Bait Dunkin’ to Lure Chuckin’ to Fly Floatin’

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By: Alice Tesar

You could say that a desire to be a trout bum was in his blood, but you’d be ignoring the fact that Tim Widmer has found his own drift. What was in his family, specifically with his dad, was a desire to live a life that allowed for living off the land and being able to enjoy wild places. Tim’s dad never stopped dreaming of a life of living and exploring. Widmer recalls a time when his dad killed, skinned, tanned, and proceeded to sew his own clothes from an elk that the then-municipal employee had hunted, “he was doing bead work on the garments.” This intention is something Tim reflects on in times of life’s transitions. Tim credits his dad for making fly fishing into a career. You may remember Tim from “A Conversation with Fly Tier Tim Widmer” in 2014 but today we’re going to take a closer look at what it takes to be a guide, the value of mentors, and  the “natural progression” of an angler.

As a small kid growing up in Estes Park, then “Timmy’s” dad worked for the city and would come home for lunch. After they ate together Timmy would go back to work with his dad and spend the afternoons fishing the ponds behind the office — “Bait dunkin” for browns.  As he grew older, he started “lure chucking” along the Big Thompson with friends, they loved the wildness and the ease at which they’d catch fish. On an unlikely day where Timmy and his friend had been skunked, they headed back to their homes, along the way they encountered an old timer with a fly rod. They watched as he proceeded to catch six quality trout out of one hole. In awe they retreated. True to his father’s character instead of buying Timmy casting lessons, his dad bought him lessons to build a fly rod. Every day after track practice, Timmy would swing by Estes Anglers and sit with the owner and learned to build his first fly rod. Years following this, Timmy proceeded to cast this fly rod like a spin rod. He’d throw out the line and drag the dry fly in, like he’d known to do with a lure. Eventually the guides at the fly shop gave him some pointers on a better cast and some tips for fishing the Big T and lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

This is the part where “Timmy” becomes “Tim.”

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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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Unhook Thyself! Safe, Painless Hook Removal

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There are two kinds of fishermen. The ones who have hooked themselves and the ones who are about to. It’s a bad feeling the first time you put a big streamer hook in yourself past the barb. You feel pretty helpless if you don’t know how to handle it. I’ve done it many times and I’m here to tell you that there is an easy, and even painless, way to get that hook out. As a veteran guide Kent has had to do it plenty and he’s a master. He’s taken hooks out of clients without them even knowing it was done.

We’ve been wanting to do this video for some time. We kept waiting for one of us to get hooked but it hasn’t happened so on a recent float on the South Holston with the guys from Southern Culture on the Fly and Bent Rod Media I decided to take things in hand and hook myself so we could show you how to deal with it. I have to say, it was harder to get that hook in past the barb than I thought. If you listen closely you can hear Dave Grossman of SCOF almost lose his lunch.

So watch and learn and please,

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Thank You God for the Terrestrial Season

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bout this time every year, when I’m starting to get run down from guiding, the terrestrial season arrives, and I’m blessed with a second wind. I’m always astonished at how the presence of terrestrials can make my familiar trout waters seem so fresh and new to me. Even after I’ve already spent hundreds of hours during the season drifting flies through the same riffles, runs and pools. Every day, I find myself more excited about fishing than the last, despite it being one of my busiest times of the year guiding. Thank God for the terrestrial season. I tip my hat to the creator, for he sure did a fine job of planning out the life cycle and timing of the terrestrial season. Yep, life is grand for the fly fisherman when the terrestrials are out. The water and air temperatures (at least where I live) are usually warm enough to leave those stinky waders at home, and the longer days allow us the luxury of staying on the water for a few extra hours.

Is it just me, or do trout seem to have the same look in their eyes as we do during the terrestrial season, pure addiction. I love the fact that it’s not the end of the world if we forget our strike indicators or split shot when the terrestrials are out. The trout often rise

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Tandem Streamer Rigs Catch More Trout

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There’s no doubt that Louis and I are both hardcore streamer junkies.

We never leave home without our streamer boxes packed full. One thing we do a little different from some streamer fishermen on the water is fish a streamer dropper rig. Quite often we’ll tie on a nymph dropper off the back of our big gaudy streamer to increase hookups. Big fish are smart, especially during the busy season when their getting pressured, and they can sometimes get a little gun shy eating big streamers. If you’re on the water and you’re getting a bunch of chases or short strikes on your streamer, try tying on a dropper nymph. It will serve two purposes. First, it will be less intimiating to spooky trout. Secondly, it will often tempt a trout to eat that has turned off your streamer at the last second.

Case in point, last year Louis and I were on the Madison River streamer fishing with very little luck. Instead of giving up on the streamer bite, Louis tied on a size 10 golden stonefly nymph dropper and began putting on a clinic. Every fish ate the golden stone like it was candy and he brought numerous twenty plus inch fish to the boat that day. Experiment with

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6 Reasons To Love And Fear The Barracuda

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By Louis Cahill

Every angler who catches a barracuda can’t wait to catch another, but if you aren’t a little afraid of these fish, you’re about to get bit.

I was fishing in the Bahamas with G&G videographer Charlie Murphy and I caught a nice ‘cuda about four feet long. Murphy is a dyed-in-the-wool musky fisherman and no stranger to toothy fish. When I got the fish to the boat he reached down with a handheld GoPro to get a closeup. Our guide caught him by the elbow.

“Don’t get your hand close to that thing,” he told Murphy.

“I’m not afraid of that fish,” Murphy answered.

“You should be,” I added. It wasn’t long before he realized that we were not dealing with a musky.

Barracuda are an awesome sport fish. Although they can be tough to catch on a fly, they are not a fish you pursue for the challenge of feeding. You cast to barracuda purely for the adrenaline rush. The barracuda in the Bahamas are the most fly friendly anywhere and I always carry a rod rigged with wire leader and a big fly so I can take a shot when a big boy shows up. I’m not a purist who thinks I’m above catching one of the most exciting fish on the flats.

I’ve written about ‘cuda fishing before, but that day on the boat with Murphy made me think. If I’m going to extol the virtues of the Barracuda as a sport fish, I should write a word of caution. As an advisory, I know of no more serious fish to land and handle. They can be more dangerous than sharks and if you’re going to put a hook in one, you’d better be prepared for what comes next.

I recommend ‘cuda fishing as a team sport. Having a friend—or better yet a guide—to help you land a big one is a real plus. Handling gloves are a great idea as well. You do not want this fish slipping out of your grasp. I very rarely cast to large cuda when wading. When they find they can’t run, they will often attack. If you do tie into a big one while on foot, it’s best to head for high ground.

Here are 6 reasons to love and fear the barracuda.

Unchecked aggression

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The Articulated Aggravator and Dubbing Loop Platen

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Watch the video!

By Herman deGala

As with most of the flies that I design I was trying to solve a problem when I created the Articulated Aggravator.

I was looking for a fly that was different from what I was already fishing for smallies, amongst the riprap of a dam. I needed something I could throw into the face of the dam, which would drop as it followed the face of the dam, where the smallies are often hunting in the rocks looking for juvenile crawdads.

I also wanted the fly to have a lot of movement as it was stripped. I have noticed that the crawdads are not just one color but have a variety colors such as olive, orange, rust and even touches of blue. I wanted the fly to have a variegated texture like the crawdads on these rocks.

I was also looking for a material that was relatively cheap and available. I always get turkey quills, pheasant rumps and pheasant tails from my hunting friends during the season. I have always admired Jerry French’s method for tying composite loops and his use of materials. I wanted to use these techniques but needed a way to scale it down for my target species.

The answer was a simple

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Farm Waters

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By Ethan Smith

If we want clean water we need to pay farmers to clean it up.

What? Yes, let’s pay farmers a premium over the current farm subsidy program to help keep our rivers clean! That sounds crazy right? Well it isn’t, let me explain.

The farm bill and its subsidies are currently clean water’s worst enemy. The farm subsidies began with their heart in the right place. They help save American farmers by guaranteeing their crops with insurance. So if something bad happens on the farm like a flood, the farmer still gets paid. I can support that as a concept, however every piece of legislation has some unintended consequences especially when there is finance involved.

In this case the unintended consequences of the farm bill and it’s crop guarantees is rivers with excessive silt contamination and high nutrient loading, leading to toxic algae blooms, poor fish habitat and crappy fishing.

So how does the farm bill lead to these poor fishing conditions?

Let’s say a farmer has some land in a floodplain that floods one out of three years. It wouldn’t make sense for him to plant that land under normal free market conditions because the profits from the two years of successful growth would be wiped out by his losses every third year when it floods. So in theory, he would most likely leave them as wetlands. But in our warped incentive world he doesn’t care because every third year when that part of his land floods he collects insurance money from the government and gets paid anyway. So he doesn’t have to worry about flooding. Either way he makes money.

So that farmer plows under anything and everything he can plant. More land equals more money for him because there is no risk to him planting a wetland with crops even if it floods. It’s a win win situation. Drive over any bridge and there is a good chance that there is farm land adjacent planted with crops that is clearly in the flood plain, the farm subsidy at work.

So how can we change this?

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Fly-Fishing: The Stop

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By Louis Cahill

There is nothing more important about a fly cast than how it ends.

There are a lot of moving parts in a fly cast. Plenty of things have to be done right for everything to go perfectly. That being said, you can get away with a lot if you have a good stop.

If your cast feels anemic, your leader doesn’t turn over fully, your loops are big and sloppy, your line lands on the water before our fly, or you’re not getting the distance you want, I’ll bet you five dollars to a doughnut the problem is with your stop. You’re likely doing one, or all, of three things wrong. Use the following as a checklist to see if your stop is all it should be.

Three rules for a good stop.

The stop must be positive.

This is often called a hard stop and I like that term because it captures the feel of a good stop. The casting stroke should accelerate from a soft start to a hard stop at its fastest point. It should not slow to a stop and once it stops it should not falter. It should feel as if your hand

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Get A Better Grip On The Spey Rod

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This is never more true than in Spey casting. Perhaps because there are more moving parts to a Spey cast, rod and line control are crucial. This is especially challenging for the beginner whose muscle memory is only just developing. Often a cast will “break” for no reason. That is to say that, all of a sudden that double Spey you’ve been throwing all morning just doesn’t work any more. Often the reason is a loss of control.

Here’s a tip that will help those of you who are new to two-handed casting maintain control. The first step in a controlled cast is the proper grip. It’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough. Most anglers who are new to the Spey rod think of it like holding a golf club or baseball bat. A familiar tool for most of us, but the Spey rod is quite different and so is the proper grip.

Hold the rod with your finger tips. A gentle grip is all that’s necessary. Using your fingertips accomplishes two things. It keeps your arms relaxed, as you are not tempted to put a death grip on the rod. A relaxed posture is important for fluid movement. Gripping with your fingertips also engages a different set of muscles. Muscles, which are tuned to fine motor skills like writing.

The result is a casting stroke that

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