Light Where You Need It

12 comments / Posted on / by

The sun has dipped below the horizon and the evening chill is in the air.

You’ve got maybe thirty more minutes to fish if you push it. The hatch is on and you can hear fish rising all around you as you struggle in the waning light to change your fly. The fish keep rising and so does your blood pressure but the eye of the hook continues to evade you.

That sounds familiar doesn’t it? I know my eyes aren’t what they used to be. I’ve used a clip on head lamp for years but it frustrates me. When I lift my head to look through my bifocals the light is shining over my hands and I always feel like I’m spooking fish with that lighthouse on my hat. Then I saw my niece and nephew playing with their Christmas stockings. They had the answer to my problem. Finger lights! They slip right on to your finger with an adjustable elastic band and put ample light right where you need it to tie on flies. Best of all

Read More »

Trust The Boo

8 comments / Posted on / by

I’ve fished bamboo rods my whole life and I’ve made my own for the last twelve years or so.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I was afraid to fight big fish on a bamboo rod. The answer is no. I’ve broken my share of rods but only once did I break one fighting a fish and that was totally my fault. I’ve landed more fish over twenty inches on bamboo than I can count, a few pushing thirty. The two fish pictured were both landed on a seven foot four weight. The tip on that rod measures only thirty thousandths of an inch in diameter but it handled those monsters just fine.

A 27″ Hen and a 28″ Male Both Landed on the 4 Weight

Bamboo is a remarkable material. When properly heat treated it has amazing strength. Traditional Japanese carpenters use bamboo nails cooked in a wok and high rise construction all over Asia is done on bamboo scaffolding. Do bamboo rods break? Of course they do but a well made rod is much stronger than you would guess and if properly handled and cared for it will take whatever a fish can dish out. I’ve heard it said that fisherman break rods, not fish, and I think that’s true. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to keep that cane rod fishing for many years.

• Treat it right. Bamboo doesn’t take a lot of maintenance but there are some things you should think about. Rot is a death sentence for a cane rod. Rod makers spend a lot of time on their finish and it can last a lifetime but it’s not bulletproof. Never put a rod away wet. This is the most common mistake guys make with their rods. When you put a rod in a tube with an o ring seal any moisture on that rod or it’s sock is in there until you open the tube again. That gives moisture plenty of time to work through the finish and into the wood. I set mine out on the mantle in the sock overnight before storing them. The second big finish mistake is leaving the rod in a hot car. If you leave that rod tube in the sun in a hot car the finish will bubble and no longer protect the cane. If you have to leave a rod in the car keep it in the shade and take the cap off for ventilation.

• Ovoid physical traumas. A bamboo rod will bend like grass in the wind. What will break it is sudden physical trauma. For example, trying to rip a fly out of tree leaves with a brisk casting stroke, as I watched a good friend do with my rod once, works every time. Running the tip headlong into a tree while hiking in doesn’t help. Hitting the rod with

Read More »

DIY Fly Line Loop with Step-by-Step Instructions

25 comments / Posted on / by

Most fly lines these days already come with welded loops at the ends for the easy attachment of backing and leaders. If you fish as much as I do though, eventually they get worn out and need to be replaced. Most anglers just use a standard albright knot or nail knot to fix this. It works perfectly fine, but I prefer instead to tie my own fly line loops with a fly tying bobbin and thread. Done correctly, it will provide a stronger connection to your leader than the manufacturers welded loops or knots you tie (this is important when fly fishing for big game species). The bright thread that you tie the loop with also works really well as a spotter. It comes in real handy when you’re fly fishing and you have conditions where it’s hard to keep track of your fly in the water. That bright spot on the end of your fly line provides a quick reference that your fly is a leaders length away. Below are step-by-step instructions for tying your own fly line loops.

Read More »

Dos and Don’ts For Guided Fishing

47 comments / Posted on / by

“I have done enough guiding with enough people of all types that I sometimes cheer for the fish.”

My friend Kirk Deeter, writing on the Trout Unlimited blog April 25th, threw out the bold headline: “Guides: Gatekeepers or Profiteers”. There’s no mystery where Kirk stands on the subject. He goes on to write, “I think the sun rises and sets on the fly fishing world where guides collectively say it does. They are stewards of their rivers. They are the innovators, and the teachers. And a good guide is, for fly fishing and trout conservation, worth his or her weight in gold.”

I agree with Kirk completely but it’s apparently a controversial topic. Not everyone loves fishing guides and it got me wondering why. Most of my friends are, or have been, fishing guides. I am not, but I hear the stories and I remember having a few rough days with guides back in the day. I mentioned it to Kirk and this was his response.

“You ask a great question here. Let me put it to you this way. I have done enough guiding with enough people of all types that I sometimes cheer for the fish. Seriously. You can say I said that. On the other hand, nothing lights me up more than sharing a passion with someone who gets it, appreciates it, and really shows some genuine class and enthusiasm. A great guide and client team should be like a Bwana and his tracker… two people on one mission… bound by respect.”

I reached out to a few more friends in the guiding business and asked them, from their perspective, where things go wrong. I decided to make a list. I figured, like Rodney King said, “why can’t we all just get along?”

People hire guides for a host of different reasons but they all want the same thing, a great day on the water. Unfortunately, some days end with neither the guide or the client feeling all that good about it. Malfunctions in the client-guide relationship can spoil what should be a positive experience for everyone. Fortunately these malfunctions can be easily avoided. With that in mind, here is a list of dos and don’ts for your day of guided fishing. Follow these simple guidelines and, even if the fishing is slow, you’ll walk away feeling like you got your money’s worth.

A quick note: I use a great deal of male pronouns. In no way do I mean any disrespect the the many talented and hard working female guides out there. I’m just trying to keep this under 2000 words.


•Do be enthusiastic

Bring a positive attitude. Have fun, relax. No one fishes well when they’re tense.

•Do be clear about your expectations

Tell your guide right up front what you want out of your day. If you just want to chill and take photos, say so. Want to be a better caster at the end of the day, no problem. Want to catch

Read More »

The V Grip

7 comments / Posted on / by

Watch The Video!


Your going to see him use the “V Grip”. This is going to feel seriously odd at first. In fact I think this is harder to get the hang of if you have been casting for a long time. Don’t get discouraged, the results are amazing. Don’t expect to get it over night but with a lot of practice you can do this smoothly and effectively and you’ll be glad you spent all that time out casting on the lawn. Bruce will be back on Friday with the final video in the series.

Check out the video!

Read More »

Carp Czar

5 comments / Posted on / by

I recently had the great pleasure of spending a day carp fishing with my friend Bruce Smithhamer. It was every bit as challenging as promised. The fish were gearing up for the spawn and were lock jawed. We would have gone fish-less if not for Bruce’s encyclopedic knowledge of the species. We changed locations and tactics several times and eventually got into fish.

Carp, especially Mirror Carp, are a remarkable fish. Their color and scale patterns are reminiscent of classical Japanese painting. Their eye sight is excellent and there hearing quite acute. They are even able to communicate danger to other carp by releasing a pheromone in to the water. Their behavior is unpredictable except that they will refuse more often than eat.

Perhaps their most remarkable quality is their ability to completely ruin a good trout fisherman. I’ve seen several guys go down this road and few come back. They started out

Read More »

Choosing a line for your switch rod Part 3 the RIO Switch and Skagit Short reviewed.

31 comments / Posted on / by

On a couple of steelhead trips last year I wound up fishing with borrowed rods. They were switch rods, a Winston and a Ross, and I had the chance to fish them for both summer and winter steelhead. I really liked the feel of these short Spey rods and decided that I needed one. I have no use for my long Spey rods when fishing at home in the southeast and I liked the idea of a two hander I could use for trout here at home.

I chose the Scott L2h 1106/4, an 11 foot 6 wt. It’s a great rod and I’ve been very happy with it. It’s light and well balanced with plenty of power and a nice feel. The rod really talks to you when you cast it, so you know when it’s loaded.

I chose to set it up with 2 reels. A Nautilus FW7 which I loaded with the Rio Switch line in a 5/6 wt and a Bauer CFX-5 Spey that I set up with Rio slick shooter and a 425 grain Skagit Short head, also from Rio. This set up gives me the flexibility of

Read More »

A Conversation With April Vokey

10 comments / Posted on / by

Listen to the interview!

April Vokey is one of the most recognized, and sometimes controversial figures in fly-fishing.

Few anglers have been thrust into the limelight in quite the same way as April Vokey. April is the first to admit that she asked for it, but it hasn’t always been an easy ride. She has enjoyed, and often endured, a weird kind of celebrity which may only exist in fly fishing.

She has been a writer, a teacher, a blogger, a social media sensation, a TV personality, an entrepreneur, a passionate conservationist, an advocate for at-risk kids and, above all, an obsessed angler. She is a walking contradiction in many ways and whatever you think you know about her, there is more to the story.

I met April, by chance, on a gravel bar on the Dean River in British Colombia. She would agree with me that that first meeting was odd, and neither of us would have guessed it was the beginning of a friendship, but it was. I was flattered, and a little nervous, when April asked me to record an episode of her “Anchored” podcast. (If you’re not a listener, you should be.) We agreed then that she would return the favor and sit down with me for an in depth interview for the G&G audience.

While April was in town helping with a fundraiser for our local Chattahoochee river, we recorded this interview. Four and a half months pregnant, she is clearly embracing the moment as a turning point and chose to share a lot of personal experiences which she has not discussed publicly in the past. It was an engaged, frank and enlightening conversation.


Read More »

Reach, Don’t Rip!

No comments yet / Posted on / by

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,

Read More »

Garners Twisted Whistler

5 comments / Posted on / by

Watch the tying video!


Garner Reid is back and he’s opening up his fly box to share part of his arsenal. When you guide for the toughest of freshwater predators, you have to be prepared to do what it takes to put clients on fish. No one I know does it like Garner. His Facebook feed is not for the faint of heart.

A big key to his success is collection of unique fly patterns for striped bass. The Twisted Whistler is no exemption. This fly pulls out all the stops. A sixty degree jig hook, tip dyed buck tail and Icelandic sheep wool give it action that those striped bullies can’t resist. It’s big, it’s bag and it catches fish.

Watch the video and learn to tie Garner’s Twisted Whistler.

Read More »