In case you haven't noticed, there is a big push in certain industries—the outdoor industry in particular—to get back to producing wares in the good 'ol U.S. of A. Not long ago I found out that Cabela's was signing on for the movement with plans to introduce an American-made fly rod and reel series. Ray Zink, Cabela's Flyfishing Manager, told me the time seemed right, so the brand partnered with a small rod manufacturer based in the Pacific Northwest. The result is the American Dream rod series, and the WLz reel series, which is also produced state-side and designed by Waterworks-Lamson. I got my hands on a test combo so I could "live the dream," if you will.
Though I get all fuzzy inside when a trout sips a dry fly or slurps a nymph on the swing, I will take the crushing blow of a big brownie slamming a streamer over the more dainty stuff any day. And the bigger and uglier the streamer, the more pumped I am to throw it. That's why I'm really digging Thomas Harvey's Trophy Wife...which just so happens to be tied in this video by Brian Weiss with help from his real trophy wife. Granted, there's about $40 worth of material in this bug, but it's dead sexy and there will be some Trophy Wives in my flybox before my next visit to the river. I particularly like this tying video because of the clear, concise portrayal of each material and step. Yeah, that's it. Let's go with that. Have a great weekend.
Some of my best trout fishing has always been done sitting down. That’s mostly because I try to watch a piece of water for a while before actually starting to fish. I can often do that as well sitting instead of standing. For that same reason, many of my favorite trout pools have a flat rock somewhere along the shoreline that invites sitting, relaxing, and watching attentively.
I have at times shared such places with others. There are fond memories of sitting on a bench along Pennsylvania’s fabled Letort Spring Run, watching and waiting for trout to rise. They were Charlie Fox’s benches, which he built behind his house for trout watching. Back in the 1970s, he’d sometimes see me there and come out to sit along side, visiting while all the while watching for fish.
Western Maryland may not be known as a trophy trout haven, but if you find yourself on Route-81 coming from Pennsylvania or West Virginia and itching to fish, stop in at Beaver Creek Fly Shop in Hagerstown, MD, and chat with shop owner and guide James Harris (below, showing me the ropes). I happened to be in the area last weekend and saw the opportunity to get some more fly fishing hours under my belt and possibly hook a wild brown or two in Beaver Creek—a limestoner that's known for offering year-round opportunity to flycasters. What I got was my first lesson in the challenges of a small, clear eastern creek.
Since I first picked up a fly rod last September, the few places I've fished offered plenty of backcast room. That luxury helped me get comfortable casting pretty fast, as did the chance to take a 30-mile float on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. Covering that much water forced me to cast over and over for days and to choose target spots quickly as we drifted past. But the conditions at Beaver Creek caught me off guard.
There is a really good article posted on the website of the Alaska's Peninsula Clarion about tips for getting young people started in fly tying. In it, author Brian Smith interviews area flyfishermen and fly shop owners to get their pointers, a lot of which make sense. As a few examples, guide Nick Ohlrich suggests starting with flies that don't imitate something too specific, such as a flesh fly instead of stonefly nymph. Guide Lee Kuepper says beginners should start with a kit rather than get overwhelmed by choosing individual materials. It's worth a read, but it made me think of which patterns I'd start with if I had to teach someone to tie.
Ok, before you judge this video, I urge you to give it a minute. The longer I watched the more I laughed to myself, because there are at least 10 phrases uttered by mock fly fishing guide Hank Patterson that I have heard real fly guides say to me on numerous occasions. Pretty spot-on impression of "that guide." How many of you have fished with a dude like this?
I have never been a huge fan of pre-matched rod-and-reel combos. I guess that's because I prefer to pair those items on my own, ensuring I like the way they feel together and being confident the set-up is fit to do exactly what I want it to do. That being said, the new Pocket Water from L.L. Bean is the first combo that is making me eat my words, and I think it's because what they've done is create a quality outfit that fills a void in many flycasters' arsenals at a pretty good price.
A kayak is one answer to crowded trout streams. Last week, while camping and fishing in northern New Hampshire, I was discouraged to find three or four vehicles at every riverside access. So Mrs. Merwin and I loaded our kayaks in the truck and headed into the backcountry.
It was a great choice, despite--or perhaps because of--some rough woods roads we bumped along on our way to various remote ponds. Being able to soak up the September sun while casting for brook trout (which is what I’m doing in the photo) was pure pleasure. And best of all, there was nobody else around.
When I think of September trout fishing, I think of blue-winged olives (BWOs). The tiny little mayflies are ubiquitous wherever trout are found in moving water. Hatches seem most abundant on the gray, drizzly afternoons that seem most typical of this month. It’s a great time to be flyfishing.
I’ll be doing just that up north next week, and so I started to check my fly supply. Some of my little BWO dries are shown in the photo, along with a dime for scale. Yes, they’re tiny--generally size 20 on down to some 26s. And yes, they require 6X or sometimes even 7X tippet. In recent years, I’ve had the devil’s own time trying to tie one of those little things to a leader. I just can’t see that well anymore.