Why You Should Invest In Your Casting

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By Justin Pickett

I have never met anyone who could pick up a five-weight fly rod and make consistent, accurate fifty-foot casts without ever having prior experience with fly casting.

I used to play a ton of golf. So much so that at one point, much earlier in my youth, I could hold my own on any given course and typically shoot Par. Nothing to really brag on, but I wasn’t bad. During my time around golf courses, I never met anyone who could walk up to the 1st tee on any given course and drive the golf ball 300yds down the middle of the fairway without ever having swung a golf club before. It takes a considerable amount of learning and practice to develop the skills needed to be able to hit a golf ball with accuracy, control, and distance. And then there are the many other skills, such as putting, chipping, and bunker shots, requiring different strokes, techniques, and timing that must be practiced in order to put an entire round of eighteen holes together. For the vast majority, it’s a large investment in one’s time and effort to become a decent golfer and get the most enjoyment out of your day on the course. On a side note, I have also yet to meet anyone who enjoys looking for golf balls in the woods all day.

I have been fly fishing since the young age of ten. In my thirty-something years, I have fished way more than I ever golfed, and I have to say that I have never met anyone who could pick up a five-weight fly rod and make consistent, accurate fifty-foot casts without having prior experience with fly casting or fly fishing. Just like with golf, it takes a considerable amount of learning and practice to develop the skills needed to be able to consistently complete an accurate fly cast of any distance. Throw in roll casts, water hauls, the double haul, and reach casts and it’s starting to get a little overwhelming for the beginning angler. We haven’t even begun to talk about all the other little pieces, such as mending, hookset, fish fighting, etc. It’s a lot of info and a lot of factors that have to all come together fluidly for the angler to successfully bring fish to hand on a consistent basis, which adds to the enjoyment of our time spent on the water.

I wanted to place a focus on casting, though, because it is the first skill we need to learn in order to place a fly effectively in or on the water, and it is

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Flats Boat Etiquette, Being A Good Fishing Partner

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Here are a few suggestions to help you, and your fishing partner, have a better day on the boat.

Flats fishing from a boat is a team sport. Whether you’re out fishing with friends, out with a guide or on a trip to a fishing lodge, you’re never out on the boat by yourself. Usually you are sharing your fishing time with another angler. It may be a friend, a spouse or a complete stranger but regardless of who you’re fishing with, one thing is the same. How you behave on the boat affects their fishing experience.

I’ve seem some pretty thoughtless things done on flats skiffs. Usually out of ignorance and often ending in embarrassment. Neither angler, or the guide for that matter, needs that. With that in mind, here are a few simple rules to help you be a good boat buddy.

BE QUIET!

Rule number one. First, last and always, be quiet. Saltwater fish are easily spooked and the noise of cooler lids, camera cases and beer bottles banging against the hull travel for great distances in the water. Don’t be a busy bee. Your buddy’s fishing time is not your chance to get a few things done around the boat. Be still. Rocking the boat moves water and fish can hear it. Keep your shoes off. Sock feet are quiet feet. Be obsessively quiet. You never know when you’re about to see the fish of a lifetime.

DON’T BE A BOW HOG

Share the fishing time fairly. It’s not fair to stay on the bow all day, even if you’re not seeing fish. The worst is when two anglers of very different skill levels get paired together. All too often the better angler spends the day watching his partner blow shot after shot. When it’s his turn to fish, he gets up, catches his fish in five minutes and is back in the chair for an hour.

There are some “rules” for lack of a better term. They vary a little and guys who fish together often sometimes have their own rules but they are all something like this.

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Alice’s Angle, Never Have I Ever: Bristol Bay

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By: Alice Tesar

I’ve never fished for sockeye salmon. I’ve never been to Alaska.

When my husband and I decided to add a kid to our crew we knew adventures like this might be put on hold on. We named our son Brooks for many reasons, but we’ve also joked it’s because he’d help us get to these new places for adventure, like the Brooks Range of Alaska. Other places have enticed us too, mostly saltwater fisheries (because that is where our buddies go) but we all know Alaska offers pristine open space, few people, and loads of wildlife.  Today, our Alaska trip seems to be getting further and further away. Not because of work, or our kid, or money but because of the greed of a few. So, few, in fact, they go by the name Pebble Partnership. The truth, however, is their impact will be much larger than a pebble. 

The proposed open-pit mine is at the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers which run into the Bristol Bay. The Pebble Mine would be one of the largest mines in the world. Aside from the size of the mine, the disruption of geology in the area would cause massive destruction to the world’s most productive wild salmon run. Why is the salmon run so productive? Easy, because the surrounding habitat has not been manipulated by the dirty hands of industry. Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks are some of the nation’s largest parks, boasting 8.3 million acres of pristine wilderness. On top of saving this crucial resource, the open pit mine and all its legs run the risk of harming the region’s social, cultural, and economic welfare. With 30 plus Alaskan Native Tribes in the region who depend on healthy salmon runs and the current Bristol Bay fishery, worth $1.5 billion and employing 14,000 people, we can’t ignore the hardship many Americans will face with the Pebble Mine operation. 

I’ve been told the work-force in the world is changing, with automation, many of our jobs will become obsolete. The jobs we will hold in the next 50 years would be completely unrecognizable to us today. Something tells me this doesn’t have to be as true for the jobs

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Fly Fishing Gear For Small Streams

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By Jason Tucker

Fly gear is fly gear- until you find yourself on a tiny creek full of brook trout or cutthroat rising to tricos and all you have is a nine-foot five-weight and 4x tippet. 

What works on the big rivers may not be so well suited to small-stream fishing. They make zero weight rods for a reason. And the rig you choose can make or break your day on a small stream. You can use that five-weight, but you may not be able to fish so well in tight quarters.

Rods. I have indeed cast a zero weight Orvis rod, but that is not typically what you want on a small stream. You want something in between. You want something short, light and strong. I’ll leave it up to you to find the perfect combination but take a hard look at fiberglass. Rods can take a beating in tight quarters. Glass is almost impossible to break, it is very forgiving on light tippet, and it roll casts like a dream, a must on small streams. Blanks in the five to seven-foot range work nicely. One of my go-to small stream rods is a seven-foot, six-inch Eagle Claw 5/6 weight. I haven’t found a lighter one yet, but even small fish put a nice bend in it. It takes a beating riding around my vehicle without a case, and If I break it, it’s thirty bucks to replace, yet it casts very nicely. There are, of course, many fine and more expensive glass rods out there, and they are often works of art and a dream to cast, so knock yourself out.

Graphite is still an option, but look for one of the softer actions and shorter blanks that are coming out these days. For many small streams a rod in the six to seven foot range is ideal. As far as line weight, three and four weight rods work nicely; five weight will often feel heavy and spook fish, and a two-weight rod may not have the power to keep bigger fish out of the brush. Use your judgement. It’s just fishing.

Reels. Don’t overthink them, and definitely don’t overspend. You typically won’t need your drag, and if you’re smart you’ll land most of your fish by stripping in line rather than reeling your line in. Any serviceable click and pawl model will get it done. Dig up Granddads old Pflueger and you’re all set. Most of the major manufacturers offer a basic trout reel for a modest price.

Lines. Any good weight-forward floating line that matches your rod will do. A double-taper that offers a gentler presentation is nice too. The less disturbance you make on the water, the better, so go as light as you can while still being able to stop fish. Just know that that five-weight line often hits small-stream water with a thud that spooks fish in such tight quarters.

I have taken to using a light and short sink-tip line for streamer fishing small streams. It can be tricky to use, but it does help to get your streamer down to the fish. You don’t have to use a sink-tip on most small streams especially if you are using weighted streamers, and the heavier splash of a landing sink tip can be detrimental to the fishing. In some situations, and with weightless streamers, a sink-tip can get the fly down those few inches that make a difference. It’s a matter of knowing the stream and using your best judgement. Carrying a spare spool or reel with a sink-tip is a good idea so that you’re not married to it.

Leader and Tippet. I use 9 foot, 5X tapered leaders,  or 4X and tie on 5X tippet. You won’t want a long leader on most small streams. For fishing skunks or muddler minnows I’ll use a

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Sunday Classic / Swinging Streamers for Trout in Deep Water

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Most streamer fisherman out there would agree that pounding the river banks with a streamer will catch trout just about anywhere.
If you’re willing to put in the time and hard work, eventually you’ll be rewarded with a big fish. During high water flows on rivers where habitat is insufficient out in the main river, many trout will relocate to the banks where they can use the irregular banks and it’s abundant cover to shelter themselves out of the excessive current. There next move, once they’ve gotten to the banks, is to find prime ambush spots where they can easily pick off prey moving by. This is why casting to the bank and ripping streamers back to the boat is so effective. You’re repeatedly putting your streamer right in the kitchen where good numbers of fish will be holding and regularly feeding.

The majority of the time, this scenario works great, but what do you do when you find yourself in areas where the water is super deep and the fish are sitting on the bottom? These places make it extremely difficult for anglers to keep their streamers down deep in the strike zone while using the pounding the bank technique. Even with a full sinking fly line the cards are stacked against you. Don’t get me wrong, it can still work at times, especially if you cast upstream of your target water, throw couple of big mends, and give your streamer time to sink before you begin your retrieve. Unfortunately, in many situations, you won’t always have the time or the room to pull this technique off, and that should have you searching for an alternative fishing method that’s better suited for fishing your streamers in these deep water locations.

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Saturday Shoutout / Who’s on the Bench?

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Pardon my digression, but today is all about guitars.

I’m not going to make a habit of this but today I’m going to share something both personal and off topic. Some of you may already know that I’m into guitars. I started playing about ten years ago after a table saw accident and a major reconstruction of my left thumb. My insurance wouldn’t pay for physical therapy and two years after the surgery I still couldn’t twist the cap off a soda bottle. I bought a guitar for $5 at a yard sale, just to exercise my thumb and it worked. My thumb recuperated but it has cost way more than physical therapy in the long run.

Anyway, about a year ago I started building guitars. I’ve wanted to do it my whole life and with the help of YouTube I just jumped in. My first guitar turned out pretty good. My second was nice enough that I thought I should buy a case for it, so I took it to the guitar shop and left with an order for a custom job. I decided that if I was going to sell guitars, I should get some proper education, so I went to luthier school.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I learned almost everything I know from watching Ben Crowe, of Crimson Guitars, on YouTube. Crimson has a school in Dorset, England and the classes are pretty reasonable so I signed up. I’m just back from the class and I learned a ton and made a pretty cool guitar. If you know Crimson Guitars, you know they have a robust YouTube channel and even week Ben does a video called “What’s on the Bench.” He always stops by the school and talks to the students, so I got to be in two episodes. If you are interested, check out the two videos below. If you are into guitars, check out the other videos from Crimson Guitars. They are by far the best on YouTube.

If you just want to see my bits (Mom) I show up at XXXX in the first video and XXXX in the second.

If you’d like to see the progress shots and some of my other guitars check out @thetelecasterdiaries on Instagram. Final finish is going on now and I’ll have finished photos up soon.

Thanks for indulging me, and enjoy “What’s on the Bench.”

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The Single-Hand Snap T Cast: Video

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Here’s a powerful spey cast you can make with your single-hand fly rod.

The snap T is a familiar cast to any two-hand angler. It’s one of the essential spey casts, but its not just for the long rod. In fact, once you start using this cast with your single-hand rods, you’ll be shocked how often you use it.

The beautiful thing about the snap T is that it requires virtually no room for a backcast and is remarkably powerful. It will have you fishing water you’d never reach with a roll cast.

WATCH THIS VIDEO AND LEARN TO MAKE THE SNAP T CAST WITH A SINGLE-HAND FLY ROD.

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Don’t get ripped off!

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By Louis Cahill

The only thing worse than paying too much for your fly fishing gear is having it stolen.

I woke up this morning to a pile of glass by my truck. One of the worst things about living in a big city is the constant presence of crime. Car break-ins are common and, in the scheme of all the horrible stuff that can happen to you, really just an inconvenience. Don’t waste your time telling me that I need to move to Montana. Believe me, I already know but my wife has the best job of her life and is very happy, so we are here for a while, and while we are, we will have to deal with this kind of thing.

You would think that with the ever-present threat of robbery, I would have better sense than to leave thousands of dollars worth of fly fishing rods and reels, and various photo gear in my truck. You’d be wrong. There were at least a dozen fly rods, half a dozen reels and some photo gear in the truck last night when I, and everyone else on the street, got hit. Hear’s the part you might not expect. It’s all still there.

I leave that stuff in my truck for a reason. It’s the safest place I have, because I have a Truckvault.

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How To Get New Fly Line For $5, Or Pretty Close

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Think you need a new fly Line? Spend $5 First.

I was out fishing with my buddy Scott the other day. He broke off his rig while I was on the oars so I handed him my five weight to fish. Scott took one cast and asked,

“What fly line is this? I’ve got to get one!”

What Scott didn’t know was that I had fished that same line just two days earlier and it had been miserable. The line stuck to the water and the guides. It felt like you could barely pull it through the guides, let alone shoot it. It was filthy.

“It’s a RIO Gold,” I told him. “But what you like about it is that I dressed it last night.”

It’s such a simple thing to clean and dress a line, but so many anglers don’t do it. At least not regularly enough. I’m guilty too but at least I know how to fix the problem. And now, so do you. Before you spend $90 on a new fly line try this out. I’ll bet it solves a lot of your problems.

HOW TO CLEAN AND DRESS A LINE

Start by cleaning the line. Putting line dressing on a dirty line just makes a slurry. It’s best to clean your line often and so I keep it simple. I use finger wipes. The kind you get at BBQ joints. Individually packaged, alcohol towelettes. I bought a case of 1000 of them for $7 years ago. I keep them in my boat bag so I can clean my line any time. It takes seconds.

Mucilin-Silicone-Green-1Once the line is clean

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Tenkara and the Sasaki Kebari

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By Mark Roberts

I’d like to share just a little my insight about the Sasaki Kebari as I have learned to use it in Tenkara.

I have been a Single Hand Spey, and Switch fly fisherman for many years and added Tenkara about five years ago for what it has to teach me to become a better fisherman. Simplicity. Learning to do more with what I have, to fish different conditions. The very first time I used my new Tenkara rod and Sasaki Kebari was on a lake. A buddy of mine and I fished the entire shoreline of that lake with our single hand rods and traditional flies and got nothing. I took out my brand new Tenkara and put on my first Sasaki Kebari I tied and caught my first trout in one minute. Caught five more in the next hour.

The Sasaki Kebari can be used as a surface dry fly, as a subsurface wet fly, or as a nymph. The mechanics are that as either a surface or subsurface fly, it is important to have a rod with a sensitive and quite flexible tip. My rod is a larger 13 1/2’ stiffer Tenkara USA Amago, and I use it a lot fishing on the Deschutes River here in Oregon for Redsides. Even with its size and stiff backbone, the Amago has a very sensitive tip.

Typically, just tapping your index finger on the rods handle will immediately transfers that vibration into the fly, as long as you have a line without slack in it. For a surface fly, it looks like a bug fighting for its life, and sending shock waves out into the water quite a distance, which does attract fish.

For a surface fly, the Sasaki Kebari has three benefits, as I see it. Viewed from beneath, it looks like a generic bug with its wings out fluttering fighting for its life. With most Western traditional dry flies, the fisheye view produces just a silhouette of what appears to be a dead bug. 

While fishing the Sasaki Kebari subsurface, it helps to act like a mini sea anchor in the current to create a line without slack, making it easier to feel in your hand and see in the rod tip if a fish is mouthing, or taking, the fly. The same index finger tapping will make the Sasaki Kebari look alive and pulsating in clear water. In colored water it can be sending out shock waves to attract fish from a distance. In a drift in colored water, it can feel much more like live food to a mouthing fish.

There are numerous different Tenkara style flies that were used in Japan in different regions of the country. Sasaki Kebari style is

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