Reach, Don’t Rip!

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One of the most common areas of needed improvement that I see with many anglers is line management.

In fly fishing, line management is a big piece of the puzzle, and to be consistently successful you must improve upon these skills and develop good habits. One particularly bad habit that I see more than any other when I’m on the water with clients and other anglers is having an unnecessary amount of line stripped off the reel. This is problematic for numerous reasons.

One obvious reason is that your fly line could become entangled while fighting a fish and cause you to lose a fish. Laying a ton of line on the ground invites a host of gremlins to grab on and ruin your efforts. Most trout lines are also very supple and thin, making them even more prone to tangle and knot up when being taken from the ground quickly, whether it be a fish on the run or from the act of shooting line. Fly line left on the ground, or even in the water, also lends itself to damage. You can easily shred a fly line and even cut through a line by stepping on it. I’ve had one of my lines severed in half when a client of mine wearing aluminum barred boots stepped on it, leaving that rig useless until we stopped to grab another reel. Dirt and grime also loves to stick to fly lines, especially textured lines, which will greatly hinder your fly line’s ability to float effectively on the water’s surface. Problems, problems, problems.

Often, a situation doesn’t call for more fly line, but rather for the angler to get out of their “box”.

For example, there was a morning I was setting up a client to make the first presentation of the day, which required about a thirty-foot cast. Nothing crazy. As he set his feet and prepared for his cast, I turned to pull my net from my pack in an act of optimism. As I did this all I could hear was the sound of the intermittent outgoing clicks of the drag on his reel. A lot of them. When I turned back to him,

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How Pebble Mine Hurts America: Action Required by June 30th

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By Dan Frasier

We have until June 30th 2019 to speak out against the Pebble Mine and for America.

We live in a particularly divisive world these days. Issues that used to be fodder for spirited conversation amongst friends and family now create permanent rifts; dividing and alienating people from each other. So it’s rare to find an issue upon which even the most extreme believers from either side of the aisle can agree. Fortunately, that issue is an important one and one which, thanks to the comment period being open until June 30th, we can voice our opposition to from either side of the aisle. Of course, I’m talking about the current Pebble Mine proposal being reviewed by the Army Corp of Engineers. 

The environmental opposition to this mine, a topic that tends to resonate more with left-leaning voters, though not exclusively their domain,  is very clear. In the history of mines of this type, never has one managed to avoid serious detrimental impacts to clean water. Add to that the unique and fragile ecosystem upon whose headwaters this particular mine sits and you have a recipe for environmental disaster. Little more needs to be said to rally environmental support for preventing the construction of Pebble Mine.

What I think is far less understood is the business and economic reasoning for the elimination of this threat to a great American industry. A reality that should motivate anyone who supports the current administration’s economic policy to oppose this mine. There is a lot of misinformation and some complicated corporate structure here so allow me to explain. 

Pebble Mine is a figment of the imagination of a Canadian shell corporation.

That’s how these things work. A small speculative company, in this case, Northern Dynasty Minerals (ticker: NAK), will buy a mining claim. They have no real assets aside from the claim, and absolutely no ability to actually construct a mine. What they do have is some cash and a prayer. They spend that cash speculating on there being ore in the ground on the claim they’ve purchased. Very few have this bet pay-off but when it does, it pays off big. If they find ore, they then put together a partnership of legitimate mining companies who develop a mine plan, help shepherd the plan through the appropriate regulatory agencies, and then actually own and operate the mine. That’s how it usually works. But not in this case. 

Here, Northern Dynasty tried to follow that plan, but all of the partners backed out a number of years ago as they recognized the environmental, economic, and reputational risks and infeasibility of the mine. In fact, one of the ex-partners gifted their shares to two Alaskan charitable organizations. Leaving a TINY Canadian company holding the claim on some potential ore in the Bristol Bay headwaters but without any approvals or the actual ability to build and operate a mine. So Northern Dynasty decided to attempt to get the approvals themselves, and then bring in partners later. And that is where we currently stand. Tiny Canadian shell company, no partners and no approvals. 

So what happens if the Army Corp approves the current plan?

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Sunday Classic / 3 Reasons Fly Fisherman Should Consider Wearing A Long-Bill Hat

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When I look at a long-bill hat, images of Ernest Hemingway, swinging wet flies on one of his favorite trout waters pops into my head. Next, I see the silhouette of the legendary fly fisherman and guide, Flip Pallot, with his masculine beard protruding beneath his long bill cap, as he stands on the platform of his skiff, pointing out a pod of tarpon to his client, at 11’oclock. There’s something really macho about dudes that can pull off wearing this type of hat. For the record, I’ve never seen myself capable of pulling off this machismo look, and in turn, I’ve spent the majority of my fly fishing career, opting instead for wearing the conservative short-bill cap. Plus, there’s no doubt that I look like a complete tool in a long-bill hat. That said, looking good on the water doesn’t help any of us catch more fish, it only helps the photographer looking through his/her lens shooting us. I’ve learned that performance is really what fly fishers, that get it at least, are really after when it comes to searching out what gear they use. For this reason, I made the decision recently to set aside my biased stance on long-bill hats, and actually wear one during a recent fly fishing trip of mine to the salt. Thank you Louis for being the friend that loaned it to me for the day, because it opened my eyes to how special and functional long-bill hats can be for not only me but to all fly anglers. Below are three reasons fly fisherman should consider purchasing and wearing a long-bill hat on their next fishing trip.

REASON #1: LESS GLARE AND SUN IN THE EYES, EQUALS BETTER VISION ON THE WATER.

Polarized sunglasses work great for allowing anglers to see into the water they’re wetting their flies in, but they will perform twice as good if they stay in the shade. The extra roofing area atop your head that a long-bill hat provides, is substantially larger than what traditional or short-bill hats provide. No longer will you need the sun high in the horizon before the bill of your hat begins to block out the suns rays. Wearing a long-bill hat will give you an edge, helping you to keep your vision acute and your presentations accurate.

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Saturday Shoutout / Wade Andros

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Great shallow water bonefishing on South Andros in the Bahamas.

South Andros is my favorite place on Earth. There’s a shocker! One of the things I love about it is all of the great wade fishing opportunities. There’s nothing like stalking bonefish in shallow water, catching them, sometimes, with their backs out of the water. It doesn’t get cooler than that.

This film, by todd Moen, is a little unusual in that the cast is all female. I don’t think it’s news that plenty of awesome women anglers catch bonefish. If it is to you, you should get out more. 

If you’d like to see South Andros for yourself, join me at Bair’s lodge for the Bonefish School. There are still a couple of spots in June and a couple next January. Get the details here.

WADE ANDROS

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Setting up Skagit Heads and Other Spey Lines: Video

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If you are just getting started in two-hand fly casting, you may be confused about how to set up the lines.

Spey lines are intimidating to the uninitiated with their many parts, options and loop to loop connections but there’s no need for alarm. Spey lines, in both form and function, are much the same as traditional fly lines. Think of them as traditional lines that have been cut into sections with scissors.

What their design offers to the Spey caster is instant flexibility on the river. In a Spey system the running line, the head and sometimes the tip are separate. They serve all the same functions as their counterparts in traditional lines but the caster is free to choose from interchangeable heads and tips to meet his or her immediate needs.

WATCH THIS VIDEO AND LEARN TO SET UP A SKAGIT HEAD.

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Why Gink And Gasoline?

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I get that question all the time, it’s time I answered it.

When my buddy Kent and I started Gink and Gasoline we were driving all   over the country chasing fish on the fly. Things were simpler then and a hell of a lot of fun. We were living out of my Subaru Forester, packed to the gils with camping and fishing gear. and about 200 CDs. One of those CDs was “Dirt Track Date” by the band Southern Culture on the Skids, who come from Chapel Hill, NC. Just down the road from where I grew up. They just sound like home to me and I wore that CD out.

One of my favorite songs on that record is “Fried Chicken and Gasoline.” It’s about being on the road for so long everything smells like fried chicken and gasoline. That song really captured what were doing, except the fundamental components of our enterprise were Gink and Gasoline. The name stuck.

We didn’t know it at the time but

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A Powerful Fly Cast Is All In The Thumb

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PICTURE YOURSELF GRASPING A BROOMSTICK AND DRIVING IN A TACK WITH YOUR THUMB.

I get the opportunity to work with a lot of anglers who are making the transition from freshwater fly fishing to saltwater. Not surprisingly, most of them struggle with generating the casting power needed to deliver a good presentation in the kind of wind often experienced in flats fishing. Almost everyone has the same pesky problem. They try to generate a more powerful cast and everything breaks down. The problem is not in their arm or elbow or wrist, but in their head.

It’s a problem of understanding the mechanics of the cast. It seems logical to think that more power in means more power out and I guess that’s true but there is a common misconception about where that power is coming from. Most anglers, when trying to add power to a cast, focus on the fly or the line. They visualize throwing that line to the target. The result is a casting stroke that resembles a pitcher throwing a baseball. Including the wind up in the worst cases.

This imagined model of throwing a static object puts all the wrong physics in play for a good fly cast. The resulting casting stroke relies too heavily on the arm and takes the rod out of play. Our instinct tells us to throw harder but the arm is a poor tool for throwing a fly line and our cast fails. The answer to a powerful fly cast is timing and technique, not power.

I’m going to give you a simple tool to help generate a powerful cast but first let’s look at the mechanics.
The fly cast is all about the transfer of energy

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Streamer Fishing: Float Your Lane

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By Louis Cahill

When you are fishing streamers from a boat, how close should you be to the bank?

Ask a dozen anglers and you may get a dozen answers. The distance that works for me, might not work for you, but I’m going to share some thoughts that might help you decide for yourself where your lane is.

I’m just home from a great week of dorado fishing in Argentina. Dorado fishing is streamer fishing at it’s highest level and it’s incredibly challenging, both physically and mentally. It involves taking lots of long accurate casts. Well, that’s the conventional wisdom. I have my own thoughts about it and the group had some lively conversation on the topic. It really helped me focus in on what I think works. Not just for dorado, but for any streamer fishing.

The key to success is making good, accurate presentations to as many likely holding spots as possible. The more good presentations you make, the more likely you are to find that trophy fish who’s ready to eat. It’s a numbers game but with some qualifiers. They have to be good presentations and they have to be in the right spots. Most, but not all, of those spots are along the bank.

In general, when fishing streamers, you do not need to strip the fly all the way back to the boat. In fact, doing so is detrimental to your cause. There are of course some exceptions, but in those cases it’s worth asking if you are really fishing the bank. The structure of most trout rivers is such that the strike zone is in the first fifteen feet or so next to the bank. Once your fly is moving out of the holding water, it’s time to cast again.

What you want is to work that strike zone as efficiently as possible, hitting as many likely pockets as you can. That means dropping the fly against the bank, making six to ten strips, and hitting the next pocket. For every angler there is

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Small Stream Recon Part I

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By Jason Tucker

Small streams have always held a special place in my heart. 

For one thing, where I lived in the tip Northern Michigan, all we had was small streams, and lots of them. I cut my teeth on small streams. It was a long drive for me to fish bigger rivers like the Au Sable or Manistee, but small streams and creeks were always minutes away. Another reason I loved small streams was the solitude. When I fished even the main trunks of our small streams I often bumped into other anglers, or found bait fisherman camped out on holes. If I went into the headwaters or up the tributaries I found no one. What I also often found was better fishing- more fish and less educated. I often found even big fish feeding in the open in the middle of the day.

Once I started my blog, Fontinalis Rising, I got to know a lot of anglers from down state who often asked me where to go or how I knew about these spots. I began to realize the value of being a local. By living in the same area for thirty years I had amassed quite a catalog of small streams and access points that weren’t apparent to the casual observer. I had spent most of those years hunting, fishing, foraging, and exchanging surreptitious tips with other locals. I didn’t realize how hard it was for someone from outside the area to find any decent water at all to fish. In later years I would have these same frustrations in my own travels to Canada and even Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. But over the years I developed a series of strategies for finding new and excellent water to fish, sight unseen, and having success. Here goes.

State Fisheries Agencies Maps and Websites

Before the internet became practical to use from home, much less from your phone, Michigan’s DNR published a trout fishing guide for the entire state that included color coded maps of all the known trout waters in the state. I found a lot of fishing spots using this. The default color for general regulation streams was green, and often it was the headwaters and small tributaries that were etched out in green. I spent some time on special regulation sections, but it seemed that every time I fished the “green” streams, I caught more fish, saw fewer people, and had more fun.

This map and guide is no longer in print because it is available on the internet. I still have a print copy from fifteen years ago which is very useful when I’m in the many areas of the state that still lack cell service. Georgia has a print map that outlines all the trout streams in the state.

With the advent of advanced mapping applications on the internet and cellphones there are even more powerful tools available.

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Sunday Classic / Don’t Throw The Hail Mary

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FISH, FISH EVERYWHERE AND NOT A FISH TO CATCH.

I was trout fishing with a friend in North Carolina the other day. We were fortunate to find a nice piece of water which held a good size pod of fish. Maybe a dozen total spread across the tail out. A couple of them were really nice fish. I called my buddy over and pointed them out to him, insisting he take a shot at them.

He’s fairly new to fly fishing and was a little intimidated by the sight of all those fish. He didn’t know exactly how to approach the situation. Option paralysis took over and he made a choice that I suspect a lot of anglers make in that situation. He dropped his fly upstream of the pod and hoped for the best.

Casting to the geometric center of a pod of fish is sometimes successful but never optimal. Often you spook the whole pod and walk away empty-handed. If you catch a fish it will likely be the small enthusiastic fellow darting around taking what he can get. The big guy is not going to move to your fly. He’s going to play it cool.

Any bird hunter will tell you, when you flush a covey of birds, you don’t fire into the group. You will only end up shooting

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