How hard is your guide working for you?

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Jeff Hickman ran into a little problem while guiding Nate DeVol on the Deschutes River in Oregon. Jeff put Nate on a sweet run where he’d been finding steelhead. A great run for Jeff (6’4″) but a good swim for Nate (5’3″). Rather than give up on a good run Jeff went “Master Blaster” putting Nate on his shoulders and waded the run for him.

It was the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen a guide do and I can’t believe no one took a bath. The Deschutes can be a tough wade without a guy on your shoulders. According to Jeff it wasn’t too bad, except for that angry Chap Stick Nate was carrying in his pocket.

I wish Nate had gotten a fish because that would be an awesome hero shot. Can somebody please nominate this man for guide of the year?

If you’ve got a good story about something crazy a guide did for you, or you did for a client, please post a comment. We’d love to hear it.

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Kent’s eight weight is bent double, the big steelhead finally within range of the net.

We’re in a tough spot. This fish has taken us downstream as far as we can go. We’re backed up against a bridge with a deep hole on one side and a concrete wall on the other. Kent has managed to bring this big fish back upstream and whatever happens is going to happen here and now. The temperature is about zero and the wind is howling. My numb fingers grip the net and I lean forward, waiting for my shot. The fish’s head comes up and I scoop. Holy crap it’s a big fish! Less than half the fish is in the net and I’m losing him. Only one thing to do, I plunge my right hand into the water and tail the fish. He’s landed but my fleece glove is soaked. We manage the fish and I get a few photos but my right hand, now out of the glove, feels like it’s on fire. By the time I get my glove out of my pocket it’s a block of ice. If I hadn’t brought a second pair my day would be over. I’d have frostbite in minutes without a glove on that wet hand.

OK, that’s a happy ending. We landed the fish and I had spare gloves, but let’s look at it from the fishes perspective. The fish is like that bare hand. He’s wet and exposed, out in that cold wind. What’s worse is that a fish is cold blooded. He doesn’t have an internal source of heat like I do. The only thing keeping him warm is that water. Have you ever noticed how fast your guides freeze over on a day like that? That fish has little more internal heat than your rod and out of the water he is going to freeze too. The air is an alien environment for a fish. When you lift him from the water he can’t breath and starts gasping. What he doesn’t know is that he is now exposing his fragile gills to deadly subfreezing temperatures. If those gills freeze, he’s dead and you won’t see it happen. He’ll swim off like he’s fine and slowly suffocate because his injured gills can’t process enough oxygen.

Everybody wants to land that big fish and everybody wants a photo with him, but please be careful and treat him with respect. Keep that fish in the water while you figure out your exposure and camera angle. Have everything

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The Sharp End of the Boat

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By David Grossman


There are plenty of folks more qualified to talk about knots, casting, tides, and the thousands of other factors that go into becoming a proficient saltwater fly flinger. What I am qualified to write about at this moment in my saltwater career is the sharp end of the boat, and how you might be defeated before you even step up to it.

I don’t like casting under the focus of others. I don’t do casting ponds. I don’t like first shots. If my buddy gets up first and screws up a couple of shots, I feel the pressure to perform is off of me somehow. This is a horrible attitude to have. Over the years I have watched countless friends catch the only fish of the trip on that first shot. Saltwater opportunities come few and far between, and while I don’t advocate taking out your buddy with a lead pipe to the knee, you have to want to be on the front of the boat. In saltwater fly fishing, the meek will not inherit the earth, but they will spend days sitting on their ass in front of console watching other people get shots and catch fish.

My weird phobia of

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Dry Fly Fishing and the Dead Drift

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By Pudge Kleinkauf

The following is an excerpt from the book “Rookie No More: The Fly Fishing Novice Gets Guidance From A Pro”

Question: How do I achieve the “dead drift” when I’m dry fly fishing?

Answer: Most fly anglers find that fishing dry flies on the surface of the water is one of their favorite ways to fish. Seeing a fish rise up from beneath the water to take our bug imitation is a very exciting part of our sport. Called dry fly fishing, it isn’t one of the easiest of skills to master, however. Achieving the dead drift results from two things: good casting and correct management of the fly on the water.

Dry fly fishing is often referred to as “fooling fish with fur and feathers.” A good imitation of the fish’s food source, placed on the water with an appropriate cast, should result in a fly that looks and drifts on the water like the real thing. That could be an adult mayfly, caddis, or stonefly returning to the water’s surface to lay its eggs, or a bee or ant blown into the water from stream-side vegetation.

While learning to fish dry flies, you need to start by being able to track the fly on the water. Use a very visible fly a size or two larger than you need or a small fly with a bit of white or colored calf tail or poly yarn on its top to provide a focal spot for your eye to key on. Two of the best flies to use while learning to dry-fly fish are the Parachute Adams and the Royal Wulff (tied with white calf-tail wings) in a size #12.

“Find the fly on the surface just as soon as it lands,” I tell my students and clients, “and then never take your eyes off of it as it drifts along.” I also have beginners cast in fairly close to themselves until they train their eye to quickly locate the fly on the water at the end of the leader. As they become better able to judge distance, I have them extend their cast a little farther each time to learn how to spot the fly at greater distances. If you can’t follow your fly on the water, you won’t know how it is drifting.

A well-executed overhead cast is the best cast to help achieve the delicacy and gentleness of a wispy, weightless, imitation bug descending and landing on the water. The fly must land silently, delicately, and naturally. My instructor repeated over and over, “Think flutter, Pudge. The fly should ‘flutter’ to the surface, not slap down on it.” Because I could clearly see the difference between a flutter and a splat, that image worked for me.

Fluttering results from a

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If The River Was Whisky

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“If the river was whisky and I was a diving duck, I’d dive to the bottom and never come up.” – Muddy Waters.

Whisky and fly fishing just seem to go together. I’m certainly guilty of carrying a flask of rye on the river from time to time. I toasted my first Pacific Steelhead with a nice sip of Red Breast, courtesy of my buddy Jeff Hickman. I confess, I’m having a bit of Ardbeg as I write this.

I joined some friends for a weekend in North Carolina this fall and found my buddy Mike had just shy of two hundred bottles of scotch whisky behind the bar. Most of them way better than I’m used to. I slept like a baby in my hammock, on the porch that night and woke to find that I had stuffed my keys and wallet into my boots. I only do that when I have the suspicion that I’m on my way to doing something stupid.

Most of the river drinking I’ve experienced isn’t that classy. I remember fondly one incredibly cold day on the Oak Orchard with Kent Klewein and Charlie Murphy when we passed a bottle of cheap bourbon against the cold. The three of us shared a long run, the guy at the head taking a drink and tossing the bottle into the river to float down to the next. As we stepped down the run, the last to drink would walk back to the head and start the parade again.

At this point I probably sound like a stumbling drunk, but I really don’t drink that much. Especially when I’m fishing. I’m either not a good enough drunk or a good enough angler to do both well at the same time. I have one buddy who carries his own cooler on the boat and drinks two dozen beers on a float. He fishes just as well on his last cast as the first, and he’s damned good. Not everyone is like that.

Things got interesting on the boat one afternoon when my buddy passed out cold on the oars.

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Double Streamer Rigs Catch Trout

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By Justin Pickett


Undoubtedly, there have been numerous occasions where you’ve been stripping streamers and had that big brown trout emerge from the bank, only to give your streamer a curious look and then give you the fin. This scenario is exciting, but in the end all you have is an empty net. So what can you do about it? Throw a little extra meat into the equation!
Now, I’m not talking about tying on two huge articulated streamers. That would be insane and something that I would never do!…. OK maybe I did it once…

Next time you’re out throwing big, meaty streamers and you’re getting refusals, try tying a smaller streamer, or even a nymph, off of the back of your rig. It’s like a little snack. That big streamer might have been enough to move that pig from his lie, but sometimes it’s the trailing fly that makes him eat. Try a woolly bugger, a muddler minnow, or a stonefly nymph. Heck, you might even try

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Beefcake Stone

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By Bob Reece

As the winter snows of the Rocky Mountains begin to thaw, a change is set in motion.

The landscape breaks loose and emerges from a crisp exoskeleton of winter. For many fly fishers the pinnacle of this yearly change is the transformation of Pteronarcys californica. Most fly fishers have some familiarity with spring salmonfly hatches that proclaim the beginning of a new season on many of western North America’s freestone rivers and streams. While the salmonfly emergence is one of fly fishing’s most compelling events, success during this time is not guaranteed and often depends of the design of your flies.

The Beefcake Stone is the epitome of a match for this hatch. While the body of this pattern is rigid, its appendages move easily. The Sexi-floss antennae and tail fibers, along with round rubber legs provide the fly with actively twitching limbs. Tantalizing action is paired with realism by knotting all of the legs. This nicely mimics the prominent leg joints in the adult Pteronarcys. Aesthetic appeal is crucial but without durability it is meaningless. Zap-A-Gap is essential when working with the foam elements of this pattern. It should be applied any time two foam surfaces are placed in contact. At the core of this pattern is the sturdy Tiemco 2499BL. This hook sticks and stays, using an upturned point design to prevent itself from being shaken loose. Its sturdy construction and short shank provide the security to land large fish in high flows that often accompany this event.

Triumph in fly fishing is often signified by a successful meeting of fly and fish. The expectation of this is rarely greater than when

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Tell the Story With Fewer Photos

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This is the easiest way I know to become a better photographer.

It’s been a while since I posted a photography tip, but this is a good one. I had a conversation the other day that made me think about photographic storytelling. I took a really nice photo of a friend with a big fish. In the process I actually shot about fifty photos. That’s easy to do in eight frame per second bursts. Of course, everyone is excited about having a photo of themselves holding a nice fish. In his excitement my buddy told me,

“Send me everything!”

“Ok,” I replied. “Which shots do you want? The ones that make the fish look small or the ones that make you look bad?”

He immediately realized it was a silly request. The point of fishing with a professional photographer is not to tell him how to do his job.

One of the first things I learned as a photographer was that the best way to take a good photo is to take a lot of photos. That doesn’t mean that you show a lot of photos. Each photo of any given event creates its own unique reality for that event. That’s the nature of freezing a moment in time. Every moment is unique. Since the photographer, whether they realize it or not, always has their own interpretation of that event it is generally best represented by one, or at most, a few images.

It’s a common flaw in new photographers to be enamored with the process and want to share every image with anyone who will take the time to look. What the photographer doesn’t realize is

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The V Grip Haul

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Watch The Video!


Again, this is seriously advanced technique and it’s going to take practice. However, if you can master and employ all the techniques from the last five videos together you will cast like a rock star and the wind will be your bitch. Now, doesn’t that sound nice? I hope this video series has been helpful. I look forward to seeing the hero shots of all those salt water fish you’re going to catch!

Check out the video!

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Don’t Go Fishing Without Your Bullets

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By Louis Cahill

Air rifle pellets make cheap and effective weights for fly-fishing.

The thing I love about fly fishing is, there is always something to learn. I would have never thought of this simple fly fishing life-hack if I hadn’t fished in Argentina. Imported fishing gear is crazy expensive in many places overseas. The idea, that started as a money saver, actually has some performance benefits as well.

The idea is simple. Use the needle on your nippers to punch a hole in the nose of an air rifle pellet, then slip your leader through and retie. There is no chance of the weight falling off, or damaging your leader, like split shot can. Lots of anglers do this with cone heads, made for fly tying, but pellets are a fraction of the cost and work just as well. Personally, I like the idea of using lead and knowing it isn’t going to fall off in the river.

You can use the weight directly on the nose of the fly, with streamers for example, or place it above a blood knot anywhere on your leader. You can even use several at different points on your leader to sink the heavy butt section, which is effective for deep-water nymphing. You can use .22 cal for heavy weight or .177 cal for lighter weight. 

Pellets have gotten fancy since I was a kid. There are a lot of different types on the market now. I feel like the closer you

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