Friday, August 21, 2015

Think Like A Trout: "Let's Play Some Ball!"

Think Like A Trout: "Let's Play Some Ball!": Every Umpire has a Different "Strike-Zone" I spent the better part of two decades playing competitive baseball, so it's s...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Let's Play Some Ball!"

Every Umpire has a Different "Strike-Zone"

I spent the better part of two decades playing competitive baseball, so it's safe to say I have a far better understanding of Baseball than Fly Fishing. A few months ago I had the pleasure of guiding a young angler who happened to share my passion for baseball. 

It quickly became apparent that this kid could cast, which is a sight for the sore eyes of a guide. We were both excited for the full day ahead. We started to strategically pick apart the river, one deadly accurate cast after another. I started to sense frustration from the young angler's body language when his seemingly perfect cast weren't producing fish. I remembered him telling me during the drive to the river that he was a pitcher. With this in mind, I called a time out from fishing to make a visit to the mound. 

We took a step back from the river and I gave the young angler a simple analogy. I made him imagine he was on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game. I explained that the angler is like a pitcher and the fish is like an umpire behind the plate. I reminded him that it's a pitcher's job to throw strikes. And throwing a perfect fastball right down the gut means nothing if the umpire's strike zone is in a totally different area. In the same respect, just because you make a great cast it doesn't mean it's anywhere near the fish's strike zone. This simple analogy made all the difference in his mental approach, and he spent the next few casts figuring out the strike zone.

By the second inning of fishing, the young angler established command of the strike zone. Before he knew it fish were showing up in the net like "K's" on the outfield fence of a perfect game.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Colorado River Report: 8-16-2014

Promise not to tell?

The fly fishing on the Colorado River, CO has me feeling like a teenager holding on to a secret so juicy that it's impossible not to pass on. It's time to let the monkey off my back and the rumors begin. There will be no "1-10 Scale" rating in this Colorado River, CO fly fishing report. A respectful explanation is necessary.

Floating the Colorado River is one of the most powerful, mesmerizing, and memorable experiences you will have in your life! With Bald Eagles soaring, rapid water rushing through canyons, natural hot springs, and sightings of stoic Big Horn Sheep; it's easy to forget that the Colorado is one of the best brown trout fisheries I have ever encountered!

The Rundown:

The Colorado is just as, if not more popular for rafting as it is for fly fishing. This must be kept in the front of your mind as a fisherman. Every river must be approached according to it's surrounding activity , and daily patterns as seen by the trout. With hundreds of rafts/drift boats every day riding down the middle of the river smacking oars on rocks, it shouldn't be too hard to imagine where the trout are holding! Think about the banks! With all the boat traffic, the safest and calmest place for the trout is within 3 feet of the bank/shoreline. This scenerio is ideal for boat fishing. There aren't as many bugs within 3 feet of the shore as there would be on a mid current seam or bubble line, but realize that this is to a fisherman's advantage. Fish holding in water with less food have to be more opportunistic because they can't afford to pass up a meal. This also means there is almost no need to have on the perfect fly. It's all about hitting the right spots. Hit the pockets behind skinny riffles where the bank bends, the slack pockets behind rocks on the bank; just be within 3 feet! 

Quick Tip:

When fishing the bank with dries, pay close attention to the weather. If it is supposed to rain, looks like rain, or is raining, always have an ant pattern as a second dry! Ants know when it is going to rain and come out of the mounds to prepare for rebuilding. Inevitably while gathering material to rebuild the ant mounds a few unlucky worker ants end up in the water (RIGHT BY THE BANK). The trout see an ant as an easy meal and will take an ant pattern (dry or submerged) with reckless abandon!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tips for Tying: The "Mercury RS2"

Every fly box should have at least a few RS2's in it! This pattern is extremely productive, simple to tie, and all you need is a sharpie to change it's color!


- Size #18-24 straight eye nymph/dry fly hook.
- Glass bead head
- Grey hackle for tail fibers
- Super fine adams gray dubbing
- Antron Yarn or DNA fibers for wing
- 6/0 gray or white thread


1.) Place glass bead on hook and secure it in your vice. Tie in your thread and wrap down to the half way point of the shank.

2.) Pluck 6 or 8 gray hackle fibers for the tail and measure them to be about the length of the hook shank. Using a "pinch wrap", secure the tail fibers. Make sure to make a wrap or two below the tail to secure it in an upright position.

3.) Using "adams gray" superfine dubbing, make a tight dubbing noodle. As you wrap your dubbing, make sure you keep the noodle tight to form a nice tapered body. 

4.) Stop your taper at the 1/3 point of the hook to tie in your wing material.

5.) Cut out a bundle of Antron or DNA fibers about 1/4 inch wide. Using a "pinch wrap", tie in the fibers and wrap your thread back down the shank a few times to flatten out the wing.

6.) Trim the excess wing material (facing the eye above) as close to the hook as possible. Make another very tight but short dubbing noodle, and fill in the gap between the wing and eye while making sure to keep your taper.

7.) Trim your wing case to about the 1/2 point on the shank. Whip Finish or half-hitch and your all done!


Yellow Mercury RS2 Sparkle Tail

- This is one of the easiest, and most productive patterns that I tie.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tips for Tying: The "Mountain-Dew Midge"

 The "Mountain Dew Midge"

I designed this Midge Pupa-emerger pattern for a specific lime-ish green midge hatch that occurs  towards the end of the summer in the Colorado Rockies. The pattern is absolutely killer during this hatch, and can be fished on a weighted nymph rig or as an emerger behind a dry fly. It didn't take long for me to realize this pattern is a great year around attractor midge! And better yet; it's super simple to tie.

- 8/0 Green Thread
- Scud/Midge hook size #16-24
- One piece of Olive/Pearl Flashabou
- Light green dubbing

1.) Tie in your green thread and wrap 1/3 of the way down the hook shank.

 2.) Next, tie in one strand of olive/pearl Flashabou and wrap it down almost all the way to the end of the gap of the hook. Then wrap your thread back up to the point where you tied in, making sure not to crowd the eye.

 3.) Tightly and evenly wrap the Flashabou back up the hook shank to create a segmented abdomen. Secure the Flashabou with some thread wraps, leaving space behind the eye of the hook.

 4.) Fold the flashabou into a loop and secure it with thread wraps toward the curve of the hook so the wings lie flat.

 5.) Next make a tight dubbing noodle using light olive colored dubbing. Wrap the dubbing noodle tightly, and be careful not to crowd the eye.

 6.) Whip-finish once or twice, then trim the flashabou at the point where the curve of the hook begins and your all done!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Proof is in the Pumping"

Why leave the river feeling stumped when you could have pumped??

Using a stomach pump is a very controversial subject among fly fisherman/women. Walking up to the register of a fly shop with a stomach pump in hand will likely land you more dirty looks than a whore in church. They are usually located near the spin fishing gear section, aka the"red-light district". Guides often joke about having pumps in stock at the shop for profiling purposes only. But the best guides I know all carry stomach pumps, and for good reason.

We have all had those hair-puller days when for example; you catch a couple fish on your attractor nymph (san juan, egg, pat's, ect.), but you know if you could have matched what they were dialed in on you would have crushed them. Or there may be a blanket caddis hatch but the fish are gorging on BWO emergers below the surface instead. The stomach pump is one of my most important and valued tools for such situations. When used properly, a stomach pump will give you the advantage of knowing what you should be tying on instead of the old "guess, check, and repeat" technique. The less you have to change flies, the more time you spend fishing, further increasing your odds.  In some ideal cases the stomach contents will show exactly which bug trout are keyed in on. Even if the stomach contents contain a variety of bug species, the bugs will most often be of the same size or color. Most important is the knowledge gained over time by finding patterns of relationships between stomach contents and the fishing conditions, i.e. (season, water/air temperature, barometric pressure, moon phase, ect.).

Where I Stand on the Pumping Controversy 

Is pumping ethical?
- No, it is not "ethical". But by definition any sport fishing practicing catch and release is not ethical. I say get over the ethics stigma. We are not ethical by nature, we test our drugs on animals, eat genetically modified meat raised under terrible conditions, and we even expose the Planet we live on to deadly pollution for christ sake! Pumping a trout's belly is not an ethical issue for me.

Can Pumping harm trout?
- Absolutely. You should know how to use the pump before trying on a live fish. Never pump a fish under 10 inches or over 18 inches. Never try to pump a trout more than once and never pump an exhausted or injured fish. With that said, pumping causes far less harm to a trout than most other human  interactions such as big barbed hooks, improper handling, or swallowed lines/hooks.

How To Properly Pump a Trout

1.) Lubricate the outside of the tube with water. Turn trout to it's side or upside down if possible. With the tube empty of water, squeeze the bulb half way shut, then insert the tube into the gullet. Release the bulb to form a vacuum seal. Make sure not to push the tube into the back of the stomach.

2.) After forming the vacuum seal, steadily remove the tube from the gullet. When the tube exits the gullet the bulb will expand and suck some stomach contents up into the bulb.

3.) Slightly depress the bulb and suck up some water into the bulb. Squeeze contents into a container or your hand. Make sure to let the fish fully revive before release. Thats all there is to it!


Sample from Yampa River, CO Rainbow showing a high quantity of newborn scuds.

Sample from a Davidson River, NC Rainbow showing a wide variety of bugs.