Friday, December 23, 2011

Fly Tying Video

Interesting fly, great folding technique.

Never really use hellgramite flies.  Maybe they are worth a try.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bulls On Top

Saw this at  If it doesn't get your blood pumping I don't know what will.  Reds seem to get pushed down the saltwater rankings and clips like this one make wonder why.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Michigan Steel!!

Last weekend, Dad and I made our annual fall trip to northwestern Michigan tribs.  Western Michigan received significant rain fall at the beginning of last week and we didn't know whether the rain would be beneficial or a problem - the rain was beneficial.  The river we fished looked beautiful.

We went into the weekend set on swinging up some fresh steelhead that came in with the higher flows. Saturday morning the water looked great but seemed cold.  Saturday morning marked the end of a brief cold front.  And like the temperatures, the fishing needed some time to heat up.  Nevertheless, we persevered and picked up a great buck and a hooked another.  Also, we got a couple of nice brown trout,one which was caught on the swing.  However, despite the favorable looking water conditions, we had to deal with lots of people and, in the afternoon, high, warm, blue-bird skies - not your best steelhead conditions.

To our benefit, Saturday night stayed warm.  On Sunday, we got to the water well before sunrise (still weren't the first boat at the launch) and started to hit the swinging runs.  The air and water temperatures were warm (the water ticked up a couple degrees over night).  Thankfully, the skies were overcast - conditions seemed promising.  Then, as my juicy leech pattern started swinging through a sweet little run I felt a bump, followed by another, then a weighty pull.  I waited to set the hook (unlike usual) and when I lifted the rod and a big dime bright-hen freaked out.  My personal best on the swing (see below).

Dad followed suit with another beautiful hen and decided why stop there? A hole or two later - wham! A hot buck crushed him on the swing and took off down stream causing all of us to give chase.

That Sunday we went 3 for 3 on the swing.  On that river you can't expect much more and with steelies the hook/land ratio is more than can be expected.

As always, Jeff Hubbard of Outfitters North worked hard for us, put us on fish (in less than favorable conditions at times) and taught us a few things that made us better fishermen.  I, being relatively new to the spey game, am totally captivated by the casting (and the flies).  Jeff reminded me that spey casting is just a piece of spey fishing.  While a perfect circle-c with a sweet loop is something to strive for, this fishing is all about the swing - if a simple roll cast will set you up for a perfect swing then a simple roll cast is the cast to make.  Better yet, he clued us in on how to read a run and and set up a proper swing, which is all about positioning.  And, as always, he was right.  See the results below.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Feds OK Christo's canopy over river in Colorado

This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a long time.  The artist Christo got the go-ahead to  temporarily hang a canopy of silvery, translucent fabric above a stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado.
All the narcissism aside, you don't need add art to that part of the world.  Hey Christo, just head on out there and take a look around, mother nature did the work already. 

This "art" is equivalent to someone walking into the MET and painting over a Monet or editing "to be or not to be" out of William Shakespeare's Hamlet.  

The article quotes Christo as saying "[a]ny artist who paints, makes sculptures, the only thing he or she likes is that the artwork makes people think."  If the goal is to make people think, then I'll tell you what - mission accomplished.  People have thought long and hard.  Job well done.  Now, abandon the idea before true beauty is defaced and everybody wins, including the environment for once.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cool video and reminder

Lets start by way of a hypothetical:  You are standing on the bow of a skiff, floating on 5 or 6 feet of gin clear water, staring down a mangrove shoreline.  Then, in the distance you see them - three, maybe four, large shapes are gliding toward you down the edge of the trees – tarpon!  You’ve got time, you settle your nerves, try to gauge when you should let it fly.  They’re still coming, steady, not slow, but definitely happy.  Now, they’re almost in range, your heart quickens, adrenaline starts coursing through your veins, you are as focused as you’ve ever been.  You cast, you slide the fly, strip, strip, strip, WHAM! You strip strike, you feel something but the hook doesn’t catch.  What do you do?

At this point, in spite of my better judgment, I tend to swear, maybe throw my hat, or the classic, put the hands on the hips with the head down pose.  In any case, when I allow those reactions to occur I have stopped fishing.  As you might expect, that is the wrong move!  With tarpon and other predatory fish that eat other fish or crustaceans (from sharks to carp), the predator is used to the prey putting up a fight.  So, even if you have pricked the fish with the hook, the game may be far from over (see the foregoing video at 5:25 forward).
Don’t do what I usually do and freak out about your momentary misfortune.  Stay calm, keep your eye on the fish and what it is doing.  If it is still within casting range I would be willing to bet it will still eat (likely wondering how its food magically disappeared from view without ending up in its belly).  Although I missed all those tarpon in the hypothetical by doing a premature freak-out, on many other occasions (with brown trout, bass, carp, bonefish and a host of other species) I have been able to  hook up with a fish that failed to connect on the first go.

By way of example, I had a large bonefish in deep grass follow my all the way up to  about 5 ft from my rod tip, after 3 or 4 casts, finally eat and hook up.  Granted, the deep grass helped, and that bonefish seemed particularly hungry, but had I not hung in there of course I wouldn’t have caught that fish.

A simple little common sense reminder - it ain’t over until the fish is out of view.

2011 Poon Season: The Eats from Ganesh Chatani on Vimeo.

Monday, September 26, 2011

SW WI Fishing Report

I had to get one last trip to SW Wisconsin before the season closed.  The last weekend of the season is not ideal  because everyone has the same idea, but crowded water is better than no water.  Frankly, it wasn't that crowded and there is a lot of water to share.  I had a beginner-buddy of mine with me and we hit the timber coulee system.  

Saturday was tough. We ended up getting only a half-dozen or so after a full day of fishing.  All came within a 50 yard stretch and mostly on foam with rubber legs.  It was fun to get some top water action and we ended the day with a nice, fat 13 incher wearing his fall colors.  I thought they were going to be on fire but I ended the day humbled - that's fishing.

Sunday was short but much better.  A low pressure system moved in overnight and turned the fish on.  My buddy got a few on small nymphs (18s) and I, still feeling yesterdays desperation, put on a wooly bugger.  Man do fall brownies like wooly buggers.  I hadn't fished a bugger up there in a while, opting for dries and nymphs, but it was fun to watch those little brownies go head-over-heels for that wooly.  Per the norm, I lost a VERY nice fish, which I let take me under an under-cut bank.  I could feel him thrashing as I tried to guide him out then he was gone (probably upper teens).  

Good way to end the trip.  If you can get up there before closing time, they were taking small thin-bodied nymphs and we got a few on scuds, I used a black foam fly with rubber legs with success, and of course streamers.

Tight lines.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quick Fishing Report

Unfortunately my report is based solely on observation. I've had to work going on 16 days straight, so I haven't had a chance to do much else. However, I decided to on a walk down by Chicago's lake front this morning with my better half before heading into work once again. I observed the following:

1. A man holding a spinning rod in one hand and a clear plastic bag containing a steelhead in the other (probably a stocker but I don't love it);

2. a gentlemen who claims (I believe him) to have a caught a large king last week; and

3. a young boy with his dad holding a 5-6 pound Coho (or small king I didn't get the best look at it).

Seems to me like the fish are close.

Tight Lines.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

23 Inch Brown Trout My PM Personal Best!!!!

Jeff Hubbard and Me

Saturday was a great day.  I spent the afternoon and evening hours floating the Pere Marquette river with my Dad and friend-guide Jeff Hubbard of Outfitters North (  We were throwing big ugly bugs at the bank, raising a great number of fish as well as catching a handful of solid, healthy and wild 12-17 inch browns.  That alone made Saturday a great day.  However, as the day light dwindled the river decided to turn it up a notch.  As we turned a corner my Dad's bug gets blasted - a deep, low pop.  The sound of a big brown is unmistakable.  Unfortunately, the hook didn't catch but that sound put us all on full alert.    A couple bends later, Jeff tells me to hit a dark corner adjacent to a log jam. Wham! 23 inches of brown trout wallops my bug and proceeds to go nuts.  After a tough, white-knuckle battle, which pushed my 4 weight to the limit, we had the beast in the net.  My personal best on the PM and our Michigan family record on the dry.

Oh we caught more than just the one...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Life

Steelhead Dreams Part 2 - by Todd Moen from Todd Moen Creative on Vimeo.

Last Video for a while. I'm just getting lazy.

Southwest Florida Report

I was down in southwest Florida a week ago and the fishing was slow.  The snook population does not seem to be back to where it once was.  Further evidence that the intense freeze was devastating.  Good news is that the FWC are requiring catch-and-release until 2012 for snook on Florida's west coast, which is a step in the right direction. We caught a couple, including a nice one well over 30 inches but that is all.  We did get a handful of big ladyfish, which are a blast on the fly (still not even close to a snook).  Also, I had an interesting encounter with a BIG bull shark on the flats.  Pictures and stories to come.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trouble in Chicago River

The Chicago river is not the cleanest river in the U.S.A. So what!? No kidding! Duh! Well, read the following:

"Although [the Chicago river] supports six million people "it is one of the only rivers in the country where undisinfected sewage is dumped directly into the river every day," says American Rivers. "Unless the Illinois Pollution Control Board requires disinfection of this wastewater, Chicago residents and visitors will face increasing health threats."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in early May 2011 ordered the state to clean up the river."

Click here to see link to MSNBC Rivers of Controversy

I don't know how that statement sounds to you but "undisinfected sewage" sounds pretty bad to me.  FYI the Chicago river connects to Lake Michigan .2 miles from Ohio street beach.  For sure, there are river currents and lake currents to consider but the point is that we play where we . . . well you know.  Just something to think about.

Tight lines.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Prom Dress Fly

Base: Waddington Shank (size will vary).
Hook Connection: Beading wire.
Hook: Octopus style hook size 2-1/0
Body: Pearl mylar, pearl Ice Dub, white arctic fox tail.
Wing: Glow Flashabou (or any Flashabou of your choice)
Hackle: Large mallard flank feather.
Eyes: tungsten or lead-free db of your choice and 3D stick-on eyes.

First, secure the WS in the vice and create a thread base.  Second, lash wire to the WS leaving a trailing loop that is large enough to accommodate the hook.  Third, secure pearl mylar tinsel and wrap forward roughly a third of the hook shank towards the eye, tie off and trim.  Fourth, where you have tied off the mylar, create a medium size ball of Ice Dub and tie off.  Fifth, create a dubbing loop and fill the loop with an inch (or so) of arctic fox.  Sixth, spin the loop and wrap it around the WS (be sure to stroke the fibers after each turn).   Seventh, apply a generous amount of Flashabou by securing the Flashabou at its middle and doubling it over.  Be sure that the Flashabou extends all around the hook shank and completely covers the arctic fox (like a dress, although I'm not sure that's where the name came from).  Eighth, wrap the mallard feather forward so that the fibers slope back toward the hook.  Finally, tie on the eyes using a figure-eight wrap.

The Story
A few months ago, I came across this fly while looking over the online fly shop  The website includes the fly's story and a how-to video, which is worth checking out.  Then, I got a shot of the fly in action while watching Scott Howell's new video Skagit Master II - also worth checking out.  In short, the fly was designed by Scott Howell and is, essentially, the fly fisherman's spoon.  The fly is bright with lots of movement.  Moreover, the fly is fairly simple to tie and invites adaptation.  Since it is made from synthetic materials the color combinations are endless.  I tied this particular fly in glow - thinking about bright early-run king salmon.  However, all silver is a logical choice.  How about fire-tiger? Or, gold with an orange back? I'm looking forward to swinging a few of these through the favorite tail out.

Tight Lines.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The 2010-11 season was a tough one for steelhead - at least for me. The few opportunities I had to get out on the water were met with low clear water, high and bright skies, and cold temperatures. Typically those conditions are tough conditions to pursue steelhead. But good fisherman catch fish in tough conditions. Well, after a couple of goose eggs I was beginning to doubt my fishing acumen.

However, my steelhead season ended with a bang! While this season has put a nice dent in my ego, last weekend marked the start of my road to recovery. See a couple of the better shots.

Some Fish Stories
Guide and good friend Jeff Hubbard took us out for a great couple of days on the water.  We (My Dad and I) hooked about 5 or 6 a day and landed about half that many (not impressive but hey that's fishing).   As my Dad likes to say "hooking them is the hardest part."  In any event, the fishing was interesting.  At times the conditions were typical spring i.e. air temps around 40, water temps around 38, some bedding fish, some hopped-up chromers.  At other times fishing was reminiscent of winter i.e. air temps around freezing, water temps in the mid to low 30s, subtle takes that gradually gained momentum.  For instance, on Saturday morning, the air temps felt warm, the water temps were close to 40.   At the second hole a chrome hen crushed my fly and freaked out.  She fought as fresh as she looks.  The morning bite was great.  In the afternoon a cold front moved in and the bite shut off.  The second day was tougher.  I had another big chrome hen take my fly.  However, the take and initial few seconds were so subtle I thought it was a trout.  After a couple of moments she got into the fight.  She took off down stream and started bucking on the surface.  We stayed connected long enough to haunt me until next November - she was big.

The big buck pictured with my Dad acted much the same way as my big hen.  First, a subtle take followed by a few cautious moments.  Then, he got into the fight and fought like a champ.

Some Additional Observations
As I mentioned, we saw a number of fish hitting the gravel.  To each his own but I suggest you leave these fish alone. We must remember that some rivers, like the Pere Marquette, are totally wild runs or have wild runs.  Ever year more people get into the sport, which is great.  But all too often people can't help themselves and go after those big fish in the shallow clear water.  Hey, I'm guilty of hitting the gravel in the early years.  No more.  If you're new to the sport don't get into the habit.  If you've been doing this for a while it's time to quit.  bob the pools, swing the runs, let those bedding fish support the population.

Tight Lines.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fly Selection for Spring Creeks (Keep It Simple)

In honor of the fast approaching opening day for Wisconsin inland trout season (possibly my favorite time of year), I believe its time to talk about spring creek fly selection and fishing.  Before I jump in I'd like to start by saying that I haven't come close to figuring out the drift-less area of Wisconsin - not even close.  In fact I never will. The following are simply observations and maybe, hopefully some helpful pointers.

Fly fisherman (especially those who tie flies) like to make things complicated. We like complicated gear contraptions. We like to tie complicated flies. We like technical fly selections that match the anatomical specifications of every insect (at every stage of their life cycle) in the creek.   To be fair, particularly in crystal clear spring creeks, that level of specificity can be necessary to catch a fish.  I've worked for hours over fish before figuring out the right pattern, in the right size, in the right color.  Frankly, in trout fishing, there is no greater sense of accomplishment than when you figure the fish out - you feel as if you've unlocked the rivers secrets, you feel connected.  In those occasions I've been glad to have that detailed cripple or emerger.

That being said, I believe we get caught up in the analysis making the outing more about fishing and less about catching (which may be the point but that's another post).  I've found you don't need that fancy emerger or six legged size 20 BWO nymph (God help you if you put seven legs on that fly).  Although it is worthwhile to have a few on hand, you should approach the creeks in early spring with a bunch of the following: 14-16 prince nymph, 14-18 pheasant tail nymph, 18-20 brassies, 16-20 basic bwo (which is essentially an olive adams), and some adams in the same sizes. Maybe, some scuds.  I especially like an orange scud from time to time.  I hear people talk about the pink squirrel nymph but I don't love it.  I guess to each his own.

My go-to rig is about as fly fishing 101 as it gets.  I have a 14-16 prince as the lead fly with a 18-20 brassie trailer.  That has led me into hundred fish days and saved the day when nothing else works.  All to often, I return to this combo and quickly being to wonder why I ever changed.  Oh, and don't worry, this combo bats for average and power.  FYI, this combo has worked for me from Colorado to New Zealand.  Increase the hook size and it can be a deadly steelhead combo where they've seen far too many glo-bugs.

A good rule of thumb in fly selection is to pick a fly that suggests food generally rather than an attempted carbon-copy of mother nature.  You can't paint as well as she can and the trout can tell a forgery for around the next bend. However, if you throw something that looks like a mayfly, a stonefly, a ... well food, the trout will probably give it a try.

All you need is a fly box with a bunch of the basics and a few dandies.  In my experience, an accurate cast, a delicate presentation, a gentle step, and silent approach wins the day.  If you have those elements working in your favor, then the little drab pheasant tail will have no problem getting you home.
Pheasant Tail

Prince Nymph


Tight Lines.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Product of Cabin Fever

I enjoy pushing the envelope in the world of fly tying.  I forgot where I first saw this pattern but I instantly thought why not put a magic head on it.  The result looks like a jointed Rapala.  On its voyage in the bath tub it swam like one too.

Is it a fly? It sort of depends on your definition but it sure will be fun to fish.   This fly is made from a pearl crystal hackle wrap with a dark back made by a gray marker, a gray marabou tail, a magic head and big silver 3D eyes.  I used a red bead and red wire for two reasons.  First and foremost to created the joint.  Also to represent the gills.  

The pictured pattern uses relatively small freshwater hooks.  Perfect for bass or maybe trout.

Tight lines.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Walker's Cay Chronicles Lives!

Quite possibly the greatest fishing television show ever produced still lives! When I was little, when fly fishing was new and mysterious, I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings, setting up the VCR and recording episodes of The Walker's Cay Chronicles.  My eyes were glued to the TV as Flip Pallot rode the ragged edge where the fish are big and wild.  I replayed each episode and marveled at Flip's seemingly effortless casting stroke and his air tight loops.  When I was first dabbling in fly fishing I mimicked Flip's grips, his stance and his stroke in an effort to duplicate what I saw on his show.

Sadly the show is no longer on the air and hasn't been for a while.  Up until this moment I thought the Walker's Cay Chronicles lived on only in the recess of my memory and on the few VHS tapes that remain.  No longer.  Click here and see many complete episodes of the Walker's Cay Chronicles. 

Click here to go to Flip Pallot's web page and click casting lesson to watch the master in action. 

Tight lines. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Smallmouth Toad (a tarpon toad variation)

Hook: Gamakatsu SC 15 size 2
Thread: 6/0 white Uni Thread
Tail: White Marabou
Hackle: White Schlappan
Body: White EP streamer brush
Eyes: 3D Molded Eyes glued on the top and bottom of the fly.

This fly is a tarpon toad tied on a smaller hook.  I substituted the mono eyes of the original toad for 3D tied on the top and bottom, which imitates a wounded bait fish that can't swim upright.  I'm looking forward to trying this on smallies keyed to minnows and looking for a subtle presentation such as after a cold front or in a pressured body of water.

Tight Lines.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Green Tarpon Toad

This is my first go at the ubiquitous green tarpon toad.
Hook: Gamakatsu SL12 size 1/0
Thread: Chartreuse Ultra thread
Tail: One strand of chartreuse marabou
Collar: Yellow hackle
Body: Traditionally, the pattern calls for chartreuse polypropylene.  In this case I used chartreuse EP brush and trimmed it in the classic toad form.
Eyes:  Medium or large black plastic eyes

I've never fished this fly but I've seen it work on TV and read about its ability to convince a tarpon to eat.  The general rule is that chartreuse color patterns work in clear water situations - the same holds true with the toad.  Also, the hackle collar is a trick to make the fly lighter and land softer.  Other toad patterns are tied with rabbit, which are good for getting a fishes attention but not so good for making a delicate presentation.  Also, I applied liquid fusion to the spine of the fly in an effort to make the fly more durable.  Most likely applying glue is an effort in futility considering the toughness of the tarpons jaws and the power fight that ensues a bite.

I'm going to play around with colors and flash to see if this pattern will turn the heads of smallmouth bass.  We shall see.

Tight lines.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

White Fly Equals Success in the Everglades

This white EP mullet was the ticket.  I caught a big red that absolutely destroyed the fly.  The EP mullet has a slimmer profile than the popular EP peanut bunker and comes in fewer colors.  White worked in the everglades and I know it works on the west coast beaches during the summer.  I look forward to try it out amongst the mangroves around pine island sound.

A few tips on tying with EP fibers.  First, use small amounts at a time.  Less fibers means more movement and a better looking fly.  Second, remember to taper the fibers before you tie them in.  To taper the fibers you grab one end of the clump of EP fibers and tease out a few strands so the tips are uneven.  This will help you from a clean tapered body.  Finally, do not use your hand to sweep the fibers back before you trim the fly.  Joe Cornwall of Fly Fish Ohio compared creating flies with EP fibers to sculpting.  Ultimately, the fly gets its shape from the scissors.

These are just a couple pointers if you are new to tying with EP.  Here is a nice tutorial to take you a few more steps down the road.

Tight lines.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Reports

When I don't have the chance to hit the water I quench my thirst for fly fishing by reading fly fishing books or watching fly fishing DVDs.  Over the years I've accumulated a great deal of informational books and DVDs covering most fishing topics.  I can't speak for everyone but one thing I've found is that there is a lot of junk out there.  However, Andy Mill's A Passion for Tarpon and Robert Tomes Muskie on the Fly from Wild River Press are diamonds in the the rough.

To be sure, each book is highly specialized and written for people who have a base of experience within the sport.  The books provide an introduction into the pursuit of tarpon or muskie with a fly rod.  From there, the books detail all aspects of fishing the species including but not limited to proper gear, seasons, hooking, fighting and landing.  After reading these books you will know the where, when and how for catching either of these sport fish.  For instance, I have no experience fishing for muskie.  I've never seen one in the wild and I don't believe I've ever fished water that hosted a population of muskie.  Nevertheless, after reading Muskie on the Fly I feel as if I have fished for them for years (I feel that way but I understand that reading a book is just a start and not an appropriate substitute for experience).  The same is true after reading A Passion for Tarpon.  Also, A Passion for Tarpon provides a history of fly fishing for tarpon including entertaining and informative interviews with some of the vanguards of the sport such as Steve Huff and Stu Apte.

Both books have exquisite color pictures and clear writing making each book enjoyable and informative.  As a fly tier, I particularly enjoy the flies chapter in Muskie on the Fly, which provides large color photographs of unique flies used in the pursuit of muskie.

That being said, the books have a couple of drawbacks.  First, they are expensive as far as books go.  Second, they are large hard-cover books.  A Passion for Tarpon is 509 pages and Muskie on the Fly is 283 pages (both page numbers include the index).  These are not books you want to take with you on your commute.  However, if you plan on fly fishing for either tarpon or muskie each of the books will quickly get you up to speed.  When pursuing fish as mysterious, difficult and rare as fly caught muskie and tarpon a solid understand of the species and tactics is invaluable.

I recommend both of these books.

Tight lines.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Everglades Fishing Report

On new years eve my Dad and I awoke before dawn and headed down to the everglades with guide Jon Sebold.  The conditions weren't optimal - a cold front had moved in a few days before and was just beginning to release its grip but we remained optimistic.   As Jon weaved us through the mangrove creeks and bays we quickly realized that the everglades is a special place.  We saw golden eagles, osprey, kingfishers and a host of other shore birds.  We saw dolphin, otter, and of course gators (some gators that made us think twice about putting our hands in the water).  Truly, it is an amazing place.

The fishing was good.  We had shots at some large snook (one that was in the high teens mybe low twenties), which chased but refused to commit.  We caught some small snook, ladyfish and snapper.  I capped off the day with a personal best redfish on the fly (10 pounds).  A few years have past since my last red and this fish quickly reminded me that they are no walk in the park.  Reds in the double digits can pull!  Of course, I forgot the camera so no pictures this time.

Everglades fly fishing is a blast.  First, there is so much fishy looking water.  Second, there is a great diversity of fish.  We never knew what was going to eat (unless you were casting at a specific fish).  Third, the casting was challenging and fun.  We were banging the bank and trying to weave the fly into the small mangrove pockets and in between the mangrove roots - easier said than done.  The most successful pattern was an all white EP fly, which I'll post when I tie one up.

A little plug: if you are heading down to southwest Florida and would like to try out the inshore and everglades fishing book a trip with Job Sebold.  He is a smart, laid back but hard working guide.  His love of the area and the fishing is addictive.  Now, I haven't fished the area much but I can't imagine that many other guides know the everglades as well as he does.  You'll have some fun, catch some fish, and learn a few things along the way.

Watch out for the coming fly post.

Tight lines.