In this episode of The Articulate Fly Podcast with Marvin Cash, Henry Cowen shares his experiences growing up and fishing in New York City, his striper learning curve when he moved to the South and how the gear guys have influenced his fly angling.
Henry is best known for helping to popularize chasing freshwater stripers on the fly and is releasing a new book, Fly Fishing for Freshwater Striped Bass: A Complete Guide To Tackle, Tactics, and Finding Fish.
Available through Flymen, if you pre-order one of the first 250 copies of Henry's new book you will receive a SIGNED COPY from the author! This highly anticipated book has an expected release date to you of October 15!
Not only that, 10 of these pre-orders will win a fly personally tied by Henry Cowen with a personally signed card!
Learn more about Henry's new book and reserve your copy.
When we take our kids on their first fly fishing trip, we generally think about things like which areas to fish, what gear we need, and what weather conditions are best, but there are other important things we should be considering as well.
Here are 3 important things to teach your kids when bringing them out fly fishing for their first time...
Fly fishing in saltwater flats usually conjures up images of tarpon, bonefish, snook and permit; the "big four" so to speak in this realm of mangroves, grasses and sand. Then there are redfish and black drum. These two species are much more widespread and available, making them a viable target from Texas to the Carolinas. Again, these two fish are very popular among fly anglers and considered high on the list of angling achievements.
However, there is yet another species of the drum family that I consider even higher on the list than redfish and black: the spotted seatrout (cynoscion nebulosus). The spotted seatrout is perhaps one of the first fish that novice saltwater fly anglers target. The smaller versions of these fish are voracious feeders, attacking anything that gets near them, making them perfect for novice anglers.
Spotted seatrout are readily found from Maryland to Texas, in large groups, and it is not unusual once a single small trout is caught, to catch a dozen or more in the same area. Perhaps this is why many people forget about seatrout and don’t give them the respect they deserve, especially the large ones we call gator seatrout.
It is first light. You are sitting quietly and motionless in an aluminum canoe in the middle of a 10-acre pond full of lily pads trying not to make a sound.
You have spent the last 30 minutes of darkness listening to the insects and frogs begin to quiet down as the sun begins to rise. Thick fog permeates the still air and the water is still as glass.
Every 15 seconds you can hear a bass blow up on an unsuspecting victim. It is summertime now and frogs and tadpoles are one of the most readily available food sources in the lake... Too bad all you have in your box are Clousers, chenille worms, and crawdads. OOPS!
When most people think about fly fishing Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, they think of trout. When you think of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, you think of warm water species.
We have some of the best smallmouth bass and muskie fishing in the world. It's all right here, as well as arguably the best carp fishing when it comes to pursuing them in the Great Lakes.
The upper Midwest is such a rad area for fly fishing and there's a very small group of outfitters that are providing guided trips at an elite level. We offer single day and multi-day trips, and if you've never done a multi-day guided fly fishing trip, I'd definitely recommend one to the Midwest. It allows you as an angler to get into a groove, especially if you're a busy person that generally doesn't have a lot of time to fish.
Aggressive eats, jumps, and willingness to eat on the surface make bass a fun fish to chase, especially on the fly. Personally, I think the topwater takes are where it’s at in bass fly fishing. Part of the fun is getting the fish to eat what you want it to eat.
If you’re set on getting bass to eat on the surface and it’s not working, before you give up and switch over to fishing a streamer, try dialing it back first. That’s where the topwater finesse comes into play.
It’s a solid spot that has produced many times throughout my years as a fly fishing guide.
I relay the information to my clients, and what happens next is...
A) The client lands the fly an inch off the shore, lets it sit for a couple seconds, strips, pauses, and the smallmouth eats the fly.
B) The fly lands 3 feet off the shore, well short of the current break, and the client fishes the fly back to cast again.
C) The client false casts so many times that the fly is never given a chance to catch a fish, even with me frantically pulling on the oars trying to hold the spot.
D) The fly lands in the spot but is quickly stripped well out of position, the fish chases and turns off.
E) The fly lands an inch off the shore, the client lets it sit for a couple seconds, strips, pauses, but no one is home and hungry today.
The following 3 tips will help make option A more likely of a situation for you on your next smallmouth fishing trip.
With world famous fishing destinations like the lagoon systems on the east coast, the Everglades to the south, and the crystal clear grass flats of the Nature Coast to the west, there is certainly no shortage of epic environments in which these fish can be targeted.
Learning a fish species like this from scratch was a challenge but also allowed me to learn from my mistakes. Hopefully sharing what I learned the hard way will help you the next time you target redfish on the fly.
What makes a pocket water fishery are the boulders that block the general flow of the river, forming hydro-breaks where fish lie in wait in the darkness, ready to dart at a moment's notice for food.
As a trout guide, I can’t see myself guiding or fishing anywhere else during the peak season but on my home river in the Adirondacks, the West Branch of the Ausable. Here are some tactics I've picked up from guiding and fishing these waters that may help you next time you're on the water.
Aside from the lack of crowds, the gorgeous surroundings, and the all-too-eager trout, small streams offer endless learning opportunities. The lessons garnered from creeks, streams, and brooks can be applied to all aspects of trout fishing.
The following are a few of the tactics I have learned from my experience on smaller waters that I fish frequently both on my own and when guiding clients as well.
If you haven't noticed, there are a lot of designs out there. One thing I've noticed about the plethora of new streamer patterns is that many of them (other than a few highly specialized designs) are designed basically around one thing: catching trout in fast-moving water.
So when I grabbed a handful of cleverly crafted baitfish patterns and headed out to my local warm-water bass lake, I found them highly lacking in some important qualities. They didn’t catch very many fish. I quickly realized that something designed for moving water didn’t automatically fit the bill when things became more static.
My answer was to just develop my own streamer patterns and fish away, but if you don't tie your own or have countless hours to experiment and design your own stuff, I realized that the already established cold-water patterns can be just as effective for warm-water species — they just need some adjustment in rigging and common sense when it comes to fishing techniques.
Here are some tricks I’ve used to adapt some commercial fly patterns to be as effective on your local warm-water lake as they are in the famous rivers they were intended for.
Your fly boxes are crammed full after hours watching videos while tying at the vise — heck, you probably know more about Brian Wise’s hands at this stage than his wife does.
Flies, lines, and water are all essential tools, but it's not going to work out if you can’t make those bugs swim.
When the Flymen crew asked me to work up another streamer piece for the blog I went back to my 2016 article, “Beyond Banging The Banks”. What we didn’t cover was how to make that fly swim when it hits the water. Consider this Chapter 2.
With each client I try to place an emphasis on proving yourself wrong, and by that I mean, take some rule/tactic/method and try to disprove it. After all, how many times have you done what was considered to be wrong and yet still caught a fish?
Habits on the other hand, are another story. Unlike mistakes, habits — especially a certain few — can be detrimental to catching trout. I'm going to address three of the worst habits I see on the water and how you can go about improving your habits to catch more trout.
How Do You Decide Which Streamer Color to Fish With? Choosing the right color for your streamers based on the kind of water, depth, and brightness of the day is quite important in fly fishing. Like many casting or spinning anglers do with their lures, we must tie our fly patterns...Continue reading
The Machaca Is One of the Baddest Freshwater Fish in Costa Rica, Hands Down. When I first started talking to my friends back in Florida about how awesome catching machaca on a fly was, most of them had no clue what I was talking about. So let me give you...Continue reading
One such method, two-handed casting (better known as spey casting), has exploded in popularity in the last five years, though some would say ten years or so. For those who don’t know, spey casting is generally done to target anadromous fish with a much less-tiring casting stroke, capable of handling larger flies and sinking tips with relative ease.
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.
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.