Driving With Your Fly Rods Rigged, Good or Bad?

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I don’t know about you but I’m constantly driving from one fishing spot to the next with my fly rods pre-rigged.

It’s a routine I adopted early on in my guiding to save time having to rig up my rods so I could get to the best stretches of water first. It wasn’t until I had a couple of my fly rods break at the ferrules on back to back trips that the thought finally dawned upon me driving down the road with my fly rods rigged could be a bad idea. Particularly when I was driving long distances down bumpy gravel rods to my favorite trout water. When a rod breaks at the ferrule it’s usually because that rod section was loose. Here’s where I screwed up and how I could have prevented my fly rods from breaking.

If you’re like me and you like to travel with your fly rods pre-rigged, make sure you always check to see each rod piece is tightly secured at the ferrules after you get to the river and unload your rods. You should do this even if you have one of those fancy fly rod lockers. The constant vibrations of driving down the road can cause the rod to loosen up at the ferrules. At a quick glance everything looks fine, but in reality

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The Double Figure 8 Loop knot

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Watch The Video!

Loop knots give your fly superior action in the water.

There are several good options for creating a loop knot but tied in heavy salt water tippet, like you use for tarpon, most get quite bulky. In the first of three videos on better salt water knots, Capt. Joel Dickey shows us how to tie the Double Figure 8 Loop Knot. An excellent choice for strength, size and action.


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Don’t Get Mad, Get Even

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Five long years had past since I’d last set foot on a flats boat in the Florida Keys.

My previous trip I had left the keys vowing to not return until I was a more capable saltwater fly fisher. A few things were in my favor this time around. The five years that elapsed, had allowed me to drastically increase my fly casting skills. I wasn’t worried anymore about making quick backhand casts to tarpon trying to slip out the backdoor. Targets at eighty feet no longer seemed an impossible distance to reach, and most importantly, I had permanently imprinted in my brain, “Thou shall never set thy hook like a trout fisherman”. There was no doubt I was going to be much more prepared this trip, but even with all the drastic improvements in my saltwater game, I’d still have to cope with being rusty as hell.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even
I don’t recall whether it was Louis or I that came up with the saying, “Don’t get mad, get even”. What I do know is I started silently chanting those five words on the bow after both of us blew shots at high happy tarpon that first day of fishing. It had become

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The 3 C’s of Trout Fishing – Current, Cover, and Cuisine

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Here’s the Million Dollar Trout Fishing Question….
Are you putting enough emphasis on the 3 C’s in your trout fishing? The availability of Current, Cover and Cuisine most often dictate where trout decide to set up shop. Being able to consistently pick them out will ultimately determine how much success you have on the water. Furthermore, if you can find a spot that has all three C’s, you’re probably staring at a honey hole that holds the trophy of your dreams.

As a ignorant rookie fly fisher, I recall early on in my career, how I’d start out my day selecting a section of water, and go about mindlessly fishing its entirety from point A to point B. I had no understanding of trout’s survival instincts and how it influenced their whereabouts. All the water looked good to my untrained eyes, and I’d spend equal time fishing the entire stretch of water, regardless of the depth, where the current and food were located, or if the spot had any elements of cover. Back then I was completely clueless there was a reason 20% of the water held 80% of the fish, and in turn, I spent way too much time fishing in all the wrong places. It was amazing how long it took me to figure out why I wasn’t catching very many trout.

Don’t make this common rookie mistake, you’re better than that. Instead spend your time eliminating unproductive water, and locating and fishing productive water that has all three C’s. Doing so, you’ll find your catch numbers and size increase dramatically. Below are basic descriptions of current, cover, and cuisine, and why all three are equally important.

Trout have a love hate relationship with current. They love the fact that current collects and funnels food to them, but it also requires effort for them to swim against it.  Because of this, trout prefer to hold in spots of the stream where they can feed and take in more calories than they’re burning. Trout accomplish this by directly avoiding current that is too fast and excessive, while still staying close to enough current, that they can take advantage of the best feeding lanes. I tell my clients all the time to look for current that flows over areas with deeper water. Examples of this are drop offs behind shoals, buckets, troughs or channels in the stream. It’s important to remember the deeper a trout holds in the water column the slower the current will be moving. Anglers should also look for soft seams where slow water meets fast water. These areas allow trout to save energy by picking off food drifting on the edge of the fast current.

Have you ever wondered why there always seems to be big fish located near cover in the stream? The fact is, you rarely

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The Basics of Dubbing

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By Bob Reece

What the beginning tyer needs to know about dubbing.

Creating beautiful, well proportioned flies is a skill which takes time and practice to master. One of the least intuitive steps in the process is working with dubbing. The thousands of dubbing choices on the market today only help confuse the beginning tyer.

Here are some basics to get you started dubbing beautiful flies.

Less is More

The most common mistake that new tyers make when applying dubbing is simply using too much of the product at one time. In general, less is more. Smaller amounts of fibers are easier to apply and lead to the creation of more anatomically accurate insect imitations. The one exception to this lies in the world of streamers where bulky dubbing loops and brushes can be used to create the large silhouettes of beefier food items.

Dubbing Types

There is an increasingly wide spectrum of dubbing varieties on the market. This can be overwhelming for new tyers. These materials are categorized based on their construction and uses. While these “boundaries” are often crossed, a few basic principles can be followed to help get you started.

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Snow Day

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By Louis Cahill This story originally appeared in Fly Fusion Magazine Ice in my beard, fingers burning, I haven’t felt my feet for hours. I know from experience that it will be sometime around midnight, standing in my shower with the hot water running out, before I feel them again. My fingers are killing me, so I tuck my rod under my arm and work them into the fleece gator pulled up around my face. I’m a firm believer in global warming, but it’s a hard sell today. I have fished on some truly brutal days. Alaska in the fall, Maine at ice out in the spring. I fished in Colorado one day when it was ten below and I could watch the ice form around my boot freeze when I lifted it out of the water, but this day on the Nantahala river in the mountains of North Carolina may be the worst. You may scoff at this if you live somewhere like Wyoming or Michigan but if you’ve been here and seen it you know, when cold comes south, it comes holding a grudge. It’s about fifteen degrees at the truck. It feels colder on the water. The wind is howling and the snow has tapered off to flurries but what cuts right through the seven or eight layers I’m wearing is the humidity. It’s so humid that icicles form, right out of the air, on every surface that doesn’t have a constant source of heat. They hang grimly off of rods, and tree limbs, forceps and drying patches. I like days like this. I know that sounds crazy but any of the guys I fish with will tell you, the more miserable it is, the more I want to get at it. One reason is nobody else wants … Continue reading

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Tarpon On The Four Weight

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But I did buy a new four weight reel the other day and a ten weight line. So I sat down to line up the two reels, which is my cat’s favorite thing in the world, and something occurred to me. I rig my four weight for tarpon. What I mean by that is that I use the same system for attaching my fly line to the backing that I learned when I started saltwater fly fishing.

Before I started fishing salt I attached my line to the backing with a nail knot, like I learned to as a kid. Now I spend a lot more time whipping a loop on the back of my fly line with tying thread and superglue. Then I spend even more time tying a double Bimini twist in my backing and connecting loop to loop. But why?

Well, it’s clearly a stronger connection but do I need that on a four weight trout rod? It sure doesn’t hurt when you find yourself connected to a ten pound trout on your four weight. You will be seeing that backing, I promise. Still, it’s clearly overkill. It comes back through your guides smoother and that’s nice, but still not a big deal. Here’s my reasoning, and this is why I use this method on all my reels.

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12 Smallmouth Bass Patterns For The Fall

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Fall is one of the best times of the year for fly anglers wanting to target big smallmouth bass on reservoirs.

Particularly if the lake impoundment has good populations of shad, blueback herring, or other native baitfish. Fly fisherman fishing surface poppers and subsurface baitfish patterns to these schools of bass can be rewarded with big bronzebacks. The fall brings positive changes in fish behavior and fishing conditions from cooler air temperatures and increased rainfall.  For the first time in several months, water temperatures drop significantly on reservoirs which triggers an increase in baitfish activity. Smallmouth bass counter offensively by congregating themselves into schools and driving the baitfish into shallow water where they’ll ball the bait up for easing feeding.

Smart anglers will search out smallmouth bass and the baitfish around the same spawning grounds they visited in the spring during the pre-spawn and spawn. The only difference is during the fall smallmouth bass aren’t’ spawning, they’re instead using these shallow areas of the lake to ambush and corral baitfish. Anglers should also concentrate on main lake points and flats located close to deep water, since smallmouth bass will use these areas to feed as well. It’s best to get on the lake early when the topwater bite is hot. Daylight until ten o’clock in the morning is generally the best  for breaking fish, but the evening until dusk can be very good as well.

After the sun gets up

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The Streamer Game

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Streamer fishing is addictive. It’s almost become a cliche, but it’s true.

Guys get into it and hardly want to do anything else. I’m kinda one of those guys. I do lots of kinds of fishing, but if I’m out for trout and there’s nothing obvious going on, a streamer is likely what I’m tying on. I can’t say for sure why other folks get hooked on streamers, but I know what it is for me.

Obviously, there is immense skill in fishing dry flies and nymphs. Each is an art unto itself but the very nature of a dead drift is inherently passive. Streamer fishing is active. What I mean by that is, you are directly imparting an action to the fly which fools the fish. For me, it just feels more personal. I am “making” that fish eat. Again, this is totally personal but when I see the fish chase and eat my streamer it’s incredibly rewarding. The really cool thing about this is that it leaves a lot of room for personal expression on the part of the angler. My action is my action, by my hand. It’s different from yours, and every dedicated streamer fisherman I know has their own style. Those styles vary widely, so I thought I would share some of the gear and tactics that are successful for me.

Here’s how I play the game.

I want to get in the fish’s face with a big fly that looks alive but vulnerable. I want that fly to look like a bait fish that’s disoriented and in a panic. I want a lot of room between me and the bank. I want to identify and hit multiple holding zones between me and the bank. I’ll drop my fly a few inches from the bank just upstream of a likely pocket, then as I work it back to the boat, I mend, or pause, or speed up my retrieve to work the fly through as many holding zones as I can identify. Fifty or sixty feet is an ideal distance. It’s a challenging way to fish, but for me, it’s deadly.

Here is the setup I use to overcome some of the challenges.

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The Fish That Took Three Anglers to Land

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I was having the time of my life on a steelhead fishing trip with my great friends Louis Cahill and Murphy Kane. We had made the long drive up from Georgia to chase after Great Lake steelhead for a week. Many of the rivers that feed into the Great Lakes hold huge numbers of salmon, steelhead and brown trout. Unfortunately those large concentrations of fish also attract every fishermen within a 100 plus square mile radius. We all agreed we couldn’t handle putting up with shoulder to shoulder fishing conditions, so we came up with a strategic plan to avoid it at all costs. Our strategy was simple, watch the extended weather forecast, and try to plan our trip around the nastiest weather we could find. This way, angler traffic would be at its lowest and we’d hopefully have plenty of water to ourselves.

A week later I got the call from Murphy that a huge snow storm was rolling in, and we all immediately needed to pack our gear and hit the road. It ended up being one hell of an adventure just making the trip up there. We had to drive in snow and ice conditions from North Carolina all the way up to New York. I’ve never in my life seen so many wrecks and vehicles sliding off the road. I’ll tell you one thing, it wasn’t easy driving on snow covered roads with sheer drop offs on both sides, and having to guess where your lane begins and ends for hours on end. If that’s not bad enough, then add to that having to safely pass eighteen wheelers that are throwing up blankets of snow on your windshield completely whiting you out for a couple seconds at a time. My ass was puckered up so tight during that drive up, I don’t think the jaws of life could have opened them.

God willing we survived the treacherous drive up to New York and our strategic plan ended up paying off big time. Temperatures never climbed above the teens during the trip, and I remember the wind blowing a constant 20mph with gusts 35-40mph. You had to really want to catch fish to hack it in those arctic conditions. The strange smell of butter filled the air from us constantly spraying down our rod guides with Pam in our efforts to fight off ice build up. Apparently none

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