Take The Right Fish

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There are a lot of good ethical anglers out there who keep a fish once in a while and although it’s not for me, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with it. The reason I say necessarily is this: fish are not all created equal and while killing a fish can be ok, killing the wrong fish is a tragedy.

Where trout are concerned, in most places a great many of the fish we catch are hatchery raised stockers. There are a couple of things about these fish that are worth mentioning. The breeding of fish for stocking is a pragmatic endeavor. It is done with a clear cut goal in mind. To raise fish in the fastest, cheapest, easiest way possible and get them in the river. There is very little, if any, thought given to the quality of these fish.

Well, what does that mean, quality? Several things. For one, the fish are raised on a diet of high protean fish food that promotes fast growth. This yields fish that have little of the natural color found in wild fish. There are other factors that contribute to this but food plays a role. It also yields fish with unnatural proportions. Small mouths and fins but big bellies. A trout that’s shaped like a football is a poor example of it’s kind.

Hatchery fish are generally raised in concrete runs. They rub against the rough concrete and wear down their fins to nubs. Not very attractive. The runs also contribute to the lack of color. Trout, like most fish, have natural camouflage. They take on the color of their surroundings. What color is concrete? Makes sense right?

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Is Pay-To-Play Fly Fishing Good For Anybody?

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By Louis Cahill

If you pay hundreds of dollars for the chance to catch a really big trout on someones private water, are you doing the right thing?

Pay-to-play fishing is a hot button issue. It came up in conversation the other day so I thought I’d put my two cents in. I don’t have any data to back this up, but my guess is that a pretty small percentage of anglers regularly pay to fish private water. I’d guess that a fare number of us do it a time or two and move on and a very small number do little else. On the other hand there are an equally small number who would never consider it.

What you figure out pretty quickly is, whenever pay-to-play comes up, there’s going to be an argument. The fur usually starts to fly when fish size becomes the topic. If you are boasting about catching a trophy size trout on your local pay-to-play water you’re very likely going to hear how, “That fish doesn’t count,” or how, “That’s bullshit.” 

It’s true that there is no comparing a hand fed pet to a wild fish of the same size. Perhaps there is no comparing the effort or skill that went into catching those fish, but there is certainly no comparing how unique, special or important those two fish are. Wild trophy size trout are a treasure and should be treated as such. All of that said, if you are boasting about the size of your fish to establish yourself as a superior angler, you’re probably a douche bag. If you’re trying to spoil someone else’s excitement by calling their fish bullshit, you’re just as bad. That’s my opinion.

Focusing on numbers or size takes the fun out of fishing for me. I don’t count fish and when I do measure a fish it’s about appreciating what a special fish it is and how fortunate I was to catch it. Not for one instant do I hold to the idea that it makes me special as an angler. I’ve been at this long enough to know that humility is waiting in the next run. I like to hear anglers talk about special fish and I like to talk about them too. I think that’s something we all share, I just think it sucks when it ends in an argument.


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Keep your thirst quenched without the baggage

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It’s late spring and everyday we’re moving one step closer to summer.

Air temperatures are climbing into the 70s and 80s on most days and will soon be even higher. These conditions make it extremely important that anglers are staying properly hydrated while they’re on the water fly fishing. I really enjoy hiking into remote locations to fly fish for trout. The only problem with me doing this, is I’m constantly fighting to quench my thirst and stay hydrated. I used to utilize packs with internal bladders for storing my drinking liquids, but there were quite a few disadvantages that came along with using them. First, when filled to full capacity, they become quite heavy and take a tole on your body lugging them around all day. Secondly, if you’re using them during the warm seasons and you’re doing some aggressive hiking and fishing, eventually that cold liquid you filled the bladder with in the morning will eventually warm up and end up tasting like bath water. Thirdly, internal bladder systems require maintenance and cleaning to keep them from building up bacteria and mold. Five years ago, I decided to ditch the internal bladder systems in exchange for a light weight water filtration bottle, and I’ve never looked back. Doing so, I eliminated the three negatives I mentioned above with using internal water bladders, and I no longer have to ration my water intake during the day. This product will keep you fresh during your time on the water and you’ll have far less

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My Two Favorite Picky Trout Tailwater Nymphs

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These two patterns never let me down on tough tailgaters.

Most of you are aware that Louis and I just got back from fly fishing and filming our segment for Playground Earth, sponsored by BFGoodrich Tires. We had the pleasure of fly fishing the Owyhee River, one of the finest trophy brown trout tailwaters I’ve ever had the opportunity to wet a line. The resident brown trout here proved to be quite picky, calling for not only accurate drag-free presentations from us, but our casts also had to be timed correctly to the feeding trout we had located. Out of the thousands of flies that we had on hand between us, two nymph patterns accounted for 80% of all trout landed. The splitcase bwo nymph and the splitcase pmd nymph were regular taken for naturals on the water througout our time on the Owyhee River. Never again will I only have a handful of these patterns on hand. I was down to my last splitcase nymph by the end of the trip.

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Martin’s Boat – A Film By Pete McBride

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How about a virtual dory trip in the Grand Canyon?

Take a few minutes to sit in the rowers seat with Grand Canyon legend Martin Litton. While this is not a fishing trip this beautiful film is full of heart pounding excitement and natural beauty, on one of the world’s greatest rivers.


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The Water Haul Cast – Slow Your Roll

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Check out the Instructional Fly Casting Video

The water haul cast is phenomenal for fly fishing small trout streams.

I love it for a few reasons. First, because it allows you to make a presentation without false casting over the fish. This is done by you using the water and fly line to load your fly rod and present your fly/flies in one cast. On highly technical water, where you have spooky fish, this niche cast can significantly increase your catch rates. Second, the water haul works great for tight quarters where you don’t have a lot of room to cast. The biggest mistake I see fly anglers make when they’re water hauling, is rushing the cast. You want to slow your roll when you’re performing this fly cast on the water. The water haul cast takes about twice as long to make a presentation with your fly than a traditional fly cast, and that is because you combine the pick up and the water haul together. If you’re having problems getting the distance or straightening out your leader and fly when your water hauling, try slowing down and you should see your cast improve. A proper setup is key before you begin a water haul cast. I like to roll cast my flies down stream so I can get them straight below me and get the necessary amount of fly line out to reach my target. I then drop my rod tip to the water and smoothly accelerate my rod through the casting stroke to a quick stop. Anglers wanting to increase their line speed and get extra distance with this cast can also apply a smooth single haul with their stripping hand as the rod begins to load during the water haul. It takes a while to get used to it, but after you get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised how effortless it makes your water haul cast. I use this cast myself and with my clients all the time. It’s perfect for beginners who are not yet comfortable casting traditionally in tight quarters or who have problems with getting tangles. Less false casting,

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Bonefish Flats Revealed

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When we look at a bonefish flat we tend to perceive it as two- dimensional. It’s right there in the name, flat. The truth is, it’s far from flat. The bonefish’s world is as three-dimensional as ours. It’s a landscape full of hills and valleys, mounds and burrows. The crabs, shrimp and such that bonefish feed on use these features to hide or escape from the hungry predator. Knowing this can give us an advantage.

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Information VS Knowledge 

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By Louis Cahill

A wise friend of mine always says, “Information plus experience, equals knowledge.”

It’s a concept as simple as it is brilliant. A teacher can give you information, but until you have the experience and the context to have real understanding, you don’t have the knowledge. True knowledge will always trump information. That’s just common sense.

I see a lot of anglers who get stalled in the gap between information and knowledge. Anglers who catch a lot of fish with the information they have but could catch a lot more if they really understood what they are doing. These folks are stuck at an intermediate level in the sport, and some spend their whole lives there. I’m going to give you some examples of specific ways this happens, but understand, it applies to every aspect of fly fishing…and everything else in life, truth be told. This is a little on the esoteric side for a fly fishing tip, I admit. 


A classic example of this is the subject of leaders. I know lots of anglers who obsess about leader formulas. I think anyone who is advanced in the sport knows that the leader is incredibly important. Arguably the most important piece of tackle in the system. I’d personally rather fish the wrong fly on the right leader than the other way around. That said, I do not believe in leader formulas.

Sure, if you have a leader that works in a familiar fishing situation, you may never need to stray from that formula. As long as you always fish the same way, with the same type of flies, and the conditions never change, and the fish never get any smarter. If, however, you understand how a leader functions and how to

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Halfback Nymph in High Water

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Looking for a great high water nymph pattern that will consistently fool trout?

Try tying on a halfback nymph, it’s an oldie but goodie that has produced big fish for me countless times over the years. The buggy profile of the halfback nymph does a great job of imitating a large variety of aquatic insects, and it’s large size is easy for trout to spot quickly in fast water. This nymph pattern screams “I’m a big juicy morsel, Come eat me”.

I always have at least a half dozen of these guys in my fly box. I often use the halfback nymph as my lead fly in my tandem nymph rig, and tie a 16-24″ piece of tippet off the bend of the hook with a smaller dropper nymph. You can also try substituting the standard peacock herl underbody with a more flashy dubbing material when fishing

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Joel vs The Shark

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Max Pressure Photo by Louis Cahill

With hair the color of a new penny and bright blue eyes that can be uncomfortably intense at times, the ruddy sun scorched complexion of a Bedouin, the build of a boxer and two gold hoops, one in each ear, Joel looks half Viking, half pirate. Born of a long line of Tennessee moonshiners and snake handlers, he has a great southern brogue that’s so deep you can hear the chicken frying when he talks. He has a heart as big as the Florida sky, and a temper to match. He caught his first rattle snake at age six. Joel has no fear. Fear is an important emotion. As humans, our fight or flight response has served us well, in evolutionary terms. Joel somehow missed out on the flight part of that, as well as the fear. He’s all fight. Any other person finding themselves face to face with a fifteen foot hammerhead shark might back down. Joel on the other hand…

The heat there in the Florida Keys that day had been like penance. So had the fishing. It was a perfect day for tarpon. The weather was hot with just a little wind, not a cloud in sight. It was mid May. The peak of the season. The tarpon that had been everywhere just a few days before had vanished. The few we saw had no interest in a fly. This was exactly what we had been waiting for. There was a huge falling tide in the evening and it had been unseasonably warm. We had been looking at the calendar and the tide apps on our phones for six months thinking that this was the day and now the fish were confirming our theory. All those tarpon that had been high and happy for weeks were lurking reclusively in the deep water. Staging up, preparing, for the worm hatch.

If you’ve been lucky enough to see a palalo worm hatch, you may have pinched yourself to see if you were dreaming. It’s hard to believe that a fish of a hundred pounds or more can get so worked up about a three inch worm, but when there are literally

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