The Demon Midge

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Complex patterns are sometimes needed for success on the water. At other times, ingenious simplicity wins the day. The latter is true for one of Matt McCannel’s most recent creations, the Demon Midge.

Matt’s motivation for the Demon Midge was to create a more effective point fly used in tandem rigs. He added a slight amount of flash to ensure that it would not spook heavily pressured tail water fish. The use of the red Daiichi 1273 adds to this element by blending with the pattern instead of displaying the bronze flash of a traditional hook. These elements combined with a highly accurate profile result in the perfect fish catching tool.

The outward appearance of this pattern does not honestly depict the true nature of its core. Veevus Body Quill in Fuschia is used to create the abdomen. The base color of the red hook and over coat of epoxy combine to create a glowing red appearance.

Highly knowledgeable people create highly effective fly patterns. This holds true for the Demon MIdge. The on-the-water performance of both the creator and the pattern warrant a place in your 2018 midge box.

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Realistic Flies Are Worthless Without Movement

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Worthless may be a little overboard, but there is some truth behind it. Every year new fly tying products burst onto the scene that are specifically designed for making our fly patterns look extra realistic. I’ll be the first to admit many of them are amazingly cool and innovative. I mean, who wouldn’t want black eyes on their tungsten beads, or a perfect set of pre-molded wing pads or stonefly legs you can plop on a hook to make your nymphs look ultra life-like, right? Seeing these new innovative materials for the first time always gets me giddy, like a fat guy spotting a 5 for 5 deal at Arby’s. But here’s the real question I think we should be asking ourselves. When it comes to purchasing and tying our fly patterns, should we only be focused on how realistic they look? I say hell no, but you’d be surprised how many fly fishermen out there believe “a realistic look” trumps all other attributes in a fly. Ask a fly shop owner why they carry them if they don’t catch fish, and they’ll quickly tell you, because they sell like hot cakes, that’s why. I think a fly being realistic is great, but there needs to be more working elements in a pattern than just a flashy realistic look. I’ve personally found, that a lot of the time the more realistic you go with fly patterns, the more unrealistic they end up moving and looking in the water. And if they don’t look good in the water, chances are, they’re probably going to be worthless for catching fish. For me, the key to tying and picking out successful fly patterns from the bins over the years has been to always make sure a pattern incorporates equal parts of realistic features and … Continue reading

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Blow Up Bobbers

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By Justin Pickett

Not too long ago I received a phone call from a good friend of mine asking if I could help with a guide trip for a handful of folks who were on the books. It was a group of five anglers, and the second guide that he had booked fell ill and had to back out. I didn’t have anything on my plate the next day so I gladly agreed to pick up another day on the water.

It had rained overnight, which in my eyes is a good thing so long as it isn’t one of those earth-carving downpours that blows rivers out to the point “ain’t no way in hell I’m going near that water.” The right amount of rain will stain the water and raise the flows just enough to get trout feeling frisky, causing them to lose their inhibitions and feed with abandon. For me, the conditions I just described make my stripping hand itch. I reach for the heftier sticks, sinking lines, beefy tippet, and beefier flies. Sex Dungeons and Boogie Men come to mind when I think of days like these. However, when you find yourself on the water with a client, things have to change. You have to play to their strengths, and, on this day, the best plan was to nymph. With the day’s conditions, we would be afforded the ability to have our clients throw larger indicators that would float big, gaudy flies without spooking an entire run.

Prepared for a successful day, my fellow guide, Noland, and I discussed the plans for the day and basically split the water in half so we didn’t beat all of the water to death. Fishing was good and soon came lunch. On our way back to the trucks we encountered Noland with his group of anglers and stopped to take a gander and engage in some small talk. As I’m talking with Noland, I noticed something funky about his client’s rig. Something just seemed off about it as he picked it up off the water and began his next cast. As this gentleman’s flies and indicator hit the water it became a little more obvious as to why I had this impression.

“What the heck kind of indicator is that?, I asked as I turned back towards Noland.

With a smirk on his face, Noland replied with, “it’s a balloon.”

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The Orvis Helios 3 F and D

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Which Helios 3 fly rod is right for the saltwater angler?

I have spent the last two weeks fly fishing for bonefish in the Bahamas. As you would expect, there were some beautiful days and some real howlers. In my rod quiver for the trip were two Helios 3 eight weights, the F and the D. It was the perfect opportunity to test each of these rods for their strengths and their weaknesses.

So what’s up with the F and D?

With the introduction of the Helios 3, Orvis dropped their description of fly rods as “tip flex” and “mid flex,” opting for the distinctions of D for distance and F for feel. The idea, I believe, was to give the consumer some idea what these rod actions might be used for rather than expecting them to understand the technical aspects of rod flex. I don’t know that “distance” and “feel” tell the whole story but the idea may be more approachable for some anglers.

Is the H3 really that accurate?

You’ve likely seen the ads claiming that the Helios 3 is the most accurate fly rod ever made. That’s quite a claim and one which is certainly difficult to either prove or disprove. It would be easy to dismiss as pure marketing but I do believe there is more to it.

Orvis is actually very good with their science. Even before Sean Combs, who brings with him a serious technical background, joined the company Orvis was very diligent with their collection and use of data. I have seen the testing they performed on the H3 and it is impressive.

The fundamental idea behind the claim of accuracy is that the new H3 tracks true during the casting stroke. That is to say that there is very little side-to-side movement of the rod blank and it loads and unloads. It is factual that a rod which tracks truer is capable of making a more accurate cast. That’s the science and, in that regard, the H3 is everything Orvis claims.

Having a rod that is capable of extreme accuracy and making extremely accurate casts are two very different things. There are casters who will see the difference in their casting accuracy and a great many who will not. The rod is a tool and performs no better than its user. It would be ridiculous to believe that, as a caster, you can buy accuracy.

Orvis did put a lot of work and science into making a fly rod which is capable of delivering a very precise cast. I can’t help but believe that they did this because it’s something their competition doesn’t do very well. You might be surprised to see the tracking data from some very popular and expensive rods. So, Orvis is clearly attacking their competition where they are weakest. That, I suppose, is the marketing so make of it what you will.

How true a fly rod tracks either matters to you or it doesn’t, but in my opinion it’s not the most compelling thing about the Helios 3. The H3 is easily one of the best casting rods on the market and what is of particular interest to me are the characteristics of the the F and D individually and as a set.

The Helios 3D

The 3D is a thunderstick. You might expect this from it’s distinction as a “distance” rod. It is a stiff, powerful beast with a blindingly fast recovery. Distance?

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Sunday Classic / Is That Fly a Nymph? A Look At Insect Life Cycles

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A fair question from a guy who’s only fly fished for redfish and isn’t familiar with trout flies. A simple question with a very complicated answer. Complicated enough that I figured it deserved an explanation, and why not share it.

The fly in question was a midge pattern, so technically not a nymph.

The word “nymph” however, like so many words, shares two meanings. The literal (denotative) meaning is a juvenile mayfly or stonefly in the subsurface phase of its life cycle. The word is also used to refer to flies that imitate these insects. Since a midge starts its life as a larva rather than a nymph, the flies that imitate them are not technically nymphs.

The word nymph also has a conversational (connotative) meaning. It is often used to refer to flies that are dead drifted below the surface. A San Juan Worm or an egg pattern is often referred to as a nymph because of the way they are fished. Some folks will use the term “wet fly” for any fly fished below the surface but this is not correct either. Wet flies are a specific style of fly intended to be fished in a different manner. So describing the midge fly as a nymph, while inaccurate, is not necessarily wrong. It can be fished as a nymph, connotatively.

I’m not generally one to engage in exercises of semantics but I believe there is more at stake here than clarity of the word. I know that when I first became aware of midge patterns many years ago, I was reluctant to fish them because

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Saturday Shoutout / G&G Tyers

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Looking for more great tying content? Well, here it is.

If you are a regular reader of G&G, then you are familiar with Bob Reece and Herman deGala. These guys are wizards at the vise and I am very proud that they are part of the G&G family. I know from your comments and emails that you enjoy the great content they share here on the site.

Did you know that they each have great sites of their own? If you are digging what you see here on G&G, check out the great content these guys put out on their own. If you’re like me, you can’t get enough great tying videos.


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Build Your Own Fly Rod: DIY Video 3

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Things are heating up in our DIY fly rod build.

Matt Draft is back for the third video in our seven part series on building your own fly rod. In this video you’ll learn about tip tops, how to spline a rod blank, wrap your guides and get everything aligned. Our rod is starting to look like something by the end of this video!

Check out Matt’s site, Proof Fly Fishing. As a special thank you to G&G readers, Matt will be offering free shipping on all of his kits for the next seven weeks. Just use the code G&Gfreeship on his web site.


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One Of My Favorite Fly-Fishing Photos

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By Louis Cahill

Some photos remain special over the years.

There is some truth to the idea that doing anything for a living makes you a little numb to the result. I have a good friend who is an incredible guitar player but he would never play for money. He said he loved it too much. I get that.

Over the years I have taken more photos than I can count. Literally millions of exposures, many of them on film, lost forever to time. There are probably a couple of hundred which are special to me. Some because they are great photos, others because they have memories attached to them and a few that are special for both those reasons and because of what they represent.

This is one of those images and it has remained special to me for many years. In part because it reminds me of a great day. In part because i like the image, but mostly because of what it represents.

The image is of John Gierach, landing a brown trout with a bamboo rod, on the Saint Vrain. If there is a more classic image of fly fishing, I don’t know what it is. It’s also the image that marked

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Tipping Good & Bad Fly Fishing Guides Accordingly

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I get many clients that tip above and beyond what’s expected of them. Other times, I’m literally crawling back to my truck with every ounce of energy zapped from instructing and putting my clients on fish, and at the end of the day I’m blessed with a cold empty handshake. Sometimes, there seems to be no reasoning at all with gratuity, most clients seem to get it, but no matter what, there’s always going to be those few that feel gratuity isn’t necessary or are uneducated that it’s customary. All I truly care about is that gratuity is determined and provided to the guide based on customer service and professionalism, and that with any service-oriented job, regardless of the industry, gratuity should be on the radar.

A few weeks ago, one of our loyal Gink & Gasoline followers sent us an email that voiced a few concerns about a fly fishing guide they hired on a recent float trip. Apparently, at the end of the day the follower and his partner were in disagreement about the amount of guide gratuity they should leave. Below is the email and question that was sent to us:

“I would like to get your thoughts on tipping guides. I just came back from a trip to Montana and mentioning no names, I spent a week with a very well-known guide. The trip went well and we caught a lot of fish but his equipment sucked. His Driftboat was a small skiff that he did not want you standing up in to cast, and his Skadden style raft frames front seat came off three times, almost pitching my buddy into the river. Any thoughts on amounts or percentages for tipping would be greatly appreciated.”

My Reply:
Here’s my opinion on what you told me, but keep in mind I was not there and did not see the water conditions or his boat equipment.

I’d say your guide passed with flying colors on putting you on fish and that should be a big positive. Depending on

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5 Reasons People Don’t Catch As Many Trout As They Should

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By Kyle Wilkenson

These 5 bad habits will keep you from catching the fish you deserve.

Whether I’m guiding or working in the shop, one thing rings true– I talk to a lot of anglers. Living in Denver, a lot of these anglers have made it past the ‘beginner’ stage but still aren’t catching as many fish as they’d like, or with the consistency they’d like. It is not enough in fly-fishing to simply get comfortable with your clinch knot and roll cast and expect the numbers of fish you’re catching to increase dramatically. I guide a lot of our customers who fall into this category– let’s call it ‘intermediate– and over the years it seems we always end up working on the same 5 things.


1. They Cast First and Look Second. I started with this reason because, in my opinion, it is the one thing people have the most trouble wrapping their head around. In reality, the correct order would be Look First. Cast Second. This is particularly true if you fish anywhere that presents itself with sight fishing opportunities. Whenever you approach the river, take a minute (or sometimes literally several minutes) and study the water. You’ll be amazed how many times there will be fish right at your feet, ready to eat your fly. More often than not though, people walk right up to the river and charge on in without ever breaking stride. By doing this, not only did you likely just walk through fish that could have been caught, but you also just sent them darting for the depths in a panic which can put other fish in the area on alert. Spotting fish in the water is not an ‘easy’ skill and is not something you learn to do in one day. Sure, we guides may make it look easy some days to spot fish wherever we walk, but I promise you this skill was hard-earned. Start making it a point to study the water looking for fish and once you have those first few successes, you’ll never look at the river the same way again.

2. They Don’t watch the bubbles. If you’ve never paid attention before to the speed of the bubbles on the surface versus to the speed your indicator,,when nymphing, it’s time to start. Simply put, the indicator NEEDS to be floating slower than the bubbles on the surface and here’s why. When it comes to nymphing, most of the time the fish you’re targeting are going to be sitting very tight to the bottom. The water on the bottom of the river is moving slower than the water on the surface. If your indicator is floating the same speed as the bubbles on the surface then this means your flies are whizzing by the trout at an unnatural rate of speed, if they’re even getting down into the zone at all (which they’re likely not). This problem can easily be fixed by

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