In the Loop Fly Fishing Magazine - Issue 37

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#37 Europe’s free online fly fishing magazine SWEDEN Grayling and Trout Fishing in Swedish Lapland SUMMER 2023 // #37 USA The Surprising Diversity of the Sport MONGOLIA What We Talk About When We Talk About Taimen SALMON OVERCOMING LOW WATER CONDITIONS By Fly Fishing Nation CANADA TARGETING PIKE ON PHELPS LAKE By Rasmus Ovesen




There’s truth in wanting to do something yourself if you want it done right. So we did. Our new Boundary wader collection with GORE-TEX Pro Wader laminate sets a new standard. No heavy sell. No BS. We make gear all anglers can trust, 100% of the time, no exceptions.


Picture by Fly Fishing Nation

Our friends in Denmark have already been at it for well over a month now, swinging for big silvery springers in Jutland’s meandering rivers. In Scotland, Ireland, and some parts of Sweden, they’ve been at it for some time too. And soon the time will come for Norway, Finland and Iceland. Salmon fishing gets in your blood. It’s downright addictive. The lows are low, but the highs are truly high.

Preparing for the salmon season is a somewhat conflicted and ambivalent ordeal, full of mixed feelings. Wrapping up our summer issue, we’re starting to plan for the months ahead targeting salmon in Norway; hoping for that elusive 20lb+ chrome fish but stalwartly prepared for endless defeat – swinging flies non-stop with nothing to show for it but fatigued frames and sleepy eyes.

The salmon stocks have suffered severely over the last century, and we need to remind ourselves that we will never experience salmon fishing as it once was, unless we stand united and fight for their cause. Here are some suggestions: Join a local NGO or fishing club involved in restoration and conservation work. Stop eating open net-pen farmed salmon – and tell your friends to stop too. Support organizations such as Atlantic Salmon Trust, NASF, Trout Unlimited, and Redd Villaksen. And release your salmon?

Our summer issue features contributions from Rafal Slowikowski, Fly Fishing Nation, Marina Gibson, Stephan Gian Dombaj, Rasmus Ovesen, Brett Zundel, Brandon Finnorn, Jonatan Ternald, Milan Marjanovic, Anders Ovesen, Peter Fong, Jeff Forsee, and Marissa Williams.

You guys rock!!!

Picture by Fly Fishing Nation


Overcoming Low Water Conditions by Fly Fishing Nation

Fly Fishing for Trophy Pike in the Canadian Wilderness by Rasmus Ovesen

Grayling and Trout Fishing in Swedish Lapland by Laurel White

What We Talk About When We Talk About Taimen by Peter W. Fong

The Surprising Diversity of the Sport

Off the Charts with The Tundra tribe

And much much more...



Oslo-resident, Rasmus Ovesen, was handed his first fly rod at the tender age of eight, and he has been a bor derline fluff chucking fanatic ever since. Rasmus has writ ten articles for some of the world’s most renowned fish ing magazines, and his trav els 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 back ing in the tropics, but his heart truly belongs to the soulful realm of trout and salmon fishing.


Marina Gibson is a truly pas sionate angler who was lucky enough to spend much of her childhood chasing salmon, trout and sea trout. Following in the footsteps of her talented mother Joanna Gibson, her self a devoted fly fisher, Mari na has dedicated a significant part of her life to the pursuit of every type of fish at every available opportunity wherever in the world that may be. Check out:


is one of the most influential fly fishing journalists and photographers in the new Millennium. Stephan is extremely dedicated to the sport, and he splits his time between guiding and travelling. Having written for a myriad of renowned magazines across the globe, Stephan has become a household fly fishing name, and he continues to amaze with his spectacular photography and adventurous mindset.

In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 GENERAL INQUIRIES ADVERTISING FRONT COVER By FLY FISHING NATION VISIT US ON 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. Contributors


Brett Zundel, a Co-Own er of Loon Outdoors, has al ways called Ashland, Oregon home. The best part of his job is knowing that he is playing a part in getting people outside, and helping them to have bet ter days on the water. A proud husband and father of three, he loves nothing more than getting outside with his own family.


Brett Born and raised along small rivers in northern Poland, Rafał developed a deep passion for fishing, particularly for wild brown trout. His early ventures to Mongolia in the early 2000s sparked his love for exploration and angling. Rafał embraced this passion and combined it with his skills as a guide and photographer, ultimately co-founding the Polish Angling Globe trotters’ Club BAYAN-GOL. This renowned club organizes thrill ing fishing adventures around the world. Rafał’s heart has led him to the captivating landscapes of Kamchatka and Nepal. However, it was the enchanting Tierra del Fuego in Chile where he found his true home. For over a decade, Rafał has been organizing fishing trips in this mesmerizing location. He has also had exciting excursions to other destinations such as New Zealand, Bolivia, and West Papua. If you’re interested in fishing reports from Rafał’s incredible journeys, please visit


Laurel is a registered nurse by trade but fly fishes as much as possible in her free time. Traveling is a lifelong passion for her, with fly fishing be coming an increasingly larg er part of that over the years. Her favorite species to target are brown trout, grayling, and pike. She has recently discov ered a new appreciation of targeting striped bass since moving to the east coast last September.


Peter W. Fong is the author of the award-winning novel, Principles of Navigation, and a chapter book for children and adults, The Coconut Crab. His stories and photographs have appeared in The Flyfish Jour nal, High Country News, the New York Times, and many other publications. Rowing to Baikal, his account of a thousand-mile expedition from the head waters of Mongolia’s Selenge River to Russia’s Lake Baikal, is forth coming from Latah Books. For more info, visit:

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.


Overcoming Low Water Conditions

It’s the time of the year! Drought and heatwaves have conspired against fish and anglers across continental Europe and the Nordics. A lot of trout streams are virtually unfishable during the months of July and August; they are simply too hot. These daunting conditions are challenging If you happen to live in an area where the temperatures exceed a fishable level that will allow fish to recover, please be reasonable and pick some other targets. If available, barbel/carp and chub are hearty and cope with the heat much better than trout and co.

Salmon anglers in the Nordics might not suffer so much from unbearable temperatures but other factors might conspire against them: Seasoned anglers will attest that low water conditions paired with bright and sunny days are a mood killer, even if the temperatures are still in the green.

of course, but they do tell the story of an era long gone by now.

Anglers disguised as traders, business men or part-takers in colonial conquests have successfully conquered nearly every white spot on the map... and with them: trout and other gamefish. Trout-void areas like Patagonia and New Zealand would soon turn into lush angling destinations. The story of the highly adaptive and invasive trout conquering nearly every river that provided a half decent habitat all around the planet is a piscatorial success story.

Atlantic salmon

The recreational pursuit of trout and Atlantic salmon with a fly rod oozes historic references. Some might even say, that both species are the corner stones of our great passion – a look back into the early history of both fish is deeply intertwined with the history of fly fishing as we understand it today: with a rod, a suitable fly line, and an artificial fly. Earlier attempts to fool fish with feather lures shall not be forgotten

Many million years ago, evolution decided that Atlantic salmon were downright perfect. With an anadromous life-cycle that accounts for potentially cataclysmic events by spreading out runs of fish paired with a remarkable homing instinct that will allow individual fish to locate their river of birth, salmon were designed to last. In all their glory, that we as anglers cherish more than anyone, Atlantic salmon are the epitome of a sport fish and simply irreplaceable.

“The fishing for our most prized obsession has deteriorated”

Of notoriously unpredictable nature, subjected to a mind of their own, strong, fresh, clean, and downright beautiful in all their life stages, a fresh Atlantic salmon is about the cleanest thing you can imagine – so immaculate that the idea of even touching it with your hands would taint it. A notion that almost all salmon anglers seem to share.

As much as we collectively marvel over these magnificent creatures that have roamed our rivers for many millions of years completely unfazed, we are facing the dire consequences of a man-made problem. The evolution of monkey playing with sticks to modern man colonizing space has ushered in the era of holocene mass-extinction... and Atlantic salmon (and many other animals) are affected by it. While this is a story itself that shall be told another day, all salmon anglers will collectively agree that the fishing for our most prized obsession has deteriorated. But we wouldn’t be pursuing an impossible fish with vigor if it wasn’t for the sheer endless optimism that lives within all of those who swing flies for a fish that doesn’t eat.

Less fish, unpredictable weather, syndicates are hogging the best weeks... yet salmon fishing hasn’t lost a single bit of its allure. So what is this all about? This is about tough fishing when it get’s tougher... low water, warm water and/or bright sunny days. In the worst case scenario, a combination of all of them.

Low water conditions

From a fish’s perspective, low water alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing other than potential obstacles might be harder to pass. For us anglers, the change in dynamics will alter the amount of comfortably fishable water. Fish will trickle into the system whenever the conditions are more favorable. Since the amount of water is limited per pool, lesser fish will occupy potential holding spots. If the water is deep enough, fish will still occupy slow moving sections of the pool, but the majority will sit in the heads... ready to continue their journey.

The next pothole on the road to success is temperature. Salmon are cold water fish and throughout their distribution range, they naturally gravitate towards cold water areas. Both in the sea and rivers. The magnificent life-cycle of these fish is physically very demanding.

A fish that is designed to potentially survive multiple spawning migration circles paired with a perilous anadromous journey and the pressure of adapting to osmoregulation... to keep up with this metabolism rate, oxygen is required. The oxygen diffusion coefficient progresses exponentially with rising temperatures.

(1969) adult Atlantic salmon prefer water temperatures in the range of 14 to 20°C. Mind you that’s in the ocean... and without a fly hooked in its mouth. If the water-temperatures exceed 19°C, salmon and trout deserve a rest from our piscatorial adventures. Let them catch their breath.


In other words, the warmer the water, the less oxygen is can diffuse whilst salmon and co require more oxygen the hotter it gets. If warm water and low water conspire against fish and angler, the reduced flow rate of the water will furthermore decrease the already low oxygen levels and the fish are not happy. As a result, fish will get more lethargic as temperatures increase. According to Elson

It’s a common misconception that sunlight is generally a bad thing. Early spring for example: A bright sunny day paired with a high pressure can often trigger fish exposed to cold water temperatures to move or take. A subtle change of water-temperature correlating to sun-exposure is all that it takes sometimes. Admittedly, bright sunny days are usually associated with the dog-days of summer... when warm and low water conditions align with bright and sunny days. In those conditions, yes, salmon and most other salmonides try to avoid direct sunlight. They move into the deeper parts of the pool, into fast moving water or anything that provides enough shadow till the sun sets again.

“If the watertemperatures exceed 19°C, salmon and trout deserve a rest”

Salmon fishing is always a challenging yet rewarding task, so why would we “waste” our time in conditions that are not favorable? Because sometimes we cannot choose...

When magnificent salmon rivers shrink down to the size of a trout stream or simply require a more gentle approach, providing the water temperature is cool enough to fish: it’s time to rethink our approach and even pick up your single-handed and switch rods. For the last decade, the weather has been all over the place and chances that one will end up in difficult water conditions on a salmon trip grow exponentially the more we fish for them. It’s important to prepare... and after all: Don’t we all like a bit of a challenge?

No more excuses

Salmon anglers are notoriously good at making up excuses for why the fishing isn’t productive, and they are getting more creative. So what can we do? Let’s begin with the obvious:

either get ready to move in the shelter of the night, or they are rested after they have been running in the night. You will find fish especially in the heads and tails of the pools – the gateways into or out of the pool. As the day progresses, the fish will seek for shelter in deeper parts or close to white water currents. The brighter/ warmer/ lower the day the shorter is your window of opportunity. Remember, fish-on-the-move is good! Movement might cause territorial aggression. Don’t beat yourself up throughout the day.

Timing: fish the early morning and late evening intensely. The fish will

Spots: when the water drops low, the fish will remain in- or close to ready positions. Ready to run into the next pool or ready to leave the water in case the water drops fatally low. If a drought period persists, fresh fish tend to stick to the lower part of the river. Firstly, because moving upstream is a chore or even restricting, secondly, because they can migrate back to the sea once the temperature reaches an unbearable level. Fish the lower section of the river... if you can get access to the pools just above the tidal water, lucky you!

Pools with plenty of flow. If the heads are too fast for your floating head in white water, don’t hesitate putting on a weighted fly to cut through the heaviest current. Search for deep lays, ideally with a bit of flow. If your line doesn’t swing fast enough, try working your fly with long and steady strips. If that doesn’t work, fish it a second time with little bumps as long as the line keeps moving across. Just imagine a salmon following and the fly drops back in between stripping pauses to kick back in it’s face... Shadows and cover near flowing water is always worth a try.

Warm days will also lure fellow outdoor enthusiasts out – prepare yourself for a flock of people! Canoes, swimming people and dogs, curious walkers... try to rest turbulent areas for as long as possible.

Focus: I am not going to lie to you –we are not in this for the crazy numbers, so it’s imperative to stay focused. Fish like you mean it. You are not yourself if you fry yourself all day in the sun. Have a siesta. Hell! -even have a beer and enjoy a good day out. But be sharp when the light fades.

Flies: you have guessed it, we need to downsize our flies or fish flies with a slimmer profile. Sparsely tied flies like a classic Stoats Tail or any variation of slim black wing doubles in 12-18 are a good reference to start with. If allowed, a dropper fly can work wonders! When all your fellow anglers fish the same tiny stuff, you might want to go a little bit against the grain and hitch and/or try some beautiful Scandi hair-wing flies with small tungsten cones to entice a bite.

I always pack a variety of small double hooks from black to maroon red, a variety of hitch tubes, banana bottle tubes, Sunray Shadows in virtually every weight and size as well as heavy but small Francis tubes in black and red. Every river has it’s own dynamic here, but remember, smaller and slimmer than usual. You would be surprised how well salmon can see...

Equipment adjustment: if we are trying to feed peanuts to elephants, we should adjust our equipment accordingly. Longer and finer tippet and lighter rods will naturally feel better on smaller flies.

Casting, presentation as well as fish-fighting wise. Of course we can rig our standard weapons with finer and longer tippet, but eventually we will end up looking for something that is more delicate and subtle.

Single-handed and switch rods

While the concept of a switch rod is nothing new, I have to say that no other rod category has experienced more miss-matched lines in fishing lodges than these. Why? Because their line classification is not so straightforward and it can be quite confusing. Also, you hardly ever see switch rods used as both, a single-handed rod and a double-handed rod (that’s what they were originally designed for). Most Switch rods are used like short spey rods these days.

My low-water salmon/sea trout kit consists of a variety of rods including a 9,6ft/10ft 6-weight rods for hitching in small waters, a 7-weight in 9,6ft for nearly every single-handed salmon situation and my go-to rod in Argentina, as well as a 5-weight in 11,6ft switch rod

and my standard 7-weight in 12,2ft Spey rod. I will get into the grits and gears of the other kit later, but now I want to focus on the 5-weight 11,6ft switch - One piece of equipment that has had a significant impact on my catch-rates over the last two years. Why? Because it has served a specialised purpose better than the other setups.

I have rigged my switch rod up with a Rio InTouch Trout Spey, an integrated 7meter shooting head and 10-12ft tips. I have no intentions to suffer through heavy flies and light rods, I would much rather pick up a proper rod if the situation calls for it. A switch rod is a rod that I pick up when I have to fish skinny swing water with a lot of structure. The integrated head will allow me to fish the line all the way into the leader if I have to. I do not have to deal with a connection that rips through the guides.

“Every river has it’s own dynamic”

I need to be able to switch-, underhand- and spey cast this rig like a single and double-handed rod (something that is infinitely more pleasant with a full line) I have matched my 5-weight rod with a 4-weight line (305 grain) and I match the line with poly tips to bring it up to the 5-weight rod match. For a straight dry line fishing, I just add a 12-14ft mono leader to it and I get to enjoy a slightly lighter line that I can accelerate a bit more precisely with my line hand.

Getting matched up

As you can see, the 305grain 4-weight line match of a switch rod, is much closer to a standardised 10 - 11weight single-handed rod according to AFTMA, where a 4-weight is defined as 114-126 grainsan average of 120grains. AFTMA classifications are a can of worms I don’t want to open here, but the line casts comfortably on a 7-8 weight single handed rod.

I am definitely not a fan of 2-weightmonster-fish hero-stories - that’s why I need to point out that a 5-weight switch is the longer version of your classic 7/8-weight single-handed rods in terms of casting weight. This rig has seen several countries, a lot of guiding guests as well as fish of various dimensions. Of course, it’s not an early season monster salmon setup, but a delicate tool to maneuver and swing hitches and smaller flies across challenging water. In extra tight situations, I use my line hand to support my presentation. In open water, I can use it like a spey rod. Rigged with poly tips, I will get a delicate presentation out of it and the soft and longer action will allow me to keep the small summer salmon flies on fairly light leaders safely in the fish till it’s in the net.

Prepare yourself for summer conditions the way you would prepare yourself for prime spring conditions. It has to pay back just one time, and we all know the next one could be THE one.

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when it comes to these fish,” he says. “I want to take care of this fishery for the future. It’s tribal tradition. It’s my family.” Arian Stevens

Wild fish activist and guide Matt Mendes roams his Deschutes home waters on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. “I’m a passionate person


Fly Fishing for Trophy Pike in the Canadian Wilderness

Why travel all the way Canada, to the opposite side of the globe, to fly fish for pike? After all, you can do that in any random lake, pond or river at home. The answer is actually quite simple: The Canadian wilderness is a place where you can still experience untouched pike fishing; a unique and compelling escape for those who dream of catching a veritable trophy pike.


IF THERE IS A CARBON-DIOXIDE HELL that’s probably where I’ll be going after this trip. I have already covered three flights in order to get to the city of Saskatoon in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, and - early tomorrow morning - another three flights await before I’m ready for the final leg of the journey: A flight that departs from the barren outpost, Stony Rapids, in the north-western corner of Saskatchewan, and one that involves an old DeHavilland Turbo Otter hydroplane; a Canadian manufactured plane that had its heyday in the post-World War II-era.

After two days of arduous travelling, the propeller-driven air freighter will touch down on Phelps Lake’s vast water surface and moor at Wolf Bay Lodge in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Luckily, as time will tell, what awaits me is nothing short of an untouched fishing paradise and a trophy pike fishery that is well worth the eternal flames of the abyss below.

ON OUR WAY, from the dead airspace above Saskatchewan, I can see how we’re slowly transcending the familiar realm of civilization and disappearing into what appears to be a massive void, way beyond. Symmetrical and lush-green pastures neatly outlined by fences, field boundaries and bordering gravel roads are gradually relieved by vast woodlands, the monotony of which is only broken sporadically by the flickering waters of ancient, glacial lakes and quietly meandering rivers.

For a while, there are still sporadic gravel roads, timber industry, wooden cabins, and the odd uranium mine to be seen below us, but as we continue onwards all traces of mankind slowly ebb away. It is as if the flat landscape down there gradually absorbs and transforms everything around it, ultimately leaving nothing but an infinite monotony of anorectic pine trees, chaparral and water that takes on a wealth of rebellious and imaginative shapes. Once on the hydroplane with a course set for Phelps Lake, the land-

scape unfurling below is like an obstinate human vacuum: Interminably empty and without all the cynically calculating traces that otherwise reveal themselves wherever humans have settled or frequently pass through. There is nothing but wilderness as far as the eye can see.

2 HOURS LATER, Phelps Lake manifests itself below us: Silently resting deep in the terrain, with all its chaotic branches, shallow bays and jagged islands in stark contrast to the stoicism of its water surface. It’s an early summer day in the middle of June. Warm light floods the vast expanse underneath the saturated blue skies. A comprehensive high-pressure system has killed all winds, and when we finally land, it’s like touching down on a big mirror. After having said hello to Wolf Bay Lodge-owner, Brent Osika, who greets us at the landing bridge, things unfold quickly. My brother, Anders, and I have half a day’s worth of fishing ahead of us, and soon we find ourselves in a Linder skiff with Merasty B Jason; one of the experienced local guides.

The skiff cuts across the flat water with surgical precision. It navigates at a high speed through narrow passages, wide-open expanses and big bays. And being surrounded by nothing but forest, I soon lose all sense of orientation and locality. It’s an intoxicating feeling and it is further amplified when – after a 20-minute boat ride - we arrive at a big, shallow bay, the engine is cut off and a deafening silence descends upon us.


. The spawning – and a long, ice-cold winter – is but a dimming memory, and the fish are hungry. Now, as Jason explains, it’s simply a matter of finding the fish. They tend to school up in the many bays; the shallow ones with dark, muddy bottoms where the water gets warmed effectively up by the sun and baitfish are fairly abundant. We still have no idea, however, that we’ll be sight-fishing for them in less than half a meter of water – and, on several occasions, in- and along flooded meadows.

It doesn’t take long before we find the first few fish. They are hovering above the bottom along shorelines or in places where cabbage beds have slowly started to seep from the silty lake floor. They’re not downright easy to see – not even though the water is surprisingly clear, but it’s obvious that these fish are all small males. We’re soon busy warming up. And it doesn’t take long before the first few pike have shut their spike mat-like jaws around our flies. Despite the fact that they’re looking rather apathetic, as they stand there semi-petrified along the bottom, they - sure enough - are hungry and aggressive. They promptly react at the sight of our rabbit Zonkers, hunt them down with gluttonous ferocity and, oftentimes, inhale them right along the boat-side in big, splashy explosions of water.

It’s been a while since my brother and I have fished for pike, but we’re quickly reminded why we both love to target this lightning-quick and sinister predatory fish.

We haven’t travelled this far, however, to fish for small pike and the guide is quite well aware of it. So, having rekindled our reflexes, shortly, on a handful of smaller pike, we therefore move on to another one of the lake’s countless bays.

HAVING RECONNOITRED an additional three bays, we finally make it to a small outpouching in the northern corner of the lake. The bay inside, which is backlit by the drowsy beams of the evening-sun, doesn’t look like much at first. The entrance is so shallow that we need to use oars to get in, and at first glance across the dark, ochre-coloured water, there are no signs of pike. It isn’t until we reach the far corner of the bay that I see the shadow of a big pike underneath two bowed moss-clad pine trees, inside a patch of flooded meadow grass.

The fish isn’t alone! Several skittish male pike, which by comparison look distinctly immature and juvenile, stick to the big female – with their lives as a potential stake. With lightly-trembling fins and a tense, aggressive look on her face, she seems likely, at any given moment, to suddenly lunge a malicious attack on one of her suiters.

That impression is further enhanced, shortly after, when I cast and place my light-grey rabbit-strip Zonker on the edge of the flooded grass. As the fly hits the water, the big pike is instantly on it – with several smaller pike dragging vigilantly behind.

I provide the fly with a little bit of action, making it wind and twist pulsatingly below the surface. The pike instantly shoots forward, ploughing purposefully through the water, and all of a sudden the fly has disappeared into the massive cavity inside the fish’ jagged jaws.

I set the hook instinctively – so promptly that the cork handle squeaks, and I now feel the weight of the fish as it thrashes about whirling up the muddy bottom and sending cascades of water meter-high into the air.

A hectic fight, with several explosive runs, ensues. The fish, however, is solidly hooked and eventually the fish yields to the persistent pressure from the fly rod’s powerful carbon fibres, and it capsizes close to the boat. It’s bigger than first anticipated, and

it is with much effort and strain that I manage to lift it aboard the skiff.

A QUICK MEASUREMENT reveals a length of 125 well-proportioned centimetres. My dream of catching a big wilderness pike has come true –and in a spectacularly visual way. We shoot a quick series of pictures in the shallow water along the bank, and as the fish thrusts itself free of my hand and powerfully swims away from the scene of the crime, I draw a sigh of relief. Mission accomplished!

There’s no time to rest on the laurels, however. A faint, whispering, ”Psst” sounds from the casting platform where the guide is perched and pointing towards the water. And as we join him, we quickly spot another big pike – and another one, and another one...


we have caught an additional seven full-grown pike with three of them well in excess of 120 centimetres; all of them sight-fished with thunderously brutal takes as a result in the shallow water along the shoreline.

Furthermore, we have cast at a couple of fish in the vicinity of 135cm – fish, that for whatever reason, just didn’t respond to our flies.

As we wrap up and head back to the lodge, we’re in a state of chock. Never before have we experienced such hectic pike fishing with so many big fish. But as we’re about to find out, during the next five days, this is nothing out of the ordinary on Phelps Lake.

During our stay here, we sight-fish another 200 pike with 40 of them well over one meter and several additional fish in the 110 - 120-centimeter span. Furthermore, we get to experience some cool dry fly- and nymph fishing for trophy lake whitefish and, not least, some sweat-dripping streamer fishing for the feisty lake char that school up along Phelps Lake’s drop offs. But that’s a completely different story of course...

to the middle of the vast Canadian wilderness, in search for pike. But it’s most certainly an experience, I would never have been without –and one that I’d readily recommend anyone, who has a propensity towards big toothy predators in untouched surroundings.

Fact File - Phelps Lake

Phelps Lake is a massive lake in the north-eastern corner of the Canadian province, Saskatchewan. It’s a glacial lake with a surface area of about 130 km2, and with the exception of a few areas with up to 30 meters of depth, it is an incredibly shallow lake – something that makes it an ideal habitat for pike.

The impression I take with me from the lake is decidedly unambiguous. It may be madness to travel way beyond the outskirts of civilization -

With more than 300 islands, countless reefs, backwaters, bays and tributaries with clear water, you couldn’t possibly charter all the good fishing spots in a full week. And since there are an additional 60 km2 of prime fishing waters to be reached on foot or via channels and tributaries, you could argue that Phelps Lake represents a whole fishing area, rather than just a single body of water.

The season stretches from the middle of June, from ice out, until the end of August, at which point winter is already looming. At the beginning of the season you can experience some incredibly exciting sight-fishing for pike. At this time of year, these fish will have just finished spawning in the myriad of shallow bays and flooded meadows around the lake, and they will be both hungry and aggressive. During the summer months and onwards till the end of the season, the fishing is typically translocated to the many drop offs, reefs and islands, where Lily pad- and cabbage beds rise from the bottom.

Catches in excess of 50 1 meter+ pike per boat per week are not uncommon, and every year several specimens larger than 130 centimetres are caught. The lodge record is closer to 150 centimetres.

In addition to the spectacular pike fishing, it is also possible to catch trophy white fish and giant lake char (Salvelinus namaykush) on Phelps Lake. The latter can be found in tremendous numbers, especially at the south-end of the lake, where the depth drops to about 30 meters. At the beginning of the season, fast-sinking lines and weighted streamers are used to connect with them, but as summer progresses and the water heats up, they rise towards the surface. Here, they can be fished with floating and intermediate lines, and although the average size is relatively modest – around 2-3 kilos – it’s by far uncommon to catch fish in the vicinity of 10 kilos. Although these fish are minimally targeted, specimens in excess of 20 kilos are caught every year – and 30 kilos+ fish are certainly around.

Fact File - Wolf Bay Lodge

Wolf Bay Lodge is the only lodge with a license to guide and fish on Phelps Lake, and since the lake is extremely secluded – and the only way to get there is by hydroplane – the fishing pressure is very minimal.

The lodge, which has been in operation since the early 90s, has an authentic wilderness feel and is rather rudimentary and basic without compromising comfort. In total, there’s room for six fishermen at the lodge, and they all fish from Linder skiffs with big casting platforms in front.

For additional information about prices, check the following link: or send an email to camp manager, Brent Osika:

A regional Saskatchewan fishing license is mandatory, and you’ll need to buy it ahead of your trip to Phelps Lake. I can be bought online: com/

For additional information about the many exciting fishing possibilities in Saskatchewan, and the wealth of other interesting wilderness- and vacation activities in the area, visit

Tourism Saskatchewan:

http://www.tourismsaskatchewan. com

Fact File - Equipment

When fly fishing Phelps Lake for pike, 9´ 9 to 10-weight rods paired up with floating or intermediate WF lines are typically used. Lighter rods can be used too, since really big flies are rarely necessary. However, since there are great chances of hooking a real monster, 9-weight – or even better; 10-weight – fly rods are to be preferred, since they will effectively aid in landing and releasing the fish.

With regards to the flies, especially 15 – 20-centimetre-long rabbit strip Zonkers in light colours – preferably with weed guards that allow you to fish them along the bottom or through weeds and Lily pads - work well. Furthermore, small imitations of the lake’s small, silvery baitfish are effective, and the same goes for noisy poppers and Gurgglers.

Be sure to bring along a 9’ 5-weight and a few dry flies and nymphs if you’re interested in catching one of the many trophy whitefish in the lake. Otherwise, you surely need to bring an extra 10-weight, or even a 12-weight fly rod, paired up with a

fast-sinking fly line. The massive lake char in Phelps Lake are, no doubt, worth your effort and time. The flies used for them are somewhere between 20 – 25 centimetres in length, weighted, and in bright colours that will attract attention even at the dimmest of depths.

The fishing is done from the boat deck, but you might consider bringing a pair of waders if you’re curious about the neighbouring waters, or if you like to get into the water for a few pictures with your trophy catch. Additionally, there are several clothing items that you need to consider bringing. The weather conditions at the lake are actually quite stable but make no mistake: The conditions can change dramatically from one day to the next. Therefore, you should pack some wind- and rainproof shell outerwear that is capable of keeping you warm and dry.

Also, be sure to bring warm layering, such as thermal wool tops and bottoms. Early in the season, the temperatures typically don’t exceed 15 –20 degrees, but during the summer months it gets warmer.

However, be sure to prepare for cold weather, and don’t forget that it can be particularly cold in the morning.

Depending on the weather conditions, there can be a lot of mosquitos in the area and, as a result, it’s a good idea to bring along a mosquito net and some insect repellent. We had great experience with using a new series of BugStopper-clothing from Simms; a highly technical type of impregnated clothing that effectively deters mosquitos, gnats, ticks, horse flies and other bothersome insects. Also, don’t forget sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses as a defence against the sun and its reflections on the water. The latter serves an important additional purpose, of course. They are crucial when it comes to sight-fishing for pike in the shallow bays.

Fact File - Logistics

In order to get to Phelps Lake and Wolf Bay Lodge you need to travel via either Toronto or Calgary to Saskatoon, where you land on a Sunday and stay the night over. From here, a domestic flight, which Wolf Bay Lodge will help arrange, will take you to the outpost, Stony Rapids, on Monday morning. The last leg of the trip, from Stony Rapids to Wolf Bay Lodge, is covered by hydroplane and it takes about 2 hours.



Solstrale, meaning “ray of sun light” in Swedish, stems back to our roots and our commitment to protecting anglers from the harsh conditions they experience. The sun is no exception. The Solstrale Pro was built for anglers who want to avoid being fried after a long day on the water.


Grayling and Trout Fishing in Swedish Lappland


Everyone knows Swedish Lappland is famous for its Baltic salmon and pike fishing, but were you aware that it also offers outstanding grayling and trout fishing? With the entire area being covered with lakes, streams, rivers, and marshes, it only makes sense that there are lots of other fishing opportunities at your fingertips.

My husband, Julius, and I travelled to Swedish Lappland in mid-June for two weeks of grayling and trout fishing with a couple of days of Baltic salmon fishing squeezed in. There are numerous fishing lodges and guides in the area, but we chose to go out and explore it ourselves in a campervan.

The sheer amount and types of water in Lappland to choose from to fish is a massive undertaking. Luckily, we had some help from local resident and salmon guru, Lars Munk and a couple of other locals we met along the way. Very few of the waters were a bust and the majority were a treasure trove waiting to be unearthed and exposed.

In the Torne Valley

Most of our fly fishing adventures were in the Tornedalen (Torne valley) area. Many streams are quite difficult to access and maneuver but can be worth the extra effort. Bushwhacking your way to a nice hole made catching a gorgeous grayling or trout that much more rewarding.

The chances are slim to none that you will encounter another angler as almost all fisherman in Lappland are there solely for the salmon fishing. The only time we ran into any other fishermen on rivers were on the larger salmon rivers and a few on one edge of a lake that sits right up to the edge of a road on one of the main highways.

ers and off to the water. We could not get down there fast enough!

Salmon fishing on the Lainio I have never fished such a large river system and was in awe of the beauty surrounding me and the sheer amount of water passing by. This was also my first time salmon fishing with a fly rod, let alone casting with a two-handed rod. Casting even as a complete beginner, mistakes and all, I fell in love with it. Salmon fishing on fly gave me a feeling that I cannot explain. All I know is that it is something that I will continue to do the rest of my life.

Starting our trip, Julius and I flew from Munich into Luleå, picked up our camper van, drove three hours to Kangos to meet up with Lars, and friends Tobias Park and Sarah Rønholt to immediately have a go at Baltic salmon fishing on the Lainio river as well as having our first introduction to the infamous Lappland mosquitos. “You’ll get used to them (mosquitos),” Lars said with a big grin on his face. A splash of bug spray later, we jumped into our wad-

Tobias and Sarah are salmon fishing fanatics who make the art of two-handed casting look easy and simply elegant. They spent the entire summer in Lappland exclusively salmon fishing. These two were in the river all hours of the day and night. We all fished into the night and caught a handful of nice grayling as the salmon were not coming into the river system too heavily yet.

Lappland is known as the land of the midnight sun in the summer months.

“The chances are slim to none that you will encounter another angler.”

There are 24 hours of daylight so one can fish 24 hours a day to their heart’s desire. This is what dreams are made of.

The giant Lake Naakajärvi

The first day of salmon fishing in Lappland was captivating but we were here for the grayling and trout. Recommended to us by Lars the day before, Julius and I drove to Lake Naakajärvi. The lake is known for its large brown trout, grayling, and Arctic char.

The lake is giant and surrounded by pine trees with many access points, boats and belly boats are prohibited here. The easiest access point is directly up to the highway. This is where one will always see at least one fisherman. We chose to access the lake on the northeastern side since it seemed more secluded. The weather was still cool and the skies overcast so the hopes for a good hatch were quite bleak. I opted for a streamer rod and Julius for a dry dropper setup.

The fishing started out a little uneventful with only smaller fish rising. Julius had a couple of ravenous young grayling come up and take his dry making me regret not bringing my dry fly rod down to the lake with me. The streamer I was using was not attracting any attention, so I decided to change to a bright red/orange Wooly Bugger that, in the past, proved successful in difficult times. On the second cast, I thought I got stuck in the rocks so I gave it a tug. My tug was answered by an even bigger tug.

A golden beast with blue cheeks

I whipped my rod tip up and within a few seconds, the fish jumped out of the water, and it was a BEAST! Each time I lifted my rod tip, the fish pulled it right back down. It felt like we were playing a game of tug of war, and I was not confident I was winning. After a good five-minute fight, I landed a beautiful nearly 3-kilo brown trout!

“My tug was answered with an even bigger tug”

He was covered from nose to tail with spots and had those signature, gorgeous blue cheeks, and beautiful golden body. I was glowing and grinning from ear to ear!

He was so gorgeous, and I thought to myself, if this is the only fish I catch this entire trip, I will go home happy. After a few quick photos, I sent him on his way. Soon after, the wind picked up and we retired for the night. I was still elated to have caught such a fat, healthy brown trout when I went to bed that night.

Why such an interest in grayling?

Julius and I spent a few partial days split between Lake Naakajärvi and another secret little lake that a local gave us some insider info on. The local laughed that we were so interested in catching grayling when there are giant brown trout and Arctic char right in front of our toes. This other lake per the local, holds 60 plus centimeter grayling. As soon as we heard that, we jumped in the campervan and immediately made our way there. The lake requires a little hiking to get to but proves worth every drop

of sweat and mosquito bite obtained along the way.

We were slowly walking along the edge of the lake and right before our eyes, fish started to rise. I got overexcited and immediately got caught in the grass and trees behind me. Julius on the other hand kept his cool and within minutes of fishing, a grayling gently sipped his fly off the surface. You could tell this grayling was big, but we were not prepared for how big. Julius landed a 2.2 kilogram, 60 centimeter grayling!

This was the largest grayling we had ever seen, and we were completely blown away! This chunky guy looked like he had seen a lot in his years and was such a gem. Released back quickly, our adrenaline pumping, we were hungry for more! To our disappointment, the grayling stopped rising. The hatch was over as quickly as it had begun.

“Julius landed a 2.2 kilogram, 60 centimeter grayling!”

We tried with nymphs for another hour and had no takes, so we went in for the night with high hopes for the next couple of days.

In grayling land

Throughout the time at this lake, we caught copious amounts of grayling that were 40 plus centimeters. The weather was still cool and the winds picked up in the afternoons into the evenings. Unfortunately, the hatches do not last long, but if you hit them, you will be handsomely rewarded. You can occasionally get a grayling to rise when there is no active hatch but nymphs proved more successful here.

While fishing for grayling, Julius caught a 40-centimeter perch and I randomly caught a small pike on a small nymph. This lake holds a nice variety of species so you will never get bored. Between the two of us, we lost three big grayling that we could not stop talking about for days, I think Julius even had a few nightmares as one he lost was larger than the 60 centimeter one landed the day before. On Lake Naakajärvi, we caught loads of medium-sized grayling and smaller arctic char.

The grayling in Lappland have more energy and fight harder than the grayling we are used to in our home waters in Germany making them a thrill to catch. In the evenings, the edges of Lake Naakajärvi look as if the water is boiling. Schools of char and grayling cruise back and forth along the edges taking whatever is hatching. It did not seem to matter which fly, emerger, or nymph you cast as long as it hit right in the middle of the constantly moving feeding frenzy. If you miss catching on the first pass, no worries, just wait for the next pass and land right in the middle of it. If you land in the middle of the rises, you are almost guaranteed to catch one.

Exploring small rivers

Julius and I prefer smaller river fishing so we spent the rest of our days exploring small river systems and tributaries. We bushwhacked our way along several different streams and caught a considerable amount of beautiful, young brown trout on dry flies and a myriad of 40 plus centimeter grayling. With the right drift, one really can-

not go wrong. We stumbled upon one river that really sparked our interest. It was surprisingly easy to access and easier to maneuver and cast than the others. It had clear water, lots of structure, and nice deep holes. It held many large grayling up to around 60 centimeters.

It was also the only river we fished that you could really sight-fish. We had to be a little stealthy but watching a grayling come from the bottom of the river, chase down your fly, and rise with such confidence was so thrilling. These guys are aggressive! Sight-fishing is our bread and butter, so this was a definite highlight from the trip. Most rivers in Lappland are completely clear but the waters have a brownish hue that makes it more difficult to spot fish - but it is not impossible.


Buying fishing permits can be a little tricky, it helps to ask a local fisherman. Fishing rights in Lappland are individually owned so you must buy a fishing permit for each water fished. The permit is typically good for 24 hours or you can buy a multi-day permit.

Sometimes you need to knock on someone’s door, sometimes you go into a convenience store, some can be bought online, and other times it is an honor system where you put the money in an envelope and fill out your own permit. When going to buy the permit, look for a small blue sign with a picture of a fish or the same sign that also says “Fiskekort” on the establishment. Cash is very helpful to have. The closest ATM is at least an hour’s drive away depending on where you are, so plan ahead.

In Lappland, there is basically no traffic, the roads are a bit bumpy so sit back, take your time, relax and enjoy the beautiful views surrounding you. You will be sure to see plenty of reindeer. They like to hang out right on the side of the road and sometimes on the road itself. If you are lucky, you might see a moose.

which was distracting for me.

For grayling and trout, a 4 or 5 weight rod will be fine, especially on the smaller rivers and lakes. The fish do not seem to be too picky about flies as long as the presentation is right, but a big Caddis was very successful for usas well as a Paraloop BWO dun. Small brown nymphs were also a popular choice. My biggest brown trout was caught on a bright red/orange Wooly Bugger but locals recommend big, black, purple, or brown Wooly Buggers.

Some helpful links for buying fishing permits: or and a helpful website to help plan your trip:

Recommended gear to bring: Mosquito repellant and lots of it! Everywhere you go, there are mosquitos, biting midges, black flies, and horse flies trying to suck you dry. A mosquito net over our head was very helpful at times, the little flies like to fly into your sunglasses

Lappland, the land of the midnight sun: a fisherman’s paradise. I highly recommend going out and exploring this beautiful part of the world! I would be perplexed if anyone could leave this place dissatisfied. We left with a smile on our faces, many mosquito bites, many great memories, enough fishing stories for years to come, and the unquenchable thirst to go back.



What We Talk About When We Talk About Taimen

You’ve probably heard about taimen, the extremely large and long-lived relatives of trout that in the angling imagination have grown even larger than life. It could be the broad blunt head, like an oversized brookie with a bad attitude. Or maybe it’s the red tail, as if a bull trout had eaten too many cutthroats. Or perhaps it’s the dwindling habitat, as rare as a solitary morning on a Madison River weekend. For these reasons and more, taimen have become a destination. Like Paris in the spring, a taimen’s heart-rending strike exists in a specific time and a far-off place, a location so remote that the experience requires (for most people) a week’s leave and a month’s salary.

Personally, I don’t object to this state of affairs because, since 2006, I’ve been guiding anglers on two incomparable rivers in northern Mongolia, an environment still free of such twenty-first-century detritus as fences, dams, and vacation homes. Which means that I enjoy the privilege of seeing more than my share of taimen ravage the fly.

Many of these splendid attacks involve floating mouse imitations made of hair, foam, or some combination of both. Sometimes we can see the fish coming, a wolf across the steppe. Other times it’s a bolt from the blue, a liquid detonation of shock and surprise. As a guide, I’m gripping the oars when it happens—not the rod— but taimen are astonishing enough that this matters less than you might think.

Never ordinary

Like other charismatic predators, taimen are not truly plentiful, even where their populations are healthy. They can be fickle, especially under a bright afternoon sun, and their hard mouths can make them difficult to

hook. If you float ten miles of river, casting with diligence and precision, you are likely to raise a half-dozen, and to release one or two. I don’t want to call this an ordinary day, because drifting through Mongolia’s remarkable landscape should never feel ordinary, but it’s a reasonable expectation, if not a statistical average.

The word average, however, interests me even less than ordinary. Because I always hope for better—for the unusual, exceptional, or truly unforgettable. That’s what most guides want for their clients: something they can take home. Not something tangible, but a totem memory you can rub until it shines, some ritual protection against the harsher elements of civilized life: a domineering boss, a kidney stone, or an adjustable-rate mortgage.

“This disheartening history could hardly be attributed to a lack of skill or persistence”

And because our rivers are routinely generous with their souvenirs, I usually get what I want. But when the inevitable occurs—those days when the unpredictable nature of fishing becomes predictably frustrating—I can’t avoid the old questions of fate and luck.

In that fateful summer, I met two anglers who have fished in most of the world’s hotspots, from Argentina to New Zealand. Ray took up fly-fishing as a hedge against retirement-induced dementia. He could cast moderately well, told a good story, appreciated cold beer and a ritual cigarette. He was a fun guy to row down the river, although I did have to remind him to set the hook now and again.

With the greatest of intent

While Ray was enthusiastic, his friend Kevin was obsessed. Once the fishing began, he sipped nothing but water, ate only when necessary. He leaned forward in the boat, as intent as the great gray herons that stalk the banks, and laid out line with the stylish efficiency that comes from long practice.

Kevin was the second person I have met who used a roll cast to disengage less desirable fish immediately after they ate the fly. And during his time in Mongolia, all fish were less desirable than taimen, even the colorful and enthusiastic Amur trout.

No doubt you can guess which angler landed the largest taimen of the season, on a six-weight rod, while skating a hopper pattern for lenok. And which cast fervently from sunrise to sunset, without a solid take, until at last, in knee-deep water, he saw a silver wake streaming toward the mouse, with the straightforward concentration of a nuclear submarine, only to watch a 16-inch lenok dart ahead, like a sparrow hawk stealing prey from a golden eagle, and impale itself on the size 2/0 hook.

These incidents, and others like them, can—if you let them—condense an entire day into success or failure. And when the failures begin to repeat themselves, it’s easy to start keeping track, to catalog each missed chance and discover a pattern of futility.

Although I tried not to count, I was aware of the numbers over the course of Kevin’s trip. A truly hungry taimen will often give you three or four opportunities to set the hook. In fact, some particularly aggressive fish might strike six times or more. Kevin encountered none of these accommodating individuals.

while several offered nothing more than an indolent swirl. And the one merciless specimen that ate with abandon? It charged directly at the rod tip. (Slack line, fish gone.)

The end of an unlucky streak

For Kevin’s last day on the river, I wanted something that felt like victory, something to chalk up in the win column. Not in his amiable competition with Ray, but with the curse that seemed to have settled over him like a solitary cloud. It was possible, I thought, to end his unlucky streak by force: the force of will and of determination and of desire.

This disheartening history could hardly be attributed to a lack of skill or persistence. The man had plenty of both. According to Ray, Kevin had outfished him on all previous occasions, for everything from Arctic char to sea-run browns.

In a promising start, Kevin netted a 30-inch taimen on the first afternoon. And he’d been raising fish ever since. But some taimen missed clumsily before vanishing into broken water,

As it turned out, I was wrong. But it wasn’t until after the season that I realized my entire attitude also had been wrong. When you’re floating through the valley where Genghis Khan was born, casting a fly for fish as long as your leg, you really can’t lose. Because what you’re after is not victory, but memory.

Kevin and I covered the final stretch of river with single-minded dedication.

“I lingered over every likely pool and seam, looking for the one fish”

To tell the truth, I was so absorbed with hunting taimen that I scarcely noticed the family of whooping swans veering overhead, the four gray cygnets grown as large as their parents, ready for their journey south. Nor did I pause to admire the autumn hillsides, with their golden poplars, white-barked birches, and red-leaved currants. Instead, I lingered over every likely pool and seam, looking for the one fish that I imagined would release Kevin from his torment.

A healthy release

We didn’t talk about Ray’s run of good fortune. What was there to say? Ray’s big fish on 3X tippet had probably been a lineclass record, but we hadn’t even considered breaking out the scale. It had been a long fight— upstream all the way, with the taimen surging again and again toward the sanctuary of a sunken log. Because that fish was at least 20 years old (judging from its size), a healthy release was the end of our ambitions.

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t wish that Kevin and I had fished less carefully or with less commitment. But perhaps we might have allowed ourselves to look away from our destination every hundredth cast or so. At the bachelor flock of black grouse that flew plumply over a gravel bar. Or the blush and silver flanks of that infernal sparrow-hawk lenok.

In retrospect, my favorite moments on the river always seem to occur when I’m thinking less like a commuter and more like a pilgrim. All hope, no expectations.

Of course, I never spoke these thoughts to Kevin. I am just superstitious enough to suspect that naming a curse might prolong its power. And to his credit, Kevin never mentioned it either. He simply kept putting the fly on the water, with such stoic calm that I might have misread his silent determination.

Maybe his suffering was all in my head, maybe he already knew what I repeatedly forget—that casting is its own consolation, and that sometimes our most hopeful memories are memories of hope, unfulfilled.

—Peter W. Fong is the author of the award-winning novel, Principles of Navigation. In 2018, he led an international team of scientists on a thousand-mile expedition from the headwaters of Mongolia’s Delgermörön River to Russia’s Lake Baikal. His stories and photographs have appeared in The Flyfish Journal, High Country News, the New York Times, and many other publications. The Coconut Crab, a chapter book for children and adults, is forthcoming from Green Writers Press.

For more info: and


TheDiversitySurprising of the Sport

Fly shops in the American West are built for one species: trout. Trout are deserving of their fame, and are worthy of serving as the foundation upon which the sport of fly fishing was built. As anglers are discovering that the sport is bigger than trout, both the fish and the angler are winning.

Along California’s densely populated southern coast there exists an urban expanse, rarely interrupted between Ventura and the Mexico border. It’s home to famously perfect weather, iconic beaches, and millions of people. But 29 short miles of the coast of Long Beach lies Santa Catalina Island. A desert oasis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that time has seemingly forgotten, it stands out for its rugged beauty both above and below the ocean’s surface. But what makes Catalina Island most unique, is its proximity to one of the most populous areas on the continent. It’s like a secret that lies hidden just out of sight for residents of Los Angeles and Orange County.

Any Surprises?

It sounds inflated to say that there are any secrets or any surprises in the most populous state in the country—especially given that it is famous for being, well, famous. But anglers in California have been sitting on secrets like these for decades.

For one, California fisheries are overshadowed by their neighbors. The trout fisheries in the north are in towns like Redding and Dunsmuir and Mammoth Lakes. While they lack the prestige of Bend or Boulder or Missoula, they certainly don’t lack the fishing opportunities. Whereas the steelhead streams of Southern Oregon are infamous and historical and romantic, the steelhead rivers of California are widely unknown (sorry, they will remain so here). California’s fishing opportunities extend further once anglers begin to look at species not named oncorhynchus mykiss. Or any trout for that matter. Large and smallmouth bass are everywhere. The striper fishing in the Sacramento Delta is crazy. Anglers in San Francisco are catching halibut on the fly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. And that brings us back to Catalina Island.

A Pioneering Guide

Captain Vaughn Podmore is the first—and only—guide to have committed himself to pioneering this fishery. It doesn’t take long to get the sense the Vaughn is completely dialed in to fishing here—though he will celebrate a great fish or mourn (and chide) the loss of tuna at the hand of a seal—he rarely seems surprised. The baitfish patterns he tied the night before look identical to the chum purchased before leaving the harbor. Even the bald eagles on the island seem to recognize him when he shows up in the morning.

Getting out to Catalina Island to catch fish is easy enough. There are dozens of party boats and private charters. But for anglers looking to catch fish on the fly, there is really only one option.

There is a novelty to chasing fish with a fly rod, and it certainly presents a unique challenge. For one, anglers calibrated to dead drifting or making delicate dry fly presentations will have to throw just about everything they know about fooling and hooking fish overboard. Strip as quickly as you’d like (or as fast as is humanly possible) and tuna will consider it a leisurely meal. Pause to trout-set on a take and you’ll miss your chance to see whether it was a yellow tail or a bonita.

But, as Vaughn has found, a fly rod can be an effective and rewarding way to fish Catalina’s waters. First, a single baitfish pattern can last all day day, withstanding the beating of dozens of Calico Bass, Baracuda, Yellow Tail and Bonita. Like all great guides, Vaughn loves catching fish—whether he’s holding the rod or directing clients. And, like all great guides, Vaughn is deeply concerned about the health of the fish and the fishery.

The Beauty and the Burden

Perhaps that is both the beauty and the burden of being a fishery’s only fly guide: you have the resource and the responsibility of protecting it all to yourself. He is hesitant to harvest fish, but when he does it is done with reverence and then enjoyed with gratitude.

Of course, Catalina Island isn’t the only place in the world where fish-other-than-trout are chased with a fly rod.

There are anglers all over the world who have never fished for trout because they live in places where other species are either more abundant or more enjoyable to target. In these places, fly fishing can mean a variety of styles or species. But for many fly anglers—especially in the American west—fly fishing is trout. Full stop. The sport has fittingly developed this reputation with roots in rivers, and a popularity that is spurred by the romantic vision of trout fishing propagated in films. But there are two reasons why this is beginning to change.

First, anglers are beginning to recognize that trout—although they are the iconic fly fishing species— are neither the most abundant species available, nor are they necessarily the most enjoyable to target. Even anglers in renowned trout destinations are waking up to the excitement of targeting other species, and realizing just how abundant their habitat is.

the American west bears the brunt of that changing climate, cold water fisheries are increasingly recognized as precious, endangered, and delicate. Local governments have closed fisheries due to poor fish counts or dangerous conditions. And anglers themselves have recognized that their local streams will require less pressure if they are to remain sustainable fisheries.

Relieving Pressure

As a sport, fly fishing feels like it is molting—shedding it’s old troutshaped identity and growing into a new one where there are new species, styles and fisheries to be explored. This is true in exotic locations like Catalina Island, but it’s just as true in irrigation canals and golf course ponds.

Second, as the world grapples with the realities of climate change, and

Trout are worthy of all the love they receive, and certainly worthy of our efforts to protect them and the precious places that they live. But perhaps the best way we can protect trout—and have a lot of fun in the process—is to expand the horizons of what fly fishing is and can be.

The Brand Buffet


Ryan Johnson’s real job might be working as a Californian fly fishing guide, but there’s no doubt that he could be a full-time writer too. His new book, A Reel Job, is a great read about his experiences as a professional fly fishing guide; the captivating, weird, funny, and surprising incidents on the river and the colourful clientele that Ryan has such a special connection with. We found A Reel Job to be poignantly written, at times informative and insightful but more often downright amusing and hilarious. It’s impossible to read A Reel Job without a smile on your face, and – if you’re anything like us – you’ll find yourself laughing out loud at times too. If Ryan is anywhere near as good a guide as he is a writer, (and the insights in the book certainly suggests that) we won’t miss the opportunity of fishing with him if – at some point - we ever find ourselves in Northern California. For more info,


The Fly Fishing Show award-winning Piedra frames are named for a memorable flat the Bajío crew encountered on their odyssey expedition through the Yucatan near Campeche. Piedra elicits images of red and back mangroves, casting to the big rolling tarpon on the incoming and sneaking on snook with the outgoing. Designed with a full wrap 8-base wrap and lightweight yet durable bio-based nylon frame, Piedra can perform all day long without weighing you down. Wide temples block sidelight and provide sun protection so you can focus on the fish in front of you. Noslip rubber nose pads and temple tips keeps shades in place, even in the heat of the moment. Polarized, colorenhancing lenses with proprietary blue light-blocking LAPIS technology bring clarity, color and depth to the entire experience like never before. For more info, please refer to the European distributor – Flyfish Europe,

Reel review : THE IWANA XL TROUT

The Iwana XL Trout is based on the legendary and discontinued Bogdan reels, which have become furiously expensive collector’s items. The reels are named after Japan’s famous Iwana trout and they bring a classic aesthetic to the table that remains timelessly elegant. We’ve had the opportunity to test the Iwana XL Trout reel; a retro click & pawl fly reel that exhumes class and looks pretty on any rod. Our first impression is of a reel that is made with first-class components (6061-T6 aircraft aluminum, a hand-polished Ebonite handle, suede reel bag etc.) and precision-constructed with finesse and skill. The click sound is pleasant, and the smooth click friction is enough to prevent overspooling.

The spool can easily fit 200 meters of backing along with a WF7/8 fly line or a shooting head setup, and – as a result – the reel is perfect for both seatrout and light salmon fishing. Considering that the reel is quite light in hand, it also doubles as a nice reel for heavier brown trout fishing in medium-sized rivers. Having fished the reel on our local rivers for migratory brown trout, we’ve grown really fond of this reel. It looks like an object that belongs on display in a rustic cabinet, but it performs beautifully on the river and should be considering a full-blooded fishing tool rather than just a piece of eye-candy. Highly recommended! More information is available at:

The Brand Buffet


ULA 2023 Limited Edition Reels: The grandparent to more than 40 reel models over the span of a quarter century—the reel that started it all. The ULA remains the embodiment of Waterworks-Lamson’s core design tenets: innovative, lightweight, elegant, and reliable. A touch nostalgic and a bit “retro”, yes… but still very relevant today. ULA Force reels come with a patented conical drag system, in a limited run of 200 reels, and in two sizes: -5+ and -7+. For more info, please refer to

Designed in New Zealand: PRIMAL RAW ROD RANGE

Regal The RAW freshwater series of fly rods feature an ultra-high modulus prepreg of 65 and 57 MSI fibres held together with an extremely strong nano resin. This resin is so strong they were able to reduce the resin content to half of what would normally be used by competitors. This reduces weight and increases the amount you feel through the blank. The rods are fitted with customised machine cut skeletal reel seats with double locking rings and stabilised timber inserts. The stripping guide is a titanium framed SIC and the guides are custom light wire single foot guides. The rod actions are fast while still maintaining enough feel to drop a tiny dry at close range off the rod tip. For more info, please refer to the European distributor, Flyfish Europe –




Delivering dependable 40+ UPF sun protection and ingenious on-the-water functionality, the Tropic Comfort Natural Hoody features our modal fabric. Engineered from renewable, natural beech tree pulp, modal is super-soft and breathable yet durable for the most demanding hot-weather conditions. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. For more info:



A next-generation mayfly pattern enhanced with a hare’s ear blend and an Evolution Mayfly Clinger & Crawler beadhead. This Fly Tying Kit contains everything you need to tie 8 Clinger Nymphs, including step-bystep tying instructions, to make it easy for you to get your hands on the various needed fly tying materials all in one place. For more info:




The new Mustad Heritage J60AP is a round bend barbed jig hook with a 60° eye to accommodate tungsten beads. This balance hook fitted with a bead, will fish upside-down increasing hook ups and decreasing snags. Fitted with the new TitanX matte gun metal finish for reduced reflected glare and increased stealth. The hook is available in sizes 1 – 16. For more info:

Designed and developed in New Zealand, the FlyLab Glide reels are at home in a saltwater environment or tiny spring creek, and synonymous with the Fly Lab collection as they punch well above their weight while giving so much bang for your buck. The reels feature a fully machined frame and spool from 6061 aircraft grade aluminium, a large surface area disc drag design, and type 2 anodised components for durability and corrosion resistance. They are available in Gunsmoke 3/4; Olive 5/6; Orange 7/8; Black 9/10 – and more information can be found here:

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The Simms Kid’s Tributary Waders are built to keep the next generation of anglers hooked and comfortable on the water. They feature breathable & comfortable waterproof polyester 3-layer upper & 4-layer lower, a back belt loop with 1 in. woven nylon (non-stretch) waist belt, built-in gravel guards with gathered elastic bottom hem, anatomically engineered neoprene stockingfeet with antimicrobial finish, and a “Whoa-now“-grab handle built into the back of wader to hold kiddos close when they wade too deep. For more information, please refer to

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Fly Skinz’ Strong Clawz are great for one arm and two arm applications on crab, shrimp and crayfish patterns. They are designed to make tying your favorite crustacean pattern without fooling with knotting chenille. They come in eight different colours and three sizes: Large are 1 1/16”, Medium are 7/8”, and Smalls are 3/4” in length! (1 Set of 12 per pack). For more info:


When you need a breathable jacket that’s going to keep you dry, the Full Share 3-in-1 Lined Jacket is formidable, Grundéns have added a removable fleece lining for those cold mornings or windy skiff runs on the water. A cozy double knit moisture wicking fleece that can be worn alone with a handy chest pocket or attached as a liner to your favorite rain jacket. The Full Share 3-in-1 Jacket is certain to become as recognizable on deck as a pair of black and orange suspenders. for more info.


The Double Barrel is an innovative, modern, softfoam popper body that makes it easy to tie the most popular popper, slider, and diver flies being used today to target various species from panfish to sailfish! It has several unique design advantages over other popper bodies and is available in a comprehensive range of sizes and colors, allowing you to tie a full spectrum of flies.The versatile foam head can be tied on with the cup facing forward to create popper flies, and can be tied on in reverse to create slider, diver, and Sneaky Pete style foam flies. For more info:


The Flexistripper was developed and produced by Danish split-cane-rodbuilder-extraordinaire Bjarne Fries and many dedicated flyfishermen and competition fly casters have used it for as long as it’s been on the market. The Flexistripper is an easy-to-use alternative to a traditional stripping basket. The Flexistripper features no sides, but has other advantages over the traditional basket: for instance less coiling because of the open Flexi-strips, more intuitive line management, and an eliminated risk og hurting ones fingers on sharp basket edges while casting. For more info:





Stickleback provide an abundant food source for seatrout throughout most of the year – particularly in the fjords and in brackish coastal regions. Stickleback are also a prevalent source of protein for lots of brown trout in small lakes and slow-flowing rivers. As a result, it always pays off to have a few good stickleback imitations at hand. The CDC Stickleback is such an imitation.

Material List//

Hook: Ahrex NS 110SE or Mustad S71SAP

Tying thread: White Veevus G01 100D

Tail: CDC feathers

Body: CDC feathers and silver

holographic dubbing

Eyes: Pro Sportfisher Real Eyes

Head: UV Glue

The Trout get big not just because they feed – but because, at one point or another, they start feeding on prey items that help them build muscle mass. To get to a certain size, most trout will eventually have to turn to specific prey items that provide them with ample amounts of proteins. That’s when they turn into piscivorous predators.

Stickleback are among the most prevalent baitfish in fresh- and brackish water. There are several different species of stickleback, but in Northern Europe the most common one is the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), which grows to 11 centimeters

and is predominantly olive-green and silver – with males developing bright orange gills and bellies during spawning. The saltwater stickleback gets much bigger than its freshwater counterpart, which rarely grows to more than 5 centimeters.

An extremely adaptive species, stickleback are found in most waterways displaying anadromous behaviour (where possible) and lots of micro-habitat-specific morphological traits. They build nests and especially the males are extremely territorial and reclusive. Outside of the breeding season, however, they congregate and school up in great

numbers – most likely as a means of defence against predators. Most of the time, though, they use camouflage as their main survival strategy and that’s why they’re mostly found in shallow water along (and inside) lush weed beds.

Stickleback aren’t built for speed. Instead, as a means of protection, they’ve developed their characteristic spines. A small gluttonous perch, for instance, will have difficulty inhaling a stickleback with flared spines. Big trout, however, have little trouble swallowing a stickleback, and since they’re rich in protein, relatively slow, and present in great numbers, both seatrout and resident brown trout keenly hunt them – especially during spring and summer.

The CDC Stickleback, as the name suggests, is an imitation of a threespined stickleback. It’s made with CDC feathers to ensure that it’s relatively weight-neutral, transluscent, and pulsating. CDC (or cul de canard) feathers are well-known among dry fly fishermen for their

buoyancy and fluffy fibres, and while certain seatrout fishermen have started to use these feathers for shrimp imitations, there is still an incredible amount of unexplored potential.

Fished on a long, thin leader the fly can be retrieved at a relatively slow pace; something that will provide great sport in shallow water and along weed beds patrolled by hungry brown trout or seatrout.

The fly is very simple and easy to tie – and extremely durable, and despite being developed only a few years ago, it has already caught a wealth of fish in both fresh- and saltwater.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Fasten the hook securely in your vise. Tie in two tan CDC feathers as a tail. Secure the tying thread and wrap it all the way to the hook bend

Step 4 Step 5 Step 6

Afterwards tie in an trim the excess materials

Made a double loop with the tying thread for the dubbing.

Dub the loop with a mix of tan and olive CDC fibres and silver holographic dubbing.

Step 7 Step 8 Step 9

Wrap the whole hook shank with dubbing, then fasten everything with a few turns of tying thread and trim all excess

Whip finish the fly. Then, using black and silver marker pens, paint the fly to give it a dark back and a silver belly

Put on a pair of Flymen Fishing Co (or Pro Sportfisher) eyes. (The Pro Sportfisher allow for a slightly smaller UV glue head)

Step 10

UV glue the eyes firmly in place with a thin layer of Loon UV Glue (or similar). 11.Give the fly a second UV glue layer for extra durability. The fly is now ready to catch trout.

HEADWAY BELLIES & TIPS Designed by Flyfish Europe ®

The Salt Collins Lure Project

The sight of monofilament line tangled in the mangroves, awakened something in Marissa Williams. She was out paddle boarding but couldn’t leave the spent fishing line there. What she founds wasn’t just disgarded monofilament but a new calling.


Full name: Marissa Williams

Born: Jupiter, Florida

Place of residence: Stuart, Florida



Can you start off by telling us a little about how the Salt Collins Lure project got started?

I got the idea to start the lure project when paddle boarding around Sanibel. One day I noticed monofilament in the mangroves and couldn’t leave it just hanging there. One piece led to more and occasionally I’d find lures that were practically new. I couldn’t let them go to waste so started collecting them until I could figure out what to do with them. Eventually I came up with the idea of selling them and using the profits to help keep our local waters clean.

What is the aim of the project - and how does it tie up with your life as a fly fisher?

The aim of the project is to spread awareness. Most people are aware that the ocean is becoming more polluted with plastics, but what about our mangroves? A healthy coastline ties back into healthy fishing and so much more. A healthy shoreline means a healthy refuge for small fish, birds and a variety of flora and fauna. And what fisherman doesn’t want healthy fish?

How big of a problem is waste lines and lures in your area? And how do you go about collecting the waste lines and lures? (Looks like hard work...)

I’ve traveled all over south Florida cleaning up local fishing spots. Sadly, it’s more of a problem than people would like to admit. We all have stray casts and it’s not always easy to retrieve a lost hook. Some areas are more obvious than others.

I’ll find popular spots loaded with mono, dead shrimp hanging from hooks and rusting lures. On occasion I’ll find all sorts of animals caught in the discarded line, everything from egrets, ibis, crabs, conchs, fish and so on.

What allows me to retrieve the line from these spots is being on a paddle board. I can pull in closer to a shoreline than a boat and I’m able to reach up into the mangroves to pull things out. I keep a pair of cutters with me to help cut things out and have learned that sunglasses are great eye protection.

What has been the response to the project so far?

I’ve had an overwhelming positive response to pictures and stories I’ve shared along the way. Parents have told me they showed their kids my stories while telling them “see, this is why we pay attention to where we cast and we go get our garbage.” Last year, I made Christmas ornaments out of recycled lures and received a lot of support for the idea.

How did you get started fly fishing and why?

I got started with fly fishing due to the pandemic. I had seen pictures of it on Instagram and thought, “ooh, that looks pretty, I wanna do that.” I bought my first reel thinking that even if I failed at trying I’d end up with some pretty fishing gear to have on display around the house. And since I had nothing to do while on lockdown, I was able to focus on fishing almost everyday.

What are your home waters like?

I started fly fishing while living in Sanibel. Since then I’ve moved to the East coast of Florida. I started fishing flats for snook and redfish and have branched out since then. The East coast has given me a chance to explore new species including tarpon, bonefish, Mahi and more. And the list of fish I want to pursue keeps growing.

Has fly fishing helped you become even more aware of environmental issues - and if so, how?

One obvious fact I’ve noticed over the years I’ve been pulling line out of mangroves is how many flies I’ve found versus how many lures. I can count on two hands the number of flies… the number of lures… that’s well over one thousand.

What are your aspirations as a fly fisher?

My aspirations as a flyfisherman moving forward are to keep exploring. I have a list of fish I’d like to catch that should take me around the world. I love to see new places, to explore the landscapes, experience the culture and to keep learning things about the world I never knew. Up next is a trip to Belize. Next year I’m looking at Cosmoledo.

Regal, Where Tradition

Tradition Meets Innovation

”Must Watch” VIDEO


In the Loop Magazine’s latest film is a poignant and inspiring tale of family, adventure, and fishing. Join Jon Pageler as he journeys to Farquhar Atoll with his sister and dad, driven by a heartfelt mission to catch a giant trevally in honor of his cousin Chuck, who tragically passed away from Covid-19 prior to the trip - and learn more about Farquhar Atoll and its pristine flats fishery along the way

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Brandon Finnorn

Full name: Brandon Finnorn

Home Country: Mobile, Alabama, United States


SoMe: and



Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into painting?

I grew up fishing along the Gulf Coast, mostly on Dauphin Island, AL. We started on a pier fishing for speckled trout, jack crevalle, and redfish. Eventually we had a family boat and explored into deeper water, catching king mackerel, snapper, and everything in between. Through this experience I really fostered an interest in biology; watching the local wildlife, fishing, and exploring the beach.

As I grew older, I kept my interest in biological sciences alive in studying it in college and eventually into medical school. But, as I progressed through medicine, I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. Shortly after graduating in 2016, I decided to leave without much of a plan for the future. As I struggled with what to do next, I decided to sketch in my free time. And like the margins of every notebook I’ve ever owned, it was mostly sketches of the fish we caught and memories on the water. As the attention grew for my sketches, I decided to start a career in fine art and illustration in late 2016 and really haven’t looked back for 6 years. It’s developed into a very enjoyable full time career splitting time between freelance work, doing design work for major brand and companies, and developing my own original paintings.

Have you developed a specific painting technique along the way?

The great thing about this career is that from year to year, even month to month, there is so much to learn about different media. I think that’s where it parallels the most with having the discipline to get through my previous pursuit of medicine.

At the moment, I would say my style is still developing in oil painting and charcoal. But my main focus is getting better with good texture, abstract shapes, and composition. I do prefer my work to end up exactly as I intended, reflecting a moment I’ve had in the outdoors. More recently, I have started focusing on recreating much of my wildlife and outdoor photography in a more painterly way.

What has compelled you to paint fish and fly fishing motives?

Painting subjects and moments that I’ve experienced while fly fishing or exploring the coast feels like it gives me a second chance to immerse myself in great memories. I think it’s very hard at times to describe waking up at sunrise and the sensation of the perfect calm you can feel in the open space.

At the same time, getting to see true wild things interact, like fish busting on bait, gives you a sense of awe that painting allows you to attempt to recreate.

How did you get started fly fishing and why?

I remember wanting to move on from fishing with bait and conventional tackle and learn more about new fishing techniques in high school. It felt like the natural progression from someone who loves to learn, and at the time I felt like I had already had my fill of conventional tackle experience. When I graduated in 2008, my dad gave me my first fly rod as a gift before going off to college. It was an 8 wt and I’ve used it ever since. It’s caught bonefish, steelhead, and redfish and has remained my go to rod year after year.

What is it about fly fishing that intrigues you?

Fly fishing feels very similar to learning new art techniques. There is always something more to explore. It also gives you the opportunity to travel and pursue fish anywhere on the globe.

How do you split your time between fly fishing and painting?

Self employment gives me the advantage to pick and choose my days of fishing. If I know the weather is going to be nice, I work longer hours on other days or weekends to make sure I can be on the water. Fly fishing is a way for me to collect more reference photos too. So, over time I’ve gotten to use it as a tool to collect thousands of references no one else can see but me.

In your opinion, do fly fishing and painting complement each other – and if so how?

You can’t be very good at fly fishing or painting without knowing the importance of fundamentals. I think both complement each other in many ways, but there is a degree of introspection you need with both to know what works and what doesn’t and when you stink.

Has fly fishing helped you become a better painter – or vice versa?

I think the greatest benefit of fly fishing is how it has affected my painting through photography. I carry my Nikon camera with me everywhere I go, boat, beach, or kayak. Through learning how to manipulate light, composition, and subject matter, I think it changed the way I approach painting. You learn more about where to add your deepest shadows, contrast, and highlights to the areas you want a viewer to focus. Everything about the way I paint, photograph, and fish is usually very scientific and structured.

What are your aspirations as a fly fisher?

I would like to travel more with fly fishing and experience more environments in a DIY setting. We often take guides at times in new areas and they are a lot of fun, but I really enjoy learning a fishery on my own.

Do you have any cool projects coming up; fishing- or art wise?

As my business has grown, I’ve started pushing away from my digital painting work and towards doing more and more original work as it grows in popularity. This year is going to be heavily focused on oil painting and learning more techniques from some of the masters in the craft. I also have been expanding upon my design course for freelancers looking to learn shirt design and expand their audience by learning how to market their work to the public.

Any advice to fellow fly fishermen, who aspire to do fish art?

Find parts of the fishing experience that inspire you and try to recreate them in your own way. It started with my own fishing photos for me personally. If you want to do it full time like I do, you have to approach it with a relentless discipline. So, find artists who inspire you in any field, not just fishing, and learn as much as you can. I usually dedicate 1-2 hours over coffee in the morning to learn something new before even sitting down to get tasks done. 6 years of consistent learning pushed my work further faster than I could have imagined.


is not an

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“When it’s time to lock up and hold on, I run SA’s Amplitude Big Water Taper. With 100-lb. monofilament core, nothing gives me a better chance with the reef and an angry Giant Trevally.”


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FLY TYING BobSurfPopovics’ Candy

Bob Popovics introduced the Surf Candy in the 1980s. Originally, the fly was tied with polar bear or bucktail. Soon, however, it switched to synthetic materials like, for instance, Ultrahair. Popovics pioneered the use of epoxy to create durability and translucency in saltwater flies. The durability was important to Bob as his local bluefish would demolish flies that weren’t built for abuse.

Surf Candy is a great fly for a lot of different saltwater species. I personally use it for seatrout (sea-run brown trout) and have found it a very effective fly when sandeels (one of the preferred baitfish of the seatrout) hit the coast.

I tie my Surf Candy flies with all sorts of synthetic materials. But I still like it best with bucktail, it gives the fly some extra life. In combination with a couple of saddle feathers, the movement of the fly becomes even more alive.

When fishing for seatrout, epoxy glues isn’t pivotal. The UV (Ultraviolet) resins from Loon Outdoors will do the trick for you – and at the same time you’ll avoid the toxic fumes from the epoxy. With the new UV-colored Fly Finish you can easily add a trigger point or a colored head if you’d like to crank up the flamboyancy of the fly a little bit.

When it comes to shaping the head, my best tip to get it nice and even is to do it in at least two steps. First, you have to soak all of the materials for maximum transparency, durability,

and for locking the materials firmly in place. If you get a decent shaped head in this initial step, you’re all set for the finishing layer. If not, you add resin in the “thin” or caving parts of the head, fill out holes or whatever needs to be filled and adjusted to get an even shape. At this point, there’s no need for it to be super-smooth.

Now, for the finishing layer, add the thick UV Loon resin. You need a thicker finishing layer, otherwise you will not get an even spread when rotating your vise. And do not skimp on the glue; too little glue will result in an uneven surface.

I fish the Surf Candy at all depths. Using a floating line, intermediate and sinking lines. Fishing the fly at high speeds often results in brutal strikes without hesitation. Thanks for that, Bob!

Step 1

Start by securing your thread and make an even base layer for securing all the materials.

Step 2

Tie in the two saddle feathers aligning them carefully with the hook point. The length of the feathers should be approximately four times the length of the hook.

Step 3

Take two flash strands and tie them down at the middle. Then fold them back so you get four of them pointing backwards.

Step 4

Turn the vise and secure the white tan bucktail (a bit shorter than the saddle feathers) about 5mm from the hook eye. Then trim off the excess

Step 5

Flip the vise back and tie in the mix of chartreuse and olive bucktail about the same length as the white bucktail.

Step 6

Attach the eyes with a drop of Loon Outdoors Thick UV Resin. Again, about 5mm from the hook eye.

Step 7

Hold the materials together to get a slim profile and apply UV resin on the back. Make sure all the materials are soaked and then zap it with your UV torch.

Step 8

Apply some Loon Outdoors UV Fly Finish - Hot Orange between the eyes to create an eye-catching trigger point.

Step 9

Now, it’s time to make the basic shape of the head. It only has to be appropriately even - but do make sure that the UV resin soaks the whole head.

Step 10

You need to use a fair amount of UV resin for this step. Cover the whole head with a thick layer. Spread it out evenly and turn your vise. When you’re happy with the shape cure the glue.






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Swedish Lappland

Off the Charts with The Tundra tribe

This will not be an anthropological essay on the Sami or the Nenets. Nor will I describe animistic beliefs or shamanic practices, although - in retrospect - I dare say that there was a lot of magic in our Lappland adventure. There was no lack of souls in non-human bodies along the way. The following is our encounter with the underwater tribe of the Smaug wilderness and the Sami tundra. While their populations in the rivers of the south are fading out like sparks from a fire, those hidden in the north are still doing well. Thymallus thymallus is the name of the species.

We are sitting in a Cessna 180B Skywagon, which looks more like a toy plane made in some garage by a bunch of kids than a real seaplane. Surprisingly, it breaks away from the lake’s surface after a short momentum and now allows us to admire the monotony of the Lappish tundra with our noses pressed against the glass. A few hundred meters below us, there are many watercourses and lakes resembling puddles reflecting the sky. The forest tundra turns into shrub tundra and finally into a moss-lichen wasteland. We pass the “unbuttoned bra,” two lakes connected by a characteristic-shaped overflow, on which we were originally supposed to fish.

Welcome to Lappland

Unfortunately, the long-lasting heat has effectively reduced the water level in the north of Finland, and not wanting to take any risks, we have decided to change our target fishery at the last minute. Instead of mountain lakes connected by inconspicuous streams, a full-blooded river with backwaters and rapids awaited us. Not a big one - just big enough to accomodate three guys from the Angling Globetroters’ Club. After all, the “toy” could not take more than 350 kg of cargo, including a maximum of three passengers.

will be tundra. There were supposed to be horses – instead there will be reindeer. There were supposed to be taimen – instead there will be grayling. If you don’t have what you like, you should like what you have.

We are landing. Although fastened with seat belts, we must hold on tight because it will be a bit bumpy due to the wind and waves. But the “toy” doesn’t fall apart, and we are safe again. We’ve hit a small beach where we unpack our gear and, after pushing one of the plane’s floats off of some underwater rocks, we watch the hydroplane speed up, break away from the lake’s surface, and drag two tails of water behind it for a long time.

Since Mongolia crumbled (Covid-19 did not allow its borders to open), we had to find an alternative not only for fishing but also for a real angling adventure. It was supposed to be taiga – instead there

The pilot, wearing aviators and a scarf around his neck, manages to wave his wings before leaving us alone with only mosquitoes and reindeer. But wait, a blissful lack of mosquitoes! The drop in temperatures, which we were anxious about before departing to Trømso, had some beneficial side effects. After walking a hundred meters from the lake, we drop our heavy backpacks to crawl under a fence. The reindeer, looking down from the hill, look on in astonishment. Then we trek 2-3 kilometres on a mountain slope (at the foot of a tundra covered with dwarf birch, making every step difficult for a walker, riverside swamps even lower), and we arrive at the connection of two tributaries, creating a beautiful river full of rapids and crystal backwaters.

We are relieved to throw all the trash off our backs and start setting up camp. There is an old fireplace, a makeshift bench, an old underground smoker, and a hanging footbridge over one of the two rivers, which rushes out of a huge pool. We work impatiently, casting longing glances at the river again and again. Finally, I go for water and scare a fish, about 50 cm long, in the small river below the footbridge. I rub my eyes in amazement. It is unbelievable that a fish likes tat lives in such a narrow stream with more stones than water between them!

Get rid of Salma Hayek ...

It’s the end of August and the sun is shining high in the sky. Finally, we’re in waders with black parachute dry flies at the end of our lines. We walk down to the river, about 200 meters away, and find something we never dreamed of. And no, we didn’t see young Sophia Loren shooting her stockings or Salma Hayek dancing with a python. We found something much more wonderful - the river was full of hatching black bloodworms, countless amounts of bibios landing on the water, and lots of rising graylings. They were feeding so greedily that we were shocked.

Grayling were everywhere in both shallow and deep water water – in both rapid, and slow-flowing sections. The water was boiling, and we were going to have a week in this place, forgotten by the world, untainted by human stupidity, political decisions, COVID, and other plagues.

While my companions were very effective in the fast-flowing sections of the river, I enjoyed fly fishing in the deep crystal-clear pools the most. I presented flies on a 0.16 mm line and, hypnotized, watched as the grayling, one after another, broke away from the bottom and headed 1.5 to the surface in slow-motion, eating everything I tossed without the slightest resistance. A phenomenal phenomenon. Presenting, fish rising, strike, presenting, fish rising, strike... It’s just impossible for us to get bored. I’m sure even Salma Hayek’s hips would eventually get boring, but not this.

The pantry rapid

On the first day, we also discovered that right next to the camp is a rapid where grayling take the fly in every cast! After calming the first amok with several dozen grayling caught by each of us, we called the place “pantry” and left it alone for a known purpose. Yes, we were provided with lyophilisates, but living on that seemed a masochistic practice.

When the hatch stopped, using Squirmy Wormies was more than effective. A 100-meter section downriver from the hanging footbridge seemed to be paved with grayling and rare brown trout. An almost half-meter grayling that emerged from under the footbridge was the culmination of this long-awaited first day of a new fishing adventure. Along with the sunset, the colours in the sky, and the lack of clouds announcing a cool night,

the blowing wind brutally made us realized that our down winter sleeping bags, which worked even in Kamchatka, unfortunately, turned out to be too thin here. Our inability to light a fire due to the lack of wood further cooled our enthusiasm. We fell asleep with teeth chattering. Rum was also heavily rationed. Just the prose of camp life. Even Salma wouldn’t warm the atmosphere...

Change of plans

The plan was to go a few kilometres down until “our river” joined another one. We would do a reconnaissance, and then move our camp there the next day. The weather was cooler and windier, with fewer insects on the water and no fish surface activity.

It was a great day, although we lost the reindeer path several times and walking in that terrain wasn’t very pleasant. Unfortunately, we met two anglers four kilometres below us. The end of August was really the end of the season, and we didn’t expect any competition. They were coming from downriver, so we assumed they were probably camping at the junction where we were heading. We saw them, and they saw us.

Everyone politely started fishing on “their” section of the river. Without any closer meeting or conversation, they came back down, and we started fishing upriver.

Until the afternoon, we had poor results with very few fish, and we resorted to using the Squirmy Wormy again (which we called “Parkinson” in Poland). We even took a nap “under the cloud”. When it got boring, there were many berries to nibble on, such as very healthy cloudberries, which still covered the tundra in sensible amounts.

Finally, after 4:00 PM, the hatch started, and we got back to the “dry” game. It wasn’t as great as the day before, but we were still really satisfied. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a witness to the “big game”. My two companions hooked 10 approximately fifty-centimetre-long grayling, one after another, which swam from the rapid below and positioned themselves at the outlet of a large pool, just where the water sped up. They were like mini-sailfish and were biting no matter what! They had such great fish, and I had my camera with me already in camp. The next days, we returned to that place several times, but as you can predict, it never happened again.

That day, we decided that our camp would be stationary, and we wouldn’t change the place for our tents. It was a little bit of relief, but also a bit of regret. Effort and tough attempts during fishing expeditions always pay off, and the easy ones like to take revenge. Fortunately, not this time. We were very mobile without heavy backpacks (although my bag with

cameras and lenses weighed 9 kilos!), so we walked an average of no less than 20 km per day according to our GPS readings! It was a good way to lose weight.

Our friend - the drone

The windless morning allowed us to witness the abundance of life in the pool above our camp. Dozens of fish were feeding on dry flies, but unfortunately, as the clock struck 9:00 AM, a light breeze rippled the water, and the hatches were off.

Before proceeding with our upriver march, we used a drone for reconnaissance. It’s a first-class solution for fishing explorations as it saves plenty of time and effort by providing an overview of the area you’re interested in. During rafting exploratory trips, it helps us choose the better branch of the river and even identify dangerous places. With a range of up to 3.5 km in open space, such reconnaissance reveals a lot. So, we checked what the river looks likean interesting natural 200-metre canal between lakes, followed by lots of promising pools crossed by rapids.

At first glance, the wide canal seemed to be deprived of life. We were too early and also fatigued by wading through the swamps. So, we rested for a bit and then saw some movements under the water. The fish were surely feeding on something, though not rising and breaking the surface.

Before we started breaking our heads thinking which fly pattern would be suitable, we simply cast our lines with whatever dry flies had been effective in the past few days.

The water was like a mirror again, and the presentations had to be delicate. After a while, our flies - one after another - started to disappear into the mouths of fish. It was a lot of fun. I found a large flat rock on which I sat and cast without making any noise, hooking a dozen grayling, unfortunately, up to only 40 cm. Finally, upriver, when we were on a fabulous section with grayling swimming in what appeared to be a big aquarium, we met five spin fishermen who, with pike-calibre equipment, passed us without pardon and began to fish the pool. Somehow it deflated the air inside us. Luckily, we still had promising water ahead. It was time to retreat.

When we reached our camp again, a hot cup of tea was a great relief. With every passing day, it was getting cooler. But on our way back, we found some pieces of wood, so there was a chance for a fire in the evening. I took the drone again and started to check an inconspicuous tributary that flows into “our” river 200 metres down from the hanging footbridge. After the first few hundred metres of non-interesting water, we found some nice pools. Bingo!

Tributaries and other helpful technologies

After an easy walk -and taking a great many photos of reindeers, we reached our new hunting grounds – and soon my friends were fishing. I heard a loud curse thrown on the wind, proving to be the result of a lost fish of substantial size. Another friend found a spot below a small waterfall and hooked 16 nice grayling one after another. On the other side, I caught four and instead of casting, I turned on the underwater camera, put it into the water up to my elbow, and filmed a “blind” video of what was going on under the water.

I wish I had watched the video right away because the one played at home showed the true potential of the place. Within the reach of a small GoPro, there were a dozen or so unaware, beautiful grayling. You rarely see something like this with your own eyes. It was a phenomenal place that we surely did not fish properly. The water was so crystalline that it was turquoise.

It’s impossible not to be impressed with the privilege of fishing in such water. By the way, I came to the conclusion that a selfie stick, to which you can attach an underwater camera and explore a much larger area of the underwater world without disturbing the fish, is a handy tool for future trips. And it is obligatory to watch the material immediately.

We knew from the satellite map, which we printed at home, that two kilometres away, another river was flowing in parallel. And this one did not disappoint. There were countless grayling, although quite a lot of them were showed signs of earlier encounters with hooks.

In general, in all the waters we fished, it was evident that, on average, every third fish had facial scars. The scale of the phenomenon was staggering. The fishing pressure in northern Lapland is reaching even the most remote fisheries, and obviously barbless hooks are not so popular. New management practices are needed!

Marriages from stillwater

One windless day, the fish were very active in the morning, especially in the longest lake-like pools. We could see how many fish lived in these waters; it was just a matter of reaching them. Double-hauling was mandatory. Unfortunately, the stunted birches in which the line was entangling almost on every cast drove us crazy!

It was different in the faster water. There, only the Squirmy Wormy seemed to work. I eventually left “the Parkinson” and, noticing that many graylings were patrolling pools near the banks, I focused on those. I approached via bushes - carefully and on-point, with no visible walking along the bank.

As soon as I saw a fish, I would drop the fly into the water nearby, and if it was not swept away immediately, it was enough to pick up the bug two/three times and let it fall again. Hardly any grayling was able to resist this technique. The most important thing was an effective and silent Indian-stalking approach, which was so much fun.

The largest grayling, almost half-a-meter long, would usually swim in couples. There was a chance to hook both fish, but usually one was hooked and the other was not. Several times, I saw the unhooked fish swimming visibly worried, repeatedly rubbing against its hooked companion, as if it wanted to rescue it from the invisible force.

They were escorting the hooked grayling almost to my net. I had seen such behaviour only once in my life, on New Zealand’s South Island while fishing for brown trout. It was a fascinating and touching phenomenon. Of course, all these fish were returned to the water quickly.

Till the last moment…

The day before our departure, I managed to persuade my companions into arranging an early wake-up call so we could pack up and head to the pickup point where the hydroplane was supposed to arrive. There was a lake where we still hadn’t cast a single line, and for peace

of mind, the last night in the tundra was quite rainy, and the wet tents did not encourage early packing. But since we had agreed to leave early, we had to follow through.

We reached our destination faster than we expected, and the sky had already cleared up. Nevertheless, we disassembled our rods again with a little dose of scepticism. Perhaps the enormity of the water was a bit too much for us. However, after an hour of empty casts, Marcin had the first bite, which ended with a line cut, possibly caused by a pike or a sharp edge of a rock.

After retying, he caught the largest grayling of the expedition - 52 cm! “To make matters worse,” ten minutes before the arrival of the hydroplane, I had a strike, hooked, and successfully hauled out a fabulous 65 cm long male arctic char! After the photo session, the release of the fish, and the assembly of the rod, a “toy” arrived.

Fifteen minutes later, we were in the sky again, watching the land of reindeers and grayling slither under the water-plane floats, constantly losing water. We still had a few days of fishing in Sweden, so it felt good to warm up a little bit.

Later, I would hook a 92 cm salmon on my grayling rod. But that is a completely different story…

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