The Good Old Days Are Back

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By Louis Cahill

I thought maybe you could use a little good news for Christmas.

Fly anglers have become pretty used to bad news where fisheries and conservation are concerned. It seems everywhere you look fisheries are in decline. From steelhead rivers in the Pacific North West to the Florida Everglades and a host of great water in-between, as well as many fisheries around the globe. It’s easy to believe we are watching the inevitable decline of fishing as we know it.

I’m not always so positive about it myself. I have said many times that I feel fortunate to experience the outdoors in a way that future generations will likely not. I don’t know if you can call that pessimistic. It’s a glass half full outlook, but it’s still only half a glass. At any rate, the last year has given me cause for hope. I am actually watching a fishery get better and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I’m speaking specifically of South Andros in the Bahamas. South Andros is kind of my home water. I’ll fish there five weeks this season and I can’t say I spend that many days a year on the river that runs by my house. It has been my favorite place to fish for over a decade and in the last twelve months I’ve seen a change.

It has been an incredible big fish season for bonefish. I can’t remember a time in ten years when I have seen as many seven to ten pound fish on the flats. I was there with a group just this month and it seemed that someone landed a fish in that range every day. Even me. In fact, earlier in the year, I hooked the biggest bonefish I’ve ever seen. We got a good look at it, even though I didn’t land it. My guide estimated it at fifteen pounds. 

Permit sighting are up as well. South Andros is not thought of as a permit fishery but

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Checking Your Attitude

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Tom lives in Virginia. Too far away for us to fish together often but too close to have a good excuse.

He is an avid fisherman and a talented photographer. He and I have much in common. Our conversations may start off on motorcycles or politics but they usually end on fishing. I have often said that we are brothers, separated by a common hobby. Like brothers who marry sisters, Tom fell in love with bass and I with trout. I walked off up some mountain stream and he sped off at seventy mph across the lake.

The other day Tom left this comment to a post on G&G. It left me wondering why I’m the one with the fishing blog.


“Of all the cash we spend to catch a fish the biggest element is free. Years ago on one of those frustrating days my friend Rodney put it quite simply. Just as I was about to cast he asked ‘Are you going to catch one this cast?’ I responded with ‘Probably not!’ Rodney: ‘Then why don’t you just stand there until you are.”

“Now if you see me on the deck of my bass boat you may see me checking my line, checking my knot or checking my drag, but if I look like I’m just standing there staring a hole in the water, I’m checking my attitude.”

That’s Tom all over. Contemplative in the face of adversity. A talented

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4 Tips to Get You Roll Casting Like a Pro

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A solid roll cast is every angler’s best friend, here’s how to improve yours.

You’ve just spotted a big head break the surface on the far bank, gulping down a struggling mayfly drifting in the foam. The excitement of discovering the trophy trout feeding triggers your body’s adrenaline glands, and almost instantly, you feel your heart begin to pound, thump thump….thump thump. With the confined quarters and lacking room for a back cast, you realize your only viable option to reach the fish is going to be with an accurate roll cast. As you quickly try to present your mayfly imitation in the feeding lane, hoping that the big fish will mistake it for a natural, your fly shoots left of your intended target and lands in an overhanging branch above the fish’s lie, immediately putting down the big fish. With the fishing opportunity blown and the disappointment setting in, you find yourself asking, “What did I do wrong?”

As an avid small stream trout fisherman, I’ve lived out this exact situation many times, and felt the disappointment followed by a poorly executed roll cast. It wasn’t until I took the time to understand and learn the mechanics of proper roll casting, that I began finding myself capitalizing on fishing situations that called for precise roll casting. Looking back now on my past roll casting insufficiency, it’s clear I wasn’t at all, alone. There’s many anglers that struggle with roll casting, and that’s why I’ve decided to provide a short list of tips that’s intended to get anglers roll casting like pros.


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Winter Carp

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Let’s start here. Like every other preconception about the common carp, the notion that this is a warm water fish is patently false.

I’ve caught them every month of the year. In South Dakota. I’ve caught them, in numbers, while it snowed. I’ve caught them in wild places, uninfluenced by warm water discharges, bottom release dams or power plants. I’ve watched them feed under ice shelves, tail next to snow banks and crawl with their backs exposed in the only open water for a mile. As McTage Tanner once wrote and often preaches: Next to trout, there is no better flyrod target in the winter than carp.

Carp are known for their ability to tolerate extreme water temperatures. For some reason, we’ve equated that with a high survival rate in extraordinarily hot water. But the opposite is also true. Carp not only tolerate, but thrive in cold water environments. That is to say, they can and do actively feed in cold water just like they do in hot. Research suggests that they begin feeding actively in water as cool at 40 degrees and continue to pick up metabolic steam as the temperature increases. That puts their active feeding range, at the low end, closer to that of the Northern Pike than the Largemouth Bass. An active feeding range that low means carp are a viable flyrod target throughout the winter for most of the country. For those not willing to hang up the rod for 7 months and tie flies until spring, here are a few tips for stalking large tailing fish in shallow water during cold weather.

Look for moving water. River or stream fishing for carp is an extremely exciting proposition any time of year. Large fish in small water makes for challenging fights and wonderful sight fishing. Never is this more true than in the winter. Moving water allows an angler opportunities to find more addressable carp more often for a few reasons. First, moving water tends to stay open longer than still water. While the lakes are frozen, a swift small stream may be open; obviously a requirement for flyfishing. More importantly, carp that live in a small river or stream are confined to that relatively shallow water year round. When warmer, deep water is available, the carp will head there during low water temps. But in confined spaces, the carp will thrive wherever they live. To be clear, they will still congregate in the deepest pools on the stream just like any fish, but they will head for the shallows earlier and more often in small spaces.

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Fly Fishing: Belly Crawling My Way to Big Beautiful Trout

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I know what you’re probably thinking, “Come on Kent, you wrote another freaking post about the importance of stealth for spooky trout? Yes, I did, but this isn’t your average stealth post. Most of us already know spooky trout require anglers to move slow and quietly. We understand how important it is to pay attention to our shadows, to work fish with our leader and fly only, and that delicate presentations are critical. Last, but not least, we’re smart enough to realize that even when luck is on our side, all we’re probably going to get is a couple good shots before the game is over.

Most of the time, if we maintain our stealth in all of the above areas, catching trout isn’t a problem. But from time to time, we do find ourselves on trout streams, when fly fishing conditions are so damn challenging that our standard everyday stealth tactics aren’t enough to get the job done. In order for us to find success in the toughest of conditions, we have to be willing to push our stealth efforts a step further. And that means going above and beyond what other anglers are too lazy or physically unable to do to catch trout. That’s right, I’m talking about dropping to the ground, and crawling on all fours into position to make a cast.

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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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RS2 – One of My Favorite Picky Trout Fly Patterns

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There’s days when trout fishing is so slow, it seems like conditions couldn’t possibly get any worse.

You may find yourself questioning if any trout in the stream are willing to feed at all. At other times, you’ll have no problem locating pods of steady risers, but everything you throw at them is rejected. My buddy Brad in this situation usually volunteers to row the boat, opting for cold beer within arms distance and gazing at picturesque landscapes. The dude always has a Plan B ready to be put into action, ensuring he always has a good time on the water whether he catches fish or just a buzz, and I respect that.

The RS2 fly pattern time and time again never fails to produce for me during tough fishing situations. And it really has the ability to catch fish just about any way you fish it. Fish it solo on fine tippet to wary sippers and you’ll fool a couple guaranteed. Drop it off the back of a larger and more visible dry fly if you’re having problems seeing it, and it will ride in the film, usually fooling fish on even the most technical trout water. I even have great luck fishing an RS2 as my dropper fly in a

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Dealing With Stuck Ferrules The Right Way

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Here’s the best way to separate stuck ferrules on a fly rod.

Ferrules stick. It’s a fact of life and when pulling them apart you can break a rod if you’re not careful. I learned this trick from an old friend and skilled bamboo rod maker, Gary Lacey. With the help of a friend you can separate those stuck ferrules in a second with no risk to you rod.


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Louis’s Saltwater Casting Drill

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There’s no debate, practicing your casting makes you a more effective angler.

But all practice is not created equal. Simply heading down to the park and hucking as much line as possible doesn’t accomplish much. A while back we published a practice routine recommended by Tim Rajeff. If you haven’t seen that video, you should check it out. Any angler can benefit from Tim’s practice plan.

Today I’m going to add my own casting drill. This is a saltwater specific drill that works on a couple of techniques commonly used in saltwater fly fishing. It simulates making three presentations to a moving fish and it requires several tasks at once.

I lay out 3 hula-hoops in a line. The first at 40 feet, the next at 60 feet and the last at 80 feet. If you can’t cast 80 feet just shorten the gaps and work with the cast you have. I then step to the side so the three rings appear as a diagonal line. Starting in my ready position, I cast to the first ring, then pick up the line and cast to the second ring, and then the third. I do all of this with no false casting.

Don’t stress out about hitting the center of the rings. Your accuracy will improve with practice. Work on making the presentations efficiently without false casting, by shooting your line to the target. Pick the line up slow and smooth so your fly will not make noise and spook the fish. Work on making the three casts as quickly and accurately as possible.

I like this drill because it teaches several techniques in a realistic fishing scenario. If you can hit those three targets quietly in 10 seconds or less you’re going to do well on the water. It’s easier than it sounds. Just stay focused and keep practicing.

For the gear-heads, I’m casting the new

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The UV Chocolate

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Watch The Video

Often days when the midge bite is at its best nothing much else seems to be happening hatch wise. That’s an important reason to know your midges. They can make the difference between catching a lot of fish or no fish.

It’s not uncommon to see great midge hatches on cold overcast days when other bugs stay home. The great thing about the UV Chocolate is that these are the conditions where it shines. No really, it shines. The the UV ice dub wing, which already reacts to UV light is also treated with Spectrum Responce for extra highlighting.

Trout’s eyes are highly sensitive to UV light and they use that sensitivity to find food on dark days or when water clarity is low. This flys highly reflective UV profile makes it a great tool on overcast days when midges are present.

Watch the video and learn to tie the UV Chocolate.

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