Haunted Dreams

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She was surely the largest bass I would have caught on a fly, I thought to myself as I studied her every move.

Taking notes of her general attitude and behavior towards the other fish around her. I stumbled upon her while walking the banks of a public pond near my house and quickly retreated up the nearby knoll. I frequent here often, and this place is known for producing some hefty Largemouth Bass. Spring is in full effect and the spawn is in full swing. Buck bass hover over the beds dotted along the shallows, and, with the angling pressure seen here, the females hold well off the bed and out of sight for the most part. For this reason, I’m surprised to find this big gal so close to the bank, sitting in barely enough water to cover her folded dorsal. Her bed is tucked in a corner surround by lilies and submerged timber. It’s where you would expect to see a bed. Her male companion is constantly chasing off bluegills and anything else that might come within a couple feet of him and his unhatched brood. Meanwhile, big girl sits calmly, about six feet away, tucked underneath some of the lilies, but in plain view of anyone with a sharp eye and some polarized shades.

Leaning against a big pine, I contemplate my approach as I watch her glide back and forth, unbothered by the happenings around her. It’s an ideal situation. She’s not overly stimulated and the overcast conditions provide me with a little more cover while also voiding any chances of casting shadows. The surrounding lily pads also give a great angle of approach, allowing me to creep in behind her to decrease my chances of being seen even more. The next task is picking out the fly to tie on. I’m likely to only get one shot at this fish. One shot. One fly. So what’s it going to be?

I wanted a pattern that was going to aggravate her and provoke a strike, but without being so irritating that she would flee the scene. What I decided on was a Jiggy Craw, tied by Pat Cohen. I went with the orange/brown color scheme to ensure that it was easily seen in the stained water. I also knew this fly would have good movement in the water even when lightly twitched. After checking my leader, I tie on this “chosen one” and double check my knot.

Now the moment of truth. Time to make my move and present my fly. Just off the bank, there was a small opening in the lilies between her and the bed that I could pitch my fly into. This window was about a yardstick across, which I hoped

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Lamson Center Axis Reviewed

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The Center Axis fly rod and reel combo from Waterworks Lamson is something completely different.

The idea of changing the union of fly rod and reel has been kicked around for a while now. To my knowledge the Center Axis is the most serious attempt by a major manufacturer. It looks very different from a traditional fly rod and it feels very different as well. There is some solid science behind the design of this rod/reel combo and it delivers on its claims. It’s also not without its detractors, so I’ll try to be very thorough on the pluses and minuses.

The Theory

The guiding principal behind the Center Axis is simple and it’s right there in the name. The reel, being by far the heaviest part of the setup, affects the action and feel of the rod in casting. By moving the weight of the reel inline with the axis of the rod, this effect is minimized. The caster feels the weight of the line, not the reel, and the reel does not affect the caster stroke to as great a degree.

When I first heard this I thought, “Really?” Frankly, I was shocked how different it felt. There is a definite and pronounced difference in the feel of this combo verses any other I have ever cast. Is it better? That’s a serious question. Probably so. I’ll be frank. Having cast a fly rod for so many years, it’s not easy to know if different is better. As you become a more accomplished caster you adapt quickly to the feel of a new rod and the casting takes place in the hand, not the head.

I will tell you this. I felt a very pronounced difference in the feedback I got from the rod, and I very quickly became used to it and didn’t think about it any longer. I do find it very pleasant to cast. I do think that the shifting of balance makes a real difference. I don’t know that it improves my casting a great deal but it might for other anglers. I think it might be very good for beginning and intermediate casters. I do think there is serious validity to the concept and that this setup is really going to speak to some anglers. The only way to know if you are one of them is to try it out.

The Rod

Before I cast the center Axis, I was concerned about the rod. I am a fly rod geek and the idea of buying a rod from a reel manufacturer gave me pause. That concern was immediately relieved. I have the 9’ 5-weight Center Axis and it is a great casting rod. Not the best I’ve ever cast but very good.

It is smooth and powerful. Plenty fast but with a lot of feel. It does a great job of picking up a long line. I would consider it a medium to large water rod. You’d be OK with it on small water as it is a very good roll caster. It also delivers a powerful single-hand spey cast.

It excels at medium- to long-distance casting. I was able to cast a streamer eighty feet standing in waist-deep water. The action is suitable for a variety of fishing techniques. In short, a solid all-arounder. It also gets extra points for durability as you can’t even tell that I drove off with it on the roof of the truck, launching it onto the road in a turn. Kind of my signature move.

The Reel

Obviously the reel is the quality machine you would expect from Waterworks Lamson. It is a variation of the Lightspeed reel, which my buddies in retail tell me is consistently the top selling trout reel year after year. It is unique in how it attaches to the rod. The reel plugs into the rear of the grip and is held in place by an o-ring seal. It is very very solid. In fact, it’s damned hard to get off and there isn’t any need to.

What I like about the Center Axis

First and foremost I like

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Sunday Classic / The more things change, the more they stay the same

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It seems he has been sorting through some of the belongings that my grandparents left behind. In an old dresser he found this list in my young handwriting. My guess is that this dates from about the time I was ten. I believe I had just read “The Old Man And The Sea” for the first time. For those who can’t make it out, I’ll translate.

Fishing List

1000 yards strong rope
Case of dynamite
Take pistol

A few of my favorite points to this list are these. Dynamite appears twice. I’m not sure if this was meant to imply that a case might not be enough, or that dynamite was so key to my plan that I couldn’t risk forgetting it, or possibly just a testament to my enthusiasm about dynamite. There was no need to find a pistol, just the need to remember the one I had, at ten. And best of all my reverence for the regulations. We wouldn’t want to ‘fish’ without a license.

It occurred to me that maybe I harp on the catch and release thing a little heavy from time to time and it would only be what I deserve to share this with my readers. None of us, I suppose, start out as catch-and-release anglers but few, apparently, start as far from it as I did. In my defense I’ll say that this proves my views on catch and release are not an unconsidered opinion. I tried it the other way!

When I shared this with my wife as a glimpse into the mind of her betrothed when he was only a child she smiled, laughed a knowing laugh and said,

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I guess I’ll always be ten at heart. At least when I go fishing.

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Saturday Shoutout / SCOF Redemption

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It’s time for a little Southern Culture.

The fall issue of Southern Culture On The Fly is out and the boys are looking for redemption. Redfish Redemption that is, as well as Things Wild, Southern Salt and an adoption for fly guides. Dave Grossman apparently didn’t take enough heat for his bikini spread (you can read about that too) because he’s back at it, suggesting we target Flipper on the fly. It’s more of all the good stuff you expect from the boys at SCOF.


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New Simms G-3 Technical Jacket: Video

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Watch the video!

The most popular piece of outerwear in fly fishing just got better.

The Simms G-3 jacket is a workhorse and almost a uniform for fly fishing guides everywhere. There’s a good reason for that. These jackets not only perform, they last. Any one who fishes knows that foul weather means great fishing but it doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. A good jacket keeps you comfortable and focused on fishing and gives you easy access to the gear you need.

The new G-3 has a clean, snag free design with all of the pocket space built into the interior of the jacket. It has just as much storage as the classic G-3 but nothing to catch line.


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Fly Feature: Stealth Bomber

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By Justin Pickett


The Stealth Bomber is by far my number one topwater fly pattern for warm water species. Whether I’m after smallmouth or largemouth bass, or targeting bluegill, it’s always in my box and typically gets tied onto the end of my tippet at some point during my outings. I typically carry them in 3 different color schemes to match different conditions. Check ‘em out! It’s an easy tie. And if you ever fished with a Pop-R as a kid, then you’re good to go! Either tie ‘em or buy ‘em in sizes #2-#6 depending on the fish you’re targeting. Fish this bad boy around floating grass, weed lines, lily pads, or any other submerged structure where bass and panfish like to hide. Vary your retrieve to find out what the fish are liking that day and wait for that take!

Want to add a fish-catching twist

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Streamers Aren’t Just For Big Water

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It’s easy to find ourselves following everyone else’s lead on the water when it comes to pattern choice. Blue ribbon trout streams in Colorado come to mind, where the key to success is often sight-fishing with tiny nymphs on fine tippet. But even fishing the right fly patterns, you still are going to have to deal with hard to read intricate currents above and below the surface, of which, will constantly be trying to compromise your drift and fly placement. This is often the key factor in whether you fool or tip off the fish that your offering is not the real deal.

I’ll never forget a day on the upper Roaring Fork a couple years back that left me humbled to the core. I had no problem locating numerous trophy class fish. Hell, they were everywhere it seemed like, and often only a couple rod lengths away from me. Unfortunately, the majority of them were holding in all the wrong places, where it was almost impossible to get a good presentation and drift with my flies. I’d make what I thought was a perfect cast, and right when my flies were about to enter the target zone of the fish, I would lose my drift and the fish would slide off to the slide and give me the finger. An 11′ switch rod with a extra long leader was what I needed that day, but unfortunately, I left that rod at home. Those big beautiful fish on the Roaring Fork, gave me a whole new appreciation for PHD educated trout. They all seemed to know exactly where to sit and feed, just out of fly anglers reach. I finished that day with a few respectable mature trout and numerous other smaller fish that looked like they had been booted out of the prime lies. Knowing what I know now, I should have ditched the nymph rig and dead drifting, for a 2x-3x leader and a streamer. My numbers would have gone down, and I would have spooked some fish, but I bet I would have walked away from the river landing one of those truly massive trout.

It’s important to note that streamers aren’t just for big water, they can be equally effective on small to mid-size trout water as well. Having the guts to go against the norm and use different tactics from what everyone else is doing, can sometimes give you an edge. Instead of targeting trout that are

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Reece’s 307

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By Bob Reece

Change can be challenging. It can also be highly productive.

Through its simple construction and subtle adjustment of beads, Reece’s 307 avoids the strife while providing productivity.

My design for this pattern was to create a buggy and durable alternative to my typical bead head selection. The synthetic materials that I chose for the body along with the Plummeting tungsten beads, in mottled colorations, made this possible. The back end of the fly begins with a Flouro Fiber tail that leads to a wire filled stretch tubing abdomen. Ostrich herl and Ice Dub layer to form the buggy foundation of the thorax that is overlaid with a Thin Skin Wing Case. All of these elements combine to create the vulnerable profile of a transitioning insect. The naturally mottled tungsten bead provides the needed weight to get down while stepping away from typical metallic asthetics.

When fishing this pattern I often use it as a solo dropper for my dry dropper rigs. During non hatch periods I rig it two feet below my chosen dry. If hatch activity picks up I often raise my 307 to six inches below the surface riding fly. Indicator rigs also provide a happy home for this pattern. I typically run it as the highest fly in the setup above a Rolling Stone or Glo Worm.

Become a fan of buggy and outside the box. Throw a change up into your nymphing selection with Reece’s 307. It may be just what you need to close out your season on a high note.


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The Virtues of the Single Spey

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Watch the Video!

The Single Spey is one of the most efficient, and most overlooked, casts for the two-hand fly rod.

Like a lot of anglers who picked up the spey rod to target steelhead, much of my early fishing focused on Skagit techniques. I spent my time perfecting the Snap T and Double Spey in the standard and off shoulder forms and pretty much got by with that. Later I added a Snake Roll for when things are tight but for years the only time I used the Single Spey was when working out my head. As I spent more time fishing Scandi style lines and traditional flies, I realized I was missing out by not using the Single Spey. I also realized I had never really mastered it.


First, it’s just more efficient. There are fewer steps and less wasted motion than in Skagit casting. Skagit casting is great when you need to lift a heavy sink tip, but when you are fishing a floating line you don’t need all of that power. A Single Spey is requires less effort and saves you energy, so it’s less fatiguing.

It’s also much quicker. Not that we are out swinging flies because we are in a hurry, but it does get you through the run faster, which can be a good thing. If for instance you are trying to squeeze in one last run before dark, you’ll spend half the time casting with the Single Spey.

The Single Spey can also be a big help when the wind picks up. With a waterborne cast like a Double Spey, it’s hard to generate line speed without blowing your anchor. The slower pace of the cast allows the wind to carry your line, often making it hard to form a good D-loop and killing your cast before it’s even launched.

Since the Single Spey is a touch-and-go cast, it’s easy to step up the tempo while still making a good D-loop. It also allows you more line speed on the forward cast, which helps you land the line and leader straight. Even in the wind.

The more I use the Single Spey, the more applications I find for it. It may be one of the oldest two-hand casts but it has not outlived it’s usefulness. It’s worth taking the time to learn to do it well.

The real key to this cast is

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Sunday Classic / If You’re Not Looking For Trout, You’re Missing Out

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One of the things I always stress to my clients is the importance of always keeping an eye out for trout on the water. The first thing I do when I walk up to a prime piece of trout water, is take a minute or two to scan the water for dark shapes, shadows and subtle movements. I do it before I wet my fly or even my boots for that matter, because I know, if I can spot a trout, I’ll immediately double my chances at getting my rod bent. I also look for trout when I’m wading from one spot to the next. This is where many anglers mess up and get distracted by all the great looking water upstream of them, and then end up missing opportunities to spot and catch trout in transit. I used to spook a ton of trout myself moving from one fishing spot to the next. It still happens but not nearly as much because these days, when I’m on the move, I’m not in a hurry and I take plenty of time to look for trout as I wade.

You have to look for trout to spot them. They don’t shout, “hey, I’m over here”, or wave a white flag at you.

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