Pack The Heat So You Can Pack it Out

15 comments / Posted on / by


The recent run-in with the local WYDNR officer, who just gave me the run down about heavy bear activity in the area, has got me the heebie-jeebies. I’m trying to let loose and be one with the rod, but I can’t stop from thinking I’m smelling wet dog in the air, and I’m terrified of what could be lurking behind the thick moose brush out of sight. If you’re in the process of planning a trip into the deep wilderness where bear, moose, and other dangerous predators thrive, you just might consider purchasing a canister of pepper spray, and keep it holstered on your side. Hell it could save your life.

Two years ago, I stumbled right on top of a Boon & Crockett moose bedded down during a short hike-in to a secluded stretch of the Snake River. Luckily, we both decided to flight in opposite directions, and I only had to change my britches before wetting a line. Guiding in Alaska one season, I somehow managed to stay under the radar, as two giant brown bears went toe to toe battling over a spawning bed within inches of my outpost tent. And I’ll never forget the feeling of total panic, when I walked up on a fresh bloody mule deer kill on the Upper Hoback River this past July. With my heart pounding out my chest,  and the realization of no one knowing my whereabouts, I quickly said the hell with fishing, and high-tailed it back to the truck before I became desert.

We often drop a thousand dollars or more for our out of town fly fishing trips without giving it a second thought. That’s why I find it ironic, that when we get there, we gawk at the $50 price tag of a can of pepper spray. I’m not sure if it’s my life experiences that’s making me wiser, or if I’m just getting softer in my old age, but I’m damn sure of one thing. I’ve already used up all my get out of jail free-cards with

Read More »

Isonychia Nymph Patterns – 4 Proven Imitations

7 comments / Posted on / by

The Isonychia Nymph is a pattern that should be carried in the fly box of every traveling fly angler. Although these aquatic mayflies do not inhabit all streams in great density, where they are found in abundance, they are shown great favoritism by foraging trout who will often key in on them exclusively. The Isonychia usually hatches during the summer months, with some locations in the United States and abroad, returning a second time during the fall season.

These beautiful mayfly nymphs are olympic class swimmers, and fly tiers should try to tie their Isonychia fly imitations with materials that breath and move naturally in the water to mimic this trait. Furthermore, twitching and swinging Isonychia nymph patterns during the drift, is highly suggested to help attract attention and trigger strikes by trout. The light colored stripe, that runs down the back of most Ishonychia nymphs, is the most recognizable feature that tips fly anglers off to the correct classification of these nymphs. That being said, not all species carry the white stripe in such flamboyancy, so it’s best to sample your local streams and rivers when tying your own imitations.

Below are 4 Isonychia nymph patterns that I’ve used in the past with great results. Most Isonychia nymphs measure in the size 10-12 hook range, but most fly fisherman agree it’s always a good idea to stock a couple different sizes in your Isonychia fly patterns to help insure you’ll be able to accurately match the bugs on the waters that you may find while fly fishing.

Read More »

It’s All in the Heart

22 comments / Posted on / by

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,

Read More »

Georgia Man Catches Trout On Car Key, But Why?

25 comments / Posted on / by

By Louis Cahill


For some reason this year I have run into more anglers with attitude than usual. Ranging from the dry fly purest who think they walk on the water rather than fish it, to the Bonos of fly fishing who keep a sharpie handy for a quick autograph. Here’s an example.

I was on a photo shoot a while back on the Henry’s Fork. I had a few minutes to fish and frankly, I needed a fish to photograph, so I asked the guide for a rod. He gave me a set up with a Chernobyl Ant, the fly everyone else was using to NOT catch fish. I didn’t have my gear so I ask if he had any streamers. The reply I got brought steam out of my ears. “This is the Henry’s Fork and we don’t do that here”. Rather than launch into a diatribe on what horse shit that is, I explained that this was my job and I needed a fish and may I please have a streamer. Within a few casts I had my fish. The guide was clearly irritated and insisted that it meant nothing.

I was talking, ok bitching, about this narrow view of fishing to Kent, over a few beers, when he challenged me to come up with the most f¥€ked up thing I could catch a fish on. After a few ideas we decided on a car key. I liked this because I cary a key chain with way too many keys. So I picked out a key and tied on a hook with a marabou tail. To further infuriate the purest I chose

Read More »

What Every Fly Angler Can Learn From Tenkara

34 comments / Posted on / by


It seems like there are only two camps when it comes to fishing tenkara. Those who love it and those who hate it. I think the general sentiment of the haters was summed up pretty well by good friend Dave Grossman of SCOF.

“You know the hardest part about tenkara?…Telling your dad that you’re gay.” – Dave Grossman

Well, my father passed away years ago so I guess I’ll tell you. I think I’m gay for tenkara.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting all of my two handers on eBay or chucking out the bonefish rods. I will continue to carry way too many flies and a bag of split shot but I’m taking this willowy little rod seriously and I think you should too.

I’m new to tenkara. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. We have an expert (Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA) writing tenkara content and I encourage you to submit questions for Daniel to answer. What I am prepared to do is tell you why I’m excited about tenkara and what I think it offers to every fly angler.

You’ve probably heard that tenkara is fun. That’s very true. It’s also simple, affordable, convenient and aesthetically pleasing. Those are all good reasons for the sudden popularity of tenkara but there is a whole lot more going on in this ancient Japanese art of angling. Tenkara is making a whole lot of people better anglers.

“It’s between the fish and the fly, man. Take yourself out of the equation.” – Tori Bevins

That quote from bonefish guide Tori Bevins is to this day my favorite bit of fly fishing wisdom. Tori wasn’t talking about tenkara, but he could have been. The lesson is the same. Fly fishing is magic. Not in the Merlin sense but in the David Copperfield sense. It is the art of illusion. The art of making someone, in this case a fish, believe with all their heart in something utterly implausible.

Read More »

Fast Pocket Water & Big Attractor Dry Flies

4 comments / Posted on / by

During the spring, summer and fall I often get the itch to forget about catching numbers and instead see how big of an attractor dry fly I can get away with fishing and still fool trout.

For those of you who don’t know, my closest trout waters are North Georgia and Western North Carolina. We don’t regularly fish giant attractor dry fly patterns, like lots of my western friends do, because most of our water just won’t yield much results. That’s whats so cool about the idea of fishing them, when most anglers would chastise you. It gives me a little extra reward fishing patterns out of place and still catching fish. My favorite trout water for doing this on are medium-sized streams, particular in gorge sections that have a steep stream gradient. This type of water generally is loaded up with pocket water, and that’s perfect trout water for fishing big attractor patterns. Most of the trout found in these stretches of water are forced to be opportunistic feeders. The fast and turbulent water don’t give them a lot of time to examine their food before it’s out of their reach.

I’ll never forget an epic day of fishing in western North Carolina last year, fishing a size 6-8 Royal Wulff. I caught some really nice brown and rainbow trout that day, and I chuckled inside as I got weird looks from other locals on the stream, as they watched me drifting unusually large dry flies. They must have thought I was a

Read More »

The New Yeti Hopper M-30 Portable Cooler: Video

No comments yet / Posted on / by

The new Yeti Hopper M-30 uses magnets to keep ice longer.

If you’re looking for a portable cooler that’s rugged, doesn’t leak and keeps ice frozen, the M-30 is a big improvement. Magnetic closures keep the cold in when it’s warm out. Just the thing for those summer days when WE ARE GOING TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!


Read More »

A Little Chrome Tail

1 comment / Posted on / by

There’s nothing like a little chrome tail to start this day! What a beautiful bright steelhead courtesy of my buddy Jeff Hickman. The bright chrome strips in the tail tell the story. This is a fresh fish, straight from the salt.

Read More »

The Cajun Spey Waltz

6 comments / Posted on / by

Snow is blowing in around the corners of my glasses and forty degree water is slowly making its way into my waders.

I haven’t seen the sun for several days and the river is full of chrome bright steelhead. It doesn’t feel much like Louisiana. Never the less the tune that keeps dancing in my head and eventually to my lips is an old Cajun waltz, “The Big Mamu”.

I have a deep and conflicted love for Louisiana. I almost moved there once. Like I said, I’m conflicted, but of the many things I love about the place, maybe I love the music best. The Blues, the Hot Jazz, the Zydeco and the beautiful and haunting traditional Cajun music. The sound of the accordion, the fiddle and the washboard pull at my heart strings. I don’t know why but I loved it the first time I heard it. But what does it have to do with steelheading? Apparently, everything.

I love Spey casting but I don’t get to do as much of it as I’d like and consequently it takes me a while to get into the rhythm. There are three basic parts to a Spey cast. The anchor placement, the sweep and the cast. Inevitably, when my casting goes to hell it’s the timing of my sweep that’s the problem. I’ve spent so much time developing speed and strength for my saltwater casting that it takes a while for me to remember that Spey casting is the exact opposite. Slow and easy.

I’m not a Spey Guru so I’ll keep it simple. The sweep is the part of the cast where you form a D loop and load the rod. Both very important. There is a direct relationship between the height of the rod tip and the speed of the sweep. As the rod tip is lowered the sweep must be faster to aerialize the head. A higher rod tip and slower sweep is easier to control, so that’s what I shoot for but I inevitably start to rush it and my casting gets sloppy. A friend told me to try and count to three during my sweep. I tried but I still rushed it and that got me thinking about how to count to three at a consistent speed. I struggled with it and then it dawned on me, the Cajun waltz.

The physicality of the music is perfect. It’s dance music, your body instinctively responds. The gentle, one-two-three, of the

Read More »

Wood is Good

16 comments / Posted on / by

Target Woody structure and catch more fish.

“Wood is good”, shouted Sam Cornelius manning the oars, as I concentrated on drifting my flesh pattern against the never ending medley of wood snags along the Togiak River banks in Alaska, back in 2006. “When ever you see wood, drift your flies as close to it as you can, because fish are usually close by.

Read More »