Zack Thurman’s Swimming Leech

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By Bob Reece

The simplicity of most leech patterns can lead to the misconception that the accuracy of their imitation is not important. As with many patterns, their above water appearance is often the sole determining factor for whether they are used or passed over. Yet, with any subsurface pattern its underwater behavior and appearance should be considered.

Zack Thurman has an in-depth understanding of still water fly fishing. This is evident in the numerous and highly effective patterns that he has created for these types of water. His swimming leech falls into this group of productive flies and has found its way to my fly box.

Last year I started a guide business north west of Cheyenne, Wyoming. All of the guided fishing that takes place at Horse Creek Ranch occurs on thirteen still waters that are spread out over this 60,000 acre expanse of land. When choosing the flies that I would use, I tested over a dozen main stream leech patterns. Zack’s swimming leech out produced all of the other patterns by at least a five to one ratio. I have since used it on numerous public waters and it has displayed an equally impressive rate of production.

The key ingredient to this success is the

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Dickey’s Mighty Mantis

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Watch The Tying Video

I WAS, FRANKLY, A LITTLE SHOCKED WHEN JOEL DICKEY DECIDED TO SHARE THIS FLY WITH US.

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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Tarpon On The Clock

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A Photo Essay By Joel Dickey

It’s 5:30 a.m. and my alarm pierces that beautiful thing, called sleep, which all guides miss so much this time of year. I jump out of bed and I’m quickly reminded I’m not 25 anymore.

My joints pop and crack and muscles, that I didn’t know I had, ache. However it’s calm and my adrenaline soothes my body better than Advil ever would.

I jump into my clothes, give my sleeping wife a kiss and head to the fridge for my morning Mountain Dew, hoping that the caffeine will clear the fog, left from only 5 hours sleep.

Off to the dock. I only have another 100 consecutive days left until my next day off. Why do I book so many consecutive days?

I guide for the greatest gamefish in the world. I guide for tarpon and I don’t want to miss a single second of it.

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Bonefish Don’t Dance

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DANCING ON THE BOW IS A BIG TURN-OFF.
I had the pleasure of doing a little bonefishing with a good friend the other day. We were poling the flats on the west side of South Andros and the wind was howling. The sky was full of popcorn clouds and their shadows were moving quickly across the flats. My buddy was getting a lot of shots at big westside bones but they all spooked before his fly landed.

We had fished to spooky fish for the last few days and were getting used to the sight of fleeing bonefish. My buddy assumed that he was spooking fish by lining them or landing them too hard. That might have been the case on one of the flat calm days we’d seen earlier in the week, but today the problem was one of footwork.

Like I said, the wind was howling. Thirty to thirty-five miles per hour. In an effort to turn over his fly my friend was casting like a warrior Hun. His casting was so violent that his left foot would come off the deck with each cast. He wasn’t even aware of it but every time that foot landed the bonefish would vanish.

Wind is frustrating but it can be your friend. The broken surface of the water will hide a lot of mistakes. Fish can’t see the shadow of your fly line or hear your fly hit the water but the sound of anything contacting the hull of the boat is instantly telegraphed, alerting them of danger. Fish don’t know how hard it is to cast a fly rod in the wind but they know an unnatural sound when they hear it and it doesn’t make them happy. Even the sound of feet pivoting on the deck can cause them to spook.

Fortunately, dancing on the bow is not part of a good fly cast.

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DIY Bonefishing – It’s All About The Short Game

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By Rod Hamilton

“I HAVE SEEN MORE THAN ONE FFF CERTIFIED CASTING INSTRUCTOR BROUGHT TO TEARS AFTER HIS TENTH BLOWN SHOT AT UNDER FORTY FEET”

Whether you are wading in eighteen inches of water, weaving through the mangroves or doing the Flamingo Slide over a mucky flat, there is no such thing as a seventy-foot cast. For DIY fisherman, it’s all about the Short Game.

Leave your driver, fairway woods and long irons in the bag. DIY success is about accuracy with your wedges and putter. It calls for short precise shots, minimal false casting and one chance to make a pinpoint presentation. There are no Gimmies at thirty feet.

I have had the good fortune to fish with some great anglers and casters this year. I’m still awestruck by the elegance of them laying out an eighty-foot line. But I’ve come to realize that the skills required to be successful from the front of a skiff don’t necessarily translate to being successful in the “hand to hand” combat experienced by the DIY guy.

I’m talking about soft presentations at 20 – 40 feet in 25 m.p.h. winds with one false cast. Then dropping the fly not in a Hula Hoop, but on a Frisbee.

Let me tell you I have seen more than one FFF Certified Casting Instructor brought to tears after his tenth blown shot at under forty feet. It’s the difference between being a great driver of a golf ball and a great putter, both are wonderful skills to posses, but different.

Setting the stage for a DIY day; you just got out of your car or off your bicycle. The fish you will be encountering have seen a “Charlie” before; in fact they probably bolted from one yesterday. And the direction you walk has more to do with “where can I go” then the sun, wind and tide.

And, 90% of your casts will be forty feet or less.

SKILLS REQUIRED FOR THE SHORT GAME:

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Snap Your Wrist For Line Speed

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Watch The Video!

Today Bruce is going to get a little closer to that fly rod and talk about the roll your wrist plays in fly casting.

Watch closely. Bruce has great mussel memory from thousands of hours of casting. Watch the subtlety of his wrist movement. The snap and push that happens. Don’t forget that, as in all fly casting, this requires a smooth application of power to be successful. This will take some practice to master and in the next two videos Bruce will build on this technique so get out in the yard and give it a try.

heck out the video!

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Technical tips from Southern NZ

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By Chris Dore
Whilst I enjoy chasing big fish in the backcountry here in New Zealand, there isn’t actually much to it: Find a fish. Put your fly in front of him, and strike.

It’s the smaller, hatch-driven streams that offer the challenge for me, the technical presentations their finicky trout require and often ‘outside of the box’ thinking. Straight line presentations rarely succeed and so slack line casts, chosen to beat drag and deliver your fly naturally (or not) are mandatory.

Today, Simon Chu and I visited a rather technical stream in the deep south known for its wary browns. It was a fun day shared with a good mate but we certainly needed to bring our A game. In the end we hooked 2 dozen fish between us on a range of lightweight nymphs and film flies.

HERE ARE A FEW TRICKS WHICH HELPED US TODAY:

– Make every presentation count. Each cast needs to be

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The Video Doesn’t Lie

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Watch the Video!

By Bob Reece

Over the numerous years that I played football, I watched countless hours of practice and game film. One truth always reigned. Your performance was never as good or as bad as you believed it would be.

After a recent back packing trip I sat down at my computer to review some of my footage. One of the clips was a side shot of me casting. While the rear portion of my casting range was sound, the forward portion of that particular cast was flat out sloppy. My forward plane of motion traveled down instead of parallel to the water. In addition to this, my stopping point prevented my rod from effectively loading into my back cast. Having seen video of myself casting on numerous occasions, I was a little surprised and disappointed. However, it was helpful to be reminded that when I lose focus on the water, my cast is not always what I assume it to be.

You may not carry camera gear with you on your fishing journeys. Chances are though, that you have a cell phone with you at home and on the road. Taking a moment to record a few minutes of your casting motion can provide valuable feedback. While it’s no substitute for

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Fly Fishing: Searching for That Needle in a Haystack

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I really enjoy catching big wild trout on a fly rod. Even more though, I enjoy the challenges that come with having to hunt them down in places where they are few and far between. I’m talking about trout streams where there’s not supposed to be any truly big trout living there. The places where catching a 12-incher normally gets you tickled to death, and where most fly anglers, if asked, would tell you point blank, “I guarantee you there’s nothing swimming in that trout stream large enough for a grip and grin.” These are the places I like to visit on my days off from guiding. I get deep satisfaction searching for that extra special fish. The fish that’s 99% confident no fly angler thinks he or she even exists.

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Women Are Here To Fish

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By Justin Pickett

I read a post on social media the other day that got me feeling all kinds of frustrated.

I literally wanted to pull my hair out after reading the remarks of the ignoramus who decided to peck this stupidity from the safety of his keyboard. This ding dong’s remark was in response to a photo of a nice rainbow trout caught by a female angler, which was posted to her Facebook page. The original post appears to have been taken down by the page administrator, but it went something like this:

-Now let’s see a video of your cast, drift, and you landing that fish-

Now, like I said, there is likely some variance to the actual quote, but those are the “items” that this guy wanted filmed to verify to him that this female angler was competent enough to catch a trout all by herself. Seriously? He went on to defend his request, which just made things worse.

The majority of the social media world attacked this guy, and rightfully so. Who is he to play “river police” from the comfort of his desk chair, assuring that everyone’s cast and drift are up to his standards? Oh wait… Not EVERYONE on the river. Nah, this guy probably would not have had the balls to do the same thing to another male angler, but a gal holding up a trout….I guess that sounded like easy pickings to this Facebook Casanova.

Certainly a girl doesn’t have the mental and physical attributes to complete a cast, mend some line, set the hook, and land a fish that possesses a brain the size of a pea. I’m not trying to downplay the sometimes technical aspects of fly fishing for trout, but this guy was definitely calling into question the ability of this female angler to catch a fish. However, I bet if the same were expected of him every time he posted a fish, he would be the first one to cry about it on his social media page.

News Flash: women fish!

Women fly fish. There have been women in fly fishing for a long time. Long before many of you reading this, and myself, were even conceived. There are some amazing women who have done, and continue to do, amazing things in many areas of the sport of fly fishing. Conservation. Guiding. Travel. Product development. Instruction. Casting for Recovery. Dun Magazine. Abel Women. 50/50 On The Water. I could go on. Women play a major role in many aspects of our sport. I could give numerous examples, but here’s a couple:

Ever heard of R.L. Winston Fly Rods?

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