S4:E28 One Fine Day on the East Gallatin River

fly fishing

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

LISTEN NOW TO ONE FINE DAY ON THE EAST GALLATIN RIVER

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

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

More Episodes in Our “One Fine Day …” Series

One Fine Day on Quake Lake

One Fine Day on Nelson’s Spring Creek

One Fine Day on the Madison at Bear Trap Canyon

One Fine Day on the Bear Trap

One Fine Day in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

One Fine Day on the Madison at Baker’s Hole

One Fine Fall Day in Yellowstone National Park

One Fine Morning on the Little Jordan

One Fine Evening on Wisel Creek

One Fine Day on the Blue River

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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!

S3:E52 When Your Honey Hole Disappears

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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.

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!

S3:E37 When Life Gets in the Way of Fishing

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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.

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!

Fly Fishing Murky Water

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.

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:E29 2017 Fly Fishing Reflections

fly fishing

Fly fishing reflections are a good way to begin planning for the new year. In this episode, we look back on 2017 and discuss its lowlights and highlights. We both want to fish more days in 2018, improve a couple areas of our fly fishing craft, and, hopefully, catch more fish. Life really is short. Catch more fish.

Listen now to “2017 Fly Fishing Reflections”

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 were some of your highlights in 2017? What are some of your aspirations for 2018? We look forward to hearing your comments!

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!

A Fly Fisher’s Christmas Wish

fly fishers christmas wish

I’ve never fly fished on Christmas Day. I’ve fished on Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, but never on Christmas.

Yet I remember a year a couple decades ago when all I wanted for Christmas was to go fly fishing. I had a fly fisher’s Christmas wish:

    ‘Twas the week before Christmas, when there in my house
    I looked out on the valley, and I started to grouse.
    The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
    But it’s my stocking foot waders I wanted to wear

Our house overlooked the north floor of Montana’s Gallatin Valley. From our picture window I could it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. A dozen or more houses glowed with Christmas lights. An inch of snow covered the valley floor with a white blanket. Inside our house, the tree was decorated, and the sound of Karen Carpenter singing “I’ll be home for Christmas” filled our living room.

Christmas was seven days away.

But I was desperate to go fly fishing. It had been two months since I last flung a fly on the water. Just then an idea began to form in my mind. I knew that tomorrow was going to be in the high thirties, and I figured out a way to take off work in the early afternoon.

    So away from the window I flew like a flash,
    tore open my duffel bag where my fly gear was stashed.
    Before long I was nestled all snug in my bed,
    While visions of rainbow trout danced in my head.

The next afternoon, I left work early at two o’clock and headed for the Madison River. I arrived at the mouth of the Bear Trap Canyon an hour later. My plan was to park at the Warm Springs fishing access and walk up about three-quarters of a mile to the rock garden where some decent sized trout always seemed to lurk. But my heart sank when I pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine.

    I had just parked my truck when there arose such a clatter,
    I opened my door to see what was the matter.
    It roared like a freight train, that miserable wind.
    I knew that my chances to catch trout were quite thin.

No wonder the parking lot was empty.

I had no desire to hike three quarters of a mile in gale force wind. But it occurred to me the bend in the river that wrapped around the far corner of the parking lot. I was in no mood to be true to my mantra: “Always walk at least a mile before you start fishing.” Besides no one in their right mind would have fished this elbow during the last few days of blustery weather.

    More rapid than eagles the snowflakes they came,
    so I shouted at the wind and called it a name.
    Then I tied on a prince nymph and went straight to my work,
    while hoping a rainbow might give it a jerk.

For the next few minutes, I got into a consistent rhythm: cast, shiver, mend, shiver, retrieve, shiver, complain, shiver. And then it happened.

    The wind just kept whipping that new falling snow,
    I was about to stop casting, about ready to go,
    When what to my watering eyes should disappear,
    but my miniature strike indicator, and this caused me to cheer.

For the next couple minutes, I felt the old familiar tug of a fish on the end of the line. It turned out to be a 14-inch rainbow which looked surprisingly plump for the time of year. I wouldn’t call that catch a Christmas miracle. But it made my day.

After I released it the fish, I realized that my shivering had increased. It was cold, and the sun had slipped below the mountain. So I began the long walk back to my truck—all fifteen steps. Later that night, I stood at our picture window and looked out over the moonlit Valley. Beyond the houses dotted with Christmas lights, I could faintly see the gap in the distant hills where the Madison River emerged from the Bear Trap Canyon. I was thankful for the light and warmth of home.

But I was also thankful for those fifteen minutes on the river that lifted my spirits.

    There I stood by the window and looked into the night,
    and thought about the trout that put up such a fight.
    And so I exclaimed as I turned off the lights,
    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Fly Casting Against the Wind

fly casting against the wind

A friend recently went through his late grandfather’s personal papers and stumbled upon the notes to a speech. My friend laughed when he saw a particular note his grandfather had written at the top of a page. The note read: “Weak argument, yell louder.”

Unfortunately, I’m tempted to adopt a similar approach when I’m fly casting against the wind. My inclination is to cast harder. But casting harder against the wind resembles yelling louder when the argument you’re trying to make is weak. It is highly ineffective.

Here are seven tips when fly casting against the wind. Some are obvious, some not so much. All of them can make a big difference.

1. Use 6-weight line

The current favorite for an all-around fly rod is a 9 foot, 5-weight.

But after years of fishing in the wind on Montana’s Madison and Yellowstone Rivers, I’m sold on a 6-weight rod for windy conditions. The added power of a 6-weight does help you cut through the wind. If you can’t afford another fly rod, at least get another spool with 6-weight line. It will work fine with your 9 foot, 5-weight rod.

By the way, you might want to shorten your leaders from 9 feet to 7.5 feet. A shorter leader is easier to control in windy conditions.

2. Cast between gusts of wind

Alright, this is one of those rather obvious tips. But it works when fly casting against the wind.

One of the windiest days I ever fly fished was during the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch on the Yellowstone River south of Livingston, Montana. I had to stop for a while and close my eyes to keep them from filling with dust. But I discovered that if I waited, I would get 5 or 10 second windows to cast. I had to be quick, but the window was sufficient to get my fly on the water.

I caught a lot of trout that day.

3. Use your wrist, not your whole body

Again, the temptation is to work harder when you cast in windy conditions—to put your whole body into it. If swinging your arms and swaying your entire body is your approach, stop it. The wrist flick is where the power is. That’s what makes your rod work for you. If you try to get your entire body into the cast, you actually diminish the performance of your fly rod.

The wrist flick — back and forward — makes the rod do what it is designed to do.

4. Learn the double haul

One of the best ways to cut through the wind is to use the “double haul.” This technique increases line speed by delivering velocity to your fly line. Joan Wulff says: “The rod is loaded more deeply, and that transfers to greater energy in your line.”

Basically, you use your “line hand” (your left hand if you’re casting with your right hand) to haul or pull back the line on both your forward and backward stroke. It’s much easier to see than to describe.

So here is a helpful video by Orvis: The Double Haul

Joan Wulff teaches the double haul here: Joan on the Double Haul

5. Lower your cast

The idea is to keep your line low — perhaps under the wind. There are two ways you can do this.

First, use a sidearm cast. You can still double haul while casting sidearm. A second way to lower your cast is to crouch or kneel. I can’t remember how many times I crouched while standing knee deep in Montana’s Madison River on windy days in March and April.

6. Shorten your casts

This may seem obvious, but you may need to remind yourself to keep your casts shorter. The less line you have in the air, the less problem you’ll have with the wind. You can live with a shorter cast if you can extend your drift as much as possible. So keep feeding line until your fly drifts through the feeding zone.

7. Don’t cast against the wind

That’s right. If at all possible, figure out how to get the wind at your side or, preferably, at your back. This might mean fishing the opposite bank or casting downstream instead of upstream.

If you practice these techniques when fly casting against the wind, the day won’t make you quite so angry. You may not even mutter or yell inappropriate words. Instead, you’ll happily hum Bob Seger’s old tune, “Against the Wind” as you make one effective cast after another.

Setting the Hook for Nymph Fishing

What is the best way to set the hook when fly fishing nymphs? I have been an advocate of the “side pull” approach. A Montana fly fishing guide first suggested it to me. He pointed out that lifting my fly rod — pulling it straight up — could yank the nymph out of the trout’s mouth. Better to do a “side pull” in the direction of the current.

Since trout are facing the current, pulling the rod to the side in a downstream direction take the nymph into the trout’s mouth. He was right. Some of the time.

Surface Tension

The “side pull” approach makes perfect sense. But it has one big problem: surface tension.

Suppose you get a nice long drift so that your strike indicator bobs when it is twenty feet downstream. Try yanking your rod to the downstream side. Since your fly line will be floating on the surface, pulling it to the side requires it to fight through surface tension. If you’ve ever tried running through three feet of water, you can appreciate what your fly line faces as it skims through the surface or even the film.

There is too much resistance for a quick, effective hook set.

The Quick Lift

The solution is to go with “the quick lift.” Simply lift your rod tip. That is, go with your instincts and pull up on your rod.

When you do this, it’s remarkable how quickly the rod will lift your line off of the surface of the water. Try this sometime when you don’t have a fish trying to ingest your nymph, and you will be amazed at what you see. As soon as your fly line lifts off of the water and the surface tension is gone, your strike indicator will lurch towards you. That gives you an indication what happens when a trout has taken your fly.

You will get a solid hook-set.

I suppose you still might run the risk of pulling the fly out of the trout’s mouth. But the “side pull” method is so slow that your hook set will probably be useless. If the trout has hooked itself, you’re fine. But if not, it can spit out the fly before the gets pulled into the side of the trout’s mouth. Even then, the hook set will lack in force because of the resistance you’re facing from the surface tension. Alright, enough with the physics lesson.

I think you get the idea.

Madison River Monsters

My pod-cast partner, Dave, and I used the “quick lift” technique effectively on a day we recently spent on the Madison River right outside Yellowstone National Park. We were fishing for the big “runners” which come out of Hebgen Lake for fall spawning. Without exception, every trout we hooked was 15-25 feet below us. Rather than fighting the surface tension with a “side pull,” we used a quick lift. I do not have lightning-quick reflexes at age 55, but most strikes resulted in hooking fish.

The Exception for Setting the Hook

There is a situation when I still use the “side pull” approach when fly fishing nymphs. It works under two conditions:

First, the strike has to take place above me (upstream) or right in front of me.

Second, the run I’m fishing has to be less than twelve feet in front of me. This enables me to keep little or no line on the surface as long as I keep my rod tip high. Without any resistance, a pull to the side in a downstream direction works quite well.

Once your indicator gets past you, though, forget the sideways pull when you get a strike. It’s too awkward, and there will be too much drag. Instead, go for the quick lift.

You’ll be pleased with the results.

The Legacy of My Fly Fishing Mentors

fly fishing mentors

It takes a village to raise a fly fisher. In my case, it was a village of fourteen fly fishing mentors who showed up in my life over the years and helped me learn the craft of fly fishing.

I’d love to pay tribute to them by naming them. But I’m not going to do so for two reasons: First, the list would resemble the credits at the end of a movie. Nobody cares about them except the producer and those involved in the production.

Second, I am still a mediocre fly fisher on my best days. So I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone by citing them as one of my fly fishing mentors.

Perhaps I can pay tribute by listing a few characteristics that they all had in common. These characteristics can help you identify a mentor if you are new to the sport. Or, they can help you be more effective when you get the opportunity to mentor a younger fly fisher.

1. Patience

This is the number one characteristic by far.

My mentors did not sigh or curse (at least not audibly) when I slapped my line against the water, when I was slow to set the hook on a strike, or when my backcast hooked a branch. I may have even hooked one or two of my mentors. They simply went over their instructions again and again.

Bob never raised his voice when he kept telling me to mend my line, and Kevin didn’t roll his eyes when I tried to threat my tippet through my fly rod guides when we were getting ready to fish the Gallatin River.

2. The ability to simplify

Fly fishing is a complex sport. It can bewilder beginners. But good mentors break down complex concepts into simple explanations. One mentor encouraged me to stick with a few simple patterns while I learned to fly fish—the Woolly Bugger, Prince Nymph, Parachute Adams, and Elk Hair Caddis. Another boiled down my first lesson in casting to: (1) flick your wrist when you cast and (2) keep your eyes on the target. Still another taught me that the foam line in the current is the feed line. The simple explanations formed a knowledge base on which I’ve been building for more than three decades.

3. Creativity

Good mentors are also creative.

None of my mentors had me cast to the rhythm of a metronome like Norman Maclean’s father did in A River Runs Through It. But Gary Borger taught me to tie a couple important knots by using a small piece of rope rather than a tiny 6x tippet. He also taught me to pick up my line off of the surface by drawing the letter “C” with my rod tip.

Good mentors traffic in word pictures and analogies. They find vivid ways to show and tell.

4. Unselfishness

I’ve had some faux-mentors who simply left me on my own while they raced ahead to their favorite spots.

Real mentors, however, sacrifice the time they could be fishing and share the prime spots they could be fishing. They act more like guides whose mission it is to set up their clients for success.

I remember my mentor and friend, Bob, taking me to fish for fall browns on the Madison in Yellowstone National Park. He brought his rod along, but he didn’t make one cast that day. He simply devoted his time to helping me read water, cast, and (of course) mend my line. It’s rewarding to teach others to fly fish. But you have to be prepared to give up some rod time and even some of the hot spots you love to fish.

5. Humility

These mentors are some of the best fly fishers on the planet. But none of them felt the need to inform me about this. I had to coax out of them the stories about their fly fishing heroics The best mentors do not have egos the size of a jumbo jet. They do not need to tell you how great they are.

I’m convinced that humility is what enables patience and unselfishness.

Okay, maybe I will let the credits roll. I owe my fly fishing skills to the mentoring of Gerald, Duane, Doug, Kevin, Jerry, John, Murray, Bob, Toby, Harry, Dave, Gary, Leon, and Ben.

Thanks, fellas.

I’m fishing in and around Yellowstone National Park this week, and I’m a better fly fisher for all the ways you invested in my development. I wish you were all here. I still need all the help I can get.

S3:E16 Dry Fly Fishing Lessons from the Summer

fly fishing

Dry fly fishing lessons are best learned by doing – not by reading or in a classroom. This summer, we had some great days on the river catching brookies and browns on dry flies. We also learned a few things. Click now to hear some of the lessons we had to relearn as we fished on the surface.

Listen now to “Dry Fly Fishing Lessons from 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 lessons have you learned this past summer? Please post your comments below?

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.

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.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

For this episode, we are the Sponsor!

We’ve published a book called, The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

We like to say it is a book of bite-sized snacks. Maybe even 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!

Visit Amazon to get your copy today!