Sunlight can play a big role in how the trout will see you & your fly. There's nothing we can do about the way the sun is beating down on the water we're trying to fish, but we can work with the sunlight & use it to our benefit.
Of course, you always want to keep your silhouette from coming down on the water above the fish. This will send them running for cover instantly. Remember, their biggest dangers usually come from above, so your shadow moving across the water will put all of them down very fast. It's also a benefit to have the sun at your back so you can better see the water, your line, etc. If this means that you'll have to come at the stream from a different angle, so be it. Better that you spend some extra time getting into the water from a more difficult spot, than scaring the fish so badly there won't be any fishing at all.
Some anglers like to use polarized sun glasses. These will allow you to see into the water & let you see the fish. Obviously, that can be a great benefit. However, I personally decided years ago not to use them. This is because I had the same problem a lot of other anglers have when using polarized glasses: I strike too soon & miss the trout!! Of course with practice & discipline you can learn to slow your strike down, but I never did. If you decide to use polarized sunglasses for the first time, be ready for this & force yourself to delay setting the hook - if your nerves can handle it.
The sun also changes the way the trout see the fly. If you're dry fly fishing & seem to be killing them while the sun is on the water, but get nothing when the sun goes behind the clouds, try changing to a different dry fly. Make sure that the fly you change to has a different profile, like say going from a Catskill style to a paradun style. This just might do the trick & will tell you that - in this particular situation - the profile of your dry fly is more important than the color.
The sun can add difficulties to our approaches & plans , but with a little thought & adjustments we can actually use it to our benefit.
Okay, so I re-post this information at least twice a year: once at the beginning of trout season & again in at the end of Autumn. So you've probably read it before (you can also find it on the Tackle Tips page) & you nothing in it is news to you. So why re-post it? To remind you it's time to go over your fly rod, clean it up, & get it ready for some action after the long winter. Yeah!! Besides, you don't want to take it out of the tube on opening day, only to find a guide missing, etc.
So without further ado, here are some thoughts on how to clean your fly rod:
It's that time of year when many folks are getting out their fishing tackle & getting ready for the upcoming fishing season. If you just put your rod away last year without going over it, now's the time to give it the "once over" before you head out for the first time this year. Here's some quick tips on how to get that fly rod looking good again.
No matter if you have a graphite, fiberglass, or a bamboo fly rod after use they get dirty. Along with the dirt & grime that rods acquire from use, they sometimes get watermarks on the shaft from being in contact with a wet fly line. For these problems that arise from normal use (we're not talking about damage here), it's a good idea to gently clean the shafts of the rod with some liquid window cleaner (like windex, etc) & a soft, clean towel. Spray the window cleaner onto the towel & wipe down the rod shafts gently. Then follow that by wiping the shafts dry with another soft, clean, & dry towel. Make sure to get the area beneath the line guides & the guides themselves.
Next, if you have a bamboo rod with varnish, or a fiberglass or graphite rod with a gloss, shiny finish, go over the rod with a good furniture polish - the same kind you use around the house (Old English, Pledge, etc). Again, spray the wax on a clean, soft towel, & wipe off the wax with another dry towel. Make sure that you get the line guides as well but make sure you get all the excess wax off the line guides. If you don't, it will build up on the guides & slow your fly line down.
DO NOT WAX THE FERRULES!!! This is especially true for the metal ferrules of a bamboo rod. Never ever wax the ferrules. If you need to clean the metal ferrules of a bamboo or older fiberglass rod, put some rubbing alcohol onto a clean, soft towel & wipe the ferrules with the alcohol. Then wipe them again with a clean, dry towel. Make sure the towels are clean & do not have anything on them that will scratch the ferrules. To clean the inside of a metal female ferrule, dip a cotton swab into some rubbing alcohol & swirl it around inside the ferrule. Keep doing this with a fresh cotton swab each time until they no longer have dirt on them. Then dry the inside of the female ferrule with a dry cotton swab before assembling the rod.
If you have a rod with a matte finish, just clean the rod with the liquid glass cleaner, or warm water only. Don't wax the shafts of the rod, but you can wax the line guides & the guide wraps if you wish.
Finally, after you've cleaned & polished the rod, I like to go over it one more time with a "dry sweeping cloth" (like "swifter") that are available at most retail stores. This really polishes the rod up & gives it a nice appearance. It also removes fingerprints & other smudges.
Regular cleaning helps to protect the finish of the rod & to protect the guide wraps & labels or inscriptions on the rod shafts. If you take the time to clean your fly rod & keep it looking good, you'll be going a long way to getting more years of use from it.
I've read in numerous sources, & I personally believe, that when putting hackle on wet flies, the hackle should be sparse. It's a common mistake to put too much hackle on a fly, especially the old traditional soft hackle wet flies. Too many turns of the feather while tying makes the hackle too heavy & thick. This might take away from the feather's pulsating effect in the water.
It also changes the fly's appearance to the fish. The hackle is meant to look like legs or wings, or at least the pulsating movement of an insect or other aquatic life swimming. At the very least, the movement of the hackle in the water makes the fly look like something that's alive. Too much of it probably doesn't look quite correct to the trout. Bugs don't have that many legs anyway.
To tie up an effective soft hackle wet fly, all it takes are a few (2 to 3 at most) turns of the feather around the hook. Of course, the type of feather that you use is very important. Not just it's coloring, but maybe the most important is it's softness. There's a reason the old recipes call for feathers like partridge or guinea hen. It's because of not only their colors, but because these soft feathers move & pulse in the water, just like a living creature.
Another concern about hackle on wet flies is the length of the feather. Some feel that the feather shouldn't be any longer than the legs on the insects in the water where you'll be using the fly. Others like to see their flies with very long hackles that extend well beyond the bend of the hook. It seems that the jury is still out on this one. Both styles of hackle tying seem to be very effective.
So as you sit at the bench to tie up some flies for the upcoming fishing season, don't forget about those old, reliable soft hackle wet flies. They're very easy to tie & extremely effective on trout - especially in the early part of the season. As you tie up some of these wets, just remember to not go overboard with too many turns of the hackle.
This is something I've been wanting to offer for a long time now. Well, here it is!! You can now store all your leaders in a wallet that combines function & tradition. Mixing traditional design with modern materials, these wallets keep your leaders organized & safe. Made in my shop from quality materials, these wallets look & work great.
A lot of thought went into the design of these wallets & I think you're going to like them. They're made from high quality leather of different colors & textures, so you have a lot of wallets to choose from.
Each wallet contains 6 double-sided pages for a total of 12 pockets, plus 2 pockets located on the inside of both the front & back covers. This allows the wallets to hold up to 14 leaders; or 12 if you use the 2 inside cover pockets to store other things like tippets, line dressing, etc. These pockets are designed to hold a leader rolled, or coiled, into a 4 inch diameter circle. This is a bigger coil than most leader wallets available today will allow, meaning less memory coils in your leaders & less straightening when you tie your leaders on.
Here's the really awesome feature of these wallets: these pages are completely removable from the wallet as an entire unit. So, if you want an extra set of pages for different fishing situations (one set for dry fly leaders, another for streamers; or one set for trout & one for bass, etc.) you can easily swap one set of pockets out for another set!!!
Overall these wallets measure approximately 5” x 4 ¾” when closed. They should fit nicely into most vest or jacket pockets. You can read all about these wallets, see what colors are available, & see more photos of them over on the "Accessories" page. Please contact me to discuss these leather leader wallets.
(*special thanks to Jim Wright of Tenkara Fly Shop for his help & inspiration in designing these wallets)
You really should give some thought to the tackle to take along if you'll be fishing on a very small stream. While a really good angler can make due with just about any tackle, don't make it harder on yourself. A little bit of preparation can really make the day more successful & enjoyable. Here are some things to consider:
Fly rods: Obviously, if you're fishing on a small stream with a lot of brush & tree cover, a shorter rod would be helpful. How long, or short, your rod should be is relative to the length of rod you normally use most. If you usually fish with a 9ft rod, than going down to a 5ft rod might not be very comfortable. If you're used to a longer rod than stay with a rod that still has some length to it. On small streams that have a lot of cover & obstacles close by to get snagged on, I generally won't go with a rod over 8ft long. I normally use rods between 7 & 8ft in length on smaller streams, but there are time when I wish I had brought a shorter rod. Because you'll be trying to avoid all the places there are to get tangled in on a small stream, your best bet is to go with a rod who's length your're comfortable with, but still short enough to enable you to work in tight quarters.
No matter what length of rod you go with, I recommend always using the same length on really tight streams. The more you use a rod of a particular length, the more you'll be able to know where the rod tip is at all times. You'll become so accustomed with the distance the tip is from your hand, that it will start to feel like an extension of your body.
If you're fishing a smaller stream that flows through a wide open area, like a pasture, etc, you're going to want a longer rod. In these conditions you need to stay back from the water, lest the trout see your shadow or profile. Having a longer rod with a slightly faster action will help you keep your distance while still delivering your line where you want it.
Fly line: Sure, you want a good quality line to use. However, you also want a line that can take a beating When you're fishing on most smaller streams your line's going to get snagged on roots, branches, etc. You're going to be casting it over & onto rocks & sand. You want a line that can stand up to all this & more. I would suggest leaving the expensive, hand-made silk line at home for this type of fishing.
Leaders: For all the reasons listed for fly lines, you're going to need a stronger, stout leader. I usually end up balancing the leaders strength wit it's diameter. You want a leader that will hold up to the snags, & debris that will effect it, while still being fine enough so it doesn't cause you to miss fish. Use your best judgement for the conditions you're in.
Weight & floatant: Make sure you have both of these. If fishing below the surface, you're going to need to get your fly down as quickly as possible in the short distances between you & the trout. I recommend having a good supply of split-shot sinkers with you, in size "bb". If you want your line to float, you'll probably be needing to reapply line dressing often. there's a lot of algae, moss, & other stuff in small streams that will stick to your line & weigh it down, causing it to sink.
Overall: Go as lightly as you can. You don't want a lot of stuff weighing you down. Sunglasses hanging from your neck, a net swinging on your back,.....these are all things that can get you hung up & stuck in the bushes & thick undergrowth. Believe me, there's nothing much more embarrassing than the sting & pain from your landing net as it's pulled from a branch, smacking you in the posterior!!
Do dress for the weather. If you're fishing a mountain stream in higher elevations where the weather can go form one extreme t another in minuets, having a variety of clothing with you can save the day.
No matter where you're fishing, you want to be as mobile & free as possible. If there are tackle items you always carry, but seldom (if ever) use, leave it back at the car. When you're stuck deep in a brier patch, struggling to get free, you'll be glad you did. I know. I was once carrying way too much tackle when I was stuck in the briers & stepped on a bee hive. It didn't end well. However, I did make it out of there fast enough to make Houdini jealous. I can't say I was glad that I had all the extra equipment with me on that day!!
Now's your chance to have a custom fly rod built on a Thomas & Thomas blank at steep discount. For a very limited time, I will be able to get graphite blanks from Thomas & Thomas at a substantial savings, which I'm passing on to you! At $475, these rods will go fast.
These rods will feature down locking reel seats with walnut wood spacers & come complete with a custom fitting rod bag & a canvas covered PVC rod tube with padded zippered closure & leather name tag. You get to choose the following:
-Down locking screw-lock or cap & ring style reel seat w/ walnut spacer
-Nickle-Silver or aluminum (for reduced weight) reel seat metal
-Color of thread wraps
-Chrome or black line guides
-Rod bag & rod tube color
The rods will be made on either a Helix or Vector model fly rod blank, which are dark blue in color. Please, if you think you might be interested in these rods, contact me soon. This opportunity will be gone soon & I don't know how long I'll be able to offer it.
To see what size rods are still available & to read more about this offer, please click HERE. Take advantage of an opportunity to have a custom made rod for less than the factory rods sell for!!
Tenkara is a traditional method of fly fishing in Japan. It's a simple method that focuses more on the line & the fly rather than the equipment. That's because the equipment used is almost as basic as it gets: a rod, line, & fly. That's basically it. There's no reel used at all. The line is connected to the rod at the rod tip, so there are no line guides either. Without the reel, there's no reel seat on the rod; the grip runs all the way to the bottom (or end) of the rod.
Traditionally, as I understand it, Tenkara was done with soft-hackle wet flies. However these days, folks also use dry flies in their Tenkara fishing as well. Also, the focus is on fly presentation, rather than having an exact imitation.
The rods used are longer than the average rod used in "normal" fly fishing today. They generally run 10 to 14 feet long. That's good, because you're going to need that length to give you the reach you'll need to get the fly to many fish. Modern tenkara rods are telescoping & made from graphite &/or carbon fiber. The traditional tenkara rods were made from sections of hollow bamboo.
Tenkara anglers have few tackle possessions as this method of fishing doesn't require much equipment, & they tend to prize the equipment they do use. This passion shows itself in beautiful fly boxes & landing nets - many of which are works of art in themselves.
Tenkara is catching on like crazy here in the USA. Many anglers are gravitating towards this method of fishing & having a ball at it. If you're looking for more information about Tenkara & a resource for the equipment to practice it, then I have just the website for you.
A new website, Tenkara Fly Shop, recently went on line. Wether or not you're a tenkara expert, or new & wondering what it's all about, you need to visit this site. Along with flies, accessories, & gorgeous fly boxes Tenkara Fly Shop also has tons of info about tenkara fishing & lots of interesting reading. As this is a newer site, be sure to check back often as I'm sure it will continue to grow. It's a great resource for tenkara fishing.
In full disclosure, I've never tried my hand at Tenkara fishing. Looking this website over, I'm going to have to give it a shot. Don't be surprised if you see me offering rods for Tenkara in the future. Of course, if any of you Tenkara anglers want to talk to me about making a rod for this style of fishing, I'd love to hear your input!!
Please, visit Tenkara Fly Shop.
Essentially, the same skills you use to read the water on any trout stream are the same ones you'll use on a smaller stream. By "reading the water", we mean that you're making an interpretation of where the trout will be in the stream & how the water is flowing. You're making a judgement about what's happening below the water's surface & how your line will drift; & so how you should present your fly to the fish. In other words, you're making an educated guess about the elements you can't see based on those that you can. There have been entire books written on the subject of reading water. While I won't even attempt to cover the many aspects of this skill that takes years of experience to develop, I would like to point out a few things about it concerning smaller streams.
It may sound silly to say, but reading water on a small stream is the same as on larger ones, except everything is smaller & more close in to you. Pools, runs, etc will be smaller, but so will your target area for your line & where the trout are holding. You'll have less time & less area to get your line drifting exactly as you want over the fish.
Another problem is that on some smaller waters, trout tend to pile up in greater numbers in the same location. They might not be as spread out as on larger rivers. Since the trout have less optimum places for food & shelter on smaller streams, it's a good chance that where you find one, there will be another. Trout aren't schooling fish, but many times they cluster together at the fewer decent spots that small streams offer. The trick here is to not frighten all of them when you hook into the first trout.
Because of this, you might find trout hiding in places you wouldn't normally consider. Every under-cut in the bank, every brush or root sticking out into the water (even shallow water) becomes a potential place to find trout. I wouldn't pass up any stretch of broken water or riffles on a small stream either. With such fewer good places along a small stream, trout will take whatever cover they can get.
The trout will sometimes hold out longer on smaller waters through the season. However, certain conditions have to be in place for this to happen. A heat wave can be devastating to trout in these streams. So when fishing later in the summer season, choose streams that have a lot of trees covering it, deep pools, & especially the places downstream of where a natural spring enters the creek.
Wading in & around small streams can be dangerous, if you don't know the area. Many of those that run through pastures have steep banks. The ground may not always be stable around the bank, so never stand on the edge. It could be a long way down to a hard, wet landing. Streams flowing through swamps & wetlands may very well have places of quicksand. Getting stuck in quicksand is no joking matter. I know anglers who have & they'll tell you how scary it is. More than a few anglers have died in quicksand, so please, be careful of it. Simple mud in & along the stream can be a problem too. Many times it's very deep & thick along small streams & it's depth can be deceiving. Try one foot at a time & always remember to leave yourself a way out.
Of course, you're fishing in tighter quarters, so you have to be careful not to spook the fish. Every move you make will be magnified & easily noticed by the trout. Go slowly, keep a low profile, & try not to kick out rocks or make a lot of noise with your feet. Quietly & gently shifting your feet to move around is the way to go here. So what if it takes a little longer to get into position?
Lastly, always bring a good working flashlight with you, especially to those streams that flow through the woods. After a fun day of fishing, you don't really want getting back to your vehicle in one piece before they send the search party for you to have been the biggest challenge of the day!!!
You can't cast properly in many places along a bushy tree covered small stream. A back cast becomes impossible with so many obstacles. Many times your back will be right up against the brush. So you have to roll cast quite a bit. Practicing this cast ahead of time is a good idea if you're not familiar with it.
While fishing small streams with a lot of cover, you won't be casting long distances. Your main concern is accuracy So, learning how to roll cast accurately in short distances is a benefit. Often in these streams trout will be hiding under cover such as a sunken log, roots, or an undercut bank. You'll probably have to get close to where the trout are to have any chance of getting your line to where they are - 10 to 20 feet, maybe.
If you're after trout below the surface, you must get your fly to sink quickly. Adding weight to your leader (split-shot, etc) will be necessary. This can make casting more difficult, but only if you let it. The weight on your leader can make it easier for you to feel the end of your leader & feel how far out your fly is traveling. If you feel it going out too far, you can adjust in mid-cast by pulling the line back towards you with your non-casting hand. Remember, you're roll casting only a very short distance. Having the weight on your leader can help you shoot the line out a little better on short roll casts, especially because you're not concerned with back casts or having the line in the air at all.
You may also have to use a "flick" or "switch" cast. This is a lot like a side-ways roll cast. For a downstream cast, if you stand facing the far bank,you essentially pull the line & wit the rod upstream. When you've pulled enough line in to make a cast, move your rod slightly in the downstream direction so that the line & rod form the shape of a "D" (or backward "D", depending on which direction the water is flowing). Then flick, or roll cast the line out to where you want it. This technique is especially useful on faster moving water in places where you can't get the line back in a good position for a regular roll cast. Remember, the line goes where you point the rod tip (hopefully), so stop the rod tip somewhere in front of you or you'll end up tangled in the bushes directly downstream from you. Practice this sideways roll casting on more open water first. It's very easy to tangle your line around your rod while performing this cast.
If you end up in spot where you can use a back cast, but are worried about getting your back cast through a tight opening in the trees, etc make sure you position your self correctly. You want the opening in the cover to be directly over the shoulder of your casting hand. Then, when making your back cast, make sure you send it directly over your shoulder. Keep your arm & wrist straight. You've got to be careful not to roll your rod away from your body on the back cast or you'll end up tangled in the trees along the stream bank behind you.
You might also find a part of the stream so tight & covered with growth that you can't even get to the bank to cast. Here you will have to hold your rod out, through, or over the bushes, etc at a steep angle & let your line down onto the water. You can "dap" or move your fly along the surface to fool active trout or simply allow the current to take your line down into the cover where the trout are feeding. Be careful if you do hook up with a fish. You'll need a way to land it. It's best to plan all this out before you put your line on the water!!
If you're fishing wide open streams with no obstacles (like those flowing through a pasture), roll casting might not even be an option for you. What you really have to concerned with in these situations is being spotted by the trout. Stay far away from the stream bank & keep a low profile. You might find yourself on one knee a few feet back from the stream bank casting towards the stream. In this position it's a neat trick to allow your cast to come down on both the water & the land between you & the stream. Of course, you can only do this if casting to a small spot of water, bringing your fly down right on top of a feeding fish. With some of your line laying on the ground in front of you, you'll have hardly any drift before before drag sets in. This is a good, fast action, dry fly method that is an absolute thrill if you hook a fish this way.
Overall, fishing on small streams forces you to get creative with your casting. You will get your line tangled in the bushes & trees, - even the best anglers do. But with creativity, practice, & patience it will happen less often.
The Pliant Rod
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