12 Tips For Epic Fly Fishing Trips On The Cheap

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You may be poor, but you don’t have to fish like it.

Some of the greatest fly fishing adventures I’ve taken have cost me the least. I love fishing in exotic locations and spending time at great fishing lodges. Who wouldn’t? But that’s a fairly recent thing for me and primarily funded by my Nikon. Working for my fishing days has paid off for me, but that’s not an option for everyone.

I have never let a lack of funds get between me and great fly fishing. I’ve always figured out a way to get on the water and create some kind of epic adventure. Over the years I’ve figured out one or two tricks that make for great fly bum trips on the cheap. I’m going to share a few of them so you can do the same.


There’s nothing more helpful than a good fishing buddy, or two. Having good friends to share both costs and experience with will make your fishing trips a hundred times better. A buddy can do more than split the cost of gas. He might lend you a rod or take turns rowing the boat. He may have knowledge about water that you don’t. He may just tell a good story or be a good listener. Finding good, compatible friends to travel and fish with is the most important step you can take in having a truly epic trip.


Hotels cost money and do very little to enhance the fishing experience. Camping saves you a bundle and makes the trip a whole lot more special. Waking up on the river beats the hell out of a continental breakfast. Get your camping gear in order and go as light as possible. Less time messing with gear means more time fishing. I have gone so far as to buy an extra tent, sleeping bag and a few necessities which I keep at a friend’s house in Denver. If I find a cheap ticket I don’t even have to pay the baggage fees.


I drive to Idaho and Wyoming from Georgia on a regular basis. I don’t do it because I enjoy the scenery of western Kansas. I do it because it saves me a bundle. Gas is not cheap but it’s often at least as cheap as an airplane ticket. Driving allows me to take advantage of a whole host of cost-cutting measures.

I can carry all of my camping gear and even sleep in the truck sometimes. I tow my Adipose skiff which saves me renting a boat. I don’t have the expense of a rental car. It saves a fortune. I even have a power inverter in the truck to charge batteries or run small electronics. I’m pretty self-sufficient when I’m on the road.

I will frequently coordinate the drive with buddies who choose to fly. They help out with the gas money and I pick them up at the airport and we all save the cost of a rental car. Driving to your fishing destination just gives you a lot more options.

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Fly Fishing Fast Water Chutes for Trout

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Be sure to watch the video!


Fast water chutes are great habitat for trout to set up residence around. Most of them provide everything a trout needs to survive, and fly fisherman should take the time to fish them because they almost always hold fish. Fast water chutes provide overhead cover that trout can quickly utilize by swimming into the chute if they feel threatened. The well defined current from the chute also acts as a food conveyor belt, supplying trout with a constant trickle of food 24/7. Furthermore, the turbulent waters created by chutes increase oxygen levels in the surrounding waters, and this is an added bonus and reason for trout to set up shop in and around chutes in streams and rivers. Lastly, chutes generally offer feeding lanes on each side that trout can take advantage of to feed effortlessly. These are the edges of the chute, where the fast and slow water come together and meet. Trout often gravitate towards the edges because it requires less energy to hold there, it’s very close to the conveyor belt of food and extremely close to their fast water overhead cover. Focus on drifting your flies along the edges of the chute first. After you’ve fish the edges, then work your flies through the main current of the chute.

There are multiple ways for anglers to fly fish fast water chutes, but most of the time, I find it most effective to wade to the sides of the chutes, and fly fish perpendicular to them. Doing so, it gives me better control of my drifting flies and improves my line management. Positioning to the side of a chute also improves my stealth, because I’m able to present my flies in front of the trout with just my leader, keeping my fly line out of sight. It also allows me to work with the current when drifting my flies, instead of fighting against it.

Check out the video below that demonstrates how I prefer to fish fast water chutes.

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Keeping Your Head Straight Catches Steelhead

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I just got back from hosting two groups of anglers on this year’s Deschutes River Steelhead Camp.

This trip is always a highlight of my year. Because it’s just so much fun and because there is nothing I love more than swinging flies for steelhead. Camping on a beautiful river and sharing some water and whisky with like-minded anglers would be awesome even if it didn’t involve one of my favorite fish species.

Steelheading is a unique fly fishing experience, especially when done with a two-hand rod and a swung fly. It offers plenty of challenge and technique, even when the fishing is stellar. It’s definitely about quality over quantity and if you are the kind of angler who needs constant feedback, the biggest challenge can be in your head.

I’ve always said the reason steelheaders are so cranky is because they spend so much time staring at the water thinking about all the bad things they’ve done. It’s funny but all too true. We all know the voice in our head that, when denied a pull for a while, starts to chant, “You Suck! You Suck! Yes You Do!”

For some anglers, and especially for beginners, this can be a real problem. Not just because it will melt your spey cast down but because it’s no fun. The best way I know to catch fish is to fish with confidence and if you lose your confidence you’re on a slippery slope to skunk town. Trust me, I’ve been there.

One of the coolest things about the Steelhead Camp is that I get to see a lot of anglers catch their first steelhead. The Deschutes is a great place for that because the fishing is so good. While the fishing this year was good by almost any standards, it was off for the Deschutes.

The generation of steelhead which are returning to the river for the first time this year faced some rough conditions. These fish, known as “single salt” fish, usually make up the largest part of the run but this year they returned in smaller numbers. It’s kind of a good news / bad news situation. While numbers are lower than normal, average size is larger. Again, quality over quantity.

I’m really proud of all of my anglers, who kept their attitudes straight, fished hard and had fun. In the end, all but one caught fish, but several paid their dues getting it done. That, of course, makes it that much sweeter. The other good thing about the camp is that anglers have great support, both technical advice and communal encouragement. It makes a big difference.


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If The River Was Whisky

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“If the river was whisky and I was a diving duck, I’d dive to the bottom and never come up.” – Muddy Waters.

Whisky and fly fishing just seem to go together. I’m certainly guilty of carrying a flask of rye on the river from time to time. I toasted my first Pacific Steelhead with a nice sip of Red Breast, courtesy of my buddy Jeff Hickman. I confess, I’m having a bit of Ardbeg as I write this.

I joined some friends for a weekend in North Carolina this fall and found my buddy Mike had just shy of two hundred bottles of scotch whisky behind the bar. Most of them way better than I’m used to. I slept like a baby in my hammock, on the porch that night and woke to find that I had stuffed my keys and wallet into my boots. I only do that when I have the suspicion that I’m on my way to doing something stupid.

Most of the river drinking I’ve experienced isn’t that classy. I remember fondly one incredibly cold day on the Oak Orchard with Kent Klewein and Charlie Murphy when we passed a bottle of cheap bourbon against the cold. The three of us shared a long run, the guy at the head taking a drink and tossing the bottle into the river to float down to the next. As we stepped down the run, the last to drink would walk back to the head and start the parade again.

At this point I probably sound like a stumbling drunk, but I really don’t drink that much. Especially when I’m fishing. I’m either not a good enough drunk or a good enough angler to do both well at the same time. I have one buddy who carries his own cooler on the boat and drinks two dozen beers on a float. He fishes just as well on his last cast as the first, and he’s damned good. Not everyone is like that.

Things got interesting on the boat one afternoon when my buddy passed out cold on the oars.

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Build Your Own Fly Rod: DIY Video 4

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It’s rod building time with Matt Draft of Proof Fly Fishing.

In this installment, video 4, Matt will cover wrapping the ferrules, stripping guide and hook keeper. In addition to the basics Matt will share some pro tips for the trickier steps in the process. Our DIY rod is really starting to look like something now!

Check out Matt’s site, Proof Fly Fishing. As a special thank you to G&G readers, Matt will be offering free shipping on all of his kits for the next seven weeks. Just use the code G&Gfreeship on his web site.


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Dry Fly Fishing and the Dead Drift

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By Pudge Kleinkauf

The following is an excerpt from the book “Rookie No More: The Fly Fishing Novice Gets Guidance From A Pro”

Question: How do I achieve the “dead drift” when I’m dry fly fishing?

Answer: Most fly anglers find that fishing dry flies on the surface of the water is one of their favorite ways to fish. Seeing a fish rise up from beneath the water to take our bug imitation is a very exciting part of our sport. Called dry fly fishing, it isn’t one of the easiest of skills to master, however. Achieving the dead drift results from two things: good casting and correct management of the fly on the water.

Dry fly fishing is often referred to as “fooling fish with fur and feathers.” A good imitation of the fish’s food source, placed on the water with an appropriate cast, should result in a fly that looks and drifts on the water like the real thing. That could be an adult mayfly, caddis, or stonefly returning to the water’s surface to lay its eggs, or a bee or ant blown into the water from stream-side vegetation.

While learning to fish dry flies, you need to start by being able to track the fly on the water. Use a very visible fly a size or two larger than you need or a small fly with a bit of white or colored calf tail or poly yarn on its top to provide a focal spot for your eye to key on. Two of the best flies to use while learning to dry-fly fish are the Parachute Adams and the Royal Wulff (tied with white calf-tail wings) in a size #12.

“Find the fly on the surface just as soon as it lands,” I tell my students and clients, “and then never take your eyes off of it as it drifts along.” I also have beginners cast in fairly close to themselves until they train their eye to quickly locate the fly on the water at the end of the leader. As they become better able to judge distance, I have them extend their cast a little farther each time to learn how to spot the fly at greater distances. If you can’t follow your fly on the water, you won’t know how it is drifting.

A well-executed overhead cast is the best cast to help achieve the delicacy and gentleness of a wispy, weightless, imitation bug descending and landing on the water. The fly must land silently, delicately, and naturally. My instructor repeated over and over, “Think flutter, Pudge. The fly should ‘flutter’ to the surface, not slap down on it.” Because I could clearly see the difference between a flutter and a splat, that image worked for me.

Fluttering results from a

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Is Pay-To-Play Fly Fishing Good For Anybody?

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By Louis Cahill

If you pay hundreds of dollars for the chance to catch a really big trout on someones private water, are you doing the right thing?

Pay-to-play fishing is a hot button issue. It came up in conversation the other day so I thought I’d put my two cents in. I don’t have any data to back this up, but my guess is that a pretty small percentage of anglers regularly pay to fish private water. I’d guess that a fare number of us do it a time or two and move on and a very small number do little else. On the other hand there are an equally small number who would never consider it.

What you figure out pretty quickly is, whenever pay-to-play comes up, there’s going to be an argument. The fur usually starts to fly when fish size becomes the topic. If you are boasting about catching a trophy size trout on your local pay-to-play water you’re very likely going to hear how, “That fish doesn’t count,” or how, “That’s bullshit.” 

It’s true that there is no comparing a hand fed pet to a wild fish of the same size. Perhaps there is no comparing the effort or skill that went into catching those fish, but there is certainly no comparing how unique, special or important those two fish are. Wild trophy size trout are a treasure and should be treated as such. All of that said, if you are boasting about the size of your fish to establish yourself as a superior angler, you’re probably a douche bag. If you’re trying to spoil someone else’s excitement by calling their fish bullshit, you’re just as bad. That’s my opinion.

Focusing on numbers or size takes the fun out of fishing for me. I don’t count fish and when I do measure a fish it’s about appreciating what a special fish it is and how fortunate I was to catch it. Not for one instant do I hold to the idea that it makes me special as an angler. I’ve been at this long enough to know that humility is waiting in the next run. I like to hear anglers talk about special fish and I like to talk about them too. I think that’s something we all share, I just think it sucks when it ends in an argument.


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Fly Rod Selection For Bonefishing: Video

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You’ve booked that bid bonefish trip, what fly rods should you take?

Saltwater fly fishing requires he angler to respond quickly to changing conditions. Having the right gear makes a huge difference. The problem is, if you don’t have a lot of experience, you may not know what is going to work when the fishing gets tough. In this video, I’ll try to help you sort through it.

The big factor in saltwater fly fishing is wind. Either too much or too little of it. A lot of beginning saltwater anglers want to fish on dead calm days. Believe it or not, it’s just as tough to have too little wind as too much. Bonefish can get really spooky when the water is flat calm and the setup you love in the wind may not produce.

“Which rods should I take,” is the question I get all the time. 

In my opinion, the fly line is an even more important choice. How the rod and line work together to present the fly is what’s really important. I start by choosing the line I want to fish, then I choose the rod I like to cast it. I find I can carry fewer fly rods and catch more fish.


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Should You Be Sharpening Your Hooks More?

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Casting all day long, searching for that beast of a brown. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. I know that’s what it’s going to take if I want a decent shot at landing a big mature brown trout. I’m looking for a 20 plus-incher and they never come easy. And where I live, you’re lucky to get a few opportunities at legitimate wild brown trout of this caliber all year long. We’re approaching a bend that’s known for holding butter slabs and I present a perfect cast right against the deep undercut bank. The retrieve begins, strip strip, pause…, strip strip, pause. Without any warning my six-inch articulated sculpin gets slammed and my fly rod just about comes out of my hands. It’s just been devoured by something very big, and I think it’s what I’ve been looking for. I set the hook hard and my rod bends as the fish breaks the surface thrashing violently, shades of butter are spotted. “It’s a brown!” I yell, but two strips and two head shakes later my fly pulls loose and the beast swims away. My prized catch is lost.

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The Salt Water Quick Cast

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One of the most crucial skills in salt water fly fishing is shooting line.

Everything happens quickly on the flats and the angler who can put his fly on a fish sixty feet from the boat with only two false casts will have a distinct advantage.

It’s important to get the fly to the fish in a hurry but that’s not the whole story. In salt water the most effective presentation is one where the angler shoots line on the delivery. This keeps the fly line from spooking the fish during false casting, which is so important on calm days, and also helps in making a soft presentation. Because the tension from the line hand is released during the delivery the energy of the heavy salt water line dissipates much quicker. No big splash right in front of the fish when the fly lands.

To master the quick cast you will need a few skills in your bag. You must have an efficient double haul to generate the necessary line speed. You also must develop an aggressive back cast so you can shoot line behind you as well. Once you’ve mastered these techniques you’re ready to put your quick cast to work and you’ll catch a lot more salt water fish.

Here’s Capt. Joel Dickey to show you how it’s done.

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