The Redfish Wiggler

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MY BUDDY PAUL PUCKETT IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS BEAUTIFUL PAINTINGS OF FISH AND HIS FUNNY RENDERINGS OF CELEBRITY’S HOLDING FISH.

What you may not know about Paul is that he’s a redfish junky. So much so that he recently moved to Charleston SOuth Carolina to be closer to the fish he loves.

I visited The Fish Hawk the other day and Paul took the time to share one of his favorite redfish flies. If you’re headed to redfish country tie a few of these babies up. You won’t be sorry.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO!

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Nets, Go Big or Go Home

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I received an email from a reader the other day asking advice on steelhead nets. I thought it was a topic worth some discussion. We put a lot of thought into rods, reels, lines and flies but often the piece of equipment that seals the deal is an afterthought. I was guilty of this for years, carrying a net that wasn’t up to the job for purely sentimental reasons. I finally realized it made no sense and tooled up.

HERE ARE A COUPLE OF THINGS THAT I LOOK FOR IN A NET.

Size Matters
Bigger is better and biggest is best! When your fighting the fish of a lifetime you don’t have time to run to Wal-Mart for a bigger net. Plan for success. My regular trout net is 20″ across. For steelhead you’ll want something bigger. It’s easier to net a tough fish and it gentler on them as well. Go big or go home.

The Bag
This is the most important thing to me. Traditional nets tear fins and remove slime from fish. The new rubber nets are the friendliest thing for the fish. Put them back the way you found them.

A Long Handel
I don’t care what they allow in competition, longer is better. If it means you net the fish faster it cuts down on the chance you will unbutton and it’s better for the fish.

Light Weight
I love the look of a wooden net but the big ones are too heavy to carry wading. I use the

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Fishing In A Crowd Of Your Choosing

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By David Grossman

Solitude is one of those ideals we all tout when asked the question, why we fish. I plan, barter, and beg sometimes for weeks just to realize a few hours of it. But when it comes to being a better fisherman, solitude might not be all it’s cracked up to be. I have never fished better than when I had a regular group of people to push me to up my game from where I started the day. Plus, it’s nice to split the driving, food, booze, and shuttle fees (just sayin’).

I still like fishing by myself these days, and go out of my way to do it every once in awhile when I really need to clear my head. But the older I get, sharing the experience with like-minded friends seems better. Fish selfies suck. I have never seen a good one…never. Screaming for joy with no one around winds up seeming creepy most of the time as well. Having a partner in crime also saves you the embarrassment of crawling back to your truck gravely injured when you have fallen and can’t get up.

Everyone fishes different rigs, patterns, retrieves, and water types. I have never met anyone that is proficient in everything all the time. There is no better motivation to learn something new than when your buddy is giving you the piscatorial red bottom fishing the slow water with a dry dropper while you have your head buried in the riffles fishing heavy nymphs. I have learned new spots on old rivers just by sitting in the front of the boat while someone else rows and uses their experiences to pick the anchor spots. If you don’t believe my metaphysical arguments, look at it from a straight logistical perspective: You are a better fisherman when you aren’t rowing or poling. It’s simple physics…trust me.

A good crew will make you a better fisherman, but the flip side of that coin also holds true. A bad crew will absolutely make you worse for wear by the end. Here are a few things to consider when putting together a posse.

There should always be one member of your group that is at least as good a fisherman as you are. If they’re better, then you won the fly fishing lottery.

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The Ring of Fire

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“For every species, anywhere in the world, there’s a ring of fire…” – Oliver White.

Oliver stopped by for dinner during the January Bonefish School at Bair’s Lodge this year, and it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to his angling adventures around the world. One of the guests asked him, in his experience, how important is casting skill. The answer was, in summary, it’s everything.

Oliver began to spin the woven placemat, about the size of a vinyl LP, in front of him.

“For every species, anywhere in the world, there’s a ring of fire, put the fly in that ring and it will be eaten.” He lifted the placemat, “It’s about this big.”

Obviously, when we are talking about fly fishing at this level there are a hundred variables and choices the angler makes which affect success, but if the fly isn’t in the zone, you aren’t in the game. In spite of angry angler rants to the contrary, casting skill does matter. Anglers who can cast farther, more accurately, and in harsher conditions will catch more fish. That’s simple math. So, practice your casting, and I’ll leave it there. What is more interesting to me is the idea of knowing exactly where that placemat lands.

The ring of fire is always on the move.

Where exactly the fly should be placed is the first question an angler should ask themselves when making a presentation. Far more important

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Cuda Up in My Grill

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By Kent Klewein

JUST SO EVERYONE KNOWS I’M SUPER PROUD OF MY NEW SLIM AND TRIM STATUS.

Louis has been on me a while now to drop some serious LB’s. I’ve really been stacking them on from my wife’s fantastic cooking. He says there’s a reason he doesn’t take photos of me anymore, and I really can’t blame him 🙂

Unfortunately, I’ve not lost the weight in reality. I ran across these two photos from four years ago, fishing down in the Florida Keys with Capt. Joel Dickey. He guided me to this behemoth barracuda on the fly. To this date, it’s probably one of my most memorable saltwater moments I’ve experienced on the flats. The take and battle were epic, particularly since my arms were already complete jello from the prior twenty minutes of stripping hand over fist as fast my arms would go.

Numerous barracuda prior had given us promising chases but as they so often do, they let off the gas and lose interest at the last second. About the time I was ready to yell uncle, Joel shouted in his famous southern accent, “DUDE, look at that giant cuda at two 0’clock”. I some how managed to lay out a good cast, and I was about five strips into my retrieve when this guy hammered the fly and took off faster than I’ve ever witnessed a fish swim. That’s when the “shit hit the fan”. Before I could transition from holding the fly line to the fly rod, that barracuda burnt the hell out of my hands from the fly line shooting across my palms and through the rod guides at fifty miles and hour. I’d wear that fly line brand across both my palms for the next two weeks.

But what really made this fish memorable was

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Build Your Own Fly Rod: DIY Video 7

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THAT NEW DIY FLY ROD IS JUST ABOUT READY TO FISH.

In this, the last video of the series, Matt Draft, of Proof Fly Fishing, shows you how to fix some common problems that happen when building a rod. These helpful techniques will ensure that your rod is perfect and will help with future repairs.

I hope you have enjoyed this series. If you decided to build your own fly rod using these videos as a guide, let us know how it went. You can leave a comment here and share photos on our FaceBook page or tag us on Instagram.

This is your last chance to take advantage of Matt’s free shipping offer so check out his site and use the code G&Gfreeship at checkout.

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Tom Keck Is My Role Model

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In September of 2009 I was fishing the South Platte below Spinney Reservoir, the stretch they call the Dream Stream.

When I noticed this gentleman casting trico patterns to the far bank…from a wheelchair. I watched for a bit as he worked a pod of rising fish with a long reach cast, occasionally fooling one and bringing it to the net that he had fashioned with an extra long handle. He would wheel himself down stream to the next rising fish, careful to travel far enough from the bank that he didn’t spook fish. It was an impressive display. I would find out just how impressive when I walked over and introduced myself.

Tom Keck, of Denver CO, is a likable fellow and a great fisherman. Generous with his knowledge of the S. Platte as well as with his beautifully tied flies. The flies he gave me turned out to be day makers. But don’t let his gentle demeanor fool you. This fellow is carved of wood. I asked him how he wound up in the wheel chair and this is the story I got. Ten or so years earlier, fishing the Platte at Deckers he had taken a bad fall. Alone, his back broken and paralyzed, he struggled in the fast water nearly drowning. Eventually he pulled himself to the shore and then to the road with his hands. There he found help but he never walked again. He also never stopped fishing the river he called his home water.

I’ve taken a few bad falls. Not like Tom’s but bad enough to make me wonder what I’d do if I were really hurt out there on my own. I hope I never have to answer that question but if I do I hope I’m half the man Tom is and can face it with the courage and

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Covering a Hatch Starts with Carrying the Right Flies

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HAVE YOU EVER BEEN STANDING IN THE RIVER WATCHING A BIG HATCH UNFOLDING WITH RISING FISH ALL AROUND YOU, BUT FOR SOME REASON YOU CAN’T GET THE FEEDING FISH TO EAT YOUR FLIES?

Covering and owning a hatch starts with you first carrying the right fly patterns. When you know you’re going to encounter a specific hatch on the water, always carry multiple variations (colors, sizes) and stages (nymph, emerger, dun, spinner) to make sure you’re covered. Trout can get really picky during selective feeding.

This very situation happened to me last year running a guided float trip during an intense sulphur hatch. There was yellow everywhere, and fish were in a feeding frenzy, but the trout wouldn’t eat any of my sulphur patterns I tied on for my clients. Even my CDC go-to patterns that always work, were shunned by the feeding trout. I finally found a sulphur pattern after my seventh try that the trout consistently liked, and it saved the day. It ended up being nothing special, just a dun with in a slightly different color shade. The remainder of the float trip all I could think about was how important it was that I had so many different sulphur imitations on hand. It would have been a long quiet drive back if my clients witnessed an epic hatch with perfect conditions, and we ended up striking out on the water.

Your standard parahcute style dun with a small nymph dropper off the back will not always work. Below are some examples of other fly pattern options for rounding out your fly box and owning a hatch:

Drys
Parachute Style (with and without trailing shuck)

Traditional Style (palmered hackle)

Thorax Style (Palmered Hackle with hackle trimmed off on the bottom so pattern rides low on the water)

No Hackle Style (Just like it sounds, no hackle is used in the recipe)

CDC Style (CDC is substituted for

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Think Twice About Your Tippet Size

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HAVE YOU EVER MADE THE MISTAKE OF CUTTING OFF YOUR DRY FLY OR NYMPH RIG AND QUICKLY TYING ON A STREAMER TO TARGET A BIG FISH? 

You know, when your too lazy or in a hurry to take the time to upsize to the appropriate tippet size generally called for with streamers. I know I have, and it’s resulted in breaking off a big fish on more than one occasion. Big brown trout particularly have razor sharp teeth like a high quality serrated knife. I’ve seen a brown trout literally cut a trout in two after one quick bite. Their teeth ain’t no joke man. If you’re streamer fishing, use fluorocarbon tippet. It’s much better than monofilament for abrasion resistance. Lastly, don’t be shy to go big on your tippet size at first. It could make the difference between you landing or losing that trophy of a lifetime. You can always down size your tippet if you think your not getting bites because the fish are seeing the line.

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Western Fly Guide for Eastern Anglers

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By Kent Klewein

ARE YOU SITTING AT THE VISE DREAMING OF THAT BIG TRIP OUT WEST THIS SUMMER?

I get asked all the time by eastern fly anglers heading out west for the first time, what fly patterns they should stock up on before they leave. What percentage of dry flies to wet flies they should pack, what sizes, and should they pack streamers? The questions go on and on. I get most of the email inquiries from eastern anglers that are fixing to make their summer trip out west during the peak of the terrestrial season. For those that know me, you know that I’m the type of fly fisherman that carries gear for every situation on the water at all times, for the simply fact that I can’t stand being under prepared on the water. Here’s the truth though, if I’m making a trip out west during the terrestrial season, I usually lighten my load significantly and I only carrying the fly patterns that I think I’ll be fishing the most. If I’m going to be making a trip WY, MT, ID or CO I’m going to pack less nymphs, more dry flies and streamers. Colorado is a little more tricky, in which nymphs can play a larger roll than the other western states I mentioned, but if you travel their during the peak terrestrial season, my packing suggestions should work just fine.

Why do I lighten my load this time of year, you ask? Because the trout generally are easy to convince to rise to the surface and take a dry fly this time of year, and when they don’t want to rise to the surface, they almost always will devour a streamer. It’s not rocket science, the fish are optimistically looking up since a large portion of their food is found floating on or close to the surface during the summer months.

Let’s say I’m traveling to Jackson, WY in August, which is probably the most popular requested area out west that I receive questions about. Below are the fly patterns I will stock up on.

Dry Fly Box (Go Big, Many of these patterns suck up real estate)

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