Archive for the 'Fly fishing techniques' Category


Fly Fishing: Dry Fly Presentations

Here is some good, basic reminders for all fly fishers while presenting the dry fly…Stream Side Adventures: Dry Fly Presentation. 



Fly Fishing Lakes: Find A Nook Out of the Wind

Nook (noun); Old English (Nok): a corner, a sheltered spot, a small recess.

More often than not, the wind is a nemesis on a lake if you don’t anchor up or you have not identified sheltered areas to work on, at the edges of the wind. I fish from a pontoon boat. And, if there is a downside to that vessel it is the wind as it pushes you along like a giant sail. If I don’t anchor up, in the wind, and contend with the rolling waves, dragging anchor and thwarted back casts, I look for any small ‘nook’ or length of shoreline that gives a workable area to fish.

This is a an overview of Salmon L. in B.C. The Wind (black arrows) frequently came from the W/NW in June. I often found myself in a narrow area, out of the wind, shown by the yellow arrows. I would kick along the shoreline (catching fish) and when I reached an upper point I would turn and drift along the seam of wind/less wind. I was wind drifting and would control how fast I wanted to drift by how much I subjected my vessel to the wind. Often, the orange arrowed area (15 yards wide by 100 yards long) was the only respite and I must say it never failed to produce even if I was confined to a smaller merry-go-round. This area produced many beautiful Kamloops trout. The other end of the lake produced a similar area of safety, but I have fished it less.

Here, on a recent trip, the wind tore along on the far left (black arrow) like a river. A finger of land jutted out to provide a wind break. You can see the cat tails waving in the wind. This quiet area provided shelter and excellent fishing in the quieter spots against the bank (green arrows). I caught a half dozen fish through here. I would rest the water a bit after thrashing it up with a fish and again have success.

This was a beautiful Trout that took a Damsel dry pattern against the reeds in that sheltered back water ‘nook’…out of the wind.


Stillwater Fly Fishing: Good Info on Retrieve & Setting the Hook

Here, I took refuge from the winds by pulling off into a back bay where I could rest from the rowing and kicking. The seam between the quieter water and the wind driven water (almost like a river’s current) was about six feet deep. I was able to maintain position in the quiet water and cast out into the chop and let the wind drift along my fly with success. The quiet water is not always available so anchoring up with the wind at your back is another option.

A video by Bennett Watt on retrieves and hook setting (excuse the up front ad…ugh) (X)


Stillwater Fly Fishing Lines (Options in Presentation)

Two Styles of Intermediate Clear lines. The Cortland Camo is my recommendation. ‘Clear’ lines have come a long ways in the last 15 years.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I am pointing the way to a piece by Denny Rickards. It is actually his site promoting the sale of various fly lines. In the promotion of the varied lines is a lot of good information that will benefit the stillwater fly fisher that has not quite sorted out the presentation part yet and still only carries a floating line. You would be well served to primarily use a ‘clear’ Intermediate as your primary line and from there consider the floater and perhaps a faster sinking line (less used). I do not promote any sales on this blog. I just believe Rickards does present excellent information about presentation, which is often as important or more important than fly selection. Rickards also had several informative books out on the market that worth a read if you are learning the basics of stillwater fly fishing.


Casting the Fly: Bumcast Tutorials


On The Fly Productions puts some nice visuals together on various slack line cast presentations. Check out all the clips.


Fly Fishing: Small Sticks on Cricks

Several times a year, I find myself up logging roads toward upper drainages/tributaries of big rivers. I string up the 9′ to 9’6″ rod and set forth weaving my way, this way and that way, through the trees toward the waters edge. Once on the water, I scout the canopy and other over hanging growth to not only avoid hanging up the fly + tippet, but also to avoid smacking the rod tip.

The confines of a small stream quickly reveal the tangled web we weave when at first we use too big a stick on a small stream. Recently, I was privileged to review some DVD’s by Ed Herbst and in those DVD’s I noticed he was wielding short rods on narrow streams. He moved with ease, in stealth mode, and waved the little wand to delicately present his flies.

Now, this initially contradicts my impulse toward bigger waters, longer rods and more power. I have those rods and love them. But, those small streams are another enviro that beg the small stick. So, I invested in a couple Loomis rods, both 3 weights and shorter (7′ and 8′). For the last few years, I have used a 3 wt. (9′ St. Croix Legend) more and have handled some substantial trout on the 3 wt. These shorter rods have a softer, medium action and will most probably meet few fish beyond 14″….more like 6″ to 10″. If I do connect to a larger fish, it will be an epic story.

These are not rods for big rivers and big fish, which to my thinking would be potentially irresponsible if I am seeking a humane catch and release. These are sticks for little streams, the intimate confines and small flies. I am excited to use these on those private little escapes. Some of my best life time memories while fly fishing were on small streams.


Stillwater Fly Fishing: Working the Drop

East Lake (Oregon) One of my all time favorite lakes. Carrying a lot of surface ice in this picture, but the memories and anticipation to work this lake again linger through the Winter.

Fly fishing has so many possibilities. One of my favorite is figuring out a lake, pond, reservoir. Your observation skills are required on a lake as much as they are standing knee deep in a stream. Presentation on a lake is as important as on a stream. 

I frequently see lake fly fishers in their pontoon, float tube, raft etc. moving along, line extended behind and rhythmically kicking, drifting or rowing with only the slightest consideration given to a retrieve or to their position. We all do this at times while searching/discovering a new body of water. But, I would suggest that if you are out over 50′ of water with no discernible hatch/feeding activity you would be better served to move in toward the shoreline and attempt to study the contours of the lake. This may show you the structure and feeding zones where fish congregate for safety and food.

The drop is that area that transitions from somewhat shallow waters of say 10′ downward to deeper water. This drop off is prime in searching for trout that move up on the shoal to feed and move back off the shoal for safety and food as well. At a minimum work parallel to this drop and present your fly up on the shoal if hatch/feeding activity is apparent or work the fly down into the drop off area and slightly deeper. 

Anchoring and fishing toward the drop (toward the shoreline) or up on the shoal can be productive. If you are not anchored, the wind or the torque of your casting can push you back out of the productive waters. This results in a lot of kicking or rowing to hold position and disturbances that may put the fish off the bite.

Sometimes the insect that is emerging, say Damsels or Gray Drakes, are actually moving toward shore to stage for their ‘hatch’. You would want to position yourself on the shore or in close to shore and cast out away from shore then slowly work your Damsel or swimming Mayfly pattern back toward shore to mimic the Damsels moving just below the surface toward the shoreline reeds, weeds and structure.

Here is a piece by Herman deGalat at HookFlyFishing that highlights several of these points on fishing the drop and the presentation.

East Lake after a successful day. SwittersB


Fly Tying: Do You Still Need Me?

Bead Head Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear Nymph by SwittersB. It was the go to nymph (well, coupled with the Pheasant Tail Nymph PTN) for a decade or more. There has been an explosion of creativity, innovation, experimentation at the vise the past decade. Has the Hare's Ear Nymph been lost from sight as a crawler/clinger nymph pattern? Whether the original tannish color or in green or black or brown, it is an excellent pattern.


Fly Fishing: Balloon Strike Indicator

Passing the afternoon watching bad TV. An episode of Fly Fishing the World (#110, 11/1/2011) shows the host fishing the Missouri during high waters in Montana. He is using an 11′ switch rod with a nymph presented beneath a toy balloon. At one point he is fighting a nice fish and is encouraged to strip the balloon up through the top guide to enable the fisher to strip the fish in toward the drift boat. The torque of the strip breaks the rod tip. It is the only long rod in the boat that day. Probably has its avid proponents. Probably those with rods to burn. 


Fly Fishing: Loop to Loop or Knots?

Much of your beginning time in fly fishing will be looking for ‘the best way’ to do some aspect of the sport. You will study and also, hopefully, meet other fly fishers in clubs, shops and on the water that share their ideas of ‘the best way’ to do something. As you will come to see, there are pro’s and con’s of those best ways. Little, if anything, is the best way. In the end, you will experiment, probably waste money and be a bit confused until you arrive at your best way. It can take a season or years depending upon how often you fish.

 One of those ‘best ways’ thing is how you connect the leader’s butt section to your fly line. For a good many years I used those braided, nylon loop attachments that fit over the tip of the fly line. From there the loop end of a leader’s butt section was connected loop to loop. I probably fished that way 20+ years and it worked fine for most of my river fishing. As I fished more and more on lakes, that connection method fell into disfavor for me. The loop rarely came off the end of the fly line in a straight lie; it curved. Consequently, the leader had this odd bend/curve to it.

Probably of no import, it bugged me and I changed to nail knotting a ‘permanent’ butt section of 35# mono, say about 24 inches (some shops will nail knot on an 8″ piece of butt section..that is not near enough). I then do not use a loop at the end of that butt section. I take the butt/thicker end of the leader (tapered or built) and use either a surgeon’s knot or blood knot to connect the two sections (no loops).

As I said, I nail knot a heavy piece of mono directly to the fly line. Some shops will make this piece about 4-8" long and with a loop. If you go loop to loop fine. I don't so my butt section is 18-24' long and I blood knot/surgeon's knot the butt of my leader to the heavy mono coming off my fly line. Just so you know your options in building a tapered, strong leader to present your fly. A little dab of a UV Wader Repair gel over the knot is a nice touch too...not too much though.

So, you have a couple options to try out: Loop to loop connections or nail knot/surgeon/blood knots. My suggestions: if you build leaders and repair purchased tapered leaders then learn your knots (you should know the basic knots to connect tippet to leader any way regardless of how you connect things farther up at the fly line/butt section) and use the nail knot (butt section to fly line). If you are the type that likes to throw down money on tapered leaders and do little to build leaders or repair leaders then go with the loop to loop. Undo the loops and throw on your knewly purchased tapered leader (I am not again using the occasional purchased tapered leader).

Just an example of ‘the best way to do something’ options that have differing tastes, opinions, perhaps results. This covers hundreds of decisions you will encounter. You could get your lawn chair, sit on your keister and decide what color of Power Bait’s working best this afternoon.

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