People

Feature – Dave Hise, Casters Fly Shop

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I met Dave Hise a number of years ago, I had wandered into the Grand Rapids Orvis shop completely new to fly tying and not knowing my head from my rear in regards to where to even start.  Dave, sitting behind the counter was quick to greet me and offer his help.  I don’t know why, but at the time it was some sort of embarrassment for me to admit I didn’t even know where to start when it came to spinning bugs – instead I started fumbling around the walls of slat board loaded with endless pegs of colorful materials that at the time I had no clue what their applications or purpose were.

I suppose that my lack of comfortability in accepting Dave’s offer to help was probably a result of my previous interactions with other fly shops.  The monumental level of smugness and unhelpful attitude that I had experienced previously left me apprehensive to  seek advice or help.  Instead I opted to pretend to know what I didn’t know, quickly slide into the shop disguising myself as someone “in the know” grab a bunch of materials that I had no knowledge of the purpose, return home and try to figure stuff out.

Dave though, he was different.  It was obvious to him that I had no idea what I was doing – so he pursued further conversation with me.  As a result, I learned more in 5 minutes talking to Dave than I had in the previous 5 months.   This positive encounter substantially changed the path I was on.

Dave has since moved to North Carolina, opening Casters Fly Shop (<- click here).  He has won or been nominated for a number of tying and fishing awards, including a number of nominations for Orvis Guide of the Year.  He has an enormous number of fly patterns (<- click here) that are carried and distributed by Orvis.  Always trying new materials, Dave’s tying style is unlike most, pushing the envelope in developing ways to create fishable realistic patterns.  His flies combine realism that exceeds others and yet are functional to fish.

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Dave’s use of materials and innovation has always inspired me, since the time that I walked into the shop a fly tying rookie all the way up until this point.  While not tied to the exact lofty standards of his flies, many of the patterns that I carry in my box are direct descendants of Dave’s flies.

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Reviews of Dave’s customer service are nothing short of glowing.  His ability to consistently get his guided clients into exceptionally large North Carolina trout is impressive.  The innovation and knowledge that he shares with the fly fishing community has a positive impact on the direction of the industry.

Recently I was in desperate search of a few particular materials that the local shops do not carry, I needed these materials pronto for a demonstration tying event coming up.  Because of extremely poor planning on my part I was in a bind, I had to get the materials quickly.  I contacted Dave and explained the situation – of course he had the materials I needed, his shop has quite literally every tying material imaginable.  But that is not the impressive part, Dave continued to go far above and beyond and took it upon himself to rush ship my order to ensure they arrived in Michigan ahead of the time that I needed them.

In an age where there are endless options of where to buy from, its this extremely high level of customer service that continues to set Dave apart in the fly fishing industry.


There is No Tomorrow

One thing that I have always struggled with, even more so now than in previous years – is the concept of mortality.  There is very much a finite amount of time that each of us will be on this earth, whether we like it or not we all have a clock that will eventually stop.

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78.74 years.  Thats the life expectancy for US males.  Thats it.  As I have nearly reached half time of my own life, it has dawned on me that I frequently don’t take advantage of the opportunities that I have to LIVE.  I spend about 2x the amount of time that I should spend working or worrying about work.  I spend about 100x the amount of time that I should spend wasting time on the interwebs or with my face buried in my phone.  I far too often pass up opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, in favor for being a couch potato rotting my brain away at the constant BS that streams from my TV screen.  Even if I don’t say it out loud when situations arise, I am always thinking it – “I’ll do it tomorrow”.

The series of Rocky movies are my all time favorites, and it’s not even close.  There is a great scene in Rocky III where shortly after Rocky’s long time trainer, Mick passes away and he is now being trained by his one time enemy Apollo Creed.  Rocky is giving a half assed effort in the ring and in life as he prepares to do battle with Clubber Lang (Mr. T I see you big dog), and simply shuts down as Apollo bludgeons him in a live, in the ring training session.  Rocky sheepishly proclaims “tomorrow”.  Apollo fires back in the iconic scene “There is no tomorrow!  There is no tomorrow!”

Folks, its simple – spend more time doing what you love with the people that you love.  Learn new things.  Travel new places.  Taking on new challenges.  Fish more.

I need to heed this advice, and more appropriately prioritize my own life.  What’s important and why?

So far in 2016 I haven’t had near the amount of opportunity to fish as I would like, but I’ve dedicated an enormous amount of time in researching and planning, tying flies, going through and organizing equipment.  I plan to fish this summer a ton with my wife and my father.  I would love to get my mom in the boat with me, and my nephew and niece.  My brother can come to – only if he pays me for all the flies he will lose and provides the beer though.  Learning all of this new information and tactics has reinvigorated me – it has woken up a part of my head that was on autopilot and/or sleep mode for far too long.

It’s time to make the 2nd half my half.  There truly may be no tomorrow.

 


Let’s Get These Kids to Colorado!!

Friend and fishing pal Rich Youngberg has a wealth of experience of leading groups of people out into the wild, working as a guide on trips down the Yukon River, as a White Water Rafting Guide on some of the most untamed rivers of the Western US, and leading paddling trips through the Everglades of Florida.  Rich works with young men and women in a Grand Rapids area high school, and has a started an after school fly fishing club there.  His mission is to grow the sport with the youths at his school, and give them an outlet to all of the pressures that they face being a teenager. He states:

“We develop and refine an angler’s skills so that he or she will be comfortable, confident and competent to fish successfully on his or her own in most streams and rivers. We strive to create experiences that will assist students in developing peer relations, problem solving, group dynamics, health and wellness and service learning opportunities through fly fishing. I have met several of the kids in this group and am impressed by their passion and thirst for knowledge.”

Now, these young dudes are planning a trip to Colorado this year and they need our help!  They have started a fundraiser to get their group to Colo this summer by selling these pretty rad t-shirts for $20.  This is a good cause folks, something that is pretty easy to get behind.  Please share this around your network and let’s make this happen, and besides you get a sweet T out of the deal.  See below pic for details:

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If you are interested in a T-shirt, all you have to do is send an email to Rich at:
ryoungberg@nvps.net
www.nvflysquad.weebly.com
Checks made out to Northview Fly Fishing Club


Welcome to Ameautre Hour

When Chief first asked me if I would contribute to this prestigious fly fishing blog, I figured someone blasted him in the head with a musky streamer on a back cast. Then I thought, what if someone has finally recognized my true potential as a savant fly fishing blogger, and now is my big chance to amaze the Internetz with my skills and knowledge?! Unfortunately, my dreams of winning a Pulitzer were quickly extinguished as he revealed that the segments were to be focused towards fisherpeople (I see you fisherladies!) who are new to fly fishing — and as I was the noobiest of noobs he knew, I’d be a perfect candidate. But, I’ll still take it!  Everyone, welcome to amateur hour!

First things first: being “new” at fly fishing is incredibly relative, as there are so many different facets to this sport. So, even though I definitely want to make true newcomers feel at home, some of you pros may find something useful here, as well. With copious ways of putting flies in front of fish, in just as many geographical and seasonal scenarios, there are always opportunities to jump back on the new guy bus. A grizzled, seasoned fly-chucker can find himself lost in the sea of kindergarten supplies as he finally delves into tying his own flies. Or an “out-west” angler who’s used only a 5wt and dry flies to seduce trout-skis from soothing, unobstructed meadow streams may find himself moving to Michigan. As such, he may be coerced into a 20ft, 15wt double-handed skagit rig, and may try to throw six-inch articulated piles of marabou and deer hair for steelhead in large rivers filled with sunken trees that have magnets tied to them (true story: MI rivers are where kitchen magnets go to die). Odds are he’ll be forced down the skill ladder lickety split and feel like it’s his first time on the water when that slab of chrome runs under a log and makes him a fool. But to me, this is what makes fly fishing so great. It’s really hard to find yourself bored or unchallenged (or with a healthy savings account).  Hopefully, this will be a place we can all come together and talk about how lost we all can be in this sport — and maybe even ways we can navigate learning it better.

When not watching YouTube videos of how to catch steelhead on midges and blue winged olives, Adam hones his magical levitating abilities.

When not watching YouTube videos of how to catch steelhead on midges and blue winged olives, Adam hones his magical levitating abilities.

But, as this is amateur hour, I feel the need to prove I’m not some retired river rat masquerading for fake Internet points, and actually someone who is still finding his way around this sport. Even though I can hold my own with the puffy-jacketed, flat-brimmed, old-timey-cigar smokers in a fly shop conversation, I assure you, I still really have no idea what I’m doing. Sure, I tie my own flies (with a vast variance in skill and outcome), have multiple rigs, can tie blood knots in my sleep and have a fairly decent overhand cast (also with varying skill and outcome), but there are plenty of things that still make me Mayor of Newbville. To show you how fearless I am, let’s examine a few of my fly fishing flaws on the Internet, shall we? What could go wrong!?

  • Despite how much I think/talk about fly fishing and with all the money I have put into this never-ceasing obsession, I really don’t even fish that much. It’s not because I don’t want to; I just live on the wrong side of the state in relation to the “good” rivers. Add in life events, other hobbies/passions, and life/family obligations, and it doesn’t amount to too many hours in my waders. I’ve made the best of it (high five to my wife for being awesome, and my Father-in- Law for keeping me from drowning!) but this is the number one reason my progress in becoming a better fly fisherman has been so slow. As my uncle always says (after mocking me and claiming  “trucker” hats are for Ashton Kutcher wannabes): “You gotta go to know.”
  • I’m TERRIBLE at roll casting. Seriously, who has fly fished in Michigan for as long as I have and can’t freakin’ roll cast?! It’s touted as one of the easiest forms of casting and the basis for a good majority of more complex casts — and I’m just the worst at it. A benefit of this (and being really tall), though, is that I’m pretty good at retrieving flies stuck in overhead trees!
  • Real talk: I only barely understand what the crap skagit or scandi or switcheroski fly fishing is all about. I mean, I think I get the premise of it, maybe? Some fisherpeople were having a hard time throwing big flies or rigs and were all like, “Hey, let’s come up with this new form of fly fishing where we make the rods impossibly long so no one can walk through the woods with them and then, THEN, let’s change how we classify all the lines and come up with even crazier ways to rig them up! That will totally make it easier to cast this size six wooly bugger with extra flashabou!” And after THAT, someone over in the corner shouts “Hey! You guys ever heard of centerpin fishing? It’s the only way to fish indicators now!” I’m pretty sure centerpin is a bowling reference somehow…but that’s about all I understand here.
  • I have never in my life fished from a drift boat. Walk-in only. I’m always so jealous of you guys in your fancy, zero-displacement luxury crafts, stealthily making your way (except you guys that can’t use oars) between boat-only honey holes while drinking beer, taking naps and warming yourself over Mr. Buddy heaters. (All the while staring as we earth-bound plebeians are struggling through tag elder with our skagity switch rods you tricked us into buying, and wading up to our belly buttons navigating around private property.)  It must be a magical experience.
  • I can’t tie anything smaller than a size 10. I seriously don’t understand how you out-west guys make nymphs sized in the 20s. I honestly struggle to tie most nymphs that aren’t wooly buggers, eggs or caddis flies (large ones, anyway), as my hands shake like I’m on an eightball of coke (I most definitely am not; I’ve seen The Wire), and there is just so little space to work with, I usually end up with some pretty disproportionate-looking barely-nymphs. Good thing pulling streamers is so fun!
  • Reading water is still like watching a foreign film with no subtitles for me. I can kind of get the gist of what’s going on under there and can usually understand the obvious spots… .but really I’m just guessing most of the time.  Again: a skill best learned by actually being on the water.
  • Finally, I only have ONE fly fishing sticker on my truck… and it’s not even that big!  Blasphemy.

Ok, I’ll leave you all with a video of one of the Golden Girls roll casting like an absolute BOSS….since I clearly can’t.

Joan Wulff: The Roll Cast


Fly Fish the Mitt and Mitt Monkey Videos

A could of vids to help get you through the week.


Head Games

“Being stupid should be painful” – Unknown

This past weekend’s trip I was reminded of a very valuable lesson that I have learned many times over throughout my years of fishing.  It is a lesson that I have shared with many people, both experienced and new in relation to their level of experience.  I committed a cardinal sin and didn’t have my head in the game the entire day while fishing.  As a result I paid dearly for it.

We got on the river around 8:30 AM and within the first 30 minutes into the day I was into what I thought at first was a steelhead.  The bobber on my indy rig dropped, I quickly set the hook and something big and heavy began to move.  At that moment a familiar feeling of elation quickly overwhelmed me as line began to quickly peel out of my left hand and come tight to the reel all in the matter of about 4 tenths of a second.

The feeling of elation quickly turned into grave disappointment when I realized all that had happened is that I had inadvertendly dislodged a piece of lumber from the bottom of the river, and it immediately was caught in the current, displaying many of the same characteristics as a hooked steelhead.  In my frustration I immediately started to “horse” the log in so I could unpin it and get back on with my day.  The stress placed on my rod was substantial and quickly resulted in the rod snapping with a sound similar to that made by the .22 caliber gun my father used to hunt small game with in the days of my youth.

So, it wasn’t a fish, I broke a rod, and now I have to walk up 144 steep and icy steps back to the truck to re-rig another rod?  Now I’m pissed, but mentally chalked it up to some sort of necessary penance required by the Fish God’s – a toll I’d gladly subject myself to if it resulted in a great day of fishing.

Only it didn’t result in that.

On a river that I know relatively well that had been holding several steelhead as of late, in several cases being the first angler through sections of particular runs, with a good selection of proven flies would usually result a decent outing.  All it resulted in for me throughout the day was losing about $467 worth of flies lost and a helluva of a lot of knot tying.   I’d rather have walked down to the river, opened my wallet, pulled out $467 and thrown it straight into the river (from the top, not the bottom of those damned stairs of course), and turned around and went home.

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After about 7 hours of no fish encounters, Dan questioned whether or not I had the correct depth set on my indicator – stating that I might not be fishing a run not quite deep enough.  At this point my head was someplace else other than focusing on what I should have been, I was more or less going through the motions.  I turned to Dan and assured him that I had the correct depth and to further prove my point I said “watch, if I cast a few feet closer I’ll drag bottom”.

Upon casting in closer to me the bobber lurched towards the river bottom as I had previously, indicating that my rig was set too deep for the water I was fishing.  I turned to Dan and smugly said “see, I told you”.

My confident assertion was met by him emphatically screaming “FISH!”.  I quickly turned around and quickly recognized my bobber nearly a foot below the river’s surface, screaming towards the opposite bank with a large silver steelhead not far in front of it.

I lifted the rod and came tight on the fish.  The physical attachment to that fish lasted about as long as my mom’s apple pie at a family dinner.  All because I was being an idiot and not paying attention, it was over as quickly as it started.

Instead of having an opportunity to land a beautiful January steelhead and erase all of the hardships THAT I CAUSED myself during the day, I added to it because I committed the substantial crime of not having my head in the game at all times.

 

 


The All-Encompassing

This weekend I was fortunate to spend time on the river with friends.  Erich from Nomad Anglers is a dude that I’ve only fished with a few times, but have had frequent interactions with both in the shop and online, he, Dan and I pursued steelhead for the day enjoying the last sliver of decent weather before the inevitable yearly winter lock down.

One of my favorite aspects of fishing is the relationships that are made and the resulting conversations that are had.  Erich made a comment that really resonated with me and provided a really interesting perspective that triggered me to really think about why fly fishing is so unique in relation to other hobbies and pursuits.  It’s obvious the we start fishing for the fish, but soon realize its about way more than that – the fish are just the medium that binds it all together.

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  1. This one is obvious, fly fishing connects you to nature and allows for you to get outdoors and enjoy wildlife and experiences you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
  2. It’s something that requires an enormous amount of concentration.  Everything related to fly fishing demands substantial amounts of attention.  Casting, tying flies, reading water, rowing a boat, fighting a fish, crossing a stream, tying knots – none are simply mindless activities that require little to no focus.   The devil is in the details, the extreme focus on any task associated with fly fishing provides us with a significant respite from dedication of brain function directed towards work or problems or whatever is weighing us down at any given time.
  3. You can do something fly fishing related all year long.  Today my face hurts when I go outside because of the cold burn of the January air and it looks like I live in a recently shaken snow globe……but I still was able to “escape” by tying flies.  How many golfers out there?  What did you do today in Michigan?  Probably not golf eh?  We have the luxury of still continuing our pursuit by tying flies, organizing materials, building rods, or patching up leaky waders (a once a month routine for some).
  4. The connection to people that you normally would have no connection to.  Fly fishing is something that is enjoyed by people from an enormous range of social and economical situations.  It’s a common interest that links blue collar works with CEO’s of corporations and college students with retirees.  The diversity of the people that share fly fishing and the resulting network of connections that would normally not exist is amazing.
  5. It allows us to maintain a respective level of competitiveness.  As a former athlete a strong desire to compete is part of my being, it’s something that is so strongly engrained in me that it will never cease to exist.   Fly fishing allows for me to maintain a healthy level of competition, I compete with myself and others.  When someone within my circle catches a big fish – I want to catch one bigger!  When someone ties a great new fly pattern, I want to come up with something better.
  6. There is the availability of varying degrees of difficulty.  Fly fishing has an endless amount of levels of degree of difficulty from the different tactics to species we pursue.  Challenges abound.  Because of the substantial challenges associated with fly fishing the learning will never end.  There will forever be something that can be learned in the many different aspects associated with fly fishing.

“To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men – for all men are equal before fish.”
~ Herbert Hoover


Mission Objective – Hangin Out

When I first started fishing, every single time I headed to the river I was on a mission, mission to learn from observing other anglers. I would follow other people around, sit on the bank and watch their every move – trying to figure out how and why they were doing things the way they were.

At some point, after I felt I had absorbed enough through observation of others my mission changed every time I went to the river and my objective became to catch as many fish as I possibly could.  It became a purely numbers game for me – it was a badge of honor that I would wear proudly when I reported in with my father or other friends that I’d sometimes fish with.

A few years down the line, the numbers of fish game eventually gave way to quality of fish.  It was no longer about how many fish I caught and it was now about the quality of fish I caught.  I wanted big fish.

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Now…..now, I’m basically back to square 1, but for different reasons.  I find myself sitting on the bank more and more observing others – usually friends I am fishing with.  My fishing pals are all exceptionally talented and of course I learn all kinds of new things from them similar to how I learned from others in my youth, but thats not whats important.  What’s important to me now is hanging out, on the water, in nature with people that I enjoy spending time with.

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Sure it’s all still about the fish – after all they are the reason to bring us all together.  But even more it’s about the laughs, the experiences, the jokes, the banter, the food, and the fellowship.

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A Year in Review – Brown Trout edition

I’ve been really fortunate to be a witness and active participant in seeing and experiencing a number of really great fish this year.  While I really enjoy chasing after all fish species, brown trout has a special allure for me.  Seeing a big brown trout make it into the net is an awesome experience and sharing that moment with pals in the boat makes it all the better.  Here’s a look at this years fish that I had the privilge to witness first hand.


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Fantasy Football Ruined Fishing

For the second consecutive year I commished a fantasy football league filled with a bunch of fish heads.  A motely crue cast of charachters all bound together by our strong affinity to chase fish.  I quickly found out that there is 1 thing these yahoos take as serious as fishing, fantasy football!

I spent most of my season last year getting repeatedly curb stomped but had a good time doing it as the near daily trash talk added good commentary to give me quick breaks from my work day.  This year, I decided I’d spice up some of the weeks by publically calling out particular opponents on weeks I faced them and challenge them to a “side bet” of sorts.  Well, unfortunately for me those curb stompings from last year carried into this year and it didn’t go well for me.

Throughout this I discovered I may have a bit of a repressed gambling problem, as the typical wager was 3 articulated streamers and each week I lost I would just double down the next week to try and win some bugs back.  Let’s just say I burned through a lot of materials this year.

However, thats not where my punishment ends.  Oh no…that’d be way to easy.  My poor decision making and inability to set a good roster of players continues to punch me square in the throat.

Twice this year I lost to Jeff from Fly Fish the Mitt and had to contribute to his already loaded streamer box.  Being that I was going to be fishing with him on this past Sunday morning, I worked late into the night spinning up a version of Galloup’s Boogie Man.

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Jeff, not one to shy away from rubbing a bit of salt in a pal’s wound decided he would immediately lace one of his winnings up and fish it right out of the gates on our streamer escapade.  I quietly chuckled to myself as I sat in the rowers seat and watched him struggle with the bug getting fouled around itself, as it appeared that I unintentionally provided him with a “dud” that had too much space between the hooks and not enough beads to prevent the hooks from becoming entangled with one another during casting.  “Serves him right” I thought – but of course outwardly I appeared apologetic. “Jeeze man, I’m really sorry.  I thought I tied those perfectly.”

A simple adjustment, opening the loop of this cast up a bit, allowed him to accurately sling the bug without it getting tangled.  No worries, the color combination is surely not one we’ve ever seen  work in this particular river – he even commmented on it himself.

That’s when the throat punches started rolling in.  On his first shift he brought a few fish to hand.  Then on his second shift, Mike Tyson punched me square in the neck and this fish decided this terribly tied bug looked good enough to eat.

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He continued to fish the fly for the entire day and of course landed not only by far the largest fish of the day, significantly more fish than I did as well.  Wasn’t it enough that I just paid my dept and suffered the humilation of proclaiming my Fantasy Football superiority only to be embarrased?

Stay tuned for the report following me paying my bet to Dan, as I practically have to row him around the river the whole day without me even fishing.  Fantasy Football sucks.