Archive for the ‘trout’ Tag

Long learner.   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors,

I’ve heard it said, “If you’re the smartest guy in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. I certainly not only subscribe to that notion, but find it easy to not be the smartest guy in the room.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a featured author at a book signing at the Blue Quill Angler in Evergreen Colorado.  This was not your normal book signing, not when you’re elbow to elbow with John Gierach, Pat Dorsey, Ed Engle, Landon Mayer, Marty Bartholomew, Steve Schweitzer, David McElwain, and Terry Grosz. Nope, this was something special for me and I was humbled and excited to be counted in the fold.

There are many ways to learn new skills, tactics, techniques, or perceptions about any endeavor.  Most folks learn

Wasn’t the smartest in the room this day….Lightening and hail in the high country and it’s me and my 6’5″ client…..

best by seeing or doing, while the rest learn by reading or study, and it’s always easier to learn from someone that already knows what you want to learn (think back to 7th grade Spanish class).  Therefore, when I’m in the situation where I am surrounded by tons of knowledge, I keep my mouth shut and listen, listen, listen.  I still have so much to learn about fly fishing.

I’ve been guiding a long time, before that, I taught school for 22 years, and I feel as if I have a pretty good handle on how to break things down, present them in bite-sized pieces and feed them to hungry learners.  I had great mentors that taught me the “teaching ropes” and that hastened the process.  Still, after 22 years, I wasn’t the smartest in the room, but was still the hungriest.  Hungry to learn, learning by listening and watching, followed by a healthy dose of “go do”.

I consider myself a life-long learner, and I realize I have a long way to go when it comes to mastering what I do, but that doesn’t stop the journey.  This year, I’ll be presenting to folks all across this country, a brand new fly fishing presentation.  I try to create a new one each year, to keep things fresh for me and my audiences.  Do I know everything? Not in the least, but I do know this, the more I teach, the more I learn.  More often than not, I come away from an evening presentation with more questions bouncing around in my head.  Stuff I can only answer by getting on the river.

During the slower months of winter, when I guide sparingly, I often look to put a bit of time into fishing.  Funny thing is, I never go just to catch fish.  I’m always working on or testing something.  I may be testing a rig wrinkle, bug stage modification, a specific drift mechanic, or a modified piece of equipment, but I always fish with a purpose other than trying to just put fish in the net. Often, I am fishing with folks that are nailing fish, but I keep testing, pushing the envelope, and trying to learn, while watching fish after fish hit the bottoms of their nets. It takes discipline and a pile of hard-headed stubbornness to not just blow-off what I’m doing and simply fish, but I remain steadfast in my mission.

I’m always looking for a new perspective, or a subject that receives too little attention, maybe a newly recognized (to me) cause and effect, or something that I consider obscure by the standards that I guide and fish to. Ultimately, I try to pass what I learn onto the folks that I guide, that read my books, or that see my presentations.  It’s worth it.

This years’ presentation is titled: The Dance, Landing Trout on a Fly Rod.  I’ve been thinking about this presentation for years, because everyone talks about everything from the cast to the drift, and the set, even how to take photos, but actual discussion of fish landing techniques and rod physics is rarely broached.  Gonna’ change that.  I truly hope folks will like it.

The Dance

Hidden in Plain View is doing great.  Thanks to those of you that have purchased the book. Proud to say it’s still in the top 10 of new fishing releases through Amazon after 3 weeks in.  Pretty humbling for sure.

So, you see, that extra work, the little touch of stubbornness (depends on whom you talk to), and the ability to listen while realizing you’re not the smartest in the room, is worth it in the long run.  Hopefully, at the next show, event, or club gathering, you and I get a chance to talk, I always welcome the opportunity to learn new things.

Fear No Water!

ps. the new speaking schedule is up.

Pss. There’s still time to purchase a copy of the book before Christmas (Amazon/Barnes and Noble)

Still time!

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

I like big Buggs, and I can not lie…….   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors,

Angry August…..That’s fly fishing guide code for “I have to really earn my money for about three weeks”.  Water flows are coming down as the air and water temperatures go up, you have a high sky, little shade and the bugs are getting smaller. It’s not terrible, but the river is a bit angry after a summer of countless boots, bugs and boats.

So, it’s a good idea to pull the staff together for some beers and brats and to recharge the staff morale a bit and go over a few late season housekeeping items.  Out behind the shop, sitting on trucks and ice coolers, we assembled to go over a few tidbits and blow off a little steam that angry august can conceive.

After we went over a few items like “make sure you clean the waders”, to “if you’re gonna park here, move all the way up” to “is that my beer or yours?”, I decided to ask the guides to shout out their best current bugs. Their “crushing it” bugs like the flat-brimmers say.

T- with a fine trout that ate a brown size 18 bug….

As I sit there, my head snaps side to side as many guides bark out their current besties, and I am amazed.  I hear, “size 24 thattabug” and  ”size 22 everfly” ,followed by, “ a size 26 thisabug”.  “What size tippet ya’ll throwin’?”, I humbly ask.  “Mostly 6x flouro, nothing bigger than 5x”, many concur.  Once again, I am the odd man out unless some of the other guides were feeling like me and just haven’t written it down for all to read.

I’m glad one of the crew didn’t ask me what my besties are and what size tippet I’m throwing, I would have been forced to say, “Inch a half Tan San Juan, a size 16 Partridge and Orange soft hackle, followed by size 18 Chocolate Thunder or Butt Crack”. “Uh, all on 4x,” as my voice would trail off.

I like big bugs, always have, always will, and I think if you fish them right you can maybe not hook as many fish as the small fly guys, but the ones you hook tend to stay hooked.  And with bigger tippet, I don’t experience many snap-offs no matter how hard folks pinch cork. I still think the most important part of the drift isn’t always about the flies, it’s still about the drift and putting the right bugs, in the right slot, to the right fish in a stealthy manner.  Are the right bugs always smaller? I don’t think so, but I must confess when the going gets tough I drop a size down to 20.

What about color?  This time of year, for me, it’s about orange and brown.  The fish are already looking for the big orange bodied Autumn Sedge like I am, and they have been “crushing” that size 16 softie.  Brown is just a great color (purple is next) for my tricos, blue quills, pseudo baetis, and PMD emergers that are zipping around.  Certainly could use other colors, but those work just fine.

Janet with a nice specimen that ate an 18 Butt Crack

I love angry August, I’ve the best job on the planet, meeting and guiding amazing people, and every now and again, I get to have a free beer and brat behind the fly shop, and that was my beer he drank out of…….

Fear No Water

Book update:  Into angry August on the book too.  Heavy editing begins soon, just finished illustration and photo placement.  Looking forward to moving it along!

Thanks to all that voted for a cover with the link I provided last post.  Hidden In Plain View reporting for duty!  Soon…..

It’s Hidden In Plain View…..

Like the First Day of School…..   2 comments

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

Oldest guy in the room.

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

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

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

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

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

Fear No Water

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

Shelves and the Formula   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

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

Obligatory grip and grin...

Obligatory grip and grin…

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

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

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

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

Fear No Water

Plea for questions….   3 comments

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idaho beauty.

Idaho beauty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nom Nom

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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