Big Salmon and Rock N’ Roll: An Interview With Eric Clapton

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The name Eric Clapton is synonymous with rock and roll, but in certain circles he’s just as well known as a fly angler.

Clapton has been fishing his entire life but didn’t get into fly fishing until his status as a rock star was well confirmed. He even planned tour dates around famous rivers he wanted to fish. There was a time in his life when Clapton lived the ‘Rock N’ Roll Lifestyle’ like few have done but, since putting down heroin and alcohol in 1987, his life has been more like a John Gierach book than a rock and roll memoir. 

Clapton’s recent angling obsession has been Atlantic Salmon. In August of 2016 he landed a fish measuring 42 1/2 inches on the Vatnsdalsa river in Iceland. That would be the fish of a lifetime for any angler, but Clapton returned in 2017 to land another salmon measuring 41 1/2 inches and weighing in 3 pounds heavier than the first. Not content to rest on his laurels, the rock and roll icon is heading back to Iceland this year and is predicting a personal best, if not a record.

I AM DEEPLY HONORED THAT ERIC CLAPTON TOOK THE TIME TO SIT DOWN FOR AN INTERVIEW AND SHARED HIS THOUGHTS ON FLY FISHING WITH G&G READERS. BELOW IS OUR CONVERSATION.

G&G: Eric, may I call you Eric?

EC: Absolutely.

G&G: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk. It’s ridiculously exciting for me, I’ve been a big fan since I was in high school. I was in several bands and my buddies and I used to cover your songs, so I apologize for that. We were awful.

EC: (Laughing) Well, thank you just the same.

G&G: I renumber seeing the photos of that big salmon you caught in 2016, good lord what a fish that was, it was easily the biggest salmon I’d ever seen. What went through your mind when you hooked that fish?

EC: Oh, it was total panic. The first run was like nothing I’d ever experienced. You know, that fish took me nearly a half mile downstream.

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Sunday Classic / Fly Fishing: Is There a Time When Anglers Should Admit Defeat and Move On?

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IS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN AN ANGLER SHOULD ADMIT DEFEAT FROM A TROUT, PAY HIS/HER RESPECTS AND MOVE ON?

We’ve all been there before, sight-fishing to a trophy trout, only to have it ignore our flies time and time again. An hour or more can go by without the slightest sign of interest by the fish, while it remains in the same basic holding spot all the while unafraid, almost as though it’s staring you down and challenging you to catch it. You press on with unwavering persistence until your patience runs dry. You’d argue that the trout isn’t hungry, and that’s why it hasn’t eaten any of the fly patterns, but every time you start to believe it as a viable excuse, you see the flash of white, from the trout opening its mouth and sucking in a bug. You’ve changed flies more than a dozen times now, you’ve made well over a hundred casts, and you’re ready to throw in the towel. Yet every time you reel in your line and begin to walk away, the feeling of defeat shouts “halt, go back! Just make a few more casts. You can do this.” Sometimes you end up winning the battle, other times the take never comes. The times when your line does come tight and you do hook and catch the trout, do you ever wonder if the fish really ate your fly or if you just accidentally flossed it?

I have a good friend from Colorado that told me he once scuba dived in a river and watched his buddy drift nymphs through runs that were loaded with trout. He said he was astonished to see how many times the tippet of the leader drifting in the current went into the mouths of trout, resulting in the fly of the hook snagging the trout. If you’ve ever fly fished for fresh sockeye salmon, you know that the majority of the time that’s exactly how you catch them. Only on rare occasions do they eat your fly, and even then one could argue it’s only out of aggression from the pending spawn. When my friend told me his underwater account, it made me wonder how many fish I thought I’d gotten to eat my fly in the past, but were actually fish that I really just flossed with my leader and snagged. Were those catches legitimate? Not unless you believe calculated or accidental flossing is legit. Maybe if you’re starving to death I could go along with that, but most of us don’t live off the land.

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Saturday Shoutout / Expedition Taimen

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Fly-Fishing for giant taxmen in Russia.

Travel to Russia, drive a boat until you’re lost, crash the boat, shoot an AK-47 and burn your clothes. That’s a fishing trip!

ENJOY “EXPADITION TAIMEN”

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Power Your Fly Cast In The Wind: Video

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When casting a fly rod in the wind, technique always trumps power.

I work with a lot of anglers who struggle to make a good cast in the wind. It’s primarily a mental challenge. Wind has a way of getting into your head. It can quickly turn a good caster into a frustrated mess. If you can keep your wits about you, and your technique solid, you’ll be fine.

Everything matters when casting in the wind. Success is all about fundamentals. Your timing needs to be perfect, your application of power smooth, your stop hard and solid, but there is one thing I see time and again that frustrates anglers in the wind. The tendency to overpower the cast and drop the rod tip. if you can fight that urge, you’re on your way to a good powerful cast.

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR A COUPLE OF TIPS ON POWERING YOUR FLY CAST IN THE WIND.

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7 Reasons Why SUP Fly Fishing Is Here to Stay

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By Jason Paul

As anglers are increasingly searching for creative ways to get on the water, the sport of SUP fishing continues to grow in popularity with each passing year. 

But did you know that SUP fishing is a relatively new twist on something that actually goes back thousands of years? While the modern-day SUP fishing movement began approximately twenty years ago, the anglers of Peru were paddling around thin fishing canoes made of reed at least three thousand years ago.

In reality, this form of fishing has been around in some form or another for centuries because of the many advantages it offers over fishing from a boat or land. In this article, we’ll take a look at seven key reasons why SUP fly fishing is here to stay.

#1. Portability and Convenience

When compared with boats, stand up paddle boards are incredibly convenient to get on the water and inflatable fishing SUPs can even be deflated, rolled up, and brought along with you wherever you go. While traditional fishing boats have many obvious limitations in terms of where they can and can’t go, a lightweight paddle board and your fly fishing gear can be easily packed up and brought anywhere, opening up a whole new world of exciting opportunities and spots to fish.

#2. Accessibility

Everyone knows just how important it is to find the fish and there’s no easier way to reach the perfect fishing holes than on a SUP. Paddle boards are far more agile than boats and even kayaks, giving you an unfair advantage by allowing you to easily go where others can’t.

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Three Proven Options For Deep, Deep Nymphing

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By Louis Cahill

IT’S TIME TO MAKE LIKE CAPTAIN NEMO AND GO 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.

Sometimes the only trick to catching fish is getting the fly down to their level. When you’re nymphing and you’re not catching fish it’s always a good idea to add weight before changing flies. Often one split shot is the difference between fishing and casting.

I have fished with friends who were shocked at how much weight I use on my nymph rigs. They always end up following my lead and catching more fish. Especially in the heat of summer or cold of winter, weight is usually the answer. But just because you’re fishing heavy doesn’t mean you can’t fish smart.

Here are three rigging options that will help you make the most of the weight you use.

THE STRING OF PEARLS

The struggle in fishing deep is not sinking your flies. They are usually weighted and sink pretty quickly. It’s your leader that needs the weight. You can pile up a couple of #7 shot or a half dozen size BBs just above your tippet and it will drag that leader down but there’s a smarter way to use the weight.

I use hand-tied leaders and

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deGala’s Grass Shrimp

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By Herman deGala

Let’s size up a shrimp pattern for saltwater.

A compadre of mine asked if I could fashion a grass shrimp that was 3 to 4 times larger than my mysis shrimp so that he could chase redfish in his native Texas on the Gulf. It had to be tied on a saltwater hook and it had to be really durable.

I used the basic concept from my mysis shrimp, combined it with some of the principles from my carp flies and came up with this.

The 3/32” tubing can be found on the web and the rest of the materials can be found at your local fly shop or online.

WATCH THE VIDEO AND LEARN TO TIE DEGALA’S GRASS SHRIMP

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My Spey Debacle/Two Handed Conundrum

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By Brian Kozminski

I am a newbie. As in I have only cast a two handed rod a few times for Steelhead on the lower Manistee River. 

Completely foreign and looking to establish at least some credibility in the Spey Casting World of Fly Rods. I have decided this was a perfect opportunity to ask friends who are two handed experts and share this experience with others who may be in the same boat as myself. Some of the terminology is intimidating- OPST, LASAR, MOW, Skagit, a huge variety of lengthy and weighted rods which are to be paired with even more variety of leaders and weighed line from yet even more line manufacturers. Spey Rods and Switch Rodshave evolved and even come together in a streamlined category- either a Long Two handed rod(Spey)- over 12 feet, or short- less than 12 feet- two handed rod(Switch).

To understand the rod and it’s capabilities, we can look at the origin in Scotland on the River Spey, where Atlantic Salmon were often targeted species, yet tall banks along the river thwarted traditional backcasts. The 13-14′ long rod has been in use in Scottish rivers for nearly a century, providing a common goal- to get a fly out in a wide river without backcast. The Spey approach keeps the line on the water and the fly in the targeted zone longer than a traditional line that would rise and pull a salmon fly out of the desired depth. 

The use of two-Handed rods has spread, from the Pacific Northwest for Steelhead where it has obvious benefits, to break-lines in the east coast for Stripers and for myself in northern Michigan where freshwater Steelhead migrate in many of our rivers that connect to the Great Lakes. The dilemma is similar, my rivers may be smaller, but deep cut clay/shale banks or densely wooded cedar/pine forests don’t allow for great casting and the speed of rivers only allows my fly a momentary glimpse in the prime target zone of these silver bullets. So I asked my friend, Spey casting Guru Jimmy Chang what direction should I be looking for specific rivers northern Michigan has to offer.

“First you have to evaluate what river your fish- wide or narrow? Then what species- Trout or Steelhead?” 

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Sunday Classic / Dickey’s Tarpon Muddler

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IS THERE ANYTHING MORE SATISFYING THAN CATCHING A FISH ON A FLY THAT YOU TIED YOURSELF? WHAT ABOUT WHEN THAT FISH IS A BIG, LAID UP TARPON?
Where going to spend a little time helping you do just that. A couple of my good friends are going to share some of their favorite saltwater patterns with you. Joel Dickey is going to kick it off with this great pattern of his. Dickey’s Tarpon Muddler.

This is a fly that Joel uses with great results for laid up tarpon and for rolling tarpon in the early morning. It’s a simple tie that uses some sexy materials and some traditional techniques. It has a great profile and an enticing action.

Watch the video and learn to tie Dickey’s Tarpon Muddler. It might just put you on the fish of a lifetime.

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Saturday Shoutout / Notes From The Road

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If you’ve ever fantasized about hitting the road in a Volkswagen van and fly-fishing your way across the country, this is the film for you.

Chase and Aimee Bartee chronicle their trip from Massachusetts to Idaho and back. Fly fishing, camping, #vanlife and #vandeath along the way. Notes from the Road is lovely, soulful and restful. 

ENJOY: “NOTES FROM THE ROAD.”

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