Leave Your Cowboy Hat at Home

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By Bob Reece

In Cheyenne, Wyoming we host Frontier Days, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo. 

That folks, is a great time and place to wear a cowboy hat.  On the other hand, spotting and stalking fish in glassy water is not.  Whether on still or moving water, the clothing that you wear can have an impact on the success of your fishing day.  This is especially true when stalking fishing in water with high levels of clarity.  In both my personal and guide days on the water I’ve seen this impact fish-to-net success. 

While I guide entirely on still waters, many of those days are spent spotting and stalking fish with clients.  During those experiences, two different people stand out in my mind.   One arrived in a fluorescent pink sweatshirt.  To start the day off, we fished indicators.  With the morning dry fly activity, we began to slowly move down the shoreline in search of rising fish.  As soon as I told her we would be trying this method, she removed the sweatshirt and wore a drab colored under shirt. 

The other client wore a bright white cowboy hat.

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Horsehair Worms 

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By Dan Frasier

You’re actually fishing worms

Tall waiving grass alive with thousands of hoppers and a stiff breeze. No setting can more quickly raise a flyfisherman’s heart rate. The promise of errant leaps by the insects causing aggressive and splashy rises by the fish can make the tying fingers of any sport trembly. So we look for conditions that are right. An abundance of hoppers or crickets is a good start, but often times we look for a little wind. Something to coax the crunchy fish snacks within striking distance of the fish. 

But what if the wind wasn’t what was causing the hoppers to hit the water? Enter the horsehair worm; Spinochordodes tellinii to be more exact. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinochordodes_tellinii) The life cycle of this aquatic worm is fascinating. The larvae are found in the moist edges of bodies of water. There they are ingested by grasshoppers and crickets. The larvae then mature inside the insect; leaching nutrients out of the host and into its own skin. As it matures, the worm will molt many times, eventually growing to be up to 4 times the length of its host.

Now the worm has a problem. In order to mate it must find other horsehair worms and it must be in water. Here’s where things get weird. The worm, still inside the hopper, begins to release a protein called WnT, among others that are believed to mimic neurotransmitters in the brain. In other words, they start to take over the thoughts of the hoppers. Apparently one of the thoughts that the worm plants in the insect goes something like this. “Hey… you know what would be really fun right now? A cannonball into that stream!!” 

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Sunday Classic / Some Days It’s All About the Twitch

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Some days trout need more than just a well placed fly in their field of vision and a drag-free drift to persuade them to eat. When you’re working water that you’re certain holds trout, and a standard drag-free drift isn’t getting the job done, try imparting subtle movement on your fly/flies to trigger bites. The best way to execute this is by using well timed rod tip twitches, during the drift, when your fly is moving through high percentage trout holding water. Done properly, it will give your fly that extra “alive and life-like appeal” and that often will give trout the green light that your fly is a natural and not an impostor.

Last week, I had the honor of fly fishing with Rob Parkins (WY & ID veteran guide) and Zack Dalton (Farbanks Sales Manager) on the South Fork of the Snake River during an epic salmonfly hatch.

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Saturday Shoutout / Oregon Done

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50 fish in 50 states, like George Thorogood with a fly rod.

I had the pleasure of fishing with Neil and Chris Thomas on the Deschutes. You couldn’t ask for a nicer or more enthusiastic couple of folks to share a run with. Neil and Chris have set a goal for themselves to catch a fish on the fly in each of the 50 states in the next 5 years. I knew they were doing it right when they took on the task of catching an Oregon steelhead on a swung fly as one of their first outings.

I didn’t know until later that Neil is chronicling the adventure online. He sent me a link to the post about the Deschutes trip and it’s really good. I love that it is such an authentic and organic endeavor. Just a great couple, having a blast catching fish on the fly. I look forward to following along, and I look forward to seeing them when they make it to Georgia!

Enjoy, Oregon Done

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New Winston Fly Rods for 2018: Video

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2018 Brings two new offerings from R.L. Winston, the Pure and the Salt Air.

These new rods hit both ends of the fly fishing spectrum. The Pure is a new offering for small stream, light line anglers. It replaces the B3LS and is available in 2 weight through 5 weight, with an impressive line up of three 3 weights and five 4 weights, ranging from 5’9” to 9’. The Pure is a medium action rod that’s light and well balanced. 

The Salt Air is an impressive offering for flats anglers. It’s incredibly light and responsive with great feel. I had not cast the rod when we shot this video, but it didn’t take me long to get it out to the casting pond. I was very impressed. It’s smooth, accurate and has plenty of gas for the long cast. Maybe the most impressive thing is the amount of line it will pick up off the water and still make a clean cast. The Salt Air is simply dynamite.

Check out this video for the details on the new Winston Pure and Salt Air.

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Fight the urge….

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By Jesse Lowry

I grew up with a bait caster in my hand, fishing for bass with my dad since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Even after I started fly fishing for trout in my teens, I never really crossed bass fishing with fly fishing, save for practicing my casting with a 5 weight and little poppers; which can be a ton of fun catching smallies and blue gill. 

But when it came to largemouth bass fishing, me and dad were always out “hog hunting”. Two feet of water, tight to the shoreline, downed trees, logs, weed beds, heavy structure. We were after 6-8 pound fish (hogs by Canadian Standards), using 30-pound braid, stiff-as-a-board rods, and a reel that may as well have been made by Warn Winches. It was tournament style fishing and in my mind it was definitely not the place for a flimsy fly rod. 

Then fly fishing found the internet and its endless streaming of everything. I realized there were fly rods bigger than my “heavy duty” 6 weight (we didn’t exactly have a local fly shop back then, other than some smaller local shops near the few trout streams in southern Ontario 5 hours away). For the first time, I saw someone fly fishing for peacock bass in the same type of structure we targeted bass with our traditional gear. After that I thought to myself, man… I could do that here no problem. Unfortunately I was in my mid 20s, about the time that life started to get in the way of fishing. My fishing time was precious, I wanted to catch, not fish. After about an hour with a fly rod and no “real luck” (anything over 2 pounds) I would get frustrated and pick up my trusty bait caster with a Yamasenko and typically boat a few “hogs” within the next hour. 

(Authors note: Yamasenko’s are trophy largemouth crack in up here in Ontario, they can’t resist them. )

This year life has changed a bit, but by no means do I have more free time to fish. I just had my first child, a little girl named River, I’m still working 50 hours a week at a desk in Toronto, and have started building a home/fishing lodge in BC. However, I decided this year to make a conscious effort not to pick up a bait caster when I’m on the bass boat. Not because a fly rod is a more effective way to catch bass. In my opinion it’s not, and no matter how good I get on the fly, for me it never will be (not with that kind of attitude, you’re probably thinking). But fly fishing for bass sure is a hell of a lot more fun! When you hook into a good fish on a fly rod it’s far more rewarding than the 20 second fight on heavy traditional gear. 

A few weekends ago was a real test.

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Don’t Keep Staring in One Place if You’re Seeing Nada

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My recent trip to the Bahamas, fly fishing for bonefish, I got a chance to work out a bunch of kinks in my flats fishing.

From the help of my buddies, the helpful staff on hand and the fantastic bahamian guides, I eventually got to the point where I could respectfully hold my own on the flats. Despite me being in paradise there were a few times during the trip when I found myself hanging my head. The first problem I had was letting my mind get in the way of my fishing. That was to be expected though, since I’m most comfortable on the cold water streams and rivers, and it had been several years since I’d last chased the grey ghost on the flats. When I trout fish, I don’t have to think about my casts much these days and my confidence is through the roof. This is because I do it day in and day out. Take me to saltwater though, where I only make a few trips a year, and my confidence drops and the first couple days I find myself constantly battling my inner thoughts and nerves. I’m sure many of you out there no where I’m coming from. Anytime you’re lacking confidence and dealing with nerves you’re going to fish at half your potential. And there’s no place this holds true more than standing on the bow of a skiff on the saltwater flats. Lesson learned, if you want to fish more effectively and maximize your success when fishing locations that aren’t your norm, you have to stay relaxed, keep your confidence no matter what, and learn to let the bad casts roll off your back.

My next problem I had during the trip, and the point for writing this post, was learning how to quickly spot the bonefish my guide was calling out to me. I missed countless shots during the week because

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Renzetti 2300 Traveler Vise Review

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By Bob Reece

The Renzetti 2300 Series Traveler Vise is a serious upgrade.

Years ago I was blessed to receive a phone call form an elderly lady in my community.  She knew that I was a young fly tier and fisher.  Her husband had passed away several years earlier and had left behind a life time of fly tying tools and materials.  Through her great generosity, I happened upon what has been the most valuable asset of my fly tying career. 

When I arrived at her house she guided me into the basement and toward a bedroom.  When the bedroom door opened I found myself looking at chest high boxes wall to wall.  Each box was filled with either fly tying tools or materials.  After recovering from the shock, I began the process of working through the extensive collection.   As I worked my way toward the back corner of the room, I opened a small tattered box.  Inside sat the slim silver frame of a Renzetti Traveler vise.  Never having tied on any form of quality vise, I was elated over the find.  Looking back, I could have found any brand of vise in that box.  With the fly tying experience that I now have, I’m thankful that it was a Renzetti.  

Until recently, every fly that I have constructed since has been on that vise.   Several weeks ago I moved on, to another Renzetti Traveler.  With the creation of their 2300 Series Traveler, I couldn’t help but reach for the upgrade.  

Renzetti’s are known for their buttery smooth rotary function.  This new member of the family maintains that solid reputation.  The vise structure provides three optional length positions for the jaws.  This allows the tier to make rotary adjustments as hook sizes change, ensuring that the rotational axis does not induce wobble as the vise turns. The petite but strong bobbin cradle effectively fills in for the role of side kick during rotary applications. 

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Atonement 

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By Louis Cahill

The following was written for, and originally published in, Southern Culture on the Fly.

It was the mid of summer, and the old people said they could not remember one hotter. The man’s work was hard and honest. He toiled like a revenant with the pressure washer as if, along with the soot and grime, he might also wash away his sins and be clean. He thirsted but he did not drink. He hungered but he did not eat.

He had spent the whole of the night before arguing with the woman. She was angered by his fishing and could not understand his helplessness in the situation nor that fishing was a thing he must do and had no choice in. Today he would fish again, and tonight the woman would again be angry.

On the boat his stomach growled and was empty but only whisky did he offer to quiet his troubled gut. He explained, at great length, to his companion about the woman’s unreasonable nature and how she loathed the fishing, and the more he explained the less he understood and the more he looked to the whisky for answers.

There came a time when he had done so much explaining that he could no longer cast the rod he held and thought his drunken hands best put to work pulling the oars. He sat the rower’s seat with the whisky and he pulled both on the oars and the bottle until all was black, and in fear of his life,

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Sunday Classic / For Steelhead, The Swing Is The Thing…Or Is It?

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WHEN SWINGING FLIES FOR STEELHEAD, HOW IMPORTANT IS MANAGING THAT SWING?

It seems like a simple question. I know how I feel about it, but when you start talking to folks about it you get surprisingly different opinions. I’ve been told it doesn’t matter and I’ve been told it’s all that matters. I’ve heard it matters on some rivers and not on others. So where does the truth lie?

I was talking with a friend the other day when he asked me why I was catching more fish that week than he was. That’s, kind of, an impossible question to answer, especially where steelhead are concerned. It could be the magic fly or the right sink tip. It could be a ‘right place, right time’ situation. I have a friend who thinks it’s karma and it could well be dumb luck or what my grandfather called, “holding your mouth right.”

After some discussion, my friend Kevin was convinced the difference is in how I manage my swing. I learned how to swing flies from some pretty damned good anglers and I like to think I do a good job of it. My technique is also informed by some basic things I believe about fish and fishing. I do think it’s important and there are other things about catching steelhead that I think are equally important.

For what it’s worth, here’s how I manage my swing.

First of all, a good cast is a real asset. Turning your leader over, casting distance and accuracy are all important skills. That said, you

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