S4:E25 The Angling Interval: Key to Fish Survival

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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.


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.


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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!

S2:E47 Fly Fishing Net Gains and Losses

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Trying to net your son’s first big brown – and causing him to lose the fish – may require psychotherapy for him later in life. We all have a fly fishing net, and we probably use it more or less, depending on the size of fish or where we fish. In this episode on how and when to use a fly fishing net, Steve confesses how his patchy netting skills ruined a father-son moment on the river.

Listen now to Fly Fishing Net Gains and Losses

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 portion of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoying hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

How often do you use a net when you fly fish? And what kind of net do you use? We’d love to hear about your gear and why you chose your fly fishing net.

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 “Every Episode” on the top navigation.

Our Sponsor

For this episode, we are the Sponsor!

We’ve published a book called, The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists.

We like to say it is a book of bite-sized snacks. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Visit Amazon to get your copy today!

7 Streamside Habits of Highly Generous Fly Fishers

In 2015, an estimated 4.5 million folks over the age of 16 fly fished at least once during the year. That’s slightly more than one percent of the population of the United States. The industry growth roughly tracks the net population growth of the U.S. Though not exploding in popularity, the fly fishing community is growing. And it’s important that new fly fishers carry on the great traditions of our sport.

One legacy is what can only be described as the generosity mindset, illustrated by the catch-and-release movement of the last fifty years, stream restoration efforts, the advocacy for public lands, and the extensive volunteerism of Trout Unlimited chapter members.

Another layer of this generosity mindset is the sport’s streamside etiquette. To oversimplify for a moment: There are takers in this world, and there are givers. The fly fishing community is a “giver community,” and I’ve assembled seven streamside habits that characterize the highly generous fly fisher:

1. They defer to others on the river.

This seems patently obvious, but it needs to be said again and again. This is a way of thinking more than anything. It is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of strength. This mindset believes there’s always better fishing elsewhere, if something or someone is blocking access to his or her favorite spot.

Just to be practical for a moment: If you’re not first to your spot on the river, you’re not the first. Move on. Defer to the person who got there first. Find another run. Move to another river.

By the way, this also applies to fly fishing guides. Just because someone paid you for a great day of fly fishing doesn’t mean the generosity mindset doesn’t apply to you. If you can’t be a generous fly fishing guide to others (those who not your clients), then get out of the business and into a different sport.

2. They give others a wide berth.

This is a corollary to the first point, of course, but we’ve all had days when we’ve come around the bend to see another fly fisher stalled on our favorite run. My first thought is often a prayer: I sure hope she is on her way upriver. My next is, “I sure hope there’s not another fly fisher ahead of her.”

The highly generous fly fisher doesn’t just go up to the next run. He or she goes up two or three runs farther – or another mile. Or leaves to find a different river.

Back to the initial point: There’s always more, not less.

3. They dole out information freely.

I love running into a fly fisher who says, “I switched to a size 18 BWO pattern this afternoon, and I finally started catching a few.” Or, “I fished an olive woolly bugger for a couple hours, but when I switched to nymphs, it was game on.”

No, I don’t think you have to tell someone your secret run. At least I won’t. But the highly generous fly fisher sees the next fly fisher not so much as a competitor but as a colleague.

I once invited a friend to hunt with my family in North Dakota. Once. I never invited him again. He was so obsessed with shooting pheasants, he wanted to hunt the ditches on the way to the cornfield we planned for the hunt – 15 minutes before the 10 AM opener! He was so fiercely competitive, he annoyed the rest of us the entire day.

4. They slow down to teach young fly fishers.

Young does not mean young in age, necessarily. Young means “new to the sport.” I have found so much joy in helping my twenty-something nephew get started in the sport. When he initially engaged me, I had a fleeting thought that I might not be able to fish much, because I’d be so focused on helping him tie on flies, untangle knots, and identify the best runs to fish.

Instead, the common interest created a nascent friendship, and it won’t be long and he’ll be much better than I. I can’t wait.

What I love most about helping younger fly fishers is that they ask questions. They want my opinion. Yea! No one wants my opinion on anything these days (not my wife, not my kids, and not even my dog!).

5. They keep their dogs in the truck or at home.

Speaking of dogs, I don’t believe they belong on the river. I’ve hunted with dogs my entire life, and even the best hunting dogs go AWOL some days. If you are in the wilderness and sure you’re ten miles from the nearest fly fisher, then yes, take along your dog.

But the highly generous fly fisher would never spoil the day of another fly fisher by allowing his or her unleashed dog to walk through runs or startle the fly fisher coming up the river. It’s crazy that this even needs to be mentioned.

If you want a dog with you, go back to the suburbs and walk your dog around the neighborhood.

By the way, did you know that the fly fisher moving up the river has priority over the fly fisher moving downstream? The person moving upstream has the right of way. So if you’re walking downstream with your dog, and it lopes ahead of you in the stream, you are in the wrong.

6. They slough off the slights.

Several years ago, an intense fly fisher (who looked like a Navy Seal) stomped past Steve and me (we don’t look like Navy Seals) while we were hiking a narrow trail to a stretch of river in Yellowstone National Park. He brushed past us with not so much as a grunt. It was clear he had a spot in mind. And he got it.

We were a little miffed. And after we said some unflattering things about him to each other, we laughed it off, spied him on the river later, and moved ahead of him about a mile. We never saw him again.

If you fly fish long enough, you’ll have the chance to be annoyed at someone. Just walk away. No need to get in the last word.

7. They share their gear.

A few years ago, Steve, my podcast partner, arrived at his favorite run on the Madison River to find another fly fisher sitting along the bank. The guy had broken his rod. After catching a couple rainbows, Steve handed his rod to the other fly fisher fisher and told him to give the run a try.

In case, you think Steve is the most generous guy on the planet, you should know that Steve was acquainted with this guy. They had worked together in the past.

That said, however, I’ve broken my rod several times while fly fishing with Steve and he has never offered me his rod. Maybe that’s because one day on the Yellowstone, with a broken rod tip, I outfished him. My eight-and-a-half foot five weight rod became an eight-foot rod when I snapped off the last guide about three miles into the backcountry. Fortunately, the runs were right along the bank, and I could sling the hopper pattern with a modicum of precision.

But wouldn’t it be great to make this a habit if the opportunity arises?

Generosity begins with the idea that there is more, not less – more river, more opportunity, more fish. And so there is no need to horde. No need to compete. No need to be a grump. Just move on and find the more.

The Baseball Phenom Who Became a Fly Fishing Legend

The kid dug into the batter’s box, checked the trademark on his bat, and got set for the pitch. It was the biggest moment of his life. At fifteen, this future fly fishing legend was the second baseman for a team of Montana farmers.

Staring at him from the pitcher’s mound was legendary pitcher, Satchel Paige. In the 1930s and 1940s, many of the Negro Leagues teams did a lot of barnstorming. They traveled through small towns all over the country and tried to schedule as many games as they could. It was a way to pick up a little money.

Satchel Paige was the star attraction wherever he went.

Crowds flocked to see him pitch. He had a larger-than-life personality to match his ability to throw a sweeping curve ball. Now peering at the fifteen-year old in the batter’s box, Satch wound up and threw a big roundhouse curve. The kid almost fell on his face trying to get out of the way of the pitch before it broke over the plate for a strike. But after toying with the kid, Satch game him a pitch to hit. That would play well with the home crowd. The kid hit a ground ball single. It was a moment he would never forget.

Reputation on the Rise

The kid’s name was Walen, and his reputation continued to rise.

His team kept winning against other teams in Montana and even against the barnstorming teams. One Sunday, two men showed up to see the team. Walen didn’t know it, but they were scouts from the Cincinnati Reds. Walen’s dad asked him to take them fishing the next day. By this time, Walen was as much a prodigy with a fly rod as he was with a baseball glove. These scouts were also fly fishermen, and they were more impressed with his fly fishing skills than his baseball playing. But two years later, just as World War II was starting, they came back and signed Walen to a contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

The Diverging Road

However, the war beckoned. When Walen returned from his military service, he had lost interest in baseball. He was a slick fielder, but he was a little gun-shy against the better pitchers. Walen ended up graduating from Montana State University and teaching high school science in a couple small Montana towns, Roundup and Deer Lodge.

One summer, a teacher-friend suggested that they supplement their teachers’ salaries by putting up a little car wash in West Yellowstone, Montana. They worked from dawn to dark and made good money. But then another opportunity presented itself. A local fly shop was on the market, and Walen scraped together the money to buy it.

The fly shop was more of a hobby at first. But when Walen retired from teaching at Bozeman Junior High School in 1970, the fly shop was primed to develop into a year-round business. And it did. The fly shop thrived, and so did Walen. He eventually sold the shop in 1982.

The Walen Legacy

A long-time advocate of catch-and-release, he spend countless hours on conservation efforts. He testified and lobbied frequently before state congressional committees in Helena. He even helped establish a fly fishing museum in West Yellowstone. It’s through the efforts of fly fishers like Walen that we have such tremendous fly fishing today. In an interview in July 2015, shortly before his ninetieth birthday, Walen said that he led the movement towards catch-and-release fishing because it simply made sense.

Yes, it did. And it still does.

It’s been years since Walen sold his fly shop in West Yellowstone. But if you drive through town, you can visit the shop which still bears his name. Keep in mind that nobody called him Walen. Since his birth, Walen Lilly Jr. has been affectionately known as Bud.

So look for Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop. And remember that Bud Lilly has had a lot to do with the good fishing you’re about to enjoy the next time you cast your fly upon the water.