Our local trout unlimited chapter is having its annual dinner January 17th at 6pm. It is a great organization to be involved in considering it strives towards not only protecting but also improving your local fisheries. Tickets are on sale here at the fly shop and you do not have to be a member to attend, everyon is welcome. For more information visit the Little Bighorn chapters Facebook page. Hope to see you down there!!
Mending is one of the most critical skills that more often than not is totally misunderstood. Understanding how to properly utilize mending is a total game changer whether you are slinging streamers or delicately presenting dries. It is not a difficult skill in itself to learn, knowing when and what direction is an art within itself. Knowing the placement of power within your mending is a whole different skill as well. Throughout this we will offer a few tips, but nothing we can offer is as valuable as putting in the time and practicing.
Falling back to the timing of your mends, knowing when to do so is absolutely the most critical part of this skill. With a decent cast/presentation you should only have to mend 2-3 times. This is totally dependent on water conditions. The whole idea behind mending is getting a drag free drift. At times mending is used to change the angles that you are swinging a streamer etc. but in the end the principal is the exact same. You are manipulating your line to get the desired drift of the fly you are presenting
Reading the water is a critical, all of the jumping and dancing of your line may look pretty…… but it should not be without purpose. Planning out your desired drift is not a skill learned overnight, and certain waters are much more demanding than others. Learn to read the currents that you are casting across and what effect they will have on your fly line. The angles/length of your cast, height of where your rod is being held, shifting currents are all things that dictate how you should follow through.
Another common mistake that I see being made is trying to manage too much line. So much of fly fishing boils down to line management, a lot more than most would think. At times it may be necessary to strip/let line out to get a proper presentation. When you have developed your game plan and know what needs to happen commit to it. The more mends that you throw into a line is the more chances that it will simply removing the fly from the strike zone. Learn to be effective, and when it comes down to it execute your plan with confidence. Nothing replaces practice, learn to read the water and visualize your plan. It is a beautiful thing when a plan comes together. Have fun!!
This summer, 2015, THE place to visit is the Bighorn Mountains near Sheridan, WY. When you’re there be sure to swing by and get the skinny on what’s going on… There are more places to fish in the Bighorn Mountains than people realize. In fact, there are more places to enjoy in the Bighorns than one as time to visit in their life time. Yes, you could spend the next 50 years unlocking the secrets of the Bighorns. But fear not, we can easily direct you to a week worth of fly fishing that will challenge a seasoned angler and develop the essential skills of the beginner. All one needs is the time and the ability to enjoy nature at its purest. Many of the hidden areas of the Bighorn Mountains are easier to find than one might think. Try it, you’ll thank me later.
Canyons all around the Bighorn Mountains are rugged and ready for great fishing and camping. But there are hundreds of high mountain meadow creeks and lakes that are awe inspiring. Bring your Glass or Bamboo rods and enjoy the purity of the Bighorns. The Bighorn Mountains are overflowing with classic mountain fishing. These mountains have 10 different trout you can explore if you have the guts, skills and stamina. Some of these fish are 20 miles out into the wilderness on foot and will require camping to reach them. This should ignite the fires of life. The ultimate life enrichment is that each fish you find has the worth of every moment you spent tracking it down.
The Fly Shop of the Bighorns cordially invites everyone out to the Bighorn Mountains with three distinct fishing seasons in mind, spring, summer and fall. Each of these seasons has its own distinctive allures to a true fly fisherman that makes the fishing here so exceptionally fulfilling. The skills, knowledge and success that can be achieved in the Bighorn Mountains are hard to match. The Bighorn Mountains are where experts remember their roots and hone their skills. The Bighorns are also where beginners sprout their roots to grow into a sage old oak of an expert.
Give us a call to assist you in planning your legendary vacation to the Bighorn Mountains. Be ready to learn and leave your predetermined ideas at home so you can experience greatness of fly fishing in the Bighorn Mountains. Reaching fly fishing greatness is not for the faint of heart. It is too easy to get off track or get pidgin holed in fly fishing when you are seeking what it is to be a “fly fisherman”. The secret of a being a fly fisherman is simply this “a fly fisherman is what a fly fisherman does.” When a fly fisherman spends enough time studying, the answers are clear. Have fun and fish often.
Here is a dozen of my favorite patterns for the Bighorns. There are lots of effective flies out there, but if you happen to be headed this way this is one hell of a good start.
Hopperish/stonefly attractor pattern which should be a staple in any box.
Have a variation of sizes and colors and you can’t go wrong.
A classic on the North Fork of the Tongue.
A great attractor pattern, better than I will admit most times.
A go to hopper pattern in my box, definitely a must have.
We have caddis hatches all over our mountain, one of my personal favorite imitations.
Carry this in a few size variations, don’t be scared to go too big. Deadly in our canyon waters.
A deadly attractor pattern, also great for getting down deep fast. Fish can’t resist it!!
A classic that should be in every box, great imitation for a variation of different bugs.
North Fork Special
A local favorite, great pattern for hitting the canyons.
This is a versatile streamer pattern that is effective throughout our mountain.
Platte River Special
A sparsely tied classic pattern that most ignore, a fish magnet in most any water within our region.
Again there are lots of patterns out on the market, these are just a few that I have had great success with. Give them a shot, most of all have fun!!
Today’s fly fishing industry has without a doubt recognized the use/versatility of fluorocarbon leaders. Many anglers have taken the jump into fluorocarbon without totally understanding its uses and advantages. Through this we hope to shed some light on what exactly you are paying for.
Anyone who has spent any time fishing at all realizes that most any monofilament lines have quite a bit of stretch or give to them. In some cases that can work to your advantage with absorbing shock/impact, but on the same note that directly effects the sensitivity on the other end. Fluorocarbon leaders as a general rule have much less stretch to them versus a standard monofilament leader.
One disadvantage to fluorocarbon is that your knot tying skills need to be up to par or you are destined to be plagued with break offs. Another factor to take into consideration is compatibility of fluorocarbon with standard mono. From my personal experience I have found that fluorocarbon will cut into mono which however you look at it prevents effective knots.
One of the primary advantages of fluorocarbon is it is nearly invisible underwater. This fact alone makes it a very useful tool when targeting finicky leader shy fish. The other advantage to the lack of visibility it can enable you to use heavier leader/tippet without the normal pitfalls.
Another advantage of fluorocarbon is its abrasion resistant qualities. Running nymph rigs, streamers or any type of fishing that puts you in jagged rocks fluorocarbon will definitely give you an upper hand.
Unlike monofilament, fluorocarbon will sink which makes it more effective for a nymphing/streamer leader material.
Cost is a major factor in deciding if fluorocarbon has a place in your arsenal. Many fluorocarbon leaders cost 3-4 times what a standard monofilament leader would.
Overall it is up to you decide if it is worth coughing up the extra dough for the fluorocarbon. I strongly suggest at the very least giving it a try and make the decision for yourself. Not all things are about cost, but where it may not be needed it definitely becomes a much more influential factor. Where things stand now I have it on hand, it is a useful tool when necessary.
Fly fishing has been one of the most rewarding yet one of the oddest sports that I have become involved in. From the elitist, to the purist and how could we forget the loner curmudgeon who has all of fly fishing’s secrets under lock and key. The other factor that really throws a twist into things are the regional attitudes, running off into the hills makes you definitely realize that you are not in Kansas anymore.
For a sport that is so coveted, I think it is time that we stop worrying about that low holing jackwagon and become stewards for this sport. A bit of kindness and education goes a long ways when helping people learn the intricacies of this sport. Whether you are new to this sport or a seasoned vet, here are a few tips or for lack of better words a challenge that I offer you. For those already living by these rules I thank you, those on the other side……. give them an honest shot, you won’t regret it.
~Your secret fly is probably not as big of a secret as you would like to think it is. If you see someone struggling odds are a bit of advice and a couple of flies are not going to ruin your day. That random act can make a world of difference and shift a bad day into something special.
~Most rivers/streams have so much to offer beyond what most anglers think. Running people over to get to your favorite hole really just makes you look like an ass. I have never found myself in a pinch to find water, if that was to actually become the case a bit of cordial communication goes a long ways.
~That yahoo “raping the reds” aka stepping on spawning beds may not even know they are doing it or anything of its ramifications. In the long run this personal etiquette choice and something often not swayed by a raving lunatic. Again do this sport justice, being a steward to this sport and a bit of education goes a long ways.
~Lastly the golden rule is really all that matters in the end. Be courteous, try to make friends on the water to share your experiences with. Life is to short and this is meant to be fun.
Over the years I have seen this sport grow and flourish, I just would like to see more anglers in our region learn to embrace that. We have all gotten into this sport for various reasons, but what it brings to each one of us is very similar. Keep that in mind next time you are out on the water.
If you are targeting bigger trophy size fish, more often than not the trick can be chucking something worthy of being chased down. Now don’t get me wrong, plenty of big fish are caught on tiny nymphs/dries, but often bigger fish are gluttons and do not want to work that hard for so little. Many times big attractor type patterns can be very effective and this also where many times the angler that ties has an upper hand. Many patterns are limited in size offerings, we are thinking outside the box here.
Whether you tie or buy, know that there are lots of patterns out there that work great. Get outside your comfort zone and slinging some flies worthy of a meal, at the very least you will amuse yourself.
With spring just around the corner now is the time that you want to be cranking out bugs for that springtime runoff. Springtime runoff?? That’s right, one of my favorite times of year and at times it can be one of the most productive.
Fishing this type of water has its characteristics that make it a whole lot easier, but without a doubt there is a tradeoff. Before I go too far into this I do want to throw the disclaimer out there that fishing high water is dangerous. Stick to what you are comfortable/confident with, and wading sticks aren’t just for old men……. use them!!
When you take the time to break down the issues with fishing this time of year you come up with two issues. For one the water is going to be above levels that you are used to fishing and the second being it will be off color. Those factors can fluctuate at different times of the day with the primary cause being shifts in the weather.
Granted there are some hatches in certain waters that can be your focal point. When push comes to shove and it’s your everyday fishing I have a few simple rules outside matching hatches that I follow.
Faster water = more weight. I use a substantial amount of split shot but I also utilize a lot of tungsten beads in patterns that I tie. Patterns like the Copper Swan are great because they not only are flashy and serve as an attractor but they also get your flies down quickly and efficiently. One of the great advantages of tying your own flies is that you can add extra lead or tungsten beads where they may not always be offered.
Streamers are an awesome tool in the spring time, but know that you need to get them down into their feeding zone. Again I use lots of lead, tungsten eyes/cones in my springtime patterns to help get my flies down as well. Sink tips can be very effective with that as well, it all depends on what type of presentation you are aiming for. Integrated sink lines are great, I prefer leaders that I add on that way my rig/setup is not a one trick pony.
Focus heavily on holding water, which brings me to what exactly that is. Springtime runoff brings crazy amounts of water that at times can be hard to read. Look for seams, undercuts, or any type of obstructions that a fish would be able to hold and not constantly be fighting the current.
Mend, mend, mend, I cannot say it enough. In fast water whether it be streamers or nymph rigs it is virtually impossible to get your flies down without mending. Part of this is also reading the currents and where you can effectively execute this. With your rig swinging downstream at a 45 degree angle a downstream mend will not do you much good. By the end of one season this is one skill that you will master without a doubt.
Last but not least, your reel is not just a line holder. To the fair weather fly fisherman that may be the case, but put some hot fish in water to match you will be seeing your backing in a quick hurry. A nice smooth drag system is your best friend in situations like these.
Take this advice and utilize it to help extend your fly fishing season. Again now is the time to be planning out those trips. If you have any questions feel free to swing in the shop or shoot us an email, we are always more than happy to help. This barely scathes over what is out there, but we hope it helps inspire you to hit the water more often and be more effective when doing so.
There are many different schools of thought on presentations to picky fish both in fresh and salt……. here are a few things most of us really do not put too much thought into.
Thrown twenty casts and getting the fin?? Done your homework, know your bugs but undoubtedly you have a problem. Part of a getting that upper hand requires planning, carelessness only leads to defeat. Planning out your attack, positioning, angles, drift are all factors. A gazelle does not run to the lion…… so don’t expect so little out of your adversary. Anyone can catch a fish, but hunting is a whole different game and here are a few tips that hopefully will help you.
- I cannot stress the importance of your overall presentation. Fish will many times eat something totally off the wall if it is presented well. Stick with casts that you are comfortable with, learn to read/predict the water.
- The trout shuffle is not a viable nor ethical way to catch fish. It may fool fish in bigger waters but it can also be detrimental to your success. Pick up your feet when wading and even better yet get out of the water when the opportunity presents itself. Clouds of mud/debris being sent downstream does nothing but spook fish.
- As much as we all love some of the louder new stylings of the fly fishing clothing, neutral colors are your best friend. When fishing spooky fish in clear water they will spot you a mile away…… game over. Use your surroundings to blend in, step cautiously around banks because you never know where that hog may be lying.
- Maintain a buffer, you still need to be able to make the cast/presentation but the farther away you can be while keeping these factors in check the greater your success rate will be.
These are just a few tips that hopefully help you out on the water. There are a few other subjects such as tippet size etc. but I am not even going to go into all of that. What I have always felt is how you approach the fish and make your presentation is the most important thing to consider when hunting that fish. This time of year is great for “the hunt”. So load up that midge box, get out and have some fun!!
As of today we are sitting about 81% of our normal snowpack. It is down but those numbers are really nothing to become too concerned about considering that we have another 3-4 months ahead of us that produce snow yearly. As the year progresses we will keep you updated on conditions and predictions of the spring run off. Stay tuned!!