Casting Distance Does Play A Factor In Success

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Saltwater fly fishing often calls for long accurate casts for the chance of success, and quite often it holds just as true on your favorite trout streams. Of the countless hours I’ve spent guiding my trout clients the past ten years, I’ve witnessed over and over again, how important just a couple more feet of distance can be in getting a trout to eat. You just can’t always approach a hole and make a routine short cast. Often no matter how stealthy you are, you’ll spook the fish if you try getting closer. Occasionally, obstacles such as low hanging trees can make it impossible to get the proper casting angle unless your standing farther away. Other times you may run into a situation where different current speeds between you and your target require a longer cast to get an adequate drag free drift. That’s why it’s so important for fly anglers to get comfortable making above average casts. I’m not saying you have to be able to bomb out eighty feet of line, or that you’ll have to make super long casts all the time either. I’m just saying, there are times when you won’t be fishing that angler friendly pocket water that just calls for short roll casts and quick high-stick drifts. You need to be prepared to make longer casts when the need arises. Believe it or not, quite often trout will follow your flies down stream a good ways before deciding to eat. If your fly gets too close to you the trout will often see you and won’t eat. Making a longer presentation will provide that buffer zone for the trout to inspect and eat without seeing you. Remember that trout don’t have eyes in the back of their head as well. If you don’t get … Continue reading

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Johnny’s Shark

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A perfect cast right on the big shark’s nose gets nothing but a sniff and a refusal.

In a low and stoic voice the guide says, “the fish ain’t gonna eat if he don’t smell blood”. Johnny Spilane gives him a hard look, takes his fly from the water and jams the hook into his hand, then squeezes the blood onto his fly. The shark follows the fly almost to the boat, then charges and cuts left. We all thought it ate the fly. Maybe it did, and didn’t stick. Our guide was glad because he didn’t want to spend all day landing it. There were plenty of bonefish to catch but some people just aren’t happy doing what everyone else wants to do. That’s Johnny, and that’s why he brought three silver medals back from the Vancouver Olympics. It’s also why he’s a great fisherman.


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Eye Surgery Update: So Far So Good

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It’s way too early to call my last surgery a win, but for now, all the news is good.

It’s been five weeks since my last surgery and as of my last checkup we are all encouraged. I don’t want to oversell. I could get bad news any time but it will be the end of the year, at the earliest, before we can call it a success. To help readers understand, I’m going to get into some details about my condition. Please pardon me but I do have friends looking for updates. 

I will talk a little about what’s coming up at G&G, so feel free to scroll down to that.

After my first retinal detachment surgery I developed a condition called PVR, short for proliferative vitreoretinopathy. In cases of PVR, excessive scar tissue forms between the retina and the eye. As that scar tissue matures, it pulls the retina like a scab might pull the skin nearby, until it detaches the retina again. In my case, the retina tore in four places and completely detached. 

This second detachment was far worse than the first. The combination of permanent scar tissue, holes in the retina, and a detached macula mean that, even if the surgery is successful, the vision in that eye will never be good. Legally blind is about the best I can hope for. That sounds worse than it is. I have one good eye and enough vision in the other to have some depth perception, and that’s huge.

The problem with PVR is that it’s persistent. Most PVR patients have from three to eight surgeries before things are resolved and with each additional surgery the quality of the outcome gets poorer. The best case is poor vision, the worst is removal of the eye. I understand that second option is extremely painful and I think I’m a long way from that.


There are two stages to the recovery. The first six weeks we are just looking for the reattachment to hold. That looks really good right now. The second stage is a ninety day timeline where we are waiting to see if the PVR comes back and detaches the retina again. Because the scar tissue from the first round of PVR is permanent, that part of the retina is more prone to detaching again. If it looks like that is going to happen, the option is to go back in and cut away the affected part of the retina. Of course, that leaves black spots in my vision. That’s not great, and let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but the priority is keeping the macula attached. If the macula does not stay attached, the brain sees the eye as dead and will start trying to get rid of it. The only tool it has to do that is pain.

As of now there is some new PVR in my retina, but it’s not bad. My doctor

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The Clearing Cast And Ready Position

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I spent a week in the keys recently, with my good friend Capt Joel Dickey . We made a series of videos to help you out with your salt water presentations. The first is on the clearing cast and the ready position. The next two are on the double haul and building better line speed and will post on Wednesday and Friday. I hope they help put you on some fish!


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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.


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 guiding is to go along with your clients and not voice the complete truth. Now it’s important to understand that I had already explained to him a couple different times, that the problem he was having is that he was slowing down his fly rod to a stop during his casting stroke, and it was sucking his power and distance out of his cast. If I would

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Presenting Your Fly To A School Of Bonefish

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Bonefish are on the move!

Presenting your fly to a school of bonefish has to become second nature. There is often not time to make a plan. The successful angler is one who can make split second decisions and place the fly quickly and accurately.

It’s a little like shooting a shotgun. You have to know how far to lead the fish in a given situation and you have to be able to picture that lead to know where your target is. It’s a skill that takes time to master but hopefully this video will set you off in the right direction.


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Fly Fishing Lights at Night

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It’s long been known by fishermen, that bright lights shining on the water at night create fishing hotspots.

The lights attract plankton, which in turn, attracts the baitfish and other food sources that feed on them. Once you’ve got a good concentration of forage food hanging around the lights, it doesn’t take long before the larger predatory gamefish move in and begin making a feeding frenzy of the situation at hand. Using the lights as a perfect tool to coax and gather the food into a small area and the cover of darkness as camouflage, predatory gamefish will take turns darting into the light with mouths open to pack their bellies full. This feeding scenario reminds me very much of the relationship I have with my refrigerator. When I wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach growling, I know exactly where I need to head to get my quick food fix. The relationship gamefish have with lights on the water at night is no different. When available, gamefish will regularly utilize lights to locate and ambush food under the cover of darkness. Fly fisherman should always take the time to locate and fish lights on their home waters, because they will almost always provide consistent action.

If you randomly asked one of your fellow fly fisherman about targeting lights at night, they’d probably respond with success stories about either fishing lighted piers in saltwater or boat docks on freshwater lake impoundments. These are by far, the two most popular places fisherman prefer to utilize lights shining on the water at night, but it’s not the only places we should look. Fishing lights for trout don’t come up in conversation nearly as often, but where they are available, their equally productive. Notice the

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Nymph Fishing, There’s Nothing Wrong With It

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It seems like every where I look, I see blog posts all over the place chastising and bad mouthing nymph fishing.

I hear comments claiming nymph fishing is nothing more than mindless fly fishing. That watching indicators floating down the river all day is boring. So let me ask you this, does it make since to instead fish a dry fly if your chances of catching fish are slim to none? To me, that’s what’s boring and ridiculous. My objective on the water is always to decipher what the fish are predominantly feeding on, and then fish the appropriate rig and fly that allows me to imitate it to my best ability. Whether or not the fly pattern is a wet or dry fly has no bearing to me at all. All that matters is that it’s the right choice for the moment. To frown upon nymph fishing and purposely avoid it, even when it’s obvious it’s an anglers best bet for success, is like a golfer choosing to putt with a driver instead of a putter. It will work but it’s obviously not the best gear choice.

We don’t go through life purposely choosing to take the most difficult path in the off chance we’ll find success. Just as in fly fishing, it doesn’t make any sense to fish one method of fly fishing over another just because it feels more pleasing to the soul. I can stomach doing it every now and then, but to ignore fish behavior and throw away my adaptive fishing tactics, just because I dislike nymph fishing or any other method, seems to go against all the teachings that our fly fishing pioneers have worked so hard to pass down to all of us.

It doesn’t matter what type of fly pattern your fishing, whether it sinks or floats, they all predominantly are designed to imitate various stages of aquatic insects or other food that’s preyed upon by fish in the ecosystem. Nine times out of ten, fish will prefer to forage on the easiest and most abundant food source available to them at any given time. Fish aren’t prejudice towards their food or flies we throw at them. All they care about is

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Chug a Coke, Save a Bleeding Fish.

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There’s nothing worse than watching a big beautiful wild fish bleed out from a damaged gill.

I found myself in just that situation with a big brown trout one day. Watching helplessly as the water turned red. Thank God Kent was with me. Thinking fast he said, “hey, did you finish that Coke?” I had not and he showed me a great trick. He opened the fish’s mouth and poured the Coke down her throat. As soon as it hit the injured gill the bleeding stopped. It was like magic. I’m not sure if it’s the carbonation or the acid but something in the Coke cauterized the wound. It saved that fish’s life. I know it for a fact because I saw her in that same pool several weeks later, although she was wise to me by then. I’m certain it was

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Wood is Good

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Anytime I come across any sort of wood on the water trout fishing, I always take the time to fish around it.

Whether it’s a log jam, isolated root ball, or low overhanging tree, wood offers trout cover and safety which are two very important elements that trout look for when they’re deciding where to position themselves in a river or stream. Wood also in many cases offers current breaks, eddies, and soft seams, that allow trout to feed easily and safely out of the calorie burning swift current. Furthermore, there’s an incredible amount of food that falls off wood cover and hangs out amongst wood, that very often ends up in the stomachs of trout. All of the above make wood prime habitat for trout.

Did I mention that brown trout love to hangout around wood? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught nice brown trout around wood, especially when

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