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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 persistence

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 hooks led to a negligibly higher mortality rate — 0.3 percent. He noted that a particular creek in Idaho had an average annual mortality rate of 30% to 65%.

“It is normal for fish to die at that rate,” he said. “So that 0.3 percent makes no difference.”

If he is right, that is well within the margin of error. Some studies simply show little correlation between barbed hooks and higher mortality rates.

The Larger Problem

I think there is an even larger problem related to fish mortality research.

Many studies simply do not and cannot account for enough variables to determine their accuracy. A family friend is a leading medical genomic researcher — probably one of the top five in his field in the world. He conducts prospective and retrospective studies and analyzes large data sets as his day job.

Yet he frequently scoffs at the confidence people have in the data. For example, the accuracy of any large pharmacogenomic study of cancer patients is determined by the gritty details, such as “Did the patient take the pill every day for three years,” and “How can we verify that she did?”

The problem almost always lies in the data, how it is collected, and whether it can be fully trusted. It’s the old “garbage in, garbage out” problem.

So many scientific studies are simply not conclusive. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in good science. I’m not a Luddite. It’s often non-scientific people, however, who talk the loudest and express the most emotion about the conclusiveness of scientific research. My podcast partner Dave has a saying, “Always confident, sometimes right,” to describe such people.

Personal Experience

Some anglers base their conclusions (understandably) on personal experience. But this does not come any closer to solving the problem.

I have read and listened to passionate accounts of how barbless hooks are the only way to go. Isn’t the issue common sense?

Yet others insist, from their experience, that barbless hooks for fly fishing create more problems than they solve. One angler claims that barbless hooks actually penetrate further than barbed hooks, creating more damage on their entrance than barbed hooks do on their exit.

This is why I have not jumped on the barbless hooks bandwagon.

I respect those who use barbless hooks for fly fishing, of course. And I always use barbless hooks when the law requires them. When in Yellowstone National Park, for example, I definitely use barbless hooks. I respect the laws of the land. I pinch down the barbs.

Fish-friendly and Conservation-Minded

But as conservation-minded as I am, I currently do not use barbless hooks when I have a choice. I’ve notice that other conservation-minded friends and fly fishing guides don’t either. I’m certainly open to changing my mind on this, though it will take more than the latest study to convince me.

In the meantime, I will land fish as quickly as possible, use forceps to remove the hook, and release a trout as quickly as possible. And always with wet hands.

S3:E48 Fly Fishing Safely in the Summer

Fly fishing safely is harder than it sounds, For sure, fishing is no extreme sport. Recently, however, while we were fishing in Yellowstone National Park, two fly fishers were attacked by a grizzly – just a drainage system over from us. Besides bears, there are other risks, of course, such as lightning. In this episode, Dave tells a harrowing story about a friend who was struck by lightning and lived to tell about it. But not before her heart stopped.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “Fly Fishing Safely in the Summer”

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 are other important safety concerns when fly fishing in the summer? Tell us your stories of “close calls”!

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!

Strategies for Fly Fishing New Water

Every stretch of river I’ve ever fly fished has something in common. There was always a first-time. Fly fishing new water has been productive for me over the years. But it takes a bit of intentionality — at least to make the practice effective.

So here are five strategies I’ve found helpful.

1. Commit to it

I prefer to fly fish familiar waters.

I like places that are productive and predictable. But the only way to find these places is to commit to trying new water. As silly as it sounds, I’ve had to force myself to leave the old familiar places for a day to try something new.

So the first strategy has to do with a mindset. It’s making a commitment to spend every third or fourth day you fly fish on new water. You can only break this commitment if you’re in the thick of a caddis hatch or hopper season. Then you have an excuse to remain in those familiar waters as long as you’re catching fish.

2. Gather intel

There is no excuse for ignoring this strategy with all the accessible information.

Check online fly fishing reports. Listen to the gossip at fly shops. Pick the brains of fly fishing friends. Buy books about fly fishing certain areas. I have books on fly fishing particular regions, rivers, and even the national parks.

3. Just fly fish it

All the intel in the world won’t help you if you don’t use it. So get out there and give it a try. Force yourself to follow through on your commitment. Take the intel to new water and give it a try.

4. Fly fish it again

After you’ve fly fished a stretch of water for the first time, go back and try it again.

If it fished well, I don’t need to convince you to try it again. But if it wasn’t productive, give it another shot. Maybe the fish weren’t feeding that day. Maybe you didn’t walk far enough. It was on my fifth or sixth trip to Montana’s Madison River as it emerges from the Bear Trap Canyon that I finally stumbled onto an amazing run that has produced some large rainbows over the years.

5. Keep a journal

Buy a moleskin journal or create a file on your laptop to record your experiences.
Describe what patterns you used, what the weather was like, the water conditions, and how much success you had. I’ve been surprised over the years how I’ve used this information the second or third time when fly fishing new waters.

S3:E47 One Fine Day on the Madison at Bear Trap Canyon

Fishing for spring spawners on Montana’s Madison River needs to be on your bucket list. There several stretches of the Madison – the Lower, the Upper, and, among others, the stretch between Hebgen and Quake Lakes. Each part of the Madison is unique. In this episode, we continue our “One Fine Day” series by telling the stories from a day over a decade ago on the Madison River at Bear Trap Canyon, about a nine-mile stretch from Ennis Lake to near highway 84 around Black’s Ford. We hiked upriver at the Warm Springs Access and the rest is, as we like to say, One Fine Day.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “One Fine Day on the Bear Trap”

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 “one fine day” stories? Tell us about a great day on the water and all the little things that made it special!

More Episodes in Our “One Fine Day …” Series

    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!

The Reasonable Cost of Fly Fishing

Last week I stumbled onto an amazing bargain. I found a high-end St. Croix fly rod on sale for $1.60. Yes, you read that correctly—a dollar and sixty cents! The cost of fly fishing is amazing!

I also found high-quality flies on sale for 90 cents a dozen. However, it turns out that I’m 118 years too late. These deals appeared in a 1900 Sears catalog. I happened to see the catalog in a trendy coffee shop in Portland, Oregon.

Today’s Prices

This got me thinking about the cost of fly fishing today.

Even though a decent St. Croix fly rod will cost you a thousand times more ($160.00) today than it did in 1900, fly fishing is still a reasonably priced hobby. Sure, you can go crazy and burn through $3000.00 in a hurry to get set up if you insist on a top-of-the line products by Sage, Simms, Patagonia, Orvis, and Fishpond.

But you can fly fish on a tight budget, as Dave and I have had to do at times.

For the record, I own fly fishing gear manufactured by the afore-mentioned companies. I’m not knocking them, because their products are great. But the gear I’ve purchased from them was stretched over the last twenty-five years. I’m still wearing an Orvis fly vest that is over two decades old.

Recently, one of my sons purchased a “starter package” for his father-in-law. It cost $199. It included a decent fly rod, reel, line, a couple boxes of basic flies, and a few leaders. Throw in a pair of waders, wading boots, and a vest, and the total will still be between $400 and $500.

Starter Packages for Other Pursuits

If you’re tempted to complain about the price of fly fishing gear, consider what it costs to buy starter packages for other sports and hobbies.

A starter set of golf clubs will run about $200. Of course, you can spend that much on a driver. Don’t forget, too, about golf balls, and golf shoes. Oh yeah, add in green fees (which may run as much as a non-resident season fishing license in Montana).

Planning to hit the slopes?

A decent snowboard will cost between $300 and $400. Bindings and boots will set you back another $300 to $400. Lift tickets, like green fees, are not cheap either.

Big-game hunting is not cheap either. If you want a 30.06 or .270 caliber in a Ruger, Winchester, or Remington – expect to pay $450 or so for a basic quality rifle. Add another $200 for a decent scope. And that doesn’t include travel, lodging, and tags.

You get the idea. Fly fishing is a reasonably priced sport.

Why Cheaper is Better to Start

If you’re just getting started or buying for someone who is, I suggest starting with an affordable, modestly priced package. Here are three reasons why:

First, you don’t want to get stuck with expensive gear if you decide fly fishing is not for you.

Second, part of the fun is up-grading and saving for a high-end rod or waders.

If you start out with a Sage X or a Winston Boron IIIx, you won’t appreciate the high quality of these rods. Besides, you won’t be able to get anything better (even though you could spend more).

Third, you will have a better sense of what you want after you’ve fly fished awhile. A Sage X and a Winston Boron IIIx are comparable in price. But they act differently. The Sage X is more of a streamer rod and designed for distance. You’ll make a better choice as to which rod fits you after you’ve fly fished awhile.

If you plan to start fly fishing, you can be thankful that it’s a relatively affordable sport. But don’t expect to get a decent fly rod for less than two bucks unless you can travel back in time.

S3:E46 Why We Like to Fish Alone

Some of you fish alone all or most of the time. We don’t. We probably fish five or six days with someone (often together) for every one day we fish alone. And yet both of us enjoy the days alone on the river. In this episode, we reflect on what makes fishing alone so different in kind from fishing with a buddy – and why we like our solitude.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “Why We Like to Fish Alone”

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 alone? Does it energize you? Or enervate you? What do you learn about yourself when fly fishing alone?

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!

Know Your Pattern: Serendipity

One early fall morning in Montana, I marched into a fly shop after a terrific day on the Madison River, bent on replenishing my dwindling supply of Olive Serendipities.

pattern serendipity

“What are you looking for?” the fly shop person asked.

“Got any Olive Serendipities?”

“You don’t want caddis,” he said. “The caddis stopped about a month ago.”

Of course he was right. The hatches ended some time in September.

A day earlier, however, I caught one of the heaviest fish I’ve ever hooked on a fly rod on a #18 Olive Serendipity, a caddis nymph. Steve and I were fishing near West Yellowstone, and we each caught a fat, 20-inch Hebgen Lake rainbow on our dropper at the far end of the swing.

At least in the West, this nymph pattern is consistently deadly. Here’s a little more background on the nymph:

1. Where it originated

In Fly Patterns of Yellowstone Volume vol 2, Craig Matthews and John Juracek trace the pattern to the late 1980s. A guy by the name of Ross Merigold brought the pattern to the attention of the tiers at the Blue Ribbon Fly Shop, which Matthews owned, in West Yellowstone. Mathews credits Merigold with the founding of the pattern. A California tyer, Merigold was also the creator of the RAM caddis, and the Serendipity is just a riff off the RAM caddis.

Today the Serendipity is a staple of fly fishers everywhere in the Yellowstone ecosystem.

2. How it’s made

The fly was first tied with a brown zelon body with a head of trimmed deer hair on a size #16 hook. Other versions then emerged, including a body with brown thread instead of the zelon, known as the Three Dollar Serendipity, named after the Three Dollar Bridge on the Madison River.

Tying the Serendipity begins by tying in a length of gold wire, wrapping the thread evenly over the wire to the bend of the hook, then forward back to the eye. The process ends by tying on a clump of deer hair on the eye, trimming it, and voila!

Easier said than done, of course. Twisting on the zelon to create the segmentation for the body takes some chops.

See this short video by Craig Mathews on how to tie the Original Serendipity.

Today there is the Olive Serendipity, the Guide’s Serendipity, a white Serendipity, and a Chrystal Serendipity, which uses pearl Krystal flash for the body. And I’m sure there are a thousand other riffs off the original.

3. Why it works

This nymph doesn’t just work. It slays trout. Matthews and Juracek say, “We think that it is the most important nymph pattern to come on to the scene in at least thirty years and maybe more.”

No one really knows why it is so consistently effective.

Matthews and Juracek say that perhaps it was the smaller size (#16) that made it so effective in the late 1980s. Up to that point, fly fishers often tossed bigger nymphs (#12 and #14). Perhaps the nymph represents more trout food than other flies. The Serendipity seems, generally, to work better than the Pheasant Tail in the same size.

4. How to fish it

Steve and I fish the Serendipity as a midge-larva, dead-drifting it along the bottom. Depending on what we’re doing and where we’re fishing, we’ll drop the nymph anywhere from eight inches to a foot or more off a top fly. This fall, we tied on a #14 Stone Fly and then dropped the #18 Olive Serendipity. Steve caught more fish than I did on the nymph, but I got in the last word with the biggest fish of the day.

This spring, I plan to experiment with the Serendipity in the Minnesota and Wisconsin Driftless.

Other Articles in the “Know Your Pattern” Series

    Know Your Pattern: The Prince Nymph

    Know Your Pattern: The H and L Variant

    Know Your Pattern: The Parachute Adams

    Know Your Pattern: The Royal Coachman

    Know Your Pattern: The San Juan Worm

    Know Your Pattern: The Woolly Bugger

S3:E45 What Fishing Guides Have Taught Us about Ourselves

Fishing guides are the hardest working folks in the fishing industry. Each year, we budget one guided day on the river, most often float trips, though last year we did a wade trip on the Madison. We’ve accumulated a modicum of experience with fly fishing guides. And we’ve learned a ton about how to fish. However, the guides have also taught us a few things about ourselves. In this episode, we reflect on what the great fishing guides have taught us about our own aspirations and fly fishing chops.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “What Fishing Guides Have Taught Us about Ourselves”

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 ever use fly fishing guides? What have you learned from them? Or, what what they taught you about yourself?

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 $15.99!

Small Difference Makers for Landing Large Trout

My son, Luke, keeps sending me hurtful text messages. These texts contain reports and photos of landing large trout on the South Platte River in Colorado. He has caught several 19- and 20-inchers in the last two weeks. I’m hurt since I’m not there to join in on the fun.

landing large trout

But a comment in one of his text messages struck me. Luke talked about something that made all the difference in landing these big fish. His comment got me thinking about the “difference makers” that lead to success in landing big fish. Here are four that have worked well for me when I have large trout on the other end of the line.

1. Fishing with a heavier tippet.

Go as heavy as you can. I used to think that I always needed a 6x tippet (roughly 3.5 pound test) with a size #18 fly whether a nymph or a dry.

Anything larger risks looking like a rope.

But I’ve had success with a 5x (about 4.75 pound test) and sometimes even a 4x (about 6 pound test) tippet. You can get away with a heavier size if the water is a bit off-color or the current is faster. Choppy current is your friend, too, if you’re fishing dry flies. The trout don’t get as good a look at the tippet.

2. Fighting the brute from the side.

If you’re striking a classic pose for a photo, then I suppose pointing your rod tip to the sky and trying to pull the fish directly towards you makes sense. But if you want to land that brute, you need to try something different.

You want to pull the fish from side to side rather than directly towards you. It is the side to side pressure which works against a fish’s muscles and tires it out.

So, for example, if you’ve pulled the trout to the left for thirty seconds or so, switch and pull it to your right. Go back and forth and you’ll tire it more quickly than you might expect.

3. Setting the drag properly on your reel.

Your fly reel has an adjustable drag — a lever or a dial which determines how much pressure a fish must exert to pull the line out of the reel.

The basic rule is to set the drag’s tension on the light side. However, if it’s too tight, a sudden surge by the fish will snap the tippet. But if it’s too light, the fish will invariably run for cover and snag or snap your line on a submerged branch or other obstruction. I often adjust my drag even as I’m retrieving a fish.

With a larger fish, I will typically tighten my drag as the fish tires and is less prone to make a sudden run downriver. I want to get it in as quickly as possible.

4. Using a long-handled net.

For years I’ve used a small hand-made net by Brodin.

A couple years ago, generous friends gave me a Fishpond Nomad Emerger. I can still clip it to my fly fishing vest, and it doesn’t feel as bulky as it might look. But it has a larger basket as well as a longer handle.

This has been a difference maker when I’m fishing alone. I don’t have to pull in a big trout as close to my body — where bad things tend to happen — with a long-handled net.

This was the difference maker for my son, Luke.

I told him to go buy the same net I’ve been using since he was running into some big fish. He did, and he reported that he would have had a hard time landing those twenty-inch rainbows with his shorter net.

S3:E44 The Variables of Spring Fly Fishing

Spring fly fishing is in full swing, though the weather still feels like winter in many parts of the United States, certainly in the northern states. Weather is certainly one variable in spring fly fishing, but there are others that affect the kind of day you’ll have on the water. In this episode, we identify some of the factors that make spring fly fishing so wonderful and so unpredictable.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “The Variables of Spring 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.

What did we miss? What other variables do you encounter when fishing in the spring? We’d love to hear your stories of overcoming an element or two for a terrific day on the water.

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 $15.99!

Fly Fishing Tips Below the Surface

You can find some great fly fishing tips below the surface. I’m referring to the surface of our articles and podcasts — not the film of a river or lake. There are some great insights in the “comments” section below each article or episode we post. Our readers post some terrific ideas, hacks, and tips.

fly fishing tips below the surface

Here are a few insights we found helpful. You might benefit from them too:

Wet Waders and Boots

I bring along a plastic garbage bag for transporting my wet waders home from the river. But Thomas suggested a better idea. He uses a low-walled plastic tub for carrying his wet boots and waders. It’s convenient and usually keeps the mud and sand on the bottom.

It’s a lot less messy than stuffing it all into a garbage bag.

Counter Intuitive Dry Fly Measures

My first reaction when my dry fly sinks is to retrieve it and dry it. But Duane’s story makes me pause.

“Once while fishing the Gallatin in Yellowstone Park,” he writes, “my orange Elk Hair sank, and in disgust, I was about to yank it out of the water for drying and recast when a large mouth on a BIG Cutthroat came up and grabbed it.

“The trout that day ignored it floating, but loved it sunk.”

Duane also says, “Many times I have tried matching the hatch on rising trout and was ignored, then changed to a #14 Royal Wulff – which looked absolutely nothing like the BWO hatch and bingo!”

Going with a High-End Fly Rod

On our podcast, Dave and I have been advocate for shelling out several hundred bucks for a higher quality fly rod. We prefer to save our money elsewhere. Of course, you can catch trout on a low-end fly rod. But if you fly fish enough, you’ll appreciate the quality that a high end rod provides.

Jim made this point in a recent comment: “I never believed it made a difference until I bought a Winston fly rod. I’ve had a lot of cheaper rods and they fished well. But once I upgraded, those cheaper rods don’t get used as much these days.”

Storing Dropper Rigs

Some fly fishers like to tie their dropper rigs in advance – in the warmth and leisure of their home. But how do you transport these without getting them tangled.

Thomas recommends the Smith Creek Rig Keeper for storing your dropper rigs. He says it’s been worth the few bucks to avoid frustrating tangles.

Making Small Adjustments

Dave and I have talked before about the art of making small adjustments.

One of our listeners, David, shared several small adjustments he regularly makes. These include going to a smaller tippet size on clear water under bright blue skies; lengthening his leader for dry fly fishing or shortening it for nymph and streamer fishing; switching to a fly of a different size or color; changing up the retrieve while streamer fishing; and varying the depth and weight while nymph fishing.

David claims that the endless adjustments you have to make while fly fishing is what makes it such a fascinating, wonderful sport.

We agree!

There’s more wisdom like this “below the surface” in the comments section of each article or podcast episode we post. You might find something that results in catching more fish or at least making your day on the water more enjoyable.

Episodes on Fly Fishing Adjustments

We’ve published two episodes on making fly fishing adjustments:

    Adjustments to Improve Your Fly Fishing Game

    The Art of Making Small Adjustments on the River

S3:E43 One Fine Day between Hebgen and Quake Lakes

Hebgen and Quake Lakes in southwestern Montana bookend a short ribbon of the Madison River that is well known for its big rainbows in late March to mid April. In this episode, we recall one fine day on this stretch of the Madison, our first fly fishing trip together after college. Steve tells the story of the earthquake in 1959 that created Quake Lake, and Dave confesses one more time his dull-wittedness at the end of that one fine day.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “One Fine Day between Hebgen and Quake Lakes”

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 here your “one fine day” stories when you hit it just right. Post your stories below!

More Episodes in Our “One Fine Day …” Series

    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 $15.99!

Steve’s Suggestions for New Fly Fishers

When I was a boy, I devoured every issue of Field & Stream magazine. The piece to which I always turned first was “Tap’s Tips” — an advice column written by H. G. Tapply. I had no idea that dipping wooden matches in nail polish would waterproof them. Nor did I know, until I read “Tap’s Tips,” that cutting an old rubber or synthetic sponge in cubes provides a supply of bobbers. Uh, make that strike indicators. In the spirit of “Tap’s Tips,” I’ve come up with five suggestions for new fly fishers:

1. Tie on your dropper ahead of time.

My son, Luke, has caught some big trout this spring on the South Platte River in Colorado with a two-fly combination. I talked to him the other day, and he told me that he puts together about three “two-fly” combinations while he’s watching sports on television. It saves time for him when he’s out on the river—especially on cold days when fingers tend to fumble.

What this means is tying on a piece of tippet to the bend in the hook of your lead fly and then tying on the dropper (second fly at the end of the tippet). Then, when you get to the river, you only have to tie on your lead fly. Such suggestions for new fly fishers can turn frustration as you start your day on the river to confidence.

2. Take along a old throw rug and a garbage bag

You’ll use the throw rug when you’re sitting on the bumper and putting on your waders. It beats stepping in gravel, wet grass, or mud. Then, you can throw your wet waders and boots in a garbage bag for the drive home. It keeps the back of your SUV or the trunk of your car clean and dry.

Make sure you removed the wet stuff as soon as you get home to clean it and let it air dry.

3. Use barrel swivels to connect your leader to tippet.

Sure, you’ll eventually want to learn a surgeon’s knot or something similar for tying tippet onto a leader. However, you can get by with the same knot you use for tying on your fly—an improved clinch knot—if you use a barrel swivel. Simply tie the leader to one end of the swivel and the tippet to another. Use the smallest barrel swivel you can find. This works best for nymphing since the extra bit of weight is not an issue.

If you are dry fly fishing, you’ll need a longer tippet since the barrel swivel may sink slightly.

4. Flick your wrists when making a cast.

Most beginners use too much of their body when casting. The trick is to make your rod do the work.

To accomplish this, all you need to do is to flick your wrist sharply when making a cast. Practice by making a “revolver” out of your hand (index finger pointed forward, thumb pointed up). Then flick your wrist up and down. You’ll use this same motion when you have a rod in hand.

5. Pull fish to the side when you’re fighting them.

I learned this tip from Gary Borger, whose many books on nymphing, fly fishing gear, flies, and fly fishing techniques are packaged as practical suggestions for new fly fishers.

You’ll tire out trout more quickly when you pull them from side to side. This forces them to use their muscles in a way that pulling up on your rod does not. This, of course, probably doesn’t apply to the 8-inch Brookie that you’re ripping out of a small pool. The technique works great, though, in larger runs with larger fish.

S3:E42 Adjustments to Improve Your Fly Fishing Game

Frustration almost always sets in when the same tactics yield the same results. If you fish only once or twice a year with a guide or outfitter, improving your fly fishing game doesn’t really matter much. But if you take fly fishing with even a modicum of seriousness, you know the importance of making small adjustments. In this episode, we offer our list of adjustments to improve our fly fishing craft from the past couple years.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “Adjustments to Improve Your Fly Fishing Game”

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 adjustments have you made to improve your fly fishing game? What single adjustment has had the greatest effect in the number of fish you catch?

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 $15.99!

The Mayfly Life Cycle

There’s nothing more exciting than reflecting on the life cycle of a mayfly. Well, actually there is. It’s catching trout—and lots of them. If you want to catch more trout, it’s helpful (though not necessarily exciting) to think about the life cycle of a mayfly. It will help you know what you’re trying to imitate.

mayfly life cycle

1. The Nymph stage

A mayfly spends all but one or two days of its life underwater as a nymph. It’s no wonder, then, that 85% of a trout’s diet comes from beneath the surface. It’s why fishing nymph patterns is almost always a sure bet. Nymphs move about the stream as they feed and molt and then drift into the current or dart from place to place.

If you want to get technical, there are four categories of Mayfly nymphs. Dave Hughes, in his Pocketguide to Western Hatches, classifies them as swimmers, crawlers, clingers, or burrowers. You could vary your strategy if you’re trying to imitate a certain kind of mayfly. However, most of the time, the tried-and-true dead drift method will work. Standard patterns include Hare’s Ear or Pheasant Tail. A Prince Nymph works fine, too, even though it was originally designed as a Stonefly nymph.

2. The Emerger stage

In this brief stage, the child becomes an adult when the skin splits along the back of the nymph and the winged dun escapes. This happens as the emerger rises to the surface and sheds its skin underwater. Some nymphs, however, crawl to the edge of the river where they shed their skin on the rocks or grass. This explains why you often see empty “casings” on rocks near a river’s edge.

It’s often a good idea to trail your dry fly with an emerger pattern, which you fish just under the film. Sometimes you’ll even see “rising” trout which don’t seem to be feeding on the surface flies. If so, definitely switch to an emerger pattern.

3. The Dun stage

Now the fly has become a young adult. The dun stage is a favorite for fly fishers, and many standard patterns—such as the Parachute Adams, the Comparadun, and attractors like a Royal Wulff—imitate this stage. Mayfly duns ride the surface until their upright wings are dry and hardened for flight. This ride can last for ten to twenty feet.

Fortunately for fly fishers, most mayflies hatch (technically “emerge”) during daylight hours. Prime time is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., depending on wind and water temperature. Overcast, cool days are ideal, especially for Baetis flies and Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs).

4. The Spinner stage

This is the fully formed adult stage in which mayflies are ready to mate. As Dave Hughes says, “Mating takes place in the air, another bit of incomparable grace.” At this point, the females are spent and fall to the water. This creates a “spinner fall” — another opportunity for the trout to roil the surface as they feed. Anglers who see mayflies with flat wings like an airplane – rather than with wings sticking up – should switch to a spinner or “spent wing” pattern.

On some days, you might be able to catch a trout on a pattern that imitates any of these stages. But other days, trout are more selective and zone in on a particular stage. Switching to a pattern that reflects a different stage in a mayfly’s life cycle might trigger some superb fishing.

S3:E41 Legends of Fly Fishing: Bud Lilly

The fly fishing industry today is a mature industry with a thousand niches, such as salt water fishing, Tenkara, even fly fishing for carp. Before fly fishing’s emergence into the conscience of popular culture came the trailblazers, such as Lee Wulff, Joan Wulff, Lefty Kreh (who passed away recently), and, among many others, Bud Lilly. In this first in a series on fly fishing legends, we attempt to tell a little of Bud Lilly’s story and contribution to the broader fly fishing community.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “Legends of Fly Fishing: Bud Lilly”

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 read any of Bud Lilly’s writings? Ever talk to him in person? What influence did he have on you?

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 $15.99!

Confessions of a Half-Hearted Fly Tyer

My name is Steve, and I’m a half-hearted fly tyer. There, I admitted it. Perhaps it’s even an exaggeration to call me a fly tyer. Some of the flies I’ve tied might make a more skilled fly tyer laugh. But I’ve caught dozens of trout on patterns I’ve tied. I think that’s enough to give me membership in the fly-tying fraternity.

half-hearted fly tyer

There are, though, a few confessions that I want to make. And not merely for catharsis, though confession, so goes the cliché, is good for the soul. Rather my admission is to empower other fumble-fingered folks who feel like fly-tying misfits:

1. I am a half-hearted fly tyer.

I know, I already said that. But let me unpack my revelations a bit:

My passion for fly tying resembles the moon. It waxes and wanes. I’m always ready to grab my rod and head for the river. But I don’t feel the same about grabbing my vise and Metz Dry Fly Neck (Grizzly color) to tie a Parachute Adams. I can fly fish for hours and never get bored. But some days I tie flies for only minutes before I’m bored. Some days I’m disinterested before I even start. Yet, sometimes the urge hits, and I will crank out a dozen flies of a particular pattern.

The lesson: Even half-hearted fly tyers can produce useful flies and save themselves some money in the process.

2. I am artistically challenged.

I can’t draw stick figures for the life of me, and my attempts to build a gingerbread house for our annual family Christmas gingerbread competition are pathetic. My creation ends up looking like a dilapidated chicken coop. Surprisingly, though, I can tie a decent fly. Sure, my flies bulge in the wrong places, and the wraps look uneven. However, I’ve discovered that the fish don’t care. Perhaps the bulges and unevenness make my flies look more buggy.

The lesson: Even clunky-looking flies fool trout.

3. I limit myself to a few simple patterns.

I’ve never tied a bad-looking Muddler Minnow.

That’s because I don’t tie Muddler Minnows. I’ve fooled around with spinning deer hair. But it’s an art I never mastered well. So I leave these kinds of flies to the pros. I stick with San Juan Worms, Brassies, Woolly Buggers, and an occasional Elk Hair Caddis. The latter is not an easy fly for me to tie. But I shot a bull elk a few years ago during archery season, and I preserved the hide with a bit of 20 Mule Team Borax. Every so often I can’t resist tying a handful of size #14 caddis flies so I can brag about catching a trout with a fly I tied using hair from a bull elk I called in and took with an arrow. That helps me save face when the fly falls apart after catching one trout.

The Lesson: Even the simplest of patterns can be deadly when it comes to catching trout.

4. I haven’t improved much in two decades.

I’m like the guy who spent five of the best years of his life in second grade.

Honestly, I haven’t tied enough to get a lot better. But again, my interests are not in winning fly tying contests (do those even exist?). I simply want to catch trout. And I’m fascinated enough with fly tying to dabble in it whenever I feel the urge. It is a thrill to fool a trout with a fly I’ve tied. It is fun to create something that looks halfway like the flies I see in the bins at my local fly shop. It is fun to create.

The Lesson: Even if you never get better, you can still feel the satisfaction of sporadic fly tying.

Now that I’ve finished this piece, I feel the urge to get out my fly tying vise, bobbin, dubbing material and … oh wait, I have to fill out my bracket for March Madness!

Fly tying will have to wait until next week. Or next month.

S3:E40 Extending the Life of Your Fly Fishing Gear

Fly fishing gear can last a long time, if well cared for. Steve just retired a pair of 20-year-old waders. Of course, he isn’t fishing 50 days a year, but just a modicum of care can prolong the end of fly rods, reels, waders, nets, and boots. In this episode, we offer up some simple tips for making your fly fishing gear last.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “Extending the Life of Your Fly Fishing Gear”

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 do you maintain your fly fishing gear? What sort of tips or hacks help prolong the life of your fishing gear?

More Episodes on Fly Fishing Gear

    Which Is the Best Overall Fly Rod?

    Gearing Up for a New Fly Fishing Season

    Fly Fishing Gear We Use

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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 $15.99!

11 Ways to Fish Streamers

The more I fly fish, the more I realize how many ways there are to catch fish. Surely, there are time-tested principles, but the tactics are legion.

fish streamers

Just recently, Steve (my podcast partner) and I fished streamers for several hours on the Blue River in Wisconsin. I threw mine upstream and stripped it back. Steve got on top of the run, tossed the streamer downstream, and stripped it back. Two approaches, same number of fish. Okay, so maybe he caught one more than I. But my biggest was bigger than, er, his biggest.

So in honor of our diverse means, I thought I’d list all the many ways I’ve caught trout on streamers:

1. Throw the streamer upriver …

and strip it back QUICKLY.

    2. Throw the streamer upriver …

    and strip it back SLOWLY.

3. Throw it upriver …

but don’t strip it back; let it dead-drift to the swing. Then strip it back in SHORT strips.

    4. Throw it upriver …

    but don’t strip it back; let it dead-drift to the swing. Then strip it back in LONGER strips.

5. Throw it directly across the river …

and strip it back in SHORT strips.

    6. Throw it directly across the river …

    and strip it back in LONGER strips.

7. Throw it directly across the river …

but don’t strip it; let it dead drift to the swing. Then strip it back in SHORT strips.

    8. Throw it directly across the river …

    let it dead drift to the swing. Then strip it back in LONGER strips.

9. Get above the pool or structure in the river …

and throw it downstream, stripping it back in SHORT strips.

    10. Get above the pool or structure in the river …

    and throw it downstream, stripping it back in LONGER strips.

11. Hold your fly rod behind your back with both hands …

and toss the streamer into the river and twirl around to retrieve the Woolly Bugger in short twirls, chanting, “Go Woolly Bugger, go!”

Other Articles from 2 Guys on Slinging Streamers

    Fishing Streamers in Smaller Creeks

S3:E39 One Fine Day in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Harrison Flats is not listed on the trail head as you walk into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in Colorado. The trail ends about a mile below the lake, so finding it is cause for celebration. In this episode, Steve interviews Dave about finding and fishing this pristine high mountain lake that sits above the timberline. It’s one fine day of rising cutthroat, blue skies, and breathtaking scenery in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “One Fine Day at Harrison Flats in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness”

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 had an experience fishing in a place like the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness? We’d love to hear your story. Please post your comments below.

More Episodes in Our “One Fine Day …” Series

    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

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 $15.99!

5 Fly Fishing Lessons from a February Day

An app on my smartphone told me I needed to go fly fishing on a late February day. Oh, it didn’t say it in those exact words. But the weather app predicted a one-day window with mid-50s temperatures in southwestern Wisconsin. So I contacted Dave, my podcast partner, and we shifted our schedules to make it work.

Now, I’m at my laptop a couple of days later, and five lessons from that day come to mind:

1. Getting out of Dodge at the last minute isn’t easy.

Dave drove an hour from his home to mine on a Monday evening. We had decided to make the three-hour drive from my home that night to stay in a Super 8 near our fishing spot. That way we could hit water first thing on Tuesday morning.

Everything went according to plan.

But we were both fried emotionally when we left my house. Both of us overscheduled our Monday so we could be gone on Tuesday. I felt like I was on the run all day. Meetings ran longer than expected, and I had scheduled a razor thin margin between them. Dave’s SUV was in the shop, so he had to bring his family’s mini-van. I threw in two duffel bags of fly fishing gear because I didn’t have time to pack it into one.

Now I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that you have to push through the craziness that a last-minute trip creates. It’s worth it . . . eventually.

2. The early bird gets the worm.

Perhaps “getting the worm” is not an apt image for fly fishing. But bear with me.

Arriving at our destination on Monday night turned out to be a great move. We were able to get an early start on Tuesday and arrive at the Blue River before anyone else. The stretch we like to fish is less than two miles long. The “river” is really a small stream, so there are a limited number of productive runs.

The fly fisher who arrives first doesn’t have to take the leftovers.

3. Woolly Buggers are the ticket for coffee-colored water.

The Blue River always has a bit of color. It’s always a bit stained.

But there had been enough snow runoff that the water was coffee-colored. I suppose it was a rather weak coffee color. We guessed that Woolly Buggers would be our best bet, and they were.

Dave and I each landed two 14-inch browns — big fish for such a small stream. I also caught a nice rainbow and lost another brown after playing it for half a minute. All this happened in about three hours.

For a bright sunny day in February, we were pleased with the outcome. It was consistent with other days when we’ve had success stripping streamers in murky water.

4. The streamer bite has a definite window.

The first two hours on the river were productive. The last one was not. As the sun got higher and the temps warmed up, the fish stopped hitting streamers. Dave remarked that the streamer bite was finished for the day. I agreed for two reasons. First, I knew he was right. Second, it meant we could grab lunch at the local café sooner than later.

We both remarked that we could have (uh, should have) started an hour earlier. That would have given us a three-hour window of fishing rather than only two.

We’re not complaining — just observing: Once the trout are done feeding, it’s useless to keep fishing.

5. Mud can be slick.

I was worried about slipping on the ice and getting hurt. The good news is that this didn’t happen. The bad news is that I slipped on the mud and tweaked my ankle. It’s only a slight sprain, so I’ll survive.

Who knew that mud could be so slick! Let the fly fisher beware.

More Fly Fishing Lessons

Alright, I promised only five lessons, so I’m going to stop here. I won’t talk about:

  • How it’s best not to catch your front bumper on the concrete wheel stop at the head of your parking space. That might embarrass Dave;
  • How it’s easier to snap a front bumper back into place in the daylight than in the dark;
  • How it’s best to hide your limp (if you sprain your ankle) when you arrive home. Otherwise, your adult children might send the rest of the family a rather hilarious Snapchat video (complete with a satirical caption) at your expense.

S3:E38 Fly Fishing for Brookies

Fly fishing for brookies is one of the great joys of life. In this episode, we regale each other with stories of fly fishing for brookies and also discuss a study from the Minnesota DNR about whether brown trout are crowding out the native brook trout population in the Driftless. We wrap up our conversation with some tips for catching even more of these Great Wonders of the world.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “Fly Fishing for Brookies”

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 a story about the largest brook trout you’ve caught! Please post your comments below.

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 $15.99!

Protecting Your Fly Fishing Reel

Let’s keep it reel. Now that my feeble attempt at humor is out of the way, I want to offer you a few tips for protecting your fly fishing reel. Typically, fly reels are not high maintenance. But there are a few steps you can take to protect them:

1. Read the instructions that came with the fly fishing reel

Yeah right, you’re thinking. But you might pick up a surprising insight.

For example, Lamson reels do not need lubricant. Most Ross reels don’t either, yet the Ross Colorado LT does. Its instruction manual calls for applying a small dab of waterproof grease in between the interface of the clicker and the spring. Similarly, the Orvis Vortex requires the application of Penn Reel Lube once or twice a year.

So read your instruction manual. If you can’t locate it, you should be able to find it online.

2. Be careful where you place it on the ground

I set my fly rod on the ground dozens (I suppose) of times a day. I do this when I eat lunch, cross a fence, take off or put on a jacket, tie on new tippet or fly, or take a photo. The key is to take a moment to check the ground. Try to avoid sand, fine gravel, and dirt. Also, give your reel a soft landing when you set it on a rock.

3. Take off the spool to check for grit

Do this at least a couple times a year.

Once every fishing trip is preferable — especially if you haven’t been thoughtful about where you have set your rod. Some fly fishers carry a toothbrush for this purpose. But I prefer to keep it simple and use my fingers and the tail of my shirt (despite the danger of grease stains!).

4. Let your reel air dry

There is nothing wrong with getting your reel wet. Mine has even slipped into the river occasionally.

Make sure, though, that you let your reel air dry before putting it away for the day. If your reel has been submerged, definitely take off the spool. You might even want to pull out some of the line (even to the backing) so that moisture isn’t trapped in the line coiled around your spool. But you don’t need to do anything heroic like blow-drying it. Simply set it on a counter or on top of your duffel bag.

5. Use the protective case

This should be obvious. But I get lazy sometimes and toss my reel into my duffel bag. Or I simply place it in the pile of stuff in the back of my SUV. So let the protective case do its job — which is, well, protection!

6. Back off the drag during the off-season

I’ll confess that I haven’t done this in the past. It makes perfect sense, but it didn’t occur to me until I read suggestions from both Sage and Orvis to set the drag to minimum when you store your reel for the off-season. Lessening the tension will add more life to the mechanism (spring) that creates tension.

7. Carry an extra spool

Last fall, I slipped and dropped my rod—reel first—on a rock on the Yellowstone River. I bent the spool on my Lamson reel and had to bend it with some needle-nosed pliers to make it work.

When I returned from the trip, I ordered another spool. It’s good to keep a spare spool in your duffel bag—especially if you’re fishing a stretch of river in a more remote place (that is, miles from a fly shop).

S3:E37 When Life Gets in the Way of Fishing

Life gets in the way of fishing more than we’d like. We’ve had stretches during which we’ve fished little, and stretches that were full of days on the river. Life often gets in the way of doing what we love most. In this episode, we identify the big life obstacles to fishing and some ways to overcome them while still making good on what’s most important, whether family or work.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “When Life Gets in the Way of 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.

When life gets in the way of fishing for you, what is the main reason? How have you overcome the obstacle? We’d love to hear your stories of what has helped you make good on your life commitments while getting out on the river more.

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 $15.99!

Know Your Pattern: The Prince Nymph

Sometimes I get tired of tying on a Prince Nymph. I use it so frequently that it seems boring. But every time I decide to replace it with something fresh, I return to this classic. There’s no mystery. Even though I may get tired of it, the trout never do. Here is the scoop on this superb pattern:

Prince Nymph

1. How it originated

This fly is not named for the flamboyant musician of “Purple Rain” fame. Nor is it named after the Nigerian prince who needs your help transferring millions of dollars out of his country.

Rather, the fly is named after its creator. Doug Prince of Monterey, California, developed it in the late 1930s or early 1940s. His original “Prince Nymph” had a black body, black soft hackle, and a black tail. A modification of this pattern, which he called the “Brown Forked Tail,” became the well-known Prince Nymph.

2. How it is designed

The Prince Nymph, a.k.a. Brown Forked Tail, features a Peacock herl body wrapped with gold or copper wire. The neck consists of brown soft hackle fibers. The distinctive feature, though, is the use of two white goose biots for the wings and two brown goose biots for the tail. This makes the fly difficult to tie — at least for casual fly tyers like me. The biots are fragile, and they never stay where I want them to stay when I’m trying to secure them with my wraps of threat.

I’m partial to a gold beadhead, so I always tie and fish the beadhead version of this fly.

3. Why it works

Doug Prince designed this as a stonefly imitation for fast water.

However, it’s a visually striking pattern which seems to imitate a variety of aquatic insects. I’ve had success catching trout on a Beadhead Prince Nymph during the Caddis hatch on Montana’s Yellowstone River and during the emergence of Blue-Winged Olives on the Madison River.

The Prince Nymph is versatile enough to use it as a larger lead fly (size #12 or #14) in a two fly rig. Or, it works in a smaller size (#16 or #18) as a dropper.

4. When to use it

The short answer is, “Any time.” Seriously!

It works in all seasons and in all kinds of water conditions. I’ve had success with it in the spring creeks of Wisconsin, the big rivers in Montana, and the mountain streams in Colorado — all four seasons of the year.

So what’s in your fly box? If you want to catch trout, your box will include an ample supply of Beadhead Prince Nymphs. Don’t leave home without a handful of them.

Other Flies in the “Know Your Pattern” Series”

    Know Your Pattern: The H and L Variant

    Know Your Pattern: The Parachute Adams

    Know Your Pattern: The Royal Coachman

    Know Your Pattern: The San Juan Worm

S3:E36 Fly Fishing Off Color Water

Fly fishing off color water is pretty much standard fare in the spring. We all fish different kinds of waters – freestone rivers, spring creeks, or tail waters – but when the water muddies up, it’s time to tweak our approach. In this episode, we discuss some practical adjustments to increase the odds of catching fish when the creek is no longer crystal clear.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “Fly Fishing Off Color Water”

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 adjustments do you make when fly fishing off color water? Any go-to flies that you would recommend? Tell us about a time you caught fish in impossibly murky water!

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 $16.99!

The Agile Fly Fishing Mindset

Several years ago, I stole away to fish for six hours in mid January while on a business trip. When I left the city, it was 51 degrees. I couldn’t believe my luck. A warm day would surely surface a few risers.

agile fly fishing mindset

When I arrived at the stream an hour later, it was 32 degrees. After an hour of fishing, sleet began to pelt the back of my jacket. The wind at my back, I kept fishing for another hour. Finally, I turned to walk back to the truck, against the wind. The sleet had hardened to what felt like sand against my face. At the truck, I felt like I was dog-paddling slowly in deep water as I peeled off my waders with cold stumps for fingers. I shivered as I bent down to rip off the iced-up velcro of the gravel guards at the bottom of my waders.

The temperature had plummeted to 20 degrees. The wind chill put the temperature closer to 0, Fahrenheit.

This is not a post about winter fly fishing in particular but fly fishing in general. Rarely do expectations match reality. You plan one thing, and then everything is upended. This is the true nature of fly fishing (and life, I might add). The ability to move from what you expected to what you encountered is the essence of the sport.

Intelligent Reaction

There is a concept in software development called “agile software development.” The word agile refers to the “ability to create and respond to change in order to succeed in an uncertain and turbulent environment.”

The old world of software development was more akin to the phrase “intelligent design” – highly organized and linearly planned software development. Designing the architecture was first, creating real-world applications was second. Agile software development, on the other hand, is iterative. It’s flexible, evolving. Yes, there is an initial concept for the project, but quickly, developers react to what the client or customer needs to be coded in real time.

In 2005, Adam Bosworth, a former Google engineer, gave a presentation in which he called this approach “intelligent reaction,” which is his foil to “intelligent design” thinking.

“Don’t obsess about a grand plan,” he said. “It doesn’t survive an encounter with reality.”

The agile mindset is all about intelligently reacting to current reality. It’s part of the soul of fly fishing.

The Agile Fly Fishing Mindset Meets Reality

If I could graph my “catching expectations” before a day on the river, the left-to-right graph on many days would move from high to low. I expect each day to be fabulous. I always think the fish will hit whatever I’m of sound mind to sling.

Rarely, though, does the emotional graph move from high to higher as the day wears on. I have had days where I was overwhelmed with my success, but those days are not numbered like the stars in the sky. I tend to manage my expectations downward as the day progresses.

That fine cold January, as I cheerily drove from the convention hotel to the river, I had fantasized about dry fly fishing in winter. The precipitous drop in temperature, though, killed that idea.

So, once on the river, I tied on a streamer. I began fishing deeper pools, mostly because I had just read an article on winter fly fishing. The article reminded me that since the metabolism of trout slows in winter, they tend to congregate in deeper pools where they don’t have to fight current. Made perfect sense. Like an obedient fly fisher, I followed the rules. I fished the slower water.

Nope. No strikes in the deeper pools. By this time, I couldn’t feel my face, and I wondered if the piercing cold in my right wading boot was a leak. Maybe my aging waders had finally betrayed me.

I then decided to try casting the streamer upstream in some swifter-moving runs – and quickly stripping it back. Why? I have no idea. I often will dead-drift a streamer with a dropper – just to mix it up. Some times I strip back the streamer as it starts to drift. Some times I wait to strip it back until after the swing. This day, for no apparent reason, I tried stripping it back as soon as the streamer hit the water.

Voila! I ended up catching two nice browns and had three other strikes within twenty minutes. And not surprisingly, the wind didn’t feel quite as bitter on my way back to the truck.

I’m trying to learn not to obsess about my grand plans each day I fish. They never survive reality. While reality can be cruel, it can also be a friend.

S3:E35 What the Big Brown Trout Had for Lunch

Big brown trout are in reality river sharks, as biologists have noted. Brown trout in general also tend take over rivers and streams. Biologists surmise they feast on other trout like cutthroat and small fish. In this episode, we discuss a report in Hatch Magazine about what biologists discovered in the stomachs of brown trout. The episode may simplify your fly box.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “What the Big Brown Trout Had for Lunch”

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 patterns to you find most potent when fishing for browns? We’d love to read a great story of how you switched to a different fly and caught a huge brown!

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 River2 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 $16.99!

What Fly Fishers Pursue

Henry David Thoreau once said: “Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” I have to agree. I love catching trout when I fly fish — the more the better. But I figured out long ago that what fly fishers pursue is much more than the fish.

what fly fishers pursue

Here is a brief list of what I’m after when I head to the river with my fly rod:

Beauty

I love the sheer beauty of rugged mountains, crystal-clear streams, snow showers, yellow aspen leaves, and the piercing bugle of a bull elk. Fly fishing gives me a way to experience this beauty — not just observe it. Whether I’m knee-deep in Montana’s Yellowstone River or in the Milwaukee River not far from where the Milwaukee Bucks play basketball, there is beauty to feel and see on the river.

Solitude

I like people, so it took me awhile to realize that I lean more toward introversion than extroversion. A couple lines from an old John Denver song resonate with me whenever I go fly fishing.

    Now he walks in quiet solitude, the forest and the streams,
    Seeking grace in every step he takes

There’s something about fly fishing that gives me the space and quiet and time to re-energize. The next couple items on my list are by-products of that refreshing solitude.

Clarity

I do some of my best thinking when I’m fly fishing. It’s rather unintentional, though. When I’m fly fishing, my single-minded focus is on casting to the right spot and getting the right drift. Yet this concentration clears my head of the white noise, and my mind begins connecting scattered thoughts and seeing solutions to problems I’ve been pondering.

The dynamic at work here relates to what a writer once counseled his students. He told them to quit writing for the day at a point of frustration. Later, during the mundane activities of the evening, one’s mind begins making connections until a solution appears. That’s what happens to me when I’m fly fishing. I go to catch trout and come back with a list of insights and ideas.

Solace

My friends describe me as an optimist and a rather positive person. But I can brood over failures and frustrations with the best (or worst) of people. Fly fishing provides a solace — a comfort or consolation that I don’t get elsewhere. Maybe it works because fly fishing provides physical exertion to counteract my fretting and brooding. Hiking and casting and wading serves as good medicine.

Togetherness

Ironically, fly fishing provides togetherness as well as solitude. I crave both. The most obvious form of togetherness is the experience and conversation I share with my fly fishing companions. This is most often my podcast partner, Dave, and occasionally my brother or one of my sons.

The time together on the river is rich. We alternate between silence and laughter. The conversation ranges between where we will eat at the end of the day and where we will be at the end of our lives.

There’s another form of togetherness, though.

Norman Maclean speaks of it near the end of his novella, A River Runs Through It. Fly fishing for him was a way of reaching out to those in his life who were gone. When I’m on the river, I think of times with my dad bow – hunting elk high on the mountain slopes in Montana’s Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness Area. I think of the times when he waded into icy mountain streams to free my, uh, Mepps Spinner from a rock or submerged branch. Somehow, fly fishing triggers these memories more than anything else I do.

There’s also a sense of togetherness with the Creator of the rivers I’m fishing and the mountains at which I’m gawking. Or, in the words of a poet, there is a sense of “awesome wonder” when I consider all the works God’s hands have made.

Adventure

Of course, fly fishing is not all contemplation. It’s a blast, too!

Sure, fly fishing is not an extreme sport, but it is an adventure. There are cliffs to climb, moose to avoid, currents to wade, snowstorms to endure, and some of the most interesting people you could imagine. Will I catch a 20-inch rainbow today? Will I step on a rattlesnake? Will I make it out of this isolated stretch of river before dark? Once Dave and I walked around a bend in a trail and came upon a herd of bison, and one of the bulls wanted to get to know us better. The bull walked within 30 yards of us before switching its tail and heading up the ravine with the others.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like catching fish. I always on a mission to catch trout – and hopefully lots of them. But Thoreau was right. I’m after much more than the fish.

S3:E34 The Short Happy Life of a Mayfly

Mayflies are an important food source of trout. The short happy life of a mayfly is about a year – and all but roughly a day or so of its life are spent rolling around the bottom of the river. Their few hours as adults are mostly spent in a mating frenzy, after which the female deposits thousands of eggs into the river. And the cycle begins anew. The variations of mayflies are legion. But there are some basic patterns and types of mayflies that you’ll want to have in your fly box when, uh, opportunity rises. In this episode, we discuss the short happy life of a mayfly – and the happy life of a fly fisher when mayflies emerge.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “The Short Happy Life of a Mayfly”

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 mayflies? What is your best story of success fishing a mayfly hatch?

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 River2 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 “Cliffs Notes” 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 $16.99!

Fly Fishing Murky Water

I’m fond of trout fishing because I love crystal-clear rivers and streams. They are simply breath-taking and life-giving. So I can get a bit grumpy when a rainstorm adds a bit of color to make the stream more like chocolate milk.

fly fishing murky water

But I’ve learned not to despair. Here are a few insights about fly fishing a murky river or stream:

1. A bit of color may work to your advantage

Sure, a swollen river gushing with snow runoff is usually not productive. Yet, fish are less spooky when the water is a bit murky. The murkiness prevents them from seeing fly fishers, false casts, and larger tippets.

2. Put on the San Juan Worm

There are a couple reasons why a murky river is a great place to try a San Juan Worm.

First, rainstorms and rising water often loosen up mud along the banks. This dislodges worms and sends them drifting down the current. Second, a pattern like a San Juan Worm is a bit larger than a size #18 Zebra Midge, so it’s easier for trout to spot it when visibility is limited.

3. Slow down your fly

Since visibility is limited, you want to give trout a longer-than-usual view of your fly. If you’re fishing nymphs, add a bit more weight to get your fly into the slower current at the bottom of the river. Remember, if the bubbles on the surface are moving faster than your strike indicator, you’re at the right depth. If you’re stripping a streamer, strip it a bit more slowly.

4. Keep an eye out for risers

I’m always surprised to see trout rising when the water is murky. But it happens more often than you might think. Often, I’ll find risers in slower water—either in the tailwater of a pool or even on the outside of a bend. These are places where the fish have more time to respond since the flies on the surface are not being carried along so quickly.

5. Look for fish in unexpected places

A few years ago, I fished the Lower Madison River in Montana when it had more color than usual. When I approached a familiar run, I was surprised to see a couple trout feeding near a shallow bank. I had never seen trout in that spot before. They were always in a deeper channel about six feet further into the river. But with murky water, they were less visible to predators.

I ended up catching one of them.

So don’t give up on fly fishing when your clear-running river gets a bit murky. You can work around a bit of color. Sometimes, it may even work to your advantage.

S3:E33 The Roller Coaster of Learning to Fly Fish

Learning to fly fish is the worthy pursuit of a lifetime. But the first couple years, depending on how often you fish, can be frustrating. You think it’s about casting, but that’s not even a fraction of what you need to learn to catch fish consistently. In this episode, we interview Steve’s two sons about learning to fly fish. The audio is patchy, and for that we apologize, but we thought Steve’s two sons had some great insights for newer fly fishers.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “The Roller Coaster of Learning to Fly 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 was the most difficult part of learning to fly fish? If you were learning to fly fish today, what would you do differently?

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 River2 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 “Cliffs Notes” 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 $16.99!

Response to the @CastingAcross Open Letter

Dear Matthew, we’re still stinging from your Open Letter to us on January 3, 2018.

The stinging was caused not by the content of your post but the reminder of our last Skype podcast interview with you. Gazing at your unbelievably pristine lumber-jack beard during the interview was a rebuke to our manhood. Even in midlife, Dave has no real shot at such facial hair, and Steve’s goatee is nothing short of pathetic, a feeble attempt to validate his deep outdoor insecurities.

So we must begin our reply with nothing but deference to and accolades for your facial accomplishments. You have achieved legendary countenance status in our hearts and minds.

Before we go much further, we want to be sure to accept every wonderful comment that you make about our podcast and book, The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish. Did we mention that we’ve published a book?

Now that we’ve covered our annoying self-promotional, self-aggrandizing hoo-ha, we’d like to address the big idea of your post: that we need to broaden our fly fishing experiences to the East Coast.

Key Lines of the @Castingacross Open Letter

To properly respond to every nuanced thought in your post, we’ll break it down:

“I did want to remind you that I still haven’t received the royalty checks for my two appearances:”

Say what?

Didn’t you mean to say, “I still haven’t sent you the royalty checks for the privilege of being on the podcast?”

“… it is clear that your fly fishing hearts lie beyond the Mississippi.”

We think it’s clear that we are cheap. We begin all our fly fishing planning with, “Do we have family or ‘loose family ties’ that we can mooch off?”

Steve is a master mooch, and Dave is Steve’s mooch conspirator, for Dave never complains when Steve finds free lodging on one of their Montana excursions.

“I’m just asking you to seriously consider some angling opportunities that lie a little more eastward.”

Eastward. Hmmm. Is that a direction?

A River Runs Through It has captivated recent generations of fly fishers, and rightly so. Still, that brand of western angling nostalgia only looks as far back as the early 1900’s. Places in the Catskills and Central Pennsylvania are literally the birthplaces of American fly fishing.”

Uh, this may be a bit embarrassing for you, but everyone knows Brad Pitt is the founder of fly fishing and that Norman Mclean was his father in real life. Everyone. Given that bit of historical, uh, truth, the royal lineage of fly fishing seems to run through Montana.

“It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I am the chief sinner when it comes to just going where it is comfortable.

We don’t want to judge you, but the phrase “chief sinner” had come to mind before you mentioned it.

“So what say you? Maine brook trout? Massachusetts striped bass? Carolina catfish?

You had us at Carolina catfish.

“Sincerely, the hopefully-soon-to-be 3rd guy in a river out east,

You are here by officially knighted as the Third Guy. We’ll send an invoice for a third of the expense of it all shortly. You can pay us by saying yes to another podcast episode real soon.

Your Western-Biased Friends,

Dave and Steve
2 Guys and a River

S3:E32 The Art of Making Small Adjustments on the River

Making small adjustments on the river is the secret sauce to better days on the river. No one ever tells a new fly fisher that the three attractor patterns in his or her fly box won’t work every time out. Sooner or later, we all learn that fly fishing is all about a thousand adjustments. In this episode, we discuss the importance of the ability to know when to switch out one pattern for another or go up or down a size or switch to nymphs or streamers. It’s all about adjustments.

fly fishing persistence

Listen now to “Making Small Adjustments 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.

What kinds of adjustments do you make most often on the river? How patient are you when what you’re slinging isn’t working?

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. 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 River2 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 “Cliffs Notes” 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 $16.99!

10 Commandments for Staying Warm in Cold Conditions

I have not conducted a formal study on the reason fly fishers stay home on a cold winter day. But I’m confident I know what it is. It’s not the problem of ice build-up on fly rod guides. Nor is it the less-frenetic feeding patterns of trout in the winter. It’s the problem of staying warm in cold conditions.

Here are ten commandments for staying warm when fly fishing on cold days. Most of these are obvious. But they are good reminders. Perhaps there’s one that you’ve missed.

1. Drink liquids — whether hot or cold

Chances are that you won’t cover as much water on a cold day. So there’s no need to obsess about traveling light. Bring along that small Thermos or Yeti tumbler filled with your warm liquid of choice—coffee or hot chocolate. Your tumbler might even double as a hand warmer.

Actually, water may be your best bet since it promotes circulation to your your fingers and toes. Drinking enough water also eliminates a huge contributing factor to frostbite and hypothermia: dehydration.

Be wary of spiking your drink with schnapps or brandy. Alcohol may make you feel or think you are warmer. But it actually drops your core body temperature.

2. Use a hand-warming device

Cold hands make it impossible to fly fish. It’s hard to tie on a fly or tippet when your hands don’t work. Cold hands also make fly fishers miserable. The most obvious solution is to purchase a pair of insulated, waterproof gloves. Personally, the ones with exposed fingertips don’t help me, because it’s my fingertips which get cold first! Occasionally, I’ll bring two or three pairs of lighter wool gloves so I can switch them when one pair gets damp.

Another possible solution is to use hand warmers. I’ve used the small, disposable, inexpensive packets which get activated when exposed to air. In my experience, most brands provide sufficient heat for only an hour or two. The downside is that these packets stop working when they get damp. If you spend enough time fly fishing on cold days, you might try the chrome plated hand warmers (about the size of a cell phone) which run on lighter fuel. I confess that I haven’t used one of these since I was in my early teens while spending the entire day in the woods deer hunting. But they put off a lot of heat.

Don’t forget to stop and stuff your hands inside your shirt against your flesh. If you can place your hand under an armpit (a lovely thought) you can warm both sides of your hand. Read on for another overlooked option.

3. Wear a warm hat

You might be surprised to learn that your cold hands are due, in part, to the heat escaping from your head. So wear a warm hat — preferably one with ear flaps. A stocking cap works fine — especially one with wool or microfiber.

4. Go with layers instead of one large jacket

I usually wear the same lightweight Simms rain jacket I use in July that I do on a cold winter day in January. It protects me against wind and moisture. Then, I add more layers underneath. More layers provide more warmth than one bulky jacket. Start with good moisture-wicking underwear. Even when it’s cold, you may sweat when walking to your fishing spot. Staying dry is essential to staying warm.

After a layer of moisture-wicking underwear, build layers with an assortment of relatively thin pullovers, sweaters, or wool shirts. Add a down vest if you need to. The advantage of layers is that you can peel them off as the day gets warmer. Your waders add another layer of warmth, too—even if you’re not wading.

5. Use a neck gator

Even a thin microfiber neck gator will keep your face warm. Your cheeks and tip of your nose will thank you at the end of the day.

6. Wear warm socks

I’ve never tried the battery powered socks or even the inexpensive, disposable foot warmers or toe warmers. But I suspect they are a terrific option—as long as your feet don’t get too hot. I opt for a thin pair of moisture-wicking socks covered by a slightly thicker wool blend pair. Keep reading for another strategy.

7. Keep moving

The most obvious way to keep your feet and body warm is to keep moving. At last, I have an excuse for moving so quickly from one run to another! Moving generates heat and compensates for the way that cold temperatures restrict your blood vessels, slowing down your blood flow.

But what do you do if you want to fish the same run for three hours because it’s producing? Take a walk anyway and come back to your spot in five minutes. It’s likely that most of your competition will be at home on the sofa watching the Winter Olympics.

8. Simplify your gear

The less time you rummage through pockets to find tippet or split shot, the less time your hands will be exposed to the cold. Also, this will decrease the time you are stationary. Remember, you want to keep moving–walking or casting—to stay warm.

9. Eat snacks

Whether you stick with health-conscious choices or go with a Snickers Bar, eating will provide the energy you desperately need in the cold. Plus, it will also boost your metabolism.

10. Limit your wading

I’ve stood knee-deep in Montana’s Madison River in January for long stretches of time and have remained surprisingly warm.

However, the deeper you wade, the more you put yourself at risk for disaster. Falling into a river when the air temperature is thirty degrees poses risks that falling into it when it’s seventy degrees does not. Hypothermia is always a concern. So be on the safe side. Don’t try anything heroic when it comes to wading.

If you spend a cold winter day in front of your television or fly tying vise, you have made a wise choice. But if you want to fly fish, you can have a great experience if you take the precautions needed to stay warm.

S3:E31 Parenting Kids to Love the Outdoors

Parenting kids to love the outdoors is easier said than done. It requires intentionality, patience and flexibility. In this first-of-its-kind episode (for us), we invited several of our kids to ask them about our “outstanding” job of helping them develop a love for the outdoors. Joining us for this episode are Steve’s two boys, Ben and Luke, and Dave’s oldest, Christian. Steve has two other kids, and Dave has three others. This is a fun one, as the boys regale us for a hilarious episode on parenting kids to love the outdoors.

Listen now to “Parenting Kids to Love the Outdoors”

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 advice would you give to young parents who want to instill a love for the outdoors? We’d love to hear your funny stories of the patience it takes to parent kids in the outdoors!

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, 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

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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 “Cliffs Notes” 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 $16.99!

My Fly Fishing Resolutions for the New Year

I’m looking forward to fly fishing in the new year. One never fully knows what opportunities or obstacles a new year will bring, but intentionality helps create good experiences. So the other day I scribbled down a few fly fishing resolutions for the new year.

I may modify my list as the year unfolds. But at least I have some direction:

1. Cut down on my false casting

The reason I false cast a bit too much is, well, because I can. But the trick with fly casting (as it is with a lot of skills) is to work smarter, not harder. The extra casts only increase the odds of spooking fish or getting tangled. So I’m going to try to concentrate on keeping it simple.

2. Stop, look, and listen more often

I actually managed to do this one day last fall on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park. Dave, my podcast partner, and I were fishing a remote stretch of the river. We had the whole day to fish, so I found myself more willing to sit down, nibble on the cheese and crackers I had packed, and watch a couple of elk on the opposite mountainside. I need to do more of this. It helps me savor the whole fly fishing experience.

3. Tie more flies

I hardly tied any flies last year.

At one level, I’m fine with that. My time is limited, so I’d rather cast flies on the water rather than tie them. However, I find it gratifying to catch trout on flies I’ve tied. Besides, I can’t bring myself to pay a couple bucks for something simple like a San Juan Worm or a brassie or even a Woolly Bugger.

My fly tying bench is now cleared off, so I have no excuses!

4. Work on my double haul

A double haul is using your “line hand” (your left hand if you’re casting your rod with your right hand) to haul or pull back the line on both your forward and backward stroke. This increases line speed by delivering velocity to your fly line. I’ve played around with it before, but I want to improve my technique. As soon as the weather gets warmer, I plan to head to the grassy field in a park about four blocks from my house to practice.

5. Transfer my flies to a new fly box

More than a year ago, I slipped and fell while fishing a small creek. The good news is that I didn’t get hurt. The bad news is the one of my fly boxes in my vest did get hurt. It cracked. So, I purchased a new box. One year later, that box is still in pristine condition. That’s because I haven’t used it yet! Somehow, I haven’t found the time to transfer a hundred plus flies from the cracked one to the new one. It seems tedious. But I need to do that before I get out on the river.

6. Save for a new pair of waders

My twenty-year old Patagonia waders finally gave out last summer. My fifteen-year old Simms waders are still going strong. But I suspect they have almost reached their life expectancy. So I need to save for a replacement pair before I really need to replace them. I’m intrigued with the waders that have a front zipper. I looked at a pair of Patagonia waders last year that make sense. So it’s time to start setting aside dollars so I can get them in early spring.

7. Introduce my grandsons to fly fishing

This is the one that’s most important to me this year. Our whole family is going to spend a week this summer at a mountain ranch in Montana, and I’m looking forward to helping my seven-year old and five-year old grandsons dabble in fly fishing. Even if I let them reel in a trout I’ve caught, I hope it will give them the feel – and the fever! — for fly fishing.

I don’t know what the next year is going to bring. But if I can follow through on some — or all — of these resolutions, I should have a good time fly fishing.

What are you New Year’s resolutions for fly fishing?