Quiet Fly Line Pickup, 2 ways: Video

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By Louis Cahill

Here are two ways to pick up your fly line and make a cast without spooking fish.

Quiet line pickup is an important skill for fly anglers after any species, but it’s never more important than when bonefishing. Their spooky nature may be the bonefish’s defining characteristic. Ad to that the excitement of the moment and it’s easy to spook fish that might otherwise be caught.

One of the best ways to spook a bonefish is by ripping your line off the water with a loud sizzle. That’ll send them to Cuba. There are two main reasons this happens. Slack in the line when you pick it up off the water, and too much speed too early. It’s easy to do, especially when you’re excited.


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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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Putting Your Rod Tip In The Water Can Be A Game Changer

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Big fish often hold a PhD in fly selection and presentation, but any experienced angler can tell you that getting them to eat your fly is only half the battle. Getting them to the net is another thing. Most anglers do not land the first really big fish they hook. Often they don’t land the first several. Much is written about feeding big fish and far too little about what comes next. Generally speaking anglers learn to land big, strong fish the way I did, by losing a few.

Fighting a tough fish is not just a show of force. It’s a game of strategy, but also of tactics. It’s problem solving. The fish creates problems and you have to solve them. There are two such fish problems that can be solved by the simple tactic of putting your rod tip in the water.

The big downstream run
When a strong fish runs hard downstream too quickly for you to follow, you find yourself at a disadvantage. With the fish directly downstream, the angle of the hook in the fish’s mouth is perilous. Any thrashing or head shaking on the part of the fish can easily result in a long distance release. If you are unable to get downstream and establish a better angle to the fish you are left with only one choice, bring the fish to you. But how?

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Josie’s Big Day

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I’ve never had a dog who was a really good fishing partner.

When I brought Josie home, I knew that was going be be a goal. My dog and me out on the river, doing our thing without any particular plan. It sounds good on paper but anyone who fishes with dogs knows it isn’t always ideal. Ive definitely had dogs who weren’t with the program. Who, for all of their sweetness, could screw up anything.

I had a beagle once, named Boo, who I’d take fishing once in a while. If she wasn’t lost, she was trying to dog-paddle a class four rapid or chew the cork off my rod. I took her out one day an a busy tailwater where there were anglers about every fifty feet. I was wading chest deep to get a cast to a rising fish. Boo, wanting to be part of the action but not wanting to be wet, walked out on a tree which leaned about ten feet over the river. She got out about thirty feet and discovered that the tree was too narrow to turn around. I kept yelling, “BOO! No!” Before long everyone on the river was yelling, “No Boo! Don’t do it!” Her exit was hysterical. She lived but she lost some points for style.

A good fishing dog is part companion and part business partner. They have to have the right love of adventure but maintain enough focus to stay with the program. My grandfather trained bird dogs and his dogs were great but they were too much business and not enough fun. I want my dog to sleep in the bed with me, lick my face and eat off of my plate. I knew that to strike the right balance I’d need a plan.

Josie is a great team player and brings some real assets to the table. She also brings some challenges. She is the smartest dog I’ve ever known but was a completely wild animal when I got her. Not a stray dog or a feral dog but just wild. She has been very easy to train, it took only two days to housebreak her, but she is fiercely independent and used to making her own decisions. I learned early on that you couldn’t ‘make’ her do anything but if you could make her understand why it was a good choice you didn’t have to tell her twice.

I don’t consider myself an experienced dog trainer. I’ve trained a handful of dogs. I can work out the basics but I don’t get fancy. Josie presented me with one challenge I’ve never faced. She was uncatchable. It had earned her the name Permit on the island and I knew if she got away from me, I’d have a better shot catching a permit than putting my hands back on the little potcake. My ultimate goal was to have a dog I could turn loose in the woods while I fished, who wouldn’t need a lot of looking after. We were a long way from that when we started.

I began by creating a bond. I hand fed her for the first month. Every bite she had to take from my hand. When I found her, it was hard to get her to eat food I threw to her so that was a big step in itself. Although she has her own bowl now she still gets a bite of everything I eat. It’s part of our bargain. I make her food and she watches me wash and chop her vegetables and cook her turkey. She’s never been

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Tight Quarters Trout Fishing

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Check Out This Helpful Video!


If you’ve been fly fishing for a while, you’ve probably become pretty proficient at dropping your dry flies in tight quarters to catch trout that are either tucked in under foliage or holding tight to an undercut bank. What If I asked you to make that same presentation, however, with a tandem nymph rig on a small stream with a strike indicator and split-shot? Could you pull it off with the same percentage of success? If you answered yes, hands off to you, because you are not the norm. I’ve found that most of my clients in this situation lack the confidence and know how to make consistently accurate fly presentations with a heavy tandem wet fly rig.

Below is a video Louis and I shot a while back, explaining how I pull off tight quarter casting on small trout streams. I had my rod rigged with a tandem nymph rig to show you  the most important things I focus on when casting to targets in these tight quarters.


Tip 1: Position yourself where you can get the correct casting angle to your target and also get a nice drift.

Tip 2: Strip off plenty of fly line but only start out with a foot or two of fly line when you begin your cast.

Tip 3: Cast smoothly and watch your

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Leader 911

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When leader emergencies happen, will you be ready?

I know a lot of anglers who only carry enough tippet to change out flies. That’s a great way to get caught with your pants down. I saw it happen just the other day. I was bonefishing with my friend Bob and a nice bonefish took him around some corral. Not only did Bob lose his whole leader but the end of his fly line along with the welded loop.

That’s a great way to ruin a day of fishing, even if you have extra leaders. But not if you’re prepared. I use hand tied leaders and I make a habit of having everything I need to rebuild my leader completely. I usually have a couple of fresh leaders as well but the obsessive-compulsive side of me insists on carrying the spools.


To start you need a good solid connection to your fly line. I prefer to whip a loop in the end of my fly line. You can get the details on how to do that HERE. That a little tricky on the boat or stream so I’ll usually go with a temporary solution and whip a loop that evening.

You can tie in a short butt section of heavy leader material and tie a loop for attaching your leader or for a quick fix you tie the leader directly to the fly line. If you are trout fishing on light tackle, you can use a nail knot for this. Personally I don’t like a nail knot connection. I prefer an Albright knot. Here’s a video.

If you don’t have a fresh leader

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12 Tips for Taking Awesome Fishing Photos

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Just the other day one our Facebook followers asked if I would post some tips for taking better fishing photos. I’ve written a good bit on the subject, but the articles are scattered across the site. I thought this would be a great opportunity to put together one source for some of my best photography tips and tricks.

So here it is, 12 tips that will make your fishing photos rock!

Holding Fish For Photos
The first step in getting a great shot of a fish is knowing how to hold it properly. I am constantly amazed how many anglers don’t know how to hold a fish for a photo, but to be fair, Kent and I have had a lot of practice and we have it down to a science. Here’s an article from each of us on the subject.

Hold That Fish

4 Tips For Getting A Better Picture Of Your Trophy

What if you’re fishing alone when you catch the fish of a lifetime?
No problem. Here’s an article that will give you plenty of options for getting a great shot.

Getting The Hero Shot When You’re Fishing Solo

Great photos start the basics.

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Fingers Crossed

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By Steven Brutger


Eying snow reports and talking to the few who had been in the mountains, we were cautiously optimistic. Despite a big snow year we had a shot at hitting it right.

A few days too early and ice would cover the high alpine lakes we hoped to fish. Or worse snow levels might make travel too arduous to reach them in the first place. Just right and we might be lucky enough to fish as the ice moved out, being the first to show our flies to hungry golden trout.

Now, miles into the Wilderness, we would soon have our answer.

Huddled under a tarp, a few hundred feet below tree line, we put our backs toward horizontally falling rain and snow. Spindrift was visibly blowing over the ridge tops. Conditions were deteriorating. After a restless night in our bags the only option was to continue up and test our luck.

The lake was half covered in ice. Peering through graupel a hundred feet above the water we spotted a

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Careful Where You Point That Thing

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Their vicious attack is almost unbelievable to watch. My buddy Andrew Bennett holds a nice one here for a sub-surface hero shot.

The Bahamians eat them. Barracuda are generally not edible because they eat poisonous reef fish and store the toxins. Eating one in the Florida Keys will kill you. The cuda that live on the flats can be safe, but it’s a risk. The Bahamians have a test.

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Check Your Fly Rig!

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By Justin Pickett

The sun is only a faint glow below the horizon as it prepares to make its ascent into the sky.

I launch my chunky, articulated offering into the twilight.

Slicing through the fog, it lands mere inches from the bank.

Soon, will come the moment of truth.

That split second when man and fish will come to learn their fate.

Strip, strip, strip.

A menacing silhouette emerges from the darkness.

Strip, strip. Flash! Strip, strip. Bam! Big hit!

The hook set is on point. The rod bends abruptly.

The surly Brown shakes his head angrily at the unpleasant sensation of resistance.

It is the moment that I have anticipated all morning. All week.

It is this moment that will haunt me for some time, for my net is empty and my fly is lost.

It happens. Trout, among the many other species of fish, will get the best of us sometimes. No matter what we do right, there are always those fish that just seem to be living right and never make it to our nets. The scenario described above, however, may not have ended the way that it did had I just checked my rig thoroughly before hitting the water.

It was still dark as I gathered all of my gear and transferred it into the Adipose. I didn’t rig my rod before leaving the house like I had planned so, when I got to the parking lot, I rushed through my normal routine of checking through my gear. Instead, I just threw everything together so I could get on the water ASAP. However, of course, hurrying through things tends to bite you in the ass later on, as it did on this particular morning. The bite in the ass being the humiliating loss of a very large brown trout.

That big brown slab shook his head hard after a short sprint downstream. Suddenly, just as he began a second drag-stealing run, my line went slack

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