The Need For Speed, Line Speed, That Is

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Joel Dickey is one of the most dynamic casters I’ve ever seen.

One of the hallmarks of his dominating casting style is truly awesome line speed. It enables him to shoot massive amounts of line and hit distant targets with accuracy, even in high wind. In this video he explains how you can build your line speed.


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Streamers for Small Streams

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By Jason Tucker

Small stream fishing often conjures to mind light rods and lines, small dry flies, an easy, pleasant day on the creek casting to small trout.

It indeed can be that, and most of my small stream fishing consists of this. But I firmly believe every small stream out there holds bigger fish, and more of them, than you think.  One of the best ways to find out is with streamers.

Researchers have shown that as brown trout reach the twenty-inch mark they become largely piscivorous (fish eating). This means if you want to catch them, you need to throw streamers.

Streamer fishing has changed a lot since the days of hair wing flies and Grey Ghosts. If you have fly fished for any amount of time you have heard of or read “Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout” by Kelly Galloup and Bob Linsenman. Streamer enthusiasts today pound the banks with articulated monsters measuring five to as much as twelve inches long. This is great for bigger rivers but a bit of overkill for small streams. You’ll want to scale your efforts to the water you’re fishing. Still, streamer fishing small streams can be a very enjoyable way to fish them, and a great way to find out the true potential of the stream.


Muddler Minnow size 4-10

Cone Head Madonna/Zuddler size 4 in barred yellow, olive, black and white

Black Dace size 6-10

Mickey Finn size 6-10

Zoo Cougars size 6 in yellow and white

As I said I try to scale my streamers to the water I’m fishing. It would be rare for me to tie on a size two streamer. Most of the forage fish in a stream are going to be closer to the size of traditional hair-wing streamers like Mickey Finns and black-nosed dace. In a lot of small stream situations, I prefer the stealthier presentation of hair-wing streamers to the loud splat of bigger, heavier streamers advocated in “Modern Streamers”. Trout in small streams are well aware of everything going on in the water. That splat can be what sends them on the run.


It is a great sculpin imitator, and all the streams I fish both North and South are chock full of them. Trout eat them with abandon. Even big fish will roll out for a size eight Muddler. If you want an enjoyable day seeing and catching lots of fish, tie on a Muddler minnow and go to town. I find that original versions work better than marabou or conehead versions. Sculpins hug the bottom normally, and when trout see a muddler swimming up high, they think something is wrong, triggering a response. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

My second choice is the conehead Madonna, which to my untrained eye is nearly identical to a Zuddler. It’s another sculpin stand-in; a great pattern with lots of action and a good profile. It has some “plop” to it, but not so much that it will spook fish in normal or high-water situations, and it’s a great pattern for finding bigger fish in the system.

After that I like the Mickey Finn and black-nosed dace. They are tried and true classic patterns that brook trout especially go for. Black-nosed dace are forage minnows, and very common in small streams. The yellow and red of Mickey Finns is also very effective. I always try to keep these in my box.

Lastly, if I suspect that water holds bigger fish, I’ll tie on a zoo cougar. Their disadvantage is that they’ll float even when saturated. Because of that you need a sink-tip, or a split shot a foot above it. For that to work you need enough room in the water to allow it to sink, work it, and hopefully get a reaction. If the stream is too small you may not even get the streamer down before it’s out of the hole. But on the right piece of small stream you may see a fish following that scares you.

There are dozens of other great streamer patterns out there, from marabou streamers to various flash minnows to woolly bugger variations. If you have a favorite, take it out and give it a try. These are just my go-to patterns, and I try to keep things simple.


Fishing all flies revolves around three words- presentation, presentation, and presentation. It’s no less true with streamers, though

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Bugs, Bugs Everywhere, And Not A Fish To Be Seen

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Now imagine the river is the party, the bugs are the onion dip, and the trout are your ungrateful, good for nothing, no-show friends. If you spend enough time on rivers, you have either seen or will see a situation where the hatch is out in force, yet not a single one of our finned friends is so much as poking a nose up to say hello. It is usually at this point your buddy starts with his blubbering about, “This is crazy man, all these bugs and not fish…I just can’t believe it dude…trout are cruel mistresses…I hate you Dad, ” and other such nonsense. My advice is

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Slowing Down and Casting Easier Can Improve Your Fly Cast

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Slowing down and backing off the power will help out your fly cast.

Read the title of this post and try to live by it.It’s my attempt in “one sentence”, to help fly anglers quickly improve their fly casting, and it’s made me twice fly caster and fisherman I am today. There’s lots more to fly casting than slowing down and casting easier, but if anglers focus on doing both together, they often will find that it can greatly improve their overall technique and control. Ask any professional sports athlete how they maximize their performance and potential, and almost all will reply with excellent technique. It’s no different in fly casting. If you want your fly casting to reach its full potential, you have to first build a strong foundation of fly casting mechanics and principles that you can consistently live by on the water. I’ve found personally that when I take the time to slow down and cast the fly rod with less power, it’s much easier for me to focus on the most important element of my fly casting, my technique.

Let your fly rod do the work
I’ve noticed a great deal of fly fisherman over the years cast with a tempo that’s too fast (rushing their cast), and they also often apply far too much power during their casting stroke. The majority of fly anglers that fall into this category are usually intermediate fly casters. They’re generally skilled enough to fish multiple types of rigs and cast their flies close enough to their targets to catch fish, but they’re approach has them expending far too much energy in the process. Furthermore, this style of casting usually yields a casting stroke that is slightly out of control, creates loops that are inefficient (sloppy) and presentations generally suffer. Put all these negatives together and you’ve got a fly rod that’s not able to perform its job effectively. Remember to always let the fly rod do the work, don’t try to be the power house. It will only work against you in the long run.

Why slowing down and backing off the power will help your fly cast out
First, by slowing down and watching your forward and back cast, you’re going to improve your timing and eliminate the creation of slack, because you’ll be matching the pause length correctly to the amount of fly line your casting. Second, by decreasing your power and casting easier, you’ll find it easier to smoothly accelerate your fly rod through your casting stroke, and keep it traveling in a straight line path throughout the cast. And because you’re

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The 5 Essentials Of A Good Fly Cast Revisited

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Let’s take a minute to look at the 5 essentials of a good fly cast.

I was giving a talk about saltwater fly fishing the other day when i mentioned the 5 essentials. I was shocked to find that no one in the crowd knew what the 5 essentials are, or that they even existed. I’ve never written on the topic because I thought it was common knowledge. Apparently I was wrong.

I did some research and was even more surprised to find that there is a good bit of variation in what has been written on the topic and there is some of it I don’t agree with. That said, understand that what I’m about to set out for you are the 5 essentials as I learned them and as I believe they are best explained. They are roughly equivalent to the 10 commandments for the IFFF and there will no doubt be some who consider any variation sacrilege. I encourage you to read the original and take both as good advice.

The 5 Essentials are the work of Bill and Jay Gammel. Their article on the subject was written in 1990 and while it’s important work, you should bear in mind that it pertains to single hand, overhead fly casting. Many of the ideas apply to other casting styles, but not all. I have discussed this version with some of the most knowledgeable IFFF casting instructors I know and am very confident in it.

The 5 Essentials of a good fly cast

The first thing I learned about the 5 Essentials was that there are 6 of them, so you can see that I’m off to a good start.


Lefty Kreh described this motion as feeling like throwing wet pain with a brush. If you start too quickly, the paint will fly back on you, so you start slow and speed up as you go. The casting stroke should do the same, start gently and accelerate smoothly, stopping at its fastest point. This leads us to essential number 2.


Here is where I first deviate from much of what is written on the topic.

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Is Your Steelhead Fly fishing Or Just Swinging?

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By Louis Cahill


Many anglers who successfully swing flies for steelhead could be catching even more fish by improving their swing. Steelheading is all about taking advantage of every opportunity and it’s pretty common for anglers to waste as much as half their fishing time with a poorly swung fly. I include myself among them. It’s technical business and requires constant attention.

The key to a good swing is keeping the fly moving at just the right speed and angle. That buttery slow swing that gives the fish time to see the fly and react. The gentle motion that entices the attack. It’s a hard thing to visualize and even harder to describe. Fortunately there’s a reliable visual cue that will help you determine when you fly is swinging well and when it isn’t. The belly of your line.

Before we talk about what the belly of the line tells you, let get some terms straight.
The belly is the part of the line which is swept by the current causing an arch in the path of the line. When swinging flies the belly determines the speed at which the fly moves across the current.

Picture yourself fishing from river left. You cast directly across a swift current, which flows from your left to right. Your line bellies down stream so that the middle of your line is down stream of your fly. We will call this a convex belly.

Now, picture yourself on the same side of the river but casting across a slow moving current with your fly landing in faster current on the far side. Your fly moves down stream and hangs below your line, which curves to follow. We will call this a concave belly.

Picture a swing where your line makes the shape of an L. Your fly and leader point in a direction perpendicular to your rod. We will call this a 90% belly. A 45% belly would have less curve in the line and a 100% belly would have more. A straight line swing or 0% belly would have no curve in the line.

When the fly is swinging at a good pace and angle, we will say it’s fishing. Not fishing means the speed and angle are wrong.

Now that we have our terms, what’s the swing we are looking for?

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Fly Fishing Provides Great Health Benefits

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I tell my clients, all the time, that I’m grateful for all the benefits fly fishing provides anglers.

It provides us with one of the funnest ways to exercise, and it has the ability to completely wash away the stress of everyday life, from its therapeutic entertainment. We really should be thankful that this passion of ours provides us with so much more than just the reward of catching fish. Each and everyday we fly fish, we should take a minute to sit back and reflect on this fact. What other exercise activity can you think of that allows you to burn tons of calories during the day, and not have the faintest clue your even working out? Most of us aren’t extreme athletes, and even if we were back in the day, many of us have gotten older and are no longer. The great thing about fly fishing is you can tailor it to your own abilities and needs. It’s a great activity for maintaining your long term balance, dexterity and muscle strength, and it does a very good job of keeping your brain sharp.
I really think we could boost the growth of the fly fishing industry if more people were writing about all the great health benefits it provides, both mentally and physically? I’d love to see Yahoo, or one of those other giant headline news websites (that most of us visit daily) post on its home page, a fly fishing picture with the headline, “Lose 15 pounds and have a blast doing it.” We need to start thinking outside the box to promote and attract newcomers to fly fishing, and I think this could be one area most of us have been overlooking.

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15 Tips For Effective Fly-Fishing From A Drift Boat

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It’s easy to become spoiled to fly-fishing from a drift boat.

A good drift boat is a perfect fly fishing machine. It offers anglers a tactical advantage over the fish in just about every situation. I’ve owned a drift boat for some time. Every time I hook my Adipose up behind the truck, I get a warm feeling. I might love that boat too much.

Still, I remember when all of my trout fishing was done on foot and I remember how alien the drift boat felt the first time I stepped aboard. I see it even now, when I invite new anglers out on the boat. I figured it was past time for me to do something about it.


Know your right from left

If you are not familiar with the terms, river-right and river-left, you may struggle with your guide’s instruction. River right and left are always oriented from the perspective of looking downstream. If you are looking downstream, river-right is to your right. If you are looking upstream, river-right is on your left.

Don’t cast over the boat

This seems obvious but I see anglers struggle with it all the time. There are times when you just have to adapt your casting to boat position and conditions. If you’re a right hand caster fishing from the front of the boat, to river right, you are going to have to make some accommodations. I prefer to present my fly with a back cast in this situation but there are other options, like a comb cast.

Whatever you do, resist the urge to cast over the boat. You will inevitably end up hooking someone. You might pull it off for a couple of casts, but soon you’ll get lazy or throw a bad loop or catch a gust of wind and there will be blood. Practice your back cast presentation. It will pay off.

Your water is downstream

Probably the most common mistake I see is anglers fishing

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Tie An Effective Fly-Fishing Leader for Bonefish

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By Louis Cahill

This fly-fishing leader will out perform anything you can buy.

I have used this leader for most of my saltwater fishing for fifteen years. I learned it from my buddy Bruce Chard and have changed it very little in all that time. It offers the angler more control over their presentation than any commercially made leader. The leader has amazing turnover, especially in windy conditions, and also works well for other species like permit and redfish. 


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3 Tips for Swinging Flies for Trout & Other Species

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A couple weeks back, for one of my Saturday Shoutouts, I showcased a great fly fishing article on MidCurrent titled, Beyond the Swing by John Likakis.

It was a fly fishing techniques piece packed with tons of information about the how-tos of swinging flies. It’s a great read for any angler wanting to become more competent and effective at swinging flies for trout and other species. If you happened to miss reading this one, please check it out after today’s post. After I read John’s article, it inspired me to share three swinging fly tips of my own. Each tip is meant to help the anglers out there who’ve just recently started swinging flies on the water.

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