The Pop Off Shark Leader

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Cool Shark Video!


The problem is, as much fun as they are to hook and fight, landing them can get a little, well… bitey. On several occasions I’ve brought sharks to the boat and seen them come out of the water and clamp down on the gunwale, shaking violently. They have no sense of humor.

My buddy Michael White shares my fondness for sharking and he showed me a great trick for an easy long distance release. When you tie your shark leader use 6 feet of 50 lb fluorocarbon for the butt. Tie a loop in one end and blood knot a piece

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Tarpon, It’s All About Letting Go

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The step is about three inches wide by ten inches long. Really only big enough for the ball of one foot. There’s not enough head room to stand straight, not even close. It would be an uncomfortable place to stand if there weren’t an eighty mile per hour wind in my face. As it is, it’s the grip of my hands on the strut, not my foot on the step, that is keeping me here. All I have to do is let go. It would be completely terrifying if I were not forty-five-hundred feet in the air.

The idea that the fancy backpack I’m wearing, the contents of which I have never seen, will magically blossom to save me from the jaws of death is the greatest of abstraction. The thought that, should something go wrong, the bicycle helmet on my head will protect me feels completely insane.

I know I shouldn’t look down but it’s pointless to fight the urge. The ground below seems wholly unreal. Like a child’s train set dotted with little plastic trees and houses. It vanishes and reappears through the milky haze below. All I can hear is the wind. All I can feel is the sky tugging me away from the plane and my heart pounding in my chest. I remember my father, an Air Force fighter pilot, telling me, “Son, never get out of a perfectly good airplane.” The jump master turns to look me in the eye and points his finger at the ground. Time to go.

The time for inner monologue is over. Once the airplane soars off without you, or you without it, there is no time to think, only time to do. Lots of things can happen. Wonderful things. Things like watching a beautiful sunset in fast forward as you plummet from the sunshine to a dark earth where it is already night. Fantastically bad things can happen as well. You will never know which, until you let go.

As it turns out, the parachute did open and something did go wrong. I spun wildly and

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Small Stream Structure Part I- Substrate

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By Jason Tucker

I started out writing a piece about stream structure, but the subject is too broad to cover at one setting, so we’re breaking it up into three important, but related categories- Substrate, Fluvial Structure, and Debris and Bankside Structure.

There is so much overlap in these categories, that I understand if you disagree with where I classify certain subjects. I had to put them somewhere.

The first thing we need understand about streams is the substrate- what is the bottom made of, and how do the fish and their prey relate to it?

Second is fluvial structure. This includes holes and tailout, outside bends, runs etc. The fish occupy these features differently and thus we fish each of these very differently.

Third are “external” structures. Things like woody debris, beaver dams and houses and even grassy banks. Grassy banks could possibly be considered a fluvial feature, but they also are created by an external influence, the effects of the grass colonizing the riverbank.


Sand is the least interesting feature in any trout stream. It has the least interesting bottom, nurtures the least amount of aquatic life, and provides the least amount of cover. And yet a lot of brook trout streams in the north consist of miles of sand substrate. Not only that, but the margins of sandy streams often consist of marl and muck, which host marl and muck dwelling mayflies like Hexagenia limbata and Brown Drakes. They also host large populations of tricorythodes mayflies, so sand itself does not preclude trout by any means. 

What it means is that trout will relate to surrounding structure and cover more than to the bottom. It’s in these sandy stretches that you’ll find fish feeding midstream early and late, and moving closer or into the tag alders or other bankside brush as the sun hits the water. This is kind of a general pattern anyway, and there’s some major exceptions I’ll discuss elsewhere, but it’s especially true of sandy areas. 

One advantage of sand is that fish can be highly visible over sand. The disadvantage is that they know this too and may be extra sensitive to disturbance. It can make for some challenging sight casting for sure. When sandy streams drop clear and bright in summer it can be some of the most trialsome fishing of the year, with fish darting for cover at first sight of your fly line overhead, or the moment your fly touches the water. 


Brook trout like to hang out behind boulders waiting for food to sweep past. If you can get your fly to hang out behind it so much the better. Boulder beds are pretty good places to swing a soft hackle or a small streamer. Big fish like to hang out

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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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Tell a Story

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By Louis Cahill Here’s another tip on taking better photos on you next fishing trip. Everyone wants a hero shot with that monster fish but lots of people don’t think about all the details that go into a fishing trip when they are shooting pictures. These kind of detail shots tell the story of how you got to that fish. That’s what will really make your buddies who didn’t make the trip jealous. Take the time to get shots of the flies, the gear in the back of the truck, your buddies getting off the plane. When you get home, make a slide show and show it off. You will be surprised how many more invitations you will get for fishing trips. Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline  

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Yellowhammers and Specks

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“I thought you might like these,” my brother Tom holds out an old yellowed envelope. “I found them going through some of Pete’s things.”

William Starling Cahill, who preferred to be called Pete, was my Grandfather and the man who taught me to fly fish. He’s been gone for many years now but from time to time little gems that he left behind will turn up. My brother now lives in Pete’s old house which puts him in a good position to uncover relics.

I open the envelope and into my hand spill two feathers, dark down one edge and bright yellow along the other. “Ooooohh,” I exclaim and catch Tom’s eye, “Unobtainium.”

Yellowhammer is what we call them here in the south. The Yellow Shafted Flicker, a delicate little woodpecker who’s hammering used to echo off the hills of the Southern Appalachians. He’s almost completely silent now, shotgunned to the brink of extinction. Just having those two little feathers now could land me in jail. The Yellowhammer is heavily protected, now that it’s pretty much too late.

Yellowhammer is what we call the fly too. The one that’s tied from those feathers. It’s a wild, buggy looking thing. You wouldn’t expect a trout to eat it, but they do, like there’s no tomorrow. It’s a pattern as old as the little abandoned country church I pass on the gravel mountain road that leads to the stream I don’t tell anyone about. It’s as old as the graves there in the church yard and just as forgotten, but I still fish it.

It’s the perfect fly to catch Southern Appalachian Brook Trout. The Brookie, or Speck as they used to call them, is our only native trout. Forced south from New England by the ice age long before there was an England, new or old. When the ice retreated, like lots of folks who visit the south, the brookies stayed. They evolved, adapted to their new home and, like the Scotts and Irishmen who came to these mountains, they ended up just a little different from their northern cousins.

They are as scarce as the yellowhammer now, but with none

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The New Able Vaya Fly Reel

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The updated Vaya fly reel is a unique piece of fly fishing gear.

Sealed drag, quick release spool, and of course stunning finished inside and out are a few of the features of these hot looking, saltwater safe fly reels.


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4 Types of Trout Water to Target During the Summer

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Are you finding that the dog days of summer are limiting the time you have success on the water trout fishing?

Generally, the best time to trout fish in the heat of the summer is the first and last couple hours of the day. This is when the air and water temperatures are the coolest and the oxygen levels in the water are at there highest. That being said, there are a few things you can do to help you buy yourself a couple extra hours of good fishing. Below are four types of trout water I target during the summer.

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The Fish That Took Three Anglers to Land

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I was having the time of my life on a steelhead fishing trip with my great friends Louis Cahill and Murphy Kane. We had made the long drive up from Georgia to chase after Great Lake steelhead for a week. Many of the rivers that feed into the Great Lakes hold huge numbers of salmon, steelhead and brown trout. Unfortunately those large concentrations of fish also attract every fishermen within a 100 plus square mile radius. We all agreed we couldn’t handle putting up with shoulder to shoulder fishing conditions, so we came up with a strategic plan to avoid it at all costs. Our strategy was simple, watch the extended weather forecast, and try to plan our trip around the nastiest weather we could find. This way, angler traffic would be at its lowest and we’d hopefully have plenty of water to ourselves.

A week later I got the call from Murphy that a huge snow storm was rolling in, and we all immediately needed to pack our gear and hit the road. It ended up being one hell of an adventure just making the trip up there. We had to drive in snow and ice conditions from North Carolina all the way up to New York. I’ve never in my life seen so many wrecks and vehicles sliding off the road. I’ll tell you one thing, it wasn’t easy driving on snow covered roads with sheer drop offs on both sides, and having to guess where your lane begins and ends for hours on end. If that’s not bad enough, then add to that having to safely pass eighteen wheelers that are throwing up blankets of snow on your windshield completely whiting you out for a couple seconds at a time. My ass was puckered up so tight during that drive up, I don’t think the jaws of life could have opened them.

God willing we survived the treacherous drive up to New York and our strategic plan ended up paying off big time. Temperatures never climbed above the teens during the trip, and I remember the wind blowing a constant 20mph with gusts 35-40mph. You had to really want to catch fish to hack it in those arctic conditions. The strange smell of butter filled the air from us constantly spraying down our rod guides with Pam in our efforts to fight off ice build up. Apparently none

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10 Tips For Spotting Permit

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Maybe it’s not your thing but if there truly is a fish of ten-thousand casts, it’s the permit. There is enough to catching permit to fill a bookshelf or magazine rack. It’s a complicated game, but where it starts is simple. To catch a permit, you must find a permit. And to find a permit, the angler must know what to look for. With that in mind, here are 10 tips to help you spot a permit.

Have the right glasses
This is stupid simple but it really is the most important piece of equipment for the saltwater angler. There is no replacement for quality polarized sunglasses. Good saltwater glasses have a rosy color to the lenses. Pass on green or grey. Copper, rose or brown will offer better contrast. A lighter tint to the lens is valuable on darker days and a frame that shade your eyes is a plus. Glass lenses offer the sharpest vision and, unless you have a heavy coke-bottle prescription, that’s what I recommend.

The long, graceful forked tail of the permit is its most distinctive feature. It is black in color and stands out when the fish shows its profile. Often the permit’s broad, silver body disappears completely and it is the black double sickle tail that gives him away. This sight is never more exciting than when the tail is held up out of the water. Called ‘”tailing” this happens when the fish feeds off the bottom in shallow water. This means that the fish is actively feeding and the chances of him eating your fly are good.

The permit’s long, sickle-shaped dorsal fin will often give him away. When the fish is

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