Rock Treads

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By Justin Pickett

Coming up with a reliable and effective solution for traction can be frustrating.

Not to mention, expensive. Screw-in studs are costly and are often lost or in need of replacement for those of us who wade hard and often. Other solutions, such as interchangeable soles (like what Korkers offers) will eventually need replacing and aren’t terribly cheap either. And your piggy bank will surely take a hit if you are forced to buy a new set of boots. However, with safety being of upmost importance, we are often willing to shell out our hard earned dough time and time again to help make sure we keep the rubber side down. 

However, one product that I have found has definitely been worth its price tag while also keeping me surely planted to the riverbed.

Rock Treads has developed an aluminum traction system that can be easily installed on any wading boot on the market and grip like a vise. Their kits contain three sizes of quarter-inch aluminum discs that can be installed using their various mounting systems. Whether you have felt soles, rubber soles, or interchangeable soles, Rock Treads can be installed in them, enhancing your traction while wading with the added benefit of helping to prevent the transfer of invasive organisms between watersheds.

Why do these work so well? Aluminum. With soft and lightweight, yet strong, characteristics, these aluminum pucks cut through rock snot and conforms to stone under the weight of your boot. And, while these aluminum discs may be described as malleable, they are extremely durable and the average angler can expect to get multiple seasons out of one set. Rock Treads had well over 500 miles on their first kit and they

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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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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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12 Tips For Hike-In Fly-Fishing

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By Louis Cahill

Every angler knows that the further you walk, the better the fishing.

Keep that in mind when I tell you, I recently had some of the best trout fishing of my life in the Andes mountains of Patagonia. That should give you some idea how much we walked. The rewards where big. The rivers we fished were pristine and without a trace of humans, the views and wildlife were stellar and the trout were big and plentiful. That’s worth the walk seven days a week.

I did have to spend some time thinking through my gear and necessities for the trip. Hike in fishing requires a little more preparation, even when you are just day-hiking. Simple stuff you might run back to the truck for can turn into a big deal miles up the trail. Most of this is common sense but I will try to be thorough for the uninitiated. 

Here are 12 tips for a day of hike-in fly-fishing.

Boots, Wading vs. Hiking

I’ve broken both my feet several times. Good boots are important to me. I want something that gets good traction, gives me good arch support and good ankle support. Most wading boots make poor hiking boots so, given the choice, I’ll hike in hiking boots and change to wading boots. Sometimes the hiking takes you through the river and then, wading boots are the ticket. It helps to know the trail you’ll be taking.

Whether I’m hiking in them or not, my first choice is the Simms Intruder boots. They are actually pretty good for hiking and they are very lightweight, which is nice if you’re carrying them. A good trick is to carry a plastic bag and stash your hiking boots somewhere out of sight and safe from rain in their bag, while you’re fishing.

Camping towel and dry socks

If you are changing boots, a lightweight camp towel and a fresh pair of dry socks are really nice to have. Even if you are fishing in waders you can end up with wet socks that might cause blisters.

Day pack

A good waterproof backpack is a must have. I use the Fishpond roll top, but the new model with the T-Zip is a nice upgrade. In addition to keeping your gear dry and together, I have used these packs as flotation devices for sketchy river crossings.

Extra pockets

Pockets for frequently used gear let me fish from my backpack, without carrying a fishing pack too. It’s a good idea to pair down your gear to just the essentials. Extra gear is just extra weight to carry. The hiker’s saying, “Ounces make pounds and pounds make pain,” is true.

Rod in the sock

It’s a pain hiking with your rod put together and a tube is just extra weight. A rod sock is usually all you need to keep your rod safe. If I feel like I’m going to need more protection, I have a couple of carbon fiber rod tubes I’ll use for their light weight.

Filter bottle

A good filter bottle is absolutely necessary. Hydration is super important, but carrying water is crazy. Carry an empty bottle and drink from the river. The Katadyn Be Free is the best I’ve used. It weighs nothing and fits in a pocket.

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Sunday Classic / What The Little Fish Are Saying

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This post has a soundtrack. Take a second to start the video below.


Like it or not, I am in the big fish business.

I hate admitting it, but that’s how it started. I carried a camera to take photos of fish and the small ones were not the fish who got photographed. Eventually folks started to buy the photos I took and I found there was a simple equation. The bigger the fish, the faster the sale. That’s a pretty hard-nosed view of fly fishing and I’m not especially proud of it.

Call it skill or luck or hard work, a lot of big fish have come my way. I’m grateful for each of them. I hope there will be many more but I no longer measure myself in inches or pounds of fish. Not because I’m above it or used to it or jaded about it. I still like to catch big fish but I’ve come to understand my place in the equation.

Sometimes I choose the fish. I plan, I strategize, I stalk and pursue. Often, by force of will, I bring the fish to me. Sometimes I choose the fish, but every time the fish chooses me. I think about this when I am swinging a fly for steelhead. Like a practitioner of tai chi, I mind my swing. Seeking always the perfect presentation. Mindful and empty, dreaming not of what was or what may be, simply present in what is.

It is in that moment that the fish chooses me. I accept that all I have done is to make myself available to him. It is not done without skill or planning. It is not an accident. It is the culmination of years of effort but I recognize that it is a culmination for him as well. It is not a thing I have done alone. I have not brought the fish to me, something larger has brought us together.

In that convergence there is something that defies explanation. Among the thousands of fish that have passed in and out of my hands, some are special. I can not always say why. Once in a while a fish connects with me in a way that is deeper than either of us can grasp. There is a convergence of place and time, of hand and heart the sum of which is greater than the two of us.

One of these fish is worth a year of my life. That is

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Saturday Shoutout / Wandering Blue Lines

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Visions of fish and fly, carved in wood and cast on paper.

Tyler Hackett, of Wandering Blue Lines, is a unique artist in the genre of fly-fishing-art. His bold designs are created using the classic art of wood cut. Tyler draws his art backwards, then carves it into a block. The block is inked and right reading prints made from it. The look is unique and stunning.

It gets even better. In addition to creating great fishing art, he donates 10% of all sales to environmental conservation.

I’m a fan. In fact, Tyler is now making G&G T Shirts!

Check out Wandering Blue Lines and the Wandering Blue Lines Instagram.

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The Teardrop Cast

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By Louis Cahill

The Teardrop cast is a soft presentation fly cast that’s handy for targeting spooky fish.

I learned this cast from a guide in the Bahamas. It was a day I’ll never forget. It was a dark, cloudy day but there was no wind. We spent all morning stalking tailing bonefish in shallow water. The fish were feeding eagerly, but they were really spooky. I was getting a lot of shots but not feeding a lot of fish. When my guide, Ellie Rahming, showed me this cast, I went from zero to hero.

The name Teardrop cast is not commonly known. I’ve asked around but haven’t found anyone who knows another name for the cast. It’s not a secret among saltwater anglers but I don’t hear it talked about much. It sure does make a difference when you’re casting to spooky fish.


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A Mark of Permanence, By Justin Watkins

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By Dan Frasier

I’ve always been a fan of the work of Justin Watkins. 

His blog,, where he writes under the pen name “Wendy Berrell”, is a truly special place to read the ruminations of a scientist who sees a value in living life close to the land. Beyond his blog, Justin’s book of poetry “Bottom-Right Corner” from Red Dragonfly Press is a brilliant work of outdoor poetry about life as an outdoorsman in South Eastern Minnesota. So I’ve been a fanboy for a long time. 

In his newest book “A Mark of Permanence” published by Shipwreckt books, Justin takes his work to a new level; integrating poetry and his uniquely stark factual prose, Justin has created a series of vignettes into life being lived in modern Minnesota as it was lived centuries ago. His deep respect for the quarry in his tales along with the land and water they live in shines through like rays of sun through a dark grey cloudy ceiling. Yet Justin achieves this feat without flowery language or high-minded soliloquies. Instead, he tells you the facts like they are and lets the overwhelming reality of just how interconnected we are with the world around us speak for itself.

I think nothing better exemplifies this amazing talent of Justin’s than 2 stanzas in the poem “The Hidden Flat”  

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6 Easy Tips to Help Fly Anglers Catch Educated Trout

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Back in 2012, I wrote an article titled “The Best Way to Improve Your Trout Game” which talked about how beneficial it was for fly fishermen to not shy away from fishing technical trout water. And that the increased challenges of such water was one of the best ways for anglers to take their fly fishing skills to the next level. Today’s article is sort of going to be a complimentary piece that falls into the same category. Specifically, I’m going to provide 6 easy tips that fly anglers of all skill levels can use to help them be more effective at catching educated trout.

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Katadyn Be Free Filter Bottle Review

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The Katadyn Be Free is the best water filtration system I have ever used.

I think the two most miserable experiences you can have while fishing are being dehydrated and carrying water. Nothing seems more pointless than carrying a lot of extra water weight, while you’re standing knee deep in the stuff. You have to hydrate some how, and that’s why I’ve been a big fan of filter bottles since they first appeared on the market.

I’ve carried Katadyn filter bottles for a long time and always been extremely happy with their performance. That is to say that I have never been sick from drinking filtered water from one. That has pretty much been where the satisfaction bar has been set, until recently. When I discovered the Be Free, that all changed.

The Be Free still meets the “no sick” standard but it makes a couple of huge improvements that i know can’t imagine living without.

The biggest and most immediately recognizable difference between the Be Free and other filter bottles is it isn’t actually a bottle. It’s a filter attached to a flexible bladder. That means that, when it’s empty, you can crush it and stick it anywhere. A pocket, a fishing pack, or just down your waders. It weighs just about nothing.

The Be Free also has the most efficient flow rate of any filter I’ve used. This, combined with the fact that

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