Varying your technique and presentation to match the fishing conditions at hand is key to consistently catching fish.
The dictionary defines the phrase, “One trick pony” as “a person or thing with only one special feature, talent, or area of expertise."
I see fly anglers all the time who are one trick ponies — for example, only fishing with dry flies or dry and dropper rigs no matter what the stream conditions are. Even guys who nymph fish can get caught up in only euro nymphing or only indicator nymphing.
We've all been guilty, myself included, of sticking to a favorite technique or fly for too long when it’s not producing.
I don't know about you, but before I started tying flies full time I would get super excited at the beginning of fly tying season only to have my excitement fade into disappointment heading into spring when the fishing started to get going and I hadn't even tied 10% of the flies I planned on tying.
While I’m always excited to catch any fish regardless of size, the level of excitement goes up exponentially when casting for predatory fish like musky and pike.
There is something seemingly primal about these fish — maybe it’s all their teeth in that crooked grin. There are a couple of puzzles to figure out when designing and tying big flies for big fish.
To get bigger fish interested in your flies, they have to be of sizable equity to the fish. In other words, you throw a big fly to a big fish because they need a bigger meal to sustain their weight. Smaller patterns will more often than not get the results that a larger fly will, especially in waters known to house bigger fish.
Big flies can often be mistaken for a lot of materials stacked onto a hook. The more materials you tie on a hook, the heavier it will be. With some musky flies being a foot long, you don’t want your arm to fall off halfway through a fishing trip.
There Are a Few Categories of Flies You Should Have in Your Fly Box at All Times.
If you're going to lace up your wading boots and go fly fishing (especially in cold weather) you should have these types of flies in your fly box: a sculpin imitation, a baitfish pattern, a wide-bodied fly, and a wild-card pattern. The four flies in this part cover these categories.
Herbert Hoover once wrote, “Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.” The thing to take away from that quote is our forefathers did not haveArticulated Shanks,Chocklett's Body Tubing, orSculpin Helmetsto tie with. So many great materials are available now to tie virtually any kind of fly pattern you can imagine.
When tying these flies, I chose materials that move and breathe well in the water (if you've never tied with black bear, it is a wonderful material and moves great in the water). Examine the water you'll be fishing for the native baitfish and tie these patterns in according colors.
Coming Soon: A Flymen Short Film Featuring Lefty Kreh and Walt Cary.
Back Bay recounts the tragic loss of a legendary fishery in Virginia and its stunning comeback. The short film will premiere January 13, 2018 at an official showing at the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival (VFFWF) and will be released online.
To learn more about how to attend the Festival After-Party for the official viewing, visit the VFFWFAfter-Party page.
One of the Most Fun Parts of Fly Fishing Is Designing and Tying Flies.
As a fly tying instructor, I often have clients who have designed and tied a new pattern, but there is some flaw in the design (e.g. the wrong hook, articulated when it is not needed, too big, or too small) or material selection.
These are integral parts of fly design. The large cunning fish you'll be targeting know how their food choices move and will shy away from flies that do not move naturally.
The basic principle of fly tying is to come up with a fly that imitates a fish’s choice food.
This gets a bit trickier, in my opinion, when you are imitating creatures other than insects.
A mayfly’s movement will change depending on what part of its lifecycle is occurring or if wind or weather is a factor in the hatch, whereas a creature like a frog, on the other hand, will desperately move all kinds of different ways when a hungry largemouth is chasing it.
Flies that do the shimmy are all the rage right now.
A lot of this is due to all the new materials and hardware now available for fly tyers. Ranges of articulated shank systems and heaps of new synthetic materials that easily shed water are changing the way we tie flies.
Articulation used to be a term for wire and beads joining two hooks in order to do the S-curve movement in the water.
Modern innovations in fly tying materials give you the ability to step beyond purely mimicking the appearance of a prey item – you can mimic its movements as well.
Fishing is a wonderful family activity and it provides a great way to bond with your children.
But while plenty of parents hand their child a spinning rod and head down to the local farm pond, relatively few try to teach their kids how to fly fish.
This is understandable, given the complexity of the activity, but unfortunate too. The truth is, most youngsters are perfectly capable of learning to whip a fly through the air. No, fly fishing isn’t an ideal pursuit for very young children, but most kids can learn to handle a fly rod by the time they are 10 to 12 years of age.
However, it's always important to have success while introducing children to any type of fishing, otherwise, they’ll get bored and lose interest.
And while it is slightly more complicated to do so when you are trying to teach them to fly fish, you can still set yourself up for success by keeping the following four considerations in mind.
When I say all the time, I mean literally every available moment of your free time is spent fishing or thinking about fishing in some way.
I have a tendency to be super focused on things that are of interest to me – the rest of the world disappears kind of focused. My wife contends that this leads to the detriment of our relationship from time to time. I can’t argue with that.
Over the years, I’ve been trying to create balance here by getting my wife involved in fishing. The experience has been great.
My wife and I have traveled to quite a few renowned fisheries around the U.S. and just recently, Canada. She’s indifferent to whether or not she catches fish (somehow, she always does). She claims she’s just happy to experience some of nature’s beauty and to see me happy. I’m happy to oblige her those opportunities.
What follows is how to execute a couple’s fly fishing vacation on a budget. If you put aside a small sum of money and go on this trip, you’ll come home closer to your significant other than when you left.
I have repeated this mental check list at least 1,500 times over the last 10 years.
Being organized from the moment you leave the house to having an organizational system in place for when you’re on the water will keep you fishing more and spending less time looking for that stream thermometer you left at home anyway!
I started getting organized in my fishing habits after arriving at the South Holston River (a 2.5-hour drive for me) one winter day and realized that in my morning grog (or hangover if I’m being honest) I took off with no waders and no reel.
I vowed that would never happen again.
Here are my tricks for never again showing up at the river without a rod or boots or a reel or fly boxes – something that each of us has done, even if we’ll only admit to ourselves that we went on a hike that one day instead of fishing because we packed two left-foot boots!
The Esox family has evolved over thousands of years to give us a top predator to chase on the fly.
These beasts' senses are tuned to the max.
One sense that is important for pikes/muskies is the lateral line, a system of tactile sense organs located in the head and along both sides of the body, used to detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water.
They use their lateral line in conjunction with their sight to give them a more accurate picture of what’s going on – how far away their prey is, how fast it's moving, and its size.
The lateral line is often forgotten by the fly angler. We tie pretty flies, but most of them have a very small footprint in the water. I'm not saying these don’t work, but why not maximize your chances of attracting more fish or perhaps bigger fish?
If you have a '57 Chevy in your garage, you might update some parts and do some body work, but you'll try to keep as many original parts as possible.
The flies we regard as true classics have achieved that status for a reason.
While fishing the Ausable River in my home state of Michigan, my eyes were opened to why classic fly patterns are still catching fish many years after their creation.
I was running short on dry flies as the sulphurs were hatching, so I dug in my brookie box and saw a glint of yellow and silver. As soon as I tied on that size eight Mickey Finn, my numbers and quality of fish instantly improved.
By saving the features that make these classic flies produce and adding a modern touch with new and innovative materials, you can take them to the next level.
Fly fishing today has anglers targeting an array of species in pretty much every fishable location on the planet.
Generally speaking, due to the rise of social media and the seemingly insatiable need to snap that “epic fish pic,” there are not too many streams or locations that are secret fishing spots anymore.
There are probably many anglers who have stepped foot in the same run you fish regularly. If you are fortunate enough to fish a river system that doesn’t have much pressure, well, congratulations and please take me there.
The local waters where I live in Pennsylvania can be inundated with anglers just about every other day.
In cases like that, as an angler you have three choices you can make:
Put your walking shoes on, find open water, and fish anyway.
Go home and tie more flies waiting for a day where you have the stream to yourself (you’ll be waiting for a while).
Alter your fishing approach, think outside of the box, and fish your fly with confidence behind people who just fished a run.
In my personal experience, finding open water and fishing usually works and is good for a fish here and there. To maximize your success, try altering your fishing tactics with an unconventional approach that most anglers wouldn’t use.
Believe it or not, this is actually extremely easy to do because most guys are using a Woolly Bugger/standard streamer, or tandem nymph rig. Fly fishing is entirely centralized on observation. Reading water, insect identification, flow rates/visibility, the list is endless. Take a minute, observe other anglers, and BE DIFFERENT.
During these frigid winter months I often find myself thinking about something dear to me – smallmouth fishing.
If you're like me, you miss the warm sun on your back and the bend of a 8wt rod with a bronzeback on the other end.
It doesn't have to be over for us. There is still bass fishing around.
Granted, the cold and brutal conditions of winter do not make it easy to put in the time it takes to locate and fish for these guys. I have found myself questioning my own sanity many times over. It’s a part of being a die-hard fly angler.
With that being said, here are some tactics that I have found helpful for cold-weather smallmouth fishing.
All of my fly fishing and tying recently came to a screeching halt.
I consider myself an avid fly fisherman and seemingly constant fly tyer, and I've often said my time on the water is my church.
However, a double meniscus and ACL tear and the surgery to repair it can slow down even the most enthusiastic angler.
For those who don't know, this entails arthroscopic surgery to the knee; in my case, the damaged ACL was replaced with a cadaver ligament. Thank you to the unselfish donor who in essence gave me the ability to navigate more freely on two legs again.
This bend in the stream of life has changed my perspective on many things I used to take for granted and the little changes that affect our day-to-day lives.
We've all experienced the frustration of not being able to find a material you need while fly tying.
I'm probably one of the least organized people on the planet, but recently my custom fly tying business has been busy and tying is taking me longer than it should due to me losing materials in what I used to call my "organized chaos."
We all know what that means.
The main sources of my problem are me not putting materials and tools away when I'm finished with them, shoving them in random drawers, or simply never putting them away when I bring them home.
Although I barely own any storage items specifically designed for fly fishing or tying, there are a few I recommend everyone to have to make your fly tying more fun and less frustrating.
Sure, there are many places out there where you can win some cool stuff, but this one takes the cake and all the ice cream, plus a few cold beers on the side.
For the entire month of November, anyone who enters their email will be entered to win a pile of prizes, valued over $5,000.
The winner isn’t just going to win their pick of the prizes below, they’re getting everything. One winner takes all. If you win, make sure you’re sitting down, because it might just blow your mind.
Postfly is running the contest and they partnered with us here at Flymen as well as with Yeti, Costa, Cheeky Fishing, fishpond USA, Compass 360, and Blue Halo to round up all of the essentials you need to get out on the water and catch fish.
Check out the prizes below and then enter your email now. Don’t miss out on the most exciting contest around!
The winner will be chosen at random at 5 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 30.
The Face-Melting Prize Pack
Postfly: Lifetime Supply Of Flies
Yeti: Hopper Flip Cooler
Costa: Your Choice Of Shades
Flymen Fishing Co: Fly Tying Essentials and Fly Tester