Spey Casting With The Non-Dominant Hand on Top

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By Jeff Hickman

SOMETIMES YOU LEARN SOMETHING VALUABLE COMPLEETLY BY ACCIDENT.
Last Summer I was on the phone with a good friend and regular client catching up. He was bummed to not be able to fish during his favorite Fall season due to a major shoulder surgery he had on his dominant right shoulder a few months previous. Extensive physical therapy was helping but he still had a lot of pain and his doctor suggested he hold off on fishing for several more months. Being the steelhead addict that he is, I knew that taking the season off would not be good for his mental health. So I told him to come out for a three day Deschutes camp trip and I would teach him to cast left handed which would give his right shoulder a much easier job.

He, like many guys that I fish with, had learned to Spey cast back in the days of the 14ft 9weight and Windcutter with unnecessary cheaters. This era of Spey fishing engrained many with a fast, erratic and borderline violent muscle memory. He had always struggled to sweep and cast slow enough for the modern short Scandinavian and Skagit heads to work properly. With his right hand on top, his fly needed frequent removal from the bushes behind him despite my nearly constant pleas for him to slow down.

So when he showed up for his trip he remained skeptical that he could learn to fish left handed or effectively fish without hurting his shoulder. But I made it very clear that he was to only fish left handed and he was not allowed to risk further injury by putting his right hand on top while casting. For backup, I claimed that his doctor had called me to make sure of this.

With no muscle memory with his left hand on top, I started my instruction from the ground up, walking him through the most important casting steps

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Cuda Up in My Grill

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JUST SO EVERYONE KNOWS I’M SUPER PROUD OF MY NEW SLIM AND TRIM STATUS.

Louis has been on me a while now to drop some serious LB’s. I’ve really been stacking them on from my wife’s fantastic cooking. He says there’s a reason he doesn’t take photos of me anymore, and I really can’t blame him 🙂

Unfortunately, I’ve not lost the weight in reality. I ran across these two photos from four years ago, fishing down in the Florida Keys with Capt. Joel Dickey. He guided me to this behemoth barracuda on the fly. To this date, it’s probably one of my most memorable saltwater moments I’ve experienced on the flats. The take and battle were epic, particularly since my arms were already complete jello from the prior twenty minutes of stripping hand over fist as fast my arms would go.

Numerous barracuda prior had given us promising chases but as they so often do, they let off the gas and lose interest at the last second. About the time I was ready to yell uncle, Joel shouted in his famous southern accent, “DUDE, look at that giant cuda at two 0’clock”. I some how managed to lay out a good cast, and I was about five strips into my retrieve when this guy hammered the fly and took off faster than I’ve ever witnessed a fish swim. That’s when the “shit hit the fan”.

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6 Proven Winter Dry Fly Patterns

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Nothing allows me to forget about the cold temperatures of winter quicker, than spotting the surface rings from trout feeding on Midges or Blue Winged Olives. It’s not an everyday occurrence by any means, but when it happens, it feels like someone turns the heat up a few notches, and I’m instantly warmed head to toe. When we think about hitting trout water during the winter months, most of us don’t typically think about fishing dry flies. It’s true that day in and day out, most anglers will find their nymphs and streamers to be much more productive, but every once in a while, when luck is on our side, we can find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a winter hatch, with trout rising all around us. It’s during these special two hour windows of trout fishing, that the winter can provide us some of the most rewarding catches of the year. That is, of course, if we decided to bet against the odds, and pack our dry fly box.

I’ll gladly give up catching numbers of fish during the winter, in exchange for taking a handful of fish on the surface with tiny dry flies. The trout don’t even have to be all that big either. They just need to give me a pretty rise and tug my line a few good times. I guess a lot of it has to do with the fact that I believe hatches in the dead of winter, are like rare gifts handed down from above. Gifts that should always be full appreciated by the fly angler, otherwise they may decide to not show up again until spring. Late morning through the afternoon is the time of the day when I find midge and blue winged olive hatches to appear the most, and it’s often the bitter cold days with drizzling rain or snow flurries when the hatch decides to show up. Below are six proven winter dry flies and emergers that have served me well over the years. All you need to do is downsize your tippet and rig them up, with a standard dry fly/dropper rig.

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Isonychia Nymph Patterns – 4 Proven Imitations

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The Isonychia Nymph is a pattern that should be carried in the fly box of every traveling fly angler. Although these aquatic mayflies do not inhabit all streams in great density, where they are found in abundance, they are shown great favoritism by foraging trout who will often key in on them exclusively. The Isonychia usually hatches during the summer months, with some locations in the United States and abroad, returning a second time during the fall season.

These beautiful mayfly nymphs are olympic class swimmers, and fly tiers should try to tie their Isonychia fly imitations with materials that breath and move naturally in the water to mimic this trait. Furthermore, twitching and swinging Isonychia nymph patterns during the drift, is highly suggested to help attract attention and trigger strikes by trout. The light colored stripe, that runs down the back of most Ishonychia nymphs, is the most recognizable feature that tips fly anglers off to the correct classification of these nymphs. That being said, not all species carry the white stripe in such flamboyancy, so it’s best to sample your local streams and rivers when tying your own imitations.

Below are 4 Isonychia nymph patterns that I’ve used in the past with great results. Most Isonychia nymphs measure in the size 10-12 hook range, but most fly fisherman agree it’s always a good idea to stock a couple different sizes in your Isonychia fly patterns to help insure you’ll be able to accurately match the bugs on the waters that you may find while fly fishing.

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10 Inexpensive Fly Fishing Life Hacks From The Home Depot

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By Louis Cahill

EVERYONE WANTS THEIR LIFE TO BE EASIER AND EVERYONE LIKES TO SAVE MONEY.

Here are 10 handy and inexpensive items you can repurpose to accomplish both. You can pick all of them up at the local Home Depot or order them online. I’ll supply links to each. Some of them are so obvious you’re probably using them already, but I guarantee there’s at least one thing on the list that you haven’t thought of and will love.

TOOL HOLSTER $10

This tool holster by McGuire Nicholas is made for a tool belt but is right at home when clipped to the edge of a drift boat or boat bag. It holds all of your frequently used fishing tools and supplies and can be easily moved around the boat so your stuff is always handy. There are endless variations so it will be easy to find one to hold whatever you need. I outfitted mine with a superintendent’s keychain for my nippers.

ANCHOR KEEPER $3

This oversized carabiner is made by Husky for drop chords. It’s the easiest way I’ve found to handle a boat anchor. You can clip it into the anchor ring and carry it easily by the padded rubber handle. The real benefit cones when you get to the car. If you drive an SUV like I do, having an anchor in the truck is a real hazard. If you crash, that hunk of metal is coming up to the front seat in a hurry. Use the Husky carabiner to secure it to a seat belt or tie down and you’re rolling safe.

EASY DRY ZIP POCKET ORGANIZERS $7

These handy zippered pouches from Husky can be used to keep up with anything. I really like them for Spey heads. The mesh panels allow the contents to dry quickly and you can see what’s inside without opening the zipper. A tab with a grommet allows them to be stacked on a carabiner.

FLY TYING TRAVEL BAG $38

This canvas tool bag, made by Husky, is great for taking your tying kit on road trips. It will hold a ton of feathers and fur as well as your hooks, tools and leader material. It has handy pockets for special items like the Clear Cure UV flashlight.

GOPRO BOOM $19

This five foot painters pole, made by Shur-Line is the bomb for shooting fishing photos and video with the GoPro. It collapses to about two feet and extends effortlessly. Submerging it in water doesn’t hurt it so go for the underwater shot or the overhead. A GoPro mount is easy to attach via a 1/4-20 bolt.

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A Year Fishing The Everglades Special, Half Way Through A Bad Decision

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By Paul Pucket

FISHING WISE, I HAVE NEVER HAD A YEAR LIKE THIS ONE.

I am fishing in places I have never fished and feel very lucky to have the opportunities. The main difference between this year, and the prior years spent chasing these mindless, slimy, instinctual creatures, is that I am limited to one fly. All year. The Everglades Special.

I have now reached the halfway mark, and have a few thoughts about this adventure. Working in the Lowcountry Flyshop in Charleston, I have heard a few people discuss the idea that you could use the Everglades Special for any species of fish, especially the redfish that swim in our parts. So I took on the challenge, without really even thinking it through, and here I am, with one flybox containing a single pattern.

My first few would-be angling conquests were big goose-eggs. Winter here in Charleston means slow, lethargic, picky reds. It also means clear water and huge wads of fish. The fishing can be really great.

Winter was cold here. I chose my fishing days wisely. Well, as wisely as I could, not having a boat and depending on friends to get me out. One day in early March, with Harry Tomlinson and Doug Roland, I got my first redfish on the Everglades Special. If felt good, like I’d accomplished something. I’d caught a largemouth bass a few days before, so now I had scored two species. I fished a few more times in February and March. A couple of fish were caught, nothing out of the ordinary, but I had my eyes on the biggest test I would face all year, a permit.

Looking past the permit for a second, down the line I had Florida tarpon, Utah trout, Alaska kings and rainbows, Tennessee carp and Jackson Hole trout. Maybe fall in Montana and definitely fall reds. A lot to accomplish, for me and my Everglades Special. As I read this back to myself, I’m thinking, I have the best year of fishing I may ever experience, all around this continent, and I am stuck with one damn fly! Wow, am I stupid?

So, back to the permit trip to Punta Allen’s Palometa Club. Not just permit, of course. Bones, snapper, and jacks –I’m counting these species too. Stick to the plan, that was the only plan. I had tied some small versions of the Everglades Special for bones and snapper on a size six hook and also had tied a weighted version to get down quick. I figured if I was gonna use this fly for permit, I could find a loophole. Nobody said I couldn’t.

Imagine having to explain to your Mexican/Mayan permit guide that you can only use one fly. They do speak pretty good English. Think about how stupid you must sound, coming all the way here to fish for the hardest fish you can get to eat a fly, and you have a baitfish pattern, with dumbbell weight eyes, meant to mimic a crab but looks like a baitfish. Dumb.

The first day, I had this weighted Everglades Special. in front of a few fish. They never really gave it a second look. After all I had heard about permit fishing, this sounded normal. I never flinched, never thought about defeat. On day two, we saw a little more action, right out of the gate.

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C&R Tips & Gear for Musky & Other Toothy Critters

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I’ll never forget the first musky I landed on fly.

It was an extremely proud moment for me, but it quickly turned into a stressful situation after I got the musky to the boat. I had serious problems removing the deeply hooked fly. The musky had its mouth slammed shut and would not open it more than a couple seconds at a time. After a few minutes without making any progress, I became desperate, and used my hand to pry the mouth open (dumb I know, but the health of the fish was more important to me) and I ended up badly cutting my hand on the razor sharp teeth. The entire hook removal process took far too long, and that made it extremely difficult for us to revive and release the fish. It was an organized team effort to say the least. I held the fish in the water, Louis stabilized the net, and Murphy ran the trolling motor upstream to keep water running over the gills until we got the musky green again. Talk about a bummer that ended up overshadowing a proud angling moment. That’s not how I wanted my first catch and release of a musky to go down.

If you’re planning on going fly fishing for musky or any other toothy critters for the first time, I highly encourage you to read over these organized catch and release handling tips and gear recommendations. They’ll keep you and the fish safe, and you’ll greatly decrease the chances of ruining a great moment on the water like I did.

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Know Your Lines

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John Byron, AKA The Bonefish Beginner

“Lines are very difficult to learn.”- Benedict Cumberbatch

“It’s nice when someone knows their lines.”- Ed Norton

“Because I don’t know my lines, I really don’t know what I’m doing.”- Christopher Walken

Who knew these guys fished the flats? 

WELL OKAY, MAYBE THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE. BUT IF THE TOPIC WERE SALTWATER FLY FISHING, THEY’D BE SAYING SOMETHING VERY WISE.

The starting point, the big decision point in selecting gear for the salt chuck is the size category of the outfit. Eleven- or twelve weights for tarpon and GTs. Nine or ten for permit. Seven-weight through nine for bonefish — maybe even a six-weight if it’s super calm or you want to show off. 

And then, having selected the perfect flyrod in the most desirable weight and a truly magnificent reel to complement it, typically the last step is to buy some random flyline the same size as the number on the rod butt. Apply keen selection criteria like it’s cheap or I like the color or the sales guy talked me into it and you’re ready to go.

Right? 

Wrong.

YES, ROD AND REEL ARE SIGNIFICANT, BUT I’VE COME TO BELIEVE THAT THE RIGHT FLYLINE IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT: 

Short shots at bonefish, heavy winds, big flies for big fish? You want a line that’s got its weight up front, one that loads the rod quickly and punches the fly out there. A Rio Quickshooter or Airflo Tropical Punch. 
Spooky spooky fish, long casts, calm winds? You want a line that will carry the cast and not collapse on you when you’re working beyond the punch point of those front-loaded lines. Average/moderate/medium lines from Scientific Angler or Orvis or any of the rest of reputable line makers who offer special lines for the salt. 
For all lines — the front-end-loaders, the lighter-longer classic fly lines, and everything in between — the ultimate description lies in the line profile, worth studying and understanding for all the lines you might buy. 

Fishing the tropics, you need a tropical line, one with enough stiffness that it’s not an overcooked noodle in the sunshine. Stripers and albies? A cold-water line with enough flexibility to be castable even when it’s downright chilly. 
Check the line coating too. Some lines sing going through the guides and you’ll either like that or not. Some cast farther for being super slick. Some just feel better than others. What matters is what suits you.
Colors too: can you see the line on the water? White and light blue are hi-viz. International orange even more so. But will it spook the fish? That’s one more thing to decide. 
And then there’s the question of

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In Defense of Trout, Where I Belong

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YOU HEAR IT IN THE WAY THE FLATS GUYS SAY “TROUT SET,”

and in the way steelheaders say, “I don’t fish for trout.” I’ve heard carp guys call them “trash fish.” Bass guys just call them, “bait.” In some circles it borders on contempt.

Where did this come from?

How did it happen?

When did trout stop being cool?

I’ll throw a fly at just about anything that swims. “Hey Homie, we got poons,” is all I have to hear to put my ass in the drivers seat of the Subaru for sixteen hours any day of the year. Stripers, bones, musky, snook, bass, cuda, carp, shark. I’ll fish for catfish if you give me enough to drink but if you told me tomorrow that I could only do one kind of fishing for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t even have to stop and think. Trout! I bare no shame for it.

Yet, among the hip fly fishing crowd, that’s less and less the case. Some how, in the never ending quest to be cooler than the next guy the trout has lost favor. Even though it is the trout who

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Improving Fly Tying Efficiency  

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By Bob Reece

Many beginner and novice tiers that I’ve talked to equate improved efficiency at the vise with rushing through the tying process. While applying the techniques below can speed up pattern creation, that result is not their sole purpose. The main focus of these tips is to help tiers get the most out of whatever amount of time they do spend behind the vise.

Material Prep Work

Some patterns require very little in terms of prepping materials. Others, however, involve shaping foam bodies, knotting rubber legs, cutting wing cases or beading hooks. For these flies it is highly beneficial to prepare the materials in bulk before you start tying. When I tie foam terrestrials, I cut all of my foam bodies and the knot rubber legs that I might need. With bead head nymphs, I bead all hooks that I’ll be using as well as cutting any strips of material that I’ll be using for wing cases. If all of your materials are fully prepped before you start tying, you’ll be able to create a larger number of flies in a shorter amount of time. Prepping your materials in mass also increases the consistency and subsequent quality of the bugs that you’ll be offering up to your favorite fish.

Hook/Bead Storage

Hooks and beads can be two of the hardest materials to handle and keep track of on the surface of a tying table. Hooks of all sizes can easily be brushed under other materials or into the abyss of carpet fibers that sit below some of our tying platforms. Beads are also shifty and hard to handle once they leave the confines of their plastic packaging. To prevent these happenings, I store all of my beads and hooks in plastic compartmented organizers like the one in the picture above. The clip down lids of these containers ensure that nothing escapes. Each compartment also has a curved bottom which makes it easy to retrieve the desired items. The containers that I use can be purchased in the sewing section of Walmart for less than two dollars apiece.

Pattern Material Kits

How materials are stored matters in terms of efficiency. I use plastic organizers, like the one pictured above, to create material kits for all of the patterns that I tie. Always knowing where specific ingredients are saves a tier the time of searching though bins, drawers and baskets. This type of setup also

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