In the Loop Fly Fishing Magazine - Issue 24

Page 1

Costa Rica

TARPON PARADISE Bosnia and Herzegovina





Europe’s free online fly fishing magazine

Photo by Henry Schmidt


Lives are lost and economies are bleeding across the globe. These are difficult times to be alive, and all the unanswered questions and uncertainties we’re trying to tackle in the devastating wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are making us nervous and frail. Social distancing, so far, seems like the only shield we currently have against this pandemic and its threat to burst our hospitals’ capacities. So, stay inside – or go fly fishing in that secret spot of yours where you never encounter a living soul. The fly fishing industry is also bleeding. And lodges, guide services, and travel agencies across the globe stand to lose most (if not all) their business this season. As a result, we encourage you to get behind the industry; buy that new fly rod you probably don’t need but have wanted for some time, get yourself a new pair of waders that don’t leak, or buy a bunch of cool new fly tying materials to keep you busy for the weeks to come. And once the situation gets back to normal, buy that dream trip you’ve always wanted to go on. After all, you only get one life! We hope this magazine, which still remains free, will provide you with some much-needed distraction from what’s going on in the world at present. We’ve put our heart and soul into it and have spent hours in solitude putting it together for you. It features the work of Matt Harris, April Vokey, Rasmus Ovesen, Martin Ejler Olsen, Devin Olsen, Brett Zundel, Henry Schmidt, Thomas Van Schendel, Thomas Søbirk, Kurt Konrad, Jonatan Ternald, George Hill, and more… Hopefully, if there is one lesson to be learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is that the global community is capable of implementing drastic measures to ensure our health and livelihood – and that people are willing to sacrifice for the well-being of the collective. With this in mind, we should be prepared for the battle that awaits. The battle for the climate! Be safe!


A One-Way Ticket to Monsterville Pt2 by Matt Harris Fly Fishing on Top of the World by Thomas Søbirk The Hidden Gem of the Balkan Region by Rasmus Ovesen Central America’s Hidden Tarpon Paradise by Thomas Van Schendel Hidden Treasures in Poland by Kurt Konrad Nymphing Techniques by Devin Olsen And much much more...







Contributors RASMUS OVESEN

In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147




By Andrew Burr


Oslo-resident, Rasmus Ovesen, was handed his first fly rod at the tender age of eight, and he has been a borderline fluff chucking fanatic ever since. Rasmus has written articles for some of the world’s most renowned fishing magazines, and his travels take him to remote areas across the globe in search for fish that will test and challenge his skills to the maximum. He has seen his fair share of exposed backing in the tropics, but his heart truly belongs to the soulful realm of trout and salmon fishing.


Danish fly fisherman and photo journalist, Martin Ejler Olsen, has years of experience fishing for the many and varied freshand saltwater species in the Danish rivers, lakes, and fjords. He has landed some truly massive sea trout on the fly, and he has a certain gift for hooking up with the biggest fish in the schools. Martin is also a keen tropical fly fisherman. His expeditions abroad has seen him battle bonefish, permit, barracuda, tarpon, GT and sailfish – and being a gifted photographer, these trips have resulted in some great footage.


We choose not to print this magazine and we are happy not to use paper and harmful inks as used in a conventional printing process. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher.

Matt Harris has been shooting fly-fishing images since 1999 and has been commissioned to shoot images and write articles all over the world. He has shot in Argentina, Alaska, Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Cuba, England, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, India, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia, the Seychelles, Scotland, the USA and Zambia. Matt loves any type of fly-fishing with a passion and is happy to fish for everything from trout to sailfish, but his favourite quarries are big Atlantic salmon and Permit. See more of Matt’s images at:


Danish fishing expert and photographer, who has fly fished all over the globe for freshwater species such as trout, salmon, and steelhead and not least saltwater gamefish like bonefish, permit, tarpon, and giant trevally. Thomas publishes a renowned Swedish magazine (FiskeFeber), and he is head of Get Away Tours (, which has a broad variety of extremely exciting fly fishing destination across the world.



Kurt Konrad is a Slovakian fly fisherman and professional photographer who has been fly fishing all his life. He travels extensively - fly rod in hand, and even though trout and grayling are his main foray, he also finds time to pursue pike, barbel, carp and other borderline sportfish with the fly rod. Kurt also dabbles in fly fishing films, and he often finds himself conflicted about whether to be fly fishing, shooting pictures or filming.


As if fly fishing wasn’t aesthetically pleasing enough to begin with, here comes the beautiful April Vokey – a fly fishing femme fatale from the Western corner of British Columbia. April works full time as an FFF Certified fly fishing instructor and guide in the Dean and Skeena river area with her flourishing company Fly Gal Ventures. April has written articles for fishing magazines throughout the world, and she has fiercely committed herself to promoting the sport of fly fishing through words, pictures, and action.

Devin works as a fisheries biologist with threatened and endangered populations of salmon and steelhead in Oregon, USA. For the last ten years he has been competing as a member of Fly Fishing Team USA culminating with a silver team medal and bronze individual medal in the 2015 World Fly Fishing Championships in Jajce, Bosnia. In 2016 he will have his 8th consecutive berth in the WFFC’s. In his spare time Devin runs a blog and online flyshop at where he shares techniques, photography, gear, and advice to help your angling experience.



Jonatan ternald is born and bred on a small island on the Swedish west cost. Here, he fishes for sea-run brown trout and it’s here that he develops his incredible coastal flies. He is obsessed with imitating shrimps and small baitfish, and by now, his flies are catching fish all over the globe: bonefish and redfish in the U.S, browns in Norway and permit in Australia. You can follow Jonatan and his efforts at the fly tying vice here:

Having learned how to fish by his dad as a kid, Thomas got his first fly rod at the age of 12 and since then, he hasn’t looked back. Now, he is totally addicted to fly fishing and travelling, something that has seen him board planes from his home country - the Netherlands, to reach fly fishing destinations in Cuba, Gabon, Brazil, Costa Rica, Belize, The Maldives, Sudan, Colombia, and Egypt - just to name a few. For a glimpse into his world, check out his Instagram account:

Do you have any great fly fishing photos, videos, or stories that you would like to share with our readers? If so, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always looking for quality material for In the Loop Magazine, and we look forward to reviewing your material.


A One-Way ticket to Monsterville Big flies catch big fish – and in this continuation of Matt Harris’ article about the flies and fly tyers that have changed the way we target trophy-sized fish, it’s time to go into depth with some of the essential XL-streamer patterns that have come to the fore. By: MATT HARRIS


(Continued from last issue…) Bob Popovics really changed the way that we think about fly design and opened up a whole new era of possibilities using fresh ideas and materials to create flies that were large, voluminous, yet eminently fishable. Modern fly-tying owes a great deal to Bob Popovics. Bob’s Poplips pattern is one of his many brilliant creations, and it is a classic – it has the kind of erratic movement that doesn’t allow those big fish to get that all-important “fix” on the fly, and as a result, it can drive those same fish into a frustrated rage that induces an injudicious mistake. Perhaps the only problem with the fly is that it is not currently available commercially, but you can find lots more information on various you tube tying tutorials or in Bob’s book. To see this fly swimming in the water on any of the various short films

on YouTube will instantly have you reaching for your vice… As well as the Poplips, Bob has pioneered the tying of ultra-large, yet ultra-castable patterns, notably his BEAST fleyes. This pattern creates the impression of a really large baitfish, yet despite using water-absorbent bucktail, it remains remarkably easy to cast. By the way, Fleyes not flies? Read the book…. Another great modern innovator is Blane Chocklett. Along with Popovics, Blane has rewritten the rules on large fly design over the last decade or so. Blane is well-known for his gummy minnow pattern, which is a killing fly that has caught me everything from brown trout to mahseer to tuna over the years. However, it is his big articulated flies like the “T-bone” and especially the aptly named “Gamechanger” that are nothing short of revolutionary.






The Gamechanger is a brilliant design. Like Popovics’ BEAST pattern, it can imitate really large baitfish, but crucially, Blane uses articulated “spines” that allow the fly’s “spine” to flex and swim in a manner remarkably reminiscent of a live baitfish. The Gamechanger allows anglers to fish a really big fly very slowly with that all-important erratic movement, and it can often illicit strikes from big, cunning fish that seem impossible to fool with more conventional patterns. Bob Popovics is now experimenting with the ‘spine’ technique, and his huge BEAST fleye tied with Blane’s spine concept is nothing short of a living thing. My great friend Luciano Saldise was my guide when I first tried the Gamechanger for myself, six long years ago – Lucio laughed when I produced a crudely tied, home-made version of the fly, but it proved an instant success, catching a magnificent 27 pound dorado for us at Untamed Angling’s Tsimane Lodge in Bolivia. There was more laughter the first

time I showed the Gamechanger to my friends, the guides at Untamed Angling’s Trophy Peacock Bass Lodge on the Rio Marié. The big bold chartreuse pattern I had tied up was huge – 10 inches long – and Rafael Costa and the boys were more than a little skeptical. However, when I showed them the same fly swimming in the clear water at the back of the big houseboat that we were staying on, they were genuinely amazed. Even when fished at ultra-slow speed, the fly had a sinuous, erratic living action that was unlike any fly that they had ever seen. Bill, a likeable veteran American angler, was also looking on. He laughed infectiously and pronounced with a grin: “You got yourself a one-way ticket to Monsterville right there!” The fly didn’t disappoint. It really was deadly, and caught a number of really big peacocks, even when fished behind other anglers that had used smaller, more orthodox patterns.

The Gamechanger has since become one of my go-to patterns. As well as dorado and peacocks, It has racked up trophy pike, arapaima and many other big apex predators. The big tigerfish of the Mneyra and Ruhudji Rivers in Tanzania for instance attack a really big Gamechanger with absolute abandon. Armed with a built-in rattle, the Gamechanger has even allowed me to sight-fish for targets like surubi and redtail catfish, fish that are normally considered impossible to catch on fly.

There are plenty of Youtube tutorials on tying Gamechangers, but they are a time-consuming tie. Fortunately, The Flymen Fishing Company and Umpqua now both market the Gamechanger in various deadly incarnations, and their versions are excellent, fish-catching examples of Blane’s killer pattern.

However, even Gamechangers and other huge flies like Bob Popovics’ BEAST Fleye can only be tied and cast

SO big – how do you mimic something REALLY huge. One way is to adopt the old marketing adage of selling the “sizzle” not the sausage. Unlike a subsurface pattern, a surface fly can make a commotion that resembles a fish much, much bigger than the fly that actually creates that commotion. There are various patterns that can achieve this. My friend James Christmas’s NYAP pattern – “Not Your Average Popper” – is a brilliant invention. Unlike many poppers it casts very easily – an important consideration when you are wading waist-deep in heavy surf – yet it makes a remarkable amount of commotion for such a relatively small, aerodynamic fly. I recently asked my good mate Rupert Harvey to ‘pimp’ the fly by creating a “Bling” NYAP – a version featuring a coating of mirage foil, and the combination of mirror-bright flash and erratic, boiling commotion gives the impression of something much more substantial than a hook and two inches or so of foam. Now the fly is visually as well as sonically “Loud”, and it has the potential to draw fish from a long, long way away.

Another really remarkable surface pattern is Charlie Bisharat’s Poledancer, marketed by the Umpqua Fly Company. The Poledancer has the same great zigzag movement as that aforementioned spin fisher’s favourite – the Zara Spook. The Poledancer features an ingenious hydro-dynamic head design, and like the Poplips and the Gamechanger, the fly has an erratic and unpredictable “here and gone” movement that is simply deadly. The Poledancer can be induced to make an even greater commotion, by using a Floating line with an intermediate “clear tip”. The clear tip pulls the fly INTO the surface, but the big buoyant head CAN’T be sunk, and instead spurts half a gallon of water into the air every time you strip the fly back towards you. The 5/0 version gives the impression of something REALLY BIG that’s in REALLY BIG TROUBLE. Throw in all that seductive, gyrating mischief and few fish can resist. The surface takes can be astonishing, and for that reason, the 5/0 Poledancer is singularly the fly that I most love to fish for big, aggressive predators. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Erratic movement isn’t always the answer. Sometimes the target species – especially big lazy scavengers like pike or arapaima want big flies ULTRA-SLOW, and often at a straight, constant retrieve that allows them to really check out the fly before eating it. One answer to this conundrum is to use Paolo Pacchiarini’s brilliant “Wiggletail” system. Wiggletails have life even at extremely slow speeds, and they create a big visual template that provides the required large prey profile. The flickering vibrations that they send out are reminiscent of the lure angler’s “rubber tail jig”. They are easy to cast and can be confidently fished ultra-slow. Paolo’s recent additions – Dragon tails and Wave tails – can also prove deadly, and by using his quick-change Fastech system, you can quickly change the tail for a larger or smaller version in any numbers of colours and finishes. Arapaima are incredibly tough to catch on fly. However, they are sometimes – but not always – suckers for wiggletails. The XXL Wiggle-tail in gold makes a fantastic representation of a juvenile arowana, one of the arapaima’s favourite food sources, and IF the fish are keying on them, the wiggletail can be a killer. WIGGLETAIL



However, keep your wits about you and listen to your guide - if the fish are keying on small sardine- or mullet-type prey, then a pattern like Tomasz Bogdanowicz’s “Tarpon mullet” is a better bet – its construction allows it to be fished ultra slow and it has enough life to fool these big fish even when retrieved ultra-slowly.

ters where showing the fish something different can make all the difference. Constantly swapping these tails has given me great results at Chilé’s ultra-challenging but ultra-rewarding Austral Kings fishery, where the big resident fish of the hard-fished Manios Pool can take some real persuading.

Guide Dave Mangan’s ingenious use of kids’ “Squirmle” toys – now marketed as Mangan’s Dragon Tails by Orvis and Veniards amongst others, offers another incredibly mobile option for super-slow presentations, and these tails have a remarkable amount of action even at extremely slow speeds. Crucially, they take just seconds to tie in.

These ideas and patterns are just the tip of a very big iceberg - there are any number of other fly developments in the making, and combinations of some of these ideas can offer new twists on all of these ideas.

I carry them all in various sizes and colours, along with other simple tails equipped with Pacchiarini fastchange clips constructed from rabbit-fur zonkers, mylar flash and so on, they offer a very quick way to change what you are showing the fish. This can be great on hard-fished wa-

Having great tyers like Rupert Harvey and Tomasz Bogdanowicz as a friend is a real benefit, and being able to talk about specific custom designs allows for a myriad of new experiments. Rupert and Tomasz have created all kinds of hybrid designs for me – Rupert’s big howitzer poppers with gamechanger bodies and interchangeable tails are just one example of how all of these great new advances can be incorporated into experimental new patterns that really work.




Don’t get carried away with the big fly concept - there are many times when small flies are undoubtedly the best first line of attack - but do yourself a favour - invest in a fast-action, heavy duty rod with an aggressive-taper short-head line, and you will be amazed just how big a fly you can cast.

would say, go get yourself a one-way ticket to Monsterville.

Beg, borrow or tie some big but castable flies, and, as my old friend Bill

Or via his website at

Matt Harris flyfishes all around the world – if you are interested in joining him on a hosted trip. Contact him at:

Thanks to: Bob Popovics Blane Chocklett Rupert Harvey Tomasz Bogdanowicz/Pike Terror Flies Alex Rook Charlie Bisharat James Christmas Umpqua Flymen Fishing Company


Fly Fishing on Top of the World


Fly fishermen are constantly breaking new ground in search for the next big adventure. Not long ago - to most fly fishermen at least, Greenland was this huge, white, and obscure island at the top of their world map poster – unchartered territory. It still is to a certain extent. But for a growing number of travellers, it’s the next dream destination.

On every tide, every single day, throughout the short season from July to September, fresh fish will enter the river. Sometimes in small groups, but more often in big schools. Through gin clear water, you see them moving across the shallow parts of the river. Further upstream, you will find them resting in some of the deeper pools and lies: These heavily built arctic char that have left behind the salty realm out to sea, where they have been gorging themselves on shrimp and fish. Now, they suddenly find themselves immersed in oxygen-rich freshwater, ready for some imminent fishy business that will secure yet another generation of these magnificent creatures. We have all heard stories of the goodold days: The Newfoundland salmon stocks in the fifties, when Lee Wulff was swinging his dry flies across pools full of fish. The tarpon migration in the Florida Keys that was ten to twenty times bigger than it is today. The Norwegian salmon rivers in their prime, bursting with chrome fish. The list is endless.

I was recently on a remote river in Greenland, swinging a fly across a neck that held at least fifty big searun arctic char and, even though the fish weren’t always easy to fool, I felt extremely privileged to be fishing in a part of the world that was still unaffected by man. Greenland is still – to a large extent, untouched and pristine. Here, yesterday is now! “That doesn’t look like you” I travel quite a bit and I’m usually very well-prepared. I apply for necessary visas in time, buy foreign currency - if needed, and get the gear sorted out during the weeks leading up to the trip. My latest trip to Greenland was different: On the morning of my departure, when printing my itinerary and e-ticket, I suddenly realized the flight was departing almost two hours earlier than I thought. Luckily, the traffic wasn’t too bad. My wife drove me to the airport immediately and I made it to the checkin counter just in time.

There I was met by a polite, but slightly amused lady at the check-in counter, who remarked with a smirk: “That doesn’t look like you?!”. Apparently, I had grabbed my daughter’s passport by mistake when rushing out of the house! I assume, my negligence was down to the fact that I’m Danish. After all, despite the fact that Greenland remains an exotic place to most people, I was taught in school that Greenland was basically just a part of Denmark. Having visited the world’s largest island many times, I now feel completely at home there – and I tend to forget that it’s really a whole different world, far away from home. Denmark colonized Greenland three centuries ago. While the Danes surely did some serious harm and wrong-doing along the way, the relationship between our two countries might also have helped Greenland’s modest population of 56.000 prepare for modern times. Today, the people of Greenland are free to choose independency from Denmark. But they have yet to do so. There are still very strong ties between Denmark and Greenland: Danish is still taught in Greenland schools; Greenlanders are free to study in Denmark, and citizens of Denmark and Greenland are allowed to travel between the two countries without a passport. That was my rescue! I was able to produce a driver’s licence as a means of identification – my own this time, and I finally made it (a bit shaky) to the gate.

The Cowboy Rig I can’t really think of anything that unites people from all over the world better than fly fishing. During my week at Camp North, the fly fishing guests were from Sweden, Ukraine, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, and the US. I’m sure there was potential for a good joke there but, instead of trying to come up with one, we just fished, hiked, laughed, ate well, relaxed, finished our beers, wine and booze, and then fished some more. While the camp manager and his assistants showed most of the guests how to get started, I volunteered to introduce two fly fishermen from southern Sweden to some of my favourite spots. The fishing was kind of slow for Camp North, so I soon ended up tying on my secret weapon: A small- and super light streamer a meter-or-so behind a heavier fly, which is tied Clouser-style in order to fish upside down and avoid foul hooking. This was even more efficient than I remembered it to be and, soon after, I had been into several fresh-run char.

I wasn’t meant to be guiding on this trip, but I simply couldn’t resist the chance of enforcing the impression of me being a true expert. I went a bit downstream, where Uffe was still waiting for the first pull of the trip and got him rigged up. While doing so, I must have mumbled some nonsense about this “being an old cowboy-trick”. I provided a few instructional tips, and soon Uffe was swinging the rig in just the right way. It only took three or four casts, then his line came tight and he was now playing his first Greenland char. A few hard fighting minutes later, when he landed a fresh-run fish straight out of the ocean, his smile said it all. His mate, Hasse, joined us in time to witness the release of the fish. “What did you catch it on?”, were Hasse’s obvious first words. “The Cowboy-Rig!”, Uffe replied casually, as if it was something that every fly fisherman was supposed to know about. It’s a good thing we got the method christened early on because, during the week, it would prove deadly – especially when the char would take a break from hitting foam flies on

the surface, or when they were, otherwise, uncooperative. One day, we fished the upper river and I introduced the method to Kirill, while explaining how the char often line up against the far bank. I guess, I explained the technique pretty well, but what ensued probably also had something to do with the fact that the place was jam-packed with fish. I left Kirill to try some spots further upstream, and when I came back, a couple of hours later, he was still fishing from the same rock. And still catching fish consistently! Sportfishing in Greenland Recreational fishing in Greenland didn’t start with catch & release-based fly fishing but with spinning gear and, to a large extent, lots of catch & kill. I still remember a few stories published in Danish fishing magazines more than thirty years ago with pictures of high numbers of moderate-sized arctic char caught on spinners in coloured, glacier-fed rivers. The writers happily posed with ten-, fifteen-, or even more dead fish on the bank.

That kind of fishing might have been interesting at the time but as a growing number of trout anglers turned to fly fishing, the numbers game with smaller fish in coloured rivers slowly lost its allure. The infrastructure in Greenland has always been limited. In the past, people would fish the rivers within immediate reach. And the rivers were usually relatively short with only a few pools. The pools, in turn, would oftentimes hold hundreds of fish. Being close to civilization, they had been netted for decades, and – as a result, the average size of the char had been reduced to a couple of pounds. Fly fishing in Greenland really took off around a decade ago when Getaway Fly Fishing staff members scouted a couple of different rivers north and south of Sisimiut, Greenland’s second biggest city and home to around 5000 people. These rivers were longer and wider, and they ran through lakes that cleared the water. Also, they were remote enough not to be netted, which meant that the average size of the char was much better. The rather euphoric scouts sent back reports of rivers full of char averaging from 55 to 60 cm with plenty of fish topping 70 cm and some passing 80 cm. Like salmon, arctic char don’t feed in freshwater but their aggressiveness makes up for that. While swinging streamers is always super-effective, we discovered that nothing is more fun than skating big foam flies on the surface. Frequently, the char would wake just behind the flies and chase them halfway across the river before, finally, breaking the surface with their mouths out of the water and engulfing the fly one or two rod length’s away. We had found fly fishing heaven!

Undersold and overhiked The two anglers, that had travelled farthest to fish Camp North this week, were Jeff and Carl from the US. Luckily, the trip met all of their expectations, and then some. In fact, it turned out they had – for the most part – been “undersold”. At first, I guess, I just saw Carl and Jeff as being really positive and optimistic guys. I was sure they were – they were fly fishermen after all, right?! But at the end of the trip, I had a conversation with Carl that clarified things further: When a trip is advertised in Europe, most serious agents will try to describe what participants should expect from an average trip (OK, maybe a trip on the good side of average). In the US, however, many agents describe the potential of the fishing and everything else in the most glorious terms, just shy of a potential lawsuit. No wonder these guys wore happy faces all week. They had probably expected to catch a few nice fish, while being in pure survival-mode most of the time. Instead, they ate well, slept

well, found a toilet in camp, and – no pun intended - caught a shitload of fish. We also had three professors from northern Sweden in camp. This was their second trip to Camp North, so they knew exactly what to expect – but, apparently, two of them, Lars and Bert, thought it was a bit too comfortable and must have felt “underhiked”. So, around mid-week, they packed extra provisions and had one of the camp assistants ferry them across the big lake and fished the wonderful stretches on the upper river. Late in the evening, they crossed over to the side creek (it’s a 15 km hike that no other guests, or guides, have done before), had a short rest, and then fished their way down to the main river, below the lake. When they hit camp, they had clocked 42 km on their GPS! Greg, the third Swedish professor, was more sensible and preferred not to get “overhiked”, so he enjoyed himself fishing the productive runs on the lower river while his colleagues went exploring.

I loved his reason for getting into fly fishing: “Well, the two other guys are my lunch partners, but they are always talking fly fishing. So, I finally realized that I could either find new lunch partners or get into fly fishing myself ”.

A 70 cm char found my fly, when less than a third of the line had been stripped in. Back-out-of-the-water, it followed, and followed, and followed with its nose less than 20 cm from my fly. I tried to speed it up, but I was soon running out of fly line.

An eat to remember Often, one’s best fish of a trip is also the biggest. After all, we’re fishermen, right? But on this particular trip, my most memorable fish wasn’t the biggest.

Just as the connection between my ten-foot leader and the fly line has passed through the top guide, the char finally decided it was time for the kill.

One morning, around half way into the week, a bunch of us decided to fish the ocean near Camp North’s Eqalugsugssuit river (I assume not naming the camp after the river was pure damage control). It empties into a large fjord, which is perfect for fishing on a rising tide with a traditional Scandinavian approach to coastal fly fishing - or a semi-traditional approach. I found myself chucking out a big red foam fly, Gurgler style, as far as I could and skating it back across the greenish waters of the fjord with both hands, rod under my arm.

Only a rod’s length from me, a mouth flared open, the red foam fly was sucked in and the fish turned away in a big swirl. Standing waist deep in the fjord, somewhere far removed from civilization, as a chrome-bright char charged off with my fly line, I was reminded - not only why fly reels carry backing, but why I got into fly fishing in the first place. I felt on top of the world! More information about fly fishing Greenland’s greatest rivers:


The Hidden Gem of the Balkan Region Croatia, and perhaps especially, Slovenia, have long since gained a reputation for being prime fly fishing destinations. Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the other hand, is still rather undiscovered – at least by the international fly fishing community. By: RASMUS OVESEN Photos by: MARTIN EJLER OLSEN, RASMUS OVESEN and ADO-ADMIR JEGINOVIC

Bosnia and Herzegovina has only just recently started showning up on the mainstream fly fishing radar. Too long in the haunting shadow of the Yugoslav Wars, the numerous pristine rivers in the sparsely populated country have gone largely unnoticed by the international fly fishing community. Rivers such as Una, Pliva, Sana, Neretva and Ribnik are destined, however, to become part of the vocabulary of traveling fly fishing. Not only are their cold, nutrient-rich and well-oxygenated waters teeming with fish, they’re also among the most strikingly beautiful in all of Europe – being, as they are, meanderingly carved into one of Europe’s most monumental and mountainous reaches. Admitted, there might be fisheries management issues to be solved in the years to come regarding fishing pressure, stocking practices and habitat protection. But, there is no doubt: Bosnia and Herzegovina deserves a spot in the limelight: After all, there aren’t many places in the world with such a richness of endemic trout and

salmonid species – species like the danubian salmon, grayling, brown trout, marble trout and softmouth trout. And there aren’t many places in the world with such a richness of unique rivers – karst and chalk rivers that spring from the ground and form watersheds with a seemingly never-ending succession of waterfalls, canyons and emerald blue pools. During a visit in September 2018, we got the chance to experience some of the fishing Bosnia and Herzegovina has to offer. Using the newly built and extremely ambient, Hotel Kraljevac on the Sana River near Kljuc, as a starting point, our skillful and engaged guides - led by Bosnia’s most renowned fly fisherman, Ado-Admir Jeginovic, showed us some of the gems in the region. First up was Sanica, a tributary to the Sana. In this small, meandering river that pours downstream through a rich culture landscape draped by overhanging trees, we got our first taste of what fly fishing in Bosnia and Herzegovina is all about.

There were plenty of fish. We could see them in the gin-clear water along all the depressions in the river bed. They were mostly grayling with a few bright red-spotted brown trout thrown into the mix. And they were feeding too; eagerly and consistently – both on and below the surface. Catching them, however, proved an entirely different matter. Throughout the day, we continued to revise and refine our presentation. The flies kept getting smaller, the tippets thinner and thinner. Once we got to hook sizes in the mid-twenties and started fishing downstream with 8X tippets, the fish finally came to our flies. But they would, inadvertently, switch to feeding on different insects or different hatching stages, once we thought we had everything figured out. It was challenging and at times frustrating – but each hard-fighting fish was fulfilling and provided us with a heart-warming sense of achievement. They were beautifully coloured, well-nourished and predominantly big: from 40cm and into the 50s.

The Una was a beautiful sight. The upper stretches of the river, which are managed on a strict catch and release basis, kept us busy for a full day. Here, in the midst of beautiful tree-clad mountain terrain, there were plenty of aggressively feeding rainbow trout in varying sizes. Some of them, at one point, had obviously switched from snatching miniscule flies off the surface to preying on other fish and, in the process, they’d grown to stupendous sizes. Casting to these fish became somewhat an obsession for some of the team members, but – despite a few short hookups, we never managed to land one. Our guide, Ado-Admir Jeginovic, knew the drill, however. And only a few days after returning from Bosnia and Herzegovina, he sent us pictures of a 14kg+ rainbow trout that he had just caught in one of the top pools on the river. We also spotted a few absolutely massive brown trout in the river. They would materialize as big, looming shadows in some of the deeper pools and they sent shivers

of disbelief down our spines. Our guides had several spectacular stories to tell about brown trout in excess of 1m being caught in the river. Having lots of easy proteins in the shape of stocked rainbow trout to feast on, these fish weren’t easy to lure, though. And hooking one, obviously, wasn’t the same as landing one either… The Ribnik is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most famous rivers. It’s short and sweet. Only about 5 kilometers in length, shallow and full of gravel and vegetation – and, not least, fish. Grayling are the predominant species in the river, and they are abundantly distributed throughout the whole length of the river. Native brown trout are also present in good numbers, and at the very source of the river, specimens in excess of 8 kilos can be found. We enjoyed a beautiful sunny day at the river and had lots of time to single out some of the biggest grayling in the river and cast to some of the pods of brown trout that were holding in the deeper pools. The

hatches were prolific and by the end of the day, we had all gone through our fly boxes back to back several times. During midday, the fish were rising steadily on hatching midges and blue duns. Presentation was key, however, and even the best of imitations were cold-bloodedly studied and cynically rejected if the drift wasn’t just right. Once again, we found ourselves fishing #22-28 CDC emergers, ants and mayflies painstakingly tied onto 8X tippets. But with such an incredible concentration of fish to be spotted, we managed to hook up with and land a good number of solid grayling up to 55cm – and, not least, a handful of handsome brown trout. Three fishing days are too few, when visiting a place like Bosnia and Herzegovina. But it was all the time we had. Had there been more time, we would probably have ventured onto the Sana in search for big grayling and brown trout – and we would have spent the wee hours of the day searching for its massive hucho hucho; the Danubian salmon, which grows to more than 25 kilos.

A few of the guys would no doubt have spent some more time on targeting the big trout on the Una and upper reaches of the Ribnik – and some might have spun off to the Pliva; another river in the area that provides technical sight-fishing for trophy grayling and brown trout. There’s certainly enough exciting fishing left to provide a convincing argument for returning. And we need not think twice about recommending anyone fascinated by sight-fishing for trout and grayling to visit the Kljuc area and it’s mesmerizingly beautiful rivers. Fact File – Fishing in Bosnia There are several endemic fish species in Bosnia – including hucho, softmouth trout and marble trout. In addition, there are grayling, brown trout and stocked rainbow trout. Given the extremely rich biotopes in the region, the fish grow to immense sizes – and trout in excess of 10 kilos are caught on a yearly basis. They are found in rivers across the country, and some of the most famous ones are Ribnik, Pliva, Una, and Sana to the North and the Neretva, Drina, Buna and Trebizat to the South. Most rivers are managed by local fishing clubs, and fishing licenses need to be obtained locally prior to fishing. A local guide is recommended, as the fishing can be rather challenging at times. For more information, please refer to:

Fact File – Logistics Bosnia and Herzegovina is pretty well-connected with the rest of Europe. One can fly to Sarajevo, the capital city, but depending on, which rivers you intend to fish, it might be better to consider a flight to Split in Croatia. Flights to Split are convenient and cheap, and rivers such as Ribnik, Una, Pliva and Sana are within comfortable driving range. If you choose to fly to Split, we can recommend Uni Rent, which is conveniently situated at the airport: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a relatively small country of some 51,129 km2, but it’s very mountainous, and there aren’t many major highways. As a result, it takes about 4 – 6 hours to get from the rivers in the northern parts of the country to those in the south. Fact File – Hotel Kraljevac Situated on the banks of the famous Sana River, Hotel Kraljevac caters to the needs of visiting fly fishermen with spacious, balcony-fitted riverside rooms, locker rooms for wading gear, a fly shop and its very own team of fly fishing guides. The hotel is a mere five minutes away from the city of Kljuc, which is situated in the Northern corner of Bosnia – in the Bosnian Federation-part of the country. It was built in 2017 on the banks next to the best hucho pool on the River Sana, and as a result, it is not only a good starting point for targeting Sana’s many grayling and brown trout but also its massive hucho. Rivers such as the Ribnik, Sanica, Una and Unac are all within relatively short reach – and the guides at the hotel are always fully updated on the conditions at the individual rivers in the area.

p: Mark Welsh

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Central America’s Hidden Tarpon Paradise Costa Rica is wedged in between Nicaragua and Panama in the southern part of Central America. It borders both the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean and, just as its jungles teem with wildlife, its coastal shores are teeming with exciting and prolific fish species – including tarpon. Big tarpon! By: THOMAS VAN SCHENDEL

Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus), also known as “Silver Kings”, are a species of fish that has rightfully obtained status as royalty among fly fishermen. In my opinion, these revered behemoths simply cannot be compared with any other sportfish out there. Large silvery scales, huge eyes, colossal bony mouths and characteristic dorsal fins comprise the external features of these beast that can grow to more than 6 feet and weigh up to 350lbs. They will put every fisherman to the test, both mentally and physically, and they will eventually expose any kind of weakness in your equipment. Hooking a tarpon warrants one of the most exciting fights you’ll ever experience in your fly fishing carreer. Battling a big tarpon will mark you for the rest of your life, and it’s highly likely that your audience with the Silver King will turn into a life-long obsession. It certainly has for me. After a long flight and an impressive car ride through the jungle, we finally

arrived in Barra del Colorado. Barra is located on the Caribbean coast in the Northwestern part of Costa Rica, close to the Nicaraguan border. The Rio Colorado, the local river, divides the village into two separate parts, North and South - and the place is very calm and peaceful. It feels like time has stood still here. The small wooden houses along the river are built on stilts to protect them against floods and tides. The children play games on the rudimentary airstrip that was specifically built to bring tourists to the area. The village people live in harmony with each other surrounded by rich flora, fauna and wildlife. Every morning you will be awoken by the cacophonic sounds of animals. The village truly is a unique destination in the Costa Rican jungle, but the ocean isn’t far away. A short boat ride from the village takes you to the mouth of the river, and here you can experience what is perhaps the best tarpon fishing in the world.

Your first view of the Rio Colorado does not necessarily give you the impression that you have arrived in tarpon paradise. The perpetually mud-brown river flows into the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean ocean, and the colour contrast, where the current of the river and the sea meets, is very impressive. The river, which extracts freshwater from Lake Nicaragua, is full of nutrients. Its rich source of food makes the river home to thousands of sardines and other baitfish. Particularly the abundance of baitfish in the mouth of the river makes it an ideal hunting habitat for tarpon. And because of the wealth of food here, they can grow to enormous dimensions. The river delta holds both resident and migrating tarpon, and it is home to the so-called “yellow-belly” tarpon, a mighty fish that resides around the mouth of the river during Fall. It’s possible to fish all year round in Costa Rica. The peak season for tarpon, however, is during April and May and then again from September to November when the truly monstrous tarpon over 200lbs are around.

The period from January to April is the dry season and during these months there is usually less rain but, instead, chances of strong winds. The rainy season is from May to December. Fortunately, most rainfall occurs during the late afternoon and evening hours, and given the fact that there is typically little wind on the coast, this is the ideal period for fly fishermen. Yompani, our guide for the week, is already waiting for us with a big smile on his face. This extremely friendly man turns out to have a great deal of experience guiding clients for tarpon. Despite his age, he is still very passionate and fanatic, and his knowledge becomes an indispensable success factor as the week progresses. His fanaticism is perfectly illustrated by the fact that he has already started the engine on his 22’ panga before we have even managed to rig our rods. Only a few minutes later we sail through the surf at the mouth of the Rio Colorado and head out to sea. Soon, a rolling tarpon shows its

presence. A colossal, silver giant that makes my heart beat profusely in my chest. It is something I never seem to get used to, not even after years of tarpon fishing. Adrenaline is pumping through my veins, and I no longer seem to have complete control over my body. I nervously strip line off the reel and make a few casts to the spot where the silver king broke the surface. I retrieve the fly line with shaky hands, not knowing whether the fish will hit the fly or not. Fly fishing in the mouth of the turbid Rio Colorado is mainly based on blind casting. To me, this doesn’t make the fishing less exciting. It simply means that at any moment, a huge tarpon may hit the fly – and it keeps you on your toes, psyched and ready for the big tug, at all times.

Meanwhile, the frantic activity of rolling and hunting tarpon is increasing. And there are some truly massive fish around! The chaotic sounds of fish hunting and the splashes of fleeing baitfish can be heard all around the boat at times.

It is wonderful to see the tarpon completely stuffing themselves with bait. And when the water explodes, as dozens of tarpon suddenly hunt simultaneously in the surface, my heart skips a beat. It’s fascinating in all its brutal and chaotic glory. But the question remains: Will they hit a fly? Suddenly, the fly line is brutally pulled out of my hands. It feels like a high-speed train is taking off with my fly line attached to it, and when I come to my senses and strip-set the hook, a tarpon jumps meter-high into the air and rattles its gills in an attempt to shake off the fly. I bow respectfully to the King, lowering the rod tip as the fish leaps, in order to prevent it from spitting the hook. But after the umpteenth jump, the fly suddenly shoots out of the mouth of the tarpon. I look at the crater, the fish left behind after cart-wheeling back into the water surface – with shock and disappointment. It is all part of it, however - Its tarpon fishing! On average, you land 1 in 6 tarpon you hook. It is not the first or only time this happens during the week. A tarpon’s mouth is way too bony and hard to effectively set the hook and land more than a modest percentage of the ones that hit your fly.

Tarpon fishing is perhaps the most challenging and exciting fishery out there. And when targeting tarpon, euphoria and disappointment are closely linked together. You need a bit of luck to land a giant from a boat, but during our week in Costa Rica we were fortunate enough to have very few complaints in that regard. Exciting and heady fights, runs far into the backing and spectacular leaps were plentiful, and one unforgettable moment followed the other. When you’ve finally tamed the king and drained him of much of his energy, it is time to quickly marvel at his splendor, unhook him, and release him back into the ocean. He’s entitled to the freedom! Along the boatside, his beautiful silver scales flicker and reflect in the sunlight with unbelievably beautiful details, and his chrome flanks and powerful motor – the deeply forked tail – invariantly command respect. His soulful eyes tell stories from the deep, of a mysterious life, as ruthless as it is pure – a life filled with drama.

Fighting a colossal monster like the Silver King is breathtakingly exciting from start till finish, and all the skills, you have developed throughout the years as a fly fisherman, are put to the test. The king doesn’t like being tinkered with in his own palace! If you make even a slight mistake, the Silver King will punish you mercilessly. Taking a break during the fatiguing fight? Forget it! This means the tarpon will rest too. Your job is to prevent it from ever refueling or reenergizing. An effective way to do that is to keep the tarpon off balance by applying a steady, low-side pressure in the opposite direction of where the tarpon turns. It’s what the tarpon cracks call “down and dirty”. Costa Rican tarpon can reach enormous sizes. During our trip, we caught fish ranging from 60 to 180lbs. Not surprisingly, these fish require a heavy outfit. A 9’ 12-weight rod is an absolute minimum, especially since you don’t want to fight a big tarpon for too long.

Within 25 minutes, we had landed the biggest fish of the trip, taken a photo and released it. In other words, it’s not necessary to fight a tarpon for hours if you keep the pressure on the fish. It deserves to be released with some leftover energy reserves. A good quality saltwater reel with a smooth drag system and a minimum of 300 yards of backing is essential to stop the Silver King. A fast sinking tropical fly line, such as the Scientific Anglers Amplitude Big Water Taper, ensures that the streamer quickly reaches the right depth and is not hindered by the ever-present current in the estuary. As a leader, we used 5ft of straight 100 to 150lb fluorocarbon. Deceivers, minnows and bunker streamers in different colors and sizes tied on strong saltwater hooks were our favorite flies. Costa Rica has only made me more of a tarpon addict, and I’m now licking my wounds and preparing for another round with the Silver King. Are you ready to enter the battle? Well, what are you waiting for? The Costa Rican tarpon are hungry and aggressive, and tons of unforgettable experiences are waiting to be etched into your memory.

THE PURSUIT OF INSPIRED DESIGN By nature, fly fishing is a minimalist activity. Defiantly uncluttered. It’s about being fully engaged and immersed in the moment— connected to everything around you—without being distracted by gear. At Waterworks-Lamson, our goal has been to make gear so technically fluid you can almost forget it’s there. How? By eliminating complexity. Reducing weight. Streamlining design. And using advanced materials and cutting edge processes. Our work has been to strip gear down to the core dynamics. What remains is only the essential. From that discipline come forms where beauty emerges from what isn’t there. That is our method and our paradox: To create products that you can forget about. And in doing so, make them unforgettable



Hidden Treasures in Poland Time flies like an arrow, and a year has already passed since our first visit to the San River in Poland. We were raring to head into the river, to slosh through its cold water and to place our flies gently on its crisp film of well-oxygenated water. Last year, the San taught us a lot. We hooked a lot of fish, but we found it rather challenging to catch fish bigger than 16 inches. We knew, however, that beautiful black grayling and starkly coloured brown trout in trophy sizes were there, and that they still had to be there as we headed back this year – much better prepared!


Prior to this early September week, when we headed to the San again, we’d been super-busy tying nymphs, dries and streamers. Our fly boxes were teeming with neatly tied realistics and inducers, but we other cards up our sleeve too. Through social networking, Vlado had become friends with Michal - a polish guy. He knows the San as the back of his hand, just like we know our local Váh River. He helped find the best stretches of the river for us and he also advised us on the most successful fly patterns. So far so good! On our way to Poland, we traditionally stop at whatever fishing tackle shops we come across. We spent at least an hour in each one, which meant we ended up being quite late. Late in the evening, we finally arrived at our private apartment, which was situated about half a mile from a power plant. Imagine having a drier for waders on your porch! That’s all inclusive! The next day we woke up to the immediate ambience of a beautiful, foggy, autumn morning. The sun was doing its best trying to peek through the fog and once again, I was in such a quandary about what to do. Should I fish, or take snaps, or shoot a film?

We began fishing, French nymphstyle, in the stronger currents first - and the fish didn’t let us wait for long. The first brown trout and grayling were soon trembling and shivering in our landing nets, but size-wise they were nothing special. Around noon the fish started rising, so we moved into shallower and slower water, where we found the fish at close range. We often had fish right in front of us but especially the grayling were really picky and finicky. The small olive CDCs were the most successful for dry fly fishing and the brown trout trustfully inhaled some of our carefully tied scuds, nymphs, cinnamon sedges and palmers. You probably know how fast time flies when the fish are biting – and soon the first day had come to and end. In the evening we sat in the cosy kitchen and tied some additional samples of the flies that had proven successful during the day. Michal joined us, and being a professional fly tyer, he had some great fly tying input for the upcoming days. The next day, instead of buying a licence, I devoted my time to taking

pictures and shooting the short movie “This is San”. Meanwhile, Daniel chose to attempt one of San River’s elusive Danube salmon. He did so using a six-inch long streamer, because the fishing rules don’t allow the use of smaller streamers during this time of year. During our visit last year, we saw Danube salmon hunt 20inch long rainbow trout, so it was more than natural to give these exciting fish a chance. In the end, Daniel managed to land only a rainbow trout on his streamer. He did, however, come in close contact with a couple of Danube salmon – which instilled in him some confidence. Hopefully, when we come back next year, we will manage to land one of those trophy 40inch Danube salmon that terrorize the river. Later in the week, we moved to a stretch of the river known as the “pit near cottage”. There are some really beautiful fish hiding in there – many of them bigger than 20 inches. Daniel caught a few brown trout and grayling on nymphs, and then it was Michal’s turn.

He came to the front of “the scene” after losing a couple of fish, and was finally awarded with a beautiful rainbow trout. The rest of the guys were hunting for big brown trout, which were greedily picking mayflies off the surface. It was very interesting to watch all the life along the river each day. Every day a different kind of insect hatched. We also saw huge number of spent spinners drifting down stream. There had to be at least 20 per square meter, and the trout and grayling proved more and more selective as the hatches intensified. As a result, if you didn’t have exact imitations in your fly box, you didn’t stand a fair chance. On the third day we started out in the “pit near cottage”-spot again. We persuaded a few smaller brown trout using French nymph-tactics, but other than that we didn’t do so well. We did receive a call, however – from Martin, who, apparently, was battling a big grayling. We obviously scurried along to see what all the fuss was about, and when we arrived, Martin was picking up and

immaculate 20inch grayling. What a beautiful fish! After a few pictures it was back in the river again, and we all celebrated the catch of a real San trophy grayling. On the last day, we moved a few miles down river to a place called “under the wires”. There, we met a couple of Czech fishermen with whom we chatted about the fish activity in the different stretches of the river - and after testing each other’s fishing rods for a while, we began fishing. The clear weather finally persuaded me to put the waterproof case on my camera. I took a few pictures of Daniel posing with a decent-sized brown trout he tricked on a long nymph-drift, and the rest of us caught smaller grayling and brown trout. After it got dark, the fish started to pick micro flies off the surface. The activity was intense, but even though we tried almost all of the dry flies in our boxes, we couldn’t persuade a single fish during the evening. That’s how challenging the San can be.

We finally bid the river farewell, and came back to the apartment, exhausted, to pack our bags. However, in spite of all the exhaustion, we were already planning a date for our return. The San River might be a little apprehensive and miserly, but it holds dear treasures for the persistent, clever and adaptive fly fisherman. For more info, please visit:

Click to watch the video: The San

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Fly Tying: STREAMART CRAB PARTS Throughout recent years, we’ve seen how new fly patterns have changed especially permit fishing across the globe. The emergence, for instance, of the Alphlexo Crab has made a huge impact when it comes to successfully targeting indo-pacific permit. It seems, the more realistic the flies, the better your odds are of actually catching one of these ghostlike fish. Now, StreamART – a Spanish start-up, have launched a series of ultra-realistic crab parts (Carapace and Skeleton) in different sizes that allow you to make super-realistic crab flies that are much less time-consuming to tie than other crab patterns. The crab parts are made out of stretchy TPU material, and they are extremely realistic in appearance. We’ve tried them, and we really like the results. Next up is to plan another tropical fishing adventure… For more information, please visit or check out StreamART’s Instagram account:

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Fly Tying: SQUIMPISH FLIES STREAMER HAIR We’ve had the chance to play around with the new Streamer Hair from US-brand, Squimpish Flies. We’ve been really impressed with the volume, texture and colour nuances and have found these super-long materials perfect for tying streamers for the biggest (and most gluttonous) predators out there; pike, wels catfish, barracuda and GT to name a few. There are tons of different solid and blended colours to choose from, the fibres are up to almost 30cm in length, and they are very lively. They also come as a “Boutique Blend” with integrated traces of flash fibres, and they’re super-easy to work with and very durable. For more information about this highly recommended fly tying product, please visit:

Products in focus UST SD: SEAMLESS DENSITY SHOOTING HEADS FOR SALMON FISHERMEN There are plenty of fly lines on the market with integrated sinking densities, but Scientific Angler’s are the first to implement a seamless density progression in their shooting heads. The UST (Ultimate Scandi Taper) SD range offers a series of shooting heads that will help you get more directly in touch with salmon, and find them at just the right depth with the right drifts. The range features powerful tapers with hi-viz travers that help in timing your cast. It consists of line weights ranging from 7/8 (31grams) to 10/11 (42grams) and 11 different densities: F, F/I, F/S3, F/S5, I, I/S3, I/S5, I/S7, S2/S6, S2/S8 – all of them with gradual sink rate progressions from tracer to tip. The specs are as follows: More information can be had by visiting the website of the European distributor, Flyfish Europe:

Volantis Integrated: DESIGNED AND DEVELOPED BY NORDIC COASTAL FLY FISHERMEN Scientific Anglers still lead the way in cutting edge fly line technologies and design, and on the rare occasion when they don’t have the necessary skills and know-how in-house, they team up with the right people. For their latest launch – a new series of integrated shooting heads for Northern Europe, they’ve hooked up with Flyfish Europe and some of Denmark and Norway’s most experienced coastal fly fishermen. The result is a full-length line that loads much like a shooting head but delivers long casts with great precision and subtlety. The Volantis Integrated is perfect for seatrout and seabass. It comes in sizes ranging from WF5 – 8, in both floating and intermediate density. The lines are 32meters long and feature Scientific Anglers’ AST additive that lubricates the line and ensures great durability and performance. The specs are as follows: For recommended retail prices, please visit

Fly Tying: TEXTREME FLASH FLY KIT Innovative Italian fly tyer, Mauro Borselli, is the man behind a wealth of ground-breaking fly patterns that have challenged traditional thinking within the fly tying scene. He has now launched a new product: The Textreme Flash Fly Kit, which is a kit that helps you tie a mega Flash Fly. The fly has the perfect baitfish silhouette in addition to a jointed body that really moves and pulsates. Mauro and people around him have tested the flies on everything from pike, zander and walleye to GTs and barracuda – with incredible results. We’re big fans of Mauro, his skills and innovative mindset, so be sure to check his flies and fly tying materials out. For more information, please check out:

New Book Release: TACTICAL FLY FISHING As a competitive fly fisherman and long-time member of the American Fly Fishing National Team, Devin Olsen, has seen his fair share of fly fishing waters across the globe. When it comes to nymphing, he is as sharp as they come. And so is his pencil. In his new book, Tactical Fly Fishing – Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers, Devin Olsen not only goes into depth with how, for instance, Euro-nymphing is practiced and perfected but also more elemental things like; how to read water, how to approach the water, how to optimise your tackle, and which flies work given specific conditions. There’s a wealth of knowledge and astute observations to be found in the book, and since it is both well-written and vividly illustrated, it is a joy to read. We highly recommend it to fly fishermen, who are heavily into trout and grayling, and we guarantee that, no matter if you’re a newcomer to the sport or a seasoned pro, there are lots of lessons to be learned - and new tactics to be practiced form reading this book. For more information, please visit:

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Capturing Trout on Canvas Montana-resident, George Hill, has perfected the art of capturing the innate beauty of trout using brushes, oil colours, and different canvases and panels. He has also branched off into the saltwater realm, but as you will learn, George has a special connection with trout - a species that he has come to revere to the point that he mostly does elaborate portraiture paintings of them. You might also learn a thing or two about how he achieves the vivid shine and reflectiveness in his works - one of the key features that sets his work apart from a lot of his fellow artists in the fly fishing community.

Bio// Full Name: George Hill Born: Michigan Home Turf: Montana Occupation: Artist Website: Social Media: @georgehillart

How did you get started fly fishing and why? I grew up on the waters of Michigan. My father instilled in me a deep love for the water from a young age, though he had little patience for fishing. My curiosity for what swam beneath those watery surfaces developed from within. As a kid, my first forays into flyfishing were through camping trips on Michigan’s Pere Marquette and Manistee River’s with friends. I had a borrowed rod, rubber waders, and one of those little white foam fly boxes Orvis used to make. It wasn’t until college however, that I really become enamored with the sport. One day my buddy came home with a brand new Orvis outfit.

I figured that was as good of time as any to take the plunge. I headed straight to the local bait shop and managed to unearth a dusty $30 Martin Reel Co. click and pawl and spooled it with a green double taper Cortland. The rest was history as they say… I learned to nymph, and about the importance of a good dead drift from my brother in law because… that’s what we do in Michigan; we nymph. After college I dedicated most of my twenties to chasing big fish from Alaska to Patagonia. Patagonia is where I learned to streamer fish. I now reside in the great American West, where I have become a student of dry fly fishing. And I reckon I will be a student up until my final days on the water.

Being an artist what is it about fly fishing and fish in general that intrigues you? As an artist, I have always been intrigued by shiny reflective objects. My childhood sketchbooks are littered with objects that reflect: vases, glasses, pitchers, ponds, and fish! What makes painting fish so intriguing and challenging is that one is essentially painting water. Fish are covered in a film of water and slime that, much like a mirror, reflects their surrounding. Moreover, one has to simultaneously paint the local tones and colors of the actual fish. So when I paint a fish I am not only painting the colors and forms of the fish, but at the same time I am painting, or alluding to, the surrounding environment of that fish. On the same fish! If that makes any sense. Im secretly trying to confuse people ;). Can you tell us a little bit about your art, what it means to you and how it ties up with your passion for fly fishing? Trout are indicator species. They like cold clean water and their presence indicates healthy waters and ecosystems. There is much reverence for the trout amongst fly fishers but I would like to extend that reverence to the general community. I tend to paint them in portraiture style as to elicit a sense of importance, almost a nobility to them.

I want my fish to stop people in their tracks, make them pause and reflect and perhaps consider what they can do, what we all can do, to reduce our impact on our natural systems - so that species like trout can thrive and prosper into the future. Their presence and abundance indicates that we are managing our natural stocks in a sustainable and appropriate way. How do you split your time between fly fishing and art? Let’s see. I used to do nothing but fish, fish, fish. Now, I do nothing but paint, paint, paint. When the bite is on however, you won’t find me in my studio. Has fly fishing helped you become a better artist or vice versa? By far and away the most important element to art and fishing, for my own self, is that it teaches me how to be present. We spend less and less time these days living in the actual present moment. I am never more content than when I am in the present. With both painting and fishing I am forced to be present. To be successful in either, one must be. They require extreme concentration. If your thoughts stray too far from the present you will likely fail in either moment. So both have helped and enriched the other because they have taught me this.

What are your dreams and aspirations as an artist – and as a fly fisherman? From within, I simply want to make the best art I possibly can. I reckon I’ll be dedicated to that pursuit for the rest of my life. More broadly speaking, my dream is for my art to continue to resonate amongst the community of fisherman, conservationists, advocates, and the general populace. To stir within them that same reverence for my subject matter that I spoke of earlier. What is your best advice to other fellow fly fishermen who would like to experiment with art? Don’t get caught up in the scales and spots! Over rendering these areas can actually flatten out your form. The human eye can only focus on one area a time so your painting only needs to have one focal point as well. Over detailing the fish will actually make it a less pleasurable and natural viewing experience because your brain will be forced to perceive it in an unnatural way. Be excited about every painting you start. It will (should) feel like work, but you still have to be inspired and emotionally invested in each painting. If you are not invested in it, it will fail. Try and be quick with your reference photos. Speedy release.

Any upcoming fly fishing trips that we should know of? I’ll be doing a lot of “reference collecting” this September. Mostly local. If any of our readers would like to get their hands on some of your art, where do they start? Frame of Reference Gallery, Whitefish Montana Horizon Fine Art Gallery, Jackson Wyoming Creighton Block Gallery, Big Sky Montana And of course the usual digital pathways, @GeorgeHillArt for IG and FB







At every stage of their lives from eggs to adults, sockeye salmon of Bristol Bay, Alaska have endured being hunted by a long list of predators including birds, fish, marine mammals, and people. Nearing the end of their long migration at a precise location where they emerged several years ago, the salmon gather to spawn but first they must escape the last chase.

Ultimate Candy – tied by Giovanni De Pace on SA280 Minnow


With the Ahrex Salt-series we’ve developed a range of hooks for the tropical environment – and the tropical species. But don’t worry – many of the hooks come in sizes that make them very relevant for cold saltwater as well. Ahrex Hooks are made without compromise – designed by Scandinavian fly-fishermen for fishing all over the world. We are using innovative technology and the best materials available for each specific hook.

Happy fly tying – The Ahrex Team

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The door to Dream Waters

Northwest Territories:

Great Bear Lake Pictures by Klaus Boberg Pedersen, Rasmus Ovesen,

Great Bear Lake, which is situated in Canada’s Northwest Territories, is the world’s fourth largest lake – a massive freshwater reservoir with a water table of 31.153km2 and water depths of up to 446m. It is set in a vast wilderness consisting mainly of fir, thickets, moss, bog and swamp. It is a place of mystery and wonder, of beautiful but short summers and devastatingly harsh and long winters. It is a place where the midnight sun provides visitors with spectacularly bright nights saturated in warm ruby reds and yellows. And it is a place, where the Northern Lights will dance across the sky and sprinkle its ambient fluorescent light on the barren woodlands below. In terms of wildlife, Great Bear Lake has

lots to offer too. It is set in a harsh but surprisingly fertile area with lots of dogged wildlife including muskox, grizzly bears, wolves and caribou, species that have learned how to tackle the harsh winters of the arctic. And in the lake itself, 15 different species of fish swim about including (world-record) lake char, (world-record) grayling, pike and whitefish. There are three distinct lake char sub-species in Great Bear Lake: silverbacks, red fins and butterfly red fins. Silverbacks are pelagic lake char with a silvery grey gleam and a relatively big head and mouth. They primarily live off of prey fish such as grayling, whitefish, pike and even relatives. As a result of their piscivorous inclinations, they tend to grow big

– and they have been known to reach weights up to a 100lbs. Redfins display saturated olive-green flanks and bright red fins. They don’t grow as big as the silverbacks – probably not bigger than 30lbs, and they primarily live off of small baitfish, gammarus, caddis and other aquatic insects. In terms of colorations, the butterfly red fins are quite similar to ordinary red fins, but they differ physiologically. They display oversized fins, a notable overbite and plump lips. These fish rarely exceed 15lbs, and they are typically found in relatively shallow water, where they specialize in insect-based bottom feeding. For the fly fisherman, there is more water to cover in Great Bear Lake than most get to fish in a life time - and only 300 fishermen get to fish it every year.

Every bay, every reef, every island and depth curve can hold fish, and with the right mixture between stamina and luck, you might run into one of the lakes massive 20lb+ lake trout. Heck, lake trout up to 30lb+ have been taken on fly rods in Great Bear Lake, and to this day it remains a completely under-exposed world class fly fishing destination - a very well-kept secret in fly fishing circles. Plummer’s Arctic Lodges manage the fishing on the lake, which – throughout the years, has produced one record-breaking lake char after the other:

Among them the standing world record of 72lbs. 30-50lb’ers are regularly taken while trolling, and while fly fishing for lake trout requires a lot more work and dedication, the big ones are definitely within reach. And while you’re waiting for the big one, you’ll be comforted to find that there are lots and lots of fish in the 10-15lb range to keep you sharp and concentrated. The season on Great Bear Lake is fairly compressed because of the inherent nature of the Arctic realm. The ice breaks in late June and winter sets in in early September!

In total, there are three lodges in operation on Great Bear Lake (Trophy, Great Bear, and Arctic Circle), and they are all run by the Plummer’s staff with different fishing options. For more information, please visit the following link: or send an email to:




Š Amel Emric


21,387 existing hydropower plants are blocking fish migration in European rivers. Despite EU regulation to curb new hydropower, 8,785 projects are in the pipeline, threatening every little creek. More than a quarter of these are planned in protected areas. Considering that global freshwater populations have declined by 83% since 1970, this is unacceptable. We at Riverwatch are fighting for the preservation of the last unimpaired rivers as well as the restoration of those already canalized or dammed. We are particularly committed to preventing new hydropower projects. Rivers are so much  more than just water! | |



Fly tyers across Scandinavia inspire eac hother, and with the speed of the Internet it doesn’t take long before flies traverse geographical borders and become popularized in new waters. This goes for many flies – including Rune Westphal’s Magic Shrimp, which has since been further developed by Swedish fly tyer extraordinaire, Jonatan Ternald. I love shrimp patterns! Especially realistic ones. One of my personal favourites is Rune Westphal’s Magic Shrimp. The first time I saw this fly, I was blown away! I started tying and fishing a lot of Magic Shrimps and found that it’s an awesome shrimp pattern that fishes very well for seatrout throughout most of the season. The original Magic Shrimp is designed to fish upside down, with the hook point up. This design is perfect in many cases, but in order to achieve a steady upside-down retrieve, the fly needs a lot of weight. And in some fishing situations, the fly becomes a bit too heavy. I wanted a shrimp that resembled

the Magic Shrimp but had a slower sink rate, somewhere in between the non-UV-resin shrimps - such as the Perfect Leo and STF shrimp, and the Magic Shrimp. Using a conventional hook-point-down design was an obvious choice to avoid having to add too much weight to the fly. And by using a wide gap hook, that works like a keel, I didn’t need to add any extra weight at all. I wanted to add some more transparency features to the fly, to try and resemble the real thing even more. So, I built the back and the head out of Super Hair. When you soak Super Hair in UV-resin, you don’t even see the fibres, they just provide a bit of colour to the UV-resin.

To finish off this pattern, I added a trigger point with some fluorescent dubbing. I like to fish this fly a little deeper than your typical wading depth: About 2 meters down, and I therefore use an intermediate fly line – such as, for in-

stance, the Scientific Anglers Sonar Stillwater Intermediate. When the water temperatures rise during the summer months, I often search for the fish down to 3-5 meters of depth, and then I typically use a Sink 5-line to get to where I want to be, fast.

MATERIALS: Hook: Ahrex NS 122, size 4-6 Tying Thread: Mono 0,1mm Mouthparts: Mallard Dubbing: Seal fur, fl. orange Head and body: Super Hair, tan Antennas: Hackle stems, grizzly Legs: Wapsi Stretch Round Rib 0,5mm Back: Fly co. Shrimp Back, tan Eyes: Burned nylon painted black and covered with UV-resin UV-resin: Loon Thick and Loon Thin UV-resin

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Come visit us in Argentina and find out why anglers from all over the world call Las Buitreras one of the best and most dynamic searun brown trout destinations on the planet. For more information please visit our website or contact us at For news and updates on our latest scouting adventures and more please follow us on Facebook and Instagram


Eleven Tips to Increase Your Sight Fishing Success US Fly Fishing National Team-member and nymphing expert, Devin Olsen, reflects on a recent trip to New Zealand, where he successfully implemented a series of sight fishing nymphing techniques. A lot of the points he makes are universally applicable, so, if you’re into nymphing in general and sight-nymphing in particular, pay close attention.


Last December I took a trip to the South Island of New Zealand. It’s a trip I’ve been wanting to make since I was 14 years old. New Zealand is certainly not a secret destination for untouched wilderness fishing anymore. The lure of big brown trout and decades of promotion has seen to that. These days, you’ll find difficult fish which must be spotted, stalked, and carefully targeted if you have any hope of success. I’ve had plenty of other challenges to tackle in over a decade of competitive fly fishing but the unique challenge of hard-won brown trout in exceptionally clear water is what drew me to New Zealand. If you are planning a trip to New Zealand, or if you have local waters where you can sight fish, here are some tips to help you spot more fish and be more successful on your trip. If you would like to read more about my trip, you can find the rigs I used in this post and read about a couple of days I had on the water in this post.

Here are 11 tips that will help you spot more trout and convince more of them to take your fly. 1/ Color is everything. A lot of anglers I’ve fished with have asked me how I can spot fish, which they can’t see when we’re standing side by side. For me, it’s all about looking for inconsistencies in color. Trout are certainly capable of matching their surroundings with chameleon like camouflage. However, if you pay close attention to the river bottom, with training you will spot colors or contrasts on the river bottom which seem out of place. These differences can be subtle, but over time fish can be spotted fairly easily with repetition. Regional or species-specific patterns in trout coloration can help inform your color search. For example, if you are fishing in a river with rainbow trout, their pink or red lateral flanks will often show in the water. In New Zealand, the brown trout regularly exhibit a greenish hue on their back and silvery or orange flanks. Looking for those stacked color patterns helped me spot a lot more fish on my trip.

2/ Learn to read water better and you’ll be able to spot fish more easily. If you are capable of predicting where fish will hold when you are blind fishing, these same predictions will help inform your sight fishing. Sure, you can spot fish by looking at every inch of the river methodically, but you’ll be more consistently effective if you focus most of your visual effort on target rich areas of the river. If you’d like some more information on how to read water based on variables like water temperature and hatches, pick up a copy of my new book Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers or our instructional film Modern Nymphing Elevated: Beyond the Basics. 3/ Pay attention to the background. Incident glare is made far worse if the bank on the far side of the river is light colored and reflects a lot of light. If there is something dark colored, like a tree, you’ll notice a lane corresponding to that object with much less glare that lets you see more clearly into the water. If you can line up that darker lane of water with the target area you are trying to spot fish in, you’ll have a much easier time spotting fish.

4/ There is a reason for the phrase “a bird’s eye view.” Another variable that will vastly improve your view into the water is your height above the river. While in NZ, we regularly climbed bluffs and hills to gain elevation over the river. From elevated vantage points, fish became obvious in places where we couldn’t see the bottom from the river’s edge. Your elevation has to be weighed against the probability of fish seeing you as well. If you are a long way from the river the fish may not perceive you as a threat, but if you loom over the fish near the river, you’ll set off a piscatorial air raid siren and watch your quarry scurry into the depths. This problem can usually be avoided by using trees or grass to break up your silhouette or to hide behind.

5/ Wait for the window. The surface of the river can look like a turbulent mess at times. Swirling currents can obscure your view into trout hiding depths. However, if you are patient, there will often be periodic pauses in the turbulence when surface currents smooth. This phenomenon looks exactly like a window opening your world to the water below. Sometimes a window can take a long time to appear but in likely locations it pays to wait. I make a habit of looking upstream for windows that are coming my way to prepare my focus for when they arrive. This tactic often rewards me with a thumping heart as a large previously hidden trout pops into view. 6/ Take turns being a spotter. One of the best ways to make a day of sight fishing more successful is fishing with a capable friend. No angler is going to spot all of the available fish in the river. Two sets of eyes are always better than one. On smaller rivers, it can pay off to put one angler on each bank so that you get a view from opposite sides of the river. Once a trout is sighted, it is the spotter’s job to maintain a view of that fish while the angler gets into place and

ready to fish. Teamwork can be vital in these situations and both anglers will be more successful if they are willing to work together and take turns. 7/ Tread lightly and move slowly. While I was in NZ, most of the time I took one to two small steps at a time with long periods of scanning in between. If there was any chance at all for fish to be holding in an area, I invested the time to scan each spot thoroughly before moving on. The times I got impatient and lost discipline were the times I saw fish streaking off after spooking. There’s no better way to ruin your chances of success when sight fishing than to walk leisurely up thinking you’re going to spot any fish that are around. 8/ Get as close as you can without spooking fish. The shorter the distance between you and your quarry, the less chance you’ll have of making a bad cast or a bad drift. If you have less line out, you can make better drifts and more accurate presentations. Sometimes this may mean kneeling, crouching, or crawling into place to lower your profile and get closer. These efforts often pay big dividends.

9/ Be willing to make rig adjustments for each fish. Once you’ve spotted a fish, you must diagnose what rig to fish. If a fish is rising the choice is easy. If it’s suspended, you still may be able to get it to eat a dry fly but a shallow nymph presentation may be a better choice. If the fish is glued hard to the bottom, you’ll need to match its level with your nymph(s) which may necessitate adding or subtracting weight or tippet. Because your first shot is often your only shot when sight fishing, you have to make it count. If you are too lazy to re-rig when your instincts tell you it’s needed, then your laziness will be rewarded with fewer trout. While I was in NZ, I brought a dry fly, dry dropper/nymph, and a Euro-nymphing rod on most of the rivers I fished. When spotted trout were on the move, this quick flexibility in rigging allowed me to target each fish with the best possible rig before it disappeared.

10/ Make a measurement cast. One of the best ways to improve your first cast to the fish is to get the length right. It’s easy to do by picking a spot that is the same distance away as the fish where you can make a cast without spooking it. Once you’ve made your cast and measured the amount of line it takes to get there, then you can reel in your line to that point so that you don’t overshoot your target on your cast. If you are working with a spotter and you can’t see the fish, the spotter can coach you into making a cast that will get you to the right length and then describe the location to direct your first cast to ensure you’re in the target zone. 11/ Set up your presentation with an aerial mend. If the water is clear enough that you can spot fish, chances are that you don’t want to be making a commotion by mending line that might spook fish. In these situations, it is much better to make reach casts or other methods of aerial mending and drift management that will allow your fly to reach the fish in a natural manner without ripping mends across the water.


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Fluorescing for the Win Fluorescent fly tying materials have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and when used correctly they can help your flies attract the kind of attention they deserve.


Most of the time tying flies and fishing isn’t too complicated. At their core, fly tying is the art of disguising a hook as food, and fly fishing is the art of presenting that food in an enticing manner. Things get a little complicated, however, once we start considering what fish can actually see underwater, and what flies look like once they leave the fly box and start to sink. No, fishing isn’t rocket science, but when the characteristics, property and behavior of light get involved it feels like you’re getting awfully close. We don’t want to make anything more complicated than it has to be, but in order to understand the benefits of using a fluorescing resin or cement, it helps to understand a little bit about what happens to light underwater and how it effects flies as they sink. Water absorbs and scatters sunlight, causing light to attenuate (or diminish). This shouldn’t be news to anyone who has swam more than a few feet under water and noticed that it gets darker the deeper one swims. As soon as a fly begins to sink it is exposed to

a host of factors that make it difficult for a fish to see. Water depth, turbidity, distance and low light are all killers of underwater visibility, especially in distinguishing color. Even the brightest of hot spots can appear grey to fish at depths as shallow as a few feet. For the angler, this means that the deeper a fly sinks, the less visible it is. That means that what we see in our fly box may look drastically different once it is in water, especially to fish that can detect different wavelengths of light than we can. Fluorescing materials absorb short wavelength light and emit light at a longer wavelength. In other words, they absorb UV light, which is more readily available underwater, and emit a color that is more visible to all species of fish. There are a lot of ways to use a fluorescing cement or resin. Because these products go on clear and look identical to their non-fluorescing counterparts in normal lighting circumstances, they can be used in any application that a traditional cement or UV curing resin would be.

The benefit, of course, is that where traditional resins will disappear with the rest of a fly as it sinks, a fluorescing resin will make it more visible. Chironomids are a perfect example. The pattern can be as simple as thread, a wire ribbing and a bead; but adding some UV resin as either a coating for the body or a wing case improves durability and can make these still-water staples sing. What we have found is that a fluorescing resin takes these flies to a different level in terms of productivity. Curtis Fry (of Fly Fish Food fame) had this story to tell: “So we’re fishing a lake here one evening last week and the chironomids were hatching pretty good and fish were coming up taking pupa. Because of that, Cheech (my fishing buddy) of course throws on a streamer. But I got all nerdy, took some bugs off the water, took some throat samples, matched the hatch, tied on a couple of UV buzzer patterns and started catching fish like a boss. Cheech and our other buddy finally caved and tied on chironomids, … but the only thing different in the

scenario there was that I was fishing all patterns I had coated with the Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish. We used relatively similar sizes and colors of patterns, but the resin was the only big difference. And we’re talking a pretty huge difference. I think we’re talking 10 to 1 type numbers or maybe even more. So yeah, pretty cool stuff. No doubt that’s my staple on chironomids now.” Baitfish imitations are another pattern whose performance seems to significantly improve with the addition of a fluorescing agent. Brita Fordice is a fly designer, guide, and as solid of an angler as you’ll find when it comes to fishing the salt near her home in the Pacific Northwest. Her specialty is chasing fish in the Puget Sound, and she’s found that Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish has improved the performance of her patterns. “I believe that it works better than any other resin for Puget Sound baitfish heads.

In the clear/green hue water the light penetrates just deep enough to light up the heads and allows fish to see them better. I’ve also fallen in love with using them for shrimp in saltwater. I coat the back of my shrimp to make them look about as realistic as the real thing. I definitely get more hits with this stuff.”

fluo·res·cence noun the property of absorbing light of short wavelength and emitting light of longer wavelength. Most of the time fishing isn’t rocket science, but when you’re talking about how light reacts underwater and what fish actually see, you’re getting awfully close.

If sending nymphs through shallow riffles, the effects of a fluorescing resin might not be as noticeable as probing slower, deeper pools. In these circumstances the addition of a fluorescing agent could be more important that fretting about the color, size or shape of the pattern. Especially if the water is off-color at all, the deeper these nymphs sink the more darkness compromises a fish’s ability to notice flies, even if it is the same pattern that has been catching fish in shallower water.

We don’t want to make anything more complicated than it has to be, but in order to understand the benefits of using a fluorescing resin or cement, it helps to understand a little bit about what happens to light underwater and how it affects flies as they sink.

The bottom line is this: in fresh water and salt water, in still water and moving water, adding a fluorescing component to your flies can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of those patterns.

Jeremiah Houle, Director of Guides, Deep Canyon Outfitters

“I love to fish in low light conditions. Fluorescing resins make sure that the fish see all the attention I spent on my fly, no matter how deep it is or how low they light is.”

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Water absorbs and scatters sunlight, which means that what we see in our fly box may look drastically different once it is in water, especially to fish that detect different wavelengths of light than we do. As we’ve all experienced while swimming, the deeper we swim the darker it gets, and the darker it gets the harder it is to distinguish between colors. Even the brightest of hot spots can appear grey to fish at depths as shallow as a few feet. Fluorescing materials have a great advantage in that they absorb the limited amount of light that is available underwater and emit a light that is more visible at deeper depths.

“I believe that it works better than any other resin for Puget Sound baitfish heads. In the clear/green hue water the light penetrates just deep enough to light up the heads and allows fish to see them better. I definitely get more hits with this stuff.” Brita Fordice, Product Developer, Sage Fly Rods HOW TO USE IT Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish and Fluorescing Hard Head can be used to coat just about any material and any part of a fly. Most frequently, it is used to… • coat hard bodies of nymphs, intruders, or wet flies • coat heads of any type of sinking fly • create or coat a wing case • create a hot spot


Are You Casting Too Far? Every new angler wants to be able to cast an entire fly line or launch a lure all the way across the lake. But that drive for technical prowess often leads people to miss the fish at their feet.


Fish of all species are often found hugging the banks of lakes and rivers, hiding or hunting in shoreline structure and under riparian vegetation. Pike, bass, salmon, trout—there’s hardly a freshwater fish I’ve encountered that consistently requires long casts. Of course, there are certain scenarios when the hero casts are advantageous, but there are probably more when they’re not. The desire to cast far isn’t method-specific—it’s just as rewarding to watch a levelwind worm gear whirl as it is to feel yards of fly line rocket through the guides. Lengthy casts are an indication of practice and dedication, but they also can slow down the pace of the day by taking extra time to reach their desired target and return from it. The question, however, is not so much if long casts are satisfying—it’s if it’s worth it to catch fewer fish. So, next time you wind up to blast a streamer into the stratosphere, here are a few things to consider:

The General Rule On the water, it’s always important to ask yourself where fish are most likely to be holding. This obviously depends on the time of year and the species you’re targeting, but as a general rule, fish won’t exert more energy than they consume. In rivers, fish will hold in slower water that won’t unnecessarily use up their energy reserves. The food sources for most popular gamefish— insects, crustaceans, baitfish—usually associate with shorelines, so target species will stay nearby. Murky Water Fish tend to hug the shore when the water is murky, often to avoid the heavy currents associated with turbid water. They can also tolerate swimming shallower because the opaque water makes them harder for predators to see. This means anglers need to pay extra attention to the river or lake bottom—both for safety and efficiency. Snagging up before your setup has even had the chance to make it into the shallows means the fish don’t have an opportunity to see it. To make the most of these situations, anglers should cast short and wade shallow.

Hatches Shorelines comprised of overhanging trees and vegetation are the perfect setting for short casts. Many aquatic insects crawl out on banks to hatch or congregate in nearby bushes as adults. When these bugs fall into the water, they become easy prey for fish. Sometimes this occurs only inches from the shore. Mice, frogs, grasshoppers, beetles and other terrestrials are just as vulnerable. When a fish is honed into a hatch, it can be pointless to fish anything else, but fishing their food source in the abyss can be just as purposeless. River Currents Tempting as it is to land your presentation directly into a river’s swift current, most of us soon learn that fish hold on either side of the fast water, rather than in the torrent itself. Landing your fly in the fast flow can accidentally pull your line through the water at speeds unproductive to fishing. Casting shorter, even if only by a couple feet, bypasses overpowering currents and unpredictable whirlpools. Water hydraulics vary depending on flow and structure, so it’s important to assess every situation differently. This ability is called “reading water” and it’s the difference between good anglers and great ones.

Line Control Line control and management become increasingly difficult the more line you have out. With fly tackle, you’ll struggle to keep enough line off the water for a drag-free drift. With conventional gear, it is more difficult to land casts accurately and maneuver your presentation. With any fishing discipline, the more line out, the harder it is get a solid hookset, due to slack and stretch in the line. Over-Lining Fish In many fisheries, it’s best to approach a fish out of its field of view. In water moving due to current or wind, fish will typically face into the current and it’s best to approach them from below. If you’re making long casts as you work the water, your line is more likely to pass over a fish’s head and possibly spook it. This is a bigger problem with thick, visible fly line but even monofilament can scare fish. You can resolve this problem by making lots of short, deliberate casts that won’t overreach the fish you want to catch.

Learning to cast is one of the most involved and enjoyable elements in the education of any new angler. But you shouldn’t let the drive for distance overshadow the end game. It’s important to remember that casting is a tool designed to help us catch fish, not a tool meant to catch dirt on the opposite bank. True, there will be times when a long cast is necessary, but there will be just as many—if not more—when a short one will be your ticket to a productive day.


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