12 Tips For Epic Fly Fishing Trips On The Cheap

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You may be poor, but you don’t have to fish like it.

Some of the greatest fly fishing adventures I’ve taken have cost me the least. I love fishing in exotic locations and spending time at great fishing lodges. Who wouldn’t? But that’s a fairly recent thing for me and primarily funded by my Nikon. Working for my fishing days has paid off for me, but that’s not an option for everyone.

I have never let a lack of funds get between me and great fly fishing. I’ve always figured out a way to get on the water and create some kind of epic adventure. Over the years I’ve figured out one or two tricks that make for great fly bum trips on the cheap. I’m going to share a few of them so you can do the same.


There’s nothing more helpful than a good fishing buddy, or two. Having good friends to share both costs and experience with will make your fishing trips a hundred times better. A buddy can do more than split the cost of gas. He might lend you a rod or take turns rowing the boat. He may have knowledge about water that you don’t. He may just tell a good story or be a good listener. Finding good, compatible friends to travel and fish with is the most important step you can take in having a truly epic trip.


Hotels cost money and do very little to enhance the fishing experience. Camping saves you a bundle and makes the trip a whole lot more special. Waking up on the river beats the hell out of a continental breakfast. Get your camping gear in order and go as light as possible. Less time messing with gear means more time fishing. I have gone so far as to buy an extra tent, sleeping bag and a few necessities which I keep at a friend’s house in Denver. If I find a cheap ticket I don’t even have to pay the baggage fees.


I drive to Idaho and Wyoming from Georgia on a regular basis. I don’t do it because I enjoy the scenery of western Kansas. I do it because it saves me a bundle. Gas is not cheap but it’s often at least as cheap as an airplane ticket. Driving allows me to take advantage of a whole host of cost-cutting measures.

I can carry all of my camping gear and even sleep in the truck sometimes. I tow my Adipose skiff which saves me renting a boat. I don’t have the expense of a rental car. It saves a fortune. I even have a power inverter in the truck to charge batteries or run small electronics. I’m pretty self-sufficient when I’m on the road.

I will frequently coordinate the drive with buddies who choose to fly. They help out with the gas money and I pick them up at the airport and we all save the cost of a rental car. Driving to your fishing destination just gives you a lot more options.

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Fly Tying Feng Shui

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By Bob Reece

As a junior high science teacher, my daytime work environment is chaos. 

While all of our professional lives vary, the constant of stress remains.  Fly tying can provide great respite from the challenges of adulting.   Creating a tying environment conducive to this exponentially enhances the healing element of this pass time.  

On a basic level, I believe that it is fundamentally important to have a permanent location for your fly tying adventures.  By establishing a dedicated tying area, the process of setting up and taking down your materials is eliminated.  This provides you with more time to construct the flies that fill your boxes. 

In a deeper sense, I personally see fly tying as both an escape from stress and a source of healing.   I’m blessed to still have the desk that I tied my first fly on as a kid.  That has and always will be the foundation of my tying area.  I’ve always been a highly visual and deeply emotional person.  As a result of this, I layout the walls of my tying setup with pictures of my kids, adventures and moments that are nothing but positive.  When I sit down to tie, I want to leave any stress and negativity behind me and be engulfed by good thoughts and memories.  This may sound cheesy.  Yet, the reality of it is

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Small Stream Recon Part II

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By Jason Tucker

More tips on finding small streams that pay off big!

For the sake of space we split the subject of small-stream recon into two parts. In the previous installment we discussed using state websites, online maps, printed maps and atlases, and guidebooks to find small-stream fishing. Click here to read it if you missed it.


Online maps and and phone apps are getting better and better, and service providers are continually expanding service even into the backcountry. Google maps is a great tool to use at home with a guidebook and DeLorme atlas. You can mark spots on the map, then open the app on your phone and follow the directions all the way to your stream. It even has GPS connectivity that allows it to work in areas without coverage.

Another useful app available for a subscription is OnX Maps. It is not a navigation app. Instead it identifies public lands and private land ownership and shows where you are on the landscape. You can positively identify unmarked public lands you can use for access, and identifies landowners in case you feel like asking for permission. It was developed for hunters, but now even real estate agents use it to accurately identify property boundaries. I think it will open up a lot of water to anglers who never realized there was public access to certain streams.

Fly Shops and Friends

I’m lumping these two resources together for a reason. Both can be great sources of intel, but you need to be careful not to abuse their largesse. Fly shops are in the business of promoting their fishery, and will have local maps, information on water conditions, hatches and flies, and sell guidebooks and other useful tools.

However, they are often promoting larger systems with well-known access points. Think that big trout stream that runs next to the paved highway or county road, gets stocked on a regular basis and is almost solid with canoes and tubers on holiday weekends. They are often a bit more reticent to talk about small streams for good reason. If you can somehow demonstrate respect for the resource and the ability to keep your mouth closed they may be more forthcoming.

Friends can be an even more touchy area. A lot of angling friendships have ended by someone burning a spot they were told in confidence.

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Sunday Classic / Dicky’s Tarpon Silencer

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On dead calm days in the Florida Keys the silver king can be afraid of his on shadow. I’ve seen plenty of big tarpon vanish at the sound of the fly landing on the water. As a flats guide, so has Joel Dickey. That’s why he came up with this fly that the calls the Tarpon Silencer. The Silencer lands so softly that even the most skittish tarpon keep their cool and it’s shrimpy profile is irresistible.

If you’re planning a trip to the Keys, or any tarpon fishing destination, this is a fly you want in your box.

Watch the video and learn to tie Dicky’s Tarpon Silencer.

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Saturday Shoutout / The Creek

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Trout fishing, fatherhood, self exploration. Nothing a little leg work can’t tackle. This beautiful little film touches on it all. Take the journey for a little hard won trout fishing in Sweden.


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Make Better Roll Cast: Video

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It isn’t flashy, but a good roll cast will catch you a lot of fish you might otherwise miss.

Roll casting is an essential skill for any angler, especially those targeting trout. Many of the mountain streams where trout live have little room for a backcast. A good roll cast opens up a lot of water that’s unfishable by any other means. It’s usually one of the first casts an angler learns, and because their understanding of fly casting is limited, anglers often learn the cast poorly. Very few go back and fix the problems they developed early on.


Making a robust D loop.

Keeping the path of the rod tip flat on the casting stroke.

Smooth acceleration of the cast to an abrupt stop.

Once you have the basics of the cast down, you can add a haul and shoot line for more distance. Roll casting this way is very effective on all types of water.


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Reece’s J.T.T

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By Bob Reece

Unlimited creativity is my favorite aspect of fly tying. 

With the constant influx of new tying materials, the possible combinations for creating successful patterns increases.  In addition to this, the construction of many new materials simplifies the tying process needed to create equally, if not more productive flies. 

Throughout the Rocky Mountain region, water has recently returned to a liquid state.  Ice off on my regional still waters in one of my favorite seasonal fishing events.  Regardless of the time of year, big and ugly is often a great way to go when selecting Stillwater patterns.  This element seems to be especially true for the first few weeks following the thaw on most lakes. 

In the still waters that I guide on dragon fly nymphs are a prevalent food source for trout.  The largest of the species in these waters grow to just past two inches in length as fully developed nymphs.  In an effort to imitate these types of food sources, I created the J.T.T. streamer.  I typically tie the pattern in tan, black and olive. 

By using just the tip of a dragon tail, the patterns produces a substantial profile with supple movement.  The R Distribution Lively Crustacean Legs brush, makes for an easy finish to the pattern that provides additional profile and movement.  Most importantly is the hook that this pattern is founded on.  The Owner Mosquito hook is constructed with an offset point and a short shank.  These two factors turn the odds in the anglers favor with regard to hooking and holding fish.  

When fishing this pattern I typically use a clear intermediate sinking line.

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How To Get High Line Speed

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Casting in the salt is demanding at times, to say the least.

To help fight those strong winds that affect your distance and accuracy you have to add as much controlled power as you can to the cast. This is absolutely crucial.
Having high line speed helps you to stabilize the line in the air during casting. This helps in your accuracy, distance and gets the fly to the fish quicker. Increasing your sense of urgency and your intensity will help up your line speed big time. Many times in the salt you are battling time as well as wind. You have a limited amount of time before the fish spooks or moves out of casting range.

Your strength is an important factor in high line speed as well. The stronger you are, the more power you can apply to your cast. You will get out of the cast what you put into it. If you push the gas pedal down a little you go 30mph. If you push the gas pedal down a lot you go 90mph.

When the wind is blowing 20 knots or harder you have to push the pedal down hard! Get that fly line moving fast and casting in those tough salt water winds will be much easier. But remember we are talking about controlled power and the only way to apply control and power is to practice. Just like the cast, you get out what you put in.

Let’s cover some other tips that will help increase line speed.


Bending your knees and lowering your center of gravity helps in a couple of ways. It gives you balance on the boat and allows you to apply power from your legs into your core. The power from your core will then be transferred into the cast.

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Reach, Don’t Rip!

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One of the most common areas of needed improvement that I see with many anglers is line management.

In fly fishing, line management is a big piece of the puzzle, and to be consistently successful you must improve upon these skills and develop good habits. One particularly bad habit that I see more than any other when I’m on the water with clients and other anglers is having an unnecessary amount of line stripped off the reel. This is problematic for numerous reasons.

One obvious reason is that your fly line could become entangled while fighting a fish and cause you to lose a fish. Laying a ton of line on the ground invites a host of gremlins to grab on and ruin your efforts. Most trout lines are also very supple and thin, making them even more prone to tangle and knot up when being taken from the ground quickly, whether it be a fish on the run or from the act of shooting line. Fly line left on the ground, or even in the water, also lends itself to damage. You can easily shred a fly line and even cut through a line by stepping on it. I’ve had one of my lines severed in half when a client of mine wearing aluminum barred boots stepped on it, leaving that rig useless until we stopped to grab another reel. Dirt and grime also loves to stick to fly lines, especially textured lines, which will greatly hinder your fly line’s ability to float effectively on the water’s surface. Problems, problems, problems.

Often, a situation doesn’t call for more fly line, but rather for the angler to get out of their “box”.

For example, there was a morning I was setting up a client to make the first presentation of the day, which required about a thirty-foot cast. Nothing crazy. As he set his feet and prepared for his cast, I turned to pull my net from my pack in an act of optimism. As I did this all I could hear was the sound of the intermittent outgoing clicks of the drag on his reel. A lot of them. When I turned back to him,

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How Pebble Mine Hurts America: Action Required by June 30th

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By Dan Frasier

We have until June 30th 2019 to speak out against the Pebble Mine and for America.

We live in a particularly divisive world these days. Issues that used to be fodder for spirited conversation amongst friends and family now create permanent rifts; dividing and alienating people from each other. So it’s rare to find an issue upon which even the most extreme believers from either side of the aisle can agree. Fortunately, that issue is an important one and one which, thanks to the comment period being open until June 30th, we can voice our opposition to from either side of the aisle. Of course, I’m talking about the current Pebble Mine proposal being reviewed by the Army Corp of Engineers. 

The environmental opposition to this mine, a topic that tends to resonate more with left-leaning voters, though not exclusively their domain,  is very clear. In the history of mines of this type, never has one managed to avoid serious detrimental impacts to clean water. Add to that the unique and fragile ecosystem upon whose headwaters this particular mine sits and you have a recipe for environmental disaster. Little more needs to be said to rally environmental support for preventing the construction of Pebble Mine.

What I think is far less understood is the business and economic reasoning for the elimination of this threat to a great American industry. A reality that should motivate anyone who supports the current administration’s economic policy to oppose this mine. There is a lot of misinformation and some complicated corporate structure here so allow me to explain. 

Pebble Mine is a figment of the imagination of a Canadian shell corporation.

That’s how these things work. A small speculative company, in this case, Northern Dynasty Minerals (ticker: NAK), will buy a mining claim. They have no real assets aside from the claim, and absolutely no ability to actually construct a mine. What they do have is some cash and a prayer. They spend that cash speculating on there being ore in the ground on the claim they’ve purchased. Very few have this bet pay-off but when it does, it pays off big. If they find ore, they then put together a partnership of legitimate mining companies who develop a mine plan, help shepherd the plan through the appropriate regulatory agencies, and then actually own and operate the mine. That’s how it usually works. But not in this case. 

Here, Northern Dynasty tried to follow that plan, but all of the partners backed out a number of years ago as they recognized the environmental, economic, and reputational risks and infeasibility of the mine. In fact, one of the ex-partners gifted their shares to two Alaskan charitable organizations. Leaving a TINY Canadian company holding the claim on some potential ore in the Bristol Bay headwaters but without any approvals or the actual ability to build and operate a mine. So Northern Dynasty decided to attempt to get the approvals themselves, and then bring in partners later. And that is where we currently stand. Tiny Canadian shell company, no partners and no approvals. 

So what happens if the Army Corp approves the current plan?

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