Four years ago, I received an email message from Max Werkman. I have saved this email as it is a constant reminder to me, and I refer back to it in times when I ponder what direction the sport and industry of fly fishing is heading in. With a new generation that is typically pre-occupied with tweeting cat videos, posing half naked on Instagram, spending their time with their noses buried in their phones, or trying to level up in the most recent Xbox game – there are young men and women out there like Max. As long as we have people like Max involved in this sport and industry, we will be in good shape. I won’t share with you the entire email, but here’s how it begins;
My name is Max Werkman, I’m 15 years old and I live in Holland Michigan. I love fly fishing and I always have. I do most of my fly fishing in my local rivers here in Michigan. I also see that your company is based out of Portland Michigan, so your might know the rivers I am talking about.
I met with Max a short time after receiving this email and was came away from that time we spent together extremely impressed with his passion, thirst for knowledge, and commitment to the sport. With all of the different opportunities available to find social connections and to be entertained, Max more than anything just wanted to fish.
Since that time I have been fortunate to spend time with Max on the river and feelings of admiration and if I’m being completely honest some amount of jealousy came over me. I admire Max’s work ethic, energy, and passion that he exhibits while on the water – he works extremely hard and is able to find fish in even the toughest of conditions. The jealousy stems from my own personal experience in that I don’t think I was nearly as focused, driven, and committed to anything at his age, as he is to fishing.
Most people Max’s age are spending their summers figuring out which party they are going to go get wild at, living in the comforts of their parent’s homes, bumming money from dad to fill a tank with gas, and working on a tan at the beach. Not Max. Max left the comforts of post high school/pre-holy shit I have to be responsible for myself life to gain more guiding experience in Alaska. Coming back to the Mitt, with a ton of experience Max is ready to spend the day on the water sharing his knowledge and passion for our resources –
Not only is Max and Werkman Outfitters committed to giving their clients a great experience, they are also extremely strong advocates of our environment. Here is a statement from their website: Click here for more.
“Being from southwest Michigan, we saw the ecological and economic damage that occurred as result of Enbridge’s Line 6 B spill in the Kalamazoo River. Although the clean up has restored the habitat we feel a spill in the Straits would be far worse and more difficult to clean up. For us, having a healthy wild fishery in the Great Lakes is critical to our livelihood. If a spill were to occur it will effect wild populations of salmon, steelhead and trout not only in the Straits, but as they are migratory, through out the Lake Michigan / Lake Huron basin. In addition, the native smallmouth bass and carp populations that live along the flats in the area will be negatively effected.”
Here’s the Q&A with Max:
What rivers do you guide on primarily?
What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy while guiding?
Honestly my favorite method of guiding would have to be float fishing. It is the most effective way for me and my clients to catch fish, but it is also a very easy method of fishing to teach as well.
Species of fish that you guide for?
I guide for Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead as well as Smallmouth bass.
Are oranges named oranges because oranges are orange, or is orange called orange because oranges are orange?
I think that oranges are named oranges because oranges are orange. The color orange was probably established before the food in my opinion.
What’s your favorite thing about guiding?
My favorite thing about guiding is seeing the excitement that someone shows when they catch fish or see/do something that they have never done before. Seeing the excitement of catching a huge steelhead or just helping someone learn to cast a fly rod for the first time is what I love about guiding.
Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?
Probably my favorite lunch to prepare on the bank would have to be hamburgers. There easy to cook, don’t take up much space in the cooler, and almost everyone loves hamburgers.
If you could be in a band, which one would it be?
I am a huge metal fan so if I were to be in a band it would diffidently be Avenged Sevenfold.
If I were to eat myself, would I become twice as large or completely disappear?
I think that I would probably disappear if I were to eat myself.
What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience?
I am only 19 years old so I am a younger guy, but I have tons of experience. Most clients have never spent a day on the river with someone who is the same age as me.
What makes a good client?
To me a good client is someone who likes to have fun, takes my advice into consideration while fishing, and someone who is willing to try something new.
Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?
I would rather fight 100 duck sized horse’s because I feel like being taller would be a good advantage in fighting duck sized horse’s.
If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you?
I would want Charlie Day to play me. I think he has a goofy personality like me and he is a very funny actor in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
What else would be helpful for people to know about you?
I am not a very up tight guide, I like to have a good laugh about stuff on the river. Another thing would be that I can’t control everything that goes on during the day. Weather that is catching fish or not, or if a client is cold I cannot control everything that goes on during a guide trip.
How does someone contact you to book a trip?
If you’re anything like me you’ve had far too many days when the steamer bite is tough, fish seem harder to find and engage and it seems like you are floating along simply getting 6 hours of casting practice. Bug switches become frequent as panic starts to sit in that the dreaded “skunk” is staring you straight in the face. Each and every single time you open your giant box of flies, a feeling of helplessness comes over you – and all of these great once proven fish catching patterns strike ZERO confidence.
We have all been there, sometimes the reasons are obvious why we aren’t able to engage fish – sometimes all you can chalk it up to is that fish are assholes.
As I look into my boxes of streamers I see several neatly organized rows of mostly natural appearing food resources. There are natural colored, natural sized sculpin imitations. There are piles of small appropriately colored baitfish patterns. There’s weighted flies, there’s unweighted flies. There are flies that swim left to right, flies that swim up and down, and flies that do both.
What I didn’t have in my box are large, bright, flashy, here I am type of streamers. Everything is in the 4″ to 5″ range with muted flash.
Before my last outing, looking at the water temperatures (33 degrees) and anticipating higher and dirtier flows than normal, I hurried to throw together some larger flash bugs – for when those desperate times called for desperate measures.
I’ve read it before, I’ve heard it before, I’ve seen it work before – but I’ve never done it before (I’m a slow learner), on slow days when you are not able to engage fish actively looking to feed………invade their safe space to invoke a reactive territorial strike.
Some times fish just won’t eat – but almost all the time they will protect their homes.
After fishing a half a day with 3 guys in the boat and seeing no fish, I figured it was time to throw caution to the wind and go big and bright. My confidence was nearly zip when I saw how stupidly bright and giant the fly was in the water, it was unlike anything I’d thrown before. Planning to give it an honest 30 minute trial run before going back to the tried and true more natural imitations – I only had to wait about 5 minutes before my large fly was completely inhaled by a fish about a half a strip after it landed in the water. I must have threatened this fish’s home for it to jump on the fly so quick and violently.
Sitting back down in the rowers seat, having a victory cigar never felt so good. After hours of casting and not seeing a fish – a nice trout like this is even more sweet. After spending a little over an hour trying to find fish for my boat buddies, I jumped back up to the front of the boat as shoulders were getting sore and spirits waning a bit again. About 10 minutes longer using the same giant ball of flash fly, and not even getting through one full strip of the line I was rewarded again.
The lesson here for me was simple and it was something that I’ve heard and read many times from far more accomplished and wiser anglers than myself – if they don’t eat, go directly into their kitchens and threaten them.
January 30, 2017 | Categories: Rigging, River Conditions, Streamers, Trip Report | Tags: brown trout, fly fishing, fly tying, michigan, mystic rods, sink tip, streamer fishing, streamer fly, trout | Leave a comment
Networker. Conservationist. Educator. Fly Fishing Evangelist. Communicator. If you are at all plugged into the Michigan (or beyond) fly fishing scene, chances are you are aware of the man everyone calls “Koz”. Originally hailing from the Grand Rapids area and now residing in Northern Michigan, the only thing bigger than Brian Kozminski’s network is his generous and affable personality. http://www.truenorthtrout.com
Koz serves many roles in the fly fishing community. First and foremost, he is a defender of our resources – promoting educational opportunities for others to better take care of our waterways. Koz also has done a great amount of work to promote fly fishing in a positive manner that encourages youths and others to explore the sport and take advantage of our great fishery. Leveraging his vast network of people involved in the sport and industry, Koz serves as a one-stop hub for endless amounts of information. It is obvious to anyone that visits his Facebook page, that Koz is a sharer of important information and events that impact and inform the entire fishing community.
While I have not yet had the privilege of spending a day on the water with him (something that will get remedied this year), my numerous conversations and encounters at shows, all of my exchanges with Koz have been nothing short of extremely pleasant and focused on driving the sport forward in a positive manner. It is obvious that he not only cares deeply about the health of our sport and the resources, but he also has the same level of care for the people in it.
What Rivers Do you Guide on Primarily?
You can find me taking clients on a variety of water, whether wading the upper Jordan Valley, floating its cedar strewn lower or my favorite stretch of the Upper Manistee from M-72 to Three Mile. Some wadable locales on Lake Michigan for Carp or smallmouth. We will always make a worthwhile trip to Mio on the Au Sable to throw articulated wet tube socks with the best of the Mitt Monkeys around. There are a handful of other northern Michigan streams not as often publicized, but equally rewarding because of their secrecy.
What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy when guiding?
Anytime you have a client that can cast-> BONUS!
Watching an angler who can negotiate down trees and flip streamers within inches of structure, cast after cast, all day long, can make for a productive day. But I really, truly enjoy being on the river in near complete darkness, all other senses besides sight are heightened and on high alert when you are casting foam and deer hair tangerine sized rodents against the double shadow of a tall grassy bank that seems to move and come alive the longer you stare at it……waiting for the explosion at the surface and the entire universe erupts with chaos.
Species of fish that you guide for?
Primarily a trout and steelhead guy by nature, but my youth was focused on bucket mouth bass, so it feels good to get back to basics and peruse local warm water species. Smallmouth and carp are so abundant in the Great Lakes and especially the Lake Charlevoix system. Toothy fresh water wolves have become more notably sought after species.
What’s your favorite thing about guiding?
Best case scenario, at the end of the day, clients learn a thing about fly fishing, its rich and deep history in Michigan. They have a remarkable ‘all day’ experience, from casting & conservation, to bug lessons, and hopefully catching a fish or two. That is not always the case. we have to remember to make the experience fun, so they wish to return. I try to make these things memorable by providing a farm fresh lunch and out of this world scones from the Boyne Farmers Market, a taste of up north to take back home with them.
Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?
It used to be a wine marinated hanger steak with fresh grilled asparagus, these days, I have more requests to be ‘heart smart’ and not waste an hour grilling- even though I enjoy a good steak from time to time. Seems lately we are doing a sweet potato black bean quesadilla with pepperjack cheese and fresh ginger guacamole- and people are raving about it.
If you could be in a band, which one would it be?
stuck on a retro 80’s mohawk, black leather kind of mood- Depeche Mode – seems Dave Gahan & I have hit bottom and are building ourselves back up from scratch. everyday, one day at a time.
Do you believe that Disney World is a people trap operated by a mouse?
Totally a mouse trap. I know people who have worked for the mouse, they rarely ever come out the other side the same. Its like they brain-wash you to the next level, CIA conspiracy kind of stuff. I would like to convince my family we could vacation in Yellowstone for 6 months on the same amount of coin we would spend in the Rat Trap…
What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience?
Specialize in beginners, fresh, local friendly, and genuine. Making a day trip on one of our rivers is an escape from the busy text message, fax, memo, meeting filled world. We just like to take a moment to appreciate the beauty in the nature that surrounds us. We waste too much of our valuable time on the things that really mean so little.
What makes a good client?
Practice casting prior to getting in a boat and not be happy with missing a few fish. You dont buy a new set of golf clubs and fly to Pebble Beach without a few practice swings. You need your A-game on any river in the Mitt, some days, it’s the wind, others it’s the fish, current, rain, bugs, the sun, etc. You need to do the best you can to be prepared for connecting with a trout. Listen to your guide, chances are, they have been down this river a dozen or more times than you have…
Have you ever pondered the fact that fish see people as aliens? We hover above their environment, in a ship and pull them from their dwellings into the sky?
It is true~ like in “Horton Hears a Who” the fish world is a speck on a flower, and their world is equally dependent upon how well we take care of it…
If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you?
Of course the ego maniac would like Brad Pitt in the lead role, some would say more like Matt Damon- not that bad, but reality is- Anthony Michael Hall(16 Candles/Weird Science fame) is your huckleberry, a sure shoe in for my days on the river and chasing Molly.
How does someone contact you to book a trip?
The usual suspects: calling works- 231 675-1237 or
January 19, 2017 | Categories: People, Reviews | Tags: brook trout, brown trout, fly fishing, fly tying, michigan, michigan fly fish, michigan fly fishing, Steelhead, trout, true north trout | Leave a comment
Something tells me that when I’m an old, crotchety, drunk most of the time old man sitting in a nursing home spending my days planning an escape attempt, I will always remember the summer of 2016. I spent more time on the water this past summer than any other year – and the fishing was overwhelmingly good for the most part.
After more than a decade of suffering the fate of a fishing widow, my wife finally decided to put in more time on the water with me. She did a really great job learning how to cast and manipulate streamers – and had a lot of success with smallmouth all summer. It was a really great experience to spend time with her on the water, and the excitement that she showed for each and every little thing that happened made me realize how much I take for granted.
The smallmouth scene was really good all summer on the local rivers, low and clear water presented ideal conditions to go out and find several each trip. There were even a few pike mixed into most outings.
The Bass 1 Fly happened again this year, in our 5th year of the event it has grown to 27 anglers. It’s the dumbest event on the planet and I never have any fun during it, I don’t even know why I torture myself putting it together and showing up (if you couldn’t tell…..I didn’t win……again). Heres a pic of some stupid idiot that did win – he’s banned from the event in 2017 (just kidding Sean…..kind of).
Guide, teacher, presenter, explorer Nome Buckman (more on her in an upcoming Guide Feature) invited me to join her for a day of Musky fishing this summer. Something I’ve never done before – so I spent countless hours researching and tying and piles of money buying new stuff that I don’t even need. I even constructed a Musky Medical Kit – I heard shit gets wild and I wanted to be ready.
Jeff came along for what turned out to be one of the more fun weekends I’ve ever had. Beautiful scenery, the most intense sunsets I’ve ever seen, and a number of opportunities at fish.
I got on the board on Day 2 – and I still have all of my fingers, so it was a success.
Towards the tail end of the summer when the smallmouth become slightly more scarce and harder to find and salmon start making their annual pilgrimage to their spawning grounds – I finally got the Mitt Monkey Intern out into the boat. Adam is an old pal from High School and an incredibly proficient newer fly guy. He threw tight loops and hit the right spots with his streamers all day and was rewarded with a 20″ smallmouth – one of the biggest I saw all year.
If the summer of 2017 is half as good as this past year, I’ll be happy.
January 16, 2017 | Categories: Flies, People, River Conditions, Streamers, Trip Report | Tags: fly fishing, fly tying, michigan muskie, michigan musky, michigan smallmouth, muskie, muskie fly fishing, musky, musky fly fishing, smallmouth, smallmouth fly fishing | Leave a comment
The very first post written on MichiganFly was published on Jan 9th, 2014 – 3 years ago today. That Michigan winter was especially brutal, temps that reached a high in the single digits for several days in a row and snow that was measured in feet instead of inches. Dan and I started this as a coping method as we searched for any crutch available to maintain the level mental sanity we both had. Luckily for us, jumping on the internet and acting like clowns worked to the degree that we didn’t have to resort to our final plan that involved tons of drugs and booze.
We decided at the time that we would operate the blog through the winter months, then bail out of it when time no longer permitted, usually signaled by the polar bears and penguins migrating back to more permanent arctic lands. So……..we’re back for the next couple of months. Who’s ready for Tuesday bananas?
2016 was a good year – they are all pretty damned good if you have a group of friends that you spend time with on the water. Here’s a the start of a brief recap:
Instead of typing some BS that nobody wants to read here, a video recap is probably better.
A few trout a few steelhead, nothing wrong with that. Then towards the latter half of spring, something happened that….that changed everything forever. In our circle a 20″ trout is usually referenced as a “good fish”, anything over 24″ becomes a “giant” and if you topple the 27″ mark, something that has been done once by Jeff (see his work at Fly Fish the Mitt) its legendary status.
Well, Dan (MichiganFly co-founder) didn’t just set a new bar this year, he took the old one, broke it and shoved it up everyone’s rears. Never in my lifetime did I expect to witness a 30″ resident brown trout being put into the net – but it happened.
The fish ate a fly of Dan’s own design – the Mitt Fiddle. Guess what bug got fished by everyone else a lot for the rest of the year?
Personally, I was on the struggle bus a bit streamer fishing this past spring. I had a number of opportunities at good fish maybe even a few giants in there – but usually I had my head up my ass and completely blew the chance. Definitely, something that will be addressed this year. I don’t know – is there some surgical procedure or something to remove craniums from rectums?
Rest of the year recap to come soon. Tune in tomorrow for the 1st Tuesday Bananas of the year!
January 9, 2017 | Categories: Flies, People, Reviews, River Conditions, Streamers, Tactics, Trip Report, Uncategorized | Tags: brown, brown trout, fly, fly fishing, fly tying, giant trout, michigan, Steelhead, streamer, streamer fishing, trout, trout fishing | Leave a comment
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.
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.
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.
February 29, 2016 | Categories: People, Uncategorized | Tags: bass, brown, casters, casters fly shop, dave hise, fly fishing, fly tying, michigan, north carolina, nymph pattern, orvis, rainbow, Steelhead, trout | Leave a comment
True North Trout heads out with some buds and gets his Soul Replenished, as we all need more often than we experience.
Super interesting take at Fontinalis Rising regarding The Search for Balance
I may have just become a fan of Lanyards – check out the info I found at The Fiberglass Manifesto
Gunnar Brammer tying featured at Frankenfly
Mary and Dan O are super cool to follow along with on their adventures, check out their latest
Gink and Gasoline provided me with a mental escape from a shit week. Read this.
Nomad Anglers Brews and Bugs Lineup <- Clicky Clicky!
Local shop (to 3 metro areas now!) and all around great group of dudes, Nomad Anglers puts on a winter series called Brews and Bugs where they invite fly spinners in to share with participants a few different patterns. Unlike a lot of tying events, this series encourages active participation – so instead of just sitting around and watching a fat kid (like me) flap his trap about how awesome a fly pattern he came up with, you actually get to practice tying yourself. All the materials are provided, all you have to do is find an excuse to leave the home for a few hours without explaining where you are going, bring your vice and other tools, and a healthy thirst that can only be quenched by consuming copious amounts of alcohol (be sure to Uber your ass home if you over do it).
Erich at Nomad in GR asked if I would share a few different steelhead nymphs on March 1st at Schmoz in GR. So if you happen to be in the area, and want to listen to some really poor off colored humor, marvel at the fact that I wind my tying thread backwards, or simply throw fruit and vegetables (no blunt or sharp objects please) at me while I act like I know I’m doing – PLEASE RSVP TO : INFO@NOMADANGLERS.COM with your Name, Phone Number and Email Address.
On the tying menu for the evening will be – Latexed Stone Fly, Latexed Hex Nymph, BBC (Bitches Be Crazy) Fry pattern, and a “secret” egg.
Fly Fishing Needs Dirty Harry.
You guys, THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT, and a must read for anyone that cares about our fisheries.
Some great advice at G & G for you newbs out there looking to row a boat.
Go see Koz at the Celebration of Fly Tyers.
Super cool vid and pattern I saw at Frankenfly
Windknots and Tangled Lines goes shirt shopping and the sense of style is glorious!
Ever wondered how to construct an indicator rig for steelhead? Nomad Anglers shows the way.
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.
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.
Fontinalis Rising with his always entertaining and insightful Monday Morning Coffee.
If you don’t have one of these you probably aren’t in the cool kids club. Fiberglass Manifesto beanies are super cool.
What could be more important than slinging 90′ of line you ask…..Gink and Gasoline breaks it down here.
Public Service Announcement: Nomad Anglers in Okemos has moved.
Flat Broke Fly Fishing is thinking of warmer temps and emerging bugs
Zach atThe Itinerant Angler a great piece looking at 10 casting errors.
You have to watch….just watch.
Gink and Gasoline has a great piece highlighting 15 Dirt Cheap Pieces of Gear that are must haves.
The Fiberglass Manifesto does a great job looking deeper into why Smith Fly is a great company with great products.
Killer movie review of a sweet looking flick (The Revenant) at Unaccomplished Angler.
Always, always, always be sure to check out the Orvis Friday Film Fest.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
As the swamps and mucky areas where these burrowing nymphs begin to unfreeze and escape the grip of winter lock down – often times these nymphs are dislodged and washed into the current to become easy meals for steelhead. Undoubtedly, a hex pattern is one of my top 3 producers for steelhead as temperatures become warmer. Here is a series of hex nymph patterns that you will find in my box.
I’m admittedly still very much a work in progress, and in no means have I figured out as much about pursuing fish on the fly as many others. Hell, I’m even the “D” student amongst the group of guys I fish with the most. However, I have been able to increase my success significantly the past couple of seasons, through some really simple changes.
- Dumped my ego. You know the feeling, you just caught a good fish, a few other dudes saw the whole thing go down. Now you feel like you can walk the banks of the river like you’re carrying around a 10′ long pecker. There is no room for ego in this game. There is always going to be someone out there that is better, has caught bigger, can cast farther, can tie better, etc. Not to mention fish have a way of humbling you that cannot be matched by any person out there.
- And, if that realization didn’t deflate me enough – I stopped blaming those fishless days on conditions, or some other variable not in my control – and realized that I was the only constant variable in the equation. I began to understand that just because one method, tactic, or approach worked one day – it doesn’t mean it will work every other day. I learned that I needed to get better at understanding how certain nuances affected fish – and how I should alter my approach.
- I was always told at a young age that God gave me 1 mouth and 2 ears for a reason. I stopped being overly excited about sharing everything that I knew in an effort to establish my own credibility and started listening to what everyone else had to say. There is an entire world of knowledge out there, and there is a countless amount of ways to approach any situation that might arise – and I didn’t have all the answers.
- I got out of my comfort zone, and started approaching things completely differently. Simply put, if you do what you’ve always done you’re going to get what you’ve always got. I wanted to get better, it was time to try new things.
- While just about everyone that fishes with me will tell you that my mouth rarely shuts when I’m out, I have actually become very observant. I really started paying very close attention to everything that everyone does when they are fishing. For instance, last year I noticed Jeff from Fly Fish the Mitt, who is a Streamer Jedi, makes less false casts when streamer fishing than everyone else in the boat. This means that his fly is in the water roughly 33% more than anyone else’s. Small and subtle – but an enormous difference.
- I stopped worrying about how my casts looked. The fish could not care any less about if your cast looked like something straight from a Joan Wulff video. Did I deliver the fly where it needed to go? Is the fly line properly mended, and the bugs travelling through the water column as they should? That’s all that matters. Why does it matter how you get to where you are going as long as you get there? It allowed me to focus on fishing more instead of trying to be something I’m not – a good caster.
- Through some self assessment I found that I spend entirely too much time out of the water, untangling, re-rigging, tying on new bugs, sipping cheap whiskey, or just participating in general shenanigans. I needed to spend more time with my bugs in the water.
- I took a calculated approach to each situation. It had always been my method of operation to just blast into a spot and start fishing the gut of a run, missing lots of opportunities for fish that were in closer to me. Once I started to grid out areas and work methodically, everything began to change.
- Maybe the biggest thing that helped me was fishing with confidence. If I lost confidence in a bug I was fishing, I got out of it and into some different product. If I didn’t feel like I was effectively covering the water, I assessed my approach and got myself where I felt comfortable that I was being effective.
Each time out on the water, I make an effort to learn something new, try something different, or pick a particular aspect that I want to improve upon. Here’s to hoping my own personal continuous improvement plan helps to further my experience in 2014.
With all of the exceptionally talented fly spinners that are out there currently, along with those that came generations before us – I find it difficult to develop new, never done before patterns. So instead of constantly trying to re-invent the wheel sometimes it pays to figure out a way to make it differently and once in awhile improve upon it.
- Rear Hook: B10s Size 2
- Tail: Bucktail, Farrar’s SF Blend, Flashabou
- Rear of the Hook: Puglasi Fibers
- Body: Grande Pearl Estaz
- Connection: Beadlon, 2 beads
- Front Hook: B10s Size 1/0
- Rear of the Hook: Puglasi Fiber
- Body: Grande Pearl Estaz