Casting a fly rod is certainly a work of art and when done correctly it is amazing the distance you can achieve. Many of us probably believe that we are good if not great fly casters. But, I will be the first to admit that I am not. I can be accurate up to 60 feet but as soon as I try to add more line, my cast gets sloppy. The loop falls apart and my accuracy goes out the window. Now the argument is, that you hardly ever need make a single handed cast longer than 40-50 feet, especially when trout fishing. So why do you need to add more distance? I heard a casting instructor mention that “anyone who says you do not need to cast far means that they cannot.” There is probably quite a bit of truth to that statement and you might be wondering if you are that “guy.” Now lets say you are on a saltwater trip of a lifetime and you need to make a cast at a cursing tarpon or tailing permit and all of a sudden you need to cast and extra 10 – 20 feet of line accurately. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to complete that task without even thinking about it? Of course it would. This casting video from Orvis dishes out some excellent pointers on how to add distance to your cast. Take a peak and be ready next time to need to make a cast outside your comfort zone.
This year I have been fortunate enough to work with several fly rods that I have not used in the past. The shining star of the bunch have been the Hardy Fly Rods which I cannot say enough about. Hardy Fly Rods are on the upper end of the price scale and while I would recommend them to any angler who spends time on the water, it can often be difficult to spend that much money for a stick that you do not use that often. This brings me to a fly rod that has put a lot of fish in the basket this summer, the Fenwick Aetos. This rod casts extremely well, has a good back bone and is relatively light weight. This is an excellent fly rod for anglers of all experience levels. If I had to describe it with one word it would be Workhorse. It can handle a heavy nymph rig, big streamer patterns as well as present dry flies with accuracy. I have been lucky to have some anglers in my boat who can fish extremely well and while they often bring their own gear I like to hand them the Fenwick Aetos and see their reaction. A lot of them say “FENWICK??” and I just smile and say “try it.” While it doesn’t have the Winston, Sage or Scott name on the but section it certainly performs as well as high dollar rods at a much lower price point. Coming in at under $200.00 the only bummer about this rod is that you cannot find it at many fly shops. You can however find these rods at bigger box stores which might give them a cheaper appearance, but you cannot complain about the price or performance of the Fenwick Aetos. If you are a fly fishing guide and are looking for some great fly rods for clients or are an angler looking for an extra stick, I would look no further than the Fenwick Aetos.
The holiday season has snuck up on us once again and it is time to spend your hard earned money on gifts that hopefully get used by the recipient. It can be difficult to find the perfect gift for anyone, but especially for fly fishermen. Fly Fishing Gifts are not easy to pick out, there is so much to choose from and many times these gifts are pricey. Here are a few fly fishing gift ideas for you to ponder as you scour the local fly shop for a handy present.
Howler Brothers has combined surfing with fly fishing and come out with some great clothing that is sure to put a smile on the fly fishermen in your life. They provide a wide range of t-shirts, button down shirts, jackets, technical pants/shorts, vest and hats. All have unique designs and are quality made. This is on the higher end of the scale in terms of pricing so make sure you find a size that fits or a store that honors returns.
Kind of boring but it is something that fly fishermen often need but put off buying. In Colorado we tend to use Weight Forward (WF) 5 or 6 weight floating line on most of our set-ups. There are numerous lines to choose from which can be very overwhelming. If the fly angler in your life constantly talks about nymphing, dry fly fishing or “chucking meat” (streamer fishing) you can certainly find a line that suits each tactic. Rio and Scientific Angler both make excellent fly lines. But if you are in a pinch a trusty WF Floating Line is a safe bet.
Nets have come a long way since the old green mesh days so if your fly angler has an old rusty metal green mesh net it is time for an upgrade. Fish Pond has developed great landing nets in various sizes that are lightweight and durable. The rubber basket on these nets are easier on fish and allow anglers to easily get stuck flies out of the rubber material. Fisknat also makes great landing nets. These nets also come with a rubber basket but are made out of wood and have a classier look (IMO). They are a bit heavier than the fish pond model but are an excellent product.
Anything YETI is sure to get a smile on the recipients face. The coolers are very expensive but they do keep ice very well. Other things to consider from YETI are their mugs. Just like their coolers the mugs keep beverages ice cold and piping hot for extended periods of time. Coming in a variety of sizes YETI Tumblers and Colsters are excellent gift items.
We hope that these items help you make a decision on what to purchase for the fly fihermen in your life. Other things to consider are Tippet, Flies, Weight and Indicators. They all make great stocking stuffers. Happy Holidays.
We posted this fly fishing video to our facebook page earlier this week and thought it was worth archiving on this page as well. In this video Pete Kutzer from The Orvis Company show us how to attached bite tippet to class tippet with quick and easy knot. After watching this short video the only difference between this knot and a uni-knot is the size. The knot tied here keeps a slightly smaller profile than a uni-knot. Because the stiffness of bite tippet or shock tippet can be difficult to work with, the double overhand knot allows you to make a good connection without the bulk. This knot is an excellent way to connect wire tippet (toothy critter tippet) to your class leader. Give it a shot next time you are hunting Freshwater fish like Pike and Muskie or Saltwater swimmers like Sharks and Cudas.
Colorado is a state with a lot of private water that does not get fished by the public. There are also fly fishing clubs and leases held by outfitters that allow members or paying clients to fish certain sections of water. But, it all comes at a price. Often times that price is worth it and other times it is tough to justify. As a guide taking clients to a section of private water you can often get looked at as a cheater, or get sly remarks from other guides who float by. If you are one of these guides take those remarks with a grain of salt and do not let it ruin your fishing day. Sure private water is nice to guide on for multiple reasons but the one that trumps all the others is availability. It is nice to know where you are going to fish and that no one else will be there. Especially in the summer when each shop has 20 trips a day out the door.
Fishing private water doesn’t mean you are fishing for fake fish. There are many leases of private water that hold the same trout the public sections do. The only difference is that they do not get the pressure that other pieces of water get. Does that mean the fish are easier to catch? well that is a slippery slope. Fish behavior is fish behavior and if the fish are feeding well that day chances are you will have a great day on the river despite where you are. But, if fishing is tough it can be tough regardless of where you are fishing.
The biggest sell for those who wish to fish private water is exactly that, It is private. Meaning that you will be the only anglers on a given section and do not have to worry about another angler sliding into your run if you want to stop and have a beer. Of course it would be great if we could hop into the river wherever we please but at this point in our lives that is not the case. At least not in Colorado. If you are someone who is considering paying the extra rod fee to access a private section of water, here are a few things to think about.
Length of beat/section of water you will be fishing- If you only have a short section of private to fish is it worth spending a bunch more money to fish it? Probably not. There is only some many times you can drift your bugs in front of fish before they key in to you. It is also nice to fish new water instead of staring at the same location for hours on end.
Type of water- Is it easy to fish? Is it fast pocket water with only one or two good runs? This is a good question to ask. If I get a client who is on the fence and is considering fishing private water, I check to see what beat is available. If the beat is not excellent and worth the rod fee, I tell them it is not worth the money. The shop hates this. But, you have to be honest with your sports.
Access- Is it difficult to get to?
Time of year- I would say that if you have the extra jingle and do not want to rush out of the house booking a private section of water is for you. It is nice to take your time and get to the river during bankers hours without the worry of finding another angler in your spot. July, August and September are the months to consider this.
Think of the above mentioned if you are offered the private water upgrade. Ask your guide and tell him/her to shoot you straight. Remember, just because you are fishing less pressured water doesn’t mean that you are going to catch every fish in the river. You still have to make a good drift and set the hook.
Many of you have been on a guided fly fishing trip and maybe your fly fishing guide gave you an incredible experience, which fueled your fire to continue to fly fish. I hope so because that is what we are supposed to do. I believe that providing a good experience starts with being organized as well as having a professional appearance. Most fly fishing trips require a drive to the river and in some instances these drive can be lengthy. A lot of the time clients ride in our vehicles to and from the fishing destinations which provide the guide and the “sports” to get acquainted.
It is important as a guide to have all of your equipment is good working condition and that includes your vehicle. More times than not I have seen guide rigs that are and absolute mess. Empty soda (beer) containers, cigarette buts, trash and dirt in multiple places throughout the vehicle. This is fine when fishing with your buddies and do not get me wrong my truck looks like that time to time. When a client is paying a lot of money for a guided fly fishing trip they shouldn’t have to spend time in a messy/smelly guide rig.
Try to carry and extra set-up wherever you go. There have been plenty of trips when a client has broken a rod and the extra comes in handy. The other thing that drives me a little nuts is a dirty fly line. Bring a line cleaner & conditioner in your pack and throw a little juice on them time to time. This will increase the longevity of your line and keep it on the surface. It is tough to teach someone to mend when their fly line is a foot below the surface. Check your rods for nicks and dings. These are the areas where rods tend to break and if you can address the problem before hand chances are you will not have to use the extra rod.
DONT FORGET YOUR PLUGS!!! this is a biggie if you row a hard boat. We tend to rush to get on the water, especially in July when there is a line at the boat ramp. make sure to put your plugs in or you will be doing some hard core bailing before you even get the rods out. Keep your boat organized and clean. This will keep your appearance sharp and should you need something in your boat you will know exactly where it is. Carry all the necessary gear; PFD’s, throw bag, spare oar, dry bag, pump (if in an inflatable) and a bailing device (if in a drift boat).
Terminal Gear –
If you knew me you could point your finger and say this is not a rule that I follow. My boat bag tends to be a little messy and I will be first to admit it. But, try to keep your flies, tippet, bobbers and weights organized. This will saving time re-rigging and give your sports more fishing time.
If you are anxiously waiting for old man winter to show up you might as well do it on the river. Fly Fishing throughout Colorado has been terrific and so has the weather. I know a lot of people are bummed that the white stuff has not fallen yet, especially the 20 something with rings in his nose at the local coffee shop. But, for now take advantage of the warmer temps and get outside. Because you know in 2 months you are going to be wishing for these temps.
As far as the fishing goes, it is some of the best all year. Your window of fishing opportunity is a little shorter and the bugs are a bit smaller so take that into consideration when venturing to the water. I have been finding that the magic hour on the water is between 11am – 2pm. A lot of fish on the surface eating midges giving us some dry fly opportunities but if you want to consistently bend the stick throw a light nymph rig with a black or chocolate midge larvae. If you want a frustrating challenge throw tiny dries. The egg bite has picked up, especially on the Upper Colorado. The water is super low so if you are floating be prepared to rub some rocks. I would recommend a raft. With the water levels so low it is easy to find deeper buckets, find those deeper buckets and you’ll find a trout or two. The Rainbows are eating the pink and yellow marbles (beads) that are getting fished along the bottom but as the day progresses fish are keying in on smaller BWO imitations. The streamer bite on the Fork has been HAUT….from what I have been told. We are doing a trip there tomorrow so I will report back with the intel. Regardless of where you are fishing have fun and stick a few before the slopes steal your weekend.
The Tacky Fishing Fishing Tube is something that I had no idea what to do with until I watched this video. Cody DeGuelle handed me this small fly carrying device to try out and to be honest it sat in my truck for a few weeks before I opened it.
The Tacky Tube is designed to cary a couple dozen flies at a time and can be attached to a lanyard, vest or pack. The simple design allows you to secure flies easily while providing quick access. You can read all the specs on the Tacky Tube on their website but here are a few of the highlights I like about the Tacky Tube.
Simple- I am always trying to carry less when I am on the water (except when I am guiding, then I bring the kitchen sink). The Tacky Tube is great for carrying a couple dozen flies for a short dry fly session in the evening. Or maybe a quick streamer run down the river during your lunch break.
Air Flow – The circular design allows air to flow through the Tacky Tube keeping your flies dry. This is a cool concept which can help keep rust of your bugs.
Easy to Attach – You can quickly throw this tube in your pocket or attach it to a lanyard before you head to the water. The strong magnets keep the tube latched so you do not have to worry about it opening. It also has two magnets inside to tube to catch flies should you drop them.
This is an excellent design for anglers who like to minimize their fly box and keep things simple. Check out the Tacky Tube and other fly boxes next time your are in your local fly shop, they are coming out with quality products.
A lot of anglers start to focus their efforts on streamer fishing this time of year, and while pulling half a chicken through the water will grab the attention of some nice trout, there are a lot of fish still willing to eat on top. It is not the dry fly action you will find in July but if you are patient you can find plenty of fish willing to sip a small dry of the surface.
Presenting dry flies this time of year takes a little more finesse than slapping a size 10 hopper on the surface or skating a Caddis dry across some fast riffles. Dry Fly Fishing during the Fall Months in Colorado can also be very frustrating and will test your patients. But this type of dry fly fishing can also make you a better dry fly angler. Smaller flies, lighter tippet and good presentations are a must when fishing these fall midge and BWO hatches. Our water levels are generally low and clear making fish very spooky. So if you are slapping the water with poor casts chances are you will put the fish down. Here are a few tips for fishing dries flies during the Fall months in Colorado.
This can be very challenging and will drive you nuts. But it is best to analyze a rising fish from a distance so you can figure out exactly where it is and what it is feeding on. Too many times I see people go charging out at the fish make a bunch of casts at it only to put the fish (and many others) down.
After watching your fish and figuring out its feeding pattern, lane etc… try to get into a position where you can make a good presentation. A lot of times fish are in a transition zone (between eddy line and slack water) feeding on midges, these areas are very difficult to get a good drift in. Try to make shorter casts and keep false casts to a minimum. If once position is not working for your drift try moving up or down stream slowly then try your cast from there.
This is important in all aspects of fly fishing especially when presenting small dries in low/clear water. It is absolutely a must to have a drag free drift, unlike bigger flies where you can get away with a little movement. Midge, BWO and Smaller insects do not move on the water surface. Therefore good line control and mending will be your key to success. We also do not want to slap the water with our fly line. Stop your rod tip high and slowly guide your flies to its destination. Try leading the rising fish by a foot or two, This will allow less time for the fish to look at it and also allow less time for your fly line to create drag.
The fly fishing has been excellent. Take a peak at the slow risers video from our buddies over at Lateral Line Media and see exactly what we are talking about.
Mending is one of the most important steps when Nymphing a run for trout. We see a lot of anglers coming and going each year and now matter how experienced a fishermen they are, mending is always something that we work on. Nine times out of ten we are Nymphing during guide trips and in order to sink your flies right of the bat you need to slow your fly line down. The first mend is the most important mend and if done correctly you will not effect your drift. Here are a few tips on mending for nymph fishing.
What I suggest people do is do not try to make your mend as soon as the line hits the water. Allow the line to begin it’s drift and give yourself time to set-up for the mend. I prefer a stack mend (especially in deeper water) as my first mend. To complete this I simply raise my rod tip as the line is traveling down stream, once I have enough slack I perform a half of a roll cast to place my slack line above my indicator. This keeps my indicator in the same area I cast to and does not drag it out of the zone I am fishing, it also quickly sinks my flies.
Keep some slack line in your hand to work with. If we mend with a lot of tension on the line we are going to move our flies. A little slack in the line allows the flies and line to drift freely with the current providing us with a drag free drift, which is exactly what we want. Have busy hands, if you feel like you have too much line out strip some in, but not so much where you are going to put a ton of tension on your bobber. If you feel like you can continue your drift down stream, feed your drift some line. Working with more fly line (slack) in your hand will allow you to manipulate your drift much easier.
Very important to follow your indicator with your rod tip as it travels down the run you are nymphing. A lot of anglers keep their rod tip upstream after them mend, which causes a couple of problems. By keeping your rod tips up stream after mending you are going to put tension on your flies which causes them to swing through the water column. Keeping your fly rod upstream of you indicator also prohibits you from setting the hook in a down stream manner. So remember after your initial mend be sure to follow your bobber all the way through the drift.
If we are making a long drift your fly line is naturally going to out run your set-up down stream. It is ok to mend again. I call this managing your slack. If you have a good drag free drift going, chances are that you have some fly line on the surface. If this fly line starts to get below your bobber mend again. If you have fished with me you have heard me say “Mend your slack.” All this means is gently raise your rod tip and get your slack line above/even with your bobber.
Remember if you do not mend it they do not bend it.