Flymen Blog

How to tackle big water fly fishing

Something about pulling a fish out of a big body of water makes you feel heroic.

Walking up to a big body of water, so big that your cast doesn’t even cover a fraction of the water, can be daunting and even downright discouraging.

You almost feel nervous to make your first cast. Where do I start? How do I tackle this water without a boat?

But when everything comes together and you hook into that fish, you feel like you won the lottery!

Here are a few things to help make swinging your fly rod feel a little more like fishing and a little less like… flailing.

Fly Fishing Gulf Shores, Alabama

fly fishing Gulf Shores, Alabama smithfly paddleboard

Most of us will not get the chance to chase bonefish on the flats of Belize, but with a little preparation we can still get the same rush a little closer to home.

As a staunch streamer junkie, there's nothing greater to me than having a big brown trout absolutely hammer a streamer.

But after fishing Gulf Shores, Alabama, I realized I've been missing out – the salt is a streamer junkie’s dream. 

Saltwater fish hit a fly like they have had a lifelong vendetta against that poor little Clouser (seriously, I had a ladyfish almost take the fly rod out of my hand).

Fly Tying: Oskar Hagelin's Dive, Kick Ass, Repeat

Fly recipe

  • Hook: #2 Gamakatsu B10s
  • Tail: Flashabou
  • Tail 2: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Body: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Wing: Magnum Rabbit Strip
  • Hook: #1 Gamakatsu B10s
  • Body: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Body 2: EP Tarantula Brush
  • Pectoral Fins: Deer Hair
  • Wing: Magnum Rabbit Strip
  • Head: Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet

Swing It! Spey Streamer Fly Fishing Tips

Reddington fly rod stream

Everyone has their own style of fishing whether it be with a spinning rod or a fly rod.

Those of us who choose to pick up a fly rod also have our little own niches in which we choose to stick with.

Unfortunately, we tend to put our streamer boxes aside during this time of year and stick to more traditional approaches.

Yes, it’s exhilarating to watch that giant brown trout come to the surface and take your size 18 dry fly as you fish a tail out of a pool or a nice steady run, but what is more heart pumping than watching that same giant fish chase your 4” to 8” streamer from bank to bank and demolish your fly on the strip or the end of your swing?

Summer pike fly fishing tactics.

Gunnar Brammer fly design

Catching a pickerel, pike, or musky on a fly rod is an intense experience that translates into obsession very quickly.

There are only a handful of fish that I can say I’m obsessed with targeting on a fly rod.

Trout are at the top of my list, but any of the fish within the esocidae, or esox, family come in at a close second.

Spring and fall are the typical seasons when big pike are most vulnerable to a fly angler, but I can’t help but target them all year long, summer being no exception.

These tips will help you dial in summer pike within your local system.

Fly Fishing For Tailing Redfish: 5 Mistakes You'll Make This Summer

Gordon Churchill redfish fly fishingIt's getting to be tailing redfish season.

The tides will be getting right to cast to fish looking for crunchy snacks in the spartina flats.

You want to catch one, don't you?

Well guess what? You're going to screw it up and it's going to make you go nuts.

Here are 5 things you're going to mess up on and some ways to be prepared in advance so you won't chuck your rod in the water out of frustration.

Inside look: Designing the Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail.

Martin Bawden fly fishing Bahamas

Sight fishing for bonefish, permit, or redfish is one of my favorite things in life.

It combines many of the visual pleasures of fly fishing with some of the toughest technical challenges, creating a scenario in which so much needs to come together perfectly to be successful.

Travelling to a beautiful tropical location and searching for an almost invisible, elusive quarry among endless sand flats, palm trees, mangroves and crystal clear water is incredibly relaxing.

Then add the heightened sense of anticipation, the sudden jolt and adrenaline rush as you first sight the fish – heart pounding, panic setting in, and of course the pressure! Pressure from your guide, your buddy, and yourself to put together the perfect cast at the perfect time to deliver your fly to the perfect spot in the hope (or prayer) that you'll be rewarded. 

So much fun!

The idea for the Fish-Skull® Shrimp & Cray Tail™ first came to me during one of these trips to the Bahamas in late 2014. Out on a flats boat in the middle of nowhere, but somewhere between my fourth bonefish and third Kalik of the day, the idea formed to create an alternative to the established fly tying method of using bead chain eyes or small dumbbells to weight shrimp or small crayfish patterns. Continue reading

How to fly fish tide pools for groundfish.

Blue cabezon fly fishing

When I started fly fishing tide pools along the West Coast, there wasn’t any information about how to go about fly fishing these areas.

After much trial and error, I eventually started finding success using a mix of techniques from various aspects of fishing, which opened up an exciting and diverse new area to explore using a fly rod.

Hopefully this article will help ease the learning curve into this great and ever-changing fishery!

Fly tying: How to hide your weight.

Brita Fordice fly tying

As a woman, when you gain a little weight you have 3 options:

  1. You can lose it.
  2. You can just deal with it and not do a thing.
  3. You can buy one of those horrific sucker-inner-things that make you look 10,000 times thinner but make you cry trying to imagine how to pee out of it.

And your poor fly has to worry about the same thing. Well, not the peeing part.

You have 3 choices when tying your fly:

  1. It can lose the weight and sacrifice action.
  2. It can stay big and bulky and sacrifice appearance.
  3. You as a fly tyer can conceal the weight.

Here are my favorite techniques to conceal weight in a fly without sacrificing appearance, or running up a Nordstrom card on some fly spanx. Continue reading

Fly Selection and Speed of Current

Fish-Skull Skulpin Bunny

Over the last 20 years of streamer fishing I've encountered many different situations.

I've fished fast Western rivers, Southern tailwaters with variations of speed based on dam flows, and slow Midwestern streams and lakes.

One of the most important factors I have found to maximize fly action is having the correct weight for each situation. Continue reading

Catch Bigger Fish on the Fly in 3 Simple Steps

Norbert Renaud fly fishing guide Ireland

Catching big trophy fish is often the goal we hope to reach.

It can sometimes happen by surprise or by luck.

But catching bigger fish regularly is what makes the difference between the men and the boys and between the women and the girls.

Big fish are at the top of the food chain, and they didn’t get there by chance.

Usually they're clever, wary, and opportunistic.

How can a fly angler put this to good use? Continue reading

Fly tying: There's no new black.

black fishing flies

It doesn't matter what happens in the fashion industry – when it comes to fly fishing, there's no new black.

We've all heard it!

"Orange is the new black," or "purple is the new black," or even that olive would be the new black.

Don't get me wrong – I know there are a lot of colors that are really effective in different types of flies. I love throwing white deceivers to snappers and other saltwater species, and big olive flies to pike, not to mention fishing a banana-colored zonker for salmon or a big gray articulated streamer for trout.

There are so many colors that are important when it comes to flies and fly tying, but none more important than black. Continue reading

Big Streamer Fly Fishing: Beyond Banging the Banks

Gabe Levin, 27-inch White River brown trout

by Steve Dally
Big streamer fly fishing often gets labeled as a young person’s game – all brawn and no subtlety, just “banging the banks.”

Real streamer fishing is visual – from the dance of the fly to the buttery flash of a drive-by – and intellectual – requiring analysis of the flow of current around and over structure to find the honeypots.

Streamer fishing, particularly when the flies are 6” and bigger, is mentally and physically challenging, requiring fast-twitch decision-making and slow-twitch endurance.

Knowing your game, as well as the fish's, is way more important than a booming cast and no brains.

If you want to streamer fish longer and better, here's how.

Continue reading

Inside look: The Pop-N-Fly with Captain Gary Dubiel.

Fish-Skull Pop-N-Fly TFO fly rod

by Gary Dubiel
This may seem like an odd way to start off talking about fly fishing, but let’s chat about one of the most popular and easy ways to fish inshore saltwater, the popping cork.

You’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with anything?!”

Maybe more than you think.

Continue reading

Fly Tying: Why Is My Baitfish Pattern Swimming Wrong?

Brita Fordice baitfish fly patterns

by Brita Fordice
You sat up late last night tying the perfect baitfish pattern in hopes of finally hooking the elusive beast that's been refusing all your fly patterns to date.

You tie your fly on, throw your first cast, and strip, strip...

What the ^*%}?!”

Your fly is swimming like a belly up version of the goldfish you won at the fair in 5th grade.

What went wrong? 

Here are the top 3 reasons why your baitfish pattern is swimming wrong.

Continue reading

The Pursuit: Fly fishing for giant musky – film trailer.

If you love musky and musky fishing, then you MUST see this epic Flymen-sponsored film featuring Flymen guide Michael McNaught with Jay Newell, Chris Pfohl, and Kim Rood as they chase musky in Canada.

Catch the whole film at the 2016 International Fly Fishing Film Festival – IF4.

5 Signs You Might Be a Streamer Junkie


by Ryan Kaufman
With fly fishing, as with anything in life, people develop habits and preferences.

There’s the dry fly enthusiast. This person is the true purist. If you’re not enticing a fish to eat on the surface you’re not even really fly fishing. Conversations about shuck materials and wing placement can go on for hours. It’s "dry or die" and bamboo all the way. 

There's the Euro-nympher. This person is out to put a hole in the lip of every fish in the stream. They regard the FIPS-Mouche competition rules as the bible and tungsten beads as their savior. They don kneepads and use nets with huge hoops.

And then there are those who stay up till the wee hours of the morning drinking and attaching more feathers, hair, and flash to a size 4 hook or bigger than you can shake a 10 foot 3 weight at.

The visual experience of watching a big fish chase down and crush a big fly is what keeps the blood pumping through their veins. 

These are the streamer junkies. 

Are you a streamer junkie?

If any of the following 5 signs apply to you... you might be a streamer junkie.

Continue reading

Small Water Fly Fishing: Streamer Design and Tactics

Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet trout fly fishing

by Brandon Bailes
I often struggle with deciding on which type of water I want to fish, whether it's big water with big flies and sinking lines, or small streams with downsized offerings. Both can be very rewarding but there’s something special about small streams and exploring where smaller predatory fish can live.

My definition of a small stream, warmwater or coldwater, is a watershed that is at the max 25 feet wide and a deep pool from 4 to 5 feet deep. Where I live this even includes a few tailwaters, which when generating are not navigable by boat.

These types of waters contain more than just bugs for fish to feed on. After many years of exploring these little gems and talking with other small stream fanatics, I've come up with my own way to target the meat-eaters in these waters with downsized streamers.

Continue reading

5 reasons you should remain a fair-weather angler.

You finally have a day off. 

You’ve been jonesing to get some time on the water and have been planning a full assault on your local trout stream. 

One little problem though… the weather forecast.

It’s cold and raining! 

You really want to go fishing, but it just sounds miserable.

You tell yourself there are flies to tie, beers to consume, and sleep to catch up on – all things a day off is great for accomplishing. So you decide to stay home.

Here are 5 reasons why you’ve just made the best decision of your life.

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Fall Streamer Fly Fishing: 3 Tips for More Strikes

by Andrew Loffredo
Streamer fishing is one of the most visual and exciting ways to fish for trout!

As a former member of the U.S. Youth Fly Fishing Team, I picked up some streamer tricks that are useful for both new and experienced anglers.

Here are 3 tips to consider when you’re “hucking meat” this fall.

Click to read more

Fly fishing for false albacore: 4 things you're doing wrong.

by Gordon Churchill
You're fly fishing for false albacore and the fish are coming in fast and furious. People all around you are hooking up. You are not. 


It's frustrating as being the last guy in the line to get cake and they run out as soon as it's your turn.

Don't despair – here are 4 things to pay attention to that you may not be.

Click to read more

3 Articulated Streamer Fly Styles That Simply Get ‘er Done

Gunnar Brammer, 3 articulated streamer fly styles that simply get 'er done

by Gunnar Brammer
What if I told you there was 1 style of articulated streamer that could produce fish in any and every possible situation?

Well, I’d be lying.

But what if I told you there were 3 styles of articulated streamers which under any circumstance would move fish and put you on the hunt?

I’m most certainly still stretching the truth, but this is a fisherman you're talking to, so that's to be expected.

Click to read more