Tag Archives: fly fishing tips

Averting Doom – Part 2

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

Part I of this article dealt with wading mishaps. Part II will discuss other risks.

Myself, if I ever actually took a swim while wading, I’d be thinking, “Now keep yer head. Avoid the primary catastrophe here. People have gotten wet before…no biggie. That fly box I just dropped can be replaced…I can ruin my electronic car keys and camera and phone…all replaceable…my waders can fill and drag me down and I can go unconscious and end up miles downstream with amnesia…I can even never come up at all and wind up a statistic in tomorrow’s newspaper…all that I can accept. What I can’t accept is if I break this fine hand-made fly rod.”

So keep the wand above your head, or toss it out in the water in front of you, or flip around and splash down nose-to-sky. Just don’t land on the rod.

Figure 2

Gear risks are common in gear-intensive sports, and the finer the gear the more nervous we get. Among the most common risks I’ve fallen prey to is hiking down riverside paths to a likely or favorite hole and finding myself being lightly caressed by briars. It’s not a big deal until I realize there’s now a leak in my prized waders. It’s worth carrying a stick to ensure a clear path, or failing that, to carefully “walk down” those wispy briar branches until there’s zero chance of getting grabbed by one. But then don’t make the mistake of thinking later that the path is clear on your return hike! Other anglers may have come by, and even if not, briar branches have a way of getting themselves back up across paths, like sinister spider webs intent on snaring a hapless fisherman. more…

Averting Doom – Part 1

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

I sit here recalling with an occasional shudder the close calls I’ve had while fly fishing–situations either foreseeable or unexpected that could have been very bad. I thought I’d recall a few of them here.

Naturally risk to self outweighs risk to gear, and as a wading angler most of what I’ve come up against involves danger of drowning. I drove from Ohio to the American west coast as a college student once, got myself up into the High Sierra, and found a little trout stream near a campground. I could see the small pebbles on the bottom so clearly that I knew it was only a foot or so deep, so despite its swiftness I donned my four-dollar vinyl waders and stepped off the bank. And I was in no way a stranger to the wild, or to Mother Nature, either, yet still I was caught by complete surprise that the shallow clear water was actually at least eight feet deep, and that those pebbles were boulders far down below me. “Where the @!*%[email protected] did the bottom go…I was aimin’ right for it, how could I have missed?!” I thought as I went in over my wader tops, saving myself from a brutal flume ride down a swift narrow mountain gorge by clinging to some thorny briars that had thankfully elected to hang over the edge right there. A bad experience turned into no more than a night of shivering in an open-air sleeping bag and a couple of bloodied-by-briars hands to remind me that I was in The West, dang it, where water was clearer than Ohio’s air.

Figure 1

As I wised up (across decades, I admit), and especially now that I’ve spent the last few years teaching my child fly fishing and wading…and thinking about the perils in a more serious way, I found that the primary risks to taking a swim while wading are: more…

Indicator-less-ness…ism…and Stiffing Fish

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

There was a time when the strength of a tippet was traded off to gain invisibility. The thicker the business end of a leader, the more it was feared it would alert fish to its presence. With the advent of latest technology fishing lines and fluorocarbon in particular, that trade-off has somewhat diminished in importance. Anglers still opt for fine tippets, but the reason is more one of allowing a wet fly or nymph to move naturally in subtle micro-currents. We’re logically less concerned about invisibility and more focused on the perfect drift. Even some of the wariest and most particular fish species, such as steelhead, are routinely pursued using 1x tippets, and sometimes even thicker.

Being drift-conscious, we still seek limp material…and we also keep an eye on abrasion resistance. But there are intentionally stiffer monos and fluorocarbons out there, often aimed at saltwater fishing (and themselves highly abrasion resistant)…and they offer us fresh-water-ers an interesting option. Let me explain:

I nearly always fish downstream — I break with the reigning wisdom. Why? I like to swing wet flies. The tight line when I get a strike telegraphs the impulse back to me, and it’s an addictive thing. I’ll cast above myself in the flow but generally only to give the fly time to sink. More often than not my cast is just roughly across, and as it swings below me I “work” the fly to coax strikes, eventually bringing it back up toward myself in short slow strips, in the seam between the downstream laminar flow and some near-side slack eddy. I’ll position myself directly ABOVE the water I intend to fish, rather than below, and work the pool below the riffle thoroughly, in progressive arcs with a little change in line length each iteration.

It’s a good (and old-time) way to fish, and I love it, but one unfortunate fallout of doing it so often is that my abilities to detect a strike when my fly is drifting down from upstream of me have degraded over the years. I just rarely do it, and since I watch the line instead of using bobbers, my upstream subtle strike detection skills have slowly suffered. more…