How To Get New Fly Line For $5, Or Pretty Close

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Think you need a new fly Line? Spend $5 First.

I was out fishing with my buddy Scott the other day. He broke off his rig while I was on the oars so I handed him my five weight to fish. Scott took one cast and asked,

“What fly line is this? I’ve got to get one!”

What Scott didn’t know was that I had fished that same line just two days earlier and it had been miserable. The line stuck to the water and the guides. It felt like you could barely pull it through the guides, let alone shoot it. It was filthy.

“It’s a RIO Gold,” I told him. “But what you like about it is that I dressed it last night.”

It’s such a simple thing to clean and dress a line, but so many anglers don’t do it. At least not regularly enough. I’m guilty too but at least I know how to fix the problem. And now, so do you. Before you spend $90 on a new fly line try this out. I’ll bet it solves a lot of your problems.


Start by cleaning the line. Putting line dressing on a dirty line just makes a slurry. It’s best to clean your line often and so I keep it simple. I use finger wipes. The kind you get at BBQ joints. Individually packaged, alcohol towelettes. I bought a case of 1000 of them for $7 years ago. I keep them in my boat bag so I can clean my line any time. It takes seconds.

Mucilin-Silicone-Green-1Once the line is clean

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La Maraquita, a Streamer for Golden Dorado

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Watch the Video!

The Maraquita streamer looks like one thing, casts like another.

The name is hilarious, if you speak Spanish. If you don’t, ask someone who does. I’ll give this much of a hint. It’s what they used to call Andy when his favorite fishing shirt was pink. La Maraquita looks like one thing but acts like another.

What makes this fly so effective is it’s bulky profile and it’s ability to shed water when cast. Built almost completely from schlappen, this fly weighs almost nothing. It makes accurate casting a breeze while pushing enough water to get the attention of a hungry dorado.

Pay close attention as Andy ties the fly. The secret is that all of the materials are tied in at the same spot, creating a huge thread dam for the palmered schlappen head to be built on. Look at the photo and you will see how large the head is next to a traditional hair head. It’s a brilliant design and it works.


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Cast With A Purpose!

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By Justin Pickett

Arguably, the most important aspect of fly fishing is the cast itself.

If you can’t deliver the fly properly, the chances of you hooking up spirals down the toilet. Before taking a client onto the water, my first questions have to do with their fly fishing experience and their casting ability. Ask any saltwater guide what is the most important thing to do before stepping on the bow of their boat and they will tell you, “practice your casting”. So you step out on your front lawn, or maybe head out to a dock at a local lake or pond. You strip off some line and you make some casts, but are you really getting anything out of just making some casts for fifteen minutes? Well, yes and no.

In order to make yourself a better caster and, in turn, be a more successful angler on the water, you must practice with a PURPOSE. Whether you want to practice your distance, accuracy, or casting into the wind, get the most out of your time.

First off, always tie on a piece of yarn at the end of your leader. I use bright pink egg yarn. This will allow you to see what’s happening at the end of your leader. How the fly is landing and where. It really doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to just cast a bare leader.

Set up targets, or use trees, plants, pets, children, trolls, etc., as points of aim. Set them up at different distances so you get used to how far 30-40-50-60-70ft looks, how much line needs to be stripped from the reel, and the timing and technique involved in casting those distances. My Labrador loves chasing my fly line around the yard and that gives me a great opportunity to use her as a moving target. When it comes to saltwater fishing, you’re almost never casting at a fixed target. Instead, you’re often leading a fish or a school of fish with your fly. If you don’t have a kid or a pet, use a jogger as they run by! Their facial expressions are usually worth a pretty good laugh.

Find some wind! Don’t go out a cast on dead calm days. You’ll inevitably end up on the water with 25mph crosswinds that will ruin your day on the water if you’re not prepared for it. If you notice that it’s really windy outside, get your butt up and toss the fly rod around. See what the wind does to your cast and find out what you need to do to present your fly to a target.

Work on your line speed. Speed equals distance, and that means perfecting your double haul. There are numerous drills and techniques that you can practice. Find one that works for you and ingrain it into your casting stroke. Even mess around with your grip. You’d be surprised how your grip can affect the amount of power that can be applied to your casting stroke.

Don’t be a one-trick pony!

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Your Guide Is Your Dog

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I’m a big believer in DIY destination fishing, but I’m not a fool.

I traveled with a good friend to the Florida Keys recently. It was my buddy’s first time fishing the Keys. He’s a great angler, resourceful and all about DIY fishing. He’s turned me on to some great water and it was my turn to return the favor.

We fished for three days with Captain Joel Dickey. Joel and I are old friends, having spent a lot of time trout fishing together in North Georgia and North Carolina before he moved to the Keys and became a full time flats guide. He’s one of the fishiest guys I’ve ever known and within a decade became one of the best in the game. Fishing with Joel is a treat I always look forward to.

The Florida Keys is one of the most amazing fisheries anywhere. It’s also one of the most demanding. It’s a place where you can witness pure magic and utter despair. I’ve had some amazing days and some brutal boat rides. This trip turned out to be neither. The fishing had been great for several weeks and, as happens all too often, things changed.

Fishing in the Keys, more than anywhere else I’ve ever fished, is condition dependent. The day we arrived the weather turned, ever so slightly, for the worse and the fishing became very challenging. We caught fish every day, but we worked for them.

My buddy had come down with me hoping to catch his first tarpon. We checked that off the list early in the trip. It wasn’t a big fish but I assured him it was a good start. Better to land a small tarpon on your first shot than make a hundred unsuccessful presentations to the local submarine fleet. Get that fish under your belt before they have a chance to get in your head.

He also fed a permit. Even though he missed the hook set, it was a great visual eat close to the boat. We even saw the gills flair. That’s the one that will get inside his head, I’m sure. He had another agenda.

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The Incredible Exploding Line Holder

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Is a fly reel more than a line holder?

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “A fly tell is just a line holder.” I have certainly heard it plenty, and I have a visceral reaction, similar to nails on a chalk board, every time. It is a great way to tell everyone that you’ve never caught a fish over twelve inches. Even in trout fishing the fly reel is an important piece of equipment and choosing one is an important choice.

For any fish big enough that you can’t lift it by the tippet, a reel with a good drag is key for wearing fish down effectively and landing them quickly, which is better for the fish and increases your chance of landing it. It is important to understand that a “good drag” is not simply one which is powerful. It is usually more important that the drag is smooth with little startup inertia. This protects your tippet and keeps a consistent, safe pressure on the fish.

Of course, the more powerful the fish, the more important the reel is. When you start fishing in saltwater, the reel becomes crucial. Not only are the fish much stronger, but the conditions are brutal on gear, making failure much more likely. I tell anglers all the time that it’s better to come to the salt with a cheap rod and expensive reel than the other way round.

No matter how many times I say this there will still be folks who don’t believe me.

One of them came on my Bonefish School in January. A great guy who I have known for several years. He had bought a large trout reel on sale at Cabela’s and asked me what I thought about using it for bonefish.

“It’ll explode,” I told him.

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Be Prepared For Colorado’s Black Canyon

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Colorado’s Black Canyon doesn’t play.

My buddy John is getting even more fidgety than usual. He’s whipped himself into a froth as I go over the pack-list. Sleeping bag, pad, headlamp, tecnu…” “Water?”, he asked. “No, I told you, filter bottle.” “Cliff Bars, peanut butter, whisky…” “So this trail”, he starts again, “eight hundred and some vertical feet and the road, the guy said four wheel drive, I don’t think the Subaru has a skid plate. “What’s your deal?”, I ask. “No, well, ok, it just sounds like a lot, we are fifty you know, my back’s not good.” He knows it’s pointless, there’s no talking me out of it. “You’re right”, I answer, “let’s wait until we’re sixty, it’ll be much easier then.”

All this noise isn’t for nothing. Colorado’s Black Canyon doesn’t play. You’re not exactly taking your life in your hands fishing down there but bad things can happen. You need a plan because the canyon is not forgiving of mistakes. On the other hand, there are few places in the lower forty-eight that offer the scenery, the quality fishing and the natural experience of the Black Canyon and the Gunnison river. It’s not for everybody and it does get more traffic than you would expect. I’m not trying to add to the pressure but if you are going to go, you should be prepared. Here’s what I learned on my trip.


For the record, fifty is not too old. You need to be in good shape for hiking but if your health is good and you don’t have breathing or heart issues don’t let age stop you. I live at sea level and I did fine with a pack, tent, food and fishing gear.

Most folks do it as a day trip but it’s a great trip to camp. You expend a lot of time and energy getting into and out of the canyon. It’s nice to stay at least one night. The extra weight of the camping gear makes it a tough call but I’m glad we did it. Just go light. Seriously light! Eat cold food before you carry a stove and fuel. If you have an ultralite tent that’s great, otherwise you might sleep under the stars. Camp sites are first come first serve. Get an early start.

The elements are brutal. It’s dry and sun baked and you will be too if you’re not careful. You have to be serious about hydration. My buddy Andrew Grillos who has guided the canyon for years told me has drunk two and a half gallons of water in a day and still been dehydrated. A filter pump and a gallon jug is a good idea. Filter bottles work great but you will need plenty of water for the hike in and out when you’re away from the river. An extra filter bottle is a good idea anyway. I fell and broke the filter in mine. We got by ok sharing on the river but the hike out with one bottle was rough. Sun screen and a buff are a must. It’s hot as hell and the black rock heats up like a wood stove. Leave the

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High Point

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Tim looks like he has swallowed his tongue.

He’s pale, eyes dilated, the corners of his mouth twitching. He’s soaked in sea water, eyes burning and red. His fingers digging into his seat bottom, he squints and stiffens like a corpse preparing for the next wave which drops the little skiff hard. It sounds like a car crash and sends another five gallons of water into our faces. Nothing, it appears will stop the next navy blue, six foot wave from hurdling over the bow. It’s a fraction of an inch from doing just that when the bow lifts. The wave seems to ride the bow up, hovering literally an eight of an inch from crashing over into the cockpit for a few seconds. And then the whole thing starts again. Norman Rolle, our guide stands stoic in the back of the boat, a buff bearing the Rio logo pulled up over his face all the way to his Smith wraparound sunglasses. His left hand is on the back of Tim’s seat, his right gently twisting the throttle of the outboard, accelerating up the waves then coasting down, steering us carefully through the cross currents and surf crashing into, and back from the wall of jagged rock that the Bahamians call High Point. High Point is one of the most inhospitable places I’ve ever seen. It juts into the Atlantic like a knife blade for a quarter mile, huge rough hewn boulders guarding it’s coast. It separates the inhabited northeast coast of South Andros Island from the wild and isolated south. It can only be passed on a fairly calm day, and today is not so calm.

Tim leans over to me and says nervously, “Jesus, this is bad”. I’m suddenly aware that I’m grinning and quite possibly looking a bit out of my mind. “Oh no” I tell him, “I’ve seen it much worse”. “I did this once when the whole boat came out of the water on every wave, no shit, the whole boat dry every wave, you could hear the prop singing in the air”. He didn’t seem at all consoled so I quickly decided to have some fun with him. “Do you know how a flats boat sinks?” I asked. He shook his head. “Well, you see”, I continued, “when the first wave comes over the bow, it scares the hell out of you, but you think you’re going to be ok…you’re not, once that first wave comes over you’re fucked. The boat can’t climb the next wave with all that water in it, so the next wave fills it, then the third wave flips it over and if you’re still in it you’re dead, so what you want to do is, when that first wave comes over, pitch the cooler, then get out after it. That way you have something to hang on to.” For a minute I honestly thought he might puke, mulling over the idea of fighting me and Norman for a place on the floating cooler, but by then we were through the worst of it and Tim was clearly relieved to not be staring at a wall of water every ten seconds. I didn’t see any need in telling him I was messing with him, nor did I see any profit in telling him I knew a guy who’s boat had gone down exactly like that.

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South Andros, A Love Story

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I love the Bahamas. It hits me about this time every year. Just about the time I start pulling out the polar fleece and looking for my fishing gloves I start thinking about Andros. I love the cold weather, it’s not that, it’s just become a rhythm for me. This is the time of year I start thinking about bonefish and gully wash (the coconut milk rum and gin based fire water the locals drink). I start to crave conch salad and that sweet Bahamian bread.                      I think about warm breezes and cool sand when I should be thinking about migrating brown trout. I start checking over my bonefish gear when I should be prepping my Spey set up. I find myself looking at the weather for Andros when I should be planning my steelhead trips. I think about my friends there at Andros South and the friends I’ve made fishing there who live all over. Some of them even get a phone call. “Hey, what’s up? Done any good fishing lately? Going to the Bahamas this year?”. The other day I even bought a bunch of saltwater tying material. You never know, right? I got some leader material too. Better safe than sorry. It’s almost November and I’m making rum drinks while all my friends are settling into dark winter beers. I imagine they talk about me behind my back like I was a fool hopelessly in love with a girl who doesn’t know he exists. “Wake up dreamer, it’s not gonna happen”. Well, the world needs dreamers. I’m booking my ticket tonight. Try not to hate me. Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline   Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!  

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Confessions of a Trout Guide

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So this time of year in Colorado, the rivers are blown, there is no one in town and all the guides are hanging around the shop bullshitting about their worst/best days on the water. It got me to thinking that I should tell some stories about the worst possible guide trips/situations that we’ve had on the water. Hopefully this does not reflect poorly on our guide services, but it will shed some light on what happens in the day-to-day life of a fishing guide. I know there are a ton of guides out there who will want to one-up me and please do, I love this stuff. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Guide #1 (me) was floating with a mom and her son. We were catching tons of fish and having a great time. The son was maybe 12-13 years old and was a stud fisherman aside from giving me a fantastic Hank Patterson “snap it!” cast. As we floated down the river, mom was snapping pictures left and right as son caught fish after fish. At one point we were back-rowing a riffle when all of a sudden mom jumps out of the boat and starts running through a knee deep run towards an island in the river. My first thought is “wow, she really had to pee,” my second thought is “this woman is trespassing, and we are going to be issued a ticket at the takeout.” Lost in all my jumbled thoughts is a calf elk stranded on the island. This woman took it upon herself to rescue this thing. Next thing I know

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3 Ways to Make Your Wiggle Minnow Fish Better

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The foam wiggle minnow has been a mainstay streamer for me for trout and other predatory game fish for several years now.

When you combine its realistic swimming action and the significant water it pushes during the retrieve, its one of the best streamers I know of for calling in fish from great distances to eat. Plain and simple, the wiggle minnow will catch fish just about anywhere you visit in both fresh or salt, regardless of the water conditions you may find yourself fly fishing. Furthermore, it also fishes well on all types of fly lines (floating, intermediate, sinking) and on a wide range of rod weights. This can prove to be very valuable if you find yourself on the water with limited gear options. The last few years, I’ve been experimenting with modifications to my wiggle minnows in the effort to improve their fishability.

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