Fly Fishing Tactics: Drop-Back Attack for Steelhead

Salmon Fly Fishing

Illustration by Chris Philpot

“Winter steelheading in Great Lakes tributaries involves icy flows, sluggish feeding, small flies, and big crowds. Spring fishing means big bugs and voracious hits. Success with fish dropping back into the lake now is all about effectively covering a run—which you should have all to yourself this time of year.

1 / Get a Head Start

Begin at the head of a run and fish the seams between the fast center and slower edges, where  steelhead can intercept food without fighting the teeth of the current. Drift a stonefly nymph or conehead Woolly Bugger under an indicator. Clip the hackle off the Bugger to make it look more like a baitfish.

2 / Meat in the Middle

At mid run, switch to a Zonker. Cast long and slightly upstream, and then strip the streamer back so it swims across the run, showing its full profile to any fish. If you move a steelhead and it misses, remember its exact location. Come back later and drift the same lane with a nymph-and-indicator rig.

3 / Swing Low

Take a few steps downstream. Cast across the run with a dark-colored Intruder and let it swing through the tailout, stripping the fly upstream as the swing ends. This fly has a weighted head that helps it get down fast. Keep a death grip on your rod because a drop-back that hits on the swing can yank it from your hand.”

For additional information, you can view the full article here.

The Patagonia School of Fly Fishing

In a new book, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard evangelizes a back-to-basics Japanese technique for fly fishing

SUPER FLY | Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, with his tenkara rod at Foster Park in Ventura, Calif. Peter Bohler for The Wall Street Journal

SUPER FLY | Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, with his tenkara rod at Foster Park in Ventura, Calif. Peter Bohler for The Wall Street Journal

FOR SOMEONE WITH a vested interest in selling goods for exploring the great outdoors, Yvon Chouinard, the owner and founder of the outdoor-apparel company Patagonia, takes a surprisingly stripped-down approach to one of his favorite pastimes. “Heaven knows we fly fishers are suckers for every new gizmo we think will give us a leg up on catching fish,” he writes in “Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel,” to be published by Patagonia Books on Monday. With what could safely be described as ornery skepticism, Mr. Chouinard, along with his co-authors, Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo, questions the rise of $1,000 fishing rods and tackle boxes overflowing with flies. “I would offer,” Mr. Chouinard continues, “that this proliferation of gear is supported by busy people who lack for nothing in their lives except time.”

Therein lies the book’s charm. Part straightforward how-to, part back-to-basics manifesto, the volume is also a bit of a sermon that seeks to spread the good word about a centuries-old Japanese technique known as “tenkara”—which calls for a long, flexible, reel-free rod—that Mr. Chouinard believes is the hands-down easiest and most pleasurable way to fish.

“Some people say, ‘I don’t fish because I don’t have patience,’ ” Mr. Chouinard said by telephone from Patagonia’s headquarters in Ventura, Calif. “Well, it takes no patience whatsoever to fly fish. It’s not like sitting in a boat and dangling a worm down below and waiting for a bite,” he said. “It’s proactive. It’s like dragging a toy mouse across the floor for your cat. If you just drag it, the cat just looks at it. But you stop it and give it a little twist, the cat pounces on it.”

Granted, Patagonia does stand to profit from a surge of interest in tenkara; the book is part of a kit they’re selling—complete with a rod, lines and flies. But a portion of the proceeds from the book, which can be purchased separately, will be donated to various conservation organizations. And Patagonia stores around the U.S. will offer free clinics on the technique. We asked Mr. Chouinard to highlight beginner-friendly techniques from the book. To learn more, the full article can be found here.

North Carolina Program Offers Free Fly Fishing Retreats for Breast Cancer Survivors

Article source can be viewed here.

This special fly fishing retreat is one of the very best programs I’ve come across in Western North Carolina. If you have breast cancer, are in treatment, are in remission or recovery from breast cancer, or know anyone in your life in that situation, consider signing up for one of these free, weekend-long retreats at the stunningly beautiful Lake Logan Center in Haywood County.

fly fishing retreat

Casting for Recovery Clininc

From all I’ve heard and seen, from both participants and volunteers, is these retreats can help change your life in a very good way, considering all that breast cancer does to try to destroy your life.

Casting for Recovery Carolinas will hold two weekend retreats for breast cancer survivors at Lake Logan Center on May 23-25 and Oct. 24-26, 2014.

Retreats are completely free and are open to women of any age, in any stage of recovery from breast cancer. Participants will learn the basics of fly-fishing. No fly fishing or fishing experience is necessary. The retreat schedule includes a medical information group, support groups, fly fishing instruction on the water with a personal “river helper,” and lots of time to relax and enjoy the scenic setting.

Deadline to apply is March 14 for May retreat and Aug. 15 for October retreat.

Visit to fill out an application or call the national office at 888-553-3500 to request a paper application.

For more information, email program coordinator Starr Nolan at or call her at 828- 215-4234.

EPA Report: Pebble Mine will Damage $1.5 Billion Bristol Bay Fishery in Spectacular Alaska Landscape

Full article can be read here.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA), released today, shows that large-scale mining in the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed would immediately cause the loss of 90 miles of salmon spawning waters and be potentially devastating to the entire drainage and its irreplaceable salmon and trout populations.

In light of the final assessment, Trout Unlimited today called on the EPA to immediately protect Bristol Bay from destructive mining. The BBWA was conducted after nine federally recognized tribes, commercial fishermen and sporting interests asked the EPA to use the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining in the region, including the proposed Pebble Mine. After nearly three years and extensive scientific research based on the mining company’s own development scenarios for Pebble Mine, as well as hundreds of thousands of public comments and two peer reviews, the report establishes a clear scientific foundation for the EPA to protect Bristol Bay.

“The science is indisputable,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of TU. “Bristol Bay is the world’s most important wild salmon fishery, and no place for a large-scale industrial mine. The EPA has done its job, and it’s now time for the Obama administration to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to stop the mine and protect the $1.5 billion-per-year fishery.”

Additionally, Wood said, protecting Bristol Bay is the most important conservation priority for TU and its 153,000 members who work to make trout and salmon fishing better all across the United States…” (Continue reading from original source)

How to Become a Fly Fishing Guide

Placeholder ImageFull article can be read here.

“When I decided that I wanted to spend my summers a fishing guide—I was in graduate school at the time—I didn’t really know how to go about becoming one, so I used a shotgun approach. I applied to literally every lodge and outfitter I could find in Alaska and the Rocky Mountain West. In my cover letter, I explained that, although I had no guiding experience, I would be willing to do grunt work just to get my foot in the door.

Hardly any of the people to whom I’d applied even bothered to write back, which was kind of disheartening. But one day, I opened a letter from Alaska and was shocked to find a job offer. It was the first step in a career that took me to three different lodges in Alaska and one in Montana—places I never would have been able to go otherwise.

Being a fishing guide is the greatest summer job in the world; it sure as heck beats flipping burgers, mowing lawns, or working at the mall. If I had to do it over again, I would have started guiding a lot earlier—when I was in high school or college. The key is to begin laying the foundation at an early age by working hard to become the best fisherman you can be, by learning everything you can about fishing tactics and techniques, and by studying the biology and behavior of the species that you want to fish for.

The one thing that most prospective guides fail to realize is that “guiding” doesn’t mean “fishing.” When you take a paying customer out on the water, you are expected to be an instructor, a cheerleader, and—in some cases—a babysitter. The worst-case scenario requires you to choose the fly, tie all the necessary knots, teach the client how to cast, point to where the fish are, and then stand there while the client proceeds to do everything wrong. In some cases, the client will blame you for his ineptitude, and you’ll just have to smile and nod… “(Continue reading from original source)