Choosing a Fly Rod is Like Choosing a Guitar

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If you follow G&G on Facebook then you probably know about my love of old school blues. If you don’t follow us on Facebook, you should, you’re missing half the fun.

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I went out the other night to see my friend Gabriel Szucs, AKA “Little G Weevil,” play some blues at a local bar. G is a singularity. Hungarian born, he moved to the states, to the south specifically, to immerse himself in the roots of the blues. After years on Beale St. in Memphis, he fell in love and married a gal from Atlanta and moved there for her. That’s the only way we would ever have a local blues player of his talent.

I discovered G in a hole in the wall BBQ joint called Hottie Hawgs. It’s a dive but there was briefly an awesome music scene there. Trust me when I tell you that this guy is a world class talent. Unfortunately, no one has told the Hungarians that Americans haven’t given a shit about the blues for forty years so you’ve likely never heard of him.

Honestly, you haven’t heard G until you’ve heard him live. It’s his jaw dropping improvisation and the way he responds to the crowd that blows you away. OK, I’m getting to the fishing. I expected to see G playing his flame top Fibenare or maybe his 1940 Kay, both remarkable guitars, but instead, there he sat with a cheap Epiphone acoustic that he payed $150 for in a Mississippi pawn shop.

He slapped a vintage pickup on it and off he went. It sounded amazing! I could not believe he was playing those licks on an acoustic. Epiphones, Gibson’s budget priced imports, are OK guitars but most good players couldn’t play like that on a Taylor or Martin.

“Yeah, it’s hard to play but I don’t care,” G told me. “I like the way it sounds, it’s different.”

You sure couldn’t tell that it was hard to play and that got me thinking about fly rods. You can spend anywhere from $200 to $5000 on a fly rod. You can pay more if you want a really special collectors item but what do you need?

It’s a complicated question. I have some inexpensive rods that I love. I have some really expensive ones I love too. What’s the difference? Other than

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Swing For The Fence On Every Cast

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By Louis Cahill

After four days swinging flies in dirty water without a pull it’s easy to lose faith.

I faced some pretty tough conditions on a recent trip to the Dean River in British Columbia. Heavy rain turned the river into a raging mess of mud and floating trees. It was not a pretty sight, but I turned it around.

High water tactics can be laborious. Fishing long heavy sink tips and weighted flies makes casting a chore and swinging your fly a downright pain in the ass. You have to put the fly where the fish are and in high water they are hunkered down on structure or hugging the bank. Getting down to submerged structure in fast water means weight and lots of it. That means lots of hanging up on the rocks, especially at the end of your swing.

After four days with no action and hanging your fly up on every cast it’s easy to start avoiding the water that you know is going to give you trouble. Little things like picking up your fly just before it reaches the end of its swing or not giving that sink tip quite as long to sink makes robotic fishing easier on your nerves. The problem is, it doesn’t catch fish.

The worst is when, after days of toil without a fish, you snag that rock and immediately throw your line over it only to see it turn and bolt downstream without your fly in its mouth. We’ve all done it. I learned long ago that big fish often eat like rocks. I always hold pressure on a rock for a few seconds at least. It’s paid off many times and it paid off again in BC.

After four days of fishing and clearing ten thousand snags, when my fly stopped I held on, maybe ten seconds, before a beautiful bright steelhead gave me a sign of life. Ten seconds feels like an eternity at the end of four days but it’s like Lou Reed says, “You need a bus load of faith to get by.”

Kent calls it fishing with confidence. Faith or confidence, either way a good fisherman always believes in his heart that, this is the cast. Eventually he’s right. My numbers were

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Is Pay-To-Play Fly Fishing Good For Anybody?

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By Louis Cahill

If you pay hundreds of dollars for the chance to catch a really big trout on someones private water, are you doing the right thing?

Pay-to-play fishing is a hot button issue. It came up in conversation the other day so I thought I’d put my two cents in. I don’t have any data to back this up, but my guess is that a pretty small percentage of anglers regularly pay to fish private water. I’d guess that a fare number of us do it a time or two and move on and a very small number do little else. On the other hand there are an equally small number who would never consider it.

What you figure out pretty quickly is, whenever pay-to-play comes up, there’s going to be an argument. The fur usually starts to fly when fish size becomes the topic. If you are boasting about catching a trophy size trout on your local pay-to-play water you’re very likely going to hear how, “That fish doesn’t count,” or how, “That’s bullshit.” 

It’s true that there is no comparing a hand fed pet to a wild fish of the same size. Perhaps there is no comparing the effort or skill that went into catching those fish, but there is certainly no comparing how unique, special or important those two fish are. Wild trophy size trout are a treasure and should be treated as such. All of that said, if you are boasting about the size of your fish to establish yourself as a superior angler, you’re probably a douche bag. If you’re trying to spoil someone else’s excitement by calling their fish bullshit, you’re just as bad. That’s my opinion.

Focusing on numbers or size takes the fun out of fishing for me. I don’t count fish and when I do measure a fish it’s about appreciating what a special fish it is and how fortunate I was to catch it. Not for one instant do I hold to the idea that it makes me special as an angler. I’ve been at this long enough to know that humility is waiting in the next run. I like to hear anglers talk about special fish and I like to talk about them too. I think that’s something we all share, I just think it sucks when it ends in an argument.


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2 Ways to Determine the Sex of a Trout

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Here are two ways to determine the sex of a trout.

Over the years, I’ve found that the majority of my clients have a hard time determining whether a trout they catch is a male or female. Below are two ways to quickly identify the sex of a trout.


One of best ways to distinguish the sex of a trout is to examine the mouth. Female trout all have a short rounded nose or upper jaw, while male trout have a more elongated snout. If your trout has a lower jaw with a kype, it’s a male for sure. Although the mouth of a female trout will grow larger as it ages and increases in size, the mouth will never grow a kype (hooked lower jaw). Upon becoming sexually mature, male trout will begin to grow a pronounced kype. At first, it will just be a tell-tale sign, but as a male trout ages, its kype will become more pronounced. It’s important to point out that even for trout that aren’t sexually mature, an angler can look at the mouth of a trout and see either a uniform mouth with a short rounded nose (female), or a elongated snout with a slightly longer lower jaw (male).


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Choosing a line for your switch rod Part 3 the RIO Switch and Skagit Short reviewed.

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On a couple of steelhead trips last year I wound up fishing with borrowed rods. They were switch rods, a Winston and a Ross, and I had the chance to fish them for both summer and winter steelhead. I really liked the feel of these short Spey rods and decided that I needed one. I have no use for my long Spey rods when fishing at home in the southeast and I liked the idea of a two hander I could use for trout here at home.

I chose the Scott L2h 1106/4, an 11 foot 6 wt. It’s a great rod and I’ve been very happy with it. It’s light and well balanced with plenty of power and a nice feel. The rod really talks to you when you cast it, so you know when it’s loaded.

I chose to set it up with 2 reels. A Nautilus FW7 which I loaded with the Rio Switch line in a 5/6 wt and a Bauer CFX-5 Spey that I set up with Rio slick shooter and a 425 grain Skagit Short head, also from Rio. This set up gives me the flexibility of

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DIY Fly Line Loop with Step-by-Step Instructions

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Most fly lines these days already come with welded loops at the ends for the easy attachment of backing and leaders. If you fish as much as I do though, eventually they get worn out and need to be replaced. Most anglers just use a standard albright knot or nail knot to fix this. It works perfectly fine, but I prefer instead to tie my own fly line loops with a fly tying bobbin and thread. Done correctly, it will provide a stronger connection to your leader than the manufacturers welded loops or knots you tie (this is important when fly fishing for big game species). The bright thread that you tie the loop with also works really well as a spotter. It comes in real handy when you’re fly fishing and you have conditions where it’s hard to keep track of your fly in the water. That bright spot on the end of your fly line provides a quick reference that your fly is a leaders length away. Below are step-by-step instructions for tying your own fly line loops.

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Cody’s Fish: Video

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Cody Richardson creates stunning, one of a kind fly fishing art from old license plates.

Cody’s fish are a great way to honor and remember a special fish, a great trip, or a favorite river. The certainly dress up any room in your house, cabin, or even outside. I have one of his bonefish made from Bahamian plates and every time I look at it I’m transported to the Bahamas. 


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How’s your double haul?

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Whether in saltwater or fresh, most experienced casters employ the double haul.

It’s possibly the best technique for creating line speed and generally energizing your line during the cast. It’s also a great way to create casting problems when done incorrectly.

One of the fundamentals of the double haul that commonly causes problems is the ratio of the haul to the line being carried by the caster. On a short cast where you may only carry thirty or forty feet of line, the length of your haul, that is the amount of line you pull through the guides with your line hand, may only be a couple of feet. On a cast of seventy or eighty feet be prepared to spread your wings.

Tall casters with long arm spans hold a decided advantage here. When it comes to casting the whole line it’s good to be well over six feet but the truth is that most of us don’t take advantage of the reach we have. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, this photo should make my point.

My friend Joel Dickey has a powerful and athletic double haul. Better than

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Pheasant Tail Nymph Attractor

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I received some really good feedback from the post from G&G followers. One follower even tied some up and landed multiple twenty inch fish with the midge pattern one day on his home waters. It feels good passing on information to our followers, especially when I hear back that they not only appreciate the advice but are actually putting it to work on the water. Since the first post was a success I’ve decided to showcase second cold water nymph pattern of mine.

I’m a firm believer in utilizing a bright attractor nymph in my tandem nymph rigs during the winter months.  A couple years back I thought to myself why not take a proven traditional fly patterns and modify them with bright attractor fly tying materials. This way you can bank on both the proven profile characteristics and the flashy appeal. One of the first fly patterns I came up with for this idea was this pheasant tail attractor nymph above. It’s been very successful for me on the water. I generally use

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Fishing The Woolly Bugger

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By Louis Cahill

There are a lot of “right ways” to fish a Woolly Bugger.

I know, I know, this is super basic but after we published the article “The Woolly Bugger Isn’t all that, Or is it?,” I got emails asking how to fish the Bugger. I’ve joked about writing this article plenty of times and now I think I was being a jerk. We obviously have readers who want the info, so here is is.

One of the emails I got asked specifically if the Bugger should be fished on a nine foot tapered leader or a five foot level leader. My immediate reaction was, “It depends on how you’re fishing it.”

The reason the Woolly Bugger is possibly the greatest fly pattern ever tied is that there is almost no wrong way to fish it. It’s one of those rare patterns that looks like so many different types of food, it’s hard to make it unappealing. And not just for trout, I firmly believe you can catch anything that swims with a Woolly Bugger. I regularly wear out bonefish on a tan bugger.

For the purpose of this article I’m going to focus on techniques for trout fishing. The Bugger can be fished as a nymph or a streamer and even an emerger. If you figure out how to tie one that will float, I guarantee it will work as a dry under the right conditions. 

Let’s look at some techniques for fishing the Woolly Bugger is some of these different roles.


It’s hard to beat a dead drifted Bugger for catching trout. Sink it with a split shot or build weight into the fly to get it down to the strike zone. Fish it under an indicator or high sticked on a tight line. Whatever approach you prefer, with the right amount of weight, a dead drifted bugger will produce.

Some of the food items a bugger can pass for, when fished in this way, are stonefly nymphs, helgermites, craneflys, damsel and dragon flies, mayfly nymphs (in appropriate sizes), crawfish, leaches, baitfish, and tadpoles. The dead drift will almost always work but if you think about that list some other techniques become obvious.

Remember I mentioned emergers?

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