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Wanted: Your Best Small-Stream Fly Tips for a Rookie Caster

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November 21, 2012

Wanted: Your Best Small-Stream Fly Tips for a Rookie Caster

A Guest Post by Assistant Editor Kristyn Brady

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.

The creek is only a few strides across in some places, and heavily wooded, so there’s not a lot of backcast room. Harris told me there were plenty of fish in the creek, and they’re decent sized—he has brought 26-inchers to net—but they’re spooky. That meant the first cast had to count. In fact, we crawled up to the water's edge in a few spots so our shadows wouldn't alert the fish. What gave me the most trouble was getting enough line out to make the proper cast while working sidearm, and my fly often landed just shy of the best moving water. Harris suggested that I let the current take my line downstream to load the rod, lift the tip, and flip the line directly overhead in one swift motion. My distance and accuracy improved surprisingly fast, and for the rest of the day I got the fly in the zone more often.

Unfortunately, the wild browns of Beaver Creek eluded me. I only caught a sucker, but it was a great learning experience. Being from the Northeast, where everything is more compact, I'm sure I'll end up on a stream like this again, and next time it may be without a guide. With the mechanics of a small-stream cast down, when I find myself on similar water I'll be able to spend more time picking apart seams and eddies instead of figuring out my cast.

Do you have any more small-stream tips for a rookie flycaster? I'm all ears.

Comments (58)

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from bbainbridge wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Lucky for me, I live in central Idaho, so this isn't really a problem out here. But I'd imagine a shorter flyrod would help out. Something in the 7 ft range rather than the typical 9 ft.

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from Micropterus24 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I'm sure your guide stressed this, but I believe stealth is the key to any small stream. Watch your shadows over the water, and watch were you step, they can feel the vibration when you step on a branch. Also a lot of people feel the need to be in the water all the time, if you wade into a pool, or slower moving water you'll cause ripples and spook fish. As far as casting a good roll cast can be your best friend and the softer you can land your line on the water the better. If you ever get a chance to do some small stream fly fishing in Wisconsin, I highly recommend it. Good Luck!!

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from WVOtter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I live in this region and Beaver Creek, like many in the area, can lead to more frustation than fish at times. It's a constant chess match of overhanging limbs, sharp upstream cast angles over clear water, and much more. More like fishing with a cane pole than flyrod. That's how I fish them, often I use a lob more than a cast. Not only don't you have room to properly cast, but the minimal line out allows for better drifts in the heavy eddies that are common. Also, if somehow you are in a wider spot, you're still likely to have your back against a tree or dead pine limbs over you, so false cast up and down stream, then send your delivery outward. About the only hope of getting line out w/o a snag or disruptive roll cast.

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from asmxxiv wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

There are so many different situations you can be in on a small stream, and the traditional rules are out:

What I would suggest is taking out the line (or just the leader) length that is necessary to get the fly to where you want it. Then visualize the path that line has to take in order to get the fly where you want it. It sounds simple enough, but you make just flip the line around a rhododendron, or have to bow-and-arrow cast through a tight hole. Visualizing it with the line out will help.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Don't forget the water at your feet.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Followed by teh sure to draw ire, "Dunking worms is a lot more effective than anyone likes to admit, and will outfish a fly about 8 months of the year."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Learn to roll cast.

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from benjaminwc wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

short rod, short leader, small bugs, and learn to dabble

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from Improved-clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I agree with the guide on the downstream water loading of the rod, I'll say, with any spooky fish, I try to fish as far upstream or ahead of me as possible, cast and mend quick. After the cast, if it doesn't feel right, let the drift ride it out rather than picking up the line and possibly spooking the fish.

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from tourneyking734 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

fish downstream, and don't step out into the stream. And swing streamers over just about anything else

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

1.) Position, Position, Position: In most small creeks, your waders shouldn't even get wet. Crawl along the bank or hise behind a tree, even dap your fly. Treat it like close range bow hunting.Stealth.

2.) Learn to roll cast. Go down to a pond and practice roll casting until you can do it properly without disturbing the water. Hint: Raise the rod straight up, when the body of the line passes the corner of your right eye punch you line out there and raise the rod to keep line off the water.

3.) Learn the single handed rod Spey cast techniques.

4.) Use a softer rod, they load quicker in tight quarters. Glass and Bamboo are better in these situations than a double hauling lightening fast rod.

5.) Use a heavier line than the rod is labeled. If it's a 3 weight, put a 4 or q 5 weight line on it. It will load quicker in tighter quarters.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

6.) Don't forget soft hackle flies, small streamers and wets fished down and across on a long leader so that the fish only sees the fly.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I live in PA and fish this scenario a lot. letting your line down stream to gain distance on your cast is a great way to gain distance on tight water. Roll casting is also crucial but on real small clear creeks you're more than likely going to spook fish. Rod length and weight plays a big part also. I've found a 7' 5-6 weight works best. The shorter stiffer rod gives you(me) more control with the shorter tighter casts. leader and tippet hardly ever exceed 8-9' total, also.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

thermad....NO spookin on the roll cast when you fish from above your target area, and fish downstream. My roll casting softhackles is deadly...never see the line/leader..always fly first. LOw, sidearm rolls get you under branches...should be outlawed it so deadly.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from The White Slug wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Keep your line clean with either commercial cleaner or some Armorall. Slick line GREATLY improves castability. It makes it much easier to employ the finesse needed on small water.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

For small streams, leave the fly rod at home and take a spin caster, preferably a short one (5 ft or less) that collapses and has metal eye loops. Use a coated braided line specifically designed for easy casting, about a 4ft length of tippet material between the fly and the line, and use bead head or weighted nymphs to fish deep pools and pocket water where the trout will be holed up. I cannot tell you how many trout I have caught on this exact set-up, but I would guess it would be close to 1,000.

As far as casting goes, it's a different technique. You open your spool holding the line in place with your non-casting hand, then rock the nymph back and forth above the water to gain momentum, then let go of the line and in an underhand motion flip your casting wrist for some added distance. I don't know if that makes sense, but it works. Dead drift the nymph, occasionally stripping the line as you would on a fly rod.

Fly fishing doesn't need to be done with a fly rod, and I find that the set-up and technique I just outlined are ideal for small streams.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Bio...Read the heading...it is about FLY TIPS. You can do it. Just takes a little practice, and is more fun, and a greater sense of accomplishment. Step up to the plate, and accept the challenge.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Western Maryland is becoming one of my favorite places to fish. A couple months ago I caught a bow, brown, brook and cutty from the same river on the same day.

Do not be afraid to attack the small water with a 9 foot rod.

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from Pathfinder1 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Hi...

Yes...Yes...Yes...!! DAPPLING can work wonders when a stream is lined with thicker brush...and where much of the brush is overhanging the stream.

You have to 'poke' your fly rod through the brush and let your fly gently down to touch the surface of the water.

When all else fails, it CAN work...!!

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Pathfinder...Doesn't sound like much fun to me. DAppling through the branches?..think I'd like to watch paint dry a lot more dappling.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Dappling is a blast. Sneaking among the rocks and trees to approach a hole unnoticed then being able to cast or dapple without giving away your location to a wary wild trout. Lots of fun. Closest thing to taking a deer with a longbow on foot I can find.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Great way to play fish also Buck with your rod sticking through a bunch of branches. You guys need to take a trip out West and see what fishing is all about.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

clinchknot may have overtaken sayfu as the biggest fly fishing snob on this website!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

wisc. That's an old librard strategy of attacking the messenger. Address the message, or otherwise you are just waving the white flag. Sticking your flyrod through the branches, and dappling a fly, and then having to play it if you do hook one? What if it is a decent sized fish, and runs down river? I release my trout, and would like them to swim off for someone else to catch. I think about having to land a fish, and how I will do it before I make a cast. How are you going to do it with your rod stuck between some branches? Or do you just yard in fish, and throw them up on the bank to flop around until your ready to leave?..I suspect that's the case given your stupid post.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch, Of all people, I figured you would love to showcase your casting talents on small water. Under limbs... over logs...around a rock... softly landing on a small pocket where no other man would dare cast a fly.

Always carry a net on small water. Always. Small fish need quickly cradled and returned to the water.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch sure could showcase his casting, and also tell an angler where to direct the fight, and land a fish to release it given the situation in a small stream. I'd bet that guide in the picture sure wouldn't take the client to a spot where he can stick his flyrod through the branches and dapple a fly...embarrassing to hook a decent fish in that situation. Of all people, I would think you would have realized that.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Improved-clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch, you should really Improve your attitude regarding fly fishing. You can catch fish how you want, but looking down your nose at other for catching them through branches. That just screams that you have issues. Again, just improve your attitude!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Unimprovedguy....I've guided fly anglers for years, flyfished myself for years, conducted flyfishing schools your years...never, in all my years have I seen, or even heard of someone else seeing a fly angler poking his rod tip through the branches, and "dappling" a fly." Now part of a good outdoor experience is witnessing/seeing oddball stuff like that so you can have good conversation at the watering hole after flyfishing, but it just never has happened for me.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fezzant wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

One more way, borrowed from an old cane pole guy -

Use a leader shorter than the rod. Pinch the fly between your fingers. Push the rod tip towards your target while pulling the fly back towards you to put a bend in the rod. Release the fly, and, like a slingshot, it will shoot out towards your target. Aim by pointing the rod tip just above the target before pulling on the fly.

This works only over short distances, and takes a little practice to be accurate, but if you're careful you can shoot line under overhanging branches in very tight quarters, no back cast required.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Watched Gary Borger perform that cast at a flyfishing casting site at a major sportfishing show in WA State years ago. Folks were lined along the roped off casting site. He asked the question, "WE've seen long distance casting now, and how to do it, but what if you walked down to your water, and there was a fish laying right there (just feet in front of him) How would you cast to it?...and he demonstrated that bow, and arrow cast.

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from Koldkut wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch, you seem fairly knowledgeable, where's your blog so I can follow you and learn something meaningful. Have you offered up private lessons to Kristyn since you're the man at all things fly fishing?

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Koldkut. You're a lousy commentator with little factual info to offer. I offer my opinion is all as debatable info, or info to discuss if someone would like to comment on it. I just offer insight that doesn't get brought up on a flyfishing blog when only folks like yourself make comment. If this was a good flyfishing blog that good, accomplished fly anglers frequented, I can guarantee you there wouldn't be duffus comments like you make...there would be a good exchange of flyfishing info. No one need attack the messanger like you do. I've offered you lots of meaningful info, you just seem void of being able to process it. And when I frequent good flyfishing blogs? I don't have to challenge right from wrong regarding posts that are made.

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from Koldkut wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinchknot has only been around for a few posts here, Sayfu...

Providing opinions does not leave room to challenge right and wrong, quit contradicting yourself, dude. And quit looking down your snout at everyone else who has provided their input to the blog.

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from sgtsly wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Roll, roll, roll. And a flask of peppermint schnapps.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Just take that roll cast for instance that could benefit a lot of fly anglers fishing a small stream. You can make a big open roll that a lot of beginning anglers make that gets you in all kinds of trouble in a branchy bank small confined area. And you can make a HAUL/roll where you haul the line on the roll, and tighten up the loop, and shoot line under branches...but guys like Koldkut are mre into attacking a messenger, and not improving their fly angling...an ego problem thing.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

How could we possibly go this deep into this conversation without mentioning Tenkara! The popularity of which removes all question is it here to stay.

Now that I'm thinking about, if I ever wrote a book, it would be titled "Tenkara and Schnapps" The life and times of Buckhunter. Inventor of the world famous Check Cast and Buckeye Fan.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

sgtsly, I prefer peach...

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Buck.....I thought of you early on with a Tenkera stick! HAHAHA "Why that's not a branch...that's Buckhunter concealed in the bushes, and that's his Tenkera stick!" And that could be a useful tool. I just prefer the fly to drift farther down stream than a Tenkera rod can reach plus that short line, but it sure could work. And I use to load up with those different flavored Schnapps to spike my coffee in those cold early mornings in the boat.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

clinchknot - I read the heading, and I'm an avid fly fisherman. I've tied flies professionally for years. Using hand tied flies as bait is what defines fly fishing...not the gear you use to cast. Though you might not agree with my methods, I'm betting I spend a lot less time with hang-ups in the bushes than many small stream fly fisherman.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

you are not the avid flyfishermen that I know. None of the large fraternity of fly anglers would leave their fly gear at home just because they were on a small brushy stream. They'd accept the challege. Your post hits at the heart of why flyfishing is a declining segment of fishing. New anglers want immediate success,immediate gratification, and don't accept challenges. They take the time to learn how to text message, but not the time to learn how to flyfish benefiting from adversity, and getting better. I address that notion, of "I'm a fly fisherman, but I also take my spinning gear along with me." I've seen that movie before. And no, you don't define flyfishing as just the lure. Not even the game dept does that in their definition of flyfishing waters.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch,

"buckhunter in the bushes" is a entirely different book. lol

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Fill me in. When you shake the bush what else comes out besides the Buckhunter?

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from tkbone wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Late to this one but enjoying reading the &$*$# talking! From small streams in the Appalachains for many years:

1) Use as long a leader as you're comfortable with and fish as far ahead as you can. The fish are beyond your comfort range.
2) Keep as little fly line on the water as possible with shorter casts.
3) First cast has to count. If you miss a fish, encounter drag, or throw a bad cast, move on. You are done with that pool.
4) Prepare to lose or at least have to go get numerous flies all day - and watch out for hornets' nests and other hazards in the trees!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinchknot - It's obvious that you and I have very different definitions of fly fishing, and different ways of overcoming the adversities of catching fish on flies in small streams. If you think you're a better fly fisher than I because you use a 7 to 9 ft pole and lots of roll casting, that's fine. I have nothing to prove to you or anyone else. My tactics are successful, and I thought I would share an alternative method of fly fishing with tackle the average fisherman can either afford or already has in their possession. My rig for small stream fishing is less than $75, and my creel fills up just fine. It's also packs down real nice so you can take it with you on a hike or for deep woods camping (both of which I did when I lived in the ADKs). To each their own.

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from 1ojolsen wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I'm not a purist. Go up stream, strip out sufficient line, drop your fly into the water and float your fly into the hole.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

BIOguy...success is in the mind of the beholder. For one, you have to have a flyline on your outfit fixed with a leader to be flyfishing. There are other aspects that go with the definition, but that's a starter. The fly guy doesn't enjoy flyfishing because he thinks he can be "more successful" than the spin fisherman based on numbers of fish caught. And that is just a starter as well. I don't admire being "better" than anyone. I just like to see folks take up flyfishing, and pursue the challenges, and get better at their craft. The sport sadly yearns for new members with that attitude, and not what you hear on this thread constantly.."don't worry about it..bait up, and have fun, etc., etc.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cracker81 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Wow, way to suck the fun right out of the sport of fish on the fly for a newbie guys! Remember that it's not called 'catching', it's called 'fishing'. You only need two things to be a successful fly fisher:
1) A smile on your face.
2) Enjoy all times on the water even when you don't catch because time spent is experience and you can't teach that!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Cracker....Now the reality. How many fly anglers would have fun hanging up in the bushes every cast they made? Like who cares, I'm just out here to have fun...and the guy has gone through a dozen flies, frayed an expensive flyline, and ruined several leaders...but he is having lots of fun. Fun increases as you learn what you are doing, and why these topics are posted.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

clinchknot - If your objective is to get more people interested in fly fishing, I think you're hurting your cause more than helping it by insulting people with even a remote interest in it. It's fine to have a difference of opinion, but your way of fly fishing isn't the only way to enjoy it, nor are your techniques for using flies the only techniques out there. Some folks just like wading in the stream without a care in the world, and getting away from the fast-paced life bestowed on them in the "real world." They could care less about catching a fish, and they might not use the best techniques, but they share something in common with the rest of us. They're fishermen. If you can't appreciate that, then go insult people elsewhere.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

BIO..You did have a good alternative approach, but the same type approach can be accomplished using a flyrod/outfit. It takes the person with the motivation to improve their skills, as I said. A statement I always made in my flyfishing schools, was.."the line goes where the rod tip goes, and the rod tip goes where you direct it to go." You can be incredibly creative once you learn that. And why this thread attracts so many folks to a FLYFISHING section, that promote other methods as the best methods on a FLYFISHING SECTION makes me wonder. Because no other flyfishing blog attracts so many other type of folks. It must be that the magazine, F & S is such a poor outdoor magazine, and posters relate to that. Bad info overwhelms anyone that knows anything about flyfishing. I just try to improve the caliber of info that gets presented. You did know you were on a flyfishing blog no?...and did understand the question asked in the topic no? Twer that a test question for graduation, and you went off topic like you did, you would not have graduated.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch(Sayfu), you say the mag sucks and the blog comment posters suck too, and yet, you are here with us, so you suck too. There, I said it, lets see the +'s rack up....

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch, I have personally met both Bioguy and Koldcut, as well as several other regular posters on this site. I believe you would be quite surprised as to the quality of individuals you are addressing. Koldkut is not just an avid angler but also a master rod builder. I mean the guy is damn good. Bioguy happens to work at the most prestigious whitetail research facility in the world and would put many knowledgeable whitetail hunters to shame with his knowledge.

Between the two, they supply a wealth of valuable information to this site and we all should be grateful for their contributions.

What I would like to propose, buy a plane ticket to Denver for the ISE show and meet first hand the folks you address on this site, or better yet, I'll meet you at the Dallas Safari Convention and meet some of the other guys who are regulars here. My guess is you will go back to where ever you are from with your tail between your legs.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

koldkut...You bring up a great point. Why am I here? I should have listened to Buckhunter who says the only value he gets out of many of these posts is the humor in them. I am much more interested in good information exchanged then the humor folks like you provide. I'll certainly take your comment under advisement.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Buck..You are right. This is more a friendly gathering for you few then a place where good information is provided. I've known that for sometime now. Anyone looking for good information to better themselves as to hunting and fishing sure wouldn't want to spend much time on this site. Some of the posts are beyond belief. It sure reinforces ones understanding as to why only a small percentage of folks are good at the things they do, and there is a vast wasteland of mediocrity out there...and I am being kind in saying that.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I rather like the community of folks here and have learned a lot from them over the years. Some comments are better than others. I take what I like and make it my own and ignore the stuff that's jibberish and outlandish. What might be a "vast wasteland of mediocrity" for you is a valuable resource for me and others.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I personaly like the mag, the site, and the folks that contribute in both!

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

BioGuy...OK, but why did your buddy Buckhunter say he only reads the posts for the humor in them? I can get much better humor elsewhere.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch, Of all people, I figured you would love to showcase your casting talents on small water. Under limbs... over logs...around a rock... softly landing on a small pocket where no other man would dare cast a fly.

Always carry a net on small water. Always. Small fish need quickly cradled and returned to the water.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

1.) Position, Position, Position: In most small creeks, your waders shouldn't even get wet. Crawl along the bank or hise behind a tree, even dap your fly. Treat it like close range bow hunting.Stealth.

2.) Learn to roll cast. Go down to a pond and practice roll casting until you can do it properly without disturbing the water. Hint: Raise the rod straight up, when the body of the line passes the corner of your right eye punch you line out there and raise the rod to keep line off the water.

3.) Learn the single handed rod Spey cast techniques.

4.) Use a softer rod, they load quicker in tight quarters. Glass and Bamboo are better in these situations than a double hauling lightening fast rod.

5.) Use a heavier line than the rod is labeled. If it's a 3 weight, put a 4 or q 5 weight line on it. It will load quicker in tighter quarters.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

clinchknot may have overtaken sayfu as the biggest fly fishing snob on this website!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Improved-clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch, you should really Improve your attitude regarding fly fishing. You can catch fish how you want, but looking down your nose at other for catching them through branches. That just screams that you have issues. Again, just improve your attitude!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Dappling is a blast. Sneaking among the rocks and trees to approach a hole unnoticed then being able to cast or dapple without giving away your location to a wary wild trout. Lots of fun. Closest thing to taking a deer with a longbow on foot I can find.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch(Sayfu), you say the mag sucks and the blog comment posters suck too, and yet, you are here with us, so you suck too. There, I said it, lets see the +'s rack up....

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from cracker81 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Wow, way to suck the fun right out of the sport of fish on the fly for a newbie guys! Remember that it's not called 'catching', it's called 'fishing'. You only need two things to be a successful fly fisher:
1) A smile on your face.
2) Enjoy all times on the water even when you don't catch because time spent is experience and you can't teach that!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Followed by teh sure to draw ire, "Dunking worms is a lot more effective than anyone likes to admit, and will outfish a fly about 8 months of the year."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinchknot has only been around for a few posts here, Sayfu...

Providing opinions does not leave room to challenge right and wrong, quit contradicting yourself, dude. And quit looking down your snout at everyone else who has provided their input to the blog.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Late to this one but enjoying reading the &$*$# talking! From small streams in the Appalachains for many years:

1) Use as long a leader as you're comfortable with and fish as far ahead as you can. The fish are beyond your comfort range.
2) Keep as little fly line on the water as possible with shorter casts.
3) First cast has to count. If you miss a fish, encounter drag, or throw a bad cast, move on. You are done with that pool.
4) Prepare to lose or at least have to go get numerous flies all day - and watch out for hornets' nests and other hazards in the trees!

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

clinchknot - I read the heading, and I'm an avid fly fisherman. I've tied flies professionally for years. Using hand tied flies as bait is what defines fly fishing...not the gear you use to cast. Though you might not agree with my methods, I'm betting I spend a lot less time with hang-ups in the bushes than many small stream fly fisherman.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinchknot - It's obvious that you and I have very different definitions of fly fishing, and different ways of overcoming the adversities of catching fish on flies in small streams. If you think you're a better fly fisher than I because you use a 7 to 9 ft pole and lots of roll casting, that's fine. I have nothing to prove to you or anyone else. My tactics are successful, and I thought I would share an alternative method of fly fishing with tackle the average fisherman can either afford or already has in their possession. My rig for small stream fishing is less than $75, and my creel fills up just fine. It's also packs down real nice so you can take it with you on a hike or for deep woods camping (both of which I did when I lived in the ADKs). To each their own.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

clinchknot - If your objective is to get more people interested in fly fishing, I think you're hurting your cause more than helping it by insulting people with even a remote interest in it. It's fine to have a difference of opinion, but your way of fly fishing isn't the only way to enjoy it, nor are your techniques for using flies the only techniques out there. Some folks just like wading in the stream without a care in the world, and getting away from the fast-paced life bestowed on them in the "real world." They could care less about catching a fish, and they might not use the best techniques, but they share something in common with the rest of us. They're fishermen. If you can't appreciate that, then go insult people elsewhere.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I rather like the community of folks here and have learned a lot from them over the years. Some comments are better than others. I take what I like and make it my own and ignore the stuff that's jibberish and outlandish. What might be a "vast wasteland of mediocrity" for you is a valuable resource for me and others.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

thermad....NO spookin on the roll cast when you fish from above your target area, and fish downstream. My roll casting softhackles is deadly...never see the line/leader..always fly first. LOw, sidearm rolls get you under branches...should be outlawed it so deadly.

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from Pathfinder1 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Hi...

Yes...Yes...Yes...!! DAPPLING can work wonders when a stream is lined with thicker brush...and where much of the brush is overhanging the stream.

You have to 'poke' your fly rod through the brush and let your fly gently down to touch the surface of the water.

When all else fails, it CAN work...!!

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from 1ojolsen wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I'm not a purist. Go up stream, strip out sufficient line, drop your fly into the water and float your fly into the hole.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Don't forget the water at your feet.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Western Maryland is becoming one of my favorite places to fish. A couple months ago I caught a bow, brown, brook and cutty from the same river on the same day.

Do not be afraid to attack the small water with a 9 foot rod.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

How could we possibly go this deep into this conversation without mentioning Tenkara! The popularity of which removes all question is it here to stay.

Now that I'm thinking about, if I ever wrote a book, it would be titled "Tenkara and Schnapps" The life and times of Buckhunter. Inventor of the world famous Check Cast and Buckeye Fan.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

sgtsly, I prefer peach...

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch,

"buckhunter in the bushes" is a entirely different book. lol

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch, I have personally met both Bioguy and Koldcut, as well as several other regular posters on this site. I believe you would be quite surprised as to the quality of individuals you are addressing. Koldkut is not just an avid angler but also a master rod builder. I mean the guy is damn good. Bioguy happens to work at the most prestigious whitetail research facility in the world and would put many knowledgeable whitetail hunters to shame with his knowledge.

Between the two, they supply a wealth of valuable information to this site and we all should be grateful for their contributions.

What I would like to propose, buy a plane ticket to Denver for the ISE show and meet first hand the folks you address on this site, or better yet, I'll meet you at the Dallas Safari Convention and meet some of the other guys who are regulars here. My guess is you will go back to where ever you are from with your tail between your legs.

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from Koldkut wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch, you seem fairly knowledgeable, where's your blog so I can follow you and learn something meaningful. Have you offered up private lessons to Kristyn since you're the man at all things fly fishing?

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from tourneyking734 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

fish downstream, and don't step out into the stream. And swing streamers over just about anything else

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from benjaminwc wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

short rod, short leader, small bugs, and learn to dabble

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from The White Slug wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Keep your line clean with either commercial cleaner or some Armorall. Slick line GREATLY improves castability. It makes it much easier to employ the finesse needed on small water.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

6.) Don't forget soft hackle flies, small streamers and wets fished down and across on a long leader so that the fish only sees the fly.

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from WVOtter wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I live in this region and Beaver Creek, like many in the area, can lead to more frustation than fish at times. It's a constant chess match of overhanging limbs, sharp upstream cast angles over clear water, and much more. More like fishing with a cane pole than flyrod. That's how I fish them, often I use a lob more than a cast. Not only don't you have room to properly cast, but the minimal line out allows for better drifts in the heavy eddies that are common. Also, if somehow you are in a wider spot, you're still likely to have your back against a tree or dead pine limbs over you, so false cast up and down stream, then send your delivery outward. About the only hope of getting line out w/o a snag or disruptive roll cast.

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from asmxxiv wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

There are so many different situations you can be in on a small stream, and the traditional rules are out:

What I would suggest is taking out the line (or just the leader) length that is necessary to get the fly to where you want it. Then visualize the path that line has to take in order to get the fly where you want it. It sounds simple enough, but you make just flip the line around a rhododendron, or have to bow-and-arrow cast through a tight hole. Visualizing it with the line out will help.

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from bbainbridge wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Lucky for me, I live in central Idaho, so this isn't really a problem out here. But I'd imagine a shorter flyrod would help out. Something in the 7 ft range rather than the typical 9 ft.

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from Micropterus24 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I'm sure your guide stressed this, but I believe stealth is the key to any small stream. Watch your shadows over the water, and watch were you step, they can feel the vibration when you step on a branch. Also a lot of people feel the need to be in the water all the time, if you wade into a pool, or slower moving water you'll cause ripples and spook fish. As far as casting a good roll cast can be your best friend and the softer you can land your line on the water the better. If you ever get a chance to do some small stream fly fishing in Wisconsin, I highly recommend it. Good Luck!!

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I live in PA and fish this scenario a lot. letting your line down stream to gain distance on your cast is a great way to gain distance on tight water. Roll casting is also crucial but on real small clear creeks you're more than likely going to spook fish. Rod length and weight plays a big part also. I've found a 7' 5-6 weight works best. The shorter stiffer rod gives you(me) more control with the shorter tighter casts. leader and tippet hardly ever exceed 8-9' total, also.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I personaly like the mag, the site, and the folks that contribute in both!

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from sgtsly wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Roll, roll, roll. And a flask of peppermint schnapps.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

For small streams, leave the fly rod at home and take a spin caster, preferably a short one (5 ft or less) that collapses and has metal eye loops. Use a coated braided line specifically designed for easy casting, about a 4ft length of tippet material between the fly and the line, and use bead head or weighted nymphs to fish deep pools and pocket water where the trout will be holed up. I cannot tell you how many trout I have caught on this exact set-up, but I would guess it would be close to 1,000.

As far as casting goes, it's a different technique. You open your spool holding the line in place with your non-casting hand, then rock the nymph back and forth above the water to gain momentum, then let go of the line and in an underhand motion flip your casting wrist for some added distance. I don't know if that makes sense, but it works. Dead drift the nymph, occasionally stripping the line as you would on a fly rod.

Fly fishing doesn't need to be done with a fly rod, and I find that the set-up and technique I just outlined are ideal for small streams.

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from fezzant wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

One more way, borrowed from an old cane pole guy -

Use a leader shorter than the rod. Pinch the fly between your fingers. Push the rod tip towards your target while pulling the fly back towards you to put a bend in the rod. Release the fly, and, like a slingshot, it will shoot out towards your target. Aim by pointing the rod tip just above the target before pulling on the fly.

This works only over short distances, and takes a little practice to be accurate, but if you're careful you can shoot line under overhanging branches in very tight quarters, no back cast required.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Learn to roll cast.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Watched Gary Borger perform that cast at a flyfishing casting site at a major sportfishing show in WA State years ago. Folks were lined along the roped off casting site. He asked the question, "WE've seen long distance casting now, and how to do it, but what if you walked down to your water, and there was a fish laying right there (just feet in front of him) How would you cast to it?...and he demonstrated that bow, and arrow cast.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Buck.....I thought of you early on with a Tenkera stick! HAHAHA "Why that's not a branch...that's Buckhunter concealed in the bushes, and that's his Tenkera stick!" And that could be a useful tool. I just prefer the fly to drift farther down stream than a Tenkera rod can reach plus that short line, but it sure could work. And I use to load up with those different flavored Schnapps to spike my coffee in those cold early mornings in the boat.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

you are not the avid flyfishermen that I know. None of the large fraternity of fly anglers would leave their fly gear at home just because they were on a small brushy stream. They'd accept the challege. Your post hits at the heart of why flyfishing is a declining segment of fishing. New anglers want immediate success,immediate gratification, and don't accept challenges. They take the time to learn how to text message, but not the time to learn how to flyfish benefiting from adversity, and getting better. I address that notion, of "I'm a fly fisherman, but I also take my spinning gear along with me." I've seen that movie before. And no, you don't define flyfishing as just the lure. Not even the game dept does that in their definition of flyfishing waters.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Fill me in. When you shake the bush what else comes out besides the Buckhunter?

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

koldkut...You bring up a great point. Why am I here? I should have listened to Buckhunter who says the only value he gets out of many of these posts is the humor in them. I am much more interested in good information exchanged then the humor folks like you provide. I'll certainly take your comment under advisement.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Buck..You are right. This is more a friendly gathering for you few then a place where good information is provided. I've known that for sometime now. Anyone looking for good information to better themselves as to hunting and fishing sure wouldn't want to spend much time on this site. Some of the posts are beyond belief. It sure reinforces ones understanding as to why only a small percentage of folks are good at the things they do, and there is a vast wasteland of mediocrity out there...and I am being kind in saying that.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

BioGuy...OK, but why did your buddy Buckhunter say he only reads the posts for the humor in them? I can get much better humor elsewhere.

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from Improved-clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I agree with the guide on the downstream water loading of the rod, I'll say, with any spooky fish, I try to fish as far upstream or ahead of me as possible, cast and mend quick. After the cast, if it doesn't feel right, let the drift ride it out rather than picking up the line and possibly spooking the fish.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Bio...Read the heading...it is about FLY TIPS. You can do it. Just takes a little practice, and is more fun, and a greater sense of accomplishment. Step up to the plate, and accept the challenge.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Pathfinder...Doesn't sound like much fun to me. DAppling through the branches?..think I'd like to watch paint dry a lot more dappling.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Great way to play fish also Buck with your rod sticking through a bunch of branches. You guys need to take a trip out West and see what fishing is all about.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

wisc. That's an old librard strategy of attacking the messenger. Address the message, or otherwise you are just waving the white flag. Sticking your flyrod through the branches, and dappling a fly, and then having to play it if you do hook one? What if it is a decent sized fish, and runs down river? I release my trout, and would like them to swim off for someone else to catch. I think about having to land a fish, and how I will do it before I make a cast. How are you going to do it with your rod stuck between some branches? Or do you just yard in fish, and throw them up on the bank to flop around until your ready to leave?..I suspect that's the case given your stupid post.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Unimprovedguy....I've guided fly anglers for years, flyfished myself for years, conducted flyfishing schools your years...never, in all my years have I seen, or even heard of someone else seeing a fly angler poking his rod tip through the branches, and "dappling" a fly." Now part of a good outdoor experience is witnessing/seeing oddball stuff like that so you can have good conversation at the watering hole after flyfishing, but it just never has happened for me.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Koldkut. You're a lousy commentator with little factual info to offer. I offer my opinion is all as debatable info, or info to discuss if someone would like to comment on it. I just offer insight that doesn't get brought up on a flyfishing blog when only folks like yourself make comment. If this was a good flyfishing blog that good, accomplished fly anglers frequented, I can guarantee you there wouldn't be duffus comments like you make...there would be a good exchange of flyfishing info. No one need attack the messanger like you do. I've offered you lots of meaningful info, you just seem void of being able to process it. And when I frequent good flyfishing blogs? I don't have to challenge right from wrong regarding posts that are made.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Just take that roll cast for instance that could benefit a lot of fly anglers fishing a small stream. You can make a big open roll that a lot of beginning anglers make that gets you in all kinds of trouble in a branchy bank small confined area. And you can make a HAUL/roll where you haul the line on the roll, and tighten up the loop, and shoot line under branches...but guys like Koldkut are mre into attacking a messenger, and not improving their fly angling...an ego problem thing.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

BIOguy...success is in the mind of the beholder. For one, you have to have a flyline on your outfit fixed with a leader to be flyfishing. There are other aspects that go with the definition, but that's a starter. The fly guy doesn't enjoy flyfishing because he thinks he can be "more successful" than the spin fisherman based on numbers of fish caught. And that is just a starter as well. I don't admire being "better" than anyone. I just like to see folks take up flyfishing, and pursue the challenges, and get better at their craft. The sport sadly yearns for new members with that attitude, and not what you hear on this thread constantly.."don't worry about it..bait up, and have fun, etc., etc.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Cracker....Now the reality. How many fly anglers would have fun hanging up in the bushes every cast they made? Like who cares, I'm just out here to have fun...and the guy has gone through a dozen flies, frayed an expensive flyline, and ruined several leaders...but he is having lots of fun. Fun increases as you learn what you are doing, and why these topics are posted.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Clinch sure could showcase his casting, and also tell an angler where to direct the fight, and land a fish to release it given the situation in a small stream. I'd bet that guide in the picture sure wouldn't take the client to a spot where he can stick his flyrod through the branches and dapple a fly...embarrassing to hook a decent fish in that situation. Of all people, I would think you would have realized that.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

BIO..You did have a good alternative approach, but the same type approach can be accomplished using a flyrod/outfit. It takes the person with the motivation to improve their skills, as I said. A statement I always made in my flyfishing schools, was.."the line goes where the rod tip goes, and the rod tip goes where you direct it to go." You can be incredibly creative once you learn that. And why this thread attracts so many folks to a FLYFISHING section, that promote other methods as the best methods on a FLYFISHING SECTION makes me wonder. Because no other flyfishing blog attracts so many other type of folks. It must be that the magazine, F & S is such a poor outdoor magazine, and posters relate to that. Bad info overwhelms anyone that knows anything about flyfishing. I just try to improve the caliber of info that gets presented. You did know you were on a flyfishing blog no?...and did understand the question asked in the topic no? Twer that a test question for graduation, and you went off topic like you did, you would not have graduated.

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