Archive for the ‘“flyfishersplaybook’ Tag

Oh, I see……   4 comments

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

Wow, been too long since I last posted, but I’ve been a busy dude.  Just spent the last eight to ten weeks cranking out the text for my next book project.  I’m really fired up about this book, and am looking for an on the shelf date of late 2017.  The text is done except for countless edits, but that’s never been the hard part for me.  The hard part is all of the charts, graphs, illustrations and pictures.  Going to rely on some talented friends to help out with all of that.  Speaking of friends, I asked four from around the country, at various stages of their perspective fishing careers to read and edit for flow, content, etc.  I really appreciate their help, and they will have special mention in the book.

First book was out on June of 2011, second came out in December 2014, this one hopefully, in December 2017.  Notice a pattern there?  What it tells me is that it takes me about three years to learn enough new stuff to be able to write another book.  That’s thousands of hours of on the water observations, note taking, and data collection.  I was on the river yesterday and someone shouted to me the river temperature, and I honestly didn’t care.  Oh, I will in a couple of weeks when the Blue Wings start popping, but yesterday was a diversion from the book day, so I simply nodded it off.

I am still amazed at what I glean from simple water time in a relatively short time.  It shows I’m paying attention AND there’s still more to learn!  A lot more!  This next book uses statistical information from hours and hours of dedicated note taking to flesh out the best techniques and flies to use as you progress on your fly fishing journey.  It’s going to be roughly 55,000 words, plenty of illustrations and pictures should round it out.  This years presentation is called Hidden In Plain View, and folks across the country seem to like it.  The presentation mirrors the book as it gets into being able to recognize the obvious and exploit the obscure in fly fishing.  It should have something for every level angler, and covers tactics from mini/skinny, double dry fly, nymphing, and streamer work.  Crazy fun.

So, with all that going on, I haven’t had much time to work on my annual winter technique.  Most that have followed for a while will recall that I pick something to work on every winter during slack times in the season.  This year, I decided to continue what I was working on last winter and last 2 years guiding seasons.  I’ve been working on this covertly, simply because I didn’t feel as if it was ready to unveil.  It’s no mind blasting technique, but I wanted to have the specifics dialed in before telling anyone about it.  In the last three years I have begun to use “sighter” leaders in my suspended or hinged nymph rigs.  A sighter leader allows the angler many benefits, but mostly for this indicator fishing it helps detect very subtle eats, and it gives you a great idea of what your rig is doing sub-surface in relation to your indicator.  It’s a specialized leader I build using various poundages and colors of amnesia and monofilament lines.  A few of the knot tags are left un-trimmed and further the sight capabilities.

Many anglers don’t even realize what is going on sub-surface in regards to the indicator.  We are so dialed into surface mending, that we don’t think about subsurface mending.  We can see what is going on surface wise because of our fly line, but it’s often difficult to discern what is going on below the indicator.  The sighter leader fixes that because it will clue you in as to when your leader turns over the indicator, and where your flies are at pretty much anytime within the drift.  This has been a huge help to many of my clients as they begin to see how a few specialty mends can effect the entire sub-surface drift.    They then can learn and employ a pile, stack, or pause mend with great effectiveness and confidence, because the results are observable through the sighter.

Here’s the formula for one of my leaders, this is all you get til the book comes out!  Try this, I think you’ll like it:

36″- 20 pound Yellow Amnesia

30″ – 14 pound clear Monofilament

24″ – 10 pound Red Amnesia

Connect everything with a blood knot, and if you wish use a tippet ring at the end of the 10 pound red amnesia, it’s a fine idea.  From the tippet ring attach your 16″ of 4x, 5x, or whatever mono or flouro to your first fly. You can place your split shot above the tippet ring to complete your in-line nymph rig.

Upstream sighter leader work. Photo James Durden.

 

 

I was fishing this rig just yesterday and noticed and set on the sighter movement more than a few times.  The indicator never even twitched.  It does take a bit of practice to use the sighter because it forces you to keep the indicator in your peripheral vision and use it as a secondary device.  This just adds to your angling versatility as you begin to fish the entire vicinity around the nymph rig.

Anyway, enough for now.  I’ll be better with more consistent posts.  Til then, get out and fish the sighter.

Fear No Water!

Notice the blood knot tag location…mono to red amnesia line.

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

Sure is dry out today…..   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors,

“He ate”, I said. “Really, I never even saw it”, he replied.  Recognizing a fish taking your dry fly is not always the stuff that movies are made of.  Sometimes, it is so subtle that we miss the take. Fish typically don’t eat dries while you’re zoomed into the frame in super slow motion with music playing in the background. It’s typically a game of controlled speed, technique, and yep, luck.

It’s obvious we don’t know what we’re missing while nymphing because stuff is going down sub-surface.   I imagine there are several fish we “miss” and don’t even know they ate. Same holds true for surface fishing, but actually seeing the misses is much easier and certainly more frustrating.  Just last week I had a client set up doing some quarter upstream double dry work.  He was rolling an Elk Hair Caddis 18” ahead of a Yellow Sally.  The fish were gorging on both.  He surmised that for every 10 fish that ate his offerings, he may turn 3, and for every 3 he turned he may solidly hook 1.  And this guy is a good stick, honest too.

Last week, it was easy to tell when a fish ate the dries as most takes were splashy.  That’s the telltale sign fish are eating caddis, stones, or terrestrials.  Not a hard and fast rule, like all in fly fishing, but when you’re seeing aggressive, splashy takes, good bet they’re eating something that skitters, flutters, or bounces on the water.  When you see those easy, simple rises, fish are usually secure, calm, and eating duns, spents, or cripples.  In all cases you need to read the fish, the bugs, as well as the river to dial in the correct offerings.

Let’s talk more about reading fish as they eat dries.  There are basically, 3 types of rises; simple, compound, and complex.  In each case the fish have a staging spot, or a beginning holding area.  In a simple rise, the fish typically simply elevate to the surface, break the surface, and yawn in the bug.  A compound rise is a bit more detailed as the fish, starting in the same staging area, follows the bugs for a short distance before ingesting.  This is a tough rise to consistently hook fish because they are really inspecting your flies, and any wrong move means game over.  The last type of rise is a complex rise.  These fish do the same as a compound except they actually turn downstream and follow your bug downstream.  Usually, if you can maintain your drift, that fish will eat.

The key to dry fly presentation when it comes to how the fish are eating is observation.  Watch how the fish are feeding, where they are staging, and then cast 4 to 5 feet upstream of them. Show the flies only, no fly line allowed.  I see a lot of folks that have a surface feeding fish picked out and either cast way too far upstream, or cast directly on top of the fish.  If you take a nymphing cast approach and cast way upstream, you will have a terrible time keeping your drift as you near the fish strike zone.  Casting on top of the fish that is eating a full 4 feet downstream of where it’s staging causes issues too if you cast 4 feet above where you saw it eat.  I’ll let you digest this for a minute.

Couple things about the dry fly lift.  Not even gonna call it a set.  It’s a lift in the opposite direction that the fish ate.  Fish eats going downstream (complex rise), you lift upstream.  Simple rise upstream of you, you lift up and downstream.  Lift speed is not nearly as critical as lift direction and control, and this is how most fish are missed when dry fly fishing.

That’s enough for now.  Hey, if you don’t already, please like The Fly Fishers Playbook Facebook page.  Only fly fishing, and plenty of it.

Fear No water!

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Dry fly fishing in beautiful places….

Size 18 Elk Hair caddis

Hell or High water….   Leave a comment

Hidy ho Good Neighbors!

High water and run-off close a few opportunities for fly fishing moving water, but opens up the chances of fly fishing still waters.  I grew up on mountain lakes and fly fishing still waters.  I absolutely love it and always look forward to fishing and guiding the glass.

Back in May I took a trip to Arizona to present to a few clubs (Arizona Fly casters and Desert Fly casters) the Systematic Approach to Fly Fishing.  Some of you may not know that I am originally from AZ and remember the fly fishing more than I remembered the heat.  One hundred eight degrees in Phoenix one day!  So, I was overjoyed to travel up to the White Mountains, where I cut my fly fishing teeth on lakes, for a bit of lake fly fishing.

We arrived at Becker Lake, near Springerville, AZ, at around noon. The boys (Gentry, Joe, and John), were gracious enough to outfit me with a pontoon, booties, and fins.  I was fixated on dry fly fishing first, running streamers secondly, and nymphing as a last option.  Not that I don’t make a living fishing under a bobber or I have anything against it, but I wanted dry fly or streamer action, because I don’t get to do too much of that. I can never get too much of that!

Well, there were very few fish eating on the surface.  I could see size 18 chironomid adults sporadically hatching, but couldn’t raise a fish.  After about an hour of that, I switched to a tandem streamer rig.  I threw a black slumpbuster on a jig hook in front of John Rohmer’s simi leech (black and olive).  No love on that rig either.  I could see the writing on the wall, nymphing time.

Now these guys are running 18’ leaders and break-away indicators, with trolling motors and fish finders.  Pretty serious individuals.  I thought I knew how to rig a break away indicator, and had picked up a few before leaving Colorado. I couldn’t find the dang things in my waist pack, and finally asked for help getting that thing rigged.  I put on as close to matching bugs with what I could glean from the few guys that were hooking up, but soon realized that my formula left much to luck.  Soon, I took off the indicator, loaded up weight and fished it “Czech-style” right on the bottom.  I did have a couple eats, which I completely missed, but I did move fish.

Mercifully, the wind got big, and I got to cruise to the dock.  Not that I didn’t have fun, but I always like to feel I’m in at least a smidge of control.  I met my nephew on the way to the evening’s festivities as I cruised back toward Pinetop, and watched him fish for Apache and brown trout on a small stream that I don’t know the name of.  He moved more than a few on dry dropper rigs. I felt a little better.

That evening, as I lay there listening to my brothers dog snoring, I realized I needed to fish to my strengths tomorrow on that lake.  The White Mountain Lakes Foundation was hosting an annual event that raises money for the organization, which in turn, helps the organization support and enhance the fishing in the White Mountains. I was honored to be a part of it.  I was up early the next morning, drinking a cup of coffee and puffing my pipe, in front of a 7-Eleven, rigging a double dry rig consisting of a Royal Wolff followed by and adult chironomid pattern matching the adults I saw earlier.  My plan was to go back to my roots and walk the edges early morning looking for and casting to rings and noses.

I had just thrown on my waders, when a gentleman named Mike came up to me and Gentry and said, “There are fish coming up on the far end”.  “Where abouts?”, I asked. He pointed to a spot that was maybe a five minute walk.  I was there in four.

I stood for a moment watching the action and planning on how to fish to these noses from near to far, trying not to spook them.  First cast….bam, fish on!  What? Tiger trout? “Oh this is even gonna be better than I thought”, I mumbled, as another fish ate my second cast.  Mike had put me on a pod of small tiger trout on the munch.  He eventually showed up, and I thanked him for the intel again.  We both moved a few more (I snapped of a big one) and then it was time to head back for more festivities.

High river water offers the opportunity to seek out still water.  If you don’t fish it often, there is an adjustment period.  Go back to your roots, do what you do well and have confidence in.  I do want another shot at deep still water nymphing techniques because the systematic approach works well there too.  I always say that folks should fish to their strengths while working on their weaknesses.  Someday I’ll get back there better armed with information and techniques and flatten out that weakness. It’s all part of the process of becoming a complete angler.  In the meantime, Fear No Water!

Duane

El Tigre on a dry

El Tigre on a dry

Meat eater in the lake

Meat eater in the lake

Gentry in mid-cast

Gentry in mid-cast

Sylvan Lake, Colorado

Sylvan Lake, Colorado

Fashionably late…..   Leave a comment

Alright, let’s get on with 2016. Little late to the party, but I’ve been busy guiding pheasant hunters. The fly fishing juices are flowing strong as I embark on another year of trout tales. This time of year represents, in my mind anyway, time for learning and experimentation.

My speaking schedule is in full bloom, and between now and June I will hit six states yapping on about this great endeavor. I shake a lot of hands and I learn. Wish I had a twenty spot every time a stranger says to me, “You ever tried this?” More often than not the idea doesn’t fit my program, or appeal to me, but it always makes me think. However, there are a few ideas that come my way, and I think, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” Long story even longer, I always listen.

So, I invariably head home from these events and run either straight to the vise or straight to the river. It’s funny, folks on the river fly fishing are a tight-lipped group, but folks at shows spill their guts. Maybe they feel safe sharing in that environment knowing they won’t have to deal with it til spring, or maybe they wish to get involved in the circle of learning somehow. I don’t know, but I’ve picked up a few gems over the years, by simply stopping and listening.

I’ve happily shared most everything I’ve picked up at the shows over the years, I’ve a few new ideas this year that I won’t comment on until I put them to the test. One’s a simple in-line nymph rig adjustment, and the others deal with spinning bugs. Both are in the testing process, and to be frank, I haven’t noticed any appreciable difference in performance, but I need to try these ideas for at least winter, spring and run-off.   Will let you know. I’ve a feeling some of the ideas I hear aren’t as novel as we think.

Speaking of novel, I am considering another book. Really have the itch to spit one out, but having a difficult time refining my ideas. Seems like fly fishing books are all cut out of the same template. One hundred forty seven ways to put more fish in the net, or the twenty three essentials to catch fish, I don’t necessarily want to go there. I like to draw analogies, feed off experiences and data, and try to teach a little along the way. If you have an idea for books you’d like to see, please let me know. Insert the listening part here……

In January I’m in Ohio at the North Ohio Fly Fishing Expo. February is the Winter Fly Fishing Social in Taos, New Mexico.   March is Lewiston Idaho at the North Idaho Fly Fishing Expo. April is the Washington Fly Fishing Fair, and May is a 3 day extravaganza of presentations all over Arizona.

I’ll keep my ears open, and will share everything I learn!

Fear No Water,

Duane

Winter experimentation on the South Platte.

Winter experimentation on the South Platte.

Now Hitting……..   4 comments

Hidy Ho good neighbors,

Interesting how some folks think alike. Recently, I read a blog post by fellow guide Bob Streb (bobbertalk.blogpost.com). He talked about the law of averages in fly fishing, and how a “300 hitter” is still fairly acceptable. The real point was that its fly fishing, and a bunch of factors can influence the balance of the day. I’ve been mulling this over for some time, maybe because it’s late August and has been a long season.

Great stuff as usual from Bob, and I want to go a few steps further with his premise. After years of watching an indicator float by, and all of the stuff going on sub-surface around it, I’ve come to the unscientific conclusion that the indicator may register a fish actually eating your flies at a rate of about 60%. That means at least 40% of the time we don’t even realize a fish just ate and spit our bugs.

Earlier this summer, I was hunkered down behind a rock overlooking the river as my client was situated downstream of me. I was looking into a deeper side pool that was covered by a fast riffle. It’s one of those places that you can see under the riffle into very clear water. The water was about 4 feet deep. I could see about a dozen nice fish under the riffle, so I instructed my client to lay the bugs fairly high in the riffle in hopes that we could get them into the fish naturally.

On about the 4th cast, the bugs plunged perfectly into the pool. I was really enjoying watching the action of the soft-hackled pheasant tail as it undulated sub-surface. Here comes a nice rainbow into the feeding lane. I watched, dumfounded, as the fish moved to the fly, sucked it in, and spit it out. The indicator never flinched. More unbelievably, after spitting out the soft-hackle, the fish turned on it and ate it again! At this point I said, “Lift it!” Hook up secured, but the fish was gone at the first jump. Kinda’ validates my points.

Of the 60% of the eats we do see, we probably hook up at a rate of 60%. That’s 60% if you’re the normal fly fisher, more if you’re very advanced, less if you’re a beginner. Of that 60% you may land fish at a rate of 60%, again rates vary according to skill level. Think about it, that’s leaving a lot of fish on the table.

Clients ask me all the time about how the river is fishing. I always have to temper the answer realizing that skill levels come into play. For advanced guys and gals that can present, drift, set, and land fish, the river may be on fire. For intermediates, well they may have a fair amount of hook-ups, but the river is simply fishing well. For beginners, it may prove to be a slow day. Just being honest.

My job is to try to get new anglers dialed in as quickly as possible. I strive to have skill levels and prime fish eating times collide. As the angler gets more proficient, to the point where they can recognize “an eat” and set on it, I need to have them with the proper bugs at the proper depths and speeds, AND situated perfectly.   When the river goes off, they need to have the skill to match it. It’s that simple, and that complicated.

It’s a beautiful thing really. Get ‘em good, get ‘em over fish, get’em in the bag. I may have 2 clients rigged exactly the same, but have to make personalized adjustments to each rig according to the little things that influence drifts. One person may need more weight because the mend is a struggle, one person may need less rigging distance because of slower reaction times. It’s ok, that’s why I’m there. I have been with some clients that may have never hooked fish unless I stand at their side and say “hit that!” That’s ok too, but I’m not always there.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s fishing. There’s very little luck to it, and there’s a lot of moving parts. That’s why I enjoy what I do, scraping a few fish out of the beat with folks that deserve it because they have worked so hard. They are trying to fool Mother Nature, and hopefully, having a good time while doing it. It’s just that Mama nature always has the final word. Batter up!

Fear No Water!

Duane

Talk about moving parts....

Talk about moving parts….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7'2" beginner.  Big guy that picked up the game quickly.

7’2″ beginner. Big guy that picked up the game quickly.

Advanced angler, Greg, with a nice lower Eagle brown.

Advanced angler, Greg, with a nice lower Eagle brown.

It’s in the bag…..   1 comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

My client hooks a beauty of a brown in a soft seam about fifteen feet out. The river is in pre-runoff, so there is a dangerous element to landing big fish that get into big water. I bark a few directions about rod tip angles and height that puts my client in good fighting position. The brown took exception to it.

Off she goes! The reel is screaming as she burrows deep into the hard water across the river. The downstream bow in the fly line is tremendous as the fish is jumping upstream and across from us. I’m thinking we’re screwed. Somehow we manage to keep our ground and get half of our fly line back. The trout is back in the same seam we hooked her in.   It’s our move.

I instruct to move downstream a bit to maintain at least a ninety degree angle on the beast. We set our feet, but realize we will be moving soon. Client lifts the rod a foot or so and increases tippet pressure on the fish. Reaction generated and the fish is ripping off line downstream. We strive to keep up.

At some point, I know I’m going to have to let go of my clients wading belt, stop dragging him along the rocks at river edge, and go in for the beast. We top out on a small sand point, and I exclaim that we will live or die from this point. It sounded good when I said it.

The beast is now forty feet downstream swimming in and out of a nice eddy. “Perfect”, I think as I claw my way through the willows waist deep in the drink. As I near the spot where I think we have the best chance to bag, I realize it’s simply too deep to be of much help. The fish is in the soft flow, finning up and down, a mere seven feet away. Problem is adding together my arm and net length, I come up about a half foot short. Where have I heard that before?

I’ve no choice, I have to make a plunge move out to this fish hoping to bag it before it bolts downstream into a class four rapid. Here goes nothing. I felt her tap the outside of the hoop of my net as I went under water. I came up kicking and spitting….Fishless. She broke us off in the heavy stuff downstream.

I bought a new net. My old net was perfect for most seasons, but run-off on the Eagle ain’t one of them. Handle is just too short. I contacted Kevin Mackey of Mackeynetworks and we designed a new bag. Obviously, the handle is longer, but there are other features as well.

I use this net as a wade staff as well. I had Kevin turn the end of the handle to about an inch diameter, and I placed a walking cane rubber stopper on it. The rest of the net is surprisingly light for the beefy ability to support my weight fully. The hoop is large enough to bag the beasts of the Eagle, but not too obtrusive to carry. The wood and finish are beautiful.

I don’t rep for Kevin, but if you want one of his nets, go to mackeynetworks. If you can’t find him, contact me and I’ll get you hooked up.

Fear No Water (I mean it),

Duane

 

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Customized

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Fish friendly

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Aha!

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Customized to my height