice is free, yet you may get even more helpful intel if you are a paying customer year after year. So buy your leaders or next pair of waders at the same shop once you find one you like.

3. Book a Guided Trip

I can’t over-emphasize how much you will learn and how much intel you will gather when you hire a guide for the day—or for a half-day. You might be able to go back again and fish the same stretch of river on your own. Some fly fishing guides have even encouraged me to do this. But it’s a courtesy to ask a guide if he or she will take clients on this stretch another day. If so, ask about some other places you might try.

Splitting the coast with a friend always makes sense. Drift boats are set up for two fly fishers anyway. Also, the custom is to tip 15-20%. If you can split the cost with a friend, a day in a drift boat or wading with a guide will be worth every penny.

4. Create a Sustainable Schedule

When Dave, my podcast partner, and I fly to Montana for a 4-day or 5-day trip, we fish every day. However, we’ve learned to pace ourselves. We act like we are in our mid-30s, at least for day one. Then, reality hits. We are both in our mid-50s. So if our Fitbits tell us we have hiked 8 miles during a day of fly fishing, then we might get a later start the next day. Or, we might follow a more strenuous wade trip with a float trip

Also, build in a bit of down-time. If you hit the river at the crack of dawn, take time for a nice mid-day lunch. Or stop early to get dinner at a popular steakhouse before it gets crowded.

Enjoy the drive along the river or through Yellowstone National Park.

5. Keep the Last Day or Two Free

It took us a few years to figure out this tip. We sometimes wished we had an extra day to return to the hotspot we stumbled into on day one. Now we build a “flex day” or two into our schedule to make this possible. Where we go on day four or day five depends on where we had the best success. This means you are better off scheduling your guided trips earlier in the week.

Fly fishing trips cost time and money. So do your best to make the most of them. These simple tips will help.

S4:E13 Properly Handling and Photographing Fish

No where are there more pictures of fly fishers handling and photographing fish than on Instagram. Everyone has a unique angle on the fish – close up, far away, underwater, one-handed, two-handed – and a thousand other ways. How should a fly fisher who expects to release the fish handle the fish? How long should the fish be out of the water? In this episode, one of our listeners, Tyler Farling (who is becoming a fish biologist) helped us with six key points for the proper care and release of the fish we catch.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO Properly Handling and Photographing Fish

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What did we miss on this episode of handling and photographing fish? Please post your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Our Worst Fly Rod Moments

Stupid is as stupid does. Forest Gump, a fly fisher, said that. At least we assume Gump was a fly fisher, because fly fishers can do a lot of stupid stuff. Well, at least my podcast partner, Dave, and I can. We’ve had a few forgettable fly rod moments.

fly rod moments

Here is a list of some of our worst fly rod moments. We’ve discussed these in various episodes. But perhaps a list of them can function as a public service announcement to be more careful with that expensive instrument without which you cannot fly fish.

1. The time Steve left his fly rod on the top of the SUV

Dave and I were hiking into Fan Creek in Yellowstone National Park when we stopped to share the narrow trail with some approaching hikers. At that moment, I noticed my fly rod was not in my hand. I thought I dropped it, then realized I left it on the top of our SUV in the parking lot! I hiked out a half mile and retrieved it (thankfully, it was still there).

Meanwhile, Dave waited patiently (I think) while a fly fisher passed us and took the very spot we were hoping to fish.

2. The time Dave left his fly rod on the top of the SUV

It gets worse.

One spring, we were fishing between Quake Lake and Hebgen Lake on Montana’s Madison River. Halfway back to my house near Belgrade, Montana, Dave realized he forgot to take his fly rod off the top of my Toyota truck and put it in the cab. I pulled into a turnout, and we checked the roof. But the rod was long gone.

Yet every cloud has its silver lining. The rod Dave lost was a cheaper one, forcing him to buy a higher end rod. Do you suppose that Dave intentionally … ?

No, let’s not go there.

3. The time Steve broke his fly rod

It was a dark and stormy night.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the sense to turn on the light when I walked into our “mud room” (as Montanans call it) to grab something from my fly tying bench. As I approached the bench, I felt something under my shoe and then heard a sickening crack.

I shuddered as I remembered that I left my fly rod leaning against my bench to dry off after an afternoon of fishing.

Thankfully, the Orvis rod guarantee covers those “stupid is as stupid does” moments, and I got it fixed for a minimal fee.

4. The time Dave broke his fly rod

Do you see a pattern here?

What one does, the other does. Awhile after I broke my Orvis rod, Dave broke his (yes, the one he purchased after losing the first one off the top of my truck). We were scrambling up a cliff above the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park when Dave snapped the tip off of his rod on some brush. I have to say that he did a pretty good job the rest of the day casting hoppers without a rod tip.

In fact, he caught so many cutthroat trout that I suggested he always break off his rod tip for good luck on our way to river. Sadly, Dave hasn’t embraced my suggestion.

5. The time Steve dropped his fly rod tip section in the river

Accidents happen.

But this one was, well, plain stupid. My son, Luke, and I had just finished a good day on the Owyhee River — an excellent tailwater in eastern Oregon. As Luke waded towards me from the opposite bank, I began taking fly rod apart to put it back in its rod tube. Suddenly, the top half of the fly rod slipped through my fingers and into the river.

No worries, though. The run below the bank was only three feet deep, and surely the rod tip would float. To make a longer search story short, we never found it — even after Luke went into scuba diving mode without a mask or tank.

Once again, Orvis came to my rescue! They honored their rod guarantee and replaced the tip section (actually, it appeared to be a brand new rod).

6. The time Dave broke a guide’s expensive fly rod

Alert readers will notice a break in the pattern. Dave didn’t do anything as stupid as losing part of his fly rod in the river.

No, he only snapped in half a guide’s brand new Orvis H2 (their most expensive rod at the time).

In defense of Dave, he had reeled in a large rainbow to the boat when we were fishing the Lower Madison River. As the guide lowered his net, the trout suddenly darted under the boat. Before Dave could react, the rod snapped in two as the trout bent it over the boat’s starboard sidewall.

The guide coughed slightly, turning his head for a moment, and then proceeded to act as it was all part of a wonderful day on the river.

Lessons Learned

This would not be a public service announcement without identifying a few lessons we’ve learned about protecting our fly rods. Ready?

    • Turn on the light and watch your step when you are in fly rod country.
    • Check the top of your SUV before you leave the parking lot—unless you want to upgrade to a more expensive rod. (Why not avoid placing your fly rod on the top of your SUB or truck altogether? Because it’s a safe spot free from the crunch of car doors and the boots of people who don’t watch where they step.)
    • Step away from the river when you disassemble your fly rod.
    • And, for goodness sake, don’t let a trout dart under your drift boat. Or, to be on the safe side, don’t ask to try out the guide’s newest, most expensive fly rod.

Better to be on the safe side than to be stupid.

S4:E12 Fly Fishing in Snake Country

Fishing in snake country is pretty much inevitable. Rattlesnakes and copperheads, just to name two venomous snakes, pose a risk to fly fishers, depending on where you live, in late spring, summer, and early fall. In this episode, we recount a harrowing tale of a fly fisher in the eastern United States, bitten by a copperhead, and offer some basic advice for staying alert while on the river.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO Fly Fishing in Snake Country

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Have you seen a venomous snake while fishing? Any hacks or techniques that you use to stay alert on the trail?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Best Time of Day to Fish

What is the best time of day to fish? After fly fishing for more than four decades, I’m rather adamant about my answer. I’ll stand by it no matter what any other fly fisher says.

best time of day to fish

My answer is: it depends.

Yes, the best time of day to fly fish depends on time of year, weather, water conditions, and the unique characteristics of each local stream or river. The best way to determine the best time to fly fish a particular stream or river on this day under these conditions is to gather intel from a local fly shop or from some successful anglers.

Or, you can experiment yourself.

Early morning

For years I avoided the early morning.

I loved dry fly fishing so much that I preferred waiting until mid-day (see below). But a couple weeks ago, on a day when I was prepared to spend my early morning hours on the front porch of my cabin on Montana’s Boulder River, my son, Luke, reported that he was catching some nice rainbows on Caddis flies at about 7:30 a.m. — right about the time the sun peeked over the mountain to the east and flooded the river with light.

For nymphs and streamers, early morning typically works well all the time. This is a no-brainer on the Lower Madison River in Montana during the dog days of summer. By mid to late morning, the river temperature creeps into the high 60s, and fighting a fish under such conditions can be lethal (for the fish).

However, early morning also works well on cooler—or downright cold—days in the fall and spring. A couple falls ago, Dave (my podcast partner) and I started catching trout after trout on the Gardner River in the northern reaches of Yellowstone National Park as soon as it was legal to begin fly fishing. (Hours are daily from sunrise to sunset.)

We were using nymphs. These trout were feisty, not sluggish, even at 7:30 a.m. The following spring, we tied into big rainbows on the Missouri River near Helena, Montana as soon as it was light enough to see and to sling and strip streamers.

Lesson: Get up early if you’re fishing with nymphs or streamers. But don’t take the early morning for granted when it comes to dry fly fishing. Check a fly fishing report for your river online. Or, better yet, visit the river in person to see if there are any early morning insect hatches.

Mid-day

The prime window for dry fly fishing is 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Or 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Or 11:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Or even 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

You get the idea. There is a prime window for dry fly hatches. The time will vary, though, from region to region — and even river to river.

For example, Tricos on the East Gallatin River north of Bozeman can start as early as 9:00 a.m. and finish by 11:00 a.m. But Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs) and Pale Morning Duns (PMDs) will wait to appear on the East Gallatin until about 11:00 a.m. regardless of the season. At least that was the case more than a decade ago.

Recently, a listener posted a comment about a fly shop near Big Sky, Montana, told him to focus on “bankers’ hours” — 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. — rather than early or late in the day. Yet a few more miles to the south, the best chance for summer anglers to catch trout on the Madison River just inside Yellowstone National Park is late in the evening when a final wave of Caddis flies show up.

I’ve typically had good success with nymphs or streamers during the middle of the day — particularly if nothing is happening on the surface. Yet, I’ve also had some summer days when the middle of the day is best spent taking a nap because that’s what the trout seem to be doing.

Lesson: Think mid-day, but find out from a fly shop or the local experts exactly when to expect a particular hatch to begin and end.

Late Afternoon and Early Evening

Fly fishers often speak glowingly about the “evening rise.”

I remember a terrific late afternoon and early evening on a little stream in the Black Hills of South Dakota many moons ago. The water seemed to boil as trout slurped insects off of the surface.

One of my best days on a little stream in the Wisconsin Driftless (near Timber Coulee) happened when the day was about done. A half hour before sunset, both Crane flies and Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) started emerging, and the trout did too.

Yet I’ve had mixed success during evenings on the same stretch of the Yellowstone River south of Livingston, Montana. Some evenings were gold; others were coal.

Lesson: Keep the evening rise in mind, but remember that it might be hit or miss. Again, you’ll need good intel — whether you get that from your own “trial and error” or pick it up at a fly shop.

After Dark

It is common knowledge that the best time to catch large browns is after dark. Stripping streamers or “mousing” (stripping a large mouse pattern on the surface) can lead to a violent-but-satisfying strike. I’ve even caught brown trout in the Colorado high country on a size #20 Parachute Adams when it was so dark I could not even see the fly’s white post. In northern Michigan, fly fishers float the Au Sauble River and catch some of their largest trout between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.

Lesson: If you really want to have some fun, plan an after-dark night of fly fishing. But make sure you know what you’re doing! Dangers seem to be magnified after dark.

So what is the best time of day to fly fish?

Well, it depends.

S4:E11 The Missing Salmon Project

Wild salmon have gone missing in the United Kingdom. For every 100 salmon that leave the rivers of the UK for the sea, less than five return. That is a decline of nearly 70% in just 25 years! In this episode, we interview Mark Bilsby, CEO of the Atlantic Salmon Trust. He oversees The Missing Salmon Project, a tagging and tracking project that seeks to uncover the secrets of the missing salmon to help prevent further decline of this iconic species. More than forty scientific and conservation organizations have banded together to attempt to solve this problem. After interviewing Mark, we felt compelled to donate to this terrific project on its crowdfunding page, and we would love for you to do so as well. You can donate at The Missing Salmon Project.

fly fishing

LISTEN NOW TO THE MISSING SALMON PROJECT

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Are the wild fish at risk in the fisheries that you fish? What are you seeing that concerns you about the future of fishing where you live?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Dressing for Fly Fishing Success

Too bad trout are not brand-savvy; I’d have more reasons to buy more gear and a pair of Simms pants. No, it’s not about the brand. Dressing for success on the river is all about staying comfortable and healthy.

fly fishing success

So here are some essentials to wear to the river:

1. A long-sleeved polyester shirt

I always start with this, whether the air temperature is 40 degrees or 90 degrees.

Why polyester (or some other kind of micro-fiber)?

I want a shirt that wicks moisture away from my body and offers sun protection. I wear long sleeves even on a hot day. I want to avoid the short-term (sunburn) and long-term (skin cancer) effects of the sun’s rays. A long-sleeved shirt also offers protection against mosquitoes.

Now what about a fly-fishing shirt?

Sure, these shirts look cool (and they are cool in the summer). I often wear one over my long-sleeved polyester shirt. A fly fishing shirt is the next layer you want to add to your upper body.

Of course, if you like pockets, a fly-fishing shirt is a fine alternative to a long-sleeved polyester shirt—even on a warm summer day. Simply wear it over a short-sleeved tee-shirt, preferably a polyester one which wicks away moisture.

However, a fly fishing shirt is not indispensable. I sometimes wear a cotton-polyester blend dress shirt that feels as comfortable as any of the fly fishing shirts I own. It’s light-weight, stretchy, and it cost me less than my fly-fishing shirts.

Whatever else you wear over it, start with a long-sleeved polyester shirt. It won’t let you down.

2. Nylon pants

Nylon pants are light-weight, so they dry out more quickly when than jeans and feel less waterlogged. They fit better under waders, too. If the weather turns cold, I’ll wear a pair of long johns under them. Layering is the key rather than a bulky pair of jeans or heavy pants.

Even when I wet-wade, I prefer long pants to a pair of nylon shorts. You can probably guess why — skin protection from the sun and from mosquitoes. The only time I opt for nylon shorts is when I plan to wear my chest-waders or waist-waders on a warm day. You can also purchase nylon pants with removable pant legs. This lets you choose instantly between long pants or shorts. But I don’t like these because the zippers tend to irritate my legs.

I’m not as picky about brand or quality as I am about a long-sleeved shirt. Don’t be fooled by descriptors like “guide pants” or “insect-shield pants.” Nylon pants are nylon pants. I buy the marked-down pair or the off-brand pair at the big box outdoor stores (Bass Pro, Cabela’s, REI, etc.).

3. Neck gaiter

Don’t overlook this little item!

A neck gaiter provides your neck with the same protection from the sun and insects that a shirt does for your arms. Besides, I’ve used one on cool, windy days to keep my face warm.

My neck gaiter is rather bland with its light-tan color. But a lot of fly shops sell these with more colorful fabric which has the same patterns as the body of your favorite species of trout.

Studies have shown that neck gaiters which look like the trout you’re trying to catch — cutthroat, for example — will increase your catch rate by about 23%.

Alight, I’m just kidding. But studies have shown (I think) that you’ll pay more for a neck gaiter in your local fly shop than at an outlet store.

Remember, trout don’t give you style points when it comes to what you wear — although your fly-fishing companions might. Whether it’s bland or colorful, don’t leave home without a neck gaiter.

4. Moisture-shedding hat

I used to wear a blue St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap (the kind the Redbirds used for away games). It was comfortable, but it was made out of cotton. Whenever it rained, it got water-logged. I did have the sense, though, to wear a wool cap (made by Woolrich) on cooler, rainy days. It handled the moisture fine.

Now, I wear either a Simms GORE-TEX lightweight cap on summer days or a Simms GORE-TEX fleece-insulated hat with flaps to cover my ears on colder days. I hope more fly fishing cap manufacturers will offer some with GORE-TEX. The stuff is amazing.

There are other features in a hat you might consider, too. Some fly fishers like hats with a bill all around them (such as a cowboy hat or a sombrero hat) for more sun protection. Others prefer a cap with a long brim and a cape to cover one’s neck and ears (an alternative to a neck gaiter).

There are a lot of options. The key is to choose a hat which is comfortable, sheds moisture, keeps you warm or cool (depending on the conditions), and provides ample protection from the sun. Plus, it shouldn’t cost as much as your fly reel.

5. Lightweight rain jacket

Prepare to spend the money you save on your hat or neck gaiter on a rain jacket. This is an essential, although I don’t wear it unless it’s cool or rainy. Instead, I stuff it into my fly fishing vest.

I have an older, no-frills Simms lightweight rain jacket that is no bulkier than a fly fishing shirt. It has been a life-saver on sunny days when a rain-shower seems to come out of nowhere. It also provides an extra layer of warmth on a cool morning or evening.

Successful fly fishers dress for success. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Nor do you need to look like a model on a fly fishing website. Just make sure you dress for comfort and protection.

S4:S10 Summer Dry Fly Fishing Lessons

Dry fly fishing lessons happen when you, well, fish with dry flies. This summer, both of us got away to fish while on trips to the West, caught some nice fish, and relearned a few basic lessons. In this episode, we identify a handful of practical takeaways from our summer, including, “fish early and late” and “listen to the Millennial at the fly shop when he recommends the parachute flying ant.”

fly fishing

Listen now to Summer Dry Fly Fishing Lessons

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What dry fly fishing lessons have you learned or relearned this summer? We’d love to hear about them. Please post your stories below!

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Fly Fishing Nets: Bigger May be Better

fly fishing nets bigger

I like to travel light. For a long hike into the river, I’ve always preferred my small Brodin net. It’s so light I hardly know it’s attached to my fly vest. Besides, it’s compact enough that it rarely gets caught in brush and snaps back at me.

Yet, I’m gradually changing my mind and carrying my Fishpond Nomad Emerger. It’s a larger net with a bigger basket and a longer handle. There are three reasons why bigger may be better when it comes to nets:

1. A bigger basket makes it easier to land a larger fish

The principle here can be illustrated by shooting a basketball into a regulation-sized hoop and one with the circumference of a bushel basket.

Bigger makes easier.

If you’re trying to land a trout quickly, it will still have a lot of energy when you bring it to the net. It will likely dart one way or another. So a larger net increases the odds that you’ll scoop it up the first time. With a smaller net, there is less margin of error—especially when you’re trying to land a 20-inch trout!

For example, my smaller hand net has a basket that is 13.5 inches long and 8 inches wide. By contrast, the basket on my Fishpond Nomad Emerger is 19 inches long and 9.5 inches wide. This gives me a significant advantage when trying to net a fish.

2. A longer handle makes it easier to reach a larger fish

The larger the fish, the longer the reach you need.

It’s tough to maneuver a trout close enough to scoop it up with a short-handled net. But a longer handled-net makes the job easier. For comparison, my small hand-held net has an 7-inch handle, while my larger one has an 13-inch handle.

A longer handle also gives me more space when I’m trying to land a trout on the end of my buddy’s line. I hate crowding my fly fishing friends when trying to land their fish.

I still remember the time my son was fighting a 20-inch (or so) brown, and it circled around me, wrapping the line around my leg and snapping it off when I moved in to net it. A longer handled net would have given me more distance and time to prevent that from happening.

3. The weight of a bigger net is negligible due to technology

The frame of newer nets consists of composite materials like carbon fiber and fiberglass. That’s the case with my Fishpond Nomad Emerger. The composite materials make the frame both lightweight and durable.

But what about bulk?

Surprisingly, I don’t snag it that often on brush and tree branches when I’m walking along the river. Its design is still fairly sleek.

Also, I suspect that a larger net makes me pay closer attention to potential snags, which I tend to forget when I’m carrying a smaller net. Whatever the case, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the feel of my larger net.

When it’s clipped to the back of my fly fishing vest, I don’t notice any it any more than my smaller one. Bigger may really be better.

S4:E9 Drift Boat Fly Fishing

Drift boat fly fishing is often the first experience that someone has with fly fishing. The experience can ignite a passion for the sport. In this episode, we recall our first drift boat experiences as well as debacles. It’s definitely a unique challenge to cast and mend while moving at the speed of the river.

A River Runs Through It

Listen now to Drift Boat Fly Fishing

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

How often do you fish in a drift boat? What is your best day on the water in a drift boat? What advice do you have for fly fishers who’ve never fished out of a drift boat?

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOUP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar. But there are many others, including:

    Eucalyptus Yogurt

    Cool Fresh Aloe

    Deep Sea Goats Milk

    Bay Rum

    Spearmint Basil

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Be sure to forward our weekly email to your network!

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Hidden Dangers for Summer Fly Fishers

We have talked ad nauseam about some of the obvious dangers while on the river on our podcast: lightning, venomous snakes, drowning, and grizzly bears. But there are other hidden dangers for summer fly fishers to consider:

hidden dangers for summer fly fishers

1. Livestock and (big) game on the road

Perhaps the most dangerous part of your fishing trip is the drive to and from the river. This is especially true if you’re driving early in the morning or late in the evening.

A few years ago, legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight totaled his SUV when he hit a cow while driving at night after fly fishing a Wyoming river. Dave, my podcast partner and I fished the same river the next day. On our drive to the river, we noticed that it was open range. We saw several mule deer, too, at dusk.

Just the other day while in Rocky Mountain National Park, Dave came up on a five-point bull elk as he rounded a curve from the Fall River to Estes Park. Fortunately, Dave wasn’t on his phone, or its velvet-covered antlers may have adorned the small truck he was driving.

Stay alert even while you’re driving and dreaming about the fish you’re going to catch – or fretting over the strikes you missed.

2. Ticks

One of our listeners just informed us about a fly fisher in Wisconsin who ended up with Lyme Disease as a result of a tick. According to the CDC, Lyme disease is “transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.”

Our listener suggested we reconsider our habit of wet wading on a hot summer day. Perhaps chest waders are the way to go for protection against ticks.

At the very least, use insect repellent, and wear long sleeves and pants. Some of the light Dri-Fit products make long sleeves and long pants bearable even when the temperatures creep into the 90s. Whatever you wear, check yourself carefully at the end of the day for ticks.

3. Sun burn and dehydradation

The sun is your friend. But it is also your enemy if you don’t take the proper precautions. Skin cancer is a serious concern. So, either use sun screen or cover up. I prefer the latter. As suggested above, go with long sleeves and long pants. Use a neck gator or a hat which provides more coverage than a ball-cap does. You might try a cowboy hat. Yes, you’re allowed to wear a cowboy hat even if you don’t own spurs and wouldn’t know what to do on a good cutting horse!

Also, summer heat means you need to drink more water than you think you do. According to Mayo Clinic, “Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.”

So it’s worth the extra weight in your fly vest or pack to include an extra bottle of water. That weight will disappear soon enough. For longer hikes to the river, you might consider water purification tablets or a bottle with a built-in water purification system.

I also drink as much water as I can before starting out on the hike.

4. Food poisoning

Huh? Yes, think twice before packing a chicken salad sandwich or anything else with mayonnaise. By the time you pull out your sandwich for lunch, the heat may have spoiled it.

If you can’t eat a turkey or beef sandwich without mayo, then include some packets of mayo (from a fast food restaurant) in your lunch. Your stomach will be glad you waited to smear on the mayo.

S4:E8 For the Love of Fly Rods

The fly rod is the foundational element of gear for a fly fisher. If you have one fly rod, you need two. And if you have two, you definitely need two more. We love fly rods, and in this episode, we drill down into what we use and why. This is all about gear talk. Steve even goes so far to say that he doesn’t need another fly rod, but he must be developing a strange form of fly fishing dementia. Shame on him.

fly fishing

Listen now to For the Love of Fly Rods

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What is your favorite go-to fly rod or fly rods? Which fly rod do you like most – and why? Please post your comments below.

OUR SPONSOR: DR SQUATCH NATURAL OUTDOOR SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar.

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Effective Dry Fly Patterns for Summer

If you are headed to the Rocky Mountain west to fly fish this summer, make sure your fly box is full of effective dry fly patterns. There are some obvious choices: Parachute Adams (for Blue-Winged Olive hatches), Elk Hair Caddis patterns (for the ubiquitous caddis flies), Pale Morning Duns (PMDs), and, of course, grasshoppers.

Don’t leave home without an ample supply of hoppers!

The Purple Haze (a variation of the Parachute Adams, but with a purple thorax) is an effective dry fly pattern, too.

Other patterns, though, get easily overlooked. Yet they can be highly effective. We suggest you consider including the following seven in your fly box:

1. Stimulator

This is a terrific all-around pattern for stoneflies.

My brother, Dave, has had great success with this in the small streams in the high country in Colorado. I like it in sizes 14-18, although a size 12 can work well too. I always go with orange — whether an orange body or an orange head with an olive body.

This fly also works during the salmon fly hatches on the big western rivers in June.

2. Spruce Moth

A couple years ago, my friend, Brand, put me on to this pattern while fly fishing the Boulder River south of Big Timber, Montana.

Since then, I’ve used Spruce Moths successfully on other rivers throughout the west—wherever Spruce and Fir trees are found. These moths can be bad news for the trees, but they are good news for fly fishers. Trout jump (literally!) at the opportunity to feed on them because, like grasshoppers, they provide a lot of calories in one gulp.

I’ve used Spruce Moths throughout the summer, but they work especially well in August when there are hatches. I prefer them in sizes 12 or 14. They can even imitate small grasshoppers.

3. Renegade

This fly has been around for a long time, and it’s one of the first patterns I used in the late 1970s when I started fly fishing.

It’s a classic attractor pattern, meaning that it doesn’t imitate a particular insect. It has white hackles on the front, brown hackles at the back, and a peacock herl abdomen in the middle. The white and brown hackles make this fly visible to fly fishers.

Now it doesn’t take a lot for it to get waterlogged and sink just under the film. When this happens, don’t get frustrated. Keep fishing it, because trout love taking it when it has been submerged.

Standard sizes are 14-18.

4. Beetles and Ants

Perhaps these terrestrials do not get ignored as much as I think they do. But I’m surprised how many fly fishers will fish a hopper pattern without dropping a terrestrial behind it. When I fish a hopper plus a beetle or a hopper plus an ant, I seem to catch as many on the terrestrial as I do on the hopper!

I prefer smaller sizes like 16 or 18, although a size 14 is fine.

5. H and L Variant

Dave, my podcast partner, has already sung the praises of this flythis fly. I like it, too, because it’s a highly visible fly which holds its own in rough water.

In fact, I think of it as a vanilla Royal Wulff. It has the bushy hackle without as much color. Once again, the standard sizes (14-18) work well.

6. Royal Trude

This is a cousin of sorts to the Royal Wulff.

Rather than two hair wings which resemble a fly in its dun stage, the Royal Trude has a long white down-wing. This gives the trout a different look. In fact, the Royal Trude can work both as a salmon fly and a grasshopper imitation. I have a friend who fishes nothing but this fly on the Yellowstone River in Montana. He always catches his share of trout. Some even fish this as a wet fly or a streamer. But it’s highly effective as dry fly.

I like it in sizes 12-16.

7. Humpy

This is another rough water fly, and perhaps you wonder “why bother?” since other attractor patterns like a Royal Wulff or an H and L Variant work effectively.

But the Humpy is so bushy that it seems to stay “dry” longer these two. The lower abdomen of the fly is either red, yellow, green, or even purple (the “Humpy Haze,” anyone?). As for sizes, I am partial to a size 16, although a 14 is fine, too.

What are some other overlooked effective dry fly patterns that work well for you? Please leave a comment and let us know!

S4:E7 Hemingway, the Outdoors, and the Good Life

The outdoors and the good life are synonymous. And Ernest Hemingway embodied the good life, with his exotic safaris, hunting in Idaho, and fishing in Cuba. He prefigured many of the great fly fishing personalities, such as Lee Wulff, Joan Wulff, and Bud Lilly. In this episode, we reflect on the life of Hemingway, one of our favorite American writers, and try to sort through what the outdoors and the good life really mean for most of us who are not outdoor professionals or those who can spend their days fishing and hunting.

fly fishing

Listen now to Hemingway, the Outdoors and the Good Life

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What do the outdoors and the good life mean to you? How do you balance your love for the outdoors with the demands of life and family?

OUR SPONSOR: DR. SQUATCH NATURAL SOAP

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar.

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Great Quotes from “A River Runs Through It”

In 1987, shortly after I moved to Helena, Montana, I bought a copy of “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean.

A River Runs Through It

I was browsing in a little bookstore in Last Chance Gulch, looking for the next Montana author to read. The movie had not yet popularized the novella, but a friend had recommended “A River Runs Through It.” So I picked up a copy. Ivan Doig, A. B. Guthrie, and other Montana authors would have to wait. The first paragraph captivated me, and I found that the book touched me deeply. Both the first and last lines are classic.

    “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”

    “I am haunted by waters.”

There are, of course, several other lines worth pondering. Here are a few of my favorites, along with my musings about them.

It’s a Rod!

    “Always it was to be called a rod. If someone called it a pole, my father looked at him as a sergeant in the United States Marines would look at a recruit who had just called a rifle a gun.”

The funny thing is, I was looking at high-end Orvis rods in a fly shop a few weeks ago, and the clerk (obviously a newbie) said, “Those are some really pricey poles you looking at.” I bit my tongue, but thought of the Rev. Maclean and how he would have frowned on this.

On Casting Technique

    “Until a man is redeemed he will always take a fly rod too far back, just as natural man always overswings with an ax or golf club and loses all his power somewhere in the air.”

Been there, done that. I also witnessed it a few weeks ago while helping a new fly fisher with his casting. Bringing your rod back too far on the back cast will also result in hooking brush or tree limbs or in slapping the water behind you if you are casting straight upstream.

The Montana Mindset

    “My brother and I soon discovered [the world outside] was full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the farther one gets from Missoula, Montana.”

Residents of Bozeman, Montana would beg to differ!

There is a heated rivalry between the University of Montana (in Missoula) and Montana State University (in Bozeman). I won’t repeat some of the names fans from each city have called each other!

Bait Fisherman Take One on the Chin

    “When [bait fishermen] come back home they don’t even kiss their mothers on the front porch before they’re in the back garden with a red Hills Bros. coffee can digging for angleworms.”

This was the younger brother Paul’s line. He was no fan of bait fishermen!

I’ll admit that I started out catching brook trout with worms. I have no qualms with this method if an angler is trying to catch dinner and honoring the limits set by a state fish and game agency. But there is no place for bait fishing — or spin-casting with treble hook lures — when it comes to catch and release.

The Glory of Nature

    “Not far downstream was a dry channel where the river had run once, and part of the way to come to know a thing is through its death. But years ago I had known the river when it flowed through this now dry channel, so I could enliven its stony remains with the waters of memory.”

This is simply beautiful prose, and it comes from one who has interacted deeply with nature. Fly fishing is not just about catching fish (although I’m all about catching fish!). It’s about experiencing nature and seeing its patterns reflect that way the Creator has designed life.

The Twists and Turns of Life

    “The fisherman even has a phrase to describe what he does when he studies the patterns of a river. He says he is ‘reading the water,’ and perhaps to tell his stories he has to do much the same thing.”

This quote comes right after Norman Maclean observes that “stories of life are more often like rivers than books.” I think he is saying that stories of life are fluid and take twists and turns that we do not anticipate.

The Big Idea of A River Runs Through It

    “You can love completely without complete understanding.”

This is what Norman said to his father when they were discussing his younger brother Paul’s death. I believe it is the big idea of the book. Maclean’s novella is about more than fly fishing. It’s about family and about living with and loving those who elude us. And yes, it’s about how all things eventually merge into one and how a river runs through it (per it’s last full paragraph).

And yes, like Norman Maclean, I am haunted by waters.

S4:E6 Our Favorite Dry Fly Dropper Rigs

Dry fly dropper rigs are tandem two-fly combos that can increase your chances of catching fish. In this episode, we discuss the art of two-fly rigs for dry flies, dip into a brief conversation about the euro-nymphing set up, with the heavier fly on the bottom, and then offer listeners a few of our favorite dry fly dropper rigs. We rarely fish hoppers without a second terrestrial, such as a flying ant, as the second fly.

fly fishing

Listen now to Our Favorite Dry Fly Dropper Rigs

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

We’d love to hear about your favorite dry fly dropper rigs. Please post your comments and stories below!

Here is the link from The Fly Fishing Basics web site that we mention in the podcast: The Two-Fly Set Up.

OUR SPONSOR: DR. SQUATCH NATURAL SOAP

This is a first for us – a sponsor!

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar.

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

What to Wear When You Wade

Every fly fisher knows what to wear when you wade the river. The Simms and Cabelas’ models have shown us. We need to don a pair of chest waders and pull on our wading boots. But sometimes, the conditions dictate another approach.

wear when you wade

If you’re new to fly fishing, here is a guide for when you wade the river.

1. Chest Waders + Wading Boots

This is the default approach.

A good pair of chest waders will keep you dry and warm as you wade a cold river. They will also keep you safe if you fall in, provided you use a wading belt. Please, don’t leave home without a wading belt! Some fly fishers tell us they use two for added protection. A wading belt seals the waders around your waist or chest so that they cannot fill up with water and weigh you down.

A good-quality pair of wading boots are a must, too.

This is where it gets a bit tricky because the best sole for traction is felt (in my opinion). But conservation-minded fly fishers frown on felt because it can trap the microorganisms and thus spread invasive species as a fly fisher moves from one river to another. So I don’t use felt, ever.

Frankly (and unfortunately), rubber-soled alternatives do not work as well as felt.

But Dave, my podcast partner, and I are sold on Patagonia Foot Tractors (we receive no kickback for recommending them). The aluminum bars on the sole really do provide good traction. But you’ll want to wait until you get to the river to put them on. Your local fly shop will appreciate you for waiting — especially if the shop has hardwood floors; the aluminum bars are meant to dig into bottom of the river.

So when should you wear chest waders and wading boots?

The most obvious answer is any time you will be wading in water above your thighs. By the way, the term “chest waders” does not demand that you wade in chest-high water. I highly recommend that you do not do this for the sake of safety.

You can also wear chest waders if the weather is cold or cool — even if you’ll will only wade in ankle deep water. You could “layer up” with other kinds of clothing, but if you sit on the bank in the early morning when the dew is on the ground, you’ll be thankful for your waders.

And obviously, you always using your wading boots with your chest waders.

2. Waist Waders + Wading Boots

Sometimes, though, the weather is too hot for chest waders.

We wish a large gentleman we saw a few years ago would have gotten this memo. He was fishing a spring creek on an 80+ degree day and was wearing chest waders. There was no need to wade the little creek except to cross it at a few points (in ankle deep water).

No need to sweat profusely.

One alternative is waist waders plus your wading boots. This works well if you want to stay dry but want to avoid over-heating. I ordered an inexpensive pair from Cabela’s and they seem sturdy enough.

I’ve wondered if waist waders provide a safety risk to those fly fishers who wade into thigh-deep water. Could they fill up with water more easily if you slip and fall in the river?

I suspect that the belt around your waist would keep them from filling up with water. But I haven’t fallen in with my waist waders (only while wearing my chest waders!), so I’m not certain about this.

3. Wet Wading + Wading Sandals (or Wading Shoes or Wading Boots)

If it is a hot day in the summer, wet wading is an alternative.

I’ll talk about clothing alternatives in a moment, but this means your clothing will get wet — yes, soaking wet. Footwear for wet wading is either wading sandals, wading shoes, or your wading boots.

I prefer a pair of Simms wading shoes. They are light. The downside, of course, is the rubber soles (see above). Some older wading sandals have felt soles, but these are going the way of cassettes, VHS, and CDs (for the environmental concerns mentioned earlier).

Wading boots work fine, although they are a bit heavier.

If you wear wading boots without waders, you’ll want to use Neoprene wading socks. Almost all the major manufacturers of waders make these. However, don’t expect that these will keep your feet dry. I’ve never had a pair that really sealed around my calf so that water didn’t seep down into them. But these socks will keep your feel from slipping around in your boots — even if your feet get wet.

What Clothing to Wear When You Wade

While we’re on the topic of wet wading, let’s address clothing. One alternative is a pair of frayed, cutoff shorts, which you make from your worn-out jeans.

Oh wait, it’s not the 1970s!

A better alternative is a pair of nylon pants or shorts. Go to your local sporting goods store and buy the cheapest pair you can find. They work as well as the high priced wading shorts and pants you’ll find in your local fly shop. The reason you want nylon is because it doesn’t feel as heavy when it’s waterlogged, and it dries out fairly quickly. If you’re wondering how well jeans work, well, try it once. We guarantee you’ll never do it again!

Downsides to Wet Wading

One is more exposure when you are fishing in areas where there are venomous snakes.

We talked recently on a podcast about a fly fisher who got bit by a copperhead in Shenandoah National Park. Now we’re not guaranteeing that waders will protect you sufficiently (unless you can figure out how to make a pair out of Kevlar!). But loose waders and a pair of wading boots may protect you a bit more.

A listener of our podcast also recently reminded us that wearing chest waders is a deterrent to ticks in the summer. Good point!

Also, you can’t store your wallet, car keys, and cell phone in your pants pockets if you are wet wading.

However, you’ll be relieved to know that neither Dave or I have discovered that our white legs scare away the trout when we wet wade in nylon shorts. Sorry to leave you with that image!

Whatever you wear when you wade, wade safely.

S4:E5 Mysteries of the Fly Fishing Universe, Part 2

Life in the great outdoors is one big mystery. This is our second installment of fly fishing mysteries, and in this episode, we discuss some deep ones, such as: Why do fly fishers wear chest waders on 85-degree days? Why do you always need to replace expensive gear during an expensive fly fishing trip? In this episode, we explore a new round of mysteries of the great outdoors.

fly fishing

Listen now to Mysteries of the Fly Fishing Universe, Part 2

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

You must have come across a fly fishing mystery in all your years in the outdoors. We’d love to hear it – and how you’ve made your peace with it!

OUR SPONSOR: DR. SQUATCH NATURAL SOAP

This is a first for us – a sponsor!

We are big fans of Dr. Squatch soap products for guys who love the outdoors. Our favorite bar soap is Pine Tar.

Visit Dr. Squatch Outdoor Soap for Guys, fill your shopping cart with great outdoor products, and enter “2Guys” as the promo code. You’ll receive 20% off!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

7 Big Ideas to Catch More Trout

catch more trout

Three years ago, in our second podcast ever, Dave and I identified “5 Ways to Catch More Trout.” We still stand by what we shared then. Plus, now that we are much wiser and much better fly fishers (insert laugh track or an eye roll emoji here), we have added a couple more ways to help you catch more trout. If you’re new to fly fishing or tired of the same old results, these insights might make all the difference.

1. Learn the art of nymph fishing

We all love to catch fish on the surface with dry flies. That’s the reason many anglers take up fly fishing.

Yet as every expert says – 85% of a trout’s diet is under the surface.

To catch more trout, learn how to drift a nymph (or a two-nymph rig) along the bottom of the river or stream you’re fishing.

2. Fish the banks

I’ve watched a lot of drift boats over the years on the Yellowstone and Madison Rivers in Montana.

Guess where they fish? The bank!

Trout often lurk at the river’s edge — not necessarily in the middle of the river or stream. Savvy fly fishers who are wading will sometimes walk out a ways into the river and cast back towards the bank. To catch more fish, fish the bank.

3. Improve your casting

You don’t have to be a great fly caster to catch fish. But you’ve got to get better. Short casts are more than adequate.

Some of the biggest rainbows I’ve caught in Montana during the spring on the Madison River and during the fall on the East Gallatin have been about 10-15 feet in front of me.

The key is accuracy and presentation. So watch fly fishers who are better than you — whether in person or view their instructional videos (on YouTube).

4. Go where the other fly fishers are not

This means walking a mile further than the next fly fisher.

Dave and I have been doing this for years on the Yellowstone below Tower Fall in Yellowstone National Park. We’ve had some tough scrambling to do in order to get up and over a cliff that stops many fly fishers.

However, going where other fly fishers are not does not always require a longer hike. I’ve learned to fish upstream from fishing accesses in Montana. A lot of fly fishers in drift boats are getting ready to take out, and so they skip some good water as they get close to the access.

5. Hire a guide

There’s some expense here, but every time we’ve fished with a guide, we have learned something new. Good guides help us with our casting skills, fly selection, and reading water. Split the cost of a guided float for a day with a friend, and you’ll be surprised and how much you improve — and how many more fish you catch than usual.

6. Fish with streamers more often

Both Dave and I got so infatuated with fishing nymphs and dry flies that we neglected streamer fishing for a few years. But about the time we started out podcast, we started slinging and stripping streamers more frequently, and the results have been fantastic. We’ve caught more fish and even bigger fish.

There’s nothing like a black or olive Woolly Bugger for getting the attention of a trout.

7. Hang out in your local fly shop more often

In the Age of Amazon and online shopping, it’s easy to order all your gear online.

But while ordering online might be more convenient, a trip to your local fly shop allows you to pick the brains of the fly fishing experts and guides who work behind the counter.

Make sure to buy a few flies and some of your more expensive gear from the shop. It needs your support. And you’ll be surprised at the intel you can pick up and use on your next trip.

S4:E4 Fly Fishing on a Family Vacation

Fly fishing on a family vacation is a nice idea in theory but often impractical in reality. Often, you simply make the family unhappy with you. In this fun episode, we regale each other with family vacations gone awry and offer a few practical ideas for fly fishing on a family vacation. You may want to have your family listen to this episode with you. Or maybe not!

fly fishing

Listen now to Fly Fishing on a Family Vacation

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

We’d love to hear your family vacation stories. How have you integrated fly fishing with family on a vacation? Please post your comments below!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

10 MORE Items for Your Fly Vest

I like to travel light when I fly fish. So instead of packing my fly vest tighter than a German sausage, I try to be a minimalist. Recently, I shared “10 Must-Have Items for Your Fly Vest.” But there are more items for your fly vest to consider clipping to your lanyard or packing in your vest or satchel.

items for your fly vest

The following ten items for your fly vest are mostly suggestions you (our readers) added to my initial ten:

1. Hook sharpener

Honestly, I’ve never carried one of these in my vest.

But our guide-friend, Glen, says they are a must: “Fishing nymphs and ticking the bottom can really dull your hook point.”

He argues that a sharp hook is a must if you want to catch large fish.

2. Thermometer

In the past I have clipped a thermometer (with a retractor) to the inside of my vest. Some fly fishers use a Carabiner clip to attach a thermometer to the tip of a fly rod for placing it in the river to get a reading.

Why bother with a thermometer?

Well, knowing the precise temperature might help you anticipate when a hatch is about to begin if you know a particular river well enough. Then, on any river, if the water temperature nears seventy degrees, it’s better to stop fishing. Temperatures this high will exhaust and endanger any trout on the end of your line.

3. Sunscreen

I’m all for protection from the sun, but I rarely carry it sunscreen. That’s because I always wear a long-sleeved microfiber shirt—even on a 90+ degree day—and a neck gator. I always wear a hat, too, and often one which will shade my ears from the sun.

But sunscreen is a great alternative and a “must” if you’re wearing short sleeves and don’t have a way of protecting your nose and neck.

4. Whistle and compass

A whistle is a terrific idea. It’s light, and the sound can be heard a long way off. I can see how a compass would make sense in certain situations, although it’s not really necessary where I fish in the west. It’s hard to get lost on a river or stream. Simply follow it one way or another — especially downstream.

But if you’re hiking a long way to get to a stream or a river, then a compass could help as long as you know how to use it. A GPS might be better.

5. Gloves

Yes, I always stash a pair of gloves in my vest when I’m fishing in the fall or spring. I like a thin wool pair for keeping my hands warm when I’m not fishing, and I’ll even carry a pair of waterproof gloves to wear when I’m fishing.

6. Lighter

I carry a small butane lighter if I’m hiking in a couple miles during late fall or early spring. Some kind of fire starter is a good idea, too.

I usually fold a piece of newspaper and put it in a plastic bag. Real cotton balls work well, and there are commercial types of tinder you can purchase at an outdoors store.

7. Two-way radio or Satellite Tracker

Dave, my podcast partner, and I frequently carry two-way radios when fly fishing in the backcountry — especially in bear country. Cell phones work in some situations, but if reception is not good, you’ll be glad you brought a set of two-way radios.

One of our listeners recently commented about carrying a satellite messenger tracker: “I subscribe to a relatively inexpensive satellite messenger system (SPOPT) [which] can ‘pop smoke’ [as well].” Trackers are especially important if you are fishing alone in remote places.

8. Zip-lock bags and a garbage bag.

I like to bring along a couple pint-sized bags to keep certain items dry — cell phone, key fob, wallet.

Of course, your waders will keep anything in your pants pockets dry. But in the summer, I often wet wade in nylon shorts or pants. That’s when a pint-sized plastic bag (which has a sealing lock) comes in handy. A small garbage bag or plastic grocery bag in a large back pocket of your vest can be handy for hauling out trash.

9. Light rain jacket

Alright, these final two suggestions are mine.

Even on warm summer days, I always stash a light Simms rain jacket in a large pocket in the back of my vest. It has saved the day a few times when I’ve gotten caught in an unexpected rain storm or when the temperature suddenly drops.

10. Hook threader

This is a sign of my aging eyes. These little hook threaders are amazing tools! They hardly take up any space, but they take a lot of frustration out of tying a size #18 Parachute Adams onto a piece of 6x tippet. Another option is a small pair of reading glasses or clip-on magnifying lenses.

I don’t want my fly vest to weigh as much as a flak jacket. But it may be worth a bit more weight to carry a few of these additional ten items.

S4:E3 Fly Fishing Rules Made to Be Broken

Fly fishing rules include using light tackle to catch more educated fish, avoiding bright sunny days, and switching to nymphs when nothing is rising. There’s a lot of conventional fly fishing wisdom that works much of the time. But sometimes the wisdom is more a general guideline than a deep unalterable truth. In this episode, we refer to an article from the Vail Valley Anglers web site in Colorado and discuss the times when fly fishing rules may need to be ignored.

fly fishing

Listen now to Fly Fishing Rules Made to Be Broken

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Which fly fishing rules do you think need to be broken? Is conventional wisdom always right? Please post your comments below!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Tie Tippet to Leader with the Infinity Knot

Tippet to leader – that knot is the most at risk part of your dry fly or nymph fishing rig. How many fish have I lost because of my poorly tied knots? The very question makes me curl up into the fetal position.

Infinity Knot for Tippet to Leader

Adding tippet to the end of your leader requires a knot (unless, of course, you use tippet rings, which still require the clinch knot). And it’s this knot between leader and tippet that makes me nuts.

There are unlimited knot possibilities, of course, but not long ago, one of our listeners sent me a link to a video about how to tie the Infinity Knot. I won’t say the knot has transformed my life, but it has transformed my knot tying.

The Infinity Knot is quick, easy, and strong. Yes!

S4:E2 Nymph Fishing Tips from Our Listeners

Nymph fishing tips from us are one thing. Nymph fishing tips from the true experts – you, our listeners – are quite another. The best part of publishing our podcast is all the wisdom from our listeners who post comments on this site or on Facebook. In this episode, we identify a handful or so comments on nymph fishing from our listeners, and discuss how we’ve implemented them (or promise to implement them!).

fly fishing

Listen now to Nymph Fishing Tips from Our Listeners

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What nymph fishing tips would you recommend? We’d love to hear from you. We’ll create another episode on this topic in the near future.

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

3 Fly Casting Mistakes that Beginners Make

I helped a fly fishing beginner with his casting this week. He is athletic and definitely the “outdoorsy” type. But he made some fly casting mistakes that beginners tend to make. When I pointed them out, my friend quickly fixed these mistakes — although it took a bit of practice.

fly casting mistakes

Here are 3 fly casting mistakes beginners make and how to fix them.

1. Exerting too much effort

My friend used his whole body to make his cast. His arm swiveled on his shoulder as he waved his rod back and forth in long arcs. Watching him made me tired.

The solution?

I worked him on casting by simply flicking his wrist. He was surprised how far the line shot forward with minimal effort. I pointed out that wrist-flicking causes the rod to do the work of loading and then shooting the line. Later I let him move his arm a bit in his casting motion. But I insisted on crisp, definitive wrist-flicks. I said, “Do that, and the rod will do the rest.”

2. Rushing the forward cast

I also heard the “snap of the whip” on a couple of my friend’s forward casts. I knew immediately that the line on the back cast did not have time to unfurl. I confirmed this by watching him. He allowed the line on his forward cast to unfurl, but after each back cast, he began his forward cast too quickly.

The solution?

First, I stood beside him and called out: “Snap, wait, snap, wait, snap, wait (etc.).” I told him to snap his wrist forward, wait on my command, snap his wrist backward, wait on my command, then snap his wrist forward. He discovered that as soon as he snapped his backcast (on my “snap”), he snapped his forward cast on my command to “wait.” It took a few tries, but he finally got into the right rhythm.

I even told him the story about Norman Maclean’s father teaching his sons to cast with a metronome.

Second, I told him to turn his body and watch his back cast unfurl before making a forward cast. He had no trouble on the timing of his back cast because he could easily see his forward cast unfurl. Turning to watch the back cast seems obvious, but it does not occur to a lot of new beginning fly casters.

Of course, I warned him not to make too many false casts when fly fishing. I told him that our practice sessions intended to give him a feel for casting. But false casting (and lots of it) in one’s back yard or city park is the only way to get comfortable with it.

3. Bringing the rod back too far on a back cast

I noticed another problem.

My friend’s back casts were landing on the surface—grass, in this case. As I watched him cast, I instantly solved the problem. He brought his rod back almost parallel to the ground. If you prefer to visualize the hands of a clock, his back cast brought his rod back to 3 o’clock.

The solution?

I told him to use his wrist-snaps so that his front cast stopped between 10:00 and 11:00 and his back cast stopped between 1:00 and 2:00. The combination of the wrist-snap and visualizing a clock face seemed to help. Before long, the line on both his back casts and forward casts were unfurling without dropping to the ground.

Sure, there is more to learn when it comes to casting. But these three problems need fixing first. Once a beginner overcomes them, he or she will be well on the way to effective fly casting — and catching fish!

S4:E1 6 Fly Fishing Trends Shaping Our Sport

Never has there been a better time to be a new fly fisher. The only word is “more”: more gear, more videos, more podcasts, more articles, more fly fishing shows, more YouTube channels, and more exotic fish to catch on a fly rod – than ever before. In this first episode of Season 4, we identify six fly fishing trends that appear to be on the rise. Since we started in June 2015, we’ve published 156 podcast episodes and 156 blog posts. What a blast!

fly fishing

Listen now to “6 Fly Fishing Trends Shaping Our Sport”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What fly fishing trends have you noticed? What did we miss? What are you most concerned or excited about?

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

10 Must-Have Items for Your Fly Vest

All the gadgets dangling from a fly fisher’s vest or lanyard may bewilder someone new to the sport. The bulging vest pockets or compartments may seem mysterious as well. Do fly fishers really need all that stuff?

fly vest

If you’re new to fly fishing, here are ten must-have items for your fly vest or lanyard or satchel. If you’re a veteran, perhaps the list will remind you why you clip on or carry these items:

1. Fly Box

Obviously. But it’s worth giving this some thought.

You want a sturdy, waterproof fly box to hold your flies for your fly vest. Go with one box if you can. Traveling lighter has its advantages. For a single box, I like something with double compartments—one for dry flies and one for wet flies (nymphs and streamers). As much as I like to travel light, though, I’ve succumbed to two boxes.

2. Nippers

This is one of those dangly items clipped to your fly vest or lanyard.

Ideally, it will be connected to a retractor so that you can pull the nippers away from your fly vest. So what do nippers do? Well, they “nip” the excess line from your knots or “nip” off a piece of tippet.

Nippers also have a pointed piece (think needle) which you can use to punch out the head cement from the eye of a hook or to help you untangle a knot.

3. Forceps

These are also known as hemostats (or hemos). You need a pair of these scissor-like devices so you can remove a hook from a fish’s mouth. Trust me, using forceps does a lot less damage to a fish’s mouth than reaching into it with your fingers. The corollary is that using forceps does a lot less damage to your fingers if you’re dealing with an 18-inch brown with sharp teeth!

You can pinch these to your vest or lanyard. But I still prefer to connect a pair of forceps to a retractor. Otherwise, you’ll accidentally drop them in the river or get them plucked off by the brush.

4. Spools of tippet

Some fly fishers have five or six spools of tippet hanging outside their fly vest or (like me) tucked away in a pocket. Tippet is the material you tie on the end of your leader so that it corresponds properly to the size of your fly.

The more I fly fish, the fewer tippet sizes I use. I go with 6x (lighter) for tiny flies like size #18 or #20. I’ve even used 5x successfully on these sizes. Then, 3x or 4x (heavier) for larger flies—particularly large stonefly nymphs and streamers. Thus, I’m carrying four spools at the most.

5. Leaders

A few fly fishers I know go through leaders like chewing gum. Others claim to use the same leader for an entire season, tying new pieces of tippet on it as needed. Whatever your preference, it’s always good to carry a few spare leaders. You never know when a vicious tangle or wind knot will make a new leader make sense.

Plus, if you’re fairly new to fly fishing and a bit slow at tying on tippet, you can always put on a new leader if you need to go from 4x to 6x tippet in a hurry—especially in low light at the end of the day!

6. Strike indicators

These are imperative for fishing nymphs unless you’re one of the few who goes by feel. I do not. I need to see the little plastic bobber (sorry, that’s what it is) “bob” or disappear to know that I have a strike.

You’ll find different varieties of strike indicators — including the little plastic ones I just described. Have someone at a fly shop show you how to attach and remove them quickly.

7. Weight

Unless you use weighted flies exclusively, you’ll want some small split shot to add to your nymphs and streamers. Even when I use beadhead flies or even streamer patterns I’ve weighted with wire as I’ve tied them, I still occasionally add a small split shot or two.

Please use environmentally-friendly split shot (no lead). In some watersheds, they are required.

8. First Aid Supplies

You can buy a first aid kit, although I prefer to assemble my own (to save space). At the very least, carry a few band aids, first aid cream (such as Neosporin), and some pain reliever. Mosquito repellant is a good idea, too.

9. Dry Fly Floatant and Drying Powder

You need to keep those dry flies as dry as possible!

While a couple of false casts can help, it’s important to put some kind of floatant on them before you fish. You’ll also want a small bottle of powder or crystals into which you can insert your dry fly after it has gotten water-logged (yes, the floatant only works for a while).

The options for these products are legion. Go to a fly shop to see what’s available.

10. Headlamp

I’ve recently started putting a small headlamp in my vest. It works must better than a flashlight because it’s “hands free.” It’s a safety device, but it also helps in tying on a size #18 parachute Adam in the dusk when you come across a run with rising trout.

There are other gadgets. You’ll want to carry water, and you may pack a lunch. But go as light as possible. If you have the items above, you’ll have everything you need for a good day on the river.

S3:E52 When Your Honey Hole Disappears

Every stream has its honey hole, the pool or run that consistently produces. But things change. The river changes: a heavy snowpack and then a spring blowout or maybe even a drought. And your honey hole disappears. Gone forever. We’ve lost a few honey holes through the years, and the disappointment is real. In this episode, we discuss some of our favorite runs and how we made the adjustments when they disappeared.

fly fishing

Listen now to “When Your Honey Hole Disappears”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

How have you made adjustments when your honey hole disappears? What have you found helpful in catching more fish?

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Summer’s Greatest Danger for Fly Fishers

Summer’s greatest danger for fly fishers may be the least obvious one. I typically worry about rattlesnakes, grizzly bears, and drowning when I head for the river on a hot summer day. But summer’s greatest danger for fly fishers is lightning.

summer's greatest danger

It’s a danger that can strike almost without warning — although there are usually some advance signs such as dark skies and a drop in temperature. Here are a few tips I’ve read over the years for staying safe from summer’s greatest danger:

1. Stay alert when a storm is brewing or ending.

According to outdoor writer Keith McCafferty, most lightning strikes occur near the start or the end of afternoon storms.

“This is when positive and negative charges,” he says, “which collide to produce the flash between clouds and the ground, build up the most electricity.”

2. Put down that “lightning rod” (a.k.a., fly rod).

It’s no secret that that a graphite rod serves as an effective conductor of electricity. So put it flat down on the ground —not leaning up against a tree.

While you’re at it, avoid metal fence posts and tall trees.

3. Stay in your vehicle, not outside it

Mark Leberfinger, a staff writer for AccuWeather.com, says the notion that rubber tires protect occupants of a car is a myth. It’s the metal frame on which those tires sit that makes the difference. Lightning charges typically go around the outside of a vehicle (the reason why you want to be inside).

Plus, the metal frame directs lightning to the ground. Keep those windows shut, though. Backhoes and bulldozers with enclosed canopies are safe, too, during thunderstorms. But I’m guessing most fly fishers don’t use heavy equipment as their mode of transportation to the river.

4. Go low and get down.

Are you standing on a ridge? Get down! Take cover in low shrubs — not under tall trees.

Keith McCafferty recommends squatting like a baseball catcher. This gets you low to the ground but with minimal body contact — just your two feet. This works especially well for folks like Yadier Molina, All-star catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.

However, middle-aged folks can’t do it for too long. Believe me, I’ve tried it. But do it if your skin tingles, your body hair stands up, and your mouth tastes metallic. Those are signs of an impending strike. Don’t get too low, though. By that I mean, avoid damp depressions. These act as conductors for lightning as it travels along the ground.

5. Row to shore

If you’re fly fishing from a drift boat, row to shore at the first sign of a storm. Then move away from the boat and take cover in small shrubs. If you get caught in a storm, stay as low in the boat as possible, keeping your arms and legs inside. Make sure your fly rod is lying flat.

According to the National Weather Service, lightning kills an average of 47 people in the U.S. per year. Hundreds more are severely injured. So don’t worry about being overly cautious.

When a storm approaches, do what you can to stay safe from summer’s greatest danger. The trout will still be there when the storm passes. Make sure that you are too.

S3:E51 Diners, Dives and Two Hungry Fly Fishers

What is fishing without the eating? No matter the luck on the river, we always wind up as two hungry fly fishers, looking to regale each other at a Wisconsin supper club or Montana bar and grill. This episode will definitely not help you catch more fish. But it just might motivate you to take the time to hunt down the great diners, drive-ins, and dives near the river. Let’s just say we never count calories after the thousands upon thousands of calories that we burn while fly fishing.

fly fishing

Listen now to “Diners, Drive-ins, Dives and Two Hungry Fly Fishers”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

For sure, you have eaten at some great places in your many trips to the river. We’d love to hear about them. Please post your stories below!

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

When to Get Sideways with Your Fly Rod

It’s never a good idea to get sideways with people (or your fly fishing partner). But sometimes it’s okay to get sideways with your fly rod.

sideways with your fly rod

Most photos of fly fishers casting or fighting fish show the fly rod pointed up—vertical, perpendicular to the ground. But there are three times when it makes sense to get sideways with your rod:

1. The sideways cast

Dave, my pod-cast partner, and I like to fish a little trout stream in the Timber Coulee area of Wisconsin. One of the better stretches has three runs which are covered by low-hanging tree branches. If you look closely, you can see a couple strike indicators hanging from the branches.

One of them may or may not be ours.

But we’ve been able to fish this stretch successfully by using a side-arm cast.

It’s not that difficult. The main challenge is your back cast. If you have tall grass or low-to-the ground obstructions, it won’t work. But if you’re close enough to the run for low-handing branches to interfered, you probably won’t need a long back cast.

2. The sideways hook set

We use a sideways hook set for nymphing under two conditions:

First, the strike is right in front of us — not downstream. Second, the strike is just a few feet in front of us. I’ll explain why in a moment.

The rationale for a sideways hook set is simple. Rather than pull the nymph up and possibly out of the fish’s mouth, we pull it to the side so that it goes into the fish’s mouth. Fish face the current. That is, they look upstream. So when we set the hook, we pull to the side in a downstream direction.

However, this technique does not work well when the strike is downstream from you or twenty feet or more in front of you. In both cases, you have a lot of fly line on the surface. The surface tension will slow down your hook set. It will feel like trying to run fast in a muddy field. You’ll simply get bogged down.

So, it’s best to keep your fly rod vertical in these instances.

You’ll be surprised how a quick straight-up lift of your rod will get the line off of the surface before you can say “Trout!” Try this sometime when you don’t have a fish on the other end. Your line will lift off the surface so quickly that your strike indicator will come shooting at you. It shows how effective this technique really is.

3. The sideways fight

Holding your fly rod high and pointing it to the sky makes for a great photo when fighting a fish. But when you’re trying to land a fish as quickly as possible (for the sake of its health), pulling it from side to side works best. This forces a fish to use its lateral muscles, and it tires it out in much less time.

Perpendicular may look right. But sometimes, getting your fly rod sideways is the most effective way to cast, hook, and fight fish.

S3:E50 One Fine Day on Nelson’s Spring Creek

Nelson’s Spring Creek flows from the hills of Paradise Valley, just south of Livingston, Montana, and into the Yellowstone River. It’s only miles away from DePuy and Armstrong spring creeks, two other amazing fisheries, but Nelson’s is something extra special. In this episode, Dave interviews Steve about one fine day on Nelson’s Spring Creek. Since Steve failed to invite Dave along, Dave was not there to verify the number or size of fish, but Steve says he kept a journal. It truly was One Fine Day.

fly fishing

Listen now to “One Fine Day on Nelson’s Spring Creek”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Have you ever had one fine day on a spring creek? We’d love to hear your stories. Please post your one fine day stories below!

More Episodes in Our “One Fine Day …” Series

    One Fine Day on the Madison at Bear Trap Canyon

    One Fine Day on the Bear Trap

    One Fine Day in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

    One Fine Day on the Madison at Baker’s Hole

    One Fine Fall Day in Yellowstone National Park

    One Fine Morning on the Little Jordan

    One Fine Evening on Wisel Creek

    One Fine Day on the Blue River

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

My 5 Favorite All-Purpose Dry Fly Patterns

Pardon the overused pun, but I’m hooked on dry fly fishing. I love watching a trout rise to take a fly off of the river’s surface. My dry fly box is stocked and already in use for this spring and summer season of fishing. While I definitely carry more than five dry fly patterns, here are the five all-purpose flies, in various sizes.

dry fly patterns

I like these in sizes 14-18, with some size 20s in a couple of these patterns:

1. Parachute Adams

This is where it all begins for me.

If I could only use one dry fly, I’d choose a Parachute Adams for sure. This fly serves double-duty. I use it during a Blue-Winged Olive (BWO) hatch, but I also use it as an attractor pattern. It works equally well in Montana, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I carry some size 20s in this pattern because it has worked on days when trout stubbornly refuse a size 18.

2. Elk Hair Caddis

Like the Parachute Adams, the Elk Hair Caddis serves well as both an imitation and an attractor pattern. My dilemma is always the dubbing. I like black for the spring creeks in Minnesota or Wisconsin Driftless creeks, but green or tan works well for the Yellowstone River in Montana.

I’ve even had success with a larger Caddis pattern (size 12) during hopper season.

3. Light Cahill

I always make sure my fly box has an ample supply of Light Cahills to imitate Pale Morning Duns (PMDs). I’ve run into a lot of PMDs on the spring creeks in Montana and tailwaters like the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon. Like a BWO, and PMD is a another mayfly species.

While the BWO has darker (gray) color, a PMD is much lighter pale color—as its name suggests.

4. Comparadun

I’m being a bit non-committal here as the Comparadun is a rather general pattern rather than a specific fly. I’ll go with gray if I want to imitate a BWO or light tan if I want to imitate a PMD. The key is that the Comparadun floats a bit lower in the film than a Parachute Adams or a Light Cahill.

This makes it look more a cripple or a dun that is struggling to take flight.

5. Royal Wulff

My final go-to fly is an attractor pattern. While I’m selecting a Royal Wulff as my fifth fly, my favorite attractor varies from week to week and from river to river. I like something with bushy hackle which can handle a lot of water.

So I’m also fond of an H & L Variant and a Red or Yellow Humpy. Occasionally, I’ll return to one of the first attractor patterns I ever used — the Renegade. It doesn’t stay “dry” quite as well in rough water, but even when submerged, it produces well.

You only need a few basic patterns for spring and summer dry fly fishing, but make sure you fly box is full of them in different sizes.

S3:E49 Mysteries of the Fly Fishing Universe, Part 1

The Fly Fishing Universe is vast and filled with dark, unsolvable mysteries. One such mystery is, “Why are there no insect hatches on a perfectly overcast day in early spring when just the day before the caddis were coming off like a plague?” It’s a mystery. Just one of the great mysteries. In this hilarious episode, we explore five Mysteries of the Fly Fishing Universe. And make some feeble attempts to shed some light on the darkness.

fly fishing

Listen now to “Mysteries of the Fly Fishing Universe”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Tell us your mysteries? What are the great mysteries of the Fly Fishing Universe that you have uncovered?

WOULD YOU REFER OUR PODCAST?

We’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.” Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Second Thoughts on Barbless Hooks for Fly Fishing

Fly fishers often frown on barbed hooks. One guide and blogger wrote: “Barbs are barbaric.” The rationale is that a sharp barb on a hook damages a fish’s mouth when removed. Barbless hooks for fly fishing, however, slide out like a greased pig through the hands of its pursuer.

barbless hooks for fly fishing

I was on board with moving to barbless hooks until a friend made an observation that caused me to question the whole idea.

Post-Release Survival

My friend observed that a landed trout’s survival depends more on how quickly it is released — and kept wet during the release – than on whether the hook is barbless. In fact, he argued, it’s easier to land a trout more quickly on a barbed hook than a barbless one. That is, the time that it takes to reel in a trout on a barbed hook is less and thus enables the fly fisher to release the fish more quickly.

The quicker the time from the hookset to the release, the better.

What Studies Suggest

Of course, advocates of barbless hooks cite studies that suggest such hooks lead to a lower post-release mortality rate for trout. Simply “Google” the topic, and you’ll find plenty of articles discussing these studies.

You might be surprised, though, when you discover a few biologists and fly fishers who question the results of these studies.

Two decades ago, Doug Schill, an Idaho Fish and Game research biologist, looked at several studies done over the years and found that barbed hoo