We are often asked the same questions by many of our readers, so this is a place where those frequently asked questions can be viewed and reviewed by our readers. We will be expanding this section as we go along and invite you to send us your questions in the area provided below or CLICK HERE to go to the form. We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your comments and suggestions.
Questions are broken down into 3 categories. Click on the category to jump to that section.
What luggage do you use?
We don't think there is an easy answer to this question. Some trips require different luggage, but nearly all fishing lodges appreciate luggage that packs easily into the back of vans or trucks and is easy to move. We use a soft roller duffle with a hard shell bottom that is long enough (30-32") for 4-piece rods. Fishpond (fishpondusa.com) makes a great Rodeo Rolling Duffle. Be careful though, when fully packed it is very heavy.
Do you try to get everything in one bag?
We are frequent flyers with Delta, so we don't have to pay for a second bag. Therefore, we will often take a smaller soft duffle with our waders, wading boots, raincoats, etc. This makes the big duffle a little lighter and less full.
How far out do you book your tickets?
Frontiers does all of our ticketing for us on the Hosted Travel and they usually book 4-6 months out for us in order to get the best price and the best seats.
How do you pack fly rods?
In the hard shell bottom (see question above). We put the rods in their cloth sleeves (no hard tubes) and stager the ends. We can get up to 6-8 rods in the bottom of the duffle. We put the reels in neoprene pouches on top of the rods and pack socks, gloves, and other soft items around them.
Do you carry-on any tackle?
Not anymore. There have been too many times when we sail through ticketing and security only to be told at the gate that we can't take the tackle. At that point, we have to run it back to ticketing and trust someone to find our bag and put the items in it. It seldom works. Each airline and each agent has a different attitude toward tackle.
Do you carry your passport with you in foreign cities?
Sometimes, but if the hotel has a safe, we often put our passports and extra money in the safe. We keep a laminated copy of our passports in one of the duffles in case the passports are stolen.
Do you worry about pick pockets?
All the time. We know of people who have been cleaned out by being a good Samaritan. Often thieves will be working together and can stage all kinds of situations. An old person trips and falls in front of you on the sidewalk, you immediately stop to help and as you're concentrating on the accident victim someone else is going through your pockets and purse or backpack. They are slick and smooth and you don't have a clue- until later.
How do you pack liquids like shampoo or bug spray?
We use lots of Ziplock* bags and will often double bag these items and put them in the bottom of the duffle with the rods. The hard shell bottom protects them and TSA has never looked in this section.
Do you carry a lot of cash when traveling?
Unfortunately, yes. Traveler's checks are not popular in most foreign countries and often guides have no way to cash them. We use our credit cards whenever possible and separate our cash and keep it in different places in our carry-on luggage so we don't loose it all if a thief finds it. We also keep our cash in the hotel safe. -But don't forget to take it out!
Have you ever had anyting stolen out of your checked bag?
No, we've been very lucky but we carry all of our computer and camera gear too. We may put extra chargers or batteries in the checked bag but nothing that can be turned into cash easily.
How do you carry your computer and camera gear?
We talk about camera backpacks in the Photography Q&A. Depending on what computer gear I'm taking, I like a backpack and a shoulder bag or tote bag (something that can pass for my second "small" bag).
What is your favorite backpack?
My favorite is a Fishpond, but I have packs in different sizes depending on the trip, weight restrictions, and what I need for each destination.
What sunglasses do you wear? Polarized sunglasses are some of our most important gear. Polarized lenses cut the glare and allow us to see fish. If you can see the fish and cast to him, you will increase the chances of catching him. When you can see into the water, you are also a safer wader. We use two colors, the first is a copper tint for sunny bright days and an amber tint for low light situations. Our sunglasses have alwasy been Smith Optics. Smith sets the standard for fishing optics offfering UV protection, prescriptions, and a wide variety of styles and lens colors for all fishing situations.
Have you tried the new RIO Bonefish Quick Shooter? Yes, we used it this spring in the Bahamas. Cathy overshot her first two fish by at least 10 feet, spooking them both. She turned around and looked at me and said, "this is one hot fly line." It flies. With the pronounced head, we thought it might land hard, but we don't think we spooked any fish because of the taper. It loaded easily and quickly for fish at short range which is where you find them on windy cloudy days.
Do you use Fluorocarbon? Yes and no. We couldn't live without it for most of our underwater fishing. We are both convinced that fish have a harder time seeing fluorocarbon. That said, fluoro sinks faster than mono, so we still rely on mono for our dry flies. We try to buy the 110 yard spools from RIO both in mono and fluoro. It's frustrating to run out in the middle of the fishing day and neither material is going to deteriorate quickly inside our pack. Larger spools are expensive, but in the long run it's the better choice for us.
I am buying my first fly rod as a trout fisherman, what should I buy? A 9' #5. There are more 9' for 5 weight rods sold than any other rod. That's because this rod will work best in most trout fishing situations. You can take it almost anywhere in the world and have a suitable, if not perfect, trout rod. It should be a medium-fast action so you can be comfortable fishing all fly types. Price? Buy the best you can afford. Buy from a reputable company in case you need service later on, and make sure it has a lifetime guarantee, most rods do.
Can you show me how to attach the wing to the Super Beetle? Sure. The easiest way for me to show you is a video. Click here to see our video
Regarding your Super Beetle material list, can you suggest a possible source for the L&L Products Hi-Viz winging material you mentioned in your tying video? Hi. Thanks for writing. The material is now known as Sea Fibers. L&L was sold and the material renamed.
How do I prevent my fly line from twisting? Midcurrent has a great video demonstrating this. Click here to view it.
Where on the leader should my strike indicator be placed?
This will depend on the depth of the water and will need to be re-positioned as the depth changes. If you're fishing in 2-3 feet of water, I would place the indicator at least 3 feet from the fly to allow the fly to get to the bottom. As the water gets deeper, you'll have to move the indicator further up on the leader to compensate for the additional depth. The opposite applies as you move into more shallow water. Good nymph fishermen are constantly adjusting the strike indicator and weight (split shot) for the water they are in at the moment.
Thanks for sharing your beetle pattern on YouTube. Would you be willing to share the exact wing cutter you are using? It seems different than the ones I have seen. Also, does the type of wing material matter?
Thanks for writing to us. This is from the box that the wing cutter came in: River Road Creations, 3989 Stevi River Rd., Stevensville, MT 59870. 406-777-1046; email@example.com or www.riverroadcreations.com. It is a set of 3 wing cutters. It's called "Chernobyl-Style Foam Body Cutter Set, Tapered End, Sizes 2-12". Very nice. The wing material is closed cell foam from Hareline Dubbing. Hareline Dubbing also distributes the wing cutters, so if you have a local fly shop (or online shop) that carries Hareline products, they can order both for you.
How do I clean my fly lines?
Rio has a great article on cleaning and maintaining fly lines. Click here to read it.
I'm a new fly fisherman and can't figure out the difference between the tippet and the leader?
On a new leader the tippet the the last 24". The tippet section is extruded out from the tapered part so there is no obvious knot on a new leader, however as you change flies and use up the tippet, you will want to replace it tippet or leader material from a spool in your vest. Most anglers use a surgeon's knot to attach a section of tippet to the leader.
Which line should I use on my 11' Switch rod?
RIO makes a line specifically for Switch rods. It features a short powerful front taper that easily casts indicators and large flies and a long head for great mending and fly control at distance. It also has a unique taper that can be overhead or spey cast according to casting skill and situation. http://www.rioproducts.com/fly-lines/spey/switch/switch-line/.
Do you have a tip for turning over big foam flies in the wind?
Whenever you're fighting the wind, keeping a lower cast to the water (sidearm) will help because there is less wind down low than overhead. The second thing that will help is not shooting line on the final cast. Shoot line and get the distance and line speed you need with the false casts and just lay it down on the final cast.
How far above the fly do you put the split shot?
This will depend on the fishing situation that you're in. For nymph fishing, if the water is fairly shallow, say less than 3 feet and not moving fast, you may want the split shot 4-5" from the fly. If it is too close, the fly will get stuck on the bottom. (It will get stuck, too, if you're using too much split shot.) For streamer fishing I often put the shot right up against the head of the fly since I'm stripping it through the water. It gives the fly a jig-like affect which often gets the attention of the fish. If the fly isn't getting deep enough, you can add more or bigger split shot, mend more slack into the cast, go to a heavier fly or a sink-tip fly line.
What is the difference between a tip flex and a mid flex rod?
A tip flex rod is a medium-fast to fast action rod. The middle of the rod doesn't mend or flex much at the end of the casting stroke when the rod is loaded. A mid flex, or medium-action rod bends or flexes through the middle of the rod which slows down the action of the rod. A faster action rod will give you faster line speed for turning over bigger flies or in windy conditions, however a more medium action rod is usually preferred for softer, more delicate presentations.
Should I use a RIO Gold or RIO Grand for my Sage ONE rod?
If it was my rod, I would prefer the RIO Grand fly line because it is heavier than the Gold and designed for fast action rods. The rod will cast better close and load more quickly with the Grand. I would use the Gold on a slower action rod, like the Sage Circa, for delicate presentations and more sensitive trout fishing conditions.
How can I get rid of my tailing loop?
There are two things that cause more tailing loops than anything else: The first one is stopping the rod tip too soon on either the back or the forward cast. If we stab the rod tip up in the air at the end of the last forward cast, the cast will tail and usually tangle before it straightens out. Often by simply taking the rod tip further back on the backcast or forward on the forward cast a couple more inches will correct this one. The other mistake we often make is allowing our elbow to raise at the end of the forward cast. This shows up when we think we need to "punch" the cast out. If we stab the rod tip up in the air at the end of the last cast, it will most likely tail because we're punching or pushing the cast too hard. By using a haul instead to increase line speed or simply not punching the last cast, the problem will not appear.
What camera would you buy if you were buying a camera? It would be Nikon, of course. If it were a point and shoot, it would be the Nikon AW100. It shoots underwater, is shockproof, has HD video, pocket size, and takes great pictures. If it were an SLR it would be the D7100 because it is 26 mega pixels, HD video, huge files, and great color right out of the box. My dream camera would be a D4, I can't afford it yet, but someday...
What do you think makes a good picture? It is obviously light, composition, and capturing the moment. Honestly, capturing the moment is the most important. We have to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so if you are happy with the picture, that's the most important thing.
What software do you use? For interesting images, we use Photo Mechanics. We've tried them all but PM is very easy to use and handles raw images easily. For correcting and converting raw images, we use Nikon Capture. Because we are editorial photographers our Art Directors can change or manipulate an image as they need, so Capture does anything that we need it to do. I don't use a Photo Shop program.
How do you clean your cameras? I use Pledge wipes for the bodies, they work great. I use a lens cleaning kit from Smith Optics (the Sunglass people). It does a fantastic job of keeping my UV filters clean. On DSLRs, we use a bulb blower. Never used canned air to clean your sensor. Many of the new DSLRs have a self-cleaning sensor mode. In your camera menu you can set-up the camera and program it to self-clean the sensor every time the camera is turned on.
UV Filter? We have UV filters in front of every Nikon lens that we own except the 12-24, because that lens doesn't have a screw-in filter. We do this more for the lens protection than for the actual UV element. It is much cheaper to replace a cracked or scratched UV filter than it is a new lens.
What do you do for a stuck filter? There are filter wrenches that you can buy, but we carry one of thos rubber kitchen cloths that are used to loosen stuck lids. they are about half the size of a hot pad and come in handy. It gives you a much better grip on the stuck lens.
One of our most asked questions is: What point and shoot camera do you suggest for me to take fishing? Nikon AW100. It is small, easy to take along, waterproof, shock proof, takes great photos and video, excellent color. Priced about $350
What is the best time of day to shoot? With film we always looked to early morning and late afternoon or evening light. Digital has expanded the prarametersand now we can shoot in just about any light. With the high ISOs aaailable now we can shoot in low light levels that owuld have been impossible with film. And, in high bright sunlight we can bump down the contrast in post processing software like Nikon Capture.
What camera bag do you use? Having only one camera bag for me is like having only one fly rod. My choice depends on how much gear I need to carry. I have tried most of the major brands like Lowpro and Tamrac and most were just okay, but then we found Thinktank. Thinktank bags are extremely easy to use. If you have an SLR system, there is a Thinktank bag that will suit your needs. It is easy to see that the bags are designed by professional photographers. They are reasonable priced and worth looking at.
On the SLR side, if you only had one lens, which would it be? As Nikon shooters, we have two choices: for the DX sensor SLRs, the Nikon 18-300 is an incredible lens as is the equivalent for the FX sensor full frame- the Nikon 28-300. These are amazingly sharp and very affordable for what you get. That said, we come up short when we are in tight quarters like shooting in a boat, so we always carry a shorter telephoto in the 10-24mm range. So, I guess we can't live with only one lens. Having the two lenses enables us to cover all bases.
What about card readers? We just got a new slim Sandisk reader that takes all three card sizes. It is easy to pack and easy to use. With the right computer it's extremely fast on the download. We always buy the fastest write speed cards we can find which most of the time is Sandisk.
Have you always shot Nikons? I started with a small Nikon back in the 1970s, but I had friends who shot with Olympus so I eventually acquired an Olympus system which we duplicated for Cathy. But in the early 1980s we switched back and have been with Nikon since. I personally think the glass is better in the Nikons and I like their support and service.
Do you do a lot of post shooting work in Photoshop? Actually I don't own Photoshop. I can do all my post shooting work with Nikon Capture software. We have an older version of Photoshop here in the office because our staff uses both programs.
We have several thousand slides to scan and store on digital media. These can be scanned as relatively small files: travel, family, etc. What is the best scanner to use? We still have two Nikon scanners that we use, although we are scanning fewer and fewer slides now than a few years ago. Nikon no longer makes a slide scanner. We hear good thinkgs about the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai scanner but have no personal experience with it. There are also online services where you can send your slides and have the conversion done.
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