Saturday Shoutout / Stranger Things

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This new streamer pattern from Andrew Grillos gets the job done.

I’ve known Andrew for about a decade and I learned pretty quickly to pay attention to what comes out of his fly box. Patterns like the Hippy Stomper, Party Animal and Bob Gnarly are epic producers and when I heard he had a new streamer pattern, I was all ears.

The Stranger Thing is a wiggley, fishy looking creation, newly available from Umpqua. Although I haven’t pined Andrew down on it, I assume the name comes from the TV show. When Grillos shaves his beard, he bares a striking resemblance to Gaten Matarazzo, on of the stars.

Our buddy and contributor Brian Kozminski has done a great writeup and step-by-stem on tying the Stranger Thing over at True North Trout. Check it out and put a few Stranger Things in your box. There’s no telling what scary creatures will come out after it.

Andrew Grillos will be Teaching a tying class at Trout’s Fly Fishing in Denver on March 16th 2019. If you are in the area, you should check it out. Andrew’s skills are crazy and he’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. More info here.  


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Making  A Rattan Fly Rod Grip, Part 1: Video

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There’s nothing quite as classic as a well made Rattan grip on a fly rod.

In addition to being beautiful, a rattan grip has a great feel in the hand. It’s the finishing touch that sets off a rod build and makes it just a little different. It’s especially nice on a split cane rod, but great on graphite and glass as well.

Our buddy Matt Draft, of Proof Fly Fishing is here with a great tutorial video on how to make your own rattan fly rod grips. It doesn’t take a lot of experience or fancy tools to ad this beautiful finishing touch to your rod.


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Cataract Surgery Update And Smith Optics Giveaway

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By Louis Cahill

I’m half way through the process of replacing my eye’s natural lenses and doing well. Here’s an update and a fun way for you to win a pair of Smith Optics fishing glasses.

First, let me say thanks for all of the well wishes I’v received from friends and readers. It’s been awfully nice hearing from all of you and knowing you’re pulling for me. Thanks you!

If you are not into the update, just scroll down to the contest.

My hope in writing about my experience with cataract surgery is to help inform those of you who might be considering it. Hopefully it will help you know what to expect and maybe make a more informed decision about your eye care. I’m not a doctor or an expert, just a guy going through a pretty common procedure thats a little frightening and mysterious.

I talked to a lot of people who have had interocular lens replacement before I decided to have it done. Having made my living as a photographer my whole life, I was extremely nervous about it. The procedure is not without risk and it’s not a decision to take lightly. I was pretty unhappy about how my vision was effecting my fly fishing and my photography, but after a couple of close calls driving, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. Thank God it is a problem with a solution.

Once I decided to have the surgery, the first step was choosing a doctor. I talked to a lot of folks who’d had the surgery and a couple of names kept coming up. I googled each doctor and read reviews, then talked to a couple. It was important to me to find a doctor I felt I connected with. I was very impressed with Dr Trevor Woodham. I met with him twice before moving forward and he was extremely patient. We talked in depth about how I use my eyes, including more than he probably wanted to know about bonefishing. He helped me choose lenses I’d be happy with.

I had never thought about having options for my new lenses.

I’m glad I took the time to understand the differences. I chose a very nice accommodating lens, designed to focus like natural lenses. They were expensive and not covered by insurance, and it was a short term sacrifice paying for them, but I wasn’t about to go cheap on my eyes.

The procedure is said to have a 98% success rate. I don’t like odds, not where surgery is involved, and I quickly thought about all of the times I’ve been in the 2% in my life. After doing some research, it seems that 98% figure might be misleading. I now think of it as a 2% chance that something might go wrong. Some of those somethings are worse than others and many are fixable. It seems that the chances of something catastrophic happening are more like one in several thousand. That made me feel better.

The procedure itself was a surreal experience.

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12 Tips for Taking Awesome Fishing Photos

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Just the other day one our Facebook followers asked if I would post some tips for taking better fishing photos. I’ve written a good bit on the subject, but the articles are scattered across the site. I thought this would be a great opportunity to put together one source for some of my best photography tips and tricks.

So here it is, 12 tips that will make your fishing photos rock!

Holding Fish For Photos
The first step in getting a great shot of a fish is knowing how to hold it properly. I am constantly amazed how many anglers don’t know how to hold a fish for a photo, but to be fair, Kent and I have had a lot of practice and we have it down to a science. Here’s an article from each of us on the subject.

Hold That Fish

4 Tips For Getting A Better Picture Of Your Trophy

What if you’re fishing alone when you catch the fish of a lifetime?
No problem. Here’s an article that will give you plenty of options for getting a great shot.

Getting The Hero Shot When You’re Fishing Solo

Great photos start the basics.

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Bonefish Beginner

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By Bob Reece

After twenty five years of fly fishing for freshwater species, I recently threw my first casts into salt water. 

As is always the case, hindsight is 20/20.  While I had plenty of success, there are several things that I wish I would have done prior to my first saltwater trip.  

I’ve always been a huge proponent of practicing your casting.  Throughout my time guiding freshwater trips, it is consistently one of the most common elements that holds anglers back from having greater success.    While I did practice a handful of times prior to my trip, I should have practiced more.   I’m a confident caster with lighter weight rods, but never having cast an eight or nine weight left me lacking the muscle memory of working with a heavier rod.  As part of this practice, it cannot be overstated how important it is to have the ability to effectively present the fly with a backhand cast. 

In addition to the casting itself, I wish I would have practiced my footwork.  In the vast majority of freshwater situations, we as anglers target slowly cruising or posted up feeding fish.  The rapid directional change by the bonefish was a drastic difference from any other fly fishing experience that I’ve had.  The need to change the path of my line and body position mid cast challenged me.   Extra practice time with this factor would have helped take advantage of opportunities that I missed. 

As a newby to salt water flies, I had no idea what I was doing in this category.  I phoned a friend.

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Expedition GRAYLING

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By Brian Kozminski

In the not too distant future, there is the real possibility of anglers who wade in Northern Michigan’s cold waters to have the opportunity to catch a once native Arctic Grayling. Imagine the potential. Rewriting history in our lifetime. This is truly Epic.

Walking through a dense fog in early morning, you can feel the dew brush off the ferns as you meander through poplar, birch and cedar fens, the aroma of promise and wet forest floor meet your anticipation of fish rising as you reach the river. As early as 2025, one may have the opportunity to catch brook, brown, rainbow trout and Grayling in the Jordan, Maple, Pigeon or Manistee Rivers.

This Project is one part science, one part fantasy and two parts funding. The research is being conducted at MSU fish rearing facility where Nicole Watson, PhD, is doing what she claims to be her dream job. It is better to see her face in person as it lights up when she talks about how she went to the Chena River, Alaska, to fish and pick up her babies to bring back to Michigan. Small trials as they packed a couple hundred eggs in a small cooler with gels packs thats should have been ‘cool’ to go through TSA, but not once they melted and turned to liquid, jeopardizing the livelihood of a yet future char offspring. She is a very intelligent, bright,  personable scientist, as well as a very fishy chick- you can tell that in a few moments just by chatting with her. We met a  few years ago on the Upper Manistee when her then finance and her were about to embark on a midnight mousing trip and we exchanged benevolent wishes and steelhead migratory research she was working on at the time. This Grayling Project is like a dream come true. Think about it- we are hoping to find a river that can suitably sustain a species that has been extirpated from its once native waters. A few factors made this happen nearly 100 years ago. As the lumber era boomed and white pine stands were toppled and shuttled down the rivers each spring, we eroded naturally protected banks and introduced more sediment to the watershed. Combined with loss of habitat and spawning grounds, the Grayling were reportedly very easy to catch, often, three or four at a time on one line. The last Grayling was reportedly caught in 1936 in the Otter River of the Upper Peninsula. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has attempted to re-introduce Grayling back in the 80’s. Some dozen kettle lakes and small rivers near Pigeon River Country were used to rear 145,000 yearling for control sites, but disease and infection, perhaps predation wiped them out in a couple years. What makes this attempt more valid? Where is the funding coming from? Why is the DNR behind it?

First things first. This began as a collateral research project for Michigan Tech and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians as a re-introduction of Native Species Grant, it has gained attraction and momentum in the passed five years. The DNR is working with LRBOI and money has been set aside from various donors – Petoskey-Harbor Springs Community Foundation, Traverse City Rotary, Oleson Foundation, Michigan Trout Unlimited, Consumers Energy, and Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation have graciously donated to the cause. The biggest hurdle was

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Sunday Classic / 3 Tips For Fly Fishing Kung Fu

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I love to teach fly fishing. I do it every chance I get and I see folks wrestle time and again with the same three issues. I can remember being there myself and it sucks! Three things that seem so simple to me now just about cost me my sanity. I’d like to spare you that. If you are new to fly fishing for trout following these three suggestions will not only put you on more fish, but it will accelerate your learning curve dramatically.

Here are the three things that come between every new angler and the fish they want to catch.

The first, most basic skill an angler needs is the ability to put the fly in front of the fish. This means, not only distance but accuracy as well. There have been a truck load of books written about fly casting and there will be a truck load more but there is nothing in any of them that can replace time spent with the rod in hand. That really is the trick. Time plus energy. Set aside a time, just ten or fifteen minutes a day, for the next year and spend that time casting in the yard. Every day! In a year you will cast like a Grand Master.

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Saturday Shoutout / Orvis On Demand

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The Orvis Guide To Fly-Fishing is now streaming on demand on Amazon Prime.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more clear and thorough tutorial on fly fishing. Host Tom Rosenbauer strikes an amazing balance of covering both basic and advanced techniques in a way that absolute beginner can understand, while serving up details useful to advanced anglers.  Tom does more than make it look easy. He gives you the tools to make it easy, and fun.

Each episode features casting instructor Pete Kutzer with a segment on casting skills specific to the topic of the episode. Even if you are an advanced caster, there’s plenty to learn from watching pete. He has some of the best technique I’ve ever seen.

Each episode is devoted to a specific topic and, of course, covers every modern technique for catching trout, but doesn’t stop there. Tom covers topics and species from bass to bonefish.

The thirteen part series is free to watch for Amazon Prime users.


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Blue Hole Fly-Fishing Setup: Video

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Here’s a simple and incredibly effective setup for catching fish in the blue holes of the Bahamas.

I’m not one of those purist who thinks it’s poor form to deviate from my target species. I like to have fun, and for me, catching different kinds of fish in different ways is part of the experience. One of the coolest things about fishing South Andros, in the Bahamas, is the blue holes. These freshwater vents are perfectly round and can be two-thousand feet deep. South Andros has the highest concentration of them in the world and they are full of fish. You never know what will come out of them.

The problem is, blue holes are really difficult to fish effectively with a fly. Anglers often leave thinking there are no fish there. There are always fish there but, in a two-thousand foot hole, showing them a fly can be tough. I’ve been fishing blue holes for a long time and I have an easy solution to the problem. It takes seconds to set up and catches fish like a net.


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Keeping it Clean

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By Bob Reece


This may be a sore subject for some and emotionally disturbing for others.   I’ve seen the surfaces of enough tying platforms over the years to know that they can quickly turn into a chaotic heap of fluff and debris.  I’m not here to judge, just to offer suggestions on how to prevent chaos and increase the number of flies that you tie. 

I am huge believer in the fact that organization is the foundation of maintaining cleanliness on my tying table.  When those two factors coexist, the number of flies that I am able to tie significantly increases.   That organization starts inside the drawers of my desk. 

In the past I maintained a typical setup of dedicating different storage compartments to different materials.  Over the last couple years I’ve moved away from that focus.  Instead, I now use plastic organizers and Ziploc bags to group the materials that I use for specific patterns.  Every pattern that

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