Rods Available - September, Alaska


We seldom have rods available this late in the summer for our September Alaska trip. As the photos show, the rainbows are fattened up from a summer of feasting and are in great shape getting ready for winter. The tundra landscape is beautiful, fresh cool mornings, often with fresh snow on the mountains.

Rainbows & Sockeyes


Fall is a gorgeous season anywhere, but especially so in Alaska. Grab one of these spots and come along for a week of exceptional fishing and scenery. Details. Contact us or Stew Armstrong at Frontiers today!
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How to Clean Fly Lines

Tangled lines are no fun!

Clean fly lines float higher, shoot further, coil less, and last longer. These video clips from RIO are in the most recent issue of MidCurrent Fly Fishing News and demonstrate the easiest, quickest, most effective way to clean a fly line. Make sure your line is clean for best performance.


update: the links have been corrected...sorry for the error and thank you for reading!
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Gloves & Stripping Fingers

As I write this we are in Cancun waiting to fly home. We've just spent a week at Isla Holbox, Mexico, for tarpon of all sizes. Isla Holbox is a lovely island, great lodge, great fishing. One of the most appealing aspects of Holbox is the fishing for baby tarpon (ranging from about 7 to 30 pounds) in the lagoons and rivers the crisscross the island. And during the migratory tarpon season there are big tarpon on the flats outside the island.

We use Sage Xi3 rods, 9 weights for the baby tarpon and 12 weights for the big tarpon. Any good size tarpon from about 15 pounds up is going to put up an impressive fight, and will jump with all his might again and again. It's explosive, fast moving action and you have to be ready to let him run while still keeping tension, get the line off the deck and out through the guides without any snafus. Having good gloves, stripping fingers, and/or tape will save your hands from line cuts. The line comes off the deck with such speed and friction that it's impossible to hang onto it without some protection on your fingers. And, if there is any sand on the line it will cut your hands as well.

We would sit at breakfast sharing stripping fingers and tape. Most of us prefer the stripping fingers as the tape sometimes loosens and it often starts to lift and then you've got an edge that the line can hang up on. When I do use tape, I find the best is the tape used in equine barns to wrap the hoofs of show horses. It comes in about 5" rolls and often costs less than $5 a roll. I cut it into about inch-wide strips and wrap my fingers. The tape is sticky and holds pretty well, but the stripping fingers are still best. My favorite gloves are Dr. Shade gloves with Polyurethane palms. The PU on the palms helps me get a better grip on the rod with wet hands and it wears better than nylon palms. They also help when working with fish. I find these gloves combined with stripping fingers are the ideal solution.

I use gloves and stripping fingers (finger guards) for peacock bass and chum salmon as well. When I'm wading and fishing for bonefish I use them because of the sand and shell grit that comes up with the line when the fish runs. The gloves also offer protection from sunburn. I get my stripping fingers from Sea Level Fly fishing, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

When that fish takes off, you want to be ready to get things under control immediately. You can't do that if the line is burning cuts into your hands. Protect them from line cuts and you'll enjoy your fishing even more.

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Fishing is Good!


Although we've had way too much rain and everything is soggy, drippy, spongy, and soaked, fishing has still been very good. We're starting to see Hendricksons and sulphurs won't be far behind. One of our guides, Jim Kukurlo, guided John Radcliffe the other day here on Fishing Creek. Here is one of the fish they landed. We've still got days open, better come and fish while it's good! Read about our guiding.
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1 Room Left At Holbox, Mexico

Holbox, Mexico

Come along for a fun week. Holbox Island Fly Fishing Lodge is a spacious, modern, comfortable lodge on the water. Boats leave from the beach in front. Walk into town for dinner each night at Italian, Mexican, Argentine restaurants.  June 5-12, 2011.  Timed for the migratory tarpon but lots of baby tarpon too. Lots of fun fishing and relaxation. Check out details on our web site under Hosted Trips. Hope you can join us.
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Cathy's Fleeing Crab in Field & Stream

Cathy's Fleeing Crab with a natural

The coolest thing happened. Kirk Deeter has included my Fleeing Crab in his recent article in Field & Stream of his favorite patterns for trout and bass. It's an interesting list, be sure to take a look. You can check it out on our web site too under Merchandise. Thanks Kirk!
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Fly Casting Clinics and Guiding

Our casting clinics and guiding dates for the spring are filling up nicely but we've still got space so if you or someone you know is thinking about learning to fly fish, want to improve your cast or thinking about a day of fly fishing for trout on private water, we've got you covered! Our casting clinics are April 23 and May 14 & 21, for Basic fly casting and May 28 for Intermediate levels.

If you're looking for a special day of trout fishing how about a day of fishing on private water with one of our experienced guides. Carefully managed for over 30 years, our private water has an excellent population of browns and rainbows and some big fish that will knock your socks off! Come check us out for yourselves. We think you'll be impressed.

Check out the details on our website under Casting Clinics and Guiding. We're centrally located 3 hours from both Philadelphia and NYC in the heart of the Endless Mountains. Contact us for details.
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Choosing Your First Fly Reel

When putting together our first fly fishing “outfit” (rod, reel & line), we find ourselves making decisions about equipment that we probably don't know much about. This is when having a local fly shop is a very nice advantage. They have the expertise and knowledge to assist you with your selection. Arming yourself with some knowledge a head of time will help whether you can visit a fly shop or if you call a mailorder company.

A fly reel doesn't get a lot of attention but it is an important piece of gear and there are certain aspects of a fly reel that should be taken into consideration (beside cost) before making a decision on which model to buy.

The job of the fishing reel is to hold line. This is true whether you fly fish or fish with a spinning or bait casting rod. When retreiving, the line should go on the reel smoothly and evenly. Likewise, when a fish is running the line should also come off the reel smoothly and evenly without getting tangled. If the line doesn't come off the reel smoothly when the fish is running it could cause the fine leader to break. When you're winding line on the reel it's helpful to run the line between a couple fingers of your rod hand adding a little tension. This will help the line go on the reel in tighter coils which will help prevent the line from tangling on the reel.

When a fish is running line off the reel, it is the drag that keeps the line from getting tangled (if it was tight going on the reel). Drag is the tension on the line as it is leaving the reel. Most reels will have a drag knob which increases or decreases tension. If the drag is set too high for the strength of the leader you're using then the fish will break off. If it is set too light then the line comes off too quickly and the angler can't control the fish. Experiment with your drag setting by pulling line off the reel at different settings. If you're not sure what the drag setting should be, set it in the middle of the range until you become familiar with how it works. You'll know better after you've caught a few fish.

If the reel is an external rim model you can also “palm” the reel as the fish is taking line off the reel. The outside of the reel revolves in an external rim model. If the spool revolves inside a fixed frame than it can't be “palmed”. By palming the reel you can put light pressure on the spool as it turns and that will slow down the fish. A word of caution though – keep your fingers away from the revolving spool and reel knob when the reel is spinning.

A less important consideration is whether you like the sound of the reel. Reels sound differently from one to the next and usually the more expensive models are not as loud. Of course this is personal preference. Some anglers like to hear their reel as the fish is taking line off the reel and as they are reeling the line back on the reel. Most reels have a soft click as the line comes back on the reel and a louder click as the line is coming off the reel.

Most reels are easily converted from left hand wind to right hand wind or vise versa. Most of us today who cast with our right hand, reel with our left. You can, however, cast with your right hand and when you hook a fish, change hands, put the rod in your left hand so you can reel with your right hand. Either way works. For me I would rather not have to change hands when I've hooked a fish so I like to reel with my left hand. If you have more than one fly fisherman in the house, it's less confusing to have all the reels set up the same way. If that's not possible, make sure your reels are clearly marked so you don't get them mixed up.

To change the drag you take the spool out of the reel frame and usually flip a spring or a disc over to make it work in the opposite direction. Instructions should be included with your reel or if you buy it from a retail store, they will be able to change it for you. If you ask, most mail order companies will also switch it for you when ordering. If the reel has line on it and you switch the drag, you will then have to take all the line off the reel and wind it back on in the opposite direction so the drag is on the outgoing line.

Another consideration is weight and size. If you are buying a 5-weight rod, you will be buying a 5-weight fly line and thus will need a reel for a 5-weight line. If you buy a reel that is too small it may not be able to hold all of the line and backing (we'll discuss backing when we talk about fly lines). If the reel is too big the line and backing won't fill up the reel. This reel will be too heavy for the rod and will be cumbersome to fish with.

The actual weight of the reel is also important. When you look at a selection of reels that are compatible with a 5-weight line, you will notice quite a variance in weight. The weight of the reel is determined by how technical the drag is inside the reel and by the material used to manufacture the reel. Lighter materials like aluminum and carbon fiber are often found in the more expensive reels while the less expensive reels are often made from die cast. These are all very good materials. Be aware of the difference in weight and buy the lightest reel that is within your budget.

Another consideration is the availability of spare spools. You should start out fishing with a floating line which is what we use most of the time. But later on you may find that you want to buy a sink-tip line to use when the water is deep and the fish are down on the bottom. If you buy a spare spool for your reel, you'll be able to take out the spool that has the floating line on it and insert the spool with the sink-tip. Having a spare spool will make it easy to switch back and forth between the two lines and the spare spool costs less than buying second reel.

Like matching the fly line size to the rod, it's also important to match the size of the reel to the rod and line. While price often dictates what we purchase, keep the following points in mind while shopping for a reel:

1.Is it the correct size for the line you're using.
2.Does it have a drag adjustment.
3.Are spare spools available.
4.Can it be changed from left to right hand retrieve.
5.Do you like the way it sounds.
6.Is it made by a reputable company? If it needs to be repaired someday you'll want to be able to contact the manufacturer.

If you ask me for a couple of personal suggestions, I would recommend a reel like the Sage 1650. It can hold a 5-weight line and about 120 yards of 20 lb. backing, it's fairly lightweight, well made, and has an excellent drag. It's easily converted from left to right hand wind, spare spools are available, and it is large arbor. It retails for $99.00 and is a reel that you won't “out grow” and will be happy with years from now. There is also a 1680 for 7-9 weight lines. Sage

A second choice would be the Redington Crosswater CW2 4/5/6. Similar construction and features. I don't think the drag is as good as the 1650 but a very nice reel for the money. Reel retails for $55.
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Choosing A Flyrod







I can't tell you how many times people come up to us while we're in the Sage booth at Fly Fishing Shows and ask the question, "I'm just getting started in fly fishing. What should be my first rod?"

Of course at the shows, we have 90 rods on display representing at least 9 different "families" of rods, so I can imagine how intimidating this is for a brand new fly fisherman. But, actually the answer is not that difficult with the proper explanation.

There are many words used to describe the action of a fly rod. In layman's terms, what we are talking about is how little or how much the rods bends or flexes at the end of the casting stroke. In the industry we call this rod load. A stiffer rod bends less, thus making it a fast rod. Because it doesn't bend a lot, it generates fast line speed which can be very advantageous in some fishing situations, but this feature does not make it a good choice to use when learning to cast.

On the other hand, a soft rod bends more. This rod will protect lighter tippets and will give you a lighter, softer presentation on the water. But, like the fast rod it will not be a good rod to learn with because it takes a long time to recover from the bend or flex and your timing will suffer.

So, the perfect rod is somewhere in between, or what we call a medium-fast rod. If the caster can feel the line load the rod it will you establish the timing and rhythm of the cast. This is the first step to beginning to feel comfortable with fly casting.

The length and line weight is also a consideration. It's easy to think that a shorter rod will be an easier rod to start with, but that's not true. The most popular lengths rod for learning to cast is also the most popular lengths sold for general all around fishing and and that is 9'.  That said, I must admit that I like an 8-1/2 ft. too only because it's a
little lighter and not as tiring for a new caster, but either is a good length to start with and a useful length to use when fishing.

You will need to choose a line weight as well. This is the number assigned to the fly line which must match up with the rod. Rod manufacturers make this easy for us by putting the preferred line size on the rod blank usually close to the handle. If you look on the rod it will say something like, "9' #5 line". It it telling you the length of the rod and the line size that works best on the rod.

Line sizes range from 000 to 16 weight or from very very light to very heavy. If you're going to fish for trout and panfish though a line size of 4-5-6 should be your choice, and a 5 is my favorite to use when teaching someone to cast.

Therefore my favorite rods for teaching are medium-fast rods, either 8-1/2 or 9 feet in length for a #5 line.

If you were to ask me for a recommendation, I would suggest a Sage Vantage rod.

The Vantage is a medium fast fly rod and one that I particularly like and use in casting clinics. It's medium priced (in the range of beginner rods) and is available in 2 or 4 piece. It's also available as an outfit (rod, reel & line outfit).

An 8-1/2', #5 line, 2-piece, Vantage is $225. The 9' #5, 4 piece rod is $250 and the same rod in the outfit is $495, and includes a good reel and line.

For more information visit Sage, or visit your local Sage dealer.
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Lilypond Cosmetic Bag

Sorry guys, this one is for the girls. Although it would make a great gift. It's the most amazing cosmetic bag I've ever used.  The Nightingale is loaded with useful features and is hands-down the best designed, easiest to use and clean, cosmetic bag ever. It's got tons of room, 5 zip compartments, vinyl lined for easy cleaning and easy to separate the dry  from the "leakable".

And the best part? I can always squeeze in one more thing. There's always a little more room when you need it. Take a look at this and the other really cool Lilypond luggage, bags, totes, & accessories. They are attractive, functional and fun. Find your sense of place and spirit without boundaries at Lilypond.

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