Monday, October 28, 2013

Wondering Where We've Gone?

There comes a time when personal outlooks and business announcements need to have some distance between them...  we've done just that with our other site that shows April's personal posts and travel schedule.

Feel free to have a sneak peek and please take note that we will be in Arkansas this weekend, Montana the next, and back in Chilliwack the third week of November where we invite you to our place at the Fraser River's Edge for our annual tying night!

Please email to book.
Thank you for your business!

Monday, October 14, 2013

What's In A Cast?

For a sport so consistently full of inconsistency, it is a wonder why we as steelheaders put so much emphasis on the perfectly sculpted cast.
As irregular as the conditions that we come to expect during steelhead season, so are the anglers who come along with it.  
With variety vast enough to shame a box of assorted chocolates, each angler not only fishes differently from the other, but also casts with their own flavor as well.  

There are those who are more concerned with their cast than their hookup ratio, those who are just thankful to land their fly in the water, those who are talented at both casting and fishing... heck, there are even those who are happy to simply sneak a moment out of the house!

I remember the times where insecurity with my own casting ability on a spey rod plagued my days and stirred my wits when brought into question.  
Perturbed by a collapsed loop or a tailed sink tip, I would mutter profanities, strip in my running line and recast it "properly”.  
Casting solely in vain, It wasn't until the day that I came to appreciate my accumulated experience as an angler rather than a caster, that I simply stopped caring about the aesthetics of my yellow floating line and began to let even the poorest of casts fish themselves out.  
Naturally it was no surprise that my catch rate skyrocketed... for it doesn't take a specialist to summarize that the more time a fly is left in the water, the more opportunity it has to catch a fish.

Matt Harris 'silly face' photo.

Today, as the years quickly pass, I am fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time with other anglers where, as a guide, it is my job to observe and recognize commonalities amongst my guests.  
Bluntly put, I can honestly announce that there is a 50/50 split between the anglers who can cast with competency and those who need a little aid.  From where I stand, as long as the fly is able to make it from the shore to the main current, I am content to sit back and watch the day unfold, regardless of how talented the flies’ delivery is.

Now before I elaborate further on my personal viewpoint of the infamous casting snobbery, please allow me to open my argument with a minor disclaimer on such.

I will be the first to admit that it is beneficial to all parties to spend the day’s hours used productively in an attempt to try and understand the mechanics of an efficient cast.

To say that the cast and its form are trivial details would be incorrect and irresponsible of me, as a knowledgable caster is far more comfortable in the imperfect and highly probable scenarios of pesky winds, heavy hardware, overhanging trees and riverbank obstructions.  
Further, this column is only in reference to steelhead fishing and the double hander as I will argue that the casting ability of a saltwater angler on a single hand fly rod is absolutely crucial to the success of sight-fishing productivity.

Now moving forward, it is a phrase that I use daily when an angler turns to me with an embarrassed grin and a desperate plea that I allow them to recast a collapsed delivery; “even bad casts catch good fish!” I remind them while I watch them squirm as their itchy fingers fight from pulling their running line back in.
Truth be told, I have seen damned near as many fish hooked on poor casts as I have on immaculate ones and it was inevitable that I started to wonder why.

I have always liked to say that there are three types of anglers; there are the ones who can cast, the ones who can fish, and the ones who can do both.  It is the multi-talented folk out there who I try not to fish behind...

Often, the creme do la creme of the casting world are eager to wet a long line and, tromping out to the middle of the river, they cast far and away from the nearby seam that the fish are holding in.  Angled downstream, they often swing their fly too far, too quick and too unfocused to demand any attention from migrating steelhead.  These are my favorite people to fish behind as they are beautiful to watch, perfect for learning casting tips, and are incredibly courteous as they leave plenty of steelhead untouched for those of us willing to fish in close for laying players.

Adrienne Comeau photo.
Then there are the anglers who don’t even pretend to know how to do a left hand up snakeroll at 150 feet.  More concerned by how their fly looks after it is in the water, these are the anglers who have put their time in understanding water hydraulics, fish behavior and maximum efficiency.  Limited at times by large rivers and other barriers, these anglers try to make up for their lack of distance by applying their “fishy” sense throughout the entirety of their day on the water.

Naturally, as mentioned previously, there are those who possess all of these great qualities... this comes with time, experience, true dedication and a little natural talent.

In a world where internet and faceless critiques so openly disregard and maim an imperfect caster, those of you who know me and this column by now should not be surprised that I must come to the defense of the anglers out there who are insecure with their rod handling.

In my observations, a collapsed cast often lands in a pile where it is given the ability to sink deeper than if it were to be cast on a taut line.  This is quite often beneficial when steelheading and there is nothing as priceless as the surprised look on an angler’s face when their self-demeaning criticisms are rewarded by a hooked fish.
In the single hand world, we often use a cast called a “pile cast” where the line is deliberately crumbled to allow for a dead drift... in the Spey world, we call it an error but if the steelhead are responsive to it, I much prefer to call it success.

Additionally, there are often conditions that push fish close to the shore.  Colored water and poor visibility will drive both migrating and holding fish in closer to the riverbank.  I have witnessed countless occasions where an angler casting no further than fifteen feet has been the top rod of the day.  
Granted there is always a way to take things too far, and while I am by no means necessary suggesting that new anglers dump copious amounts of line into holding pools while hoping for a flossed fish, I am very much encouraging all anglers to have enough confidence to allow a messy cast to find its rhythm with the current, working its wonders through the underwater obstacle course of rocks.
While the river surges, so do the hydraulics of the flow and it is never a guarantee how each landed fly will be manipulated by the current.  What is certain though, is that it will eventually straighten and it may just be the perfect pairing for a hungry fish.

My opinions on the aforementioned is exactly that, my opinion.  
And while there will always be those who argue that a perfectly composed cast is of the utmost importance to catch that fish of a lifetime, I will undeniably stand by my debate that a fly spent mostly in the air does no more than catch the attention of a passerby and quite possibly, an ear or two.

Fish can’t tell what goes on above the water’s surface but they sure are keen on what goes on below it and the last I checked, a fly in the water caught more fish than one that wasn’t.
Please fish out your casts and when you look around before recasting a “failed” loop, I will hope that you will hear my voice in your ear, reminding you that you are doing great and that “even bad casts catch truly awesome fish.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One Stepper Stackers are on the Way!

Introducing the new most versatile tubes I could conjure up; the One Step Stacker. 
Stack on one, two or five of them if you'd like and easily switch up weight, size and color by just adding or removing the steppers from your leader. 
Anyone who has taken my tying class is familiar with my 'one and two steppers'. 
Montana Fly Company just bought this pattern and it should be in stores soon. In the meantime, please order through
Thanks for having a look!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Last Minute Openings on the Skeena!

We still have a few openings left for the Skeena this Fall! October 20th-26th and Oct. 27th - Nov. 2nd.

For more information visit:

Email for more details or to book!

Thank you for your business!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Priced To Sell!

All of our t-shirts on the cart are priced to move!  Only $9.99 per shirt!  Don't miss out!  Stock won't last long...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Little Clarity...

He stared at me vacantly, his back hunched over, arms in an awkward fold, bottom hand lingering uncertain on the butt of his Spey rod.
"The what?!"  He asked, squinting his eyes as though I had just demanded him to perform some sort of risqué musical striptease.
I laughed and repeated myself, “The dangle!  Let your fly hit a true dangle...”

I stumbled over the rocks to reach close proximity to his ears and proceeded to explain what I was asking of him.  Throwing his head back in a relieved smile he proceeded to apply my instruction to his cast and increased his productivity tenfold.

It is a regular occurrence for a full-time guide; a guest who isn’t up to date on the latest fishing lingo bears minor confusion as a nine hour day laced with steelhead terminology unfolds, reminding them that there’s always more to learn.

It can be intimidating to some, confusing to others, and just downright annoying to many people who are trying to get into the steelhead game.  So with this awareness, I have drawn up some simple definitions for basic terms that you may run into during your next venture to the river.

Anchor:  The portion of fly line, sink tip, or leader that is touching the water during the sweep and backstroke in Spey casting.  The anchor provides “stick” caused by water tension so that the line will not jump out of the water during the D-Loop.  If the anchor is “blown” the line and fly will leave the water causing a failed cast.

Bloody L:  A common Spey casting error in which the D-Loop fails to align the anchor parallel to the forward cast; the name derives from the typical layout of the line in an “L” shape on the water when this occurs.  The result is a forward cast that lacks energy to roll over properly.  This is typically caused by setting the anchor in an improper position prior to the sweep, or an incomplete or shortened sweep which fails to carry enough energy into the D-Loop.  

Boot/Tomato:  A steelhead that has been in freshwater for a significant length of time and has taken on a darker, rainbow trout coloration.  The term is usually used in a derogatory manner.

Bucket:  A particular location in which steelhead often lie.  Can vary with river conditions and is usually quite specific.  Oftentimes, a run will have one or two “buckets” that consistently produce steelhead due to structure or bottom configuration.

Cack Handed:  A cast in which the D-Loop is formed on the side opposite one's primary shoulder while maintaining a hand configuration that puts their strong hand up on the grip still.  For example, if a right-handed angler performed a cast in which the D-Loop formed on the left shoulder while still gripping the rod with the right hand above the left hand he/she would be casting cack handed.  Also referred to as “reverse” as in Reverse Snap-T.

Carrying a Loop:  An excess length of line that is loosely held between the cork and the reel while swinging a fly.  The length is largely a function of personal preference and varies from several inches to a foot or more.  The concept being that the loosely held length of line will be pulled taut when a steelhead takes, thus preventing an excited angler from yanking the fly away from an interested fish in an attempt to set the hook.

Clipped:  A term used to indicate that the adipose fin of a fish has been removed meaning that the fish is of hatchery origin. 

Chrome(r): A fresh steelhead that lacks the traditional rainbow trout coloration. As a steelhead spends more time in freshwater it takes on a darker hue.  Steelhead anglers generally prefer catching bright steelhead as they are at the peak of physical condition having just entered freshwater from the ocean.

D-Loop:  The D-Loop is the “backcast” in Spey casting.  It is the semi-circular length of line that unfurls behind the angler prior to commencing the forward stroke.  The name comes from the shape the line takes when viewed in profile.

Dangle (or Hang Down):  When an angler allows their fly to complete its swing but leaves it to hang parallel to the shore in either the current or the slower water for a few seconds.  Fish often bite flies on the dangle or follow them from the main current and finally take the fly after the swing is completed.  When the water is murky, it is quite common for fish to push in closer to shore to escape the heavier, sediment carrying main flow, making the dangle even more important in this scenario.

Grab/Pull/Pluck:  An event in which a steelhead has intercepted a swung fly but typically has not been hooked.  The phrase “any grabs?” is often used in river-side chats in substitution of the more direct “catch anything?”

Hen/Buck: Terms used to describe the gender of a steelhead.  The most common method of discerning is by looking at the head of the fish.  Bucks (males) have longer snouts and mandibles, whereas hens (females) have shorter snouts and mandibles.

Kelt:  A steelhead that has spawned and is migrating back downstream to the ocean.  Kelts are typically encountered in the late-spring and early summer period.  It is recommended that fishing for kelts is avoided.

Low-Hole:  When an angler steps into a run and begins fishing below you without permission.  Since steelhead anglers typically work their way downstream, proper etiquette dictates that anglers start in above anyone already fishing a run.  Low-Holing is frowned upon virtually everywhere steelhead swim.

Overhang:  The length of running line that is extending out the tip of the rod while casting.  This is largely a personal preference and typically varies from almost nothing to a foot or more.

Pocket Picked:  A scenario in which another angler hooks a steelhead in water you have just recently fished.  Most commonly used in the context of swinging flies in a run with multiple anglers.

Running Line:  A thinner, consistent diameter line attached behind the belly or head of a line.  There are several types of running line available including monofilament, braided, and plastic coated fly line type.

Scandi:  Short for Scandinavian.  A shooting head typically in the 30 to 40 foot length range with a long front taper.  While not particularly effective at casting large flies or sink tips, Scandi lines have gained popularity as an easy casting summer/fall steelhead spey line.

Skagit:  A short and heavy shooting head used in spey casting that is usually 20 to 30 feet long.  Developed in the Pacific Northwest for casting large, heavy steelhead flies with sinktips.  Often used for winter steelhead fishing.

Steelhead Green:  A term used to describe a river with a greenish water color that typically indicates ideal water conditions for encountering steelhead.

Stinger Hook: A hook added to the back of a fly.  Stinger hooks are commonly seen on streamer patterns and on modern steelhead flies.  They provide several advantages over more traditional “J-Hooks”, particularly on large flies.  The positioning of the hook at the rear of the fly typically results in an increased percentage of hook-ups, allows the use of smaller hooks that are less damaging to fish, provides the ability to swap hooks when one becomes dull and lessens the leverage a fish is able to apply when sideways force is applied to the hook.

Swinging:  Method of presenting a fly in which the fly is swept across the current in an arc while maintaining a taut line.  This method typically has the ability to cover more water than that of a dead-drifted presentation.

Tail:  To grab a steelhead at the “wrist” just ahead of the tail in order to land it.  Tailing a fish does not involve the use of a net.

Tank:  Usually a deeper, slower section of river.  Often holds fish but is difficult to effectively present a swung fly in.

“Touch a fish”:  To get a grab (or pull) from a steelhead.  This does not mean to physically land or touch a fish.

White Mouse:  The steady spray caused by the line being “torn” out of the water and swept into the D-Loop in a waterborne anchor cast such as a Double Spey.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Now in Stores! The Sugar Pop and Gluttonous Leech!

It's official!  My Sugar Pop and the Gluttonous Leech fly patterns are now for sale in shops!
They'll also be available on tubes in the coming future along with some new smaller scaled patterns!  Shops that currently carry them are listed below!
Please feel free to pick a few up to try for your local steelhead... I have a feeling they might work.  ;)  If you are fishing with me in BC this year... no excuses!

California Fly Shop
Fly Fishing Specialties
The Fly Shop
Kiene's Grizzly Hackle, LLC
Low Country Fly Shop
Middlebury Mountaineer
Northwest Flyfishing Outfitter
Pineville Sporting Supply
Red Shed Fly Shop
Sea Run Fly and Tackle
World  Wide Angler Outfitters

Thanks everyone!