Profound Influence

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

On a variety of internet forums, members routinely post questions asking something to the effect “How did you get started fly fishing”? I don’t think my story is that unusual except for that obscure book my mother bought me when I was just getting started. At the young age of 14 I learned some basic fly tying skills and had the good fortune to be tutored in fly casting by some old gents at the Pasadena Casting Club in SoCal. My teenage years were not the most productive from a fly fishing standpoint because of where I lived and other pursuits. I did make a few trips into the Sierra’s and caught plenty of fish on the fly, but it wasn’t until I returned from my first overseas Air Force tour in Vietnam in 1970 that fly fishing became a regular part of my life.

I was 22 years old, on my own in the Air Force and now stationed in Western Washington. With a steady income and little else to worry about, fly fishing opportunities seemeed to be around every corner in the lakes and rivers of Washington State. It was still the era of fiberglass rods and discretionary funds allowed the purchase of a nice Fenwick five weight rod and Medalist reel, an outfit I still have today. It didn’t take too long for me to become a reasonably successful fly angler, something I attribute in no small part to that obscure little book my mother bought me when I was 14.

The book, entitled: Worming and Spinning for Trout (1959) by Jerry Woods is a mere 156 pages of pure trout fishing wisdom and makes but fleeting references to fly fishing. However in an era with no internet, no videos and few fly shops, its lessons became a valuable piece of my angling education. Why my mother chose that book, I’ll never know, but its words of wisdom have had and continue to have a profound influence on my angling success. I still have my copy and read various chapters occasionally to refresh my skills.

Worming was a popular technique on hard fished brown trout streams in Western New York in the mid-20th century. This wasn’t worm dunking, but instead the skillful dead drifting of small live worms through challenging lies on heavily pressured streams for wary brown trout. A technique remarkably similar to today’s nymphing techniques. The author goes into great detail on the intricacies of worming, punctuated with interesting stories of days on the stream as he and his buddies tried to perfect the worming technique. In the 1950s, success on the trout stream was measured by the weight of your creel and limits taken at the end of day. On hard fished streams, success was gained through stealth, accurate presentations and keen observation. Success today depends on the same skills even though the days of heavy creels and limits taken are long gone.

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Veterans Day – Celebrate A Veteran

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force Retired

As the Veterans Service Coordinator on the board of the Madison-Gallatin Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the summer of 2020 proved to be an impossible challenge. Despite plans for a summer full of TU sponsored veterans fly fishing events, most veterans clubs and groups either shutdown or severely limited activities due to the COVID situation. Fortunately, our chapter’s November meeting fell on Veterans Day and the loosening of meeting restrictions gave us the opportunity to do something veterans related. It fell to me to get something organized and my thoughts immediately went to the few veterans I know here in SW Montana involved in the Fly Fishing industry. One of those veterans is Chris Fleck—guide, outfitter, fly shop owner, active TU member and more importantly a retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel of 23 years’ service. Here’s his story.

Born and raised in the San Diego area, he grew up a Boy Scout, experiences he credits a lot for his love of the outdoors. Fortunate to have relatives in SE Wyoming, Chris spent summers on a working ranch and grew to understand and appreciate the wilds of Wyoming and Montana.  After high school he attended and graduated from the University of California Berkley with a degree in Economics. It was the late 1970s and like many graduates, Chris really hadn’t figured out what he wanted to do with his life. After working some on the Wyoming ranch, Chris went out on a limb and began exploring military service.  For a variety of reasons he settled on the Marine Corps and in 1978 was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry.  Over the course of his career, he commanded Headquarters, Rifle and Weapons companies of 125-150 marines and served overseas on sea duty in the Western Pacific, on Okinawa and in Somalia.  He also served as a battalion and regimental operations officer as well as the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Houston ,Texas. He is a graduate of the Naval War College, receiving a Masters Degree in National Security Strategy. After retiring in 2001, Chris decided to settle in Columbus, Montana along the banks of the Yellowstone and Stillwater rivers.

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The Skinny Humpy

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

I can claim no credit for the name as other tiers have coined the name “Skinny Humpy” for sparsely tied Humpies. As we all know the Humpy is a popular fly, especially for fast pocket water. The buoyancy of the deer or elk hair and heavily hackled front end are its key defining attributes. Paul Beel wrote a nice post a few years back about the pedigree of the Humpy.

Of course the downside of the Humpy is that it is not an easy tie, especially in smaller sizes. There are any number of You Tube videos and fly publication articles that tout easy methods of tying the Humpy. My favorite is Charlie Craven’s “Craven’s Easy Humpy”, (Jan 2016, Fly Fisherman). His method employs tape to tame unruly hair during the tying process. Still tedious to get a well-constructed fly. I needed to tie up a bunch of small Humpies for this summer on the Gibbon (June) and Upper Ruby (July). These fast water, turbulent streams were the perfect for the buoyant Humpy.

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