Fly Fishing for Brown Trout in the Summer and Early Fall

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Over the years, I’ve made the mistake many times of walking past trout water that I thought was too shallow to hold trout. Most of the year trout prefer depth transitions where shallow water flows into deeper water. These transitions provide shelter from excessive current and increased safety for trout, and locating them is usually the ticket to finding and consistently catching trout. However, during the summer months, brown trout particularly will often disregard these areas, opting instead to hold tight to the banks in extremely shallow water. They do this to take advantage of terrestrials falling into the water, but I think they also do it because there’s generally shade available and they instinctively know it’s a good spot for them to remain largely undetected.

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The Importance of Changing Flies on the Water

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I’ll usually fish for about thirty minutes with my first rig of the day, and if I’m not getting any hookups, I’ll begin regularly changing my flies out until I find a pattern that works. The willingness to change your flies on the water when your not getting bites, is often the key factor in determining whether you have a good or bad day of fishing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone walk up to me in the parking lot at the end of the day and complain about how the fish weren’t biting. While I, on the other hand, had caught and released dozens of fish in the same section of water. Most of the time that discouraged angler stuck with a few patterns during the day, and didn’t change flies enough times to find out what patterns were really working. How do I know this? I know this because I was that discouraged angler many times early on, in my career.

It can be very obvious to us that changing flies is the answer when we’re able to sight-fish and see fish rejecting our flies. But many times you’ll find yourself fishing in conditions where sight-fishing isn’t an option. A few examples is when your fishing fast moving choppy water, water with significant glare, and stained water conditions. None of these will provide anglers the opportunity to get visual feedback. In these conditions, anglers should change their flies when they’re not getting bites for extended periods of time. If you know your rig is set up correctly (correct tippet size, fly size, split-shot amount, or indicator placement) for the specific water your fishing, and your making good presentations, a light bulb should be going off in your head telling you to change fly patterns if your not getting bites.

Sometimes you’ll find a single pattern will

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Help Andrew Grillos In A time of Tragedy 

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By Louis Cahill

Andrew Grillos is an innovative fly tyer, guide and one of the finest people you’ll ever meet, and he needs our help.

You may know Andrew for his killer fly patterns like the Hippy Stomper or Bob Gnarly. You may have seen his contributions here on G&G, or fished with him for trout in Alaska. You may not know him at all, but I assure you, if you fly fish, Andrew has touched your life in some way. In addition to being one of our sports great innovators, he is one of the kindest people I have known.

Last week Andrew was struck down by a sever stroke. In spite of being young and incredibly fit (Andrew is an ultra-marathon runner) within moments he found himself fighting for his life. After multiple surgeries, he is know hospitalized and only partially responsive. Still in grave danger but doctors site his physical strength and will to survive as great assets. I wish I had more detailed information to share, but things are changing quickly and, honestly, the family has plenty to do without me bugging them for updates.


This is the kind of event that could strike any of us. If you are concerned and would like to help out, it will be greatly appreciated and there are a couple of ways you can choose to do so.

Go Fund Me

There is a Go Fund Me page where you can donate to help cover the mounting medical expenses. Click here to donate.


Friends are auctioning off fly fishing gear and trips to benefit the cause on Instagram. You can find the auctions by searching the hashtag #fliesforandrew on Instagram.

I would like to personally thank everyone who chooses to help. All of us who know Andrew are heartbroken by these events. Please help if you can.

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Better Bow and Arrow Cast: Video

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Watch the Video!

By Louis Cahill

Here’s a trick you may not know for making longer Bow-and-Arrow casts.

If you love fishing small streams, then you probably know how to make a Bow-and-Arrow cast. It’s not rocket science. But, what if I told you I could show you how to get an extra 6-9 feet with that simple cast?

I couldn’t count the number of brook trout I’ve caught this way ing the mountains of North Georgia and North Carolina. If you don’t know how to make the Bow-and-Arrow cast, or if you’re interested in reaching more water,

check out this video.

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Stealth on Small Streams

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By Jason Tucker


What is he doing? I thought. He’s going to put down every fish in the bend and pool. I would have pushed through the tag alders over the shallow sand so as to stay out of the pool. Yet there Alex stands, waist deep in water, almost on top of where he needs to cast. A few feet downstream, near where he had just walked, a good fish rose, and I fought the urge to flip my fly out there, leaving the first cast to Alex.

Alex made a single cast, and his fly disappeared with a loud slap. He set the hook and chaos ensued as his line rooster tailed through the water. The fish turned and swam back up to Alex, then ran back downstream, streaking past my leg on the surface- the biggest brook trout I’ve ever seen outside of Canada. It was easily four pounds and probably five. Big and thick and over twenty inches long. Then it turned and dogged its way upstream, and the leader parted for no apparent reason. It wasn’t even under that much pressure at the moment. We all stared in disbelief at the dangling end of his line.

I don’t know why Alex’ approach that night resulted in hooking up on his best brook trout ever (if you count fish not landed). My best guess is that it was late evening and the fish, anticipating the evening hatch, had moved out to feed, and the dropping light gave them confidence. Normally I would have thought he had buggered the entire hole, but that night his approach resulted in a hookup and one of the most bittersweet memories in our time fishing together. Alex still can’t talk about it.

Alex is a cautious fisherman. He wears camo when he fishes for brook trout and is generally very cautious. I don’t wear camo, but it’s not a bad idea. Small streams, being small require an extra level of stealth. Here are some things you can do to increase your success on small streams.


Clothing- camo, dull colors, sky blue

Stealth on any stream starts at home with your clothing. Leave the bright colors at home. The dull colors most waders come in is a good place to start. Don’t hesitate to wear your hunting camo. Dull shades of green, brown and grey will work best. I personally don’t care for black- I think it offers too much contrast. Because the fish are looking up I think sky or pale blue is not a bad choice, especially as part of a camo pattern. On a small stream you are fishing in tight quarters, sometimes almost on top of the fish, and you want to blend with the background as much as possible.

Observation- slow down! 

I can’t tell you the number of times I still plow into a stream only to realize I have bumped a good fish. I personally do not like fishing close to the access, and at times don’t even care that I’m bumping fish on my way to where I really want to fish. But when I get to there, it really hurts to step into the stream only to realize I’ve blown up the spot by not being more observant. I’m looking both for fish and also what they may be feeding on. Often we know to some degree what’s going on- you’re fishing a specific hatch, or it’s midsummer and you’re fishing terrestrials. Maybe the weather is cool and

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Bonefishing: Getting Ready To Fish

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It’s time to catch a bonefish! Here are some easy steps you can follow to set you up for success.

Effective saltwater fly fishing, for bonefish or any other species, is all about making clean presentations. The more you can control the variables, the more fish you will catch. It’s as simple as that. An angler who is methodical and pays attention to the details always has the odds in their favor.

In this video I share with you the steps I take to insure a clean presentation every time I take the bow. It’s a deeper dive into how I prepare for success and why. I hope it helps you catch more bonefish.


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Fishing The Woolly Bugger

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By Louis Cahill

There are a lot of “right ways” to fish a Woolly Bugger.

I know, I know, this is super basic but after we published the article “The Woolly Bugger Isn’t all that, Or is it?,” I got emails asking how to fish the Bugger. I’ve joked about writing this article plenty of times and now I think I was being a jerk. We obviously have readers who want the info, so here is is.

One of the emails I got asked specifically if the Bugger should be fished on a nine foot tapered leader or a five foot level leader. My immediate reaction was, “It depends on how you’re fishing it.”

The reason the Woolly Bugger is possibly the greatest fly pattern ever tied is that there is almost no wrong way to fish it. It’s one of those rare patterns that looks like so many different types of food, it’s hard to make it unappealing. And not just for trout, I firmly believe you can catch anything that swims with a Woolly Bugger. I regularly wear out bonefish on a tan bugger.

For the purpose of this article I’m going to focus on techniques for trout fishing. The Bugger can be fished as a nymph or a streamer and even an emerger. If you figure out how to tie one that will float, I guarantee it will work as a dry under the right conditions. 

Let’s look at some techniques for fishing the Woolly Bugger is some of these different roles.


It’s hard to beat a dead drifted Bugger for catching trout. Sink it with a split shot or build weight into the fly to get it down to the strike zone. Fish it under an indicator or high sticked on a tight line. Whatever approach you prefer, with the right amount of weight, a dead drifted bugger will produce.

Some of the food items a bugger can pass for, when fished in this way, are stonefly nymphs, helgermites, craneflys, damsel and dragon flies, mayfly nymphs (in appropriate sizes), crawfish, leaches, baitfish, and tadpoles. The dead drift will almost always work but if you think about that list some other techniques become obvious.

Remember I mentioned emergers?

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Strategies For DIY Bonefishing

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By Rod Hamilton


The email usually goes something like this: “I do fine when I’m guided, but can’t seem to either find fish or get them to eat when I am on my own.”

“What am I doing wrong?”

DIY-6I’ve been bonefishing for twenty years and like most of us, spent the first five years fishing exclusively with guides. I thought I was getting pretty good and put my bonefish I.Q. at around 120. So, I tried it on my own, only to find out that it was actually my guide who was smart and my bonefish I.Q. was more like 35.

So game on, challenge accepted, and I have spent the last fifteen years learning everything I could about how to DIY for bonefish.
DIY-1There is a lot to learn to be successful on your own. After all, now you have to know where the fish are, how they react to tides, what they eat, see them before they see you and make a presentation that won’t send them into deep water. There is no boat to run you out three miles, instead a car, bicycle or kayak is your chariot to the flats.

Nothing replaces time on the water and most of the early lessons are going to result in fishless days, but let me see if I can ease the pain and help shorten the learning curve with some basic strategies for the DIY fisherman.

1. Learn to use Google Earth
Instead of spending those hours at home dreaming about your upcoming trip, spend that time scouring satellite images to find places others might not easily discover. The hardest bonefish in the world to catch are those that have been trained by the few hundred anglers before you.

2. The DIY Fly Box is different then the Guide Fly Box.

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Dickey’s Mighty Mantis

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Watch The Tying Video


I have fished Joel’s Mighty Mantis for years and I can attest to its mojo. Friends, this fly works. It’s the most productive bonefish fly I have ever fished and we’re proud to have it on the site.

The mantis shrimp is a leggy little critter found in most all tropical waters. It’s apparently quite tasty because bonefish inhale them with reckless abandon. The pile of rubber legs and teased out hairdo on this fly make for a lifelike silhouette that bonefish can’t resist.

Watch the video and tie up some Mighty Mantis for your next bonefish trip!

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The Incredible Exploding Line Holder

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Is a fly reel more than a line holder?

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “A fly tell is just a line holder.” I have certainly heard it plenty, and I have a visceral reaction, similar to nails on a chalk board, every time. It is a great way to tell everyone that you’ve never caught a fish over twelve inches. Even in trout fishing the fly reel is an important piece of equipment and choosing one is an important choice.

For any fish big enough that you can’t lift it by the tippet, a reel with a good drag is key for wearing fish down effectively and landing them quickly, which is better for the fish and increases your chance of landing it. It is important to understand that a “good drag” is not simply one which is powerful. It is usually more important that the drag is smooth with little startup inertia. This protects your tippet and keeps a consistent, safe pressure on the fish.

Of course, the more powerful the fish, the more important the reel is. When you start fishing in saltwater, the reel becomes crucial. Not only are the fish much stronger, but the conditions are brutal on gear, making failure much more likely. I tell anglers all the time that it’s better to come to the salt with a cheap rod and expensive reel than the other way round.

No matter how many times I say this there will still be folks who don’t believe me.

One of them came on my Bonefish School in January. A great guy who I have known for several years. He had bought a large trout reel on sale at Cabela’s and asked me what I thought about using it for bonefish.

“It’ll explode,” I told him.

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