Decorating the Trees.....Fly Shop Style

Betsie River SnagFly fishing is a greatly satisfying sport once you've figured out how to lay a fly somewhat close to the target zone, but for beginners, it can be quite frustrating and expensive.  Equipment costs seem to be way out of reach when greenhorns first look into it but most soon figure out that things can be quite realistic if everyone keeps their wits about them.

The only thing the angler needs to be worried about are the consumable costs like those for leaders and flies once the major purchases have been made, and tying your own can slightly mitigate the issue.  But it only softens the impact slightly when it seems the only things you can catch are trees, logs, rocks, bridge supports, dock pilings, power lines, and other miscellaneous tackle grabbers.  The most innocuous little twig can be an absolute hook magnet when positioned right over the best run or hole along the stream or shoreline, and you can just about figure out where the fish are without ever having seen one.  Just look for all the tackle above a regularly productive hole .  Can you imagine how many other anglers have felt the exact same urge to tuck a nearly impossible cast right up under the same overhanging branch?  It seems that God's sense of humor was working overtime when he gave us beautiful fish in spectacular locations but surrounded them with impossible casting situations.

I sometimes joke with customers that I consider the day to be a success when I can return home with half my fly selection intact and the rods in the same number of pieces as when I left.  I also mention that as a matter of good taste and style, they need to spread their lovingly-selected flies around and avoid sticking them all in the same piece of foliage.  My own advice is sometimes hard to heed once I actually set my feet in the water and spy a tantalizingly perfect piece of water just begging to be probed.  I recently donated a complete rig (two flies, split shot, and strike indicator) to the cause in a particularly nice tree along the "Fly Only" section of the Pere Marquette River in Michigan.  There was a beautiful pod of salmon working a gravel bed 3/4 of the way across the stream along with a  half dozen steelhead lying in wait for the salmon eggs to drift down to their waiting mouths.  It was too good to pass up so I gathered my thoughts, entered a zen-like trance, and with a prowess and finesse rarely demonstrated by mortal men, deposited a magnificently tied egg and bugger tandem straight into a tree branch hanging from a most superbly positioned tree behind me.  Lest you think I was the only one skilled enough to find the only obstacle to success within a hundred yards, I'm here to tell you that branch was nicely populated by a wide selection of flies tied in every color of the rainbow.  It was wonderfully decorative although not a terribly effective fishing technique.  I was frustrated at first but eventually resigned myself to the undeniable fact that these things are bound to occur when participating in the sport of fly fishing.  We often say that you aren't really trying if your aren't losing a fly to the bushes and bottom structure every so often.

The thing to glean from this all too obvious lesson is that you can't get too frustrated by these issues since it's part of the game,  and you just have to pay attention to your immediate surroundings before rearing back to launch a cast.  Also, be sure to take pictures of any flies purchased while on a trip because you might not possess them long enough to enjoy their company.  Besides, without a picture you won't remember what patterns to tie when you return to the vise in preparation for the next adventure.

Remember that Christmas is coming up so be sure to decorate with a sense of balance and style....  The wildlife will appreciate it on December 25th.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Wolverine State Steel

Rogue RiverI’ve wanted to fish for steelhead in Michigan ever since I hooked my first one in Pennsylvania on a cold early winter day in November, but it took almost two years of dreaming, planning, and pouring over books and maps before I would finally be able to board the plane, bound for the wolverine state.  A fishing buddy and I had it figured out and were going to catch loads of fish, or so we thought.

We crisscrossed the state hitting seven different and beautiful rivers over the course of seven days but the fishing wasn’t quite as productive as either of us expected with fish numbers being a bit lower than optimal, but a few were landed and the scenery was absolutely spectacular once we got out of the city and into the country side.  Famed steelhead rivers like the Pere Marquette, Manistee, Little Manistee, and the Grand, were but a few of the waterways we trod in search of cooperative fish.  The Platt, Betsie, and Rogue added a flavor of their own, delivering some of the most unique topography, and streambed variety I’ve ever experienced. The Pere Marquette and Little Manistee were my favorites because of the intimate nature of the waterway and the sheer beauty they each exhibited.  I’ve never taken so many pictures of trees, water, rocks, and leaves in my life, but it seemed like there was something else to capture every time I turned a bend in the river.

The fishing its self was tougher than any I’ve done, both mentally and ……..  well, just mentally.  The conditions and weather were perfect and the physical aspect of the trip was fairly manageable, but casting for hours without result can make you question your sanity.  However, fishermen being what they are, will continue to cast into the abyss while hoping something worth catching happens to be living somewhere in the depths.  I found myself drifting off while the rod seemed to cast with robotic regularity at some times but then I’d move around the next bend and start casting with new energy and optimism.

We each did hook into a good number of fish over the seven day period but I was the only one lucky enough to land anything better than a tree branch.  A king salmon, steelhead, and rainbow each came to hand fulfilling a longtime dream of fishing a new and legendary location with even a small measure of success.  Sure, we could have taken a guided trip but there’s something greatly satisfying about doing it on your own with limited help other than a few tips from local shops and what you’ve read in books and magazines.

Pere Marquette SteelheadEach fish provided a special ingredient to what became a successful trip in anyone’s book, and I’ll always remember the steelhead’s first jump as it erupted from the crystalline depths, the kings shear power and weight as it surged into the rolling riffles, and the rainbows hidden hues I could only get a glimpse of when I turned the fish “just right” in the sunlight.  Truly amazing and awe inspiring!

Do yourself a favor and head north in the near future and experience the sights and sounds of Michigan by visiting its streams, forests, and lakes.  You won’t believe how easy it is to get lost as you explore what’s around the next bend, and the next, and the next, and the next…

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Get ready for Trout fishing!

It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year to be out fishing right now with leaves changing on the trees and nature calling your name to get outdoors. Generally the weather can be very pleasant and you don’t have to deal with the heat or insects of summer.

The water is almost always very clear this time of year, and for that reason it’s a good idea to use fluorocarbon leaders and tippets. It’s the time when big browns are moving up stream for spawning which makes it probable someone could get into a large fish. When fishing for big browns, try a streamer pattern like leeches or woolly buggers swinging the fly down through the current and then stripping it back. Insect hatches are typically pretty small this time of year, so when matching the hatch you’ll need to use small flies. Tricos will continue to hatch until the weather turns colder, but are very small. This is the time for light rods in 3 weight and 4 weight and trico imitations will need to be sizes 28-30. Fine tippets of 7x or 8x are recommended. This is also a good time for blue wing olives in size 20 or 22. Caddis flies hatch all through the fall and into winter, especially on sunny days.

Trout will be stocked in Bethel Lake November 1 and it’s strictly catch and release until Feb. 1. Missouri trout permit is required in that lake, so make sure to check with MDC for rules and regulations. McKay Lake in Jefferson City, Kiwanis in Mexico and Spur Pond in Kirksville are also great local places to catch trout. Stop by our fishing department where we have all of your fly fishing needs as well as advice to help you reach your goals.

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Trash Fish or Day Savers?

BluefishFlorida residents are quite lucky when it comes to fish to chase and the destinations to visit in this pursuit.  We’ve got so many different species of fish that sometimes we forget that even the lowliest of them can be worthy of our efforts.  In fact, they can prove to be the best game in town when nothing else wants to come out and play.   Tarpon, snook, bonefish, permit, redfish, and seatrout may be what people think of when they contemplate fly fishing around the coast but it’s players like ladyfish, bluefish, mackerel, jacks, and catfish that account for more bent rods than we all want to admit.

The fall bait run is a giant fish magnet that draws anglers and fish with equal power and with the exception of some tarpon and snook, people are chasing after some of the others on the list.  Their numbers are mystifying and they have appetites and attitudes well beyond their diminished status among anglers.  They may not be a premier species but they’re plentiful and widespread at this time of year.

The best thing about chasing these lesser desired fish is that you don’t have to be fancy with your equipment to have a great deal of success.  A moderately sized rod and a pocket full of Clouser Minnows will be the ticket for a day full of fun and excitement when you hit the tide and location perfectly.  Hundred fish days are quite possible when things come together.  Oh yeah, don’t forget to carry plenty of spare leaders and tippet material since many of these guy have teeth that’ll wear through lightweight mono pronto.Ladyfish

Trash fish, by-catch, whatever you want to call them, they’re well worth taking time to catch while you can, and stock up the memories before the winter hits and things slow down.  These species are tailor made for kids and the uninitiated who just want to catch a lot of fish in a short period of time.  Just be sure to keep everyone’s fingers safe and sound when handling these wonderful but toothy and slimy critters.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Why Fishing Rods Break

Anyone who spends a lot of time on the water is eventually going to utter words that we’ve heard many times over while working in the fishing industry.  “I don’t know what happened, the rod just broke while I was casting it like I’ve done a thousand times before.”  For the most part, people don’t really know what actually caused the break and are quite likely to want to put the blame on the manufacturer rather than just chalking it up to “Things happen.”  But let’s be honest here for a second, the rods are pretty well made and breakages are rarely due to a manufacturing defect or something the companies are responsible for, but rather we do it to ourselves most of the time.  I’ve broken three rods while fishing and every one was my fault, while at the same time I’ve seen numerous rods broken by customers while “demonstrating” a rods capabilities.  All of these were avoidable if we follow a few simple rules.

Rule #1.  Do not “demonstrate” how much a rod can flex by bending the tip over by hand.  Rods are only meant to bend in a curve determined by the placement of the rod guides and the tension of the line running through them (from the reel all the way to the tip of the rod).  Few rods on the market today can do the “Ugly Stik Bend.”

Rule #2.  Never high stick a fish.  This means don’t lift the rod tip too high when the fish is close at hand because it creates too sharp a bend in the top quarter of the rod.  Remember that power is generated through the butt section of the rod rather than the tip.

Rule #3.  Don’t assemble rods in rooms with ceiling fans.  Seems pretty self-explanatory but everyone does it at some point.  Eventually the fan is going to have your rod for lunch.

Rule #4.  Avoid hitting the rod tip with weighted objects during a casting stroke.  Clouser Minnows and the like will score and gouge the rod blank creating minute cuts in the material.  Eventually the rod will snap right at that score mark, kind of like cutting glass pipettes in high school chemistry class.

Rule #5.  Don’t swing fish into the boat or onto shore with a fly rod.  This type of rod was not designed nor intended to carry the free-hanging weight of a fish.  Try doing it too many times and you’re bound to have a snapped off tip.

Rule #6.  Set up your system to sacrifice a fly or lure before breaking the rod.  Leaders and tippets are there to protect your investment as well as provide an element of challenge so don’t set them up so strong that they won’t break when the need arises.

Rule #7.  Never set a rod on the ground or anyplace where it may be crushed.  I try to listen when my inner voice screams “That’s a bad idea!”

Rule #8.  Store conventional rods in a rack that adequately supports them, store fly rods in a rack or in tubes designed for the purpose.

Rule #9.  Avoid jamming the guides against hard objects because either an insert will pop out or the guide frame itself will break.

I could go on and on about a thousand and one ways that rods get broken but in the end they’re tools made of millions of graphite/glass fibers, stainless steel, aluminum, and cork; that are subjected to a great deal of stress and abuse.  And then we wonder why they break occasionally?  Use the rods for as intended and protect them while not in use and they’ll provide years and years of service.   They’re well-made but not indestructible.

Brian “Beastman”

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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IFFF Florida Council Conclave October 11 & 12, 2014

Set aside some time during the second week of October to visit with folks that have truly devoted themselves to a hobby that soon becomes a way of life for those with a bit of dedication and perseverance just like you did.

The Florida Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers is holding its annual conclave October 11th and 12th in Crystal River, Florida and you owe it to yourselves to take a day away from the pressures of every day life to see what's going on with the sport and explore what the council is doing to promote it and the opportunities we sometimes take for granted here in our home state.  Bob Clouser (arguably one of the most innovative tiers of our generation) and Wanda Taylor headline the event but there are so many other things going on that you'll quickly lose track of time while exploring all the exhibits and visiting with other anglers with similar passions.

Here are a few of the seminars and exhibits taking place at the conclave: 

  • "IFFF-certified fly casting instructors and fly tiers teaching their skills."
  • "Hands-on clinics, demonstrations and workshops include instruction for beginning through advanced fly casters, outdoor photography classes, fly fishing techniques, building first-aid kits for boat and trail, tying effective new fly patterns, fly casting accuracy and distance and much more."
  • "Florida Fly Fishing Expo also offers resource-awareness exhibits and indoor and outdoor and displays of the newest fly rods, reels, lines, clothing, kayaks, and other gear."

 

As you see there should be more than enough to keep you and your family entertained while possibly teaching everyone a thing or two.  I think every fly angler can agree that they never stop growing and expanding their horizons, and the council is here to help along the way.  Saver your pennies between now and then so you can join everyone at this year's event.  Maybe I'll see you there.

 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Fall Fishing Classic- 2014

So right now, things are starting to cool down with the weather but elsewhere things are heating up! Dove season opened for most of this country on Labor Day and many hunters are back out in the field. But what about our fishermen and their waters? Well seasons change and so does the fishing.  Luckily for you fishermen, we will have our Fall Fishing Classic again this year!

It will be Saturday and Sunday, September 27th and 28th. It starts at Noon and runs until 5PM.

Of course we will have a section for our younger generation, but this event will also focus on us adults.

For the kids we will be having a Beginning Fishing Workshop from Noon until 2PM. We will be doing seminars near our White River Fly Shop to cover the basics of “getting hooked” on fishing. During that same time we will also be doing Casting Practice right outside at our Back Pond. We will have fishing poles there, but feel free to bring your own if you want! There’s only one way to get to know your fishing setup and that is practice! From 1PM-3PM we will also have Color Your Own Tackle Box Crafts near our Fudge Department.

For the adults we will have three seminars each day.

Saturday

1pm: Where did the fish go?

2pm: Which Rod and Reel?

3pm: Local Fishing Areas

Sunday

1pm: Fall Fishing Tackle Box

2pm: Fall Weather Transitions

3pm: Preparing your Boat

 Sometimes the best tool in a fisherman’s tackle box is knowledge, and we aim to give you some!  We will also be giving away Collapsible Water Bottles to the first 25 Customers to attend 2pm Seminars each day.                                                    

Our very own fishy friends at our store will also take in some of the Fall Fishing Classic splendor as they will be fed both days at 2PM! If you have never seen this, be sure to “catch” it at least once! We had a great time last year and hope you join us for this one!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Practice Makes Proficient

Coaching new casters has provided a great deal of satisfaction for all of us in the fly shop but as anyone could guess, there are days when nothing seems to go right with the student’s casting other than their aptitude for tying the neatest and tightest wind knots humanly possible.  Eventually someone has to ask “How long does it take to become a good caster?” 

I truly believe that skill with a fly rod is one of the most rewarding endeavors I’ve ever taken on and even after nearly 20 years with a fly rod in hand at least a few hours each week, there’s a long way to go to reach the level of skill I hope to ultimately achieve.  I tell everyone that you never stop getting better (given a certain level of dedication) and your stroke is constantly evolving, for better or for worse.  But there is one absolute when it comes to casting that it took quite a while for me to figure out.

Practice Makes Proficient!  Not “Perfect” mind you because perfect doesn’t leave any room for further growth or improvement, and besides, I don’t think anyone is perfect no matter how talented.  Every one of us will occasionally chuck a fly right into the tightest tangle of bushes, just like the number one golfer in the world is bound to shank one into the woods.  The best we can hope for is to avoid doing it on a regular basis.

Practicing off the water or at least with the fish removed from the equation is the only way to gain skill and build the muscle memory needed to be able to put the fly where you want it in more than a random manner.  Accuracy, distance, control, and stroke variety need to be practiced without having to worry about what the fish are doing while the fly is in the water.  Actually fishing instead of practicing is what kept me from excelling quicker as a fly angler and I only wish I had spent more time on grass in combination with time on the water.

In order to get the most out of your casting sessions, focus on specific skills you’ll need or situations you might encounter.  Place particular emphasis on the situations that provide the greatest amount of difficulty like roll casting in cover, reaching back under mangroves or docks, threading the needle between trees, landing the fly within inches of your target, or even reaching out there and touching a distant fish.  Just be sure to focus your efforts on a particular outcome and don’t just throw the fly.

Evaluating ability can take the form of competition if you create some obstacles to cast around or some targets to hit.  Hoola Hoops, traffic cones, Frisbees and other household objects can provide some variety to your time on the lawn as can PVC piping glued together to form interesting casting situations.  Ultimately, there are organized (yet low key) tournaments put together, like the Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club’s “Big Gun Shootout,” where you can test your abilities to the maximum. The simulated situations they create will eventually occur on the water if you stick with it long enough so putting some pressure on yourself to perform on the grass will give you a sense of  “Déjà vu” when you try to hit the mark on the water.

Skill of any type comes with time and not just from having equipment capable of performing the task, although that is part of the game.  Hit the water with all the weapons ready to go and your time will be better spent.  More fishing will be possible even under less than favorable conditions, and more fish will come to hand in the end.  I promise that your level of satisfaction will continue to increase as does your ability, and pretty soon, newcomers will be saying to their buddies, “I sure hope I can cast like him some day.”

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Trout Fishing Lures & Tactics

A day on the river trout fishing can turn any weekend into an adventure especially when the fish are biting from sun up to sun down. But with trout it is all about finding the right bait at the right time and making good use of the surroundings to make a god fishing trip into a great one. Asking questions like where are the fish located, when do they feed, and what are they feeding on can help an angler tremendously. Here are tips and tricks when fishing for trout.

Trout are a very aggressive species by nature and give a very good fight in good cold water lakes and streams. The problem with many trout populations is that they are highly pressured in that there is almost always a person fishing around them. This in turn makes the fish very line shy or wary of heavy lines in the water. A sneaky way of getting around this fear of line is to use a light 2 or 4 pound test line in either the monofilament or fluorocarbon line. For monofilament line a great brand is the Bass Pro Shops® Excel®, this line comes in the light 4 pound line that is needed for trout while at the same time being clear in the water making it harder to detect by the fish in clear spring fed lakes and streams. When talking about fluorocarbon the brand that is best suited for the job is the Bass Pro Shops® Excel® Ice, when in the water this line stays clear and nearly invisible to fish, and comes in the light 2,3, and 4 pound test needed for fishing trout in pressured waters.

iceline

When fishing for trout there are many different difficulties that can be undertaken while fishing. The first level of this would be fishing with live or natural baits. This includes fishing with night crawlers, fishing with salmon eggs or fishing with things like meal worms and crickets. While thinking of meal worms and crickets it is good to look to the backyard or a shed. The crickets and worms tend to be there for the taking so stocking up in the backyard before an adventure to the river is often a good idea. But if instead a fisherman is looking for an edge using some salmon eggs is a good idea. One of the best is the Pautzke's® Premium Balls O' Fire® Salmon Eggs, these salmon eggs are soft like a natural egg while having the scent and taste of the real thing. Also these eggs are a little tougher than a natural egg making them easy to retrieve and cast back out.

balls of fire

Next in the line of difficulty for fishing trout would be the soft plastic baits and spinner baits. Some of the soft plastics that tend to work well are smaller worms and grubs with a weight tied off around 3 to 4 inches above the bait. This allows the bait to float ever so slightly off the bottom of the stream or lake’s bottom and with a little movement from the tip of the fishing rod gives a lifelike movement to the bait. A great bait for doing this is the Bass Pro Shops® Triple Ripple™ Grub, with a few packages of different colors an angler is sure to find the right color and movement for the trout in any lake or stream. When it comes to spinner baits one of the best is the Bass Pro Shops® Tournament Series® Micro Spin Lures, matching the colors on this spinner bait to the hatching insects or the smaller bait fish in the area will make this lure irresistible to the trout in the lake or stream.

micro spingrub

Finally the hardest type of trout fishing is fly fishing. This requires a lot of patience and a good knowledge of the type of food that is available to the trout on a regular basis. It is important to remember one major thing, match the hatch. What this means is that whatever insect is hatching at that time in the lake or stream is the type of fly that an angler wants to be throwing. If there are a lot of grasshoppers around throwing a Montana Fly Company® Clipped Head Hopper is a good idea, as it looks remarkably like a grasshopper. If the midge flies are hatching throwing a Brassie Zebra Midge Fly is a good idea. So matching whatever an angler sees hatching or skimming the water is the best way to catch trout while fishing with flies.

brassie zebraclipped head

While fishing for trout is very fun and relaxing there are some different rules that need to be followed while fishing. These rules change from stream to stream and from location to location. So checking with a local guide book or with the conservation department before going out fishing is a good idea. Many times certain types of lures can only be used in certain areas of a body of water, or no fishing at all can be done in a certain area of the water. Keeping track of this is the responsibility of the angler, so double checking the fishing areas before that weekend trip is a must! As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Sometimes Size Does Matter

People say some interesting things when they stop in the fly shop like “They pay you to work here?  I’d do it for free” and “What’s the best fly for carp?”  But one of my personal favorites happens when folks pick up one of the size 20 Zebra Midges and exclaim “What do you catch on these tiny things?”  That inquiry normally comes from bass fisherman who’ve grown accustomed to hooking fish with a mouth large enough to swallow a softball or a small duck, depending on which one its overly large appetite can handle.  It doesn’t seem to occur to some that you don’t need an overly large fly/hook to land some truly gigantic fish.

Flies come in all different sizes depending on a couple different factors including 1) The size of the quarry, 2) the size of the prey you’re imitating.  But you don’t necessarily need to throw gigantic objects to catch gigantic fish since many times going smaller can lead to bigger results.  All you need to do is look at the diet of the predator, the prevalent food items, and then match it to a hook capable of holding onto the fish once you’ve hooked up.  It might have taken a monstrous hook to hold onto a fish weighing over 200 pounds back in the day when hooks were made of weaker, less robust metals, but today with the modern forged and chemically sharpened hook materials, we can go lighter and smaller; leading to smaller and more lifelike and imitative flies.

Just take a look at the two flies in the picture above.  They are the largest and smallest flies currently in my fly collection.  The streamer (tied for near shore shark fishing) is on a forged 7/0 Gamakatsu Inline Octopus Circle.  That hook is more than large enough to grab hold of and remain latched to the sharks I’d chase off Cape Canaveral provided I can get them to eat in the first place, hence the large and colorful material.  You need to get them interested in a pretty substantial meal in order to entice a strike.  The size 14 Wired Caddis on the other hand is meant to imitate as specific size and species of bug that trout would be snacking on regularly, so as a result, the material is lighter and less bulky; and the chosen hook is appropriate for remaining attached after the strike.

Although the 7/0 fly is quite large in the grand scheme of “normal” fly fishing, a size 14 isn’t even considered “small” by trout fishing standards.  Dry flies are routinely tied on hooks as small as size 22, while nymphs and emergers like a WD-40 that imitate midges may be tied as small as size 24 (and possibly smaller).  Now THAT is small indeed.  Tippet size must be decreased down to 7X or even 8X just to thread through the eye, and I don’t even know if I could tie a knot in material that light. Rigs of this diminutive size are obviously meant for small trout, light rods, and highly technical presentations.

What about throwing small flies for big fish?  Tarpon well beyond 100 pound can be caught on flies tied on hooks as light as #1 or 1/0 depending on the material so don’t be afraid of lightening up.  You don’t have much choice but to find a lightweight but strong option when the prey item is small like a Palolo worm in the Florida Keys, or a glass minnow along the east coast beaches.  Scale the hook size up as you approach mullet, pinfish, or herring size imitations, using a model that offers just the right amount of shank length, strength, and weight so as to make an effective fly presentation. 

Fish will eat (or at least “try” to eat) just about anything small enough to fit in their mouths so it’s quite likely that your target’s diet is quite diverse whether you know it or not.  Seasonal favorites provide variety and you need to be ready if you expect to enjoy success year round.  Tie flies in numerous sizes and see what works.   Make sure the lifelike imitations are scaled to match the real thing and use a hook that provides a good platform for fly construction and the strength to land the big one.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Fly Fising In August

Fly fishing opportunities for the month of August can be somewhat limited if your area streams suffer from high water temperatures.  Trout get very lethargic in warm 70 degree water temps unless there are hatches worth expending energy for.  One of these "hatches" worth fishing is a trico spinner fall that occurs around 8-10 am on many local streams.  Trico mayflies hatch and convert to spinners almost immediately usually within an hour or two.  Spinner falls can start as early as mid July and last through September.  These flies are small, sz.20 to 24.  Light weight rods from 1-3 wt loaded with a 9 foot 7x leader will give you the delicate presentation needed to catch trout during this hatch and spinner fall.

Salmon season on the Salmon River will begin in about a month.  Usually after Labor Day, there are plenty of salmon in the river.  If you are thinking about tangling with these tackle busters stop in and see us for the right equipment and some tips on how to catch them.  Salmon and other lake run species like browns and steelhead are easy to catch when you are properly equipped.  Fall is an exciting time of the year to be fly fishing so don't hang up your equipment and wait for next year's season to begin.  If you do you'll miss out on the best fishing of the year.  We have plenty of outfits to fit your budget.

Michael DeTomaso

 

 

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"The Dance" -- Fly Fishing the Gulf

Fly Fishing --- a well orchestrated dance between the fish and the fisherman.   Using the rod as the conductor’s baton, the fisherman rhythmically entices the fish.  Fly Fishing is more an art than sport.  You are hunting and luring the fish.  You are enticing the fish to eat.  Presentation is everything.  It takes patience and study, waiting for the perfect moment.   Yes, all this is true in sport fishing yet; the presentation in fly fishing takes harmony of balance, rhythm, and motion.

When we think of fly fishing, the first thing that comes to mind is Brad Pitt’s character in “A River Runs Through It.”  Standing in swift running freshwater streams, we watched the line dance through the air as he gracefully lured in the trout.

So… when we think about fly fishing, we see a cool mountain stream, surrounded by towering trees with trout jumping after bugs…Or maybe… let’s see…. How about South Padre Island.   REALLY?  You fly fish in saltwater?  Is that even possible?  Answer:  Yes.  It is not only possible it takes fishing for the Gulf’s inshore fish to another level.

South Padre Island has several professional fishing shops that carry fly fishing rigs and plenty of expertise.  Roy Lopez at Bass Pro Shops is one of these avid fly fishermen.  He has found a way to marry his love of fly fishing with his love of saltwater fishing.   I came into the White River Fly Shop specifically looking to get my husband started in a sport that he has wanted to do for years.  Here’s what I learned.

What are you fishing for off the shores of South Padre?

Tarpon have a natural migrating pattern from Florida and the Yucatan Peninsula.  Their arrival at South Padre is still a mystery.  They seem to follow the Gulf Coast.   The tide dictates feeding patterns and their location.   According to the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, the migrations take the tarpon up the eastern coast of the U.S. to at least the Chesapeake Bay, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, and southward to the Caribbean Sea.

 

Tarpon are fished for sport.  Roy says, “I wait all year for the tarpon to come back around in the annual migration.  I put the time in to find out their patterns and eating habits.  I have respect for the fish.  They travel from Florida and the Yucatan to get to Padre. “

 

But there is more than Tarpon off of South Padre’s shores.  Fishing Kingfish, Red Fish, Speckled Trout, Jack Crevalle, Spanish Mackerel and Bonita can all be found on the surf or jetties during ideal summer weather conditions. They can be found off the Gulf Coast year round.  Typically flashy, obnoxious flies in loud colors with a wire tippit can be used to entice these toothy fish to bite

.  

South Padre offers wading from the East Side sand flats to the West Side silt and estuaries.   Fishing from the rocks or in the water, we use different tools for different fish.  Consider the rig.

Roy generally ties his own flies, but has a few that he might use if needed.  The picture shows four of the possibilities.  A) Tarpon Toad –  Premier Tarpon Fly.   B)  Red Fish Toad – great fly for south Texas red fish and trout.  C)  Merkin Crab – another red fish fly typically used when red fish aren’t feeding, generally the fall months.  D)  Sea Ducer – fly that you would use in shallow water from 5 to 15 inches of water.  It has a real soft lay down. 

Rods:

9’ 8-weight rod typically with a stiff backbone to punch heavy flies through the wind (we have horrible prevailing south winds that don’t let up) for red fish, trout, flounder and any other species you’d find inshore. http://www.basspro.com/World-Wide-Sportsman-Gold-Cup-Fly-Rods/product/13082906212339/

9’ 10-weight rod with heavy backbone to punch flies for bigger fish from the beach or jetties – kings, Jacks, Spanish mackerel.

Inshore reel doesn’t necessarily have to be top dollar.  It needs a sealed drag system and is tolerable to the salt.  Roy suggests:  Lamson Konic/Guru and any of the Sage line-ups from the 1800 series to the 2200 series.  They retail anywhere from $150 to $185. http://www.basspro.com/Lamson-Konic-II-Fly-Reels/product/1209270507043/

http://www.basspro.com/Sage-2200-Series-Fly-Reel/product/1309110626206/

 

10-weight series – you are dealing with bigger fish.  You need a reel with stouter drag.  The Lamson offers the Konic/Guru 4 and Sage 2210 ranging anywhere from $150 to $250 for catching these bigger fish.

Your line in the inshore scene will typically consist of a weight forward floating line that can be matched to a rod.  The line is dictated by the rod or the casting preference of the fisherman.   Bass Pro Shops can typically fit the fisherman with an ideal rig to fit his/her preferences.  This is true for the 8-weight or the 10-weight.

Recently, Roy hooked a tarpon of about 5 feet/100+ pounds and watched it swim away after breaking the line.  With a smile, he remembered the “dance” and walked away satisfied.   Ok… maybe a little disappointed.

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Fly Fishing Basics

Here we are again, right in the middle of summer.  Temperatures in July and August are only going to continue to rise. Some folks call these the "dog days of summer," but I call them a perfect time to cool off and catch fish. Now is a great time to go stand thigh deep in some ice cold water and catch some decent size rainbow trout. The Lower Mountain Fork River wanders through the rolling hills of southeast Oklahoma just outside of Idabel providing both Oklahomans and Texans a great fishery and a prime place to cool off.  Its waters flow from the deepest part of the dam that forms Broken Bow Lake at Beavers Bend State Park. The water is re-oxygenated and sent downstream. The cold, oxygen-rich water not only supports the rainbow population, it plays an integral part in creating a habitat where the fish can actually procreate and grow.

 I'd suggest a pair of White River waders and wading boots because that water is just too dad burn cold to stay in for more than a few minutes. The reason for the wading boots is that regular tennis shoes aren't made to grip the bottom and you could end up "floating your hat" as they say.

 Here are a few more good tips for your trip. If you have never fly fished before then by all means take advantage of Bass Pro Shops of Garland FREE fly casting seminars on Saturday or Sunday at 11:30 a.m. or both! The pros in the White River Fly Shop can introduce you to the basic cast and familiarize you with any of the terminology your may have heard associated with your new sport. Come in and enjoy the camaraderie in a fun and relaxing atmosphere. You don't need to bring anything; we have all the equipment you'll need for the class.

 All of your White River Fly Shop associates have fished the Lower Mountain Fork and most of us will agree that if you had to pick just one fly rod to take it would be an 8 ft. 6inch 5 weight rod with matching floating line. If, however, you have numerous rods to pick from, perhaps an 8-foot 4 weight but I don't recommend much lighter weight than that because there are some "hosses" in the river. Whatever your rod situation, we have something to fit your needs and your pocket.

 Your White River Fly Shop also has the hot flies for the area. Word to the wise: Get some flies before you go! If you're an early riser you might be at a loss for flies if you wait on the local shops to open. Some flies to add to your fly box before you leave are the Y2K bug, a few size 20 red zebra midges, flashback hare's ear in size 16 and smaller and a couple of pink San Juan worms will work well especially after a rain.  For those who prefer a dry fly, we suggest size 18 caddis flies in black, green or tan. From time to time the best dry fly is the blue winged olive in about a size 20, and don't forget your dry fly floatant to keep your flies afloat and the fish afraid.

 We look forward to helping you beat the heat by getting to your favorite cool trout stream. Whether you're a novice, a seasoned veteran or are just getting re-introduced to the sport, come on in to the White Rive Fly Shop of Garland and see why we call it your fly shop....oh, and don't forget your net... you're going to need it!

 

 

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Born Again

By: Todd Sanders and Rod Slings, Guest Bloggers

Introductory note by Rod Slings, hunting safety expert, retired Iowa DNR law enforcement supervisor, and member of the Central Iowa Longbeards Chapter.

Todd Sanders was a very active outdoorsman who was injured in October 2013, when he fell from his treestand. Todd spent three months in the hospital after his injuries. He is wheelchair bound…for now. Our National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter's Wheelin’ Sportsman hunt took place the Saturday of Easter weekend. Todd has recently faced some major challenges in his personal life, aside from the physical injuries he sustained from his fall. Todd has a strong faith in God; Todd’s story below brought him back from a place that would challenge anyone. We are honored to open the door to the great outdoors for Todd and others with the help of our sponsors, volunteers and the NWTF.

Born Again

By: Todd Sanders

April 19, 2014, was a very special hunt I was invited to by a good friend, Rod Slings, who is a retired law enforcement supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The hunt was the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen Wild Turkey Hunt put on by the Central Iowa Longbeards Chapter. This was the 7th annual hunt intended for disabled veterans and people that face some disability challenges.

To say that I was excited was an understatement, as Rod and I texted back and forth the final week before this awesome day! After what seemed like a sleepless night, my alarm sounded off at 2:00 a.m. I gathered my gear and Rod met me at my house at 3:30 a.m. to pick me up. 

Butterflies and sweaty palms accompanied me as we drove to Jester Park, where our hunt would be based, smiling like two young kids. I was able to meet all the great people who made this event happen. We gathered for a wonderful breakfast and a prayer to give thanks and asked for safety for the hunt. I was loaded into a Kubota UTV and soon Rod and I, along with my new friend Zach, were dropped off at the site where our blind was set up and ready. Within ten minutes of the park rangers and event volunteers leaving our location, I suddenly heard my favorite sound in the world! There it was - “GOBBLE-GOBBLE-GOBBLE” - about 100 yards away in the timber behind us. 

We all looked at each other with smiles and big wide-open eyes like children in a candy store. As the morning sunrise broke through the timber, we all started calling, nice and easy. This big tom apparently liked what he was hearing.

Rod said, “Breathe, Todd, breathe!” 

I smiled and gripped my bow tighter. Well, as all you turkey hunters know, gobblers are incredibly unpredictable. We heard the gobbler fly down from his roost and then…he went AWAY from us! A sassy hen was answering our calls. As I used the diaphragm call, Zach did the box call, and Rod followed with calls on his slate.

Suddenly, another gobbler, not far away, got very fired up from our calls - we probably sounded like a Sunday choir. This gobbler started responding back, getting closer and closer. Then, the hen passed five yards behind the blind to my left.   Minutes later we heard a very loud "GOBBLE." As I looked over Rod’s left shoulder, the majestic gobbler appeared, all tail feathers fanned out, about 65 yards away in the hardwood timber. 

I whispered, “There he is, I see him over Rod’s left shoulder, he’s looking this way.” 

My heart was pounding as the gobbler disappeared. Now he was circling us, trying to get a visual of those sweetheart hen noises that fired him up.

Zach said, “don’t move there he is!” 

Well, naturally, I moved and looked through the window near Rod. I saw a big blue head weaving through the brRod Slings and Todd Sandersush and briars. 

Zack whispered, “Draw back, draw back!”

As I did, he slipped right past the hunting blind window, my first shooting lane, on a beeline to the Jake decoy. As I regained my composure, Rod and Zach coached me. I did two sharp cuts on my diaphragm call - the gobbler stopped and turned. He was at 22 yards, quartering away, bumping up against the Jake decoy. I steadied my 20-yard pin on my bow sight behind the back of his wing and touched the release to see feathers immediately fly as the big gobbler flipped upside down!

Within seconds, the big tom was up running directly toward our blind wobbling like a drunken old man. 

I yelled, “GET HIM, GET HIM,” as the big bird took off into the timber. Zach desperately tried to open the zipper on the back of the blind by my wheelchair.  Imagine this - I am on the edge of my seat in my wheelchair in the blind,and I am now watching Rod and Zach go running into the timber out of sight. All I could hear were branches breaking and wings beating the dry leaves, but couldn’t see anything!  

I yelled, “Did you get him?” 

"YES!" Zach yelled back.

I screamed and hollered like a crazy man! Rod and Zach came back off the ridge, Zach holding my gobbler by the leg. Zach said, “Man, could you have shot a smaller turkey?” 

I couldn’t believe the size of the big gobbler as it was dropped at my feet. We yelled, hugged, high-fived and thanked Jesus, like we had just won the World Series. Rod called the park rangers and said, “Gobbler down, head this way.”

When the rangers arrived, we took pictures, again slapped high fives and celebrated this awesome hunt. After arriving back to Jester Park, our base for the hunt, we found out that two of the other hunters had also harvested birds. We shared fellowship over lunch, took more pictures, and relived and shared the story of our hunt over and over. 

This hunt was a real blessing to me having just recovered from a bow hunting accident where I fell from my treestand and broke my back leaving me wheelchair bound. This hunt gave me strength, hope and faith that my best days are still ahead of me!  I look forward to next year and thank God daily for this wonderful hunt that will be engraved in our spirits forever!  A very special thanks to Rod Slings who invited me to this event allowing me to harvest my best turkey to date!  25 pounds, 14 ounces with a 10-¾ inch beard and one inch spurs! 

BORN AGAIN!

Zach, Todd, and Rod

(Zach, Todd, and Rod)

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Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 2

Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 2

by Captain Jim Barr

of www.skinnywaterchartersri.com

Go Barefoot in the Boat- If the weather/water is warm, going barefoot in the boat helps the angler to avoid stepping on their fly line. Footwear of any kind provides enough insulation to prevent you from being able to feel that you are stepping on your line. Many a cast has been ruined and a fish lost by a pinched line on deck.  Bare feet can also present a slipping hazard on a wet deck, so you be the judge. Alternatively use a stripping basket to hold your fly line. Also, remember to stretch your fly line, preferably before you board the boat, and if that's not possible or you forget, strip the fly line off the reel into the wake of the boat as you relocate. Water pressure applied to the fly line will stretch the line and remove any twists and coils. If you do not cast in a relatively straight plane, but have a circular or "oval" rod rotation, this will add twists to your line causing it to kink.

Fluorocarbon or Monofilament Leaders- I have a couple of simple rules on this subject.

1. First, I don't spend stupid money on monofilament and fluorocarbon tippet material. For fluorocarbon I buy "Vanish" manufactured by Berkley. For monofilament I buy "Berkley Trilene Big Game" in Clear.I buy spools of this quality line in different tests. For Fluorocarbon, typically 17 and 20 lb and for Big Game, typically spools in 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 lb. test. I tie my own tapered leaders thus the reason for buying multiple spools of different test. Ultraviolet rays combined with the effects of saltwater degrade these lines, so annually I throw out the leftover spools and buy fresh material.

2. When it comes to what lines to use. My simple rule is if I am using a floating fly line with a floating fly pattern because I want the fly to be on the surface or just below the surface, my leader and tippet system is made entirely of monofilament (nylon) line. On the other hand, if I am fishing deeper waters, particularly around cover such as heavy seaweed, ledge and boulders, the first four feet of my leader is 40lb monofilament, but the balance of the leader system is Fluorocarbon material. Fluorocarbon is nearly invisible under water and it is made of a heavier density copolymer... so it sinks. It's valued for its refractive index which is similar to that of water, making it less visible to fish. Mono floats/Fluro sinks- easy to remember.

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White River Fly Shop

The big annual brown drake hatch that hundreds of fly fishers look forward to every June is in full swing but beginning to wind down. Successful fly anglers looking to hook that large rainbow or salmon have learned to fish over deeper water off shore and look for cruising or "porpoising"  fish. Anglers fishing closer to shore are more likely to hook rock bass, smallmouth bass or perch but few trout and salmon.While most hatching activity begins around 8:00 in the evening don't overlook the early morning.Trout and salmon can often be found scooping up dead spinners and cripples between daybreak and 7:30 am over deep water. Look for this hatch to end around July 4th and the larger Hexagenia regida hatch to begin. This hatch will be prolific for about 3 wks.  

If you are looking for the perfect rod/reel combo to do this with we have several. Our Hobbs Creek 9ft. 5 and 6 wt. combos are equipped with a large arbor reel , floating line 100yards of backing and are 4pc IM6 graphite with a case. A great value and outfit for under $150.00. Come in and check them out anytime. We have several other brands of rods and reels in stock and available to cast as well.

Mike DeTomaso

Fly Shop Team Leader

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Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 1

Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 1

by Captain Jim Barr

of www.skinnywaterchartersri.com

Hook Set- Many fly anglers new to the salt environment utilize the same fish striking (hook set) they do when striking a trout taking a dry fly. This is an overhead, high rod tip motion with the butt of the rod somewhere between the angler's waist and shoulder. If you use this technique when striking a saltwater fish (Stripers, Bluefish, Bonito and False Albacore to name a few), you're going to miss a lot of fish. The proper technique in saltwater is to keep your rod tip low to the water during your retrieve, and even putting the tip under the water's surface is perfectly acceptable. The retrieve has the fly line loosely pinched between the forefinger or middle finger (or both) of the rod-hand and the fly rod grip as the angler strips in line with the line-hand in a fashion that best imitates the swimming motion of the bait you are imitating. As the line is stripped over the fore-fingers of the rod hand the angler applies more pressure to the pinch point so that if the fish strikes the fly as the angler drops the line to pick it up again for the next strip- the line will stay tight helping to hook the fish. As the angler repeatedly strips line imitating the swimming motion of the bait, when the fish strikes the fly, the angler is in a position to "strip-strike" the fish keeping the rod tip low. The strip-strike has the angler pulling the line with force with the line-hand as he releases pressure at what was the pinch point on the rod-hand. The fly line will go tight immediately, and the rod will begin bouncing under the pressure and head-shaking action of the fish. Typically the hook is set in the fish's jaw, however it's perfectly acceptable to strip-strike the fish again with a good degree of force to "seat" the hook. The angler then raises the rod to play the fish.

 

Rod Positioning While Playing a Fish- After the angler has set the hook and is now playing the fish, care must be taken to land the fish. I see many anglers who engage in hand-to-hand combat, "fighting" the fish as if it's a 200 lb beast. It's unnecessary, and I typically coach new anglers engaged in this life and death struggle, to Relax. Yes, keep pressure on the fish, don't allow a slack line and when the fish wants to run, let it. If the fly reel drag is set properly, it will do the work of applying pressure and slowing the fish's run. Typically there is no need (except for the macho photo shot) to rear-back and bend the fly rod in half as you play the fish. The drag and the spring action of the fly rod will do the lion's share of the work. When the fish slows and you can turn it, do so, but keep a tight line and if the fish makes a run back to the boat as Bonito and Albies typically do, reel like a mad person to maintain a tight line/contact with the fish. If the fish pulls to the right, apply pressure to the left, and vice-versa- this will tire the fish more quickly. It's also OK to the turn the fish from side to side to tire it. Remember, for toothy fish, each time you reverse direction the leader is being pulled across the fish's teeth. In the case of Bluefish particularly, a steel leader should prevent being cut off.

Never put your line hand on the rod blank above the fly rod grip to apply additional leverage. A fly rod is meant to flex deep into the handle and putting pressure on the fish with your hand positioned on the blank above the grip may very well cause the rod to break. Additionally, try not to bring the butt of the rod above your waist while fighting a heavy fish. A high rod position exerts significant pressure (bend) on the tip section of the fly rod which may result in breakage.

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPageC?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&appID=94&storeID=58&tab=3

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Bonsai and Fly Fishing?

BonsaiWhen I told one of my coworkers about wanting to write about the connection between the hobbies of raising bonsai trees and fly fishing he exclaimed “I don’t get it,” to which I exclaimed, “You’re kidding me, right?”  I thought it was obvious.

Well maybe not obvious, but it becomes much more so once you look at a culture that practices both with devotion and tradition, especially with the increasing popularity of a particular style of fly fishing.  The Japanese people have a long tradition of both fly fishing (a bit of a surprise to some people) and bonsai.  The discipline required to participate in both is similar and the patience you have to possess to enjoy success in either is daunting to some but the rewards can be extremely fulfilling.

Bonsai, the practice of growing miniatures trees in shallow pots, has been a part of Japanese and Chinese culture for hundreds, possibly thousands of years, and practitioners have created some of the most beautiful botanical wonders I’ve ever seen.  Formal upright, slanting, root over rock, broom, cascade, and group are but a few of the styles employed by growers to imitated naturally occurring trees in miniature form, and each one can take your breath away when done expertly.  The art of bonsai has always held a special place in my heart but until recently I never thought I had the ability to practice without killing tree, after tree, after tree.  Thanks to a family friend, some websites, and a few good books, I’ve learned just enough to be dangerous.  There are even bonsai clubs all over the world. Although it’ll take years and years to be considered anything but a novice, the result can be visually stunning and personally satisfying.

Now where does the fly fishing connection come in?  Tenkara of course.  Tenkara is a form of fly fishing originally practiced in Japan wherein the tackle is kept simple and to a minimum so much so that there isn’t a reel involved, just a telescopic rod approaching 14 feet long, a line, leader, and flies.  Even the flies are simple and somewhat rough looking versions of typical patterns.  Basic, uncluttered, and uncomplicated; those are the best words to describe this ancient, but recently revitalized, method of fly fishing.  There’s a time and place to use tenkara equipment just like any other method, so it isn’t for everyone or every location.  Small to medium trout streams are tailor made for this type of fishing so if you’re looking for a simpler way to go….Look into it.

So you see, there’s a definite connection between bonsai and fly fishing.  The Japanese culture has two totally different “hobbies” that can be much more than that.  They can be a way of life.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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What's the Best Knot for Tying Two Lines Together?

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staffer Rod Woten fielded this question from a Facebook fan. Here's his answer:

"If you’re talking about two similar-sized lines of similar material I prefer the surgeon’s knot. The blood knot would be my second favorite for this type of application. Examples would be adding tippet to the end of a fly line leader, adding a mono leader to a fluorocarbon mainline, or splicing additional line to a spool of monofilament.

If you’re talking about lines of differing size or material, I prefer the nail knot.  Examples of this use would be attaching fly line to backing and attaching leader to fly line.

The nail knot for the most part is fly fishing exclusive. However, the blood knot and surgeon’s knot have much wider ranging applications. They are ideal for tying mono to mono or mono to flouro.

 

 

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What Makes a Fly?

This is a question as old as fly rods and folks sitting around the campfire with adult beverages, but you'd think that after all these years there would be some kind of consensus about what makes a fly, a fly.  Well sorry…nothing could be further from the truth.

I had a gentleman recently explain to me that he was going to throw small, pre-manufactured soft baits on his fly rod for snook in a few weeks, to which the anglers in attendance exclaimed “That’s not fly fishing!”  We all agreed that he had crossed some kind of line that bordered on sacrilegious, or at the very least, in very bad taste when it comes to angling in the spirit of the sport.  Lee Wulff would be spitting mad were he alive today.  Fly fishing isn’t always about catching the most fish possible, but rather about “How” you’re catching fish.  So what makes a fly, a fly?  Here’s the best I can come up with.

A fly might be defined as:

  • A lightweight fishing lure originally designed to be thrown in the traditional manner with a single or double handed fly rod.
  • Constructed by hand by attaching natural or synthetic materials to a single or multiple hooks using thread.
  • Designed to appeal to a fish’s senses of sight, hearing, or touch.
  • Instigates a purposeful strike out of hunger, aggression, or fear.
  • Hooks the fish in the mouth.

I realize that this won’t settle the longtime argument among flyfishermen as to whether or not a wet fly or nymph is actually “a fly,” but it fits the definition as best I can figure.  And many of our European customers look at what we throw for saltwater and can’t help but exclaim, “That’s not a proper fly!” but by definition, it is.  Our flies are designed to meet the above criteria and are specially suited to our fishing needs whether it’s the overall size, colors, weighting, or what it’s meant to imitate.

Now throwing a mass produced soft bait on your fly rod and calling it fly fishing….That aint Cricket!

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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