Archive for the ‘South Platte’ Tag

Just keep settin’   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

“I probably would’ve set on that”. “I didn’t even see it move”, he replied.  I said automatically, “Yea, we need to keep working on the take recognition”.  All too often, I watch fish after fish eat our offerings and nothing is done on the business side of the fly rod.  Doesn’t matter, it could be an eat on the swing, lift, drift or surface, and nothing happens.

I’m beyond getting frustrated with clients when they don’t recognize a fish eating their offerings; I try instead, to use it as a teaching tool.  Breaking down the missed opportunity right after the fact, seems to more completely reinforce the need and timing of something that should have been set upon, than beating them over the head with it.  And, like magic, once they relax and hook a few, they begin to recognize more eats and set more quickly.

The more you set correctly, the more solid hook-ups you create….

I think most folks, even my experienced clients, that miss fish are usually preoccupied with working on another skill, and/or are overwhelmed with tougher drifts.  The tougher the drift, the more mending, and the more difficult it becomes to babysit the drift.  Many times clients miss takes because they are watching their hands and the fly line to ensure a good drift, and lose focus on the indicator, indicator fly (dry-dropper), or the dry fly on the surface. Sometimes, when working on advanced skills, such as, pause and go mending, folks again lose focus on the take, and miss fish. It’s easy to do.

So, how do you fix this?  What do you do if you are continually missing fish?  Simplify. In this case, simplification takes place in two ways: doing less while perfecting more. Perfect the ability to mend without taking your eyes off of the indicator, sighter leader, dry fly, or indicator fly. As you become more proficient at having both hands work as one, you will begin to do less, work less, and simplify the drift. So, the first simplification is teaching the hands to work together, next skill is to stop out-casting your coverage.

Out-casting your coverage begins when you have too much line out for your skill level.  I believe in healthy management loops below the reel, and large slack mends if your skill level calls for it, but once you feel as if you are continually mending in your drift and can’t keep up, be honest and realize you’ve hit your limit.  No shame in that, just keep working to increase your coverage. Again, simplify.

Don’t out-kick your drift ability coverage.

This sounds basic, but many folks don’t really know how to set once they do recognize an eat.  All sets are not created equal.  Nymph drift sets are a low sweeping motion downstream over the water.  You must set the distance required to actually straighten out the line to pierce the lip. Many folks set quickly enough, but “short-set” and never straighten the line.  The dry fly and dry-dropper set are usually downstream over the downstream shoulder.  Much less force is applied than the nymph set because there’s not as much drag on the rig, and too much force can result in a snap-off.  Be careful to set “against the fish” when setting on a dry fly, striving to set from the fish’s head to its tail. Streamer sets are completed by using your stripping hand to set the hook by pulling the management loop back toward your butt pants pocket as if you’re completing a large streamer strip. Again, these are simple sets, but require a bit of practice.

A few other tidbits: strive to learn to “vicinity set”.  Try to set on any fish flash within the vicinity of your flies.  For example: if you’re running a nymph rig 8 feet from indicator to your last fly, set on any fish flash within four feet of the indicator.  More often than not, if you set on a fish flash within the vicinity of your drift, you’ll move a fish.  If you are sight fishing, and can see the fish, learn to set on fish movement.  If the fish are feeding side-to-side, set when they swing to one side and stop, before returning to their position. Same thing if fish are porpoising, set when they stop, before they go back down to their original position.

The reward after a fine battle.

There’s much more to cover here, and I go into great detail in my next book, Hidden in Plain View.  The book is now in pre-sales, I think you’ll like it. It was recently the number one new fishing book, so I’m pretty pleased with that.  Amazon, Barnes and Noble are offering presale discounts for a short time.

Simplify, simplify, simplify, and Fear No Water!

Duane

Your vote counts…..   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

Hi folks!  I could really use your help in determining what the cover is to my new book that should be coming out sometime this November.  It is narrowed down to two covers, and I need your votes to help decide on the cover!

Please go to the link, read the synopsis, and click on one of the covers to vote for your favorite.  Please feel free to share this because I would really like a bunch of feedback.

Photo cred to Tucker Bamford and Alan Peak out of Colorado.

Thank you very much and Fear No Water!

http://www.koehlerbooks.com/cover-polls/hidden-in-plain-view-recognizing-the-obvious-exploiting-the-obscure-in-fly-fishing/

 

 

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!

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

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.

“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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Head for the Hills!   2 comments

I feel sorry for them, I really do.  Just finished guiding the South Platte near Denver over the Memorial Day weekend.  It was cold and rainy, but that didn’t stop the multitudes of anglers and “recreationalists” from enjoying time on the water.  I don’t have any ill feelings to folks getting out and using Mama Nature, I just feel a bit sorry for the fish.

Right now, the South Platte near Deckers, Colorado is one of the few games in town.  Because of our epic snow pack, and a very wet spring on top of that, the rivers are pissed and dangerous.  More water than I’ve seen in a long time.  The South Platte is a tailwater tucked close to Denver.  Certainly, she is going to feel the brunt of traffic, because amazingly, she is still below normal flows.  Oh, the water will come, but for now, she’s “it”.

I watched the fishing success dwindle in the last 3 days leading up to Memorial Day.  Oh, we were still catching fish, but it became more and more technical.  Drifts had to be more precise, mends more complete, and sets were on anything that looked suspect.  You just had to work much harder than usual.  I got to thinking, “How many times has this fish been hooked this week?” “Today?”

Where the fish would usually hold in a particular seam in a particular run in days prior, they just weren’t there.  You may think, well they just went deeper in the column and you can’t see them.  Nope, not in this case.  The flow is only a little over 100cfs, meaning, you could see a quarter underwater in most of the runs we fished.

No, these fish headed for the hills.  By noon on Monday, we were catching fish on skinny rigs (check the archives for more info), along the edges.  One big brown comes to mind.  He ate my Brachy Pupa, on the far bank, in about a half foot of water, on the first drift.  We didn’t know he was there, but assumed the fish had moved because they weren’t in the usual haunts. I know this fish, where he usually holds, and how he likes to eat.  He broke the rules, and he lunged out of my net before photos.  Salty bastard.

Have a few other thoughts as well.  One thought  centered around how grateful I am that fly fishers are so diligent when it comes to releasing fish unharmed.  The fish in this area are for the most part, clean, fat, healthy, and pound for pound will fight with any in the state.  My other thought is how grateful I am to be able to work on a resource such as this so close to home.  Shouldn’t feel sorry for them I guess, they’re doing fine.  When the fishing gets technical, the technical go fishing………….

Fear No Water!

Duane

Don’t forget FATHERS DAY is coming up.  Pick up a copy of the Fly Fishers Playbook for your favorite father, or son, or brother, or son-in-law or…….!

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