Choosing a line for your switch rod Part 3 the RIO Switch and Skagit Short reviewed.

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On a couple of steelhead trips last year I wound up fishing with borrowed rods. They were switch rods, a Winston and a Ross, and I had the chance to fish them for both summer and winter steelhead. I really liked the feel of these short Spey rods and decided that I needed one. I have no use for my long Spey rods when fishing at home in the southeast and I liked the idea of a two hander I could use for trout here at home.

I chose the Scott L2h 1106/4, an 11 foot 6 wt. It’s a great rod and I’ve been very happy with it. It’s light and well balanced with plenty of power and a nice feel. The rod really talks to you when you cast it, so you know when it’s loaded.

I chose to set it up with 2 reels. A Nautilus FW7 which I loaded with the Rio Switch line in a 5/6 wt and a Bauer CFX-5 Spey that I set up with Rio slick shooter and a 425 grain Skagit Short head, also from Rio. This set up gives me the flexibility of

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Reach, Don’t Rip!

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One of the most common areas of needed improvement that I see with many anglers is line management.

In fly fishing, line management is a big piece of the puzzle, and to be consistently successful you must improve upon these skills and develop good habits. One particularly bad habit that I see more than any other when I’m on the water with clients and other anglers is having an unnecessary amount of line stripped off the reel. This is problematic for numerous reasons.

One obvious reason is that your fly line could become entangled while fighting a fish and cause you to lose a fish. Laying a ton of line on the ground invites a host of gremlins to grab on and ruin your efforts. Most trout lines are also very supple and thin, making them even more prone to tangle and knot up when being taken from the ground quickly, whether it be a fish on the run or from the act of shooting line. Fly line left on the ground, or even in the water, also lends itself to damage. You can easily shred a fly line and even cut through a line by stepping on it. I’ve had one of my lines severed in half when a client of mine wearing aluminum barred boots stepped on it, leaving that rig useless until we stopped to grab another reel. Dirt and grime also loves to stick to fly lines, especially textured lines, which will greatly hinder your fly line’s ability to float effectively on the water’s surface. Problems, problems, problems.

Often, a situation doesn’t call for more fly line, but rather for the angler to get out of their “box”.

For example, there was a morning I was setting up a client to make the first presentation of the day, which required about a thirty-foot cast. Nothing crazy. As he set his feet and prepared for his cast, I turned to pull my net from my pack in an act of optimism. As I did this all I could hear was the sound of the intermittent outgoing clicks of the drag on his reel. A lot of them. When I turned back to him,

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Tell a Story

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By Louis Cahill Here’s another tip on taking better photos on you next fishing trip. Everyone wants a hero shot with that monster fish but lots of people don’t think about all the details that go into a fishing trip when they are shooting pictures. These kind of detail shots tell the story of how you got to that fish. That’s what will really make your buddies who didn’t make the trip jealous. Take the time to get shots of the flies, the gear in the back of the truck, your buddies getting off the plane. When you get home, make a slide show and show it off. You will be surprised how many more invitations you will get for fishing trips. Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline  

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My Most Memorable Bonefish

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sn’t it funny, how certain fish we catch during our fly fishing trips can end up providing us with ten times the satisfaction over all the others. Sometimes, the size of our catch has little at all to do with the amount of reward it brings. I love catching big fish just as much as the next guy, but for me at least, it’s often more about overcoming the challenges along the way that’s what really makes one catch end up standing out amongst all the rest.

For example, my most memorable bonefish to date, only weighed around four pounds. I’ve landed much larger bones over the years, but what made this particular bonefish so special to me, were the extremely difficult fly fishing conditions I had to work through to hook and land it. Before it all unfolded, and I found myself feeling that special fish tugging on the end of my line, I was holding onto the last remaining tidbits of hope I had left inside me for dear life. I thought success was just about impossible. Never give up when you’re out fly fishing. For when you succeed when everything is stacked up against you, it will be invigorating to your very core.

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5 Tips For Teaching Kids To Fly-Fish

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Taking the time to teach a kid to fly-fish is an investment in the future.

To my mind, there’s nothing more important than teaching kids to fish. If done right, it’s an investment that pays three times. For the child you teach, it’s a life of wonder and purpose, which builds character and keeps them grounded. For yourself, the satisfaction of knowing you have changed a life for the better. For society, another grounded soul with respect for others and the natural world.

We are not all, however, teachers by nature and the task of passing on the fundamentals of fly fishing to a young person can be as hard on us as on them. With all of the excitement surrounding 11 year-old Maxine McCormick’s performance at the107th ACA National Tournament, I thought there was no better person to ask for advice than her coach, Chris Korich.


Foundational Rule: CONSERVATION OF ENERGY: Make it look easy, effortless, efficient, encourage rest and relaxation.


•TRUST – Establish rapport by asking questions, probing about other sports & interests. Listen and repeat, prove that you care!

•SIMPLIFY – Teach the basics. Teach grip and stance with a pencil, not a fly rod. Next, practice the casting stroke with just the 2 tip sections of the rod and NO LINE to start, then add a third section and a line. Cast to 20-30 foot targets with short 0X leader and yarn.

•PRAISE – Ignore bad strokes, loops, etc. Immediately praise good strokes, positive stops, tight loops, good timing, mechanics and results.

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deGala’s Grass Shrimp

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By Herman deGala

Let’s size up a shrimp pattern for saltwater.

A compadre of mine asked if I could fashion a grass shrimp that was 3 to 4 times larger than my mysis shrimp so that he could chase redfish in his native Texas on the Gulf. It had to be tied on a saltwater hook and it had to be really durable.

I used the basic concept from my mysis shrimp, combined it with some of the principles from my carp flies and came up with this.

The 3/32” tubing can be found on the web and the rest of the materials can be found at your local fly shop or online.


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Grass Roots Fly Fishing – People Making A Difference

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by Louis Cahill

Is it time you gave something back?

You can’t go to school for fly fishing. You can take some classes or workshops, here and there, but most folks learn to fly fish one of two ways. On their own or from a friend or family member. Either way it’s a tough learning curve. Information is pieced together from tips and suggestions, successes and failures. Some anglers hire guides or casting instructors to teach them but that’s not an option for everyone. What if there was a better way?

Well, there is. There are local clubs and groups that take on the mission of educating anglers and creating a community around our love of the sport. Some are better than others and some are great. At their best, these groups do more than share information. They share the passion, the ethics and the camaraderie of fly fishing. I’m going to tell you about one of them.

I didn’t know my life was about to change when I met Scott MacKenzie. We fished together, and hit it off right away but I had no idea what a positive influence he would be, for me and others. Scott is just one of those guys who radiates positive energy. He came along at a time when things were pretty tough at G&G world headquarters. It is not an exaggeration to say there would be no Gink and Gasoline today, if not for Scott.

He and I fished together in the Bahamas, on one of my bonefish schools. Scott had been a fly fisherman for many years but had never tied flies. I taught him to tie a bonefish fly and when he caught fish on it the next day, he was hooked. From that point forward he was all about fly tying. I’d get a couple of text messages a day with questions or photos of flies. Soon he asked me, “Would you teach me to tie?”

“Of course!” I answered.

“While you’re at it, would you mind teaching six or eight other guys?” He followed up.

I agreed and Atlanta Fly Tying was born. Scott threw down his own money and bought eight complete tying setups. Eight Regal Revolution vises, eight sets of Rising tying tools, thread and materials all in lots of eight and scheduled the first class. We met at Scott’s office. He reached out to The Atlanta Fly Fishing Club, another great organization, and they spread the word that there would be free tying classes, open to anyone.

That first night we had about six guys show up. We sat around Scott’s conference table to tie redfish flies, because Scott and I were going redfishing in a couple of weeks. I dove right in to the instruction. We were cranking along when Scott brought up G&G.

“Here comes the pitch!” One of the guys blurted out.

I was floored. “I’m sorry man,” I told him, “I don’t have a pitch. I just run a fly fishing web site, and it’s free.”

It never occurred to me that these guys were sitting around that table thinking we had something to sell them. I should have realized. That is the kind of world we live in, where any act of generosity, no matter how small, is suspect. Maybe I’m stupid for not having something to sell them. If I had a fly shop or a guide service, maybe I would, but all Scott and I had to offer was knowledge and enthusiasm. Those guys wound up

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Burning Chrome 

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By Louis Cahill

The sun never rises.

Not today, at least not here on the Deschutes River. The light is an eerie yellow-orange. The air is hot and dry, and the wind is howling. It’s unsettling. You’d expect it to feel like fog or overcast but it doesn’t. It’s almost the opposite. When you catch a glimpse of the sun, it’s just a vague red blotch in the sky. The air burns the soft tissues of my eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Everything smells and tastes like a camp fire. I cough constantly and spit up chunks that look like cottage cheese into the river. The Deschutes River Canyon fades as I swing my fly from behind a hot, gray vail. It feels like the whole world is on fire.

A few miles away the Columbia River gorge is consumed in flame. One of the prettiest places I know, reduced to ash and coal. The fire is so intense that it jumps the mile wide Columbia River and sets Washington ablaze. Stupid kids shooting fireworks. They caught them, but what are you going to do with a bunch of kids who burnt down the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Oregonians. Fire fighters do an amazing job of saving what can be saved while the rest of us just watch it burn.

I left my home in Atlanta less than a day before Hurricane Irma was scheduled to hit. The day before it had devastated the Florida Keys. It’s still hard to picture. I had been in the Keys the week before, when Harvey was washing Houston from the map. While the East drowns, the West burns and I don’t know which is worse. I have learned this much during my stay in Oregon. When they call for evacuation from a storm, Texans may say, “We’ll see what happens,” or “I’m not leaving my home,” but when they call for evacuation from fire, everybody goes. No one “rides it out.”

Everyone in the camp admitted to having gotten up in the middle of the night to look for an orange glow on the horizon. As terrible as the fire in the gorge is, it isn’t the forest being lost that most of us are concerned about. We have all been watching the count of returning steelhead to the Columbia system and the news is no better than that of the fire.

2016 was one of the worst steelhead returns in decades. As we stand in the Deschutes, 2017 returns are only about a quarter of last year, which biologists called a complete year-class collapse. Burned trees will grow back in time but, with ocean conditions worsening, steelhead populations may be harder to replace. It’s anyone’s guess if we are seeing a few bad years or a worsening trend.

Notably absent are the B-run fish. The big steelhead headed for Idaho, who stop in the Deschutes for a breather in the cold water. This year only eleven-hundred are expected to enter the system. Far fewer will find their way here. If you were to draw a bubble-graph with one bubble representing B-run steelhead in the Deschutes and another representing Georgia steelheaders, the intersection would not inspire confidence.

With the gorge burning and the steelhead runs so poorly reported, most anglers have elected to stay home, or maybe fish somewhere else. The river is as lonesome a place as I’ve ever seen it. Normally a traffic jam, the Deschutes is pleasantly deserted. The water is the clearest I’ve ever seen it and flowing strong. If breathing the air wasn’t as painful as pepper spray I’d be swinging flies in paradise.

I am lost in thoughts of fire and fish when I feel the familiar pluck, pluck, pull of a hot summer steelhead.

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DeGala’s Hula Damsel

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By Herman deGala

It’s the time of year when the rivers and creeks around Colorado are blown out because of run-off but the weather is just gorgeous. What is a body to do? Of course, you could head to some tailwater. Until you get there and find everyone thought the same thing.

Or you could head to your nearby lake or pond. It’s all filled up. You can see dragonflies and damsels dancing in midair. You might even see a bass come up and just crush a dragonfly as it drops its eggs.

This Hula Damsel is my favorite pattern for this time of year. It is articulated to give it an extra bit of movement as you strip it through the water. It dives when you pause, which is a definite trigger.

I typically fish this along the shore along the reeds and weed line with an intermediate line. It sinks very slowly and stays in the feed zone as you strip, strip, pause.


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Demystifying The Hex Hatch

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By Jason Tucker

I listened to a fishing podcast the other day in which both the hosts discussed the famous Hexagenia mayfly hatch.

Despite admitting that neither of them had ever fished the hatch, both opined that the Hex hatch was probably overrated. Yeah it has a reputation for big bugs, big hatches and big fish, but experiencing it must be akin to sighting a cougar east of the Mississippi.


I’m here to tell you that experiencing the Hexagenia limbata hatch is definitely worth it, and I’m going to give you the knowledge you need to be successful. It is worth seeing even if you don’t fish. It’s one of those rare experiences in which you experience animal numbers that are normally associated with the Serengeti or caribou in the Canadian tundra, or mass bird migrations. Just because they are insects makes it no less magical; in fact it is more so if you are a fly angler. There is a beauty and grace to the bugs themselves, and watching a river of bugs flying upstream to mate, or a swarm so dense you can’t see through it, or their dance over the water as the females fly upward and the males pursue is all magical in itself, a privilege for anyone to witness.

Hexagenia limbata mayflies occur across North America and I’ve experienced them everywhere from Labrador to Ontario to Washington State (where we got in on a stellar lake hatch) to the Deep South where I live, but the best place to fish this hatch is probably Northern Michigan. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York (and I’m sure other Northeast states) all get hatches, but no place, not even Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has a reputation for the Hex hatch like Northern Michigan, starting with Lake Michigan tributaries running up the west side of the state, up to its zenith on the Au Sable and Manistee rivers, and north to the tip of the mitt as we call it. 

The first thing you need to know about Hex mayflies and brown drakes is that they’re more of a lake dwelling insect than a stream dwelling insect.

The most massive hatches occur on lakes like Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie and even the Mississippi river, all of which throw off such dense clouds of mating insects each season that they show up on weather radar. Around Lake St. Clair I’ve seen “drifts” of them piled up a couple feet deep smelling like rotten fish. They pile up so deep under street lights that they cause auto accidents because they make the roads slick. Unlike much of Wisconsin, or Michigan’s UP, which have limestone, sand or granite bedrock, Northern Michigan is glacial moraine, a giant pile of gravel, sand, clay and marl left by Ice Age glaciers. Hex and brown drake mayfly nymphs are burrowing insects that require muck and marl to burrow in. The bottoms and margins of the inland and Great lakes in this area are the perfect habitat. Trout streams with a

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