It’s Good To Be The Hero…I Guess?

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By Louis Cahill

Everybody wants to catch the big fish.

The skiff glides over the flat calm water, running from the dark of night into the blue and pink Rorschach test of the coming dawn. Every few minutes Jessie Regestor, our guide, kills the throttle and makes a hard turn when a big push of water breaks the perfect symmetry ahead. The lagoon is full of life, including a good number of sleeping manatees, wakened by the whirring propeller.

This is my first trip to Mosquito Lagoon. I likely would not have taken the time to fish, the day before the IFTD show in Orlando, if my buddy Johnny had not invited me. There are few folks I enjoy sharing a boat with as much and with him running two successful fly shops, we don’t get to do it enough. I’m always excited to see new water and, of course, I’ve heard all of the stories about how educated the lagoon redfish are. I’m looking forward to a challenge.

I live near the coast, so I insist the guy from Colorado take the first shift on the bow. The sun is just creeping up so we pole an edge looking for pushes and tails. Johnny gets a couple of shots but they aren’t easy ones and he’s met with the response we’ve been told to expect. Refusal. He makes a few more perfect presentations without a hookup and puts me on the bow.

Not long after, Jessie spots a group of tailers directly in the glare of the morning sun. He takes his time and poles us into position where we have the sum from our left, where I have good visibility and can make a cast without my line making a shadow over the fish. This is the first time Jessie and I have fished together but I’m already a fan. That kind of strategic fishing gets results.

These fish are all big, but a couple of them are downright beasts. Their big tails waving like fans at country church in August. I make a couple of casts, which go ignored, before putting the fly right in front of one of the better fish. The fish sees it and turns on it. I strip short and quick as the fish moves but the line comes tight on something small. A ladyfish has cut him off and grabbed my fly. I horse the little guy out of the water and go for the hook but he’s swallowed it.

“Give him to me,” Johnny says, reaching for the fish with his left hand, pliers in his right.

The big fish is still happy, doing headstands about fifty feet off the bow. Johnny gets my fly back and I make another cast. Perfect presentation, except the lady fish had trashed my leader and the fly sailed away on the first false cast. I land an empty leader in front of the fish and let go with some colorful language.

“Give me your leader,” Johnny calls from behind me.

He pulls a fly out of my box and ties it on. I don’t even look at it. I’m watching the big tail, keeping track of the fish. When he hands me the fly I see what he’s chosen. It’s an experiment I tied after a couple of beers. Something I thought was genius at the vise and later viewed with scepticism. I’d never had enough confidence to fish it.

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Sunday Classic / What is more important, presentation or fly choice?

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A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have the honor to participate in a podcast interview for It was an hour long conversation over the phone, with me spending most of that time talking about trout tactics on my home waters. Just as we were wrapping up the interview, the host Roger Maves, hit me with the mother of all fly fishing questions…..

What’s more important Kent, presentation or fly pattern choice?

I pondered for a few moments, before I gave a him a reply to the question that covered my butt. If I remember correctly, it was something along the lines of, “well, you have to get the fly to the fish no matter what to have a chance at catching fish, but there are many times, when I’ve seen fly pattern choice the true deciding factor in whether you find success on the water.”

Since that podcast, I’ve been asked that same question by clients more times than I can remember. It’s kind of a joke to me at this point, and that’s because I feel the question is really a loaded question.

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Saturday Shoutout / Flip On Flies

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Watch the video!

You could get your advice on fly selection from worse guys than Flip Pallot.

I’ve long thought that there are two types of fly tyers, the Engineer and the Artist. I don’t make a qualitative distinction between the two. I simply recognize that each comes at it from a different perspective. The Engineer ties beautifully consistent versions of proven patterns, while the Artist is moved by emotion and curiosity, seldom tying the same fly twice.

I am definitely the Artist and I’m not always especially proud of it. I often envy my friends who knock out deadly patterns by the dozens, but theres no fighting it. I am what I am. It did make me extremely happy to learn that Flip is right there in the boat with me.

It’s pretty cool to hear a guy of Flip’s status admit that he’s sometimes just making it up as he goes. I think really good anglers do more of that than they are comfortable admitting. Flip has done us a favor. If it’s good enough for him, you can get away with it too.


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The Patagonia Trout McNugget

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By Louis Cahill

Think trout flies should be small? Think again!

Ok this is admittedly a bunch of silliness, but where else are you going to see a trout eat a chicken nugget? Yep, an actual chicken nugget. I don’t know if this compromises our journalistic integrity or angling ethics but it’s funny as hell.

Justin and I were down in Argentina and there were some pet trout in the spring creek by the place we were staying. No one fished for these bruisers, it was just fun to watch 30 inch trout hanging out by the deck. When we found out they stayed by the deck because the staff fed then table scraps, well, we couldn’t help ourselves.

The fishing in Argentine Patagonia is truly amazing. Why not join me there this February and see for yourself. Click here for details.

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The Double Herl Scud

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Watch the video!

By Bob Reece

While complexity is sometimes beneficial, simplicity is often appreciated.

The double herl scud embraces the concept of ease, while producing consistently effective underwater results. It’s basic list of ingredients allow for size and color adjustments needed to match the naturals in the waters that you fish.

Scuds are prevalent in many still and moving fisheries. This is especially true in alkaline or limestone influences waters. The importance of these small crustaceans can range from a minor percentage of a trout’s diet to almost exclusive dominance of the menu. Their sizes range drastically from water to water, most commonly falling between sizes eighteen to twelve. Some waters are host to larger specimens reaching up to size eight. For the waters that you fish it can be very beneficial to collects samples. This will allow you to either tie or buy imitations that match the most common size and color range.

The light weight of this particular imitation makes it an ideal offering when fished on an intermediate sinking line with a sink rate of a couple inches per second. With this technique, the double herl scud can be presented throughout a wide depth range when pursuing still water trout. On moving water I trail this fly behind a more heavily weighted pattern in an effort to quickly reach the desired depth.

Tying time is a valuable commodity. Its worth to many fly fishers is matched only by the effectiveness of a pattern. The double herl scud balances these two elements by saving the tier time and effectively producing for the fly fisher on the water.

Watch the video and learn to tie the Double Herl Scud.

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The Woolly Bugger Isn’t all that, Or is it?

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This isn’t Montana, Your Not Norman Maclean, and the Woolly Bugger isn’t all that.
This was a bumper sticker a guide buddy of mine had printed up a few years back. It was prominently displayed for his clients to read when they pulled up to greet him. That’s one hell of an ice breaker for checking fishing egos at the boat ramp, let me tell you. I give my boy J.E.B. Hall props for his comedic humor and gutsy style. For those of you who don’t know J.E.B., he’s a veteran Western North Carolina guide, Author of Southern Appalachian Fly Guide, and has spent multiple seasons guiding at Alaska West. Meet him one time and you’ll say to yourself, “this guy is the Johnny Knoxville of fishing”.

Most anglers fall into one of two categories when it comes to their perception of woolly buggers. They either love them or despise them. I love the fly pattern for two reasons. First, for its impressionistic design that’s capable of mimicking many different trout foods, and second, for its versatility in how the pattern can be fished. It’s rare for me to not break out a woolly bugger at some point during the day. When trout aren’t biting, I almost always can find fish willing to snack on them. The only time I keep woolly buggers out of the game and sitting on the bench, is when I’m fishing water where dry flies are the only thing required.

I believe in the woolly bugger so much, If I only had one pattern that I could take with me fishing, that would be it. Why the woolly bugger, you ask?

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So I tried to go fishing today….Twice

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I had it all planned out. Kayak loaded. Gear prepped. Rods rigged. Alarm set.

The next morning was free of obligations, so, naturally, I planned to do some local fishing. I had debated between a couple of local pieces of water. The early morning topwater bite had been great, and the afternoon carp fishing had been even better on a local reservoir that I frequent, with the second option being a local creek, filled with chubby, educated shoal bass. With a tropical storm tracking its way up from the gulf, it would likely be the last time I got to hit the water before the rivers and streams blew out for several days.

Hitting the snooze is a habit of mine. I’m often punched a couple times and threatened with further bodily harm before dragging my groggy ass out of bed, and this morning was no different despite the usual excitement I feel about hitting the water. But after getting vertical, and the first sips of coffee, I’m ready to throw on some clothes and hit the door.

On the water by six o’ clock was the plan, taking advantage of as much daylight as possible. The drive to the put in at the reservoir is quick. Maybe seven minutes. Barely enough time to squeeze in a couple Chris Stapleton songs. I turn down the main drag and, immediately, I can see that there is something unusual in the middle of the road. That gate to the park and put-in is closed and locked. Technically the park isn’t supposed to open until 8am, however the folks that open the gate usually have it open well before first light, but today this isn’t the case. Not wanting to wait and hope that someone shows up to open the gate, I decide to drive back to the house, drop the kayak, grab my wading boots, and head for my “plan B”; the local creek filled with chubby, educated shoal bass.

A little further down the road, I found myself in the parking lot, ready to fish by 6:45am, and, after a little hike down the trail, I was fishing by 7:00am. Not planned, but that’s how it goes sometimes. The first nice pool is full of sunfish and bluegills, with some nice shoalies lurking amongst the rocks and timber. After several casts with no luck, I decided to move up to the next nice run/pool to try my luck there. This process would repeat itself a couple of times, until I made the decision to move well upstream to try my luck in some less-molested water. As I made my way up the rock outcropping, I decided to check out a run that always looks great, but is one of those pieces of water that just doesn’t hold many fish. Curiosity got the better of me though, and I stepped down the rock face to make a couple of casts. After all, today could be the day that I pull a personal best out of that run.

Settling my feet on a large boulder, I made my first cast into the run. It wasn’t the result I was after,

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Two Great New Fly Rods From The Folks At RL Winston

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2018 is going to be another big year for new fly rods and Winston is stepping up with two new offerings, the Kairos and Nimbus.

These two rods are a unique offering for Winston in a couple of ways. They are intended to introduce new anglers to the Winston brand, without landing them in the poor house. Winston sees these rods as mid-priced without compromise, and from what I’ve seen I agree. In my case they are kind of preaching to the choir. I’ve been a fan of Winston rods for a long time. I’m still pretty excited about these new sticks and as eager to get them out on the water as any rod I own.

There are a couple of things which are different about the Nimbus and Kairos. Both rods are full graphite rods containing no Boron. This helps reduce both cost and weight. Both rods are made at home in Twin Bridges, Montana, by the same hands as the Air, B3X, B3 Plus and LS. They have aluminum hardware, rather than nickel silver, again saving cost and weight but neither rod compromises on quality or craftsmanship in any way.

The Kairos is quite different for a Winston. It is a very fast action rod. Very light with a blistering recovery rate and power to spare. I have the 6-weight and have been using it for streamer fishing. I generally use a 7-weight for streamers but this 6 has plenty of backbone for the job. The lighter rod makes for less fatigue at the end of the day.

The Kairos is a slick natural gray with a durable, gloss clear coat for protection. It has black aluminum hardware and beautiful cork. It is powerful, but eminently castable. After all, Winston is all about feel. The Kairos is available in freshwater and saltwater weights from 3-10 and 6- and 7-weight spey. Single hand models come in at $475 and Spey at $575.

The Nimbus is a more nuanced fly rod. A fast action with a more traditional Winston feel. It is a precise casting tool, deadly accurate and easy to load but with plenty of power for the long cast. The rod reminds me of

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Sunday Classic / Caring for Bamboo Fly Rods

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I’ve had several folks request some content on making simple repairs to bamboo fly rods. I fully intend to to that for you, but it means that I have to find the time to get in the shop. That seems unreasonably difficult these days. Before I get into doing repairs, I thought it would be prudent to write about caring for that bamboo rod and maybe avoid some repairs all together.
Bamboo is not as finicky as most people think. In fact it’s remarkably tough but there are some basic rules for handling and storing rods that will add to their longevity significantly. Unfortunately, too many guys end up with a nice bamboo rod before they know how to care for it and learn the hard way.

Most guys start out with graphite rods and assume that you treat a bamboo rod the same way. It’s a fly rod, right? Yes, but the materials are very different and some very common practices that are fine with a graphite rod will do serious harm to the boo.

General Care
I’ll start with the simplest and most common thing boo nubes do to their rods.

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Saturday Shoutout / Rushing Waters

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Watch the video!

Take a few minutes to fish the Cascades with Todd Moen and Brian OKeefe.

The boys from Catch Magazine are hard at work in the Pacific Northwest. Todd Moen’s films are always like a mini vacation. Rushing waters is no exception. There’s beautiful footage, secluded locations and colorful cutthroat trout. If this doesn’t make you want to fish the Cascades, you should see a doctor.


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