Archive for the ‘#eagle river’ Tag

Mama Nature   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

“We had our July in August” That’s what I told one of our young guns the other day before we headed to different spots on the same river.  What an odd season it has been.  Usually, I can somewhat predict flows and clarity pre, during, and post run-off, but this year, like last, has been confusing to say the least.  July fished like August for the second straight year with somewhat picky fish, hot air and water temps, and a high sky.  We were all scratching our heads as to what was going on.  “Then the rains came……..”

We endured several run-offs this year.  Gone are the days when you could bank on a steady, concerted melt and drain.  It would start, then stop, then start again.  Seems like it started in April and was done this year in late July, statistics prove that out. That lack of consistency really makes you scratch your head at times as to where the fish are holding and why.  They aren’t following the typical patterns to movement because the typical patterns no longer exist.  The flows this year averaged about twenty percent higher than norm until just a few weeks ago, so the fish didn’t spread out in earnest until late July.  Only then did we start consistently catching fish in the faster and shallower riffles.

Fish ate a dropper in the mini rig for Thomas.

But wait there’s more!  Typically, after the 4th of July, all I throw is the Mini Rig.  This rig allows me to cover water from 6” to nearly 4 feet deep fairly effectively. It’s all I ever needed after the fourth all the way into late October.  This year, because of flows, torrential afternoon rains, cold water temps, and funky fish holds, I found myself using the nymph rig more and more, while the Mini Rig sat idle on the bank.  Gotta fish ‘em where they’re feeding consistently, so nymphing ruled the day until about two weeks ago.

One of the last nymphed fish this season.

Now the flows are perfect, the water is gin clear, and small quills and tricos are coming off. It’s been a Mini Rig domination the last two weeks, backed up by double dry rigs and an occasional streamer or nymphing rake.  Back right where she should be, even though temps hit the mid-thirties a couple mornings last week. I’ll take it, means fall is on the way, big orange sedges, trico spinner falls, pseudo-baetis, and hoppers on the edges. Plenty of water this year, so I guess it’s ok to have that many run-offs after all. Mama Nature knows what she’s doing.

 

 

Eric with a fish that ate a dry. Cherry series 8′ 4wt- 8 Rivers Fly Rods

Just a couple quick notes:

I am building next year’s speaking schedule, so if you know of any club or organization looking for a fly fishing speaker feel free to contact me.

Hidden In Plain View is going well.  I am knee deep into the photo and illustration portion, and loving every minute of it. Looks like a mid November completion date.

And lastly,

The Butt Crack baetis made it into the Montana Fly Catalog.  It’ll be available, along with the Butt Crack Midge, early next spring.

Butt Crack baetis- My go to fly most of the year…..Coming to a fly shop near you!

Fear No Water!

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

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!

Bringin’, Using proper angles and pressures.   Leave a comment

 

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors,

One of the perks from guiding is the chance to watch a lot of folks catch and land fish.  Explaining to someone that has never fought nor landed a fish properly using a fly rod is like explaining a video game over their shoulder in the heat of the battle.  Moves one makes intuitively or by “feel” are born out of experience of landing many fish.  As guides, we can flatten that learning curve in a half day provided the fish are eating regularly, and by teaching a few basic principles.

First off, it’s called “angling” for a reason.  Landing fish is as much about angles and physics as any part of fly fishing.  Your fly rod is a lever (class 3 I think), and also acts as a shock absorb-er.  The fly reel not only stores line, but can become a smooth fish slowing drag device.  For now, let’s just concentrate on the fly rod angles.

After hook-up, get the fish on the reel as quickly as possible.  For those folks that like to “strip” fish in, no worries, I teach folks to get on the reel because it gives them one less thing to think about as they begin to learn proper landing techniques.  Once on the reel, get your rod hand thumb as high as your hat brim.  At this point, your rod elbow should be pointing toward the fish.  Now the fun begins.  I always tell folks that “now you’re in a relationship with the fish”.  It’s like a dance, move-counter move.  Get caught standing still, and you’re date will be gone…..

If the fish “zigs”, you “zag”, keeping constant lateral pressure with the angles of the fly rod.  It’s ok, when safe, to move up and down the bank to keep those working angles.  As you reel and the fish gets closer, the angle of pressure on the fish should begin to be “over” the fish.  In other words, lateral pressure begins to become upward/lateral pressure.  This is a critical part of the land job, because as you transition back and forth between lateral and upward pressure, it’s easy to lose proper angles AND put way too much pressure on the fish.

This is what I really want to point out to folks.  Imagine that you’re walking your dog.  You are not pulling your dog as you control it, you are simply limiting, with positive pressure, where it can go.  Think of it this way, if your dog’s leash were to snap during a walk, your leash arm shouldn’t go swinging violently the other direction.  This is what I see all the time.  A fish will come unbuttoned, and the anglers rod arm goes flying the opposite direction.   Improper angles and pressure? Yup.

In the far left picture, I am keeping lateral and up pressure during the transition. If that fish came loose the fly rod would react more “up” than away, and toward the bank behind me.  The goal is to make that reaction as minimal as possible.  That would mean you are using the fly rod angles and pressures perfectly.  Look at the picture on the right.  This was on a guide trip, and this client had rarely had a fly rod in hand.  He was ready to land his own fish by the end of the day.  If the fish were to come unbuttoned at the instant the picture was snapped, his reel and hand, if the correct angles and pressure were installed, would move to the red square position.  If improper angles and pressures were installed, the the reel would move to the end of the blue line violently.  It’s observable on the anglers part, and easily correctable.

Once you get into proper fish-fighting position, the fly rod becomes Harry Potter’s wand.  Move it side to side, low to high, near to far.  Whatever it takes to keep constant proper pressures.  I’ve a “Landing Fish”  video on Youtube somewhere, and a link in my archives (somewhere).

As always, feel free to shoot me questions, share this blog link, or contact me if you want to fish.

Fear No Water,

Duane

Guide, Minturn Anglers

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“Old time rock and roll”   Leave a comment

orangepartridge
 I can remember it like it was yesterday.  Ten years old, cut-off jeans, Chuck Taylor Hi-tops, and a red t-shirt with one of those little pockets.  I was standing knee deep in the Yellowstone river, fiberglass rod, Martin “electric reel”, hand-tied leaders, and I was swinging wet flies to big Cutthroats.  Rock and Roll.

 

Nowadays, most folks have forgotten wet flies in favor of their favorite pattern nymphs or articulated streamers.  I’ve no problem with those patterns, but I sure do like throwing the old stuff.  They still work.

 

Got back into soft-hackles more than a couple years ago, and most days you will find a soft-hackled pheasant tail in my rig somewhere.  Lately, since I’ve been guiding on the Eagle River, I’ve gotten back into the “partridge series” because of the crazy amounts of caddis in that river.

I really like tying into fish with the Partridge and Orange, Partridge and Green,  Partridge and Peacock, and Crackleback patterns I fished as a kid.  They really mimic caddis pupa and can be dead drifted and swung very effectively.  Because of the nature of caddis pupa emergence, these bugs are perfectly suited for the job.  My clients love it when a fish eats hard at the end of the drift in the swing phase.  The fish pictured ate the Partridge and Orange hard on the swing.

Typically, the bugs are the last or point fly in my 3 bug nymph rig.  I do this to accentuate the movement (like roller derby whip for us old folks), and the farther the bug is away from the weight the higher in the column she’ll travel.  There are times when I place the bug in the middle position of the rig, and I’ll tie it eye-to-eye to flatten the profile.  (a search thru the archives will show eye-to-eye connections, rigs, etc.)

One other trick you can employ is to get upstream of fish feeding on caddis pupa or adults, and strip out enough line to set you up for a swing directly in front of those fish.  Employ a classic nymph drift by casting roughly 45 degrees upstream, let the bugs drift drag free for three quarters of the drift, stop your fly rod movement at the three quarter mark, and allow your flies to swing up through the columns and across in front of the fish.  Deadly.

Sometimes newer isn’t better, only newer.  Give those old patterns a try sometimes, just like that old time rock and roll.

See if you can identify the bugs below……….One is different, but the same idea.  Used it hundreds of times.

Fear No Water,

Duane

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Money where your mouth is……   2 comments

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors,

Been a while since I last posted.  A lot going on, but that’s not really a good excuse.  Truth is I’ve changed fly shops.  Not that I didn’t absolutely respect my old fly shop, but I am the kind of person that enjoys a new challenge now and then.  I now work for Minturn Anglers in Minturn Colorado.  Unbelievable amount of water to guide, and quite frankly, I am being stretched to my limits.  You know, I go all over the place giving presentations about fly fishing and because of the “new” water I’m fishing, it’s time for me to prove what I spout about technique is not just smoke.

More often than not, I am given a stretch to fish or someone recommends a stretch to fish, and off I go with clients to make it happen.  Just last Sunday I was on Gore Creek as it flows thru Vail.  Bob Streb and Joe gave me the boundaries using Google Maps, and as much info as they could.  It was up to me to really dig into the how-to’s, what-to’s, and the when-to’s to get my folks on fish. Not ever stepping foot into water that you need to produce fish for folks is more than interesting. That’s a challenge, and I look forward to it!

I always tout the importance of historical, seasonal, and conditional data when it comes down to successfully fly fishing a river for the first time.  I have found this idea to be the most important factor in getting clients on fish in unfamiliar waters.  If you snoop thru the archives of this blog, you’ll find more info about the data I’m talking about.  The techniques are roughly the same, I’m finding that the data is of the utmost importance.

Sure, I may run bugs a bit deeper, or the sizes may be different than what I’m used to, but the chance to pick peoples brains about how a river fishes, at various times of the year is HUGE!  I’ve gone from tailwater to freestone fly fishing, if folks don’t think that’s a big shift, then they haven’t been paying attention.  This challenge is exactly what I want and need.  I am getting better as a guide, getting stretched, and I’m rejuvenated.

All this new information is going into journals and presentations to eventually become my next book project.  I’m really excited to get that moving.  Folks, all I’m really trying to say is get out there and stretch yourself as a person and an angler.  Fish new water, see new sights, meet new people.

Below are some pictures of folks with nice fish from the Eagle River and Gore Creek……..

FEAR No Water!

Duane

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