The Muddler

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By Jason Tucker

It was a beautiful, bright day, the river running high and clean.

I was fishing near the mountainous junction of the Carolinas and Georgia on a beautiful trout stream and not having much luck. I caught a couple of small stockers on a nymph rig, but the bright sun and high water seemed to be keeping the bugs at bay, and the fish weren’t very active, either.

Halfway through the morning I missed a hook-set which sent my rig high into the rhododendrons lining the bank. I’m not as good of a climber as I used to be, thanks to evolution, so I snapped it off and considered my options. As I dug out my nymph box to re-tie, I spied a lone muddler minnow lying in the bottom of the pocket. I cut my leader shorter and tied it on rather than going through the rigamarole of tying up another two-fly dropper rig.

I wasn’t in what I would call classic streamer water, but rather, in a fast, broken cascade of the type that regularly punctuates these mountain streams. Never one to waste water, I started fishing the pockets before moving to the big hole above me. On the third cast a shadow moved, and then materialized

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Sunday Classic / Camera Grip

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Most people never stop to think about it, but I remember being taught in school the proper grip for a camera. First off, all SLRs are right handed. If you’re left- handed, you will just have to get used to it. To properly support the camera, your left hand should be positioned palm-up and level and the camera — whether oriented horizontally or vertically — rests in your palm. Your left thumb and index finger curl up to the lens to operate zoom and focus features. Most cameras have an ergonomic grip on the right side that leaves your index finger ready for the shutter release, and thumb free for the adjustment wheel. Let the left hand support the weight of the camera. With large telephoto lenses it may be necessary to move your left hand forward under the lens for balance. With a good grip you

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Saturday Shoutout / Ed’s Journals

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Ed Anderson’s lively and gestural illustrations capture unique moments in fly fishing.

If you follow Gray’s Sporting Journal or BTT, you’ve probably seen Ed’s distinctive artwork. It’s lively, colorful and immediately recognizable. Idaho or Mozambique, brown trout or bull riding, wherever Ed finds his inspiration, his energy and enthusiasm are immediately recognizable.

Many of us keep fishing journals but I’d venture to guess they aren’t as cool or as fun to look at as Ed’s. Having made a couple of the trips Ed captures in these journals, I can tell you I certainly enjoyed them. Take a few minutes to check them out and I’m sure you will too.


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The Reach Cast: Video

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Watch the Video!

The reach cast can be the difference between catching fish and not.

All too often you find yourself casting across fast water to a rising trout on the far bank. It’s a classic set up and one that can make you crazy. You land your fly in the exact spot, only to have it dragged away as the faster current midstream pulls a belly in your line.

Your best shot at hooking a fish in this scenario is to make a reach cast. The reach cast builds a mend into your line before it touches the water. It can buy you a perfect drift long enough to fool a sipping trout.

Make your normal cast and after you stop your rod tip to form the loop, move the rod tip upstream as the loop unrolls. The movement is perpendicular to the angle of the cast so the tension stays in the line and keeps it energized and on course. Once you know how to make this cast, you’ll wonder how you ever fished without it.


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Beefcake Hopper

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By Bob Reece

I look forward all year to the warm summer and fall days that allow me to fish hopper dropper rigs.

I fill one fly box each winter to meet this need. One half is filled with my Fusion and Clearwater Crawler nymphs. The opposite side is filled to the brim with Beefcake Hoppers.

When designing this pattern, I spent time viewing natural hoppers from below the surface of the water. The differentiation of body segments and leg movements act as prominent distinctions. These factors guided my design of the underside of the fly. The Thin Skin wing provides an accurate imitation while drastically increasing the durability of the top side of the fly. With the application of UV resin, the durability of the fly’s underside is also increased.

The foundation of this pattern is the Tiemco 2499BL. Having been created for the world of nymphing, this outstanding hook is ideal for extended body terrestrials. Short in the shank and wide in the gap, the hook keels this buoyant pattern very effectively. The large gap

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Feel the Tarpon Burn

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The first step in landing a big tarpon is getting a really good hook set.

If your hook fails to penetrate the hard boney mouth of the tarpon, it almost always will be spit out after the first or second jump. My previous trip to the Florida Keys I experienced just that, walking away with a 0-2 record, all because my hook-sets were piss poor. I wasn’t hitting them hard enough after the eat, and I made a pledge after that trip, that the next time I got a big tarpon to eat, I’d focus 100% solely on making sure my hook set was absolutely perfect. Believe me when I say, it’s humiliating as hell having a guide stare you down after you blow a hook-set. It makes you want to go find a hole to crawl off into.

When Capt. Bruce Chard put me on the biggest tarpon of my life during my latest trip, I set the hook hard and held onto the fly line as long as I could. Come hell or high water, I was going to get that hook completely buried in the tarpons mouth. Low and behold, I accomplished just that, and I ended up landing that mighty tarpon, but I got this nice fly line burn in the process. It was all worth it in the end though, because for the next two weeks as the bilsters healed, I was reminded of my victorious catch everytime I looked down at my hand.

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Hook Sets Are Free

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By Justin Pickett


Surprised, I look back at my buddy. “What was that?”

To which he replies, “What?”

“Why didn’t you set the hook?”

He came back at me with what many anglers often do in this situation, “I thought it was bottom.”

He THOUGHT he had just been momentarily stuck on the bottom of the streambed, so he didn’t feel the need in ruining his drift by setting the hook, when, in reality, he likely just missed out on hooking up with a trout.

Thinking and knowing are two very different things. Unless you can physically see your fly/flies drifting through the column, you certainly can’t assume that your fly is snagged on the bottom each time your indicator bobs under the water. So what should you do?

Set the hook!

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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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