Don’t Lead Me On: Tippet Length For Dry Flies

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By: Alice Tesar

Dry fly season is upon us and the shop is filled with folks wondering why the fish aren’t interested in their dry flies. 

Yes, it is important to get the correct flies but equally as important is your leader and tippet. The biggest mistake these people are making, one I made for years, is just switching out their nymph for a dry fly without addressing their tippet length. 

Without giving you too much to work with, recognize that the evolution of tapered leaders has revolved around nymphing and streamer fishing. Engineered with a more aggressive taper to cut wind and cast greater distances. Most factory made tapered leaders ignore the long tippet section required for a dry fly presentation. 

Adding one to three feet of tippet (*gasp* yes, your leader and tippet will now be close to 13’ long) will allow you to mend easier (if you need to mend at all) and will give you a more natural drift without the added weight of a tapered leader. Instead of fretting about turning over your fly in a long cast think about

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Let it ride

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By Daniel Galhardo


It takes some time to learn how to read water well. But, at least when it comes to fishing mountain streams, the concept is easy to grasp: fish are looking for food and shelter, and don’t want to spend a lot of energy looking for food. Currents bring them food, slow water and breaks in the current gives them shelter. With that in mind we quickly learn that seams where current meets calm water may be the best places to target with our flies.

Once we learn this basic piece of information, we all want our fly to land with 100% accuracy where we suppose fish will be. But, hey, sometimes it won’t!

In recent days I have been taking a lot of people fishing. Most were new to fly-fishing and to tenkara. After giving them some basic instructions on how to open the rod, how to tie the line to the rod tip and tippet to the tenkara line and then tie the fly onto it, I would teach them how to cast.

It’s been said that anyone can learn how to cast with tenkara in a matter of minutes. I have found that on average it takes 7 or 8 casts to learn how to cast with tenkara fairly well, and I’m not exaggerating. But, like anything, it takes time to get the tiny fly to land exactly where they want. If I had to guess, I’d say that in the beginning about 70% of their casts will land in the vicinity of where they wanted. Perhaps 25% will land just off the target zone. And, of course, about 5% will land on the trees in front or behind them, but that’s a different article for a different day.

The 25% slightly off-target casts is what I’m interested in making a point about. Actually, it doesn’t matter if it’s 25%, 50%, or even if you’re

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The Karma of Broken Trailers

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Today we are proud to share an excerpt from Chris Santella’s new book, “The Tug Is The Drug.” You may know Chris as the author of “Fifty Places To Fly Fish Before You Die.” His new book is a collection of thirty essays. We know you will enjoy this one!


Every generation or so, the subject of paving the Deschutes River access road from Sherars Falls to Mack’s Canyon is brought up for discussion. The notion is always quickly shot down, with the guide community leading the charge. “The crowds will be unbearable on an already crowded river,” is the sentiment. Prospects for a paved road are tabled for another 10 or 20 years, and some of its opponents proceed to drive the roughly 17-mile stretch at twice the posted speed limit—especially during the steelhead season—leaving the already marginal gravel road a washboard hell.
One that can be very hard on trailers.
I own a one-third share of a drift boat, and consequently am sometimes asked to donate a trip for a school auction or assist friends with overflow guests. One weekend last September, I was slated for two such trips, back-to-back, both floating from the Beavertail campground to Mack’s. Prior to the adventure, I had my tires rotated and checked, knowing the travails that waited. I picked up the boat from my friend’s driveway and proceeded to Maupin.
At 4:30 the next morning, my friend (and his sturdy Tacoma Supercab) began the drive north to Beavertail. When we left the paved road at Sherars, my Subaru was engulfed in his dust; but soon his taillights were out of sight. That’s because I drive very slow on the access road, hoping to get my rig down and back in one piece. There was a blush of pink above the rimrock as I descended from the road to Beavertail. Reaching the bottom, I could see my friends at the put-in, wadered up and waiting. I circled the campground and rounded the final bend to approach the put-in. As my wheels straightened, there was an abrupt thud. I stopped, expecting I’d hung up on a rogue rock or popped one of my recently rotated tires. My eyes drifted to my passenger-side mirror. There, I spied one of my trailer tires rolling toward some brush.

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Fixing Line Twist: Video

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A day floating the river can turn into frustration when your running line starts to tangle.

There are lots of reasons fly lines get twisted. The most common is being rolled under foot in the bottom of the boat. However it happens, it’s a mess of tangles and knots that make fishing frustrating. There’s nothing worse than landing your fly just short of the strike zone because your running line is tangled.

Fortunately there is a simple trick to fix line twist. I learned this trick from my buddy Zack Dalton of ROI Products and it changed my life. I promise you will love it.


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Flynn’s Stonefly Nymph: Video

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My good friend Dan Flynn shares my obsession with the noblest of insects. Dan is a great tyer with an impressive repertoire of classic patterns. I have always admired his meticulous stonefly nymphs. I’ve also spent many days watching him crush trout on them.

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The Patagonia Trout McNugget

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By Louis Cahill

Think trout flies should be small? Think again!

Ok this is admittedly a bunch of silliness, but where else are you going to see a trout eat a chicken nugget? Yep, an actual chicken nugget. I don’t know if this compromises our journalistic integrity or angling ethics but it’s funny as hell.

Justin and I were down in Argentina and there were some pet trout in the spring creek by the place we were staying. No one fished for these bruisers, it was just fun to watch 30 inch trout hanging out by the deck. When we found out they stayed by the deck because the staff fed then table scraps, well, we couldn’t help ourselves.

The fishing in Argentine Patagonia is truly amazing. Why not join me there this February and see for yourself. Click here for details.

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Keep your thirst quenched without the baggage

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It’s late spring and everyday we’re moving one step closer to summer.

Air temperatures are climbing into the 70s and 80s on most days and will soon be even higher. These conditions make it extremely important that anglers are staying properly hydrated while they’re on the water fly fishing. I really enjoy hiking into remote locations to fly fish for trout. The only problem with me doing this, is I’m constantly fighting to quench my thirst and stay hydrated. I used to utilize packs with internal bladders for storing my drinking liquids, but there were quite a few disadvantages that came along with using them. First, when filled to full capacity, they become quite heavy and take a tole on your body lugging them around all day. Secondly, if you’re using them during the warm seasons and you’re doing some aggressive hiking and fishing, eventually that cold liquid you filled the bladder with in the morning will eventually warm up and end up tasting like bath water. Thirdly, internal bladder systems require maintenance and cleaning to keep them from building up bacteria and mold. Five years ago, I decided to ditch the internal bladder systems in exchange for a light weight water filtration bottle, and I’ve never looked back. Doing so, I eliminated the three negatives I mentioned above with using internal water bladders, and I no longer have to ration my water intake during the day. This product will keep you fresh during your time on the water and you’ll have far less

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Perfect Moments, Bahamas Edition

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Fishing cool new rods and tying great new flies. We even had a couple of bona fide adventures. We laughed until it hurt, ate until it hurt and, yes, drank until it hurt. I came home with a head full of snapshots that will not soon fade. It got me thinking. Since we practice catch and release, what is it that we bring home from a fishing trip?

In “Swimming To Cambodia” Spaulding Gray talks about having a perfect moment. An experience so culminating, that nothing else seems to exist but that moment. He can’t leave Thailand until he has one. He finally does and it involves Thai stick. I like that idea of the perfect moment and ever since Spaulding made me aware of it, I keep my eyes open and try to spot them.

I thought I found my perfect moment about mid week of the Bahamas trip. A subset of perfect moments that I’m fond of is “perfect shots.” By shot I mean shots at fish, not photos and I had one on Tuesday. Several things go into the making of a perfect shot. Most important, it has to be visual. I have to see the whole story unfold. I have to perform to the best of my ability. There’s no compromising on that one. The fish has to do his part, mainly eat the fly but he shouldn’t be a pushover. Of lesser importance but still of value

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The Myth of Manual

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It’s not true. Certainly not for me. I grew up using manual cameras. Cameras that didn’t even have light meters. In fact I’ve spent as much time looking at the ground glass of a view camera as through the lens of a DSLR. I’m perfectly comfortable with it but I recognize that the automatic features of modern cameras offer benefits that can improve my work and I see nothing wrong with using them.

What “real photographers” do, is understand their exposure choices. How a photograph is exposed has an enormous impact on its emotional content as well as its clarity and color palette. The proper exposure for any given image is a highly subjective thing and possibly the most important choice the photographer has to make. Whether in manual or automatic mode, there are choices to be made and good choices are never made blindly. The key is in understanding what your camera sees and knowing how to control it.


The first issue is understanding how your light meter works. There are two components to this. First, how the light meter judges a scene and second, how that judgment is influenced by the meter mode selection. First we will look at what your meter sees.

No matter how advanced your light metering system, it is still a dumb machine. That holds true for use in manual mode as well as automatic. This is where novice photographers go wrong in switching to manual mode. The meter functions in exactly the same way and the user either understands that functionality, or they don’t.

To put it simply, the camera doesn’t know what it’s photographing. It is only able to judge tone. To some extent modern cameras know about highlight and shadow but what they really see is the middle of the tonal scale. A value that photographers call

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Fishing The Mangroves

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by Rod Hamilton

“My fish is in the mangroves, now what do I do?”

One of the great things about having a website and blog is the interaction I have daily with fisherman from around the world. Sharing ideas, learning about the occasional secret spot and passing on tips (always learned the hard way) makes it fun to be a participant in the industry.

A couple of recent questions from subscribers about how to land fish when they are in the “bushes” had me reflecting on my own trials and tribulations regarding this common DIY scenario;

Their confusion about what to do in that situation originated from the same place that it had for me. They had received conflicting instructions about how best to fight a fish once it was in the mangroves.

I wasn’t with them and each situation tends to be a little different, but I can assume the tactical fighting advice ranged from “put the boots to it” to “give it slack and let it run.”

Before I tell you what I do, let me set the stage and walk you down the path I took which eventually led to a substantial increase in landed fish.

I started the same place we all did. On the front of a boat with a guide expertly poling me along, pointing out fish that I couldn’t see. But the reality was I seldom fished in tricky mangrove areas, its just not where guides take you. Mostly we were fishing flats in relatively open and benign areas.

Occasionally the guide would pole along a mangrove edge and the fish would elect to panic, swimming at warp speed back into the mangroves, but usually it stayed where the battle did not include obstructions.

I describe this typical scenario to point out that I, like most boat guided anglers, didn’t have that much practice extracting fish from deep in the mangroves. So it’s no wonder we tighten up, get anxious and are not sure what to do.

But for a walk and wade DIY guy it is just the opposite. I fish along edges and deep inside creek systems probably as much as on open flats. I mean how many flats are there where I can walk, bike, drive or kayak too?

My partners and I do not fish where guides and others go so edges, creeks and the “middle of nowhere” are much more the rule than the exception.

Since the tough places make up at least 50% of the locations, it became obvious I needed to get much better at, stalking, casting and landing fish in the mangroves. These became mandatory skills not just one-offs.

My usual fishing buddy and I made the decision to figure out how to increase our “landed” ratio and win the jungle battle. If you ask us now what percentage of fish we land, we can comfortably say fifty percent. In fact, he just returned from North Andros, went into the sticks the last afternoon and ended up with four of six. Which seems about right.


Yank and Crank
The title says it all, but let me explain. When I know I’m going deep into a creek system and am surrounded by roots and branches I make three significant equipment changes. I snip off my #12 tippet and tie on #20 pound. I tighten my drag to about as tight as it will go. And switch to a larger, flashier fly. What we have found is that deep within the protective cover of the mangroves the fish are not the least bit leader shy. No need for delicate presentations with small flies on light leaders. So I go with flies they can see, that make a splash when they hit and attach it to as strong a tippet as I have in the bag. Normally these are short pinpoint casts into tiny holes and pockets. When the fish hits, strip strike and then literally fight the fish right where you hooked it. It’s a hell of a battle, but you just don’t let it run. I’ve never landed a fish larger than 4 1/2 pounds doing this but then that takes into account 90% of all the fish you will see.

Walk the Dog
This one is crazy, it shouldn’t work and goes against all your instincts, but the results will surprise you. Use

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