Reece’s Surface Assassin

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By Bob Reece

For many fly fishers there is nothing more enchanting that watching trout sip emerging insects from the water’s surface.

This allure can often lead to frustration without the proper pattern and presentation. While the fly fisher is responsible for presentation, Reece’s Surface Assassin is the appropriate pattern.

Both emerging mayflies and caddis flies display some common characteristics when viewed from below. A smooth shelled abdomen along with the husky remains of gills, legs and antennae dangle below the surface film. Simultaneously the glistening exoskeleton and compressed wings of the “new” insect emerge on the water’s surface. Reece’s Surface Assassin, in its wide array of colors, effectively displays this combination of traits to feeding trout.

When fishing this pattern I typically use it as a solo dry. However, in heavy emergences I do rig two Assassins as double dries. I always connect them eye to eye using a non-slip mono loop knot to attach each fly. This allows

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Catch-and-Release Practices for Small Fish

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Handle the little guys with care if you want to catch them when they are big.

Catch-and-release practices among fly anglers are probably the best they have ever been. In part due to social media and the popularity of ideas like, “Keep ‘Em Wet.” More times than not, when you see a photo of someone holding a trophy size fish they have it cradled gently in the water. That’s great, but what about the little guys?

All of those trophy fish were small once and in order to get big they had to run a gauntlet of anglers and predators. Although there has certainly been improvement in the way the average angler handles fish, when I see one taking a beating, it’s usually a little guy. The thing is, these are the fish which are most vulnerable.

There are several common ways these small fish are mishandled.

The most common is time out of the water. While most anglers will net a big fish and let it rest in the net while they remove the hook, a net isn’t usually required for a small fish. Often they are simply snatched up to chest level by the leader. They are usually still pretty green so they squirm and make removing the hook a challenge and often spend way too much time out of the water.

There are a couple of other things that can go wrong when

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Sunday Classic / The Fight Isn’t Over When You Get a Tarpon Boat-Side

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Catching a tarpon on the fly is a feat most fly fishers dream about but never experience. Some fly anglers get lucky right out the gates, but for most of us, catching one of these beasts on the fly often takes several trips to accomplish. My good friend Capt. Bruce Chard is one of the most competent tarpon guides I know and has taught me a great deal about chasing the silverking. When he put me on my first 125 pound plus tarpon he made a point to let me know that the fight isn’t over when you get a tarpon boat-side.

Bruce Chard explained to me that many tarpon

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Saturday Shoutout / Vokey’s Public Land Double

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Two different perspectives on public land.

This is a really interesting back-to-back podcast on the current public land issues. April sits down for a conversation, first with Donald Trump Jr, Then with Corley Kenna, of Patagonia, to discuss the policy and threats to American public land. It is insightful, informative and thorough.

If you are a person who loves the outdoors, and why else would you be here, this is a must listen. I urge you to get informed and get involved. We are at a pivotal moment in our history. there is much to be lost or gained.


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New Fly Rods From Sage

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Two hot new fly-rods for2018 from the folks at Sage.

Sage has updated their lineup with a couple of interesting players. The new Salt HD takes technology from the Sage X and utilizes it in the popular Salt platform. Each model is focused on specific situations flats anglers will face in real life fishing. The Salt HD is available in weights 6-13 and 16.

Also new this year is the Foundation. A fast action Sage rod intended to introduce the brand to anglers who may have been sticker shy in the past. At $325, it’s the most approachable rod in the Sage lineup.


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What’s in a net?

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By Justin Pickett

My indicator drops below the turbulent surface and my rod bends over as I come tight to a nice rainbow trout.

Her initial reaction took her further into the head of the deep run, shaking her head violently in an attempt to escape the grasp of my hook. As this trout began to hunker down in the current, I applied some low, downstream side pressure, which she didn’t like at all. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, she darted downstream, leaving me in the rear-view with zero intentions of returning.

I was fishing with my buddy, Blake, who is new to fly fishing. This was the first fish that he had seen on a hot, downstream run. As this rainbow steadily peeled line from my reel, I looked over at Blake and instructed him to grab the net and get after it, but just as Blake began making his move downstream this trout shot through a small chute with several branches that hung just above the current on the opposite bank. As I reeled down to keep up, I waded my way towards the obstacle that I was sure was going to end this fight. I had my buddy come to the downstream side of the chute so I could pass my rod under and through the branches. After successfully making it through all the foliage without breaking off, I let Blake take over the fight.

I grabbed the net and hit the bank running so I could gain some ground on this crazy trout. About thirty yards later, I finally made it well downstream of her and stepped further into the water. I knew if I could get in front of her, then I would likely turn her back upstream and stop this crazy train. With her head now turned back upstream, and, seemingly, calmer, we were able to play this fish into the net quite easily. No doubt, this fish was likely as worn out as we were after all that!

Fast forward a couple of days and I found myself having a conversation with Louis about anglers who feel that if they themselves don’t net their own fish, then they consider that catch “incomplete”. It’s as if they feel the need to put an asterisk by that memory because they either asked for, or received, assistance to land a fish.

While I can certainly respect these anglers’ stance on the matter, for me, it doesn’t take away from my experience. Am I always going to have someone net a fish for me? Well no, but it will also always depend on the situation at hand. I’m not going to have someone net a native brook trout for me, but, in my opinion, there are times when having a good net man is beneficial to both angler and fish. In reference to the scenario above, if I

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Keep Your Rod Tip Off the Water for Longer Drag-Free Drifts

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Are you finding yourself struggling to get long drag-free drifts on the water?
If the answer is yes, you may be holding your rod tip too close to the water during your drifts. When your rod tip is positioned too low, you’re putting unnecessary fly line on the water that you in turn have to manage in order to maintain a drag-free drift. As soon as this unwanted fly line hits the waters surface, it’s immediately subjected to the surrounding currents. Depending on how fast the current is at your feet, the less time it will take for it to be pulled downstream and begin effecting your drift. Eventually all the slack will be pulled out in your fly line and your drag-free drift will be compromised. There’s of course a happy medium though, on rod tip position. Too high, and anglers will find it difficult to effectively mend and set the hook. I generally tell my clients to keep their rod tip at least three feet off the water’s surface.

Here’s a simple drill to help you understand and visualize how improper rod tip position on the water can negatively effect and decrease the length of your drag-free drift. Lay out a nice 30+ foot cast on the water. Make sure you stop your rod tip high above the water (a good 4 feet). Watch your drift for a few seconds, and then

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Still a Few Spots Open For Abaco Lodge, March 1-6, 2018

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By Louis Cahill

Experience one of the coolest saltwater fisheries anywhere.

Hosting this trip to Abaco Lodge is one of the highlights of my year. Abaco is such a unique fishery and a cool experience, I look forward to it all season. I always enjoy sharing the island and its great fishing with new anglers. The 2018 South Andros Bonefish Schools sold out in days but there are still a few spots open for Abaco, March 1-6, 2018. This is a great opportunity for a tropical getaway and some dynamite flats fishing.

Here are a few things that make Abaco a great choice.

Consistent fishing

All saltwater fishing is condition-dependent but Abaco has always treated us well. When conditions are good you tend to see quality bonefish in smaller schools. That means that you are more likely to get shots at 200 fish, for example, in 20 schools of 10, rather than 2 schools of 100.


Abaco is a diverse fishery. The unique character of the Marles offers lots of opportunities to fish in different types of water. If you are looking for a challenge, the ocean side is where you can hunt colossal bones. If you want to take it up yet another notch, Abaco has legitimate permit and tarpon fishing for the adventurous.

The absolute best accommodations

Abaco Lodge is extremely comfortable and well appointed without being the least bit stuffy. It’s a fun, relaxed atmosphere with amazing meals and drinks and the friendliest staff dedicated to your every need. The beautiful grounds, pool, convenient shopping and beach make it the perfect trip to enjoy with a non-fishing spouse.

March is perfect timing

March is a great time to visit Abaco. The climate there is a bit cooler than some of the other islands so the temps are perfect. It’s a great break from cold weather at home. The fishing is heating up and the bugs aren’t bad. It’s basically paradise.

I hope you will consider joining the group at Abaco Lodge this March. It’s a decision you will not forget. Just ask a few of the anglers who have.

“What and incredible fishery….

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The Mental Game of Permit and Steelhead Fishing

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By Tucker Ladd

I will be the first to admit it — I have a permit fishing problem.

While that is a hard enough itch to scratch, living in the urban wilderness of Denver, CO, I have also developed a bit of a steelhead fishing problem in recent years. While more often the idea of standing on the bow of a flats boat supersedes the thought of standing waist-deep in 40 degree water, the satisfaction of hooking either fish is something that seems to haunt me daily.

What I have always loved and appreciated about fishing for both permit and steelhead is how these fish challenge, reward, and break you as an angler. But it’s not just what these fish do to the psyche of an angler that makes pursuing them similar. There are also similarities in the practice of trying to catch one of these elusive fish on a fly.


Let’s face it, there’s a lot of “down time” when fishing for either of these species. By “down time” I mean the duration of time spent in between catching either fish. Now sure, there are those epic days when one may hook, and even land multiple fish in a day, but these days are certainly few and far between.

Any normal day of fishing for either species requires a mental toughness, to not only get through the down time, but stay focused, alert and always ready for when the fish eats (steelhead) or presents itself (permit). Any angler who has regularly pursued either fish has their own technique or methodology for working through this mental challenge. And let’s be clear, it is a tremendous challenge.

Day 1 is always easy. You’re fresh on the water, the possibilities are endless, and you’ve got that feeling of “this is the day!”

Day 2 you’re feeling challenged, but the previous day’s fish sightings or bumps are keeping your energy up and your attitude in check. Even if you didn’t see or feel any fish, the “newness” of the experience is keeping you going.

Day 3 can go a couple of different ways. Scenario 1 is

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Sunday Classic / Treat your sunglasses as though your vision depends upon them

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On most days I’d rather have the wrong fly than the wrong glasses. They are not only crucial for sight fishing and reading water but make wading safer and the whole fishing experience more pleasant.

A good pair of polarized sunglasses are not only essential but expensive, too. Their effectiveness can be seriously compromised by scratches, delamination, and unnecessary wear or damage. It makes sense to take good care of them.

Still, not everything about caring for your sunglasses is intuitive. I’ve worn glasses my whole life and recently found that I was damaging my sunglasses by washing them with soap and water, a practice I assumed was the best way to clean them. Reached out to my buddy Peter Crow at Smith Optics for some advice, and he provided me with some good common sense information to share with you.

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