3 Reasons Not To False Cast

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Most fly anglers do too much false casting.

False casting is almost a nervous habit for many fly fishers. It’s also a bad habit. Excessive false casting is not only unnecessary, it will cost you fish. Although I’m thinking specifically about saltwater fly fishing, the same ideas hold true in freshwater. It’s a bad idea to false cast any more than absolutely necessary. 

In saltwater fly fishing, false casting serves one purpose, to work out enough line to reach a fish. To be successful, you should practice doing this in as few false casts as possible. The golden rule is, never more than three. By shooting line in both the forward and back cast, it’s completely possible you work out eighty or ninety feet of line in three false casts. Any more is asking for trouble.


False casting wastes time.

There is a slim window of opportunity for making your best presentation to any fish. Timing is key. Waste too much time false casting and you’ll miss your shot.

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Sunday Classic / Respect Thy Tarpon Guide

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I respect tarpon guides a great deal.

As a trout guide, I run into many of the same struggles they do on the water, but tarpon guides have to deal with managing them at the extreme level. They spend their days on the water guiding in some of the most demanding and technical fly fishing conditions on the planet, and to make things worse, many of their clients have never experienced the saltwater fishing conditions before in their life. Getting the job done, day in and day out, is rarely easy for a tarpon guide. I imagine there’s plenty of silent prayers being made on those poling platforms, begging for a starving fish to show itself at just the right angle, and that a good presentation follows.

Friends that guide for tarpon tell me of occasional periods where the skunk doesn’t leave the boat for days at a time. Hookups that are short lived, are the only thing that keep them sane and focused on the prize. It’s not that they aren’t spotting fish and getting plenty of opportunities during the day. Most of the time, their hands are clean and the skunk falls on the operators standing on the bow. It’s hard to hit your targets if you haven’t taken the time to sight-in your fly rod before you begin the hunt (pre-trip casting preparation). Consequently, a large percentage of the fish catching opportunities witnessed by tarpon guides fizzle out before they can materialize, from presentations missing their intended targets. And don’t get me started on the unstable emotions that plague newcomers to chasing tarpon on the fly. That’s a whole-nother can of worms. I’ve been on the bow many times, where I completely fell apart after locking eyes with a 100+ pound poon.

They also tell me that many times when they’re fortunate enough to get an experienced fly caster on the bow of their boat, they often get dealt the shitty weather card. A cold front will show up out of no where and most of the fish will run for their lives to deep water. When a cold fronts aren’t the problem, strong winds blowing the wrong direction, end up depriving them access to prime water. Focus, patience, and persistence are three attributes you better have if you want to hack it guiding in the salt. For myself

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Saturday Shoutout / Rosenbauer Bares All

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If you think you know Tom Rosenbauer, you need to hear this podcast.

Tom is an icon in the world of fly fishing. It’s hard to think of anyone who has done more to introduce new anglers to the sport. We all listen to his Orvis Guides Podcast. We’ve seen him on TV, and we’ve read his books. But do we really know Tom Rosenbauer?

G&G contributor Dan Frasier sat down for an interview with Tom to find out. What he uncovered is no less than shocking. Unless you consider hilarious less than shocking, in which case, it’s far, far less than shocking.


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Making A Rattan Fly Rod Grip, Part 2: Video

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Here’s a second great video on making a rattan grip for your fly rod.

Hopefully your rattan grip project is coming along. In this video Matt Draft, of Proof Fly Fishing, will show you how to put the finishing touches on your rattan grip that really make it sing. This is a great project that anyone can tackle.

If you haven’t seen part 1, find it here.

Get your rattan grip kit here.


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Alice’s Angle, Catch of a Lifetime

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By: Alice Tesar


I’ve observed two types of romantic relationships in the all-consuming world of fly-fishing: relationships that allow one individual to obsess over fishing individually and relationships that share a deep personal love of the sport.  The first type seems to occur when two people love and enjoy completely different hobbies and thus spend little to no time sharing their passions, except the occasional holiday family event or ‘date night’. Typically, the angler in this duo opts for an evening on the river over said ‘date night’ causing a riff which will be closed up the next time the other wants to partake in their own sport of choice. This relationship usually involves a significant number of gifts (in the form of flowers or clean dishes) left for the lover as a sign of affection and gratitude for the mutualistic relationship.

The second form of love in fly-fishing occurs when two people mutually obsess over the sport but in their own ways and so rarely take time on the water together. In my own experience ‘date-night’ usually is time on the river but we inevitably end up with stretches of river between us, each taking our own approach and listening to the yelps of the other’s excitement over misses and catches from around the bend. Our certainty of our differing methods is so strongly linked to our egos that the distance between us on the river is increased. Fortunately, there is usually a beer or a flask to smooth things over when the angling has ended. 

I’ve illustrated two extremes and maybe your partnership falls somewhere on this spectrum. While I’m making large assumptions about what it is like to be in-love with an angler I know that love is dynamic and requires attention to what seems like a trivial detail, just like what it takes to be a good angler. If we went out and plopped a Royal Wulff on the surface every time we hit the river we may have a few lucky strikes, but we’d get into more trout if we looked closer at currents and bug life. Still more trout would be caught if we started to see where the fish were holding, at what point in the water column the trout are eating, and what bugs were coming off when. Effective anglers pay attention to weather in the past and forecasted, they know how the water temps affect bug life and trout feeding habits, and they keep track of the smallest changes and adapt accordingly. Effective lovers adapt to shifts in the metaphorical wind also.

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Fly Fishing Tips for Stocked Trout

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My first memory of bringing a trout to hand with a fly rod took place back in the spring of 1990, on a seasonal trout stream, located 45 minutes north of Atlanta, GA. It was a far cry from a trophy trout at 10-inches, but that freshly stocked rainbow trout, touched my eleven year old fishing soul to the core. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt watching that stocker chase down and eat my olive woolly bugger at my feet. It felt really good for a change, not relying on that plastic blue can of worms to get the job done. From that day forward, I never looked back, and I’ve moved on to become a respectable trout guide in my area and I’ve fly fished for trout all over the world.

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Book Review — How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea 

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Reviewed by Captain John Byron, U.S. Navy (Retired)

We fishing folk are looking at water constantly. 

From the bow of a flats boat. Deep in the river carefully shuffling over rocks. From the beach in the surf searching for stripers or snook or searuns. 

But do we really know what we’re seeing? Are we getting all the facts that water can tell us? Do we experienced fisherfolk really understand the fish’s medium?  The answers lie in this marvelous, easy-read, fun book. Not focused on fishing but highly informative for those of us addicted to fishing.

The author is the real deal. Example: wanting to verify the navigation skills claimed for the Vikings, with a companion he set out from the Orkney Islands to Iceland sailing a 32-footer, determined to get there using only the tools and techniques of those ancient mariners. 

Nearly 600 nautical miles. He got there reading water. 

Library Journal says this: “With the help of this book, and with careful attention and observation, anyone can learn how to interpret the messages water offers to aid in everything from navigation to weather forecasting. A riveting and highly accessible book that will appeal to water enthusiasts and nature lovers of all kinds.”

Wall Street Journal describes the book this way: “Mr. Gooley misses little in his paean to Earth’s most abundant resource. He starts small, at a mud puddle watching ripples fan out from a pebble drop, and ends big, in the frigid reaches of the Arctic Sea. Along the way he asks and answers many questions. If you like water, as I do, you will learn a lot.”

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Eleven Tips to Increase Your Sight Fishing Success

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By Devin Olsen

Last December I took a fly-fishing trip to the South Island of New Zealand.

It’s a trip I’ve been wanting to make since I was 14 years old. New Zealand is certainly not a secret destination for untouched wilderness fishing anymore. The lure of big brown trout and decades of promotion has seen to that. These days you’ll find difficult fish which must be spotted, stalked, and carefully targeted if you have any hope of success. I’ve had plenty of other challenges to tackle in over a decade of competitive fly fishing but the unique challenge of hard-won brown trout in exceptionally clear water is what drew me to New Zealand. If you are planning a trip to New Zealand, or if you have local waters where you can sight fish, here are some tips to help you spot more fish and be more successful on your trip. If you would like to read more about my trip, you can find the rigs I used in this post and read about a couple of days I had on the water in this post. 


Color is everything. A lot of anglers I’ve fished with have asked me how I can spot fish which they can’t see when we’re standing side by side. For me, it’s all about looking for inconsistencies in color. Trout are certainly capable of matching their surroundings with chameleon like camouflage. However, if you pay close attention to the river bottom, with training you will spot colors or contrasts on the river bottom which seem out of place. These differences can be subtle, but over time fish can be spotted fairly easily with repetition. Regional or species-specific patterns in trout coloration can help inform your color search. For example, if you are fishing in a river with rainbow trout, their pink or red lateral flanks will often show in the water. In New Zealand, the brown trout regularly exhibit a greenish hue on their back and silvery or orange flanks. Looking for those stacked color patterns helped me spot a lot more fish on my trip. 
Learn to read water better and you’ll be able to spot fish more easily. If you are capable of predicting where fish will hold when you are blind fishing, these same predictions will help inform your sight fishing. Sure, you can spot fish by looking at every inch of the river methodically but you’ll be more consistently effective if you focus most of your visual effort on target rich areas of the river. If you’d like some more information on how to read water based on variables like water temperature and hatches, pick up a copy of my new book Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers or our instructional film Modern Nymphing Elevated: Beyond the Basics. 
Pay attention to the background. Incident glare is made far worse if the bank on the far side of the river is light colored and reflects a lot of light. If there is something dark colored, like a tree, you’ll notice a lane corresponding to that object with much less glare that lets you see more clearly into the water. If you can line up that darker lane of water with the target area you are trying to spot fish in, you’ll have a much easier time spotting fish. 
There is a reason for the phrase “a bird’s eye view.”

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Sunday Classic / 6 Proven Winter Dry Fly Patterns

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Nothing allows me to forget about the cold temperatures of winter quicker, than spotting the surface rings from trout feeding on Midges or Blue Winged Olives. It’s not an everyday occurrence by any means, but when it happens, it feels like someone turns the heat up a few notches, and I’m instantly warmed head to toe. When we think about hitting trout water during the winter months, most of us don’t typically think about fishing dry flies. It’s true that day in and day out, most anglers will find their nymphs and streamers to be much more productive, but every once in a while, when luck is on our side, we can find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a winter hatch, with trout rising all around us. It’s during these special two hour windows of trout fishing, that the winter can provide us some of the most rewarding catches of the year. That is, of course, if we decided to bet against the odds, and pack our dry fly box.

I’ll gladly give up catching numbers of fish during the winter, in exchange for taking a handful of fish on the surface with tiny dry flies. The trout don’t even have to be all that big either. They just need to give me a pretty rise and tug my line a few good times. I guess a lot of it has to do with the fact that I believe hatches in the dead of winter, are like rare gifts handed down from above. Gifts that should always be full appreciated by the fly angler, otherwise they may decide to not show up again until spring. Late morning through the afternoon is the time of the day when I find midge and blue winged olive hatches to appear the most, and it’s often the bitter cold days with drizzling rain or snow flurries when the hatch decides to show up. Below are six proven winter dry flies and emergers that have served me well over the years. All you need to do is downsize your tippet and rig them up, with a standard dry fly/dropper rig.

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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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