The Hydropsyche With Peacock Quills

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Watch the Video!

By Herman deGala

Here’s some advanced technique for tying flies with peacock quills.

Fly tying has always been the art of linking a series of techniques to achieve an overall design. Innovative techniques are often a result of problem solving.

I have always enjoyed the look of wrapped peacock quills and the beautiful segmented bodies they create with simple turns. I also enjoy the iridescence of peacock barbules and their fish catching attributes. I have come up with a simple way to combine both of these attributes.


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Keep a Backup Nymph Rig Ready

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Changing out flies on the water takes time but is often necessary to catch trout consistently all day.

Keeping a pre-rigged tandem nymph rig ready to go, will allow you to quickly change out your flies from one hole to the next and save you critical time when your fishing time is limited. They’re great to have when you find your hot fly has turned cold, when you break your rig off on a snag or find yourself with a nasty tangled mess. Let’s face it, we often find ourselves in question on the water, particularly in the first hour after we’ve wet our line. It can take some time to figure out what the trout want for the day, and by having a couple different pre-rigged tandem nymph rigs on hand, you’ll find it much more efficient to try multiple fly patterns and rigs out, and that should help you dial-in quicker and start catching trout.

Sometimes the tandem nymph rig you just caught trout with in the hole downstream, may fail to get the attention of the trout in the next hole you fish. This isn’t always the case, but sometimes for sure. In fact, this happened to me just the other day. My client had landed a fish out of the first three holes we fished in the morning with a woolly bugger lead fly and a micro san juan worm dropper. As my client worked the fourth hole of the day, the bites abruptly stopped, despite him making several great presentations and drifts. Knowing there were fish in the hole, I snipped off the rig and tied on one of my different pre-rigged nymph rigs. First cast, my client landed a trout, and he went on to catch another fish after that. If I would have stuck with the first rig, thinking the flies were fine because they worked in the previous holes, we probably wouldn’t have landed those two fish. There is no doubt there are times when trout will key in on a specific aquatic insect and become selective feeders. However, some days,

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Making an Effective Short Presentation

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Most angler worry about casting distance, but an effective short cast is often the most challenging.

I once heard a captain say, “If you think casting a fly rod a hundred feet is hard, try casting one ten.” There is a lot of truth to that. I often see anglers struggle and fail with the short presentation. If you can learn to do it well, it will catch you a lot of fish.

This is never more true than when flats fishing. When disability is tough the action can get very close. Even big fish like tarpon can suddenly appear at your feet. The ability the make a short presentation, which is quick, accurate and free of slack can turn frustration into triumph.

I don’t know anyone who teaches this better than Bruce Chard. In this video Bruce goes over the fundamentals of making a tight loop and a perfect presentation with a short line. Put these tools in your bag and you’ll fish like a pro.


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Fighting Big Fish on Tenkara Rods

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When I got my first tenkara, I couldn’t wait to break it.

The prevailing idea seemed, and still seams to be, that tenkara rods are for catching small fish. I took that as a challenge. I met Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA for a beer and told him I was going to Alaska to chase big rainbows and I wanted to take a tenkara rod.

“What kind of rod are you thinking?” He asked me.

“The smallest one you make.”

That’s how my Rhodo and I ended up going to Alaska. My buddy Aleks took a tenkara rod, too. A Sato, and we discovered that, not only can you catch big fish on tenkara rods, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. By the second day everyone in camp was asking to try the rods, guides included.

I’m no tenkara master, but I’ve fought my share of big fish. Nothing I’m about to tell you is wisdom passed down through the generations. It’s mostly stuff I figured out myself in the heat of the moment. Some of it’s just good fish fighting with any rod but some of it is very, very different. I’ll tell you this. With what I’ve learned in last year I no longer think about breaking that little rod.

I should say from the very start that hooking your first 20-inch Alaska rainbow on a tenkara rod is an “Oh-shit moment” on par with hooking your first tarpon. That first big fish is worth the price of the rod. Just to experience the feeling of instinctively reaching for your reel and finding it AWOL. If you are not the kind of person who adapts well to change, this is a good time to learn!

Tactics for fighting big fish on tenkara rods

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Catch Trophy Brown Trout By Stacking The Odds In Your Favor

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Once in a while the “perfect storm” really is perfect.

My buddy Dan and I were throwing around some dates for a fishing trip the other day and when those dates started falling in November he said, “As you know, fall will be all about finding big brown trout.”

Brown trout are addictive like almost no other freshwater fish. I can’t tell you how many anglers have told me, “I just want to catch a big brown.” We all want that but if you are serious about turning that want into real-life experience, you’ll need to work for it and you’ll still have to be lucky.

Brown trout are tough customers. Moody, smart and reclusive, they put trout anglers to the test. Especially the big ones. There are two ways to get one. Either you can be lucky and just stumble into it, which is awesome and I highly recommend it, or you can do the leg work and put in the time.

Your best bet is the combination of good timing, the right conditions, the right place and a great presentation. That and persistence will get you what you’re looking for. Here are some guidelines to start with.


You must first be in the presence of big brown trout to catch big brown trout. Finding the right place usually starts with a tip, a fly shop conversation or a photo or article you found on the Internet. Some places are well known for holding big Browns. Reputation alone, however, is not enough to go on.

Once you identify the river where you think you can catch that big boy, you have to start narrowing it down. Brown trout are notorious homebodies, spending most of their lives in one run or even under one rock. There are certain events and times when they will venture out and, to catch them, you either have to know where they are or where they’re going, and when.

I talked to one angler who hunts for big Browns on a local tailwater, and catches them. He has a brilliant, and time consuming, method that works well. He learned from experience that these fish would only eat during high water flows. He goes to the river on low flows with binoculars rather than a rod. He finds big Browns and marks their location on his GPS and returns on high water to catch them.

You can increase your odds by getting after fish in smaller water when they are moving to spawn. Don’t target fish on redds. That’s short sighted and bad for the future populations, but there’s nothing wrong with targeting fish on the move. (Read all about that here.)

My point is, you have to make a plan and do the research.


You have to strike when the time is right. By identifying the times and conditions when big brown trout are most likely to be active and aggressive, you raise your odds immensely.

Fall is the peak of brown trout aggression. Browns are fall spawners. The height of their spawning season is around

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Tying On The Road

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When Kent and I hit the road for a Gink and Gasoline outing, among the pile of rods, waders, cameras and Cliff Bars there’s always a canvas tool bag stuffed to the gills with feathers and fur. It’s generally a ridiculous amount of materials. Way more that we could ever use. Everything we need to tie a thread midge or a streamer that looks like something Elton John wore in the 70s.

I don’t care how well you plan for a trip you always need just one more of that hot fly. Maybe there’s an unexpected hatch or maybe a sudden inspiration. In any case that bag of feathers has saved more than one trip.

I’ll never forget a subfreezing night we spent in a fish camp on the White River in Arkansas tying shad patterns. We would tie a fly, bundle up and scramble out to the river to try it out

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3 Reasons It’s Time to Change Flies

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By Louis Cahill

When I looked at this fly, I saw three things wrong—any one of them deserving a fly change.

I was fishing with a friend at the January Bonefish School and he made a couple of good presentations that were refused by fish. I asked if I could have a look at his fly and immediately knew why the fish were not impressed. Understand, he was there to learn and asked for my help, I don’t just critique people’s flies for fun.

Take a close look at the photo above and see if you spot the three things keeping this fly out of a bonefish’s mouth.

First and foremost, the hook is starting to straighten. Proof that the fly had been working at some point. Although this might not keep a fish from eating the fly, it will keep you from landing it if it does. Bending the hook back causes metal fatigue and it will never be as strong. Your next fish might be the biggest of your life. Better to change it.
2. The wing and eyes have

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Light, Composition and Action

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A technically perfect image is worthless if it doesn’t capture the eye, and the imagination, of the viewer. Unfortunately, most new photographers get so wrapped up in the science of photography that they totally miss the art. There are as many aesthetic choices to be made when shooting a photo as when building a house but a hell of a lot less time to make them. It takes time and experience to master designing a photo on the fly but to help you get started there are three element so crucial to a great photo that they deserve your attention every time you lift the camera. They are: light, composition and action.


Light sets the mood. When you sit down for a romantic dinner do you turn on the overhead fluorescents? No, you light a candle. When the police interrogate a suspect do they do it by candle light? Probably not. Of all the choices you make, light has the biggest impact on the emotional tone of the finished photograph.

You may be thinking, “How is light a choice?” I have been a studio photographer for more years than I like to discuss. In the studio I control my lighting by moving the position of my lights and changing their intensity. Shooting on the river you don’t have that luxury but you do still have choices. You can’t move the sun, but you can

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Alice’s Angle: November

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By:Alice Tesar

A couple of tips for successful fishing in November.

A frequent customer stopped into the fly shop early September announcing that he had been greatly enjoying “Adult Summer.” Adult Summer is more commonly referred to as the nation’s fall season. Children are back in school for 6-8 hours a day and parents, in this man’s case, can have a bit of flexibility over their lunch breaks. So sip your coffee slowly, eat a hearty hash breakfast, drop the kiddos at school, and continue to take advantage of Adult Summer into the winter months. 

The most wonderful part of November fishing is that the fish don’t begin eating until later in the morning. I like to get on the water just after the sun has danced across the water. Air temperature should be 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit before you get on the river. Freezing nights push the fish into deep pools and slow water to conserve energy. It’s only as things warm up in the day that they become more active and hungry.  Streamers, with various actions stripped through deep pools require a clean presentation but can effectively get the aggressive Brown Trout riled up. Please, avoid harassing them around redds. As for fall mayfly hatches, you should be looking for Blue Winged Olives and Mahogany Duns. 

The Mahogany is one of my favorite hatches to fish, if not for its sporadic occurrence then for how the Trout eat them. Trout feast on Mahogany Duns the same way you might approach Thanksgiving Dinner, hungrily but not aggressive or snappy. After all, it is a holiday of gratitude.  The slow water of a dry summer causes the Duns to drift long distances, so Trout analyze their eats and don’t snap at every surface twitch. Hit the river an hour

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For Steelhead, The Swing Is The Thing…Or Is It?

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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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