Archive for the ‘#fly fishers playbook’ Tag

Like the First Day of School…..   2 comments

“Alright, let’s get started”, someone with authority barks, but I’m already seated up toward the front.  “How did I get here?”, I muse as I realize I am front and center.  I quickly scoot myself back toward a wall during the confusion of folks jockeying for chairs and finding their comfy places.  Our manager welcomes everyone and decides we should do introductions as there’s new faces in the crowd.  There’s always new faces, where do these folks come from?

Oldest guy in the room.

The guy with a beard to my right starts, “I’m so and so and this is my second year”, then it’s the other guy with a beard, “I’m so and so, and this is my first year, then it’s the fresh faced young woman, “I’m so and so, this is my first year.  Uh-oh, my turn, “I’m Duane, ah this is my first year.”  That gets a laughing response from the masses, because they all know I’m the old guy.  The roll-call continues and the bearded guys keep rolling out low numbers of years with guiding experience.  I’m amazed.  Yea, there’s a few with eight or nine years in the room (one that says he shadowed me 8 or 9 years ago), but for the most part these folks are young enough to be my kids.  Hell, some of them might be.

It’s like going to a professional baseball game and realizing that the damn umpires are younger than you. I’m the oldest in the room again, and after some health issues last winter, I’m beginning to feel it.  Don’t get me wrong, I can hang with these kids all day everyday, it’s just that when I grow a beard, it’s gray.  That just doesn’t look cool in a fly shop or magazine cover anymore.  I’m a relic, and my fly choices and approach to the sport show it.  I still throw tons of soft-hackles and my idea of lunch is sandwiches on the way to the river so we have optimal time to fish.  Although I still throw softies, I have had to learn that guide trip lunch is something you do sitting down next to the river after you have thoroughly washed your hands with that new antibacterial liquid soap.  Isn’t all soap antibacterial?

I digress.  As the paper stack grows at my feet, I wonder how many old permits are in my pack.  Not too long ago, I was stopped by a game warden and checked for a license.  I found one in there from 2007, I really need to get in there and clean my pack out.  Might be a sandwich in there.  The manager explains how to carry these in a water-proof bag in your waist pack (no vest wearers in this room, not since I switched 5 years ago.), and I watch as some folks jot down this information, and the most of the rest are nodding their heads in agreement.  I think, “You gotta be told how to carry this stuff?”. Then, I kick myself for being “that old guy”, and find myself nodding with the rest.

I’m asked to get up and describe the areas we can legally guide on the South Platte River near Deckers.  I get up and in a nice way tell them it is their responsibility to learn where they can and can’t fish.  I go into how one winter, I walked the entire blue line from the confluence up to the fly shop, and drew a map showing every feature I thought important.  I realize at this time that I wasn’t asked to tell them to learn it themselves, so I explain that we can meet down there and do a drive-a-long.  Old guy relinquishes again, but it’s worth it.

I also throw in that there are a million first year guides out there, but not nearly as many second year guides.  In other words, don’t be a jerk, keep your head down, and bust your ass.  As the meeting comes to a close, I think about how these guide meetings are just like the first day of school.  A good chance to meet new people, rekindle old friendships, discern a pecking order, and fill out a pile of paperwork.  Just before the meeting was adjourned I got “it”.  I got that old feeling that I used to get before a guide trip, or when geese were set and coming in to my decoys. or before a big baseball game.  I got a butterfly.  Only one, but it was a good one.  I’m excited for another year on the river. I look for the challenges, and am stoked about working with all of the guides, management, and ownership.  Here we go.

Fear No Water

p.s. Buy a copy of The Fly Fishers Playbook for the old guy in your life for Father’s Day

Shelves and the Formula   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

Added a new video at: https://youtu.be/h_8BmcfsYnQ

Obligatory grip and grin...

Obligatory grip and grin…

This one deals with fishing those juicy shelves you find in every river.  Not all shelves look the same.  Most are very easy to locate at the lateral top of a run, some are hidden within the run and some run longitudinally with the run.  If you look closely at the video thru the link I provided, you will see a fast riffle dumping over the shelf.  Look closer and you will see “sleeper seams” within the run as it dumps over the shelf.  Sleeper seams show nearly imperceptible areas where obstructions gently slow the river flow. Almost a sure thing that you’ll find feeding fish holding in those sleepers, and the adjoining seams, but you’ve really got to stop and look closely.

The trick is to cast up onto the fast water to place your bugs above the shelf and put them in perfect position as the water slows and  drops onto the shelf.  If fish are up there, they are there to eat.  Make sure you’re mended up, anticipating the next mend, and primed to set quickly. Adjust your rig longer and heavier than you think you’ll need because you want your flies to follow the same path as the naturals. If you’re too light or too short, your flies will rarely drop into the proper column as the fish are below the fast water, because they are sitting in the slower flows down on the shelf.  Once you really concentrate on mastering a few shelves, the formula becomes easy to figure.

Sometimes you’ll see where a lateral, across the river shelf, and a longitudinal, with the river shelf connect.  That situation can be pure magic as it provides multiple areas where food and fish will collide.  That’s the crux of the Fly Fishing Formula.  You want the fish to either eat or get out of the way.  Opportunistic feeding fish will move distances to eat, selectively feeding fish will either eat or sway out of the way.  They are more prone to eat if your drift is perfect and your flies are close to the naturals in size and color. Make the fish decide.

Enjoy the video.  Go work a shelf as soon as possible and get back to me!

Fear No Water

Plea for questions….   3 comments

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

Well, the season is about to get cranking.  I’ve been guiding some, but most of my winter work has been in the form of traveling across the country presenting at shows, expos, and Trout Unlimited groups.  Been from Cleveland to Coeur d’alane, and a ton of points in between.

The real fun I find with  speaking are the myriad questions I receive before, during, and after the presentation.  I really learn from those questions. They make me think, and dig deeper into my knowledge and experience.  The level of the question doesn’t matter as all questions are viable and relevant.  The more I’m queried, the more I learn, and in turn, the more I eventually teach.  It’s a neat cycle.

I realize some questions are never asked in a public or private setting because it makes folks (me included) feel vulnerable.  I wish that wasn’t the case because I am confident someone along with the questioner would reap some sort of benefit.  So, I come to you folks that read my blog to selfishly ask for fly fishing questions.  I’m in the process of writing another book, and the more questions I have the better the book will be!

I really don’t care what you ask.   The level or depth of the question doesn’t matter, as each question will open dialogue into other areas.  So be specific or general, and remember there aren’t any stupid questions.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone that does.  Think of any discipline within fly fishing, except salt water (not for this book).  Casting, drift, bug choices, knots, fly lines, landing fish, reading the water, it’s all game.

If you don’t feel comfy asking on this forum, shoot me an email at: lonearcherguideservice@yahoo.com

I really appreciate everyone’s help!  Thanks, and Fear No Water!

Idaho beauty.

Idaho beauty.

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Nom Nom

Fly Fish Alaska   Leave a comment

Alaska. Unless you’ve been there you just can’t comprehend the beauty. Now, I live in arguably one of the most beautiful places on the planet, Colorado. But, Colorado is no match for the unbridled beauty of Alaska. It’s huge untamed landscape that thrusts up and out of the ocean, coupled with the colors, and vastness is not something that pictures can capture.

Unbridled beauty....

Unbridled beauty….

I was afforded the opportunity to fly fish Alaska because a couple of my long-time clients wanted to give it a whirl. Minturn Anglers offers a wonderful package for fly fishing for Steelheads, Silvers, Huge Rainbows and all of the Dolly Vardens you can catch. Next year, rumor has it, we are expanding our trip packages to cover five weeks. These are one week packages, and not only is the fishing stellar, but the accommodations are incredible. If you’re ever interested in a trip like this don’t hesitate to contact me. I still have an Alaska blush.

The gear we took was as important as the plane tickets themselves. Keeping everything dry was the top priority on my list. Aside from a good pair of waders and a raincoat, I needed something that would keep my other gear dry. Whether we floated or waded, I needed to be able to carry important items on my back the entire time. A place to carry a lunch, provide fire starter, a dry set of clothes, and any other stuff, in a dry venue were paramount. I settled on the Umqua Tongass backpack.

The pack.....

The pack…..

This 30 liter backpack, complete with padded shoulder and waist strap was more than up to the challenge. It has two water proof compartments that employ a simple roll-top closing system. The closing system was a huge bonus. Not only did it keep the pack water-tight, but it is very easy to quickly access the stuff you carry inside. It also has a hanging interior pocket that I quickly figured out carried my cell phone safely.

I really liked the exterior pockets (6) and used the two on each side for anything from rod tubes to adult beverage carriers. The pack has “cinch straps” to ensure everything rides compactly, balanced, and comfortably. Although we hiked through some pretty nasty willows, I never had the pack hang up because of the way it hugs your back.

I used my pack as carry-on and it fit nicely into the overhead compartments. One little trick I used was to fold the waist straps back over the pack itself, and hooked them in place. This way the pack had zero external straps to hang up while transporting, going through the xray machines, or riding in the trunk of the rental car. When fishing, the entire system of adjustable straps made for comfortable days. No shoulder or hip pinch was experienced at all, and the pack stayed put even while spey casting.

Cold steel....

Cold steel….

I strongly recommend this pack, and come fish Alaska while you’re at it.

Fear No Water,

Duane

p.s. Black Friday’s coming up, don’t forget the Fly Fishers Playbook 2nd Edition for your favorite angler!

The Two Day Chubby…….   2 comments

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

The other day I am out in front of the shop performing my morning ritual rigging rods. Bob Streb walks by and asks’ “What are you doing?” I explain that I’m trying to get a two day Chubby. He kept walking by and filtered into the shop. I thought about my response for a bit and started chuckling. Let me explain.

As a guide and basically a bottom-feeder in the economic society, I strive to get as much use and efficiency out of my gear as possible. Gotta make every inch of tippet, every drop of floatant, and every pinch of putty last. Therefore, I go the extra mile, sometimes two, to stretch the last bit of life out of all my gear. That includes my Chubbies.

Since about the 4th of July, I have been running the Mini-rig alongside nymph and dry fly rigs. It’s a standard in my stable, and I fish it a bunch in the right kind of water. It’s perfect for water that is up to about 18” deep, textured, and faster moving than the main run body. You can peruse the archives to find more detailed info about the Mini-rig, or pick up a copy of the 2nd Edition of The Fly Fisher’s Playbook for more information. It’s perfect for top-down fly fishing.

I swore off tying dry flies years ago. Nowadays I concentrate my tying efforts to producing, in mass, nymphs, pupa, larva, and emergers exclusively. Therefore, I buy my Chubbies. A good Chubby ain’t cheap, and I have found a shop that takes good care of me in that department. It’s not that I can’t tie my own, but I had to draw the line somewhere, or I’d never leave the tying bench. Dressing the Chubby to get a good two days of service is important. Let me explain again.

Fishing a mini rig for a full eight hours equates to probably close to a thousand drifts, some drenching hook-ups, and a few trees and snags along the way. There’s only so much that it can take. But if you take care of it, you can get more service than you may think. It’s all about a little TLC.

The evening before the second day of service (and sometimes third), I painstakingly work to remove all water from the previous outing. I use those little foam thingy’s incased in leather to suck out the water from the main body. You can tell by looking at it if some areas require more attention, as it will appear darker in those areas. Keep working on those areas. I then use a little brush, the same one I use to prep yarn indicators, to brush the wing portions and get all the fibers pointing in the same direction. Next, I cover the Chubby with Top-Ride floatant and store for the night.

Bob walked by as I performed the next step the next morning. The Chubby is ready for final primping to get it thru the day. I usually only apply the silicone based floatants once to a dry fly, but the Chubby can handle two applications, if prepped right. First, I knock off all of the Top-Ride from the previous evening. Then, I re-apply a small amount of liquid floatant as I lightly brush it into all the nooks and cranny’s of the main body. Lastly, I simply brush a bit of floatant into the wing fibers making sure to fluff and separate the individual fibers. Now the Chubby is set for another day of service. As it gets tired during the day, I simply shake it in a little dry shake and continue to fluff. This helps keep it up all day.

Like I said, I’m cheap, er thrifty, and need to stretch all my gear to the limit, that includes my Chubby Chernobyls. Great Mini rig bug, floats all day, suspends heavy tungsten bugs, and catches fish.  Bob asked me the other day, if I am able to get two days out my Chubbies. I proudly told him “Yep”. He chuckled and walked by. To escape ridicule, maybe I shouldn’t prep my Chubbies in the parking lot in front of the shop.

Fear No Water,

Duane

After 2 days hard work....

After 2 days hard work….

Mouthful...

Mouthful…

“Oh waiter, there’s a fly in my soup…..”   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

So glad May is finally nearing June. I traveled a bunch giving presentations in Colorado and Arizona. I’m not much for hotels and rental cars, but I do enjoy speaking to various groups. I spent 2 days in Tucson, 3 in the Phoenix area, and 3 in east-central Arizona’s White Mountains.  Big groups of “fishy” folks.

The Arizona folks spend most of their fly fishing days raking the still waters. They float-tube or bank/wade fish the mountain lakes for trout and pike, and do the same on lower elevation lakes for large and small mouth bass. Fly fishers in Phoenix talked about catching carp in the urban irrigation ditches or chasing them in the warm shallows on lakes.

My presentations, thankfully, were well received, but it was interesting watching my focus spin from moving waters to still waters. Although my latest book has a section on fly fishing lakes, I don’t spend a bunch of time talking about it in Colorado. I only fish lakes once or twice a year anymore and going back to my Arizona roots, made me realize how often I used to fly fish lakes. Interestingly enough, it’s still forms the basis of one of my main theories of fishing. It’s all about depth, speed, profile, and color. I can’t say it enough; those basic tenets of fishing are of utmost importance.

Notice how I say basic tenets of fishing instead of fly fishing? After much thought one night after a presentation in Tucson, it hit me that all fishing requires attention to depth, speed, profile, and color. Even a kid drowning a worm under a bobber must pay attention to those basic tenets! Streamers, dries, dry-droppers, nymphing, lures, salt, bait…..It’s all about finding feeding fish levels, speeds of the lure, flies or bait that feeding fish are eating, and the proper profile and color of the food fish are feeding on.

Makes me think of the old cartoon of the fish in the restaurant complaining to the waiter that there is a fly in his soup. The first time I saw that I wondered where the fly was depth-wise in the bowl. At the bottom? Suspended somewhere in the middle? On top?   It makes a difference where that fly is, because then I’d know at what level in the “soup” that fish is feeding.

That may sound silly, but my main concern when I approach the water (river or lake) is where in the “soup” are those fish feeding? Get those bugs at that level first, and then dial in your speed (weight), profile, and color. Find the level of the feeding fish! Often it’s observable. When it’s not, then you have to systematically dig thru the soup til you find the level. I usually start at the bottom of the soup and work my way up til I find the feeding zone.  If I’m not hooking as many fish as I think I should be, more than likely my depth is off, provided I have the proper speed.

I am convinced you can throw the wrong flies at the correct depth and speed and hook fish. The converse is not true, the perfect bugs at wrong depths and speeds does nothing but allow you to work on your backcast. The next time you hit the river or lake of your liking, take a moment to really discern at what level the fish are feeding. You’ll have already won half the battle even before you start fishing, and oh yeah, pass the crackers, please.

Fear No Water!

Bob with another fish using more conventional fly gearOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bob with another fish using more conventional fly gear.

Father's Day is coming, get a copy for your favorite Dad!etc.

Father’s Day is coming, get a copy for your favorite Dad!

Client using a nymph rig in still water to produce a nice bow.

Client using a nymph rig in still water to produce a nice bow.

Bob Long using Tenkara to find the proper depth of feeding fish.  Fun to guide a guy using this method.

Bob Long using Tenkara to find the proper depth of feeding fish. Fun to guide a guy using this method.

A picture says……   Leave a comment

Grip and grin, hero shot, whatever you call it, pictures preserve memories.  Maybe not so much of the fish you caught as much as the day itself.  I get a kick out of looking back through pictures remembering who I was with, where I was, and just the general tone of the day.  Like most of you, I’ve literally thousands of fly fishing pictures.  There’s only so much refrigerator space, so most of them end up in some box or on some thumbdrive, never to be seen again. For my latest book work, I have taken hundreds of pictures of which only a select few will make it into the next book.  I am no great shakes as a photographer, so I rely on those that are accomplished to lend a hand.  However, out on the water, I’m it.  Net-man, fly extractor and photographer.  Kind of a pressurized position if you ask me.  I am certainly not going to take you on a “how-to” in this post, this is more of a celebration of what I get to do with folks from all over the world, and pictures preserve it.  Pretty dang cool if you ask me.  Here are a few pictures from last year………

This is what I call the insurance shot.  Take a picture like this when folks land their first fish on a fly rod.  After this shot we attempt to have the client hold the fish if time and fish stress permit.  Nonetheless, picture preserved.     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s the old” guide in the shot to help hold big fish”  (also an insurance shot). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There are also “signature shots”.  This is one of my best clients and good friend John.  I have dozens of fish pics with him.  They all look like this.  Not sure I even know what he looks like….. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The next 2 shots are my favorite kind.  “Fish shots”.  Just taken to honor a beautiful fish.  Left to right, “the cradle” and “the spoon”. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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All shots aren’t hero shots, some fall short.  Some are my fault, some the clients fault, most are just caused by the fish not following the script.

Here are a few….oops

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Like I said, i’m not the best photographer, but please remember to wet your hands before handling fish, pinch barbs, get them back to the water quickly, and keep em off rocks, grass, dirt, and snow.   Watch them swim away folks.

Thanks for following along.  Enjoyed it.

Fear No Water!

Duane