This week we stocked sections of Fishing Creek and asked our grandkids to help. They thought it was the coolest thing ever. Of course, they fish and I would say they even fish quite well but never had the opportunity to help stock.
We talk about kids being the future of fly fishing and there are great kids projects. This week I had a young boy working on his fly fishing merit badge come to me for help in casting and learning about insects and flies. I think this is all important stuff, but I also know that our boys would never help stock fish on their own initiative.
We adults have to make the opportunities available to our kids and then stay involved with them. There is a lot to distract these days, but fishing opportunities do come along and it's up to us as parents, grandparents, councilors, teachers, family friends to make sure the kids get the chance to participate.
This is a long weekend. Is there a kid that you can take fishing, or hiking? Maybe your own kids or the neighbor? We hope so! We wish you all a Happy Memorial Day. Get out and Enjoy!
Fly Line Mending
Mending is the ability to position the fly line on the moving current in a manner which counteracts the effects of the current, thus allowing the fly to present itself naturally on or in the water. Mends can be upstream, downstream, and often content with varying speeds of water. These tips and techniques will help us all become better fishermen.
We've got a few spots here and there on the rest of our 2019 trips and we'd love for you to get in on the fun. Here's what we have coming up:
June 20-28 Slovenia, Departure is full July 26-Aug. 9 Africa, Departure is full Aug. 24-31 Bighorn River, Montana, 2 Rooms Aug. 31-Sept. 7 Bighorn River, Montana, 3 Rooms Sept. 28-Oct.5 E. Pyrenees, Departure is full Dec. 7-14 Tres Valles, Argentina, 2 Rooms
Your Line Hand. Domenick Swentosky's tip #49 (of 50) reminds us of how important our line hand is and gives up tips on stripping flies, shooting line, and all the things our line hand does without thinking about it – and we get some tips on how to do all these things better.
Little Blue Quills, done. Quill Gordons, done, Hendricksons, done. Spring is fast slipping away from us. We're now seeing March Browns, tan caddis, and someone reported seeing the first sulphur this week. We hope you're getting out to enjoy the spring hatches. It is a beautiful time of year and it won't last long!
We're busy with guiding and lessons. Here are a few shots from the season so far.
Last week found us at Belize River Lodge with amazing weather and perfect tides. We didn't put on a raincoat all week. You would think the fishing to be amazing – but truth be told, our group had a difficult week finding fish. The week got a little better toward the end, thank goodness. Thank you to an amazing group of anglers and the staff and guides at BRL who understand saltwater fly fishing and hung in there to make the best of it. We hope you enjoy the photos.
With sulphur season fast approaching here is an interesting Perdigon sulphur nymph to add to your box. We've had lots of water so far this season and this is a good pattern to get your fly down to where the fish are holding, and Tim always has tying tips to make the job easier. Thank you MidCurrent, Marshall Cutchin and Tim.
The fly line is a necessary evil. We need a fly line to cast our flies but the fly line on the water creates drag. Not only the fly line but the leader too. To help eliminate drag get as much line and leader off the water as possible by getting as close as possible to the pool and lifting the fly rod up and extending your arm out over the water. Do same when fishing at a distance by reaching out and lifting the rod higher.
High Sticking is basically lifting your fly rod and extending your casting arm to lift your fly line off the water. Lifting the fly line off the water will help to eliminate drag and give you a better drag free presentation, allowing your flies to go deeper and be in better contact with your strike indicator. Did you catch the part about extending your casting arm? If you are using a 9ft fly rod by extending your arm out and up you now have a 11ft fly rod depending on the length of your arm. For sake of argument lets say you gain about 2ft. It's a lot easier to mend your fly line in the air then it is when the line is lying on the water.
The Drift – The object of a drag free drift is to keep the fly, leader, strike indicator, fly rod and your arm in a straight line as the fly drifts down stream. In order to achieve that you must mend your fly line and follow the line downstream with the tip of your fly rod. The current is never the same all away across the stream. Learn to read the water and look for seams in the current and along the edge of a riffle. It's easier to control your drift in these seams with short casts and short drifts then it is making long cast and trying to mange more fly line on the water. Trout will feed on the edge of a fast running riff and in pools behind rocks. The flow of the current also dictates how I present my cast. Nymph fishing 101 is a three quarter upstream cast – one mend and a perfect drift through the hole. With multi currents sometimes I prefer to cast across stream and drift the fly slightly downstream allowing the fly to drift into the trout keeping the fly line behind and out of sight of the trout. This is especially good to do on bright sunny days to keep your shadow and the shadow of the strike indicator from spooking the trout.
Leaders - For whatever reason I have never gotten into making my own leaders. It might be something I should look into. I use a 9ft. 4wt RIO monofilament leader and adding a 3ft section of fluorocarbon tippet. Tippet size is determined by the hook size of the fly that I'm using. Hook size 12 and larger I use 4x, hook size 14 and 16 usually 5x and size 18 and smaller 6x. Of course that can vary with the water flow and water color. I always use two nymphs by attaching a 18 to 24 inch section of fluorocarbon tippet material, which will lengthen my leader to around 14ft. Longer leaders create less drag by allowing me to keep more of the fly line off the water. I don't use the loop to loop method to attach the leader to the fly line, it adds bulk and creates issues when landing fish and can damage the guides on the fly rod. Instead I simply attach the leader to the fly line with a clinch knot. It makes a slim profile and the leader will go through the guides without hanging up on the guides.
Flies – Along with using two flies I found that high sticking with an indicator can be a very effective way to dead drift a wooly bugger or a streamer through a deep pool or fast riffle.
Split Shots - Although I try to stay away from using split shot by using at least one fly with a tungsten bead but there are times I do have to add split shot. As the saying goes “You are one split shot away from catching fish.” Generally I add the split shot between the two flies. But that depends on what fly I'm using and where I want the bottom fly to be. For example a size 10 Ug Bug as the first fly and a size 18 Pheasant Tail as the bottom fly with no split shot between the two flies allowing the pheasant tail to float several inches off the stream bottom.
Strike Indicator – Years ago, long before the idea of using a strike indicator, I used to paint my nail knot with bright orange fingernail polish which would help me see the strike better by watching the end of my line. And it did work and it was a pretty cool idea that I learned from a friend of mine but strike indicators work much better. Keep in mind the strike indicator also suspends the fly in the water column which helps to keep from hanging up on the bottom of the stream and allows you to drift the fly at the depth you think the trout are. By watching your indicator you can see the effect the current has on your drift and how your fly is being presented to the trout. How far from the fly you put your indicator is a question I get a lot from fishermen. The rule of thumb I use is to put the indicator 1 to 2 ft higher then the depth of the water you are fishing. Most indicators will slide up and down your leader and are easy to adjust. Adjusting the indicator and being sure you have the right amount of weight are two very important factors in nymph fishing. There are hundreds of strike indicators on the market and after years of trying different ones the Dorsey indicator is my favorite. (More about different kinds of indicators in a future article.)
Fly Rods – As a kid using sticks as swords the guy with the bigger stick usually wins. A longer fast action fly rod greatly helps in mending and managing the fly line. My go to fly rod for nymph fishing is a 9ft 5wt Sage X, and depending on the size of the stream I'm fishing, I also use a 9.5ft or a 10ft 4wt.
If you are new to nymph fishing or struggling with getting good drifts and having confidence in your nymph fishing. Just by learning to lift your fly rod up and out you will see immediate changes in your drift. Once you establish confidence you will start catching more fish and having fun.
We're busy working on our 2020 trips. Here is a look at what we have to look forward to:
January 11-21 Suinda & Pira, Argentina (golden dorado) February 8-15 Laguna Verde, Argentina (rainbows) February 16-20 Dorado Cruiser, Argentina (golden dorado) March 13-20 Villa Maria, TDF, Argentina (trout) March 21-28 Estancia Tecka, Argentina (trout) Dates TBA San Huberto, Argentina (trout) April 25-May 2 Turneffe Flats Lodge, Belize (bones, permit, tarpon, etc.) June (TBA) Ireland/Scotland (trout/Atlantic salmon) August 6-15 Reel Action Camp, Alaska (trout, char, pacific salmon) August 22-29 Bighorn River, Montana (trout) August 29-Sept.5 Bighorn River, Montana (trout) October 4-11 E. Pyrenees, Spain (trout, barbel) Nov/Dec Tres Valles, Argentina (trout)
We just returned from our March/April trip to Argentina where we visited three estancias with three amazing groups of clients, never put on a raincoat, and had beautiful weather – with just a bit of wind. After all, it wouldn't be Patagonia without some wind! The places you'll see in the album are Tres Valles Lodge, San Huberto Lodge, and the Limay River Lodge, all amazing. It seems like a long time until next year. There is just no place like Argentina! Click here to see more photos
We've all heard the news about Sage's new rod, the Igniter. If you're looking for a fast rod with backbone for longer casts, bigger flies, and one that will step up to the plate should the wind come up, but is still fun to cast without being too fast, try to Igniter. Here's an interesting short MidCurrent review of the rod by fly fishing gear reviewer, Robert Morselli.
Fishing is good here at home. Hendricksons are the order of the day with March Browns soon to follow. Here are a few shots from guiding recently. Spring fishing doesn't last long, we hope you're getting out to enjoy it!
We kicked off mid-April with a beautiful weekend for the opening of trout season. Pictured here is our most popular fishing spot on opening day, the Benton Dam. Then the following week, just so we don't become too complacent, Mother Nature threw tornados (tornados in PA, you say?) at us in the middle of the night.
Our little town of Benton, having just recovered from a devastating flood last summer, was now devastated again with tornados. Our lovely Mill Race Golf Course was just about obliterated, barns torn apart, homes lost or damaged, beautiful 100 year old trees uprooted like pick-up sticks. Everyone was without power for days and it felt like a war zone. Luckily no lives were lost.
So now we are trying to get back to normal, but we're not sure what normal is anymore!
Here, we're busy getting out fly orders, lots of Hendricksons and March Browns are rushing out the door so we can tell that the spring hatches are in full bloom here in the east. Trout lilies and Dutchmen's Britches are blooming, fish are rising, it's a beautiful time to be outside and we hope you are making time for spring fishing. It won't last long.
2 Unique Opportunities
Tres Valles, Argentina
Tres Valles, Argentina, in the fall (their spring) is beautiful with full rivers, hungry fish, and snow capped mountains. Easy wading, float trips, spring creeks, small rivers, lakes. It's the fly fisherman's dream destination. You may not be a lake fisherman, we weren't either until we got to Argentina. Lakes are different here, clear, cold, with hatches and big fish. With spectacular scenery and rising fish, lakes here can be a lot of fun.
But there are also pretty little spring creeks with browns and rainbows that will surprise you (and fill up the net), small rivers where an Adams dry fly and a PT nymph will catch fish all day long, float trips through beautiful canyons, and walk wading small rivers.
This is a small lodge, only 4 guest rooms, with big variety! Come with us to this special destination, December 5-16, 2019. Includes a day in Buenos Aires, our favorite city. See the details.
Villa Maria, Tierra del Fuego
We're very excited to have a week at Estancia Villa Maria in Tierra del Fuego next March 13-20, for sea-run brown trout. This small, 6-guest, lodge is sold out annually and for years to come. It is only by a stroke of luck that we were able to get a week here and it may not happen again.
If you have Tierra del Fuego on your bucket list, come along with us to this very special destination. It will be a trip that you won't soon forget!
Oh, drat. I finally get a day off to fish and the fish won't bite! Our head guide, Jim Kukorlo, tells us what he does when this happens. (now we all know his secrets....)
What Does a Guide do When the Fish Aren't Biting?
This might sound like a tough question to answer. But it is a situation that I do find myself in from time to time. Not only when I'm guiding but when I'm fishing too. I know the water well and I know the fish are there but they are simply not biting.
As a young boy I was either playing baseball or fishing in a small creek behind my house. As were all of the kids in the neighborhood in those days. What I noticed was that when the fish weren't biting the other kids started to throw rocks or play in the creek but I didn't. At least not right away. I always wanted to catch fish when no one else was. That hasn't change I still like to catch fish when the bite is off.
As a guide I always do my best to give the client a good day on the water. Which of course includes catching fish. Doesn't take long to sense that the bite is off. Now that can mean several things. One - the strikes are soft, we are rolling fish or getting head shakes but can't keep them on the hook. I immediately switch to smaller flies and that sometimes can make a difference. Or Two - the fish are simply not biting.
Before I start changing flies I will add split shots, adjust the strike indicator and correct any mistakes my client is making in his presentation to ensure a drag free drift. I read a great article on patience vs. persistence by Domenick Swentosky on his website Troutbitten. “Patience is waiting for something to happen and persistence is making something happen.”
Another way of putting this is “Think Outside the Box” and when the bite is off and I'm guiding it's definitely time to “Think Outside the Box” and be persistent. I usually start on a certain section of water for a reason. On a summer day I like to hit the quiet pools first before the sun is on the water. Colder early spring or autumn days I like to start where I will be in the sun and later in the day move to the shady pools as the day warms up. But what if I'm in the pool I thought would be the best in the morning but it isn't. Once we are in the beat for awhile I like to move up or down stream to different water. We will not only rest the pool but it will give us different type of water and fish that haven't been fished over yet.
If I start out using nymphs I like using the two nymph set up. Using an attractor fly such as a San Juan worm, squirmy wormy or some sort of egg pattern as the top fly with a go-to nymph such as a size 18 pheasant tail or caddis pupa that can sometimes trigger a strike. I continue to change the bottom fly with an assortment of flashy flies with orange, green, red and even purple bead heads and different color hot spots on the fly. If using 4x tippet, I will drop down to 5x or even 6x.
Many clients have never fished without an indicator so having them high stick a nymph is something different and new for them to learn and can be productive in certain pools. The fly will get down quicker and deeper and it will be a different presentation to the trout.
If still no success underneath I switch to a attractor dry fly such as a hopper or a yellow body Crackle Back dry fly (more on that in a future issue). If there is no interest in the dry fly I can always add a dropper fly such as a soft hackle, beetle or many other options.
Thinking outside the box doesn't mean just using different types of flies. It also means using different types of presentations. Early afternoon is a great time to swing a few wet flies through a nice riff or working them slowly in a deep pool. When was the last time you heard the word wet flies? Old school I guess but they still catch fish.
I always have a fly rod setup with a sink-tip line and a streamer ready to go in hopes of hooking into a good fish who is looking for a bigger meal. A dead minnow or sculpin pattern just dead drifting off the bottom can be a easy meal for a lazy trout. Or dead drift a super bugger with a small nymph as a drop fly off the bugger.
These are a few of the different flies and techniques I try when the fish aren't biting. Weather and water conditions really play a big part in where I fish, what flies I use and what type of presentation will be best.
On a day when my client is catching fish there isn't a need to change techniques or even fly set ups. So on a day when the fish aren't biting, clients can experience some different ways of fly fishing that he/she might not have had the chance to do before.
Trout live in beautiful places and most clients are just happy to be on the water. As the old saying goes “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.” So what does a guide do when the fish aren't biting? I work hard, I'm persistent, I think outside the box and I do the best I can to give the client a good day on the water.
If you have any questions or if there is something you’d like to see here, please let me know. I like hearing from our readers.
Hope to see you on the stream.
50 Women Who Fish
This week Wild River Press is releasing Fifty Women Who Fish, of which Cathy is one of the fifty. It is a gorgeous large-format hardcover production of more than 300 pages with hundreds of color photos.
For two full years, author Steve Kantner sought out a wide range of female anglers, extraordinary individuals from ages 20 to 90, from the Florida Keys to Alaska. All are passionate about their favorite outdoor sport and their personal stories are fascinating.
How many times have we all been in this angler's situation? Next time let's remember to change our position and our angle. It might just make the difference needed to hook the fish. Thank you Orvis, Dave, and Phil.
Cathy & Barry are wrapping it up on the Limay River in Argentina and have two more days of fishing before starting home. They have visited three destinations— Tres Valles, San Huberto, and the Limay, and have not put on raincoats the entire time! Weather has been good and their guests are taking home great memories of good times and good fishing. We will have more when we get Barry’s photos home and edited.
Country Life Experience
Fun! Fun! Fun!
We're excited to tell you about a new program we have for families and kids who don't get nearly enough time to play in the country.
There is something for everyone – fly fishing, kayaking and fishing on the pond, grooming the horses (and giving them treats), gather eggs, eat beans from the garden, learn about the woods, do the waterfall trail, and lots more – wind down at the end of the day around the campfire and then sleep under the stars.
Programs are designed for families and kids of all ages and we'll always be as flexible as possible with specific requests so give us a call for dates and availability.
We hope to see you and the kids in a couple months!
Fishing With Kids If you fall, get up
Since we're talking about families, I thought this would be a good time and place to share Domenic Swentosky's excellent advice on fishing with kids. It's fun to read even if you don't plan to take kids fishing. Thanks Domenic!
January 10-20 Coyhaique, Chile (trout) February 7-18 Estancia Laguna Verde, Argentina (trout) February 15-25 Estancia Tecka, Argentina (trout) March 14-24 Estancia Tres Valles, Argentina (trout) March 22-Apr. 1 San Huberto, Argentina (trout) Apr. 27-May 4 Belize River Lodge (bones, tarpon, permit, snook) June 20-28 Soca Valley, Slovenia (trout) July 26-Aug. 9 E. Africa Photo Safari Aug. 23-30 Bighorn River, Montana, Wk. #1 (trout) Aug. 30-Sept. 7 Bighorn River, Montana, Wk. #2 (trout) Sept. 28-Oct. 5 E. Pyrenees, Spain (trout) Dec. 7 – 14 Estancia Tres Valles, Argentina (trout)
January 11-18 Coyhaique River Lodge, Chile February 8-15 Laguna Verde, Argentina February 16-20 Dorado Cruiser, Argentina (dorado) March 13-20 Villa Maria, TDF, Argentina (sea-run browns) March 21-28 Estancia Tecka, Argentina March 29 – Apr. 4 San Huberto, Argentina April 25-May 2 Turneffe Flats Lodge, Belize (bones, tarpon, permit, snook) June (TBA) Ireland/Scotland (trout, Atlantic salmon) August 6-15 Reel Action Camp, Alaska (trout, pacific salmon, char) August 22-29 Bighorn River, Montana August 29-Sept.5 Bighorn River, Montana October 4-11 Spain, E. Pyrenees Nov/Dec (TBA) Tres Valles, Argentina
Let's take one last look at Laguna Verde and Tecka before we move on to other projects. Barry is done editing so we pulled for few of his photos for an album. The Becks are back in Argentina as this goes to print and we'll soon have some photos from Tres Valles and San Huberto. In the meantime, here's one more look at Jurassic Lake and Estancia Tecka.
Brooke (she's our social media guru) tells me that I have to do this. She says I have to tell you why you should buy flies from our store. She says I need to tell you why we pick the patterns that we do, and the tiers, and she says we need to tell you about Jim Smethers. Okay, okay, I said. I'll say something.
So, the long and the short of it is that Barry and I have been selling flies since 1980. He was selling flies long before that in his parents sporting good store – and later ours, Berwick, PA. He owned a small company called Cahill House which sold bamboo rods and flies, and probably other things but I don't remember. What I do remember from those early days is that neither his mom or dad had an inkling about fly fishing, but their son did. Barry was also working for Letort Limited, in Boilings Spring, PA, at the time and ran the little fly fishing department at the store on weekends. His mom (not to get off track) was in my mind an expert in guns, reloading, and ammunition. It's funny because I don't ever remember her shooting a gun but she knew her stuff when it came to reloading. Anyway, Jim Smethers was tying flies for Barry when I met him in 1979, and he's still tying for us today.
It's always been important to us to buy flies from tiers who fish. It's harder to do that today and we have to get some of our flies from Solitude, Umpqua, and other fly suppliers but it's nice to think that those patterns are, at least, designed by fly fishermen. But, Jim still ties lots of patterns for us and he fly fishes...albeit not like he used to, but still.....
Anyway, here's thanks to Jim who is, has always been, and will always be a great friend and fly tier!
Think you have problems? We found this video on MidCurrent by Erin Block, presented by Orvis. It kind of puts everything into perspective. Thank you all for sharing the story. We're behind you, Paul.
Ah, the ides of March are upon us. While we don't know what that means to you, if anything, to us it means that spring can't be far off. While we still have plenty of snow on the ground here, everyday this week is above freezing and we can see 50's in the forecast. So, we are celebrating spring!
And with spring comes the hallowed opening day of trout season. Fly orders picked up several weeks ago and we can tell that anglers are looking at their boxes and filling in the spots. With that in mind I asked Jim Kukorlo, our head guide, to tell us how he organizes his fly boxes. Is it by season, by types of dries, by color, what? So, we have his thoughts and suggestions for you below and we have a tying video by Tim Flagler (my favorite presenter....besides Barry, of course) on tying the bead head baetis nymph, another great pattern for spring fishing. He'll tell you why.
Barry offered to write about super buggers and I said, “Are you crazy? We can't keep them in stock now!” It is without a doubt our most popular pattern with the super beetle running a close second. The super bugger is a great early season fly because it has weight and bulk which makes it very effective in deep, fast, cold water. Strip it slow or dead drift and hope for a lethargic hungry fish to see it coming. But anyway, I'm not talking anymore.
We're off to Argentina for our March trip. We'll be at Tres Valles, San Huberto, and the Limay River Lodge. Brooke, Susie and Eddie will keep things running smoothly here and we'll talk to you from the road. Hope spring has sprung where you are.
Cathy & Barry
Organize Your Fly Box
Weather I'm guiding or fly fishing myself I like to keep things simple. I switched from wearing a vest years ago because I couldn't find the things I wanted. Just too many pockets. I now use a sling pack with a lot less pockets. But big enough to carry what I need and to find it easier. The same is true with my fly boxes. Over the years I've used large ones with all of my flies in one or two boxes. Which meant that I spent time looking through the boxes to find the flies I wanted to use. Now I really like the slim fly boxes that you can buy in small, medium and large sizes to fit into my sling pack or fishing vest. Four small slim boxes and two large slim boxes fit nicely in one compartment of my sling pack. I also have one medium size slim box that is magnetized for my size 18 to 22 size nymphs. These boxes are so thin that I can even carry an extra one in the small pouch in front of my waders. The boxes have a clear top so you can see the flies in the box, or you can write on the box with a magic marker. The large box holds most of my size 12 to size 16 nymphs. I have one box with only my (darkside flies) eggs, sucker spawn, San Juan worms, squirmy wormies, etc. Another box has only my larger weighted nymphs and I have a box of unweighted nymphs. And of course a box with an assortment of streamers. In the sling pack I always keep the fly boxes in the same order so I know what flies are in each box and can easily pick the box I need. I have several dry flies boxes. One will hold all of my mayflies and caddis dry flies. Another one will have my terrestrial flies along with small midges. At the end of the day I can easily check the boxes to see what flies I need to replace for the next day on the water. By knowing what box holds what flies and having easy access to them, you’ll spend less time fooling around looking for stuff and more time fishing. This is important to me and to my clients! If you have any questions or if there is something you’d like to see here, please let me know. I like hearing from our readers. Hope to see you on the stream.
Tim Flagler's Bead Head Baetis Nymph
A go-to pattern for any time of year, but especially in the spring. It should be in your box. If you don't tie, check ours out in our store. Thanks Tim and MidCurrent.
Last week we asked you to help stop Pebble Mine. If you haven't sent your message, please do so real soon. Time is running out.
Please don't glance at this and move on. Everyone is tired of hearing about Pebble Mine and that is just what our government wants from us. In the Army Corp EIS (Environmental Impact Study) the Corps only examined a tiny discharge from the tailings storage facility. Independent studies suggest a realistic dam failure would involve 10,000 times more material flowing downstream than the Army Corps studied. “Because the Army Corps didn’t do their job, Bristol Bay fishermen had to hire a scientist to take a hard look at a catastrophic tailings dam failure in Bristol Bay like those that have recently occurred in British Columbia and Brazil. Dr. Cam Wobus is an MIT-educated earth scientist specializing in hydrology and geomorphology. He is a peer-reviewed expert on this subject. What he found was horrifying. If the Pebble tailings dam fails, the Nushagak River basin downstream of the mine is going to be coated with a layer of mine waste. Summer or winter, wet or frozen, it doesn’t matter: nothing will stop the flood of debris. “ And this is just the beginning. Please help preserve this fragile wild untouched part of our country from drilling by a non-American company! This is too fragile an area – failure will occur. Make the mining companies find a way to extract the copper while still preserving environment and the billion dollar plus salmon industry. We know we need copper and we are not against mining, but we are very much against this type of mining. We only have a short window to voice our opposition, so we are begging you to help us by clicking through and completing the message to the Army Corps. Make Pebble Mine Go AWAY! https://action.savebristolbay.org/page/s/pebble-mine-draft-environmental-impact-statement-comment-submission-form It only takes a minute to let your voice be heard.