Fly Fishing with Stealth – 8 Common Mistakes

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How often to you think anglers miss opportunities catching trout because of the lack of stealth? The more educated trout populations are in a stream, river or lake you’re fly fishing, the more important it is for fly anglers to mimic the way a hunter stalks game in the field. I estimate that I give away upwards of 50% of my trout catching opportunities due to my lack of stealth. Below are 8 common mistakes fly anglers make on the water that blow their cover and success.

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Tie the Chard Choker Permit Fly

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Permit fishing is as exacting as it gets.

When asked to list the top ten reasons permit will refuse a fly, Bruce Chard listed, among other things: a butterfly in Indonesia flapped its wings and because that’s what they do.

Getting a shot a a tailing permit is a test of an anglers resolve. Everything must be done perfectly. Even if everything is done perfectly there’s no guarantee of an eat. The first thing the angler must do is choose the right fly.

For tailing permit in shallow water the Chard Choker is a good choice. Check out the video to learn to tie this killer permit fly.

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The New G. Loomis NRX Plus: Video

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It’s been 11 years since G. Loomis introduced the NRX.

In all of that time it has remained one of the most beloved fly rods on the market. Clearly it was not a design that Loomis, or most anglers, felt needed improving. Well, 2020 is the year that changed. I think it’s fair to say that this is one of the most anticipated rod launches in recent memory. What’s all the fuss about?

FIND OUT IN THIS VIDEO.

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Fly Fishing in the Winter – Getting in the Routine

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I’ll be the first to admit, that the first few cold fronts of the year negatively effect my angling morale. Those initial cold fronts are always a sobering reminder that winter is quickly approaching, and the warm days of the summer and fall are long gone. Yes, this is the time of year that I find it harder to get out of bed in the morning. My snooze button gets quite a bit more love from my index finger, and I’m forced to brew my coffee extra stout. As I loosen up in the shower, with my morning stretches, and warm water hitting my back (as us old folks are plenty familiar with), I think about my next objective of the day, which will be to de-thaw my frozen waders and boots. I left them laying in the back of my truck, and yes, I know, I should have brought them inside. I respectfully ask you all to turn your cheek because it always takes me a few weeks before I wise up to the cold season. That’s why, if you peak into the window of my truck this time of year, you’ll probably find me driving around with my waders and boots on the floorboard of my truck, with my heater set to high, and blasting on my feet.

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11 Tips for Correctly Presenting Your Fly To Tarpon

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Anyone who’s fly fished for tarpon has probably experienced how easy it is to present the fly incorrectly.

If you miss your target, even by just a little bit, it can drastically lower your chances for getting a tarpon to eat. Cast the fly too close, and the tarpon will spook. Don’t lead the fish enough, and your fly won’t get down to the tarpon’s depth. Cross the fish at the wrong angle, and your fly will be moving towards the fish and it will spook. The list goes on and on.

Bottom-line, there’s a very small margin of error bestowed to anglers fly fishing for tarpon. You have to execute everything damn near perfect to put the odds in your favor, and even then, you aren’t guaranteed squat. Here’s the problem. The average angler that travels to fly fish for tarpon is not educated on how to read and respond accordingly to different fishing scenarios on the flats. A lot of this has to do with lack of experience and time on the water. If you find yourself falling into this category, prior to fishing, you should take the time to have your guide explain how you should handle common fishing situations that you’re likely to encounter. As a kid the same preparation was used by my Dad to walk me through how to make a clean kill shot on a deer. I can hear him now, “If the deer is faced in this direction, I want you to put the crosshairs here”. He must have gone over a dozen different scenarios during the drive up. By the time he was done talking, I felt like I had been hunting for years. It’s no different fly fishing for tarpon. Taking the time to have your guide walk you through different fishing scenarios will greatly increase your tarpon insight, fishing awareness and get you prepared for the real McCoy.

The second thing anglers should do to increase their success tarpon fishing is have a solid game plan or checklist that they’re willing to stick to on the bow. It must run like clockwork, flawlessly and consistently every time. The game plan should begin at the angler ready position, with fly in hand, and end with a well-calculated presentation cast. Success all boils down to angler aptitude and experience. The more you have of it, the better the chances you’re going to make the right calculations and decisions on the water.

I gave my good friend and Florida Keys flats guide, Captain Joel Dickey a call to look over my checklist and give me some pointers. Below is a checklist we came up with that

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The Perfect Day on the Flats

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By John Byron

You’re after bonefish.

An easy flight and you found all your luggage. The lodge is even more comfortable than you expected. Supper was super. Your new fishing companions seem a really great bunch. You’re excited to get fishing. 

Next morning seems perfect. Sunshine all day. The right tide. Gentle breezes, sufficient to calm the fish but not enough to hamper your casting. The guide knows his business and handles the boat flawlessly, spotting fish early and lining you up for easy casts. When you wade, it’s on hard bottom, a comfy depth and the wind and sun at your back. 

You find fish all day long, big ones in singles and doubles, larger schools all ready to take your fly, which seems to be the perfect weight, size, and color. When one spot slows down, you move to another loaded with bonefish, maybe stopping for some fun fishing alongside a big mud. It’s the perfect day.

And it happens so seldom that you should never never count on it. 

Any putz can catch fish on a day like that. Your challenge … and the great challenge of bonefishing as a sport

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6 Tips for Catching Suspended Trout

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One of the toughest situations I’ve encountered trout fishing over the years, is when trout are suspended in the water column and feeding in a stationary position.

These trout are usually too deep to persuade them to rise to your dry fly on the surface, yet are also holding too far up from the bottom for you to easily dredge your tandem nymph rig in front of them. Most of the time, this is a frustrating sight-fishing scenario for the fly angler, where all you see is the trout occasionally open and close its mouth. You can see the trout you’re trying to catch, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get your flies to drift in the correct feeding zone of the holding trout and get them to eat. I see this situation a lot on deep clear pools or on long and slow flowing runs, but you can also find this same situation in pocket water where eddies and irregular bottom structure provides slower water holding stations/sanctuaries for trout as well.

Make no excuse, these trout are catchable. It just requires a more technical approach and increased awareness of where your flies are drifting for you to find success. For fly anglers to catch trout in this situation they need to correctly match their fly fishing rig with the water they’re fishing, and slow down and concentrate on making quality presentations not quantity.

Tip 1: Get as close as you can to the sighted trout without spooking it.
I’ve found the trout that are suspended and feeding stationary, usually are also lazy. They don’t want to have to swim out of their position to feed, and that means fly anglers will need to make accurate and precise presentations, since the strike zone is so small. By getting close to your target you’ll find it much easier to keep your flies consistently drifting at the correct depth and in-line with the trout. Often if you’re positioned too far away, you’ll find one presentation will be good, and the next three will be off target. This might not seem like a big deal, but you’re not only trying to get good presentations, you’re also trying to read the fish to see if it likes your pattern or not as well. Getting into proper position and keeping your casting distance to a minimum will allow you to accomplish both much quicker.

Tip 2: Take the time to look for drifting food in the water before you choose your fly patterns
In the last tip, I said, “usually these suspended fish are lazy”. They are in the big spectrum, but it’s important to understand that when trout are suspended and feeding stationary, most of the time it’s because the trout are keyed in on a specific type of aquatic insect, that is drifting at the level the trout is holding. Spend a few minutes watching the feeding trout and look for any drifting bugs. If you see the trout continuing to feed regularly, but you can’t see any drifting food with your naked eye, a light bulb in your head should be going off and telling you to tie on fly patterns that are small. Try using a size 18-22 pheasant-tail nymph or a midge pattern. Don’t expect your size 10 woolly bugger to get the job done in this situation. Sometimes it will work, but most times, these fish are selectively feeding on small micro-invertabrates, and you need to downsize your flies to fool the trout into thinking it’s eating the same stuff it’s been feeding on the last couple hours.

Tip 3: Try a dry fly with two nymph droppers
This won’t work all of the time, but in shallow water situations, I’ve found good success using a dry fly and then tying on a long tandem dropper (two nymphs off the back of the dry fly). Approximate how deep you think the fish is holding, and tie on your lead dropper at that depth. Let’s say the trout you are sight-fishing to, is holding at two feet of depth. Tie on

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Small Stream Casting

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By Jason Tucker

Of all the challenges to small stream fishing (access, obstacles, wary fish, biting insects, hillbillies) casting must rank as the most frustrating aspect of small-stream fishing.

I have coined several swear words you have never heard casting in small streams. It is that frustrating. When you go to small streams you need to bring a double dose of patience. Some days and some places I have simply turned around and walked out rather than suffer a stroke due to the frustration of casting in tight quarters.

Picture this. You have already had a frustrating day. You’ve caught some fish, but also lost some flies to the bushes. You have tied on the last ‘hot fly’ from your box. Quietly you wade up around the bend, moving slowly so as not to push water, because upstream you can hear a good fish feeding. Sure enough, when you round the bend you can see a fifteen-inch trout noisily slurping flies off the surface completely unaware of your presence. It is the biggest fish you’ve seen all day. Problem is, the fish is twenty feet away and you only have an eighteen-inch space between the tag alders to land the fly. You also don’t have much of a backcast due to the brush behind you, so you’re going to have to steeple cast the fly above you but still get it to lay out quietly just in front of the fish.

“You’ve got this” you whisper. You make that steeple cast by flipping the fly out in a tight  arc, then pop the rod tip up to the sky, feel the glass rod load, start your forward motion and change the direction of your arm movement forward toward the fish, shoot just a little line for the distance, then just as your loop extends toward the fish, the slightest breeze puffs it into the tag alders high overhead. Seeing this, you yank your rod back in an effort to stop it, only to pop your fly off in the top of the tree. The fish, seeing the commotion, scoots for cover. This is the challenge of casting on small streams. Some days you will spend more time untangling line and flies from the brush than you will fishing.

I can and do make that cast successfully from time to time. A steeple cast in tight quarters is just one skill that is helpful to have on a small stream. My disclaimer that I will now make is that I am no casting instructor. I’ll do my best to describe some of the skills you should cultivate.

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Fly Fishing in Gloves Gets Better with Time

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DO YOU EVER FLY FISH IN GLOVES?

If you answered no, don’t make the mistake of thinking just because you tried fly fishing in gloves a couple times and couldn’t stand them, that you’ll always feel that way. Believe me, I been there, I used to be one of the haters myself. I’d rather have my fingers ice cold all day long than try to fly fish in gloves and feel awkward, clumsy and terrified I’m going to lose the fish of a lifetime. These things kept me from learning to fly fish comfortably in gloves for a very long time. It wasn’t until the last couple years that I’ve finally become comfortable fly fishing in gloves. In fact, it was my first steelhead trip to New York

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RS2 – One of My Favorite Picky Trout Fly Patterns

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There’s days when trout fishing is so slow, it seems like conditions couldn’t possibly get any worse.

You may find yourself questioning if any trout in the stream are willing to feed at all. At other times, you’ll have no problem locating pods of steady risers, but everything you throw at them is rejected. My buddy Brad in this situation usually volunteers to row the boat, opting for cold beer within arms distance and gazing at picturesque landscapes. The dude always has a Plan B ready to be put into action, ensuring he always has a good time on the water whether he catches fish or just a buzz, and I respect that.

The RS2 fly pattern time and time again never fails to produce for me during tough fishing situations. And it really has the ability to catch fish just about any way you fish it. Fish it solo on fine tippet to wary sippers and you’ll fool a couple guaranteed. Drop it off the back of a larger and more visible dry fly if you’re having problems seeing it, and it will ride in the film, usually fooling fish on even the most technical trout water. I even have great luck fishing an RS2 as my dropper fly in a

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