Don’t Ride the Brakes During Your Fly Casting

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Are you finding that you’re lacking distance and falling short of your target with your fly casting?

Is your power and line speed insufficient? If the answer is yes, I bet you’re also getting a fair amount of tailing loops or dreaded wind knots aren’t you? Come on, be honest. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you’re periodically falling into this category with your fly casting. Believe me when I say, you’re not at all alone. I see it regularly on the water guiding, and most of the time anglers struggling with these problems usually are only doing one thing wrong with their fly casting. Nine times out of ten, in this scenario, anglers are decelerating their fly rod during their forward cast, back cast, or even both, in some cases. What you need to be doing to fix this problem is smoothly accelerating your fly rod during your casting stroke, making sure you’re stopping the rod at it’s fastest point. This will allow your fly rod to distribute the energy loaded during your cast efficiently, and you’ll have plenty of power (line speed) to reach your targets.

DECELERATION DURING YOUR CASTING STROKE: SHORT STORY & CASE STUDY

This past fall I was fishing big attractor dry flies with a client of mine. There were plenty of big fish willing to rise to our offerings, but to get them to eat, we had to stay far back and make long casts to them. Otherwise they’d spot us and spook. My client, a capable fly fisherman with strengths in short presentations and roll casts, developed a weakness for distance, when a head wind picked up. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the distance needed to present his dry fly ahead of the fish. Several minutes we worked a prime piece of water that I knew had some eager fish looking up, but we got no takes. My client turned to me and said, “They must not like this fly pattern”. I replied, “You may be right man”, and I handed him the nymph rig and pointed upstream to our next fishing spot. But what I really wanting to say is, “No, the fly pattern is good, you’re just not getting the fly anywhere close to your target”.

There are times when the best thing you can do

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You went fishing where? 

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By Jesse Lowry

Slovenia! Who the hell goes fishing in Slovenia?

That’s the typical reaction I get when I start talking about my fishing trips to this little gem of a country that most people couldn’t point to on a map. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Slovenia a handful of times and still am chomping at the bit to go back. It has a ton to offer anyone who makes the journey to this country of roughly 2 million people on the Adriatic Sea, at the cross roads of some very different cultures. Formerly part of the Yugoslavia (and numerous other empires prior) and now part of the EU, Slovenia has been influenced by Slavic, Germanic, and Italian roots. The people there are very proud, friendly and love the outdoors; hiking, rock climbing, white water kayaking, paragliding, and of course fly fishing. Many of the people I met would go fly fishing in the morning and then flying off the side of a mountain by noon once the thermals started to pick up, this worked to my advantage as the rivers were less busy in the afternoon, granted the fishing does slow down with the sun overhead and the gin clear rivers.  

It truly is a spectacular place to visit, even if there were no fish in these rivers they are an absolute pleasure to wade through and hike along. Crystal clear turquoise waters, deep canyons, lush forests, gorgeous water falls, massive boulders sprawled throughout the river almost like they were placed there just for Fly Fishermen, old homesteads that have stood the test of time and blend seamlessly into the background, it’s like stepping back in time. Then add to all of this feisty Rainbows, Adriatic Grayling, Browns and the most sought after, Marble Trout (think bull trout head on a brown trout body, with feeding behaviour similar to browns). All these fish in sizes where you have to give your head a shake, given the water they are occupying. This is the total package, a sight fishing, upstream dry fly fishing mecca, accessible from your car, that seems like it was conjured from some of your fishiest dreams. Obviously, nymphing and streamers work great, but when sight fishing in gin clear water I find it hard to resist throwing a dry (probably to my detriment from a hook up perspective… hrrmmm I seemed to suffer from something similar during university days as well).

 Fly selection wise I felt amply prepared with my usual western freestone go to’s, though some tail water selection would be a welcome addition. Dry Flys: Stimulators in Orange (lots of orange moths or Butterflys in July and August), Goddard Caddis, small tape wing black caddis, purple haze, green drakes, BWOs, ants and terrestrials. Nymphs: Hares ears, pheasant tails, stone flies, cased caddis, guides choice….you get the idea. I’m told streamers early hours in the dark in some of the big holding pools is the way to hook into the big meat eating Marbles, these pools are home to very tight lipped big fish during daylight hours, which people cast endlessly at and are mostly unsuccessfully. You’ll figure out which pools these are pretty quick, easy access to them, big fish stacked up, looks like shooting fish in a barrel, generally it ain’t.  

In terms of finding the spots to fish, it’s pretty easy, a little Google Maps Satellite view and you’ll see most of the roads follow blue lines. Currently it seems the imaging was done in summer when flows are lower which allows you to identify pools and pocket waters quite easily. You will also notice there are lots of access points and turn outs along the road, mostly put ins and take outs for the kayakers and rafts, so bit of care needed when parking in these spots especially the raft access points. Note: satellite images make things look flat and seemingly easy to access, this definitely isn’t the case there are some very steep access points not ideal for the shaky legs, but they get you to some pretty stellar places. Also note all of my fishing in Slovenia has been done during Late June to Late August when flows are low and wading the river is relatively is easy.     

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Fly Fishing Runoff Can Mean Fish On

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by Johnny Spillane

HAVE YOU EVER SHOWED UP AT A RIVER AND FOUND THAT INSTEAD OF THE CRYSTAL CLEAR WATER YOU WERE EXPECTING, YOU’RE STARING AT CHOCOLATE MILK?

Here in the Rocky Mountain this is a relatively common experience. It can happen for a number of reasons, huge rainstorms, someone doing river work above you or just your normal spring runoff. Don’t fret; while it might not be ideal, here are a few tips that can help you find some fish.

If the water is only slightly off color, you can basically use the same flies that you would if it was clear, just make everything a size or two larger. Instead of a size 18, put on a 16 or a 14. If that is not working, try adding a little bit more flash to your rig. We typically use flies with very little flash, but if the water is off color it can make a big difference in the amount of fish you stick just by changing to something that will reflect a little more light. If you were using a pheasant tail, try tying on a flash back pheasant tail and sometimes that is the only thing you will need to change.

If the water looks like chocolate milk, go big and go flashy. Those size 22 zebra midges that you planned on tying to 6x, that aint gonna work. I like to tie on a large white zonker and dead drift it with some sort of big buggy stonefly like a Pats Rubber leg. In off color water, fish will lose some of their inhibitions and hit anything that they can see. You just have to make sure that they see it. This is also a great time to experiment with different streamers that make noise, anything that will help draw a fish towards you fly.

Fishing runoff can also be one of the best times to hit a river. If it is fully blown, it might be better to explore other options but if a river is on the downside of its peak flows and it is starting to clear up, fishing can be phenomenal. Fish that are spread out all over the river during normal flows will congregate in areas of softer water during runoff and usually if you find one fish, you find 20. When the river is really high

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Tim Rajeff’s Abstract Hyper- Distance Theory of Fly Casting

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Watch the Video!

SO YOU WANT TO MAKE A LONG FLY CAST? WHO BETTER TO TELL YOU HOW THAN FORMER WORLD CHAMPION TIM RAJEFF.

The name Rajeff rings out in the world of competitive fly casting. Brothers Tim and Steve have been a force of nature for decades, holding a slew of records between them. Like any siblings, there’s been a little competition too.

“In order to beat my brother, I had to learn a whole new way of casting,” Tim told me.

Tim did eventually best his brother with a style of casting he playfully refers to as “Abstract Hyper-Distance Theory”

“It’s abstract because you would never fish that way,” he explains.

Still, much of this casting technique has made it into real fly fishing. Some of the best casters I know use Tim’s technique very effectively in their fly fishing. It’s not for the faint of heart but if you are looking to throw long casts, even in heavy wind, this will help you do it.

WATCH THIS VIDEO AND LEARN TIM RAJEFF’S ABSTRACT HYPER- DISTANCE THEORY OF FLY CASTING.

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Trailer Tires And Dog Logic

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What could be better than a beach vacation with my wife and my dog?

I can barely remember the last time Kathy and I took a beach vacation. We are both far more comfortable with the idea of work than relaxing on the beach. It was certainly long before we had Josie, our little potcake dog I brought home from the Bahamas. This would be Josie’s first trip to the beach since I scooped her out of the sand of South Andros. It’s hard for me to picture this trip getting any better, then my buddy Scott offers his flats skiff.

“You should take the Silver King.”

Generosity is Scott’s defining character trait, and although I am reluctant, it’s an offer I can’t refuse. I know he needs hours on the boat to keep it in shape and the idea of spending a couple of half days casting to redfish is just too good to pass up. I don’t protest too much before accepting his offer.

As usual, the day of our departure sneaks up on us. We respond to being unprepared by over preparing. A last minute Costco run yields more food, wine, and liquor than a Mardi Gras Krewe could use. We pack my Sequoia to the gills. I lube the bearings on the trailer, do a little last minute work on the trailer lights and we are on the road by lunch time. Everything is smooth sailing until we get nearly to the Alabama state line and I feel a vibration coming from the trailer.

Ten seconds of vibration, then nothing for another ten and the tire explodes. Not a flat, a total explosion. I’ve never seen a tire go off like that. Josie nearly comes out of her skin. I ease over to the shoulder and start digging through the food, liquor, snorkel gear and fishing tackle for a jack. I always carry a handful of tools on the road, so I’m pretty set for the job. A bottle jack under the axle and a quick tire change. Thank God Scott has a spare. We’re back on the road pretty quickly. I stop at the first gas station to check the air in the spare and top it off. A minor hiccup and everything seems fine until a few minutes later the trailer starts to shimmy side to side. I call Scott on the phone.

“Have you had any issues with the trailer? We blew a tire and now I have a weird shimmy going on.”

“Yeah, those tires are only good for about a year and they are four years old.”

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Arrogant. Selfish. Proud. A Wyoming Fisherman in the American South

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I spend a lot of time fishing with my buddies out west. Frankly, I’m spoiled. My western friends show me some pretty outstanding fishing when I’m out their way. It’s very seldom that I get the chance to reciprocate. Few of my friends from the west find their way to my neck of the woods. When I made the acquaintance of Jackson Engels, a talented fly anger from Wyoming, and he mentioned he was visiting North Carolina, I was excited to show off some of my water for a change.

Jackson and I had a great day on the water and he brought some Wyoming whiskey that helped. Later I got to thinking. What does a North Carolina trout stream look like to a guy from Wyoming? I emailed Jackson and asked for his thoughts. I told him I was thinking of writing a piece for G&G. His reply was so well written I decided to share it with you as he wrote it. In his words, from his heart.

For the record, Jackson did not strike me as arrogant, selfish or proud. Thanks Jackson, for a great day on the water, for the whiskey and for sharing your thoughts on our day.

L.

ARROGANT. SELFISH. PROUD. A WYOMING FISHERMAN IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH.
BY JACKSON ENGELS

Arrogantly, I don’t like fishing anywhere but Wyoming. Selfishly, I don’t want anyone else fishing my Wyoming streams. Proudly, I KNOW the people of Wyoming are the most genuine and generous in the country.

Weeks prior to my trip, sarcastic farewells actually started to scare me. Maybe my friends were right, maybe a trip to Georgia/North Carolina to meet a fishing HERO…ahem “fishing guide”…ahem “fishing bum” was a a bad idea. Surely jokes about canoes and banjos weren’t really starting to concern me? And holy hell, squealing like a pig! What am I doing? Where am I going? Trout fishing in the South? Does that even exist? There’s no such thing! This Louis Cahill is going to kill me and bury me next to some backwoods moonshine shed!! HELP!!!

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Is Your Introvert Personality Holding Back Your Fly Fishing Growth?

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Those of you that know me personally, would probably agree I’m somewhat of an introvert. Much of that is due to the fact that I was a shy kid with few friends growing up, and I spent a great deal of my time in grade school getting picked on by extreme extrovert jerks. Thankfully, during my college years, I was able to break out of my shell from the help of some solid friends who always had my back. As much headway as I’ve managed to make over the years, I still haven’t been able to totally kick my introvert ways. For instance, I’m a pretty accomplished fly fisherman, but if you put me in a group of veteran fly anglers, most of the time, I’ll be the one standing on the side-lines with my mouth shut, listening to everyone else talk about their accomplishments and experiences. It wasn’t until I met Louis, that I realized how important it was for my own fly fishing growth, to not let myself be afraid to step out of my comfort zone to learn new skills, and for that matter, not be afraid to let others see the areas where I had the most room for angling improvement.

Louis has never been afraid of what people thought of him as a fly fisherman. If he has, he sure as heck doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. I believe a lot of that is because he’s come to grips with and accepted, that most of his peers are usually going to write him off as an advanced fly fisherman, solely because he’s a professional photographer. For years trout fishing, I was the backbone of our fishing adventures. I’d do the majority of the catching and he’d do the shooting. He was the person asking most of the questions, and the majority of the time, I was the one doing the strategizing on the water. Although I started out a few skill notches ahead of Louis with a fly rod, he quickly closed the gap over the years. Today, I’m not at all ashamed to admit that Louis is a more well rounded fly angler than I am. He leap frogged me because he embraced his extrovert side, while I let my introvert personality hold me back from learning new facets of fly fishing. Louis has become a very experienced saltwater angler the last few years by devoting his time and hard work on the water, and he’s also made great strides in learning the art of spey fishing, by landing his fair share of wild steelhead on the swing. His huge growth as a fly angler and fly tier has come to him because he wasn’t afraid to break out of his trout fishing shell and try new things, and he’s never been ashamed to ask for help from others when he needed it. Furthermore, Louis has chosen to live out his fly fishing passion by never being fully satisfied with his current skills. He’s always looking for ways to improve his game. In turn, he’s inspired me to follow his extrovert ways in my own fly fishing endeavors. If it wasn’t for Louis, I would be half the angler I am today, and I’m grateful and forever thankful for his friendship, leadership and unwavering support.

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Can Fasting Make You A Better Angler?

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Science is finding evidence that the ancient practice of fasting offers a host of mental health benefits.

I’m starving. Quite literally. I’ve been on a pretty intense diet recently and as of today have lost 55 pounds in a little over four months. There are many health benefits to keeping that weight off but I really believe it’s helping me be a better angler, if for no other reason than I can hike to better water. In all seriousness though, I’ve seen a difference and it got me doing a little research. It seems I’m not alone in the idea that fasting changes your mental performance.

My initial theory was this. If I am hungry when fishing, my natural predatory senses could be enhanced. My body needs food and my mind could be sharpening my senses to help me provide it, helping me spot fish and focus on catching them. After doing some reading, I think there’s merit in that idea but there may be more going on.

Studies have shown that fasting can finding improvements in mood, mental clarity, vigilance, a sense of improved well-being, and sometimes euphoria. An interesting article from “Mind The Science Gap” gets into some of the physical details.

“The mood-boosting effects of fasting may be an evolutionary adaptive mechanism for periods of famine. In other words, when food is scarce our bodies release chemicals to help protect our brains from the negative effects. These chemicals can put us in a good mood–but, as you know if you have skipped a meal or two, it takes a few days. During the first week of fasting, the body begins to adapt to starvation by releasing massive amounts of catecholamines including epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, and dopamine as well as gluco-corticoids, steroid hormones involved in regulating the immune response and glucose metabolism. All of these chemicals are also released during the infamous ‘fight or flight’ response. After a while, our body responds to this stress through a boost of feel-good and protective chemicals.” -http://www.mindthesciencegap.org

There is also research which suggests that these chemical changes in the brain help in the long term to

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The Original Eyewear For The Flats

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Bonefish are just cool. They never cease to amaze me.

Like all fish, they are perfectly adapted to their environment and in their environment you need a competitive edge. Right in the middle of the food chain, the bonefish has to get in, get fed, and get out in a hurry, before he becomes somebody else’s lunch. To do that, he needs keen eyesight, a hard nose, a turbo charged tail stroke and some high-tech eye wear. I handled hundreds of bones before I ever noticed the eye glass, and a few more before I captured a good photo of it. It’s so clear and flawless that the light and the angle you look at the fish need to be just right to see it. It is a slick outer lens that covers a good portion of the bonefishes face and encapsulates it’s eye. If you study it’s profile you will see that it turns the bonefish’s already sleek profile into a perfectly hydrodynamic projectile. The equivalent of cycle racers shaving their legs.

No doubt, this aids in the bone’s remarkable speed, but that’s just part of the story. The eyeglass serves a much larger purpose. The bonefish has a fairly unique style of feeding. When he spots a crab or a shrimp and makes his charge his prey seeks cover in the coral, or deep in the mud or sand bottom. The bonefish gives chase by

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It’s All in the Heart

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By Louis Cahill

Bill didn’t know anything about fly fishing.

That’s not my judgment; he told me so. In fact, it was the first thing he told me. Standing on the bow of the skiff, staring into a Bahamian flat, looking for a fish he’d only heard of, he was as out of his element as a cat on roller skates. A tire salesman from Wisconsin, he’d walked into the local fly shop and told the guy behind the counter,

“I want to catch a tarpon on a fly. What do I need?”

The shop guy told him you don’t just buy a fly rod and catch a tarpon. He knew about the Gink and Gasoline Bonefish School and said,

“Go on this guy’s trip. He’ll teach you what you need to know to catch a tarpon.”

When Bill told me that story, I thought, hell yes! I’ll fish with this guy any day. I don’t care if he doesn’t know which end of the rod to hold.

The first day Bill and I fished together was not a great day for a beginner. We had some sun but the wind was howling. I’m sure Bill had some thoughts about how much he’d spent on that new eight-weight rod, that must have felt worthless in that wind. When I stepped up and punched my clearing cast into the wind, he moaned,

“Jesus! Right into the wind,” and rested his face in his hands.

I’ve heard folks, mostly folks who know less than Bill about fly fishing say, “It’s all in the wrist.” Of course, it isn’t. It’s no more in the wrist than it is in the rod, the line or the fly. It’s not in a book or a video. It isn’t even in your head. Fly fishing is in your heart, and I didn’t have to spend much time with Bill to see that his was full.

Bill didn’t want to catch a tarpon because it would make him cool, or even because it was a challenge. He didn’t want to do it so he could post the photo on Facebook or brag to his buddies. His buddies wouldn’t even know what a tarpon was. Bill wanted to catch his tarpon for one simple reason. His doctor had told him he was going to die. Soon, and for what ever reason, catching a tarpon on the fly was the one thing he wanted to do first.

When Bill told me that,

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