The Secret Spot

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Dirty little secrets. We all have them.

Well, maybe they’re not so dirty, and if they are, I guess we have ourselves to blame. But everyone who ever owned a fishing rod has one. The spot that we think of as ours. It’s human nature I suppose, to want to own something, especially a place. I’ve heard that Native American cultures did not believe in the idea of people owning the land. I guess it’s clear how that played out. As for the rest of us, the ones with the fishing rods, we hold that idea firmly to our chests. The idea that we have a secret spot. A place that that we, through our skill, wisdom, charm and good looks, what-have-you, have found and laid claim to. A place so good that we dare not tell a soul about it.

Generally there is some impediment involved. Our place is hidden, hard to reach, you have to know that turn or trail or pull off. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a secret, right? Everyone would know about it. We get satisfaction from knowing something others don’t. We judge ourselves as somehow better than the masses for having and keeping our little secret. We go there and enjoy the great fishing and the solitude, and for a time we enjoy the illusion that we are alone. That we have been magically transported back to those “good old days” before every tree had been cut and every pool had a trail to it. We enjoy the idea that we are casting to fish who have never seen a fly, until the inevitable happens. Until we find that beer can or bright blue worm container, the ones my buddy Dan calls Indian pottery. Then we wake up for a spell, to the realization that there are no secret spots, no good old days. We rant a bit about how the whole thing has gone to hell. We blame the bait fisherman and talk about giving up. Eventually we move on to the business of finding the next secret spot.

Eventually we will find it. It will be farther in, longer to walk, harder to find and we will be that much more clever for having found it. It will be the good old days again. Then we will do what we do with all secrets. The thing that makes a secret worth having,

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The Beginner’s Advice on Casting for Bonefish

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John Byron, The Bonefish Beginner

Just finished three week in the Bahamas chasing big bonefish with Louis Cahill, proprietor of this blog. 

Great trip, hampered only by my inability to cast well to good shots. I got slightly better, learned a few things, but frustrated myself far too often to enjoy the shots I missed. I also paid close attention to my boat mates, most of them also beginners or at least casual bonefishers. 

The problem we all seemed to share? Buck fever. Stage fright. Cranial-anal inversion on the bow of the flats boat. We knew what to do. We steadfastly refused do it. 

I’ve no cure. But there’s an approach that helps me and so I pass it along to anyone else who’s blown a close shot downwind at a tailing bonefish waving a sign that says ‘feed me’ and you can’t get the fly into the same zip code. 

In the Notes app on my iPhone I have a list of do-this-dummy guidelines I read every morning before I go out. And then try to remember and use on the water. As follows… 

“Fish coming, twelve o’clock, sixty feet going left”

Take your time
Don’t rush it
Curb your enthusiasm
Relax a bit and take charge of the situation
Control the cast

Slow! Smooth! Deliberate!
Let the fish get closer before you cast
Load the rod
Snap your wrist
Use the wind
Double haul
Line speed Line speed Line speed
One less false cast
Important! Keep your rhythm — do not over-drive the final cast to the fish
Control the fly

Rod tip in the water pointing down the line
No slack! No slack in the line!

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Putting Your Rod Tip In The Water Can Be A Game Changer

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Big fish often hold a PhD in fly selection and presentation, but any experienced angler can tell you that getting them to eat your fly is only half the battle. Getting them to the net is another thing. Most anglers do not land the first really big fish they hook. Often they don’t land the first several. Much is written about feeding big fish and far too little about what comes next. Generally speaking anglers learn to land big, strong fish the way I did, by losing a few.

Fighting a tough fish is not just a show of force. It’s a game of strategy, but also of tactics. It’s problem solving. The fish creates problems and you have to solve them. There are two such fish problems that can be solved by the simple tactic of putting your rod tip in the water.

The big downstream run
When a strong fish runs hard downstream too quickly for you to follow, you find yourself at a disadvantage. With the fish directly downstream, the angle of the hook in the fish’s mouth is perilous. Any thrashing or head shaking on the part of the fish can easily result in a long distance release. If you are unable to get downstream and establish a better angle to the fish you are left with only one choice, bring the fish to you. But how?

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Focusing on the positive has changed the course of my life. 

Regardless of how small or large positive moments are, they perpetuate the existence of hope and joy in the lives of people.  In an effort to help keep this optimistic momentum moving, I’ve started “Flies4Friends”.  

During the month of February, I’ll be tying flies and sending them to my friends.  My hope is that when they receive them in the mail, it will bring a smile to their face and joy to their hearts.  On Instagram, I’ll be taking pictures of those flies and using the hashtag #Flies4Friends to encourage other people to do the same.  If you’re a tier or a buyer, I would urge you to join me by sending or giving at least one dozen flies to a friend this month.   Give them with no expectations of reciprocation, only with the knowledge that you’ll be bringing joy to another person.  

Regardless of where we exist in this world, we always have the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  As fly fishers, we have a wonderful means to connect with people who love what we do.  This month, let’s use that connection to give to them instead of ourselves and in the process, make the world a more positive place.  


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4 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Chasing Musky on the Fly

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Today’s guest post was provided by Charlie Murphy, a long time member of Gink & Gasoline and musky devotee.

For those of you who don’t know Charlie, he’s as laid back as they come, he eats, sleeps and breaths fishing 365 days a year, and he’s always got your back when you need him. Another thing we love about Charlie is he’s constantly finding ways to add humor into every situation. All these qualities make Charlie a great travel and fishing partner and if you ever have the chance to fish with him, we highly recommend it. That’s enough introduction, read below Charlie’s humorous but true correlation between the old school movie The Karate Kid, the character Mr. Miyagi, and fly fishing for musky.

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Bruce Chard’s Double Haul Drill

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3 Great Videos!

Today begins a special five part video tutorial on building blinding line speed.

Line speed is the most important component in successful salt water fly fishing. There’s plenty of finesse involved but line speed is the cost of admission. If you can’t build the speed you need, you can’t catch the fish you want.

My good friend Bruce Chard is a certified master casting instructor and a truly inspiring caster. The first time, hell the first hundred times, I saw Bruce unload my jaw dropped. It’s humbling to watch what this guy can do with a fly rod. Bruce has a rare blend of skills. The technical know how of an engineer and the physical prowess of an athlete. With that in mind I asked him to help me create a set of videos that can take you from beginner to rock star. We’re calling it the Ultimate Line Speed Series. There’s a lot to cover but we’re starting here with everything you need to know about line speed.

We’re going to start slow, with the double haul. The basic building block of a dynamic cast. By day five we will be into some seriously advanced technique that is going to

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Trust The Boo

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I’ve fished bamboo rods my whole life and I’ve made my own for the last twelve years or so.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I was afraid to fight big fish on a bamboo rod. The answer is no. I’ve broken my share of rods but only once did I break one fighting a fish and that was totally my fault. I’ve landed more fish over twenty inches on bamboo than I can count, a few pushing thirty. The two fish pictured were both landed on a seven foot four weight. The tip on that rod measures only thirty thousandths of an inch in diameter but it handled those monsters just fine.

A 27″ Hen and a 28″ Male Both Landed on the 4 Weight

Bamboo is a remarkable material. When properly heat treated it has amazing strength. Traditional Japanese carpenters use bamboo nails cooked in a wok and high rise construction all over Asia is done on bamboo scaffolding. Do bamboo rods break? Of course they do but a well made rod is much stronger than you would guess and if properly handled and cared for it will take whatever a fish can dish out. I’ve heard it said that fisherman break rods, not fish, and I think that’s true. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to keep that cane rod fishing for many years.

• Treat it right. Bamboo doesn’t take a lot of maintenance but there are some things you should think about. Rot is a death sentence for a cane rod. Rod makers spend a lot of time on their finish and it can last a lifetime but it’s not bulletproof. Never put a rod away wet. This is the most common mistake guys make with their rods. When you put a rod in a tube with an o ring seal any moisture on that rod or it’s sock is in there until you open the tube again. That gives moisture plenty of time to work through the finish and into the wood. I set mine out on the mantle in the sock overnight before storing them. The second big finish mistake is leaving the rod in a hot car. If you leave that rod tube in the sun in a hot car the finish will bubble and no longer protect the cane. If you have to leave a rod in the car keep it in the shade and take the cap off for ventilation.

• Ovoid physical traumas. A bamboo rod will bend like grass in the wind. What will break it is sudden physical trauma. For example, trying to rip a fly out of tree leaves with a brisk casting stroke, as I watched a good friend do with my rod once, works every time. Running the tip headlong into a tree while hiking in doesn’t help. Hitting the rod with

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New Recon Fly Rods from Orvis

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The awesome Recon rod line is back, new and improved.

The Recon rods from Orvis have always been an incredible bargain. Truly a premium fly rod at a budget price. The new Recons are all new with updated materials and tapers, increased hoop strength and straighter tracking.


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Argentina Dream Stream

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Watch the Video!

I can’t think of anything better than stalking big trout in Argentina.

There is something other-worldly about fly fishing in Argentina. It’s at once so familiar and yet so strikingly different. The fish are big and optimistic, and the angling pressure almost non existent. Condors soar above, llamas lounge on the banks, and bid trout feed at your feet. What more do you need?

I’ll be hosting a trip to Argentina in Feb of 2018. We will spend four days on the Limay river in Argentine Patagonia and four days chasing golden dorado on the Upper Parana. There are still a few spots open. If you’d like to see this fly-fishing paradise for yourself, send me an email at


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Forget The Wind: Tips for Fly Casting in the Wind

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By Louis Cahill

Fly casting in the wind is just fly casting…in the wind.

“Ok, so I’m in my ready position, and the wind is blowing on my right side…”

The question came from an angler at this year’s January Bonefish School. I didn’t need to hear any more of it.

“I’ll stop you right there,” I replied, “The answer is, stop thinking about the wind.”

I vividly remember being in that mindset. Freaked out about the wind, overthinking stuff that had nothing to do with getting the fly in front of the fish, rushing my cast and melting down on the bow. It’s a terrible feeling. I see other anglers give up completely, either on the bow or back at the lodge with a book. The fact is, is you are going to fish saltwater, you’re going to have to cast in the wind and the sooner you make piece with it, the more fish you’ll catch.

I get asked all the time how to cast in the wind. Maybe more than I get asked anything else. Here’s the answer. There’s a secret to casting a fly rod in the wind. From the looks I get when I tell folks, I’m guessing it’s a well kept secret. The secret is, you cast exactly like you cast when there’s no wind.

The techniques for casting a fly in the wind are exactly the same as casting on a calm day. The difference is that the wind does not forgive poor technique. Sure, there are some helpful tricks you can use, like a Belgian Cast when the wind is off your casting shoulder, but that’s specialized stuff and if you are struggling with the wind, it isn’t really an answer. If you are struggling with the fundamentals of the cast, advanced technique you haven’t practiced is’t going to help any more than striking a Bruce Lee pose in a bar fight. You’re likely just going to get your ass kicked extra hard.

The most helpful thing you can do on a windy day is forget about the wind.

For most anglers the problem isn’t that they don’t know how to cast in the wind, but when the wind blows, they forget hoe to cast. This is the voice of experience. I was in that camp for years. I remember when the light finally turned on. It was a revelation. Casting in the wind is just casting without losing your composure.

Disclaimer: If you don’t understand the fundamentals of the fly cast, well, you need to. You can’t Zen away ignorance. Start with The 5 Essentials Of A Good Fly Cast Revisited, and practice. For those of you who can make a nice cast when it’s calm but fall apart in the wind, here are some practice tips.


Don’t rush your cast

Most angler try to generate line speed in the wind by casting harder. Usually the first thing to suffer, or disappear all together, is the pause at the end of the stroke. Your fly line is weighted to load the rod. If you don’t let it straighten out, you can’t get a good load and you have no power in the cast.

Don’t drop your rod tip

The other effect of casting harder is usually dropping the rod tip. In an effort to make a longer stroke the rod tip comes off a straight line path, causing the line to crash down on the water and the leader to pile up.

Stop the rod hard and high

The stop at the end of the stroke is what forms the loop. Stopping the rod high and hard makes a tight energized loop that cuts the wind.

Keep the rod in the stopped position

Most anglers drop the rod too early on their presentation. In general,

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