Sunday Classic / Tenkara, the new Bamboo

1 comment / Posted on / by


Fly fishing began in both the west and east with a long supple rod, a fixed line, a leader and a fly.
This is how Dame Juliana Berners, Issac Walton and Japanese commercial fisherman fished. Time went by and man created the reel and split bamboo rods which were shorter and lighter than the old greenheart long rods. Fiberglass and then graphite replaced split bamboo and modern fly fishing as we know it came into being.

Then a backlash started, a move toward the vintage. Many fly fishers, myself included, began embracing the bamboo rod again and waxing poetic about the lovely reed, its natural beauty and soft feel. I fished bamboo rods for years on small streams and rivers and figured that this would never change.

Then came a real move back to the past, back to days before the reel was invented and people fished with a long rod and a fixed line. I discovered tenkara. Tenkara is a traditional form of fly fishing that began in the mountain streams of Japan. It was used by commercial fishermen to catch their daily load of trout, char and salmon found in these streams. Now tenkara is catching on in the west and seems to be the hottest thing since the bamboo renaissance.

Tenkara is fly fishing in its most minimal form. A modern tenkara rod is

Read More »

Saturday Shoutout / High Country Cuts

No comments yet / Posted on / by

How about some high country fly-fishing for cutthroat trout?

Take a wade with Todd Moen, of Catch Magazine, and Heather Hodson, of United Women on the Fly, as they wades Heather’s favorite home waters in search of cutthroat trout and solitude. A beautiful film, almost as relaxing as a day on the water.

Read More »

There’s No Holding Bob Back

2 comments / Posted on / by

Stay focused Bob. It’ll all work out.

See more of Bob and the angling art of Andrea Larko on Etsy.

Read More »

Spey Casting Diagnostics Checklist

1 comment / Posted on / by

By Jeff Hickman


To effectively and consistently make good spey casts you need to focus on these steps, especially when learning. But even veteran and advanced two-handed casters also need to focus on the important steps. Everyone who has Spey fished has had a meltdown at some point where their cast completely falls apart. In my experience these meltdowns are triggered by one small element changing. That one element starts a chain reaction that wrecks the entire cast. The cause could be external such as a change in the wind direction or wading depth or the change could be internal — you got lazy on your anchor placement or started dipping your rod behind you.

Recently while presenting at the annual Sandy River Spey Clave in Oregon, I jokingly made a reference to a fictional Spey Casting Diagnostics Checklist that I printed on waterproof paper and kept in my wader pocket. I was simply trying to make people laugh as Spey casting presentations can be a bit on the dry side. After the presentation many people came up to me and asked if I could give them one of my checklists. Since I did not actually have one, I told them I could email a checklist over. But it occurred to me that this is something that people want, so here is my short checklist that you can print and bring with you to the river next time:

Read More »

United We Fish

5 comments / Posted on / by

The America I live in is not divided.

If you watch the television, listen to the radio, or, God forbid, go on Facebook, you might think we Americans have nothing in common but our dislike for each other. I don’t believe that’s true. I believe we have a great deal in common. Specifically, I believe that we, the G&G community, have a deep and profound love of our amazing public lands and waters. I have said many times our public lands, above all else, make me proud of this country.

We also have in common our duty as citizens to participate in our democracy. I grew up in a time when this was something to be proud of, and I still believe it is. We Americans who love the outdoors have a loud voice, as long as we are united. It is our duty to stay united. Not to let the uproar of the day divide or distract us.


Happy Independence Day from Gink and Gasoline!

Read More »

Lamson Cobalt Saltwater Fly Reel Review

1 comment / Posted on / by

The Lamson Cobalt is a big game fly reel with a pedigree.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always thought of Lamson as a trout reel company. I don’t mean that to be dismissive, but I think of them as making great trout reels and, for saltwater reels, I never really thought of them at all. The demands placed on saltwater fly reels, by both the elements and the fish, are so extreme that they are almost a thing unto themselves. When I heard that Lamson was making a serous saltwater reel, I was instantly interested.

From the very beginning, the buzz about the Cobalt was pretty exuberant. When I got my hands on one for the first time it was immediately obvious why. This reel is lovely and elegant on the outside but a beast to its core. A thoughtful design and an inspired execution.

Everything about the Cobalt is top quality. It’s not a budget reel. It’s built to last and to dominate strong saltwater species, season after season. I feel confident saying that. I come from a family of machinists. I grew up in a machine shop and I know good machining when I see it. The fit and finish on the Cobalt is as good as you will find and the materials are top quality, down to the titanium fasteners.

There is a ton of cool tech in this reel. Below is a video in which Tim Volk talks about the Cobalt in detail. I’ll hit a few of the highlights I especially like.

Dual Axis Machining

One of the first things I noticed about the Cobalt is its sleek design. Clean and elegant. No edges to punish line or hands. Not even a counter balance. Lawson achieves this by machining the spool so that it balances perfectly with the handle. The operation is smooth as silk. It might not sound like a big deal but when that reel is screaming, you’ll appreciate it.

Seriously Sealed Drag

There are some fly reels on the market, at a higher price point, that don’t have sealed drags, and other that kinda do. The drag housing on the Cobalt is rated waterproof to thirty meters. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of that.

Micro Crystalline Anodizing

Micralox coatings are the final word in corrosion resistance. The molecules in the coating are

Read More »

Understanding Leaders Means Better Fly-fishing

8 comments / Posted on / by

When it cones to fly-fishing leaders there are lots of right answers.

There has been an ocean of ink spilled over the subject of leader formulas. It’s pretty common for anglers who are learning to tie leaders to obsess over leader formulas, and the press has made the most of it. I’ll warn you now, I’m not going to give you any leader formulas. What I am going to do is try and help you understand how a leader functions and how to start designing leaders that will work best in a wide range of conditions.

What does a leader do?

To understand how to craft a leader that’s best for the fishing conditions, you need to understand what a leader does. A fly fishing leader has one purpose.

A leader translates the energy of the fly line to the fly in a way that creates the best presentation.

That’s it. Period. If, like me, you believe that there is nothing more important in fly fishing than presentation, you have to appreciate the importance of the leader. If you look closely at that sentence, you will also recognize that the term, ‘best presentation’ is highly subjective. What, exactly, the best presentation means is dependent on a factors like target species, fishing conditions and fly selection, just to name a few. It’s easy to see that no one leader formula can deliver the best presentation in every situation.

A word about store bought leaders. They are fine and you can get by with a store bought leader for most of your fly fishing. They will never work as well as a hand tied leader because there are limitations in the manufacturing. In general, pre-made tapered leaders all have hinge points and, in many situations, have butt sections which do not effectively transfer energy. Quite a few anglers will protest that the knots on a hand tied leader cause tangles. That’s simply not true. I’m not trying to be a wise -guy, but if you are having that issue, it’s a casting problem not your leader. Read this to fix it.

What determines how a leader functions?

A hand tied leader is made up of short sections of conventional fishing line which transfer and dissipate energy from the fly line. There are several choices the angler makes about each section when crafting a leader that control how it functions. Let’s look at each of these choices and how it effects leader performance.

Read More »

Sunday Classic / Guiding Tip: Set Your Client Free to Build Confidence

2 comments / Posted on / by


I’ve taken great pride over the years with my hands on style of trout guiding. When you take the time to explain the little details to your clients, and freely share what’s going on in your head, it really makes a big difference in them understanding the big picture. I’ve always believed catching fish should take a back seat to learning the how-tos of fly fishing. I’ve never seen much value in a client catching fish during a guide trip, if they can’t go out and replicate it on their own without me. It wasn’t until a few months ago, in fact, that I strayed away from my familiar guiding routine of holding onto the reigns.

Read More »

Saturday Shoutout / The Leader Man

1 comment / Posted on / by

3 Great Videos!

Understanding how leaders function, and how to tie them, leads to successful fly fishing.

The leader is possibly the most important part of your fly fishing tackle. It is, after all, the part of the set up closest to the fish and the part that makes the actual presentation. If you believe, as i do, that presentation is the single most important factor in fly fishing, then you have to recognize the importance of the leader.

Still, many anglers don’t fully understand how their leaders work in the system and simply buy a tapered leader with the picture of the fish they’d like to catch on the package. In reality, you can always tie a leader that will function better than pre-made tapered leaders. Once you understand how leaders work, a world of versatile options is at your finger tips.

I will follow up soon with a more in-depth article on understanding leaders, but for now, here are three great videos from the guy who taught me, Bruce Chard. In these videos Bruce shows you how he ties leaders for bonefish, permit and tarpon. He also covers some of the fundamentals you need to understand to tie leaders that work with your fly line.

Some wisdom from the Leader man.

Read More »

Bob Never Gives Up

1 comment / Posted on / by

Bob is no quitter. Look closely at this one.

See more of Bob and the angling art of Andrea Larko

Read More »