Tag Archives: fly fishing advice

The Value of Keeping a Journal

Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody WY, Former National Park Superintendent

As a 12-year-old school boy trapper during the 1948 season a professional trapper was teaching me to trap furbearing animals. He also taught me to keep careful records of my observations, which sets were more productive than others and to maintain those notes forever. Over the years I collected numerous journals of my observations and success or failures on the trapline, hunting, the foods preferred by animals, fishing flies that appeared more productive than others and experiences of fishing in western and central Pennsylvania from 1948 to 1955, during three summers in the northern Adirondacks of my college years, during the years I fished in Yellowstone, the five years I fished the east side drainages of the North Cascades and almost nine years I was in central Alaska.

I had occasion to review those numerous journals of observations I wrote about during a recent research project that involved bison and wild horses. This is when I noticed my records indicated that there were some dry flies that were consistently productive in all the waters I fished from Pennsylvania, the Rocky Mountains, the North Cascades of Washington and Alaska. more…

Get Side Tracked

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

In railroad parlance, being side-tracked means you’ve been shunted off the main line onto a siding so that the fast trains can get by. As a noun, sidetrack is commonly known as a “minor path or track”. Although on the river, we anglers know it is easy to get “sidetracked” by all manner of things. Wildlife, tangles, weather, bugs, agonizing over fly selection, cold fingers, you name it. When your fly isn’t in or on the water, you’ve been side-tracked. However, getting side-tracked by an actual sidetrack can be a good thing.

A large majority of our larger Montana rivers have natural sidetracks that can be taken advantage of in the right circumstances. In fact, in my angling experience, rivers in the Southeast and Atlantic coast (as do most large to medium sized rivers anywhere) have sidetracks. In my experience, river sidetracks take on two forms, both equally valuable to the angler. The most obvious is the small natural channel that leaves the mainstem and flows some distance before returning to the main river—the true “side channel.”. The other is the natural trench or trough that lies adjacent to the main flow, but is separated by shallow areas. In both these cases, the sidetracks can be identified by the presence of an island of sorts that separates the minor flow from the mainstem. In rivers where the flow regime varies seasonally from runoff, the flow in these sidetracks varies as well. From an angling standpoint, sidetracks should be approached just as you would a small stream, because in fact, that’s exactly what they are. more…

Observations from the West Branch of the Delaware

Guest Blogger: Brian Sausner

I may not be a great fly fisherman but I’m pretty sure I know a few, and I’m definitely sure I try to talk less and listen more when they talk shop. On a recent trip with some solid guys a few words of wisdom stuck with me. I have rounded up a few observations from a visit to the selective West Branch of the Delaware and its outstanding dry fly water to share with the blog readers. I have always been a guy who will quit a fish after a certain amount of refusals and fly changing. Saying to myself “I don’t have it” or find fault with my presentation or the circumstances impacting it. This guy was a preaching the opposite and had the on water chops that made me listen. He said never leave a rising fish. Don’t assume that there will be more fish working later or the conditions will improve as you move up or down stream. This same gentleman preached letting the fly drag or sink after its drifted feeling that some fish follow it back and take it at the instance where drag begins in fear of losing the meal. The drag free drift is my personal religion more often than not but I do agree that the half drowned dun can be a great fly for fickle fish.

Another solid fisherman and fly tier stocked up heavy on emerger hooks when we got rained off the river and had a fly shop day. He spoke highly of his affection for the BWO emerger as a pattern for selective trout and stated that he ties mostly emergers these days anyway. I have also been moving to more and more emergers and flies with trailing shucks in place of tails. I had my best luck on a hair wing emerger pattern even when the duns were on the water. I confess that the BWO is a fly that I keep stocked but seldom go to in times of failure. As a fly tier I found it useful and semi inspiring when I got a chance to look at what the other fisherman had brought to the stream in their fly boxes. The trip rained out for the second half but I added a few ideas to my tying arsenal. I was glad that people stuck around the cabin despite the bad conditions, maybe it’s not always best to run home to chores and work when talking around the fire is all that the trip has left to offer.