Wood is Good

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Target Woody structure and catch more fish.

“Wood is good”, shouted Sam Cornelius manning the oars, as I concentrated on drifting my flesh pattern against the never ending medley of wood snags along the Togiak River banks in Alaska, back in 2006. “When ever you see wood, drift your flies as close to it as you can, because fish are usually close by.

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Take the Time to Research Your Boat Ramps

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It’s really easy to get excited about a last minute trip when your buddy calls and says the fish are biting and then not take the time to research the logistics of where you’re going to be fishing. Much of the time things work out in the end when we’re doing what we love but every now and then, no matter how hard you try to make things right, you’re bound to get screwed. That was the case for us during our final day of our recent musky trip with our good friend Charlie Murphy in West Virginia. Due to poor water conditions, we had to go with a Plan B and change our fishing location the final day of our trip. Charlie had taken an friends word that we could launch our boat at the designated spot with no problem. Unfortunately, his acquaintance thought we were launching a drift boat, not a john boat, and that turned out to be and impossible task, without the aid of a cheap pvc roller and a 20 foot section of rope. Now, I’m known for being able to back up a truck and trailer with the best of them and until this day, I was batting a 1000%. So much for my perfect batting average of backing up, because this midget boat ramp put it to me. I tried like hell, but it just wouldn’t fit.

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4 Tips for Getting Better Hookups With Tarpon

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I can remember like it was yesterday jumping my first big tarpon in the Florida Keys.

One hundred plus pounds of fish completely leaping out of the water and crashing down like a free falling Volkswagen Bug. That image will forever be burned into my memory. The only problem is I didn’t end up landing that tarpon. To be brutally honest, my hook set totally sucked donkey balls. I know what your thinking. I’m a trout guide, and I probably set the hook like I was trying to hook a trout, right? Yes, I’ve done that before, but my mistake this time was only setting the hook once. Below are five tips for getting better hookups with tarpon, provided by Capt. Joel Dickey.


1. Keep your rod tip on the water and always point it in the direction of your fly line and fly during your retrieve.
Not pointing your rod tip at your fly line and fly often results in adding unwanted slack between you and the fish. This small amount of slack will increase your chances of not getting a solid hook set. You also will find it hard to feel the bite.

2. Use a 100% strip set when setting the hook.
You can apply far more pressure and power in a hook set with a firm strip set than you can with the fly rod. Many novice saltwater anglers make the mistake of thinking the power comes from the fly rod.

3. Set the hook multiple times for better hook penetration.
When a tarpon eats from left or right often a single hook set will be adequate

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New Year’s Resolutions: 2020

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By Louis Cahill

I think if there is one thing I’m looking for in 2020 it’s resolution.

It’s impossible for me to think, or write, about the coming year without addressing the rays of hope and the clouds of uncertainty I manage hour to hour these days. As I continue my struggle with PVR, it becomes more evident every day that I am running a marathon. I feel very fortunate to be where I am at present, and I truly believe that the worst is over. Still, there’s a lot left to be determined.

At my last meeting with my doctor, hr told me, “I feel like we now know that the house is not going to burn down. Whether it’s a house we want to live in we’re not going to know for a while.”

As of now my retina is still attached, but a section of it is not healthy. That’s the part of the retina most effected by the initial onset of PVR. The scar tissue there is preventing the retina from getting a good connection to my eye. The retina has been reinforced around this area and for now is sound, as long as it is protected by the silicone oil that fills my eye, acting like a cast on a broken bone. If that oil were removed today, the retina would most certainly detach. 

First thing first. I am taking advantage of this current stability, such as it is, to host my three weeks of Bonefish Schools at Bair’s Lodge. I can not tell you how happy I am to be able to do that. I don’t expect to be able to fish every day, but I will fish and I will be able to teach the schools and that is my top priority.

When I get home, I will have another surgery. This one should be an easier recovery than the last two, thank God! The goal will be to flatten out the scar tissue and use the laser to firm up the connection of the retina to the eye. We will then watch the progress for about three months. If the laser work is successful and the retina forms a good bond in the damaged area, then we can start talking about another surgery to clean up some of the last surgeons work and removing the oil. That is the best case, everything goes perfectly scenario. I am focusing all of my positive energy on this outcome.

If the laser work is not successful and the retina remains sketchy, then I have two options.

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Catching Big Trout Sometimes Takes Multiple Attempts

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Several times this past year guiding, my clients would miss a big fish opportunity during our fishing trip.

Sometimes it would be because of a poor hook set, other times, it was completely out of their control by last second refusals or turn offs from the big fish. We’d always make several more casts and try using different flies, but most of the time the big fish would have already caught on and would ignore our offerings despite perfect presentations. Without giving up on the cause I would tell my clients, “no worries, let’s come back later in the day and give that big fish another go”. Not always but quite often, we’d come back and catch that big fish the second time around. When we were fortunate enough for it happened it was the most thrilling guiding for me, and my clients couldn’t have been more pleased and proud of themselves.

If you find yourself wading a river or stream and spot a big fish but don’t catch it, don’t accept defeat, let the fish cool off and come back an hour or two later for a second shot. If you do everything right, most of the time you stand a very good chance at catching the trophy. This simple fly fishing tip, is overlooked by a lot of anglers and it’s paid off for me time and time again throughout my years guiding. Don’t be

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The Basics of Dubbing

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By Bob Reece

What the beginning tyer needs to know about dubbing.

Creating beautiful, well proportioned flies is a skill which takes time and practice to master. One of the least intuitive steps in the process is working with dubbing. The thousands of dubbing choices on the market today only help confuse the beginning tyer.

Here are some basics to get you started dubbing beautiful flies.

Less is More

The most common mistake that new tyers make when applying dubbing is simply using too much of the product at one time. In general, less is more. Smaller amounts of fibers are easier to apply and lead to the creation of more anatomically accurate insect imitations. The one exception to this lies in the world of streamers where bulky dubbing loops and brushes can be used to create the large silhouettes of beefier food items.

Dubbing Types

There is an increasingly wide spectrum of dubbing varieties on the market. This can be overwhelming for new tyers. These materials are categorized based on their construction and uses. While these “boundaries” are often crossed, a few basic principles can be followed to help get you started.

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Dreaming of Steelhead

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Not epic, fish hoisting, hero shoting, steelhead fishing but, ass backwards, pointless, penitent steelhead fishing. Swinging tiny flies on floating lines in the turbid, chocolate waters of spring run off (and this is my favorite part) in Colorado’s Black Canyon. If you’re not a steelheader, I’ll break this down for you C.G. Jung style.

The steelhead is, in freshwater at least, the iconic challenging fish. The “fish of a thousand casts.” If you were forced to fish for them in high, stained water, and I have been, you would use big flies and heavy sink tips or better yet a steelhead bullet and an egg pattern and it would still be very, very tough. Lastly, the Gunnison river which flows through The Black Canyon does not contain steelhead. So, in my dream I am fishing for the hardest fish I know of, using tactics and gear that I know are wrong, in a river where this fish does not exist. Clearly I need professional help. A psychiatrist or a guide at least.

This dream was so vivid and persistent that I couldn’t help but wonder what it meant.

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Never Give Up on a Bonefish

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Whether its due to a poor presentation, the fish catching sight of us or something completely random and out of our control doesn’t matter. The pain is the same and it’s our natural reaction to consider that fish done and watch him swim away. For most species that’s the case, certainly for a wary trout but the bonefish is another subject.

Many times I’ve seen a bonefish spook and run or refuse a fly and turn away only to eat that same fly on the next cast. Maybe it sees the fly in a different light or from another angle that makes it more appealing or maybe it’s mood changes that quickly, I don’t know but it happens. What I do know is that as long as that fish is in range I will continue to show it that fly.

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New Women’s Waders From Patagonia: Video

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There new women’s waders from Patagonia are packed with serious features.

I always shake my head when I hear that someone in introducing a new rod or reel focused on women anglers. There’s certainly been some silly products which were more sales pitch than substance. I think women’s waders make a lot of sense. I know it can be a struggle for me to find the right fit in a wader, even when it’s made for my basic body type. I imagine women have made due in men’s waders for long enough. These new Patagonia waders look pretty sweet.


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Use Long Leaders for Flat Water

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In the picture above, take a moment to view the disturbances the fly line and leader create on the water during a presentation.
The saying a picture tells a thousand words is true, particularly in this case, as a tool for me explaining how important it is to use a long leader when fly fishing on flat water.

Notice how little noise and footprint the leader makes when compared to the fly line. I was casting a Scott G2 5 weight rod with a 9′ leader and foam hopper, and I presented the fly as softly as possible. Anglers often don’t realize how much noise they’re creating during their presentations, and why so regularly they’re spooking the fish their casting to on flat water.

The fly line itself, creates the most noise during your presentation and is by far the biggest contributor to spooking fish. Try using a 10-12′ leader or even a specialty George Harvey dry fly leader, that’s designed to dissipate energy and lay out dry flies with slack. This will increase the distance between your fly and the start of your noisy fly line hitting the water, resulting in more hook ups and less spooks.

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