Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gear Review - Redington Sonic Pro Waders

All Bum Trout gear reviews are unbiased, honest, and nobody pays me to say anything.  I wish somebody would though...

I've learned that you can't make a good wader review after using those shiny new things one or two times.  It takes a period of punishment and abuse to judge if a pair of waders are worth one's salt. 
I've had my pair of Redington Sonic Pro waders for roughly six months and have been putting them through their paces.  Long days of walking, banging through brush, and duck hunting in freezing temps.  Needless to say, I haven't been babying these things.  Here's the verdict so far. 

Comfort/Fit:  In very few words, the Sonic Pros fit nicely.  Redington went with an ergonomic design with these waders and the results are quite pleasing.  The Sonic Pros fit better than any waders I have used in recent memory.  There is ample room to layer up if needed yet even when I only have on a thin baselayer and a t-shirt it doesn't look like I'm wearing a trash bag.  Got to look good when you're fishing, right?  My favorite part of the fit comes from the articulated seams, especially in the knee and seat.  I have full range of movement without the binding I've experienced with other waders.  I can't understate how nice this is when you are trying to scramble up/down steep banks and jump over boulders.   

No Stiches

Features:  Can't complain with the list of finishing touches on the Sonic Pros.  First off, the fleece lined hand warming pocket provides a much needed relief from frozen winter fingers, and the best part?  The pocket zips shut.  This may not sound like a big deal until you find yourself rowing a boat all day long having your oars constantly snagging in the handwarmer pocket.  This used to drive me crazy.  The simple addition of zippers fixes this annoying problem.

Continuing on, the Sonic Pros have ample storage for keys, wallets, cell phones, fly boxes, beef jerky, or a small dog or ferret.  The external pocket is handy, large, and fully waterproof.  The internal flip out pocket is water resistant.  In addition, the internal pocket has plenty of places to attach hemostats, retractors, and all those other gizmos you find necessary to carry.  Just don't carry one of those ridiculous fish counters.  You don't want to be that guy, do you?  

The gravel guard lace hooks are different from what I'm used to.  I am familiar the metal tab style lace hooks that always inevitably get flattened and never work right again.  At first I was leery about the plastic hooks but now I really think they're a good design.  The only beef I have with them is that they are a bit of a pain to get hooked on your laces.  A task exponentially more difficult with cold fingers.  Once hooked however they never come off, and help keep your fly line from tangling around your boots.  

The wading belt design is yet another simple but smart feature built into these waders.  The addition of a couple extra belt loops on the waders keeps your belt from inadvertently falling off and getting lost (Something I've experienced more than once!).  The wading belt is nice and stretchy and extra wide.  Something I like.   

 Durability/Construction:  So far so good.  After a few dozen hard uses these waders look almost new.  I stumbled across a strand of barbed wire a few trips ago and my Sonic Pro's didn't get a single hole in them.  Redington says the Sonics are constructed with a 4 layer fabric in the lower leg and seat, and a 3 layer fabric everywhere else.  The thicker fabric on the seat and not just the lower leg is a nice feature as this area takes a lot of abuse.  So far the sonically welded seams show no signs of wear and the interior double taped seams look as good as the day I bought them.  The fabric is treated with Redington's DWR coating for added waterproofing.  As of yet it seems to be working, I've managed to stay dry so far.    
Love the Zippered Handwarmer Pocket

Value: Are they worth the $300.00 price tag?  In short, yes they are.  At $300.00 the Sonic Pros aren't the cheapest pair of waders you will find but they sure aren't the most expensive either.  For the money you get a LOT more features than what you will find in most other companies comparably priced waders.  For the price, you get Redington's top of line product while with many other companies $300.00 wader, you will only get a middle of the road product.  The Sonic Pros aren't made in the USA if that bothers you, but nevertheless the craftsmanship seems solid to my eyes.   

Innovative Gravel Guard Hooks
Overall Impression:  For what it's worth I am really impressed by Redington's Sonic Pro Waders.  If I had to grade them, they would get a solid A+.  They fit great, are loaded with high end features, and seem to be well build.  For those who like to wade fish a lot and are looking for a wader that will stand up to loads of abuse during long days of walking, I wouldn't hesitate recommending the Sonic Pros.  I also like the color scheme of these waders, did I mention that?  Hey, one has to look good while out on the river after all.  Am I right?      

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing Magazine - Winter 2013 Issue

The 2013 winter edition of the Montana Fly Fishing Magazine is out.  As always this magazine is online and 100% free.  

I'm lucky and happy to say that an article of mine is featured in this months issue!  I would like to thank the magazine's editor, Greg Lewis for this opportunity.  

If you haven't already checked out Montana Fly Fishing Magazine, click the link below.  You'll be glad you did.  

Montana Fly Fishing Magazine   

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Annual Post - Cape Solstice

The winter solstice.

 A day to reflect on your place in the world and the magic of the seasons.  Living in Montana we are fortunate to get to experience all four at their best.  Spring is full of life, rebirth, rain, hunting morels, and chasing the big hatches.  Summer days are, as Norman Maclean would say, are "arctic" in length.  Endless, beautiful, full of long hikes, beautiful fish and dry flies.  Fall is about golden leaves, hunting season, throwing streamers for big browns, and those fantastically crisp mornings.  Winter is snow, skiing, and catching up on everything you should have done when you were fishing the rest of the year! 

The winter solstice is always a much anticipated event, the start of the long journey towards spring.  In My Story as Told by Water, fly fisherman and author David James Duncan points out how sedentary things, mountains, forests, people, are truly the ones who migrate, travelling along with the equinoctial tilt of our planet.  It is in fact the creatures we consider migratory, that actually don't move at all.  The following is taken from Duncan's book.  
In the fly-fishing classic The Habit of Rivers, Ted Leeson glimpses this journey when he looks up from his home river at departing Canada geese.  He writes,
As the recognition of autumn comes suddenly, in a moment, so one day you first hear the geese....Bound for the south, these birds seem to me a strange point of fixity...for in a sense they don't move at all.  They take to altitudes to stay in one place, not migrating, but hovering, while the equinoctial tilting of the earth rocks the poles back and forth beneath them.  The geese remain, an index of what used to be where, and of what will return again.  Their seasonal appearance denotes your passing, not their own.

Duncan writes the next passage after noting the sudden change after the first cold snap of the year.  If you live in the Rockies you know the one I'm talking about.  The day when fall suddenly gives way to winter, when that stream you were fishing days or weeks before suddenly has the appearance of an immovable solid.  It is on these kinds of days that you realize that you are indeed the one migrating.
Returning home from these surroundings, I found that our house, too sat differently upon the land.  The log walls were no longer anchored to solid ground: they cut through the axial stream like a ship's prow. I'd step indoors with a sense of climbing aboard, make tea, sit at the window, watch the mountain world plunge, shiplike, through the slow equinoctial flow.  Winter solstice became not a date on the calendar but a destination: something to sail toward, then around, the way schooners used to round Capes Horn and Good Hope.  When my daughters climbed in my lap, I couldn't contain my wonder.
"We're moving!" I told them. "The house, the mountains, the whole world is sailing. Can you feel it?"
 They gazed gravely at the mountains, then nodded with such serenity is seemed they'd always known.  And on we glided, deep into winter, out around Cape Solstice, then straight on back toward spring.
Sailing Onwards, Towards Spring.
Duncan, David James (2001). Tilt. My Story As Told By Water: Confessions, Druidic Rants, Reflections,    Bird-Watchings, Fish-Stalkings, Visions, Songs and Prayers Reflecting Light, From Living Rivers, In the Age of the Industrial Dark. (pp. 57-60).  New York, NY. Sierra Club Books.       

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Lackluster Fishing Advice - Things I've Learned About Streamers

Streamer fishing. 

It's all the rage these days.  Walk into any reputable fly shop and you are likely to find dozens of crazy concoctions of fur, feathers, eyeballs, rubberlegs, and god knows what else.  There are no shortage of patterns out there to try and attempt to tie.  Unfortunately tying more than a few of these patterns require nothing less than the entire Feathercraft material catalog and a P.Hd in rocket science.

Fishing streamers is an awesome way to chase trout and if you've never done it it's sure worth a try.  There's nothing quite like it when a big brown slams your fly.  It's true, (most days at least) if you want to catch bigger trout you should be fishing streamers.     

I've in no way shape or form a master streamer fisherman, however in the many years I've been working at this technique here are some of the few things I've learned:

1.  Switch up Your Retrive:  I've found more often than not, it's not the fly you are using but how you are fishing it that matters.  A lot of guys are content to as I call it "grip it and rip it," for hours and hours.  By grip it and rip it, I'm talking about slamming that fly into the bank and stripping it back to you roughly perpendicular to the current.  The timing of the strips is steady like a metronome, strip, strip, strip, etc...  While this may be the most effective approach at certain times, often there are more effective ways to fish your fly.  The following are a few retrieve methods that I like to use.

              - The Jig:  What's the most effective lure ever created?  That answer is easy - the jig.  The bouncing, jumping, diving action of a jig is hard to beat.  Jigs imitate all sorts of wounded and/or dying creatures, easy targets for predators.  Most of the streamers I like have heavy conehead or dumbbell eyes so I can jig the fly.  To accomplish this retrieve channel your inner bass fisherman.  Twitch the rod upward and then drop it, take up the slack each time with a strip or two.  Jigging, at times, can be deadly.

              - The Strip Pause:  This is somewhat similar to the jig but imparts a little more swimming action to the fly.  This may be my go to retrieve.  I love a strip, strip, pause cadence, keeping my strips short and fast.  This gives the fly a darting action similar to how sculpins swim.  With this retrieve a lot of fish will chase the fly on the strips and then on the pause, pounce on the fly when it is dropping in the water column.   

              - The Swing, Dangle and Drop:  Not often my first choice but at certain times, particularly in colder water temps, this technique can be very effective.  Also a good choice for fishing the fast/slow current seams that you find in freestone streams.  This is basically the traditional down and across wet fly swing approach.  When your fly gets to the end of the swing let it hang downstream for a few seconds often a fish will slam it when it is "dangling" downstream.  I also like to lift the fly and then drop it when it is dangling.  Sometimes that extra little bit of action does the trick.    
              - The Fluff:  An especially effective technique for fishing from a boat and can be deadly during high water conditions.  For this technique I use a floating line and a 9ft. leader.  This setup allows me to mend my line  and impart a lot of action on the fly without stripping.  The reason for this lies in the fact that in high water most fish are pushed tight to the bank to escape the fast water in the main river channel.  By casting your fly tight to the bank and then initiating a series of downstream mends you can impart a great jigging action and keep the fly on the bank where the fish are.  When you are doing this right when you mend you should be able to see the fly for a second and then it will drop out of view.  This technique is also extremely effective for fishing streamers under and around structure such as trees, logs, and rocks.   

              - The High Stick Lead;  a great technique for fishing pocket water, small streams, or in places with lots of structure (logs, rocks, etc.).  Think of this almost as Czech nymphing with streamers.  By keeping a high rod tip you can "lead" your flies throw tight boulder filled slots or thrgouh channels between the weeds in spring creeks.  You can jig and twitch the fly as you lead it through a run.  One warning about tight line streamer fishing.  Since you have a tight line to your fly you may miss a few fish, try to resist the urge to yank up when a fish eats.  Often the fish will hook itself if you can keep your cool and give him a second to eat it.   

2.  What Flies Work Best? aka Does your fly swim?:  No silver bullets here.  There are thousands of patterns out there and I'm sure they all work.  I will give you a few of my favorites in a bit but first.  What makes a good streamer?  I believe every effective streamer pattern ever tied has these important elements.  
             - Materials and construction that let your flies move and breath in the water:  A fly may look great dry but what does it look like when wet?
             - A realistic profile:  Again, what does it look like when wet, does it look like a sculpin, a baitfish, an old sock?
             - Flash:  I'm a believer in flash and most flies that I ever have had success with contain at least a few strands of krystal flash.
             - Weight:  I believe streamers should be weighted enough to allow the fly to jig and dive.  Medium sized lead dumbbell eyes usually do the trick.  A modest amount of weight allows me to fish a fly with a floating line, a sink tip, or full sinking line as conditions dictate. 

Okay so here are some of my go to streamers. 
Karnopp's Space Invader - size 6. 
McKnight's Home Invader - size 6. 
Urchin Buggers - sizes 8-4. 
The Kreelex - size 6. 
Double Bunnies - sizes 4-6. 
Skiddish Smolt - size 4.  
Sheila Sculpin - size 6. 
Garrett's Bellydancer - size 4-6. 
Sculpzilla - size 4. 
Kelly Galloup articulated stuff. 
Cheech's leech - articulated.       

3. Color matters more than patternA lot of folks are always searching for the killer fly.  While some patterns certainly are more effective than others (see above) I think it's most important to have a few patterns that you have confidence in and have them in multiple colors rather than say having twenty different sculpin patterns that are all olive.  On any given day or for that matter hour, color can make or break you.  If I had a dollar for every time I switched colors and immediately hooked up I would be a man of modest income. 

3.  The big fly doesn't always catch the big fish:  This has to do a lot with the water you fish.  Knowing what kinds of forage fish live in your water goes along way to helping catch fish.  It is my experience that many times a size 6 streamer will outperform a six inch long articulated pattern.  Why?  The benefit of the smaller fly is that fish will almost always tend to eat it, not just swipe at it or smack it broadside but eat it.  If you are only fowl hooking fish with larger flies and/or getting grabs but no hook ups, try switching to a smaller fly.  On a piece of water I like to occasionally fish that holds many browns over 20 inches, I rarely fish a fly bigger than a size 6 and I am rarely disappointed by the results. 

4.  It's good to be Impatient:  Experience will teach you more than anything as long as you take the time to learn from the past.  If I know where a fish lives and I don't catch him on my first or second cast I do one of several things. 
                1. Change my retrieve. 
                2. Change colors. 
                3. Change the size of the fly.  I rarely will go more than 15 minutes without changing if I'm not getting good responses to my fly.  

5. To Sink or Not to Sink?:  Sink tips, full sinking lines, weighted vs. unweighted flies, there's too many options to choose from.  What works best and when can be the subject of much debate.  What setup I choose to use is largely determined by the conditions and whether I am wade fishing or in a boat.  The majority of my streamer fishing is done with a floating line.  My second most used setup is a 5ft. fast sinking or extra fast sinking polyleader.  I prefer the Airflo Polyleaders (see A Bum Gear Review - Airflo Polyleaders) but companies like Rio are making very similar products.  I tie on the end of the polyleader an 18inch section of 1 or 2x tippet and have at it.  I have a 300 grain sinking line but honestly I find very few reasons to use it.         

6.  How the fish see the fly is important:  Have you ever seen a bait-fish flee upstream?  Me neither.  Given the choice spooked and scared fish will almost always run downstream.  The reason for this is simple, current.  A fish can swim faster downstream than up due to it using the current to aid in it's escape.  For this reason I like to fish my streamers running downstream or parallel to the current.  Fish your flies directly downstream back to you can be very effective at times.

7.  Think like a hunter:  Many times you are not looking for a "bunch of fish."  Instead you are looking for one or two big ones.  I've had days where I've gotten that "bunch of fish" fishing streamers and I've had a handful where those "bunch of fish" are big ones.  When you have a day like that simply enjoy it.  If you want to be a successful streamer fisherman however, it pays to think like a big game hunter.  Where is that trophy going to be holding?  How do we get into position without spooking it?  How do we make that one shot count?  More often than not your first cast through a run is the one that produces so it pays to make it count.  Plan your shots, take a few moments to analyze the situation, (structure, current, casting technique) and you will catch more and bigger fish.  That I can guarantee.        

8.  Final thoughts:  If there's a way to summarize what I've learned it would be this.  Avoid becoming a creature of habit.  What color, size, and retrieve that worked last year, yesterday, or even an hour ago may not get you into fish.  Don't get locked into only fishing one fly one way, be willing to experiment, take risks, and do different things.  Don't make streamers your back up plan, make it "the" plan once in a while.  Instead of nymphing all day try throwing streamers.  That first two foot long brown you land will make it all worth it. 

If you are just getting into fishing streamers or are interested.  Remember you don't need a hundred different patterns.  Pick 5 or 6 and have them in multiple colors.  Double bunnies and wooly buggers are always a good start and are simple and cheap enough to tie in various sizes and colors. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

(Black) Friday Films

It must be about winter because the Friday films returns for at least one week.  This time of year we are always graced with a bevy of new films.  Every year's selection of footage helps to pass the time during our long, cold winter days and give us a break from the hours of restocking the fly boxes.  Enjoy.


Friday, November 8, 2013

To Hell's Canyon and Back - Photo Essay

Several weeks ago I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to fish the mighty Snake River in Hell's Canyon on the Oregon, Idaho border.  My uncle has ventured there with friends every year for over a decade, and this year I made it a point to join them.  This was my first visit to the canyon and I already am looking for a way to get back there, ASAP. 

Hell's Canyon stands as the deepest canyon in North America.  At one point it's a 6,000 feet from the tops of the mountains to the river.  The caynon Is also one of the most rugged and inaccessible pieces of country you could ever imagine.  There are only three roads that enter the gorge that I know of, and no cell service or much of anything else for that matter.  Yeah, it's an awesome place to say the least.  I hope the pictures do it justice even though I know they won't. 

Oh, and the fishing was pretty darn good to.  I forgot how much I love smallmouth bass fishing.


snake river

The Road Home. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

My First Steelhead

On a fly rod that is.
Growing up in Oregon I had caught steelhead on several occasions with plugs and spinners.  As an adolescent with a short attention span, I lacked the desire to seriously want to fly fish for them.  Like most kids I simply wanted to catch as many fish as quickly as possible and fishing with gear was, and frankly still is the most effective way to catch steelhead.
Fast forward a decade later and I suppose I have a little more patience the closer to thirty I get.  Friends had told me how incredible it was to catch a steelhead on a fly rod and particularly by swinging flies.  For my hardcore steelheader contacts, the apparently endless hours of casting didn't seem to bother them much.  From all accounts, hooking a steelhead on the swing was one of the more difficult things to do but also one of the most incredibly rewarding accomplishments in fly fishing. 
I had to try it.  So last week I decided to get myself a Spey rod, make the drive to Idaho, and see for myself if I couldn't just swing up one of these amazing fish.       

I decided to make the Clearwater River my destination as I would be meeting friends and family a few days later on the Snake River in Hells Canyon (I'll save this for another post).  The chance of hooking a big B-run fish over 30 inches didn't seem like such a bad thing either.  Since I was starting from scratch and really had no idea what I was doing I made my first stop, the Red Shed Fly Shop in the thriving metropolis of Peck, Idaho.  This has to be one of the best shops I have ever been in and reminds me that you can't judge a book by it's cover.  Behind the battered wood door and the peeling paint stands what is nothing short of amazing.  I almost fell over when I walked in and found the best selection of steelhead rods, lines, flies, and materials I have ever seen in one place.  The best part of course has to be the owner "Poppy," and his no nonsense, tell it like it is approach.  I appreciate a fly shop owner who tells me point blank, "I'm not going to sell you a bunch of stuff you don't need."   

After stocking up, it was time to hit the river.

Okay, here goes nothing.  Time to start casting, stepping down, and casting, casting,  and casting some more.  I've heard that steelhead are the fish of a thousand casts.  I was hoping that this would not be the case for me.  If it was the fish of 127 casts I might be okay with that.  1,000 casts?  Are you kidding me!?

At the start of the day my spey casting left a lot to be desired.  At the end of the day it still did, however I could at least manage to throw a manageable double spey at around seventy feet.  There was nothing in my castsing that remotely resembled the ease, grace and beauty of all of those awesome spey casting videos I have been watching on Vimeo as of late.  It also lacked the sweet hip-hop beats soundtrack.  I must just be missing the soundtrack.  

Many steelheaders talk of the Zen like trance that swinging for steel produces.  A person supposedly obtains some sort of higher state of being while fishing.  On closer examination I can see some similarities between the Buddha's stint under the Bodhi tree and standing in an icy river for hours on end casting, watching, and waiting for that one moment of transcendence.  Perhaps I need to fish some more because on each cast I just kept thinking, "this time, this time," "eat it, eat it, eat it!" or, "I sure could use a doughnut and a cup of coffee..."  I definitely didn't obtain that state of oneness with the universe that my steelhead buddies talk about.  Maybe I need to take up winter steelheading?   

As the sun began to set I started to lose hope that I would get a fish on this day.  I stepped into what I thought looked like good water below a riffle corner and began casting and stepping down once again, my purple fly swinging easily across the current downstream of me.  A fellow spey rodder joined me a few minutes later working the water at the head of the run.  I was starting to get hungry (stupidly I hadn't stopped fishing to eat more than a granola bar all day) and cold (again: I stupidly left my coat in the car) so I told myself "one more cast."  As I was making my way to the bank across the Clearwater's greasy bowling ball sized rocks I felt what I thought was a fish take my fly.  No way I thought, could it have been a fish?  Probably just a rock.  Heck, I'll make a few more casts.  I worked out the Skagit head, made the only cast I could reasonably throw with any sort of grace, the double spey, mended and waited.  A few seconds into the swing I felt a hard jolt, weight, the line went tight.  I set the hook and a large fish went airborne fifty feet in front of me.  Game on.  

Ten minutes latter, but for what felt like an eternity, I found myself holding my first fly rod, swung up steelhead.  A female B-run chromer, over 30 inches and beautiful.  There are a few moments in your fishing life that you remember forever.  I'm sure this will be one of them.   

Monday Morning Macro

Genus Dicosmoecus - aka the infamous October Caddis.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Trash Fish Tuesday

In honor of the government shutdown.  I thought this appropriate.  If nothing else I have an excuse to post this junk.

The Northern Pikeminnow in all it's slimy glory

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Grayling are awesome.  In a year when most of our western Montana rivers are running perilously low and "hoot owl" restrictions have been stifling our fishing activities for the better part of a month, getting up in the mountains is that much more appealing.  I like to make the hike to a local grayling filled lake at least once a year, I don't always make it but I try.
If you've never fished for grayling it's worth a try.  Grayling have an unnatural enthusiasm for dry flies and I never get tired of watching them rocket out of 6 feet of water to smash a dry fly.  When I arrived at said lake yesterday, cruising fish were gently sipping midges off the surface of the water.  What do I do?  Throw on a huge red Turk's Tarantula of course.  Match the hatch?  Grayling don't care about that.     

Freshwater sailfish.

Now you see him.
Now you don't.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Wake up.  Slam the coffee.  On the water at first light.  You arrive at the river hoping a few things pan out.  If it's calm, the sun is shining, and the water has something to it resembling clarity, you know you have a chance.  In this game, to be successful, everything has to work out just right.  Once the rod is strung, the real task begins, find a feeding fish, stalk it, get in position, make a pinpoint cast, perfect presentation, and hope that the fish eats the fly.

The fish are big.  You are sight fishing.  This is likely as technical as freshwater fly fishing gets.  No, this ain't trout fishing.  You probably guessed it, we're talking about carp here. 

These fish are technical
Dawn Patrol
Carp seem to be all the rage these days among a certain group of anglers.  There's a good reason for it as I have discovered.  They are big, strong, spooky as all get out, and are usually extremely picky about what they put in their mouths.  Not easy, but definitely rewarding fishing.  As I've read, carp have the some of the best abilities to detect sound and vibration of any freshwater fish.  They are also equipped with a formidable sense of smell.  Try throwing a freshly tied and cemented fly at them and see what happens!  You probably won't like the results.  Since these formative experiences, I've stopped cementing all my carp flies.  Sunscreen on your hands?  Bugspray?  Better not touch that fly.  If you do, all you may see for the next few hours is the quick snap of a spooked carp blasting away from your fly acompanied by a sudden startling SPLOOSH!  All you will be left with is a cloud of silt and more than a few yards of empty water.

Yes.  These fish are technical.  

There's no sure thing with carp fishing.  Best laid plans can be torn asunder by an unexpected windstorm, rain, hail, or host of other meteorological disasters  inevitably bound to hit the wide open prairie at any moment.  After all, there's nothing between you and the arctic circle save for a few wheat fields and a few Canadians.  This year, incessant surprise thunderstorms muddied the waters for what seemed to be weeks at a time making fishing tough.  

When I went out, I would spot a fish or two gently tailing in several inches of water, and take great care getting into position as to not spook it. By the time I did get into range, often the fish would be nowhere to be seen.  Likely he slid off into slightly deeper water but you would have no idea as to where or in what direction.  Blind casting for carp in muddy water you soon learn, is pretty much a waste of time.   

When you tell folks that you came all the way out to the middle of the prairie in eastern Montana to fly fish for carp you get a whole bevy of interesting responses.  All the way from the mild interest to annoyance, to just plain disgust.  Folks give you quizzical looks, stare in disbelief, or ask "What are ya fishin' for?"  Sometimes all you get is a laugh and a headshake.  

As one gentleman put it when I told him what I was doing, "Fly fishin' for carp!? well ain't that somethin'."     

I think it is. 

Sometimes Even a Blind Squirrel Finds a few Acorns
Did I mention carp can be tough quarry?  Just as you feel like you got a handle on them, these fish quickly humble you.  One day I had double digit hookups in the 2 hours I fished.  All right I thought, I got this figured out.  That success was followed by three straight skunk-fests.  Nice.

To get these fish to eat requires a pinpoint cast at 30 plus feet.  Landing the fly close enough to the fish to get his interest but as to not spook him.  Then you have to detect the take, and this is not often an easy thing.  Sometimes a tailing fish will turn on the fly, sometimes if you are lucky, you will see the fish suck it in.  Often however, all you notice is a brief quiver, flick of the tail, sudden pause, repositioning, or other oddity that alerts you that the fish has eaten something.  Many times it's not your fly but when it is...  

Hold on.  

The Hybrid (courtesy of John at Carp on the Fly) Strikes Back
Trout fishing has got nothin' on this.  Well, at least not very often.  My hardest day of dry fly fishing for trout would equate to about an average day of carping.  Though this perception can, in large part, I suppose be contributed to how lousy a carp fishermen I am.  I tell you what though, carping sure makes you a better, more patient, stealthy trout fishermen.

I'm no expert, but the one thing I've learned is...  These fish are technical

Go get yourself some.  Go ahead.  Do it. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Sorry for the absence.  It's been a busy summer.
This year, a longtime dream was finally realized.  I took the leap and became a bona fide Montana fly fishing guide.  Being my first go around I wasn't sure what this summer would hold.  However two-thirds through it, I can say I've been having a blast.  I've been blessed with some wonderful clients, many greats days on the water, and have stayed surprisingly busy.  Remarkably, despite my best efforts, my folks have managed to catch quite a few fish also.  After a few months, I can say I am really enjoying this guiding thing. 

I have to give much thanks to my Outfitter/Mentor Jed at Sula Mountain Fly Fishing, and Chuck, owner of Chuck Stranahan's Fly Shop in Hamilton for setting me up and giving me the opportunity to learn the craft.       

Saturday, July 6, 2013


What's your definition of perfection?  Mine is...

Standing in a mountain stream.
Tenkara rod in hand.
My favorite dry fly
Best friend alongside 
Catching some of the most beautiful trout in the world.