Flyfisher magazine Fall 2009-Winter 2010

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Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010 • $3

Conserving, Restoring & Educating Through Fly Fishing








DEPARTMENTS Just Fishing FFF receives strength from lifetime memberships. By Phil Greenlee.

26 24

6 6

28 31


Letter Meet the Board I Am a Member Meet Don Simonson.


Home Waters Fly-fishing news and notes.


2009 Fly Show Re-cap Highlights from this summer’s event.


Biology on the Fly The life of a steelhead. By Zach Funkhouser




Discover Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay A fine and fun fishing destination for old and young alike. By Beau Beasley



Fly Fishing for Steelhead Practical tips for getting started. By Zach Funkhouser

Casting Techniques to try in the early season. By Tom Tripi


Woman’s Outlook Surgery, cows and gratitude. By Carol Oglesby

Using Tandems Rigs for Bluegills Great tips that’ll make you want to try it. By Terry and Roxanne Wilson


Steelhead flies. By Verne Lehmberg

Casting Instructor Certification Opportunities and successes for fly-fishing professionals. By Molly Semenik and Rick Williams

Fly Box


At the Vise Peacock Spider. By Gretchen & Al Beatty


Fly Rod Corner Positive mistakes. By Dave Mosley


Fly-Fishing Heritage Flunking retirement. By Jon Lyman


Fly Tips Ice-free guides. By C. Boyd Pfeiffer

FFF Headquarters & Fly Fishing Discovery Center

Federation of Fly Fishers 5237 U.S. Highway 89 South • P.O. Box 1688 Livingston, MT 59047 (406) 222-9369 • fax (406) 222-5823 Conservation Coordinator: Leah C. Elwell Conclave Coordinator: Jessica Atherton

Director of Development: Josset Gauley Office Assistant/Bookkeeper: Judy Snyder • Admin. Assist./Membership/ Casting Certification/ClubWire: Barbara Wuebber • Assist./Presidents Club/Donations: Angie Gill •


Photo Contest First place winners from the 2009 Fly Show in Loveland, Colorado.

Cover photo: An angler delights in a 10-pound-plus Alaskan rainbow. For great tips on fly fishing for steelhead, see the story on page 31. Photo by Val Atkinson, Feature photos, clockwise from top, left:

Flyfisher: Magazine of the Federation of Fly Fishers

Editor-in-Chief: Bill Toone Flyfisher is published for the FFF by: Keokee Co. Publishing, Inc. P.O. Box 722, Sandpoint, ID 83864 (208) 263-3573 • fax (208) 263-4045 • Publisher: Chris Bessler Editors: Al and Gretchen Beatty Art Director/Designer: Jackie Oldfield Copy Editor: Billie Jean Plaster Advertising Director: Clint Nicholson PRINTED IN THE USA

Flyfisher is the official publication of the Federation of Fly Fishers, published two times a year and distributed by mail free to members. Send membership inquiries, fees and change of address notices to the FFF Headquarters in Livingston, Montana at the address above. Flyfisher is produced for the FFF by Keokee Co. Publishing, Inc. Address all editorial and advertising correspondence to the address at left. Contents of Flyfisher copyright © 2010 by the Federation of Fly Fishers. Written permission required to reprint articles. “FFF,” “FFF & Reel Design” and “FFF & Fish Design” are registered marks of the Federation of Fly Fishers.

Please remember to recycle this magazine and any other appropriate material.

Author Terry Wilson holds two bluegill caught using a tandem rig. Photo by Terry and Roxanne Wilson. Bob Middo tests Ed Nothern, one of many guides to become an FFF certified casting instructor at Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum, Idaho this summer. Photo by Terry Ring. Jim Morris admires a 37-inch wild steelhead. Photo by Pam Morris. Captain Tony Harding shows off a typical Chesapeake Bay striper. Photo by Beau Beasley.

C o n s e r v i nMagazine g, Resto i n gFederation a n d E d u of c aFly t i nFishers g T h r o•u g h F l y 2009 F i s h -i n g ofr the Autumn Winter 2010 Volume XLII, No. II


Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

Just Fishing FFF RECEIVES STRENGTH FROM LIFETIME MEMBERSHIPS By Phil Greenlee, Chairman of the Board of Directors


f you are a new member of the Federation of Fly Fishers hobby they can share with others when (FFF), I would like to extend a warm welcome to you, they are able. To check what programs your family and friends. Your membership fee fully supare available for any age or situation, go ports the Federation’s foundation made of four cornerstones: to Phil Greenlee, Conservation, Education, Fly Casting and Fly Tying. Of The Federation headquarters is Chairman of the Board of Directors course, there are other components such as entomology, biollocated in Livingston, Montana, and has ogy, equipment, line and reel selection just to name a few. loaned museum artifacts to the University Some people think fly fishing is difficult. When you of Montana in Bozeman. There is a possibility for a new learn the fundamentals, however, you will find it is museum in Livingston featuring five regional industries of extremely rewarding with many facets to explore. To some, Montana, including fly fishing. It is proposed to be in the area it becomes a way of life for relaxation and sport while of the north entrance into Yellowstone Park. Also, there is enhancing ecological goals related to fisheries and waterinterest in bringing back passenger train service through the sheds. In my own experience, it can be a wonderful activity middle of Montana and perhaps going back to West to share while promoting a classic fishing technique which Yellowstone. The new headquarters features and maintains all incorporates “catch and release” goals. of the awards since the inception of the FFF along with historiThe strength of the Federation is the core lifetime memcal fly plates, art and other memorabilia. If you are in the bership. I joined the Federation in 1968, never thinking that area, please stop by and spend some time, especially taking someday I would be the chairman of the board. My responadvantage of the vast fly-fishing library that has been created. sibility is to represent the board by supporting and protecting The Conclave in Loveland, Colorado, was a success, the core values of the organization. The FFF is like family to featuring a record 59 vendors. On Thursday, 800 people some. Friendships are made and can last for decades. We do attended the Conclave. The board of directors is considernot give flies or hats to entice membership, but offer meming changing the name of this annual event. The word bers to join a wellConclave means behind rounded conservation closed doors. The new “I’ve never met a fly fisherman or woman who didn’t organization. We want board of directors, howhave the ability to have fun with the sport, as well as members to be active ever, voted not to move and concerned about our help preserve the goals of the organization.” to Loveland but rather fisheries, as well as constay in Livingston. In servation and supporting the art of fly tying and fishing. fact, our staff in Livingston is being urged to participate in The Federation is not for everyone, but a heartfelt belief community service. The FFF is going to become a noticeis that most who join are active members long enough to able part of Livingston. pass down the traditions to family and friends. Personally, One idea is to honor the local guides in the springtime I’ve never met a fly fisherman or woman who didn’t have with a get-together in the area behind the FFF headquarters the ability to have fun with the sport, as well as help prebuilding. The event is still in the planning stages, but it may serve the goals of the organization – publicly and privately. feature a bluegrass band and refreshments. As an example, one of our members, Rosa Dierks, wrote a The FFF’s financial situation is improving with the new book titled “Trout Fly” and donates 10 percent of her royalboard’s decision-making and involvement. The previous presities to the Federation for conservation. And we have other dent’s contract ended in September and was not renewed. members who have done the same. When I read her book, The current national economic condition dictates that the I could not put it down. CEO/president position be abolished. The headquarters staff is Further, the Federation – through our youth program – very capable of performing their duties during this transition teaches our children about honor, respect, responsibility, period. New financial controls are in place and monitored patience, anticipation and environment from the basics of fly monthly by our financial committee. We now have a great fishing. The FFF supports the Boy Scouts through our merit opportunity to build up our cash reserves. badge program, and we are currently working on a program To conclude, I wanted to share with you that the fly for the Girl Scouts. fishing world has a new enthusiast: President Obama. He We have a program called “Project Healing Waters,” in supports national conservation efforts, and recently visited which we teach wounded veterans with prostheses how to Livingston and floated the Yellowstone River. I’m told that tie flies and cast. In fact, one of our members created a the last U.S. president to fish the area was President Carter process so a veteran with one arm can tie a fly. “Casting for who, some years back, attended the Conclave in West Recovery” also encourages women who are recovering from Yellowstone. An invitation will be sent to President Obama to breast cancer surgery to exercise their arms as soon as possiattend next year’s Conclave event. Perhaps we should offer ble to aid the healing process. Many have commented the him a lifetime membership and casting instruction from one camaraderie between the recovering women and their partof our master certified casting instructors. I’m happy to report ner casters provides not only hope but an exciting new the president did hook six fish and had an enjoyable day.


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

The “Official Winery” of the Federation of Fly Fishers. Featuring world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley.

StoneFly Vineyards FFF Exclusive Benefits Receive 10% off every purchase of StoneFly wines (use code: FFFSF) Receive 15% off* every purchase of custom-labeled or etched wine from Windsor Vineyards, StoneFly’s “sister” winery, at (use code: FFFWV) *15% discount applies only to Windsor Vineyards brand wine purchases • 800.222.6889

Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing


Meet the FFF’s 2009-2010

Solunar Theory I read John Johnson’s article in the Spring-Summer 2009 issue of Flyfisher. As a retired engineer, I was impressed by the scientific analysis he presented regarding “the best times to catch big smallmouth bass.” One of my best friends, Frank Messersmith, now deceased, would agree with your conclusion full-heartedly. Frank was a Long Beach, California, casting club member, officer and instructor. He was also my longtime fishing partner. Frank was a B17 navigator during World War II, was shot down, then spent the rest of the war in a German prison camp. After the war, we worked together for a California utility and spent many days together, camping and fly fishing in the Sierras. Frank became a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. Near the end of his days, at his wife Ruby’s request, I took Frank on his last fishing trip to the Owens River. I literally took him by the hand, led him downstream, and placed him in the water facing upstream. He stripped out line, and laid out his dry fly on the water as beautifully as ever! Frank had a set of fishing rules, one of which was, “The best time to go fishing is when you can.” I would submit that Johnson’s extensive study and conclusion would confirm Frank’s most important rule. Charles A. Sweningsen Via e-mail


Trout & Salmon Incubation Simple, Efficient, Tested Reliable Used Successfully Nationwide in “Trout in the Classroom” Programs For price and details contact: Glacier Corporation 1021 Fuller Street • Santa Anna, CA 92701 714-557-2826 • Discounts given to Schools, FFF & TU Chapters


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

Council Presidents Eastern Rocky Mountain: John Marvin 520-803-6697 • 1242 East Yaqui Street, Sierra Vista, AZ 85650 Florida: Bill Gunn 321-773-5334 • 101 Marion St., Indian Harbor Beach, FL 32937 Great Lakes: Jim Schramm 231-869-5487 • P.O. Box 828, Pentwater, MI 49449 No photo available

Great Rivers: Open Contact Chris Curran Gulf Coast: Kyle Moppert 225-342-7551 • 2170 Terrace Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70806

No photo available

Mid-Atlantic: Mary Ann Lewis 304-839-9070 • 5951 Winchester Ave., Inwood, WV 25428 North Eastern: Rodney Priddle 518-664-3509 • 1 Angle Lane, Mechanicville, NY 12118

No photo available

Northern California: Anne Marie Bakker 707-721-6184 • 1295 Calledel Arroyo, Sonoma, CA 95476 Ohio: Don VanBuren 440-635-1165 • 12037 Claridon Troy Road, Chardon, OH 44024 Oregon: Dwight Klemin 502-302-9484 - 1077 Nona Ave NW, Salem, OR 97304

No photo available

South Eastern: Open Contact Bob Holliday Southern: Michael E. Ames 870-578-2557 • 411 Normal, Harrisburg, AR 72432 Southwest: Michael Schweit 818-601-9702 • 7933 Jellico Avenue, Northridge, CA 91325 Washington: Carl Johnson 360-863-9889 • P.O. Box 1206, Monroe, WA 98272 Western Rocky Mountain: Bud Frasca 208-762-2631 • 2699 E. Packsaddle Dr., Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815

Board of Directors & Executive Committee No photo available

Roger Miller: 559-226-4351 1107 E. Fedora, Fresno, CA 93704

Don Bishop: 406-388-1181 10370 Dry Creek Rd., Belgrade, MT 59714 Richard Diamond: 508-879-1139 20 Vaillencourt Dr., Framingham, MA 01701

No photo available

Rick Pope: 214-821-8172 8115 Sovereign Row, Dallas, TX 75247

Exec. Comm • Council Presidents’ Rep. Dave Duffy: 307-254-4316 • 649 Nevada Ave., Lovell, WY 82431

Exec. Comm • Financial Development Comm. Chair • FFF Foundation President Earl Rettig: 541-330-9670 • 19928 Antler Point Dr., Bend, OR 97702

Tilda Runner-Evans: 970-683-8879 3602 “G” Rd., Palisade, CO 81526

* Exec. Comm • Legal Counsel Jim Schramm: 231-869-5487 P.O. Box 828, Pentwater, MI 49449

Bud Frasca: 208-762-2631 2699 E Packsaddle Dr., Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815

Mike Stewart: 860-653-4203 215 Loomis St., North Granby, CT 06060

Don Gimble: 406-222-2932 16 Northview Rd., Livingston, MT 59047

Greg Stumpf: 909-594-8847 1825 Pepperdale Dr., Rowland Heights, CA 91748

Exec. Comm • Chairman of the Board/ President • Philip Greenlee 530-356-9430 • 1911 Bechelli Ln., Redding, CA 96002

Exec. Comm • Flyfisher Editor in Chief Bill Toone: 406-556-7241 • 198 Game Trail Rd., Bozeman, MT 59715

Keith Groty: 517-290-8284 3496 Josephine Ln., Mason, MI 48854

Exec. Comm • Conservation Comm. Rep. Rick Williams: 208-938-9004 524 West Two Rivers Drive, Eagle, ID 83616

Exec. Comm • Secretary Herb Kettler: 434-977-6703 809 Winston Terrace, Charlottesville, VA 22903

No photo available

Exec. Comm • Treasurer Ron Winn: 321-723-3141 • 2103 South Grant Place, Melbourne, FL 32901

Michael Kyle: 417-889-6548 2863 S. Campbell, Springfield, MO 65807

Don VanBuren: 440-635-1165 12037 Claridon Troy Rd., Chardon, OH 44024

Bob Long: 208-357-5353 P.O. Box 462, Shelley, ID 83274

Carl Zarelli: 253-460-7752 4630 Memory Ln. West, University Place, WA 98466

Roger Maler: 352-293-3322 3073 Gulf Winds Cir., Hernando Beach, FL 34607 (* not a member of the BOD)

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

Directors and Officers


Camino Island,


FFF Council Washington State Member since 1980 Homewaters Puget Sound, Wilderness High lakes, Washington lakes and rivers

Favorite fish Trout and salmon Reason for being a member I first became interested in fly fishing in 1970 at which time I joined the Washington Fly Fishing Club, one of the founding clubs of the FFF. While being mentored by several members, I became acquainted with Gordy Young, an officer in the FFF at that time. He convinced me to join the FFF. Seeing that the FFF was involved with promoting the sport of fly fishing through education and conservation really impressed me. I was involved with our club’s aims as well, learning and instructing fly casting and fly tying. In 1993 when the FFF started the fly casting instructor certification program pro-

moted by Mel Kreiger, I was determined to pursue those goals brought forth. I was so blessed to have mentors like Denise Maxwell, Al Kyte, Tom White, Al Buhr and Tony Vitale to move me through the process of certified instructor (called basic at that time) to the master instructor level. Now I am honored and privileged to be a member of the Casting Board Of Governors, providing me the opportunity to contribute my time and effort to promoting and perfecting such a terrific program for the FFF.

Memorable fishing experience I have so many. Catching and releasing a large, remote high-lake cutthroat to hooking up with a wild coho in Puget Sound top the list. But the pure joy for me is the comaraderie experienced with my friends that I fish with.

What others say Carl Johnson, Washington State Council president, said: “Don has been an invaluable resource to the council. Whenever I need someone to give casting lessons, I call Don. Don is always able to find certified casting instructors in Washington who are willing to

Photo by Kip Keener

Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

I Am a Member

donate their time at the event. In addition, Don is always there to volunteer his time. For as long as I’ve been involved with the council, Don has been giving casting demonstrations and casting lessons at local sportsmen’s shows. It is because of people like Don that the Washington State Council has been successful.” Does your council or club have an individual you would like to be considered for a future “I Am a Member” Profile? If so, please e-mail Bill Toone, Flyfisher Editor-in-Chief, at with your consideration. Please include a brief bio (25 to 40 words) along with the reason you feel this person exemplifies the best of the Federation of Fly Fishers.


Here’s what Joan Wulff has to say about the Federation of Fly Fishers: “The FFF has been an important part of my life since 1967. I’m pleased to see its role become more defined – that of educating men, women and children to further both the enjoyment and conservation aspects of this wonderful sport.” Joan Wulff

Make the FFF a part of your life, too.




5237 U.S. Hwy 89 South, P.O. Box 1688, Livingston, MT 59047

406-222-9369 [8]

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

Gallatin River Canyon. A unique hideaway nestled in the trees next to the Gallatin River, just three miles downstream from where “A River Runs Through It” was filmed. Fishing is at your doorstep. We are centrally located for Yellowstone Park, Big Sky and Bridger Bowl ski areas, the Lewis and Clark Caverns, the dinosaur museum, river rafting, horseback, hunting and sight seeing. Our cabins are completely furnished with kitchens and washer/dryers. We supply all bed and bath linens, silverware, dishes and utensils. The Trout Club is your year-round vacation paradise.

For more information or brochure, call.


Terry and Roxanne Wilson Authors, speakers available for club events and shows. Slide shows, seminars, and tying demonstrations. Warmwater fly fishing. (largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, and other species) • 417-777-2467

Home Waters To su conserv pport any FFF a educati tion, restoratio on prog n make a ram, ple or ta a x se d e du bution to : The Fe ctible contrideratio Fishers, n of F P Livingsto .O Box 1688, ly n, MT 5 9047.

CONSERVATION NEWS with Leah C. Elwell Mining Reform: Efforts to Revise Law Would Benefit Fish


Index of Articles Mining Reform: Efforts to Revise Law Would Benefit Fish . . . . .9 Victory for Grayling and FFF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Congratulations Cutthroat Enthusiasts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Youth Thankful to Bighorn River Association, FFF . . . . . . . . . . .10 Carroll Creek: A Conservation and Education Resource . . . . . .11 California Club Raises Money For Fish Hatchery . . . . . . . . . . . .12 First Fly Tying Celebration a Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Farewell From Wilhelm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

NASA/courtesy of

eaching cyanide, road building and water reallocation are all mining activities that can have a direct, negative impact on the health of our fisheries. In fact, many times our work to restore and protect fisheries and habitats is a result of impacts from mining operations. Over the next year, there may be an opportunity that could help minimize impacts from mining on our fisheries and also bring funds for mitigation efforts. The reform of the 1872 General Mining Law is an effort that is appropriate, timely and will affect our fisheries resources. The General Mining Law of 1872 is a statute that allows mining companies to extract minerals like gold, uranium and copper from public lands. Reform could change two striking You can help conserve, aspects of the 137An aerial image of restore and protect our precious an open pit hard-rock year-old law. fisheries. Read the red patch at mining operation. Currently there the top of the page to are no provisions find out how. rock mining generates no royalty fee. Further, there are for mining operations to established programs to reclaim land impacted by coal minprotect our waters and fish ing funded by fees associated with the cost of extracting coal, from pollution, and the law whereas there is no reclamation program for hard-rock minallows the sale of our public ing operations. These and other issues can be resolved with lands to mining companies reform of the General Mining Law. for less than $5 an acre. If you would like to learn more about the bills in the For other types of mining, U.S. House and Senate, visit and search for royalties are collected and proviHardrock Mining and Reclamation Act. Also visit our partsions are in place for protecting the ner Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Web environment. For example, coal mining site for more information on what you can do in this effort generates 8 percent of gross royalty from at underground coal production, whereas hard-

FFF Foundation, Inc.: Donors, Trustees Sought . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Dan Davala Founds Charter Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Cinnamon Girl CD Raises Money for Casting for Recovery . . .14 FFF Events and Casting Certification Calendars . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Sespe Fly Fishers Recognize Yvon Chouinard . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Ultimate Sport Show in Grand Rapids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Obituaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Celebrates 4th Birthday . . .17 Project Healing Waters Boat Building Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


CONSERVATION NEWS with Leah C. Elwell Photo by Karen Hernikl

Victory for Grayling and FFF


he Montana fluvial Arctic grayling once again will be considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act, with a decision to be made by August 30, 2010. The decision is the latest step in a long, drawn-out battle to list the species. It started in 1982 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) agreed that the Montana fluvial Arctic grayling was possibly endangered or threatened but not enough data was available to biologically support a proposed rule. By 1994, a study had identified threats to the grayling, including reduction in historical range, dewatering of streams, competition or predation by non-native fish, and habitat degradation. Due to those threats, the USFWS agreed that listing of the Montana grayling was “warranted,” but “precluded by other higher priority listing actions,” according to the settlement document; in 2004 this status was reaffirmed. However, in 2007 the grayling was denied protection. The Federation of Fly Fishers along with the Center for Biological Diversity and others filed a lawsuit challenging the 2007 decision. Fluvial (river-dwelling) Arctic grayling were once found in the Lower 48 in Michigan and throughout the upper Missouri River drainage above Great Falls, Montana. It is now reduced to a single, self-sustaining population in a short stretch of the Big Hole River, Montana. Studies show that the Montana fluvial Arctic grayling is genetically distinct from populations in Canada and Alaska, and genetically and behaviorally distinct from grayling lake populations in Montana and other states. The settlement states that on or before December 31, the USFWS shall submit a notice to the Federal Register seeking public comment on the status of the upper Missouri River Arctic grayling, and will submit a new 12-month finding to the Federal Register by August 30, 2010. Both parties have asked the federal court to dismiss the case.

Congratulations Cutthroat Enthusiasts on Gibbs of Colorado, John Hernikl and Ross D Gorman of California along with Ward Bean of Iowa recently completed the Cuttcatch Challenge in 2009. This FFF program recognizes the value of our imperiled cutthroat subspecies and rewards fly anglers who catch and release four of them in their native range. Fourteen subspecies inhabited large ranges across the western United States and Canada. Now these subspecies have been reduced to a fraction of their historic range, and several have become extinct. These fish are found in small pockets in lakes and streams in a variety of areas from British Columbia, Canada, to Utah and Colorado. To complete the Cuttcatch Challenge requires some time and a sense of adventure. To learn more about the program requirements, visit the Federation of Fly Fishers Web site at Leah C. Elwell is the conservation coordinator for the Federation of Fly Fishers. She lives in Livingston, Montana.



n June 2009, the Bighorn River Association and the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) sponsored a fourday fly fishing trip for 12 young peo-

Cory Highway releases a beautiful rainbow trout.

Photo courtesy of Cory Highway


ple from across the country. Bighorn River, near Fort Smith, Montana, was the selected location for this adventure. Two members of my home club, the Grand River Fly Tyers, were fortunate enough to experience this wonderful trip – and I was one of those lucky people. The week on the river was more than I could have imagined. I caught more large fish during this week than in any other period in my life. I especially want to thank Frank Johnson

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

and the other guides for their help on the water, at the vise and for working on this project. I also appreciate the many people who donated their time, materials and tools to make this trip possible. It was an adventure I will never forget. I hope this is not a one-time event, and that the organizers will continue introducing young people to fly fishing in future years. More importantly, I hope to see more young people experience the joy of fly fishing and the great people in the FFF who work to advance the sport. My thanks to everyone involved. Cory Highway is a young fly fishing enthusiast from Kentwood, Michigan, where he attends Pinewood Middle School.

CARROLL CREEK A Community Conservation and Education Resource Photo courtesy of Don Fine and John Brognard

By Don Fine and John Brognard


rederick, Maryland, is best known for its Civil War heritage as the home of the famous Unionist Barbara Fritchie, who waved a flag and attempted to block Stonewall Jackson’s troops, and Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer who wrote the words to the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was also the location of the 1864 Battle of the Monocacy River. Less known, yet important to the history of Frederick is Carroll Creek, as it provides an educational and recreational resource to central Maryland residents. A freestone stream originating in the Catoctin Mountains west of Frederick, Carroll Creek flows eastward through agricultural and low-density residential areas, passes through downtown Frederick and finally enters the Monocacy River just east of the city. For the past 30 years the Potomac Valley Fly Fishers (PVFF), Inc. has used a spring house and fish pavilion, located on the south side of Montevue Lane bordering Carroll Creek, for raising trout. Under lease granted by the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, the cold-water spring combined with the fish pen pavilion provides an ideal environment for raising young-of-the-year trout. Each summer PVFF receives trout fingerlings, provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), that are raised through the fall and winter, and then released the following spring in local waters including Carroll Creek. The PVFF trout pen is a resource for catch-and-release fishing on Frederick County streams and for Frederick youth and visually handicapped residents in the heart of the City of Frederick.

Stream Restoration At the turn of the 21st century, local farmers were still using the streamside and acreage proximate to the PVFF trout pen for cattle grazing. As a result stream banks were trampled and lacked vegetation. Lack of structure and sediment entering the stream made for poor quality trout habitat. In December 2004 a major restoration project got under way to restore

Carroll Creek and the Montevue floodplain have been transformed into a quality fishery and a habitat for wildlife.

1,000 linear feet of Carroll Creek that would stabilize stream gradient and stream banks, along with reforestation and restoration of sections of the Montevue Lane floodplain to wetland. Project funding was provided primarily by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, while project design and oversight was provided by the MD DNR. Sections of the stream were excavated with subsequent placement of hundreds of cubic yards of large rock fill. Rock vanes were strategically placed to create scour pools, thus reducing sediment and providing habitat for fish as well as aquatic insects, crustaceans, minnows, etc. In spring 2005, volunteers from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Frederick Planning and Zoning, PVFF, Hood College, Frederick Community Commons and the community at large planted hundreds of trees. In less than four years, Carroll Creek and the Montevue floodplain have been transformed into a quality fishery and a habitat for wildlife.

Trout in the Classroom Over the past four years PVFF, in conjunction with MD DNR and Trout Unlimited, has promoted the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) project in seven Frederick County schools. Teachers participating in the program are trained by PVFF members. This training prepares the teachers for setting up the aquarium

and related equipment, monitoring and maintaining the operation of the aquarium, and providing the young fish with all they need to survive and develop. Teachers and students work together to ensure proper operation of the equipment. Teachers use the equipment as a tool to educate students about the importance of clean water and conservation of natural resources. Students care for the fish through proper feeding procedures, daily testing of the water chemistry, temperature monitoring and water changes. In the spring of the year, the students then release the young trout into local streams – Carroll Creek, for example. At that time the students have the opportunity to visit the PVFF trout-raising pen to learn about aquatic entomology and stream conservation, as well as receive some basic instruction in fly fishing.

PVFF continues to serve the Frederick community PVFF members along with other Frederick organizations, such as Hood College and Frederick Community Commons, are working together to provide additional riparian buffers along more of Carroll Creek. PVFF is also involved in restoration and cleanup of other local streams and promotes efforts to prevent spread of invasive species into those waters. Don Fine and John Brognard are dedicated members of the Potomac Valley Fly Fishers.

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


CALIFORNIA CLUB RAISES MONEY FOR FISH HATCHERY destroyed by a rainstorm and the resulting mudslide in July 2008. Operated by the California Department of Fish and Game, the agency opted not to restore the hatchery due to the high cost. California resident Bruce Ivy ( organized The Friends of the Hatchery with the mission to restore the grounds, provide an educational venue, and preserve the facility. Through extensive volunteer support and donations, they have been able to reopen these beautiful grounds to visitors. The official reopening celebration was on May 30, 2009. Members of the Aguabonita Flyfishers, including President Jim Hoover, past President Don Bowling and his wife Karen, Gary Davis and his wife Karen, and Fred Freiberg and his wife Linda



n February 28, 2009, the Grand River Fly Tyers (GRFT) held their first Fly Tying Celebration in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This was not only a first for the GRFT but also a first for Grand Rapids. Chairman Dennis Potter invited 30 renowned tiers from the Midwest to share their expertise with the public. Tying greats like Chris Helm, Ray Schmidt, Christopher Soule, Jim Reed, Brad Reynolds, Gerry Worden, Kevin Feenstra, Jeff “Bear” Andrews, Julie Nielsen and many others came to celebrate the art and tradition of fly tying.

Some demonstrated their flies on stage in a video fly tying theater. Away from the tying area, Ron Barch, a wellknown builder of bamboo rods, demonstrated how graphite rods are made while Dr. Sam Lacina fabricated wood fish-landing nets. Our youth table was busy at all times with kids getting their first taste of tying a fly. Several graduates of the GRFT Youth Program showed what they already had learned. The event was flawless – thanks, in part, to our host, the Knights of Columbus. We look forward to this new Grand Rapids tradition in 2010.

Photo by Wade Fredenberg


he Aguabonita Flyfishers, together with the Southwest Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers, recently raised $1,375 for the Friends of the Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery. The club raffled a piece of artwork to raise the money. Tickets were sold locally to fly fishing clubs in Southern California and at the fish hatchery opening celebration. The artwork was an elegantly framed, limited edition CalTrout Wild Trout stamp print with two of its companion stamps. The print and one of the stamps were signed by the artist, Al Agnew. The print and stamps were donated by CalTrout, Aguabonita member Gary Davis designed the layout, and the framing was done by TMS Matting & Framing. The Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery facilities were virtually

The group holding the fundraising artwork framed by TMS Matting & Framing are, left to right, Fred Freiberg, Bruce Ivy, Jim Hoover (Aguabonita Flyfishers President) and Don Bowling.

attended the event, and presented the donation to Bruce Ivy. For more information about the hatchery, visit www.independence-ca .com/fish-hatchery.shtml. Information provided by Aguabonita Flyfishers Secretary Bob Smith.

FAREWELL FROM WILHELM By Matt Wilhelm I just wanted to thank the FFF’s wonderful staff, members, partners and volunteers. I am leaving the FFF and have accepted a position as education director for the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species based here in Livingston, Montana. I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life, but I will never forget my wonderful experience with the FFF and all of the folks I have worked with. I will continue to be involved in helping to further the FFF’s mission as a life member and master certified casting instructor. It has truly been a joy and a privilege working with all of you over the past 10 years. The experience of sharing our wonderful sport with others, especially kids, has been a joy and the best time of my life so far. Thanks again everyone! Matt Wilhelm has filled the role of education specialist for the FFF since 1999. During his 10 years of service to the FFF, he taught hundreds of kids and adults over the years. He reached out to countless members, friends and others with his incredible ability to teach about fly fishing, casting, tying and aquatic ecology. Matt’s gift of dynamic teaching and his dedication to the FFF mission is fully recognized. Best of luck to you, Matt!


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010



lthough I have prepared a number of articles for this publication over the past 10 years, I have my doubts that very many Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) members or supporters have paid much attention to the articles or to the FFF Foundation. It is much more interesting to read about fly fishing, fly tying, conservation, club news and old friends than it is to read about a foundation! What is this thing anyway, and why is this article in our organization’s magazine? Who cares about spending their time reading about a foundation? Let me take a crack at explaining and you can decide. Most large not-for-profit organizations such as hospitals, museums, national conservation and wildlife outfits have long ago established their own foundations for a number of reasons. A public 501 (c) 3 foundation provides the sponsoring organization with a taxexempt vehicle that can receive longterm endowment gifts that, over the years, can build a substantial asset base from which earnings, and sometimes asset appreciation, can be used to fund worthy projects and programs. The original principal of gifts received by the Foundation are never spent and remain in perpetuity to grow and provide a stream of income for continuing support of the FFF, FFF clubs, FFF members, and areas of interest that are important to the purpose of the FFF and its membership. The FFF Foundation does not solicit donations to be spent, but rather to be invested for long-term growth. During 2009 to date, the FFF

Foundation has distributed $8,400 for scholarship, youth education and conservation purposes. Additional prior earnings are available to fund-worthy grant requests. Donors may specify to which general area of activity they wish the earnings from their gifts be applied. The approved areas of FFF Foundation grant-making are as follows: general youth education, clubbased youth programs, conservation, scholarship, general education, FFF art and fly fishing collections, and discretionary purposes. The FFF Foundation is managed by a board of trustees elected by the board of directors of the FFF. The following trustees were seated at the annual meeting of the board of trustees on July 29, 2009: Earl Rettig, president; Keith Groty, vice president; Ron Winn, treasurer; Richard Diamond, secretary; Bud Frasca, and Mike Stewart. We are seeking additional trustee candidates. Is anyone interested? As this is being written, the FFF Foundation holds and invests assets of

approximately $165,000. This is a very small endowment for the FFF, and it needs donors like you to make it grow and be able to further its ability to benefit your goals and objectives. Who is “a donor like you?” The most likely donors to gift to the FFF Foundation are individuals who want to make a lasting gesture of support through the FFF and who desire to achieve certain income tax and/or estate tax planning benefits. The Foundation provides an excellent recipient of “Planned Gifts” such as a bequest under will, a charitable remainder trust, a beneficiary designation from life insurance, a 401(k) plan, gifts of appreciated assets such as stocks, land and so forth. Of course, you are advised to contact your tax professional for specific guidance and assistance. If you desire further information, please contact Josset Gauley (josset@ at the FFF’s Livingston office or me ( We look forward to hearing from you – and to find out if you read this article!

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Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


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rapidly. Besides its ne of the relatively large size, newer charter what’s interesting clubs in the about this new club Federation of Fly is the fact that it has Fishers (FFF) is the not yet held an “offiTidal Potomac Fly cial” first meeting. Rodders, founded in Davala related 2009 by Dan Davala the following to FFF and based in staff in a recent eArlington, Virginia. A mail: “I believe this certified casting Mom takes her turn on the water and group will grow to instructor, Davala is “Scout” makes sure she is doing it right! something bigger the fishing manager at than first imagined, which is really saythe Orvis Store in Arlington; with his ing something since I have a big imaghelp the club is now 220 members ination to begin with! I will be in strong in less than a year and growing touch after our first meeting once we have all necessary paperwork filled out. Thanks for all of your help in getting this thing started and your overF F F 2 0 1 0 E V E N T S whelming support. More to come.” When he says “more to come,” January 2010 North Coast Fly Fishers one wonders just how large the club Northern Ohio Fly Tying Expo will eventually become. Lakeland Community College Gym Dan Davala is part of a fly-fishing Kirtland, Ohio, family in which his wife, Melody, is February 2010 Magic City Fly Fishers – 5th Annual the official photographer and daughter


20 Fly Fishing Expo & Banquet Holiday Inn Convention Center

Billings, Montana,

Raises Money for Casting for Recovery

Great Lakes Council Fly Fishing School Roscommon, Michigan,


FFF International Fly Fishing 24-28 Show & Conclave West Yellowstone, Montana,

2010 FFF C ASTING INSTRUCTOR CERTIFIC ATION *Schedule subject to change – see most current schedule with details at The following events offer FFF Casting Instructor Certification. Pre-registration is required. Call 406-222-9369 to register. There is a $50 fee for Certified Instructor (CI) Testing and $100 fee for Master Instructor (MA) Testing plus a $50 fee if you pass; for TwoHanded Casting Instructor (THCI) there is a $100 test fee plus $50 pass fee. You must also be a current FFF member.

Jan. 9 – MA. Test #1004 – Denver, Colorado Jan. 22-24 – MA. Test #1003 – Somerset, New Jersey March 20 – CI. Test #1005


Salt Lake City, Utah March 20 – CI. Test #1007 – Mountain Home, Arkansas April 30 – CI. Test #1006 Ellensburg, WA

Virginia, aka Scout, supervises their outings. Indicating a great “FFF attitude,” Davala added: “I am a big believer in taking the whole family fishing, and I fear too many kids are growing up these days away from the water and other wild places. I am committed to seeing that our daughter grows up not ever remembering a time when she wasn’t exposed to fishing and the outdoors.”


June 2010

August 2010

Angler Dan Davala keeps his daughter close to the action.

By Craig Springer “


o fish is to hope” is the trademark of Casting For Recovery (CFR), a nationwide nonprofit organization that exists to bring hope and healing to victims of breast cancer. Purple words on a gray background can paint a picture any way you like it. And so it is with Neil Young’s music. His metaphorical lyrics reside on a new CD titled “Cinnamon Girl: Women Artists Cover Neil Young,” from American Laundromat Records. The new two-disc set is a fund-raiser for CFR. American Laundromat Records owner Joe Spadaro has done it all in the name of charity and in the memory of his mother, Norine, who passed away from the disease in 2005. Norine took part in a CFR retreat, and her son is “paying forward.” “I wanted to honor my mother who battled breast cancer for six years before passing on in July of 2005,” said Spadaro. “She had benefited greatly from the CFR weekend retreat on

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

Long Island. When she spoke about that weekend her eyes would light up. She learned how to fly fish – catching a big one – met some amazing women and formed several strong friendships. When she passed on, it was her wish that instead of flowers, donations to Casting For Recovery be made in her name.” Spadaro has taken his mother’s desires a step further. Since its release in February 2008, “Cinnamon Girl” has generated $25,000 donated to CFR, and the organization’s leaders are most appreciative. Purchases will help get women on the water via the nationwide, all-volunteer network that is Casting For Recovery. Go to to order “Cinnamon Girl,” for $12, or look up

Photos by Dan and Melody Davala




even members of the Sespe Fly Fishers in Ventura, California, met February 14, 2009, on the banks of the Ventura River just below the confluence of San Antonio Creek near Ojai, California. The objective was to plant 47 trees on the riverbank and adjacent area. The area is a restoration project named the Confluence Preserve under the management of the Ojai Valley Nature Conservancy (OVNC). This portion of the preserve is a conservation easement on a private ranch and, unfortunately, a flood in 2005 washed several acres downstream. The conservancy received grant funding to stabilize, restore and protect the stream bank and remaining ranchland. The conservancy prepared the site by placing rock groins in the flat streambed overflow area, installing an irrigation system and mulching the site for weed control. What they needed were trees and planting labor. The Sespe Fly Fishers had been in the planning stage for the tree-planting project for more than a year. Club

members were also looking for a meaningful way to express recognition for longtime member of the Sespe Flyfishers, Yvon Chouinard, owner of Patagonia, for his commitment to fly fishing, preservation of the environment and his efforts in soliciting corporate support for environmental endeavors. Chouinard’s efforts are legendary and have had a worldwide impact. Dennis Harper, the club’s conservation chairman, along with Gary Bulla, the club’s program chairman, researched the options for Chouinard’s recognition and determined a local, tree-planting project was ideal. The club members provided the donated funds and purchased 15 sycamores, 15 cottonwoods and five coastal live oaks for the project. OVNC Program Manager Derek Poultney and Stevie Adams, Ventura River Confluence project manager, provided guidance and coordination that led to a perfect wedding of the club’s desire and the conservancy’s needs. “We didn’t think he needed another plaque, so we felt the streamside tree planting was a logical fit to

Photo by Gary Bulla

Yvon Chouinard’s Commitment to Conservation is Legendary

From left: Dennis Harper (club conservation chairman), Yvon Chouinard, Paul Wilson (club president) and Gary Bulla (club programs chairman)

Yvon’s conservation interests,” said Paul Wilson, Sespe Fly Fishers president. “As a follow-on to the planting last February, we plan to plant more trees this next spring.” Estimates indicate that the original water flow of the Ventura River watershed could have supported more than 20,000 spawning steelhead. Prior to groundwater pumping and the installation of the Matilija and Casitas dams, the river had been home to an annual run of approximately 2,500 to 5,000 steelhead. Recent returns of the endangered southern steelhead are down to about 10 fish per year. The Ventura River is a targeted stream for steelhead recovery. Preserving and restoring the riparian zone of the river is vital to the steelhead recovery effort.



he Ultimate Sport Show in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is one of the biggest shows in the state, held every year at the Devos Place. It lasts for four days and is open to the public for a total of 40 hours. Four years ago, the Grand River Fly Tyers (GRFT) teamed up with the Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company to start a Fly Fishing section in an otherwise all spin and bait casting venture. We started out with a booth that measured 64 square feet, and from there we continued to grow. This year, our club occupied 600 square feet. At any given time we had no fewer than eight flytiers demonstrating to an interested public what fly tying is all about. At times we had as many as 11 flytiers working at the same time, with the public observing the intricate

steps of fly tying on three monitors. We really focused on youth education, and set up a separate youth table so three kids could get tying instructions at the same time. As a matter of fact, one of our instructors gave casting lessons on the 60-foot casting lane behind our booth for 9 hours straight one day. Our 5-weight rod and reels came in handy, indeed. Some kids were so excited they had their parents sign up for a club and national membership on the spot. Our booth and its impressive display dominated the fly-fishing area and we are already at work to expand that section for 2010. At the time the show closed on Sunday evening we were all beat, but happy and proud for being able to represent fly tying and fly fishing in a very professional way. Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010



Thomas Joseph (Buddy) Robichaux

Matt Toshio Matsushita


att Toshio Matsushita, Jr. was born November 9, 1948 in Ontario, Oregon and died on August 2, 2009 in an automobile accident while returning to his home in Santa Barbara, California from the FFF Conclave in Loveland, Colorado. At the age of 3, Matt and his family moved to Watsonville, California. After graduating from Watsonville High, he went on to UCLA, earning a degree in mechanical engineering. He worked at Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Sunnyvale for 20 years, helping design submarine missile launchers. He also spent a few years on solar collector design at Acurex Corporation. In 1993, Matt moved to Santa Barbara to work in his brother-in-law’s general contracting business, Jack ’N Tool Box. Matt’s many interests included fly

fishing, fly tying, playing pool, martial arts, aquariums, wood-working, Japanese sword-making, scratch plastic modelbuilding and taiko. Anything he developed an interest in, Matt would learn all he could. If it involved a product, he’d seek to re-create, improve upon or look for the ultimate. That search for knowledge was most evident in his fly-tying skill and the tools he custombuilt to help in the process. Matt is survived by his mother, Mary Sakata Matsushita; wife Sophia; daughter Emi; sister Karen and her husband Jack Byers, all of Santa Barbara; and son Kyle and his wife, Claire of Arcadia. He was preceded in death by his father Toshio Matsushita.

Richard (Dick) Vogel Wentz


ichard (Dick) Wentz, an outdoorsman, writer and editor, died May 29, 2009 of heart failure. He was 65. Born Sept. 20, 1943, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dick attended Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and earned a degree in English from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He received an MFA in Fiction from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Dick had a long career in conservation communications, working for the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, D.C. and the State of New Hampshire Fish & Game Department in Concord, New Hampshire. He served as communications director for Ducks Unlimited, Inc., in Chicago during its period of growth through the 1980s and subsequently worked as director of public relations for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody,Wyoming. In 1995, he moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, with his wife, Jeri, where he began work with Keokee Publishing as editor of Flyfisher. He managed the editorial production of this publication for nearly 10 years. Dick also wrote freelance stories for a number of national publications and was published in several sporting anthologies. His wit and ability to cut through formality often endeared him to friends and colleagues, and his deft assignment of nicknames – wanted or not – was

legendary. The outdoors was his deepest joy. Above all, he loved wading the riffles of a trout stream and tromping upland game covers with the bevy of bird dogs he owned over the years. Or more likely, they owned him. For with his dogs, or life in general, serious discipline often got second billing when there was something thrilling in the air. An expert fly caster, Dick began throwing a fly rod at age 9 and kept a line in the water most of his life. Whether fishing stripers on the East Coast, bonefish in Florida, rainbows in Wyoming or spooky brook trout anywhere he could find them, he was most at home with a good fly rod and an elusive, unspoiled piece of water. He was preceded in death by his father, Richard Royer Vogel and his stepfather, John R. Wentz, both of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife, Jerelyn Wentz of Sandpoint; his mother, Mary Virginia Wentz of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a sister, Elizabeth Woll of Katonah, New York, and a brother, Paul Wentz of Marmora, New Jersey. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in his name to a conservation organization of choice.


homas Joseph (Buddy) Robichaux passed away on June 7, 2009, at the age of 82. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on August 19, 1926, to Francis and Lucille Robichaux, he is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Jane; sons and their wives, Tom and Jessie of Austin, Rob and Suzanne of Tucson, and Jim and Rebecca of Corpus Christi. He is also survived by five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, a sister Frances Bahlinger and a brother Gerry, both of Louisiana. Buddy taught his sons that wealth was not measured by the amount of money in their pockets but by the love of family and friends and a life lived with honor and integrity. His life exemplified these tenets: mentoring young men as a Scoutmaster and Commissioner in Boy Scouts; coaching Little League baseball; instructing First Aid for the Red Cross; teaching newcomers the joys of fly fishing with the Alamo Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited; building with Habitat for Humanity; ushering at Coker United Methodist Church, and reading for the blind every Thursday morning as a volunteer for Owl Radio. A graduate of Louisiana State University and the University of Houston, Buddy spent his professional life as a research chemist for Shell Oil Company in Houston before becoming the director of health, safety and environmental affairs for a multi-national petrochemical company, where he demonstrated to environmentalists and industry alike that we could be proper stewards of our natural resources and still prosper commercially. Buddy’s love of fishing began at a young age and continued throughout his life. He fished the wild trout streams from Montana to New Zealand, always taking care to release his prey unharmed to fight another day. Buddy’s wife, Jane, was the absolute love of his life. Their marriage exemplified unwavering devotion and constant companionship. In lieu of flowers, the family requests you provide a donation in Buddy’s memory to Owl Radio, c/o Low Vision Resource Center [501 (c) 3], 11510 Sandman St., San Antonio, Texas 78216 or to the charity of your choice.


By Carole Katz

building and Fly n four short years, Project Fishing Healing Waters Fly Fishing, 101. Inc. has grown from a sinThese gle program at Walter Reed classes Army Hospital to 75 programs and the nationwide in both military camaand V.A. hospitals. (left to right) Rusty Emmerton, Shaun raderie Volunteers in that first Meadows and Jesse Garza were three that program worked with the Project Healing Waters participants who develops wounded returning from Iraq went on a fishing trip in Montana. are just and Afghanistan. It didn’t take as important to the participants as the long for everyone involved to recognize actual fishing outing. Initially, the numerous benefits from fly-fishing activiorganization was incorporated as a subties and make the decision to expand. sidiary to the FFF in order to be able Rather than create an entirely new netto solicit tax deductible contributions. work of volunteers within the fly fishing In June 2009, PHW received its own community, existing clubs within the 501(c)3 designation as a completely FFF and TU were invited to join Project independent nonprofit corporation. Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. as partThe year 2009 began with a winter ners in this rewarding endeavor. Now, rod-building contest. Rod-building kits in addition to those clubs, programs are were supplied for the participants, after also being operated by American which completed rods were sent to Casting Association clubs and as well as the judges at Hook & Hackle in several independent organizations. Pennsylvania (results are posted on our With a board of trustees and 12 Web site listed below). The top six winregional coordinators, Project Healing ners were eligible to select a national Waters (PHW) is unique in that our fishing outing as a prize. There were volunteers are teaching regular, ongonumerous fishing trips to great destinaing classes on fly casting, fly tying, rod


tions, including Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, Maine and others. For the fourth consecutive year, PHW sent soldiers to the FFF Conclave after several days of fishing in nearby Colorado waters. National plans for this fall and winter include more rod building, as well as building drift boats from kits that will be supplied by Montana Boat Builders. The individual organizations will define their own agendas for the coming months. Any club interested in becoming part of this rewarding organization can obtain information at www.project There you can contact the administrator or any of the regional coordinators for more information about what is going on in your area. The national organization is able to provide financial support for programs, as well as donated or discounted equipment, along with a nationwide network of successful programs from which to draw inspiration and knowledge. We’d like to talk to you about joining us, so please check our Web site. Carole Katz spends many hours working on Project Healing Waters and helping those who were injured in the service of their country.



ver the winter of 2008, our PHW office in conjunction with wounded warriors and volunteers from the Washington, D.C. area took on a special project to build a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing skiff from a kit donated by Jason Cajune at Montana Boat Builders. The project resulted in a boat named The Mending, and the intent was twofold: It would be another way of helping our PHWFF participants in their recovery and to have a boat for some of our outings. The boat will be a great fishing platform, and a floating billboard advertising our organization’s mission. We all had a great time building the skiff and, since its completion, it’s been a great promotional tool at shows and on the water. We’re pleased to have been asked to exhibit it at several shows next year. It would be great to ultimately

Photo courtesy of Ed Nicholson

By Ed Nicholson

work out a have at least one of Taking the new Project Healing Waters Fly rotation schedthese in every region. Fishing boat (The Mending) on a short trip. ule for next Right now, that summer and would be cost prosee that the hibitive, but I think drift boat gets we could do one or plenty of two for starters. visibility on the Cajune has popular rivers agreed to provide the in the West. kits at a very reasonPicture a able cost. Look at our PHWFF drift request for proposal boat alterto construct one of nately on the Madison, Clark Fork, these kits. The reason for the formality Missouri, Yellowstone, etc. We’ll work is to make sure that our program leads on developing this concept as you do think this through carefully. You’ll need the building! the right space, the volunteers and parNow is the time to start thinking ticipants, and commitment. If you would about this idea – I encourage you to like to participate, but don’t think the boat would have much use in your give this winter project some serious area, don’t let that stop you. I have consideration. More information is been talking to some of our guide and available at 301-643-2148 or outfitter friends in Montana about providing our drift boat to that community Ed Nicholson is president of Project Healing on loan for the summer. They would Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


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Casting Instructor



t all started, of course, with a phone call – one it turns out I wasn’t prepared for. In October 2007, Terry Ring, owner of Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum, Idaho, called me (Rick Williams) and asked if I could come to Sun Valley, do a casting workshop and certify his fishing guides. I said “sure,” and asked how many guides he employed. Terry replied “About 40.” There was a long silence on my end of the phone – I was stunned. I’ve been a certified master casting instructor since 1998 and an active member of FFF’s Casting Board of Governors since 2005, but I wasn’t prepared for a certification event that had 40 candidates. Even FFF’s international events (Japan, Italy, Denmark, etc.) and our annual Conclave rarely exceed 20 instructor candidates. This was huge – and a huge opportunity for FFF!

of 12 to 15 candidates at a time using three to four examiners. I recruited Molly Semenik and Matt Wilhelm, both FFF master instructors from Livingston, Montana, to help with the first certification event. Fourteen guide-candidates attended our first event, with 10 successfully becoming certified casting instructors; three more from that event have since become instructors! Over the following 17 months (through September 2009), we conducted four more certification events, held more than 60 instructor exams (including retests of some candidates), and awarded nearly 30 instructor certifications including one master instructor certification. The entire process has been a richly rewarding experience for candi-

dates and examiners alike. As a result, guides for Silver Creek Outfitters are now expected to be certified casting instructors (or pursuing certification). Terry Ring – and the guides themselves – all describe the certification process as one of the best things they’ve done for their business and clients. Guides who are casting instructors have a common language and understanding about casting and many are describing positive experiences with clients as a direct result of the skills they learned while pursuing their certification. Clients are happy and this boosts repeat bookings. Similar stories come from other fly shops (e.g., The Fly Shop and Idaho Angler) where the teaching and guide staff are required to be certified instructors.

Guides Becoming FFF Certified Instructors: Silver Creek Outfitters The Federation’s Casting Instructor Certification Program (CICP) started in the early 1990s and has grown into the premier casting instructor program in the world. The program boasts more than 1,300 certified instructors, another 170 master instructors, and about 60 two-hand (Spey) instructors spread over North America and about 25 other countries. The program is expanding most rapidly across northern Europe and in Japan, where many fly-fishing guides and professionals are actively seeking FFF certifications to bolster their professional status and visibility to traveling North American anglers. Yet in spite of this, North American guides, fly-fishing professionals and specialty fly shops have generally been dismissive of the CICP, or have seen little reason to participate in it. Consequently, I was excited about the opportunity to bring the CICP into a large blue-ribbon operation like Silver Creek Outfitters. Planning to handle 40-plus candidates was daunting, so I broke the process into smaller pieces – a series of certification events held over an 18-month period, in which we could work through groups

Tom Jindra, right, of the FFF Casting Board of Governors tests Jim Curran for master casting instructor (MCI) certification near Sun Valley, Idaho with MCI examiners Molly Semenik and Matt Wilhelm.

How Instructor Certification Benefits Guiding Over the past 20 years, we’ve fished widely with guides throughout North America and abroad. We had some great guides and a few terrible ones, yet we learned about being a better guide from all of them. Few of the guides were certified instructors, yet many were great teachers and taught us valuable casting and fishing tips. So why become a certified instructor? Having an instructor certification adds another important layer to a guide’s professionalism. The background gained while working toward an FFF instructor certification adds significantly to a guide’s ability to teach an accomplished angler something new or to help a client who is struggling. In our travels, the guides we liked best were the ones that taught us new skills or helped correct a fault. This summer, I (Molly

Semenik) had many days where my instructor skills made successes out of marginal days for my clients. One hot summer day, I took a father and three children of different ages to a lake after learning a few knots and basic casting skills. The sun was blazing and the fish were hiding. After a fishless hour, I switched gears, gathered the group, found some shade, and taught a lesson on roll casting. Everyone had a great time challenging each other on how far they could cast. On the hike down the mountain, they couldn’t stop talking about how much fun casting was. They asked their dad if they could fly fish when they got back home (music to my ears); yet the day could have had an unsatisfactory ending. Another time, two experienced anglers fished with me on the Yellowstone River. Fishing was slow with a hard wind blowing directly into

the anglers. Over two days, we focused on how to cast into the wind, accuracy in the wind, and the reach cast (wind makes it hard to mend after the line is on the water). It is important to note that this was what they wanted – not all clients want instruction. In the end, they caught fish, but the casting and fishing lessons turned an average trip into an excellent trip. They took their new skills home with them. At this point (my ninth year of guiding), 80 percent of my clients choose me because they know of my FFF certifications and my ability to instruct.

Professional Development and Guiding As a result of the Silver Creek experience and our guiding backgrounds, the Casting Board of Governors created a new committee, the Professional Development Committee (PDC), specifically to provide a group testing program for fly fishing shops, outfitters, guides and instructors. Semenik chairs the committee comprised of six master instructors, all of whom are also guides. The committee’s goal is to develop a professional approach and protocol to the process of group certifications for fly-fishing professionals. Other PDC goals include refining the exam preparation process, standardizing testing and event protocols, designing a clinic that applies the new CI skills to a guide day in the field, and promotes “hands-on” practice (developing the “Instructor’s Tool Box”). This is an exciting and new direction for FFF. All of the examiners at the Silver Creek events witnessed the positive impact the preparation and the exam had on the guides at Silver Creek Outfitters. The CICP is an excellent program and one that we all can be very proud of. Fly shops, outfitters or groups interested in a group-testing event, please contact Molly Semenik directly to discuss the process of professional development and instructor certifications. She can be reached at 406-220-5234 or Molly Semenik and Rick Williams are both outfitters, guides and master certified casting instructors. Molly lives in Livingston, Montana, where she owns Tie the Knot Fly-Fishing, and is a partner in the Yellowstone Fly Fishing School. Rick lives in Eagle, Idaho, and is a co-owner of Idaho Angler. He serves on the FFF Casting Board of Governors.

Flyfisher Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


7 Reasons


for Using Tandems Rigs for Bluegills Story and photos by Terry and Roxanne Wilson


he sweet sound of a surface kiss transmitted the delight which inevitably comes with the knowledge that another bull bluegill had inhaled a popping bug. In an instant, the rod tip of the 4-weight danced as the gyrations of the fish evolved into ever-tightening circles. Suddenly the rod tip dipped to the water’s surface and weight on the line’s end grew noticeably. After a lengthy fight, a pair of 9-inch bluegills was netted.

Double hookups are not uncommon and offer the most reward-


ing inducement favoring the use of multiple fly setups. As schooling, competitive feeders, bluegills are particularly vulnerable to tandem-rigged flies. All experienced bluegill chasers have witnessed their hooked and fighting quarry with the fly clearly visible in its jaw being pursued by one or more others. Often these competing fish can be observed pecking at the fly in an attempt to take it for themselves. If there is a second fly close by, another fish will often take it, thereby offering the well-prepared angler the opportunity to heighten the fight of freshwater’s gamest fish. Make no mistake, the tugs of 18 inches of bluegill on the end of the line provide an exciting and memorable fight. Despite the thrill of a double hookup, there are six more reasons for using tandem rigs for bluegills.

Determining the bluegills’ feeding level. Where in the water column are


the fish located? Without this vital piece of information, searching is a random effort at best. To be certain, season, water temperature, water clarity, light penetration, and other factors can offer valuable clues, but actual bluegill location can only be determined by fish contact. Confining ourselves to a single fly enables us to explore only one water level at a time. A carefully thought-out tandem rig, however, enables us to explore two or even three water levels simultaneously. Once a reliable pattern is discovered,


switching our cast of flies to concentrate on the same level of the water column dramatically increases the chances of successful hookups. Since bluegills school in accordance with the year class they entered this world, fly fishers can actually target the larger fish by determining the water level where they are most active.

fish can change throughout the course of the day, week, month and season. For that reason it’s a good idea to carry bluegill flies in a variety of colors from very light to black, fluorescent colors, and those with contrasting colors. Again, it is tandem fly rigs that enable the angler to sort through the myriad of choices quickly and efficiently. Once that’s accomplished we’ve determined the depth, fly type, fly size and fly color that gives us the best opportunity for success. Now we can focus on the details of presentation.

Determining the fish’s fly preference. Large bluegills can be madden-


ingly selective. Do they prefer a meal of small minnows, tiny crayfish, mayfly nymphs, or the independent action of a rubber-legged bream killer? That determination will spell the difference between catching a few nice bluegills and an entire evening spent with a bent rod. Discovering that the big bluegills are located at a depth of 4 feet and intercepting minnows as they pass near patches of coontail vegetation, for example, we would be able to piece together two very significant pieces of the fishing puzzle.

Discovering the fly size preference.


Often 8-inch plus bluegills express their selectivity within a narrow range of fly sizes. While this may be related to the size of their prey, the size of bluegills’ mouths helps determine appropriate fly size as well. While even novice anglers have experienced catching bluegills on a huge hook meant for bass, this best expresses the tenacity of the species rather than reflecting practical fly size choices. Sizes 8 through 12 hooks accommodate most situations. While human eyes may not see much difference between a size 10 and a size 8, anglers must remember that bluegills do. If bluegills are taking size 10 streamers, they may totally reject a size 8.

Fly color preference. Big bluegills can exhibit a high level of color selectivity that is associated with the hue that is most easily visible under the existing conditions. Primarily this references water clarity or varying degrees of the stain it possesses in combination with the intensity of light penetration. This consistently changing set of conditions suggests that color preferences of the


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

Floating a dropper over vegetation or brush. Bluegills often suspend over


brush, tree branches, or weed beds. When using single fly setups, counting “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two,” etc. is the best method for placing the fly into position without hanging up, but it’s an imperfect process at best. Employing a popper with a dropper tandem rig, however, keeps the sinking fly in the best position. By adjusting the length of the tippet for the dropper-rigged fly, we can suspend a fly over brush piles 6 feet deep or tickle the tops of weed beds that rise to

When using tandem rigs for bluegills, be sure the surface fly or popper is large enough to stay afloat with the attached droppers.

within a foot of the surface. Not only is the popper available to the bluegills searching on top of the water, but it also serves as a strike indicator for the submerged fly. Keep in mind that the popper must be large enough to support the droppers. Unweighted or very lightly weighted flies work best as droppers in tandem with surface flies.

Maximizing success. When a school


of bluegills has been located and its preferences determined, it’s time to set up your fly rig for maximum success.

Another method involves tying tippet for the second fly to the hook bend of the first fly. It’s better but can interfere with hookups on the initial fly. Our choice of multiple fly setups involves adding the tippet for the second fly to the eye of the first. Simply use a thumbnail to slide the knot of the first fly to the side to make room for the second. A third dropper can be attached by adding its tippet to the eye of the second fly. Length of the dropper can vary considerably, but as preferences of the bluegills are narrowed,

Start tandem-rigging for bluegills and enjoy multiple hookups. Experimenting with multiple fly setups reaps lots of thrills.

This may mean utilizing a popper with a specific dropper which includes the preferred fly type as well as specific size and color or it could include two or three similar patterns. Each time a bluegill is hooked and fights among the school, their excitement is transmitted to others in the school, thereby actually increasing the likelihood of multiple hookups. Rigging a tandem of flies is not difficult. Adding two or more strands of tippet from the same point on the leader is cumbersome because it casts clumsily and tangles repeatedly.

the dropper can be shortened so that the fish see two or more flies in the same field of vision. Dropper attachments can be the same size as the original tippet; 4X and 5X tippets work well for bluegills. Short leaders of 4 to 7 1⁄2 feet before adding droppers prevent the overall leader length from becoming unwieldy. The length of each dropper will help determine the maximum number of flies that can be added because the overall leader length needs to be controlled to maintain casting efficiency.

Tandem rigs enable the angler to quickly determine what fly to use and how to present it. It’s a very efficient method of focusing on choices that increase the angler’s chances for success. As a bonus, imagine the thrill of those multiple hookups. If you start tandem-rigging, you won’t have to use your imagination. Terry and Roxanne Wilson of Bolivar, Missouri, are longtime Flyfisher contributors focusing on warmwater fly fishing. For more articles, tips or schedule them to speak at your club, visit their Web site at or e-mail them at

Flyfisher Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


Discovering Virginia’s

By Beau Beasley


Photo by Captain Tom Mattioli

Photo by BT’s

pulled away from the shoreline in Harding’s boat, I lost my bearings completely. I could see only gray sky and open ocean and had no idea where we were or what direction we were heading. Seasoned fly angler? Perhaps. But today, I was a hapless rookie seaman. Lucky for me, I was with a veteran charter captain who knows more than a thing or two about the wily ways of the bay. Dick Romagnoli, a close friend of Harding’s and a fellow FFF club member, had joined us for our day on the water. Now, Romagnoli is a Yankee but a nice guy nonetheless. As a native Virginian, however, I had to agree with Harding: another proud son of the South: Romagnoli does indeed have a funny accent.

Bay of Plenty In April 1607, Captain John Smith discovered what is now considered to be one of the largest seafood nurseries in the world. Between 1607 and 1609, Smith explored and charted the Chesapeake Bay, covering a staggering 3,000 miles in an open boat. In addition to documenting his contact with native tribes, he described the riches of the area: “Neither better fish, more plenty, nor more variety for small fish had any of us ever seen in any place so swimming in the water” than in the Chesapeake Bay, though he lamented that

The author uses many patterns but the Russell’s Mussel Orange, DuBiel’s Reducer, BH Golidlox and the Lefty’s Deceiver are personal favorites. Here he displays a nice school striper caught on the bay.

FISHING GEAR FOR THE BAY Gearing up for an outing on the bay? Bring your 8- to 10-weight rods (if you’re only bringing one rod along, make it the versatile 9-weight). You’ll need fast intermediate lines, unless you are trying to get deep quickly. (In that case, try sinking lines in the 200- to 300-grain weights – even a 400-grain is worth a try). If you’re casting sinking line for the first time, prepare for a learning curve: Anglers accustomed to casting a 4-weight trout rod all day may feel completely spent after just a couple of hours casting a sinking line. Remember as well that you may be casting into the wind and the platform you’ll be standing on – a boat – is hardly stationary. You’ll want to bring a mix of classic and local patterns along for a day on the bay. Lefty’s Deceiver, Bob’s Banger, Trow’s Minnow, B.H Goldilox, and DuBiel’s Red-ducer all work in a variety of colors in sizes ranging from No. 2 to 3/0. Other tried-and-true patterns include Lefty’s Half and Halfs in white or chartreuse and, of course, Clouser Minnows in white, white and blue, and brown and orange. Generic bunker-type flies, which mimic menhaden and other natural baits, are a good choice as well. Two other successful patterns are Tommy’s Sand Eel and Russell’s Mussel, created by longtime bay fly angler Ron Russell to trick spadefish into thinking that they’re biting into one of their favorite snacks. Whatever you choose, it doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to look like the real thing when you fish it.


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

GUIDES AND SHOPS Captain Tony Harding Latitudes Charters 540-582-6396 Captain Tommy Mattioli Matty-J Charter Service 804-314-2672 Captain George Hughes Addictive Fly Fishing 757-589-5945 Captain Cory Routh Ruthless Fishing 757-403-0734 Captain Chris Newsome Eco-Fly Guide Service 804-815-4895 Captain Edward Lawrence Speckulater Charters 804-693-5673 Falmouth Flats Fly Fishers

Photo by Beau Beasley


aptain Tony Harding peered out into fog as dense as pea soup as we made our way out to fish the Chesapeake Bay. I could barely see 30 feet in front of the boat – and to be honest, the fog unnerved me. By contrast, Harding confidently maneuvered right through it, only occasionally looking down at an electronic screen on the console of his boat. Harding, who owns Latitude Charters, is a light tackle guide who also serves as president of the Falmouth Flats Fly Fishers, an FFF Club that holds its regular meetings in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This club has built a real name for itself in the Old Dominion: Many consider its members to be experts on the shad and striper fishing in the club’s home waters, the venerable Rappahannock River. The club even puts on a small but significant fly fishing show each spring to educate novice and veteran anglers alike about the issues facing the Rappahannock and other important fisheries in the state. Earlier in the year, Harding had asked if I wanted to join him fly rodding for stripers. At the time, I had jumped at the chance, but was regretting that decision now that I was faced with all this fog. Harding remarked that he’d never seen the fog this thick so late in the morning. “It’s OK, though,” he said with confidence. “I’m sure we’ll still catch fish.” As we

Photo courtesy of Tony Harding

Captain Tony Harding with a nice, fly-caught speckled trout.

the fish were “not to be caught with frying pans” as Smith had managed to do in a river in Virginia that he had named after King James. The Chesapeake Bay is an immense area of fresh and salt water stretching from Cape Henry in Virginia to Havre de Grace, Maryland, just below the Pennsylvania state line. Although shrimp, crabs and other seafood were certainly plentiful in Smith’s day, it is his comments on the bay’s oyster population that boggle the mind. Smith records oyster beds so large that he plotted them on his map lest an unsuspecting ship be sunk by the large underwater masses of shell. Smith did not suffer such a plight; his boat was a mere 30 feet long and drew less than two feet of water. We scouted out a few sandbars and islands, and then Harding motored us out into the bay proper. The fog that had come in on little cat feet – to use Carl Sandburg’s expression – was still sitting on its silent haunches by 11 a.m., and this dog lover was beginning to believe that the morning was lost, apart from a very pleasant boat ride. Harding soon anchored us up in

Anglers should always consider fishing around a small island when on the bay.

a spot that, frankly, looked to me rather remarkably like every other place we’d already been. I made a few casts, and soon the wind kicked up a bit in an apparent effort to give the fog a swift kick in the rear and move it off its haunches and the bay. Before long, Romagnoli announced, “I’ve got a stripe-ah!” As he struggled to land it, I found that I had a young striper on the line, too. We soon boated our catches, and Harding quipped to Romagnoli, “’Bout time you caught something – we’ve been out here for hours. If you were a better angler, we’d be done and back at the dock eating lunch by now.” Romagnoli quickly released his fish, returned to casting, and retorted without missing a beat, “If I’d had a better guide, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to find fish.”

Tips and Tactics Bay anglers most often pursue stripers, gray and speckled trout, flounder, croaker, spadefish, and drum. Spring and fall are the best times to try the bay; prime time runs from the middle of October to the middle of December. Of course, this

Family-Friendly Bay For many of us, contemplating a day of bay fishing conjures up mental images of wearying, windblown, sunburned hours in uncertain weather. If an entire day of the Chesapeake Bay is just too much, consider the half-day option. Harding and my good friend Captain Tommy Mattioli of Matty-J Fishing Charters happily cater to families, oftentimes cutting things a bit shorter than usual. Mattioli is fantastic with kids –

The author's son, Jeremiah, releases a pig fish he caught on a half day outing on the Bay.

his 4-hour bay fishing trips are the perfect introduction for young people. In fact, I’ve taken my own kids along with “Captain Tommy,” fishing for croaker and pigfish just a few hundred yards from the dock. Generally, kids are thrilled just to be fishing with dear old Dad, even when they’re landing fish that you’d reject as live bait. If the fishing proves slow, Captain Tommy often enlists kids as his co-pilots or discusses with them the importance of catch-and-release fishing. Seagulls, terns, and pelicans also make great fodder for conversation. In short, the key to the successful family fishing trip is finding a family-friendly guide – and rewarding his time, experience and good humor accordingly. What had begun as a slow day ended very successfully, with Captain Harding providing empirical evidence that although the Chesapeake Bay is far from a sure thing, it can be fished effectively even in poor weather. As a matter of fact, Romagnoli caught a 28-inch striper so beautiful that his picture graced the back cover of my first book. Four hundred years after Captain John Smith stumbled upon it, modern-day explorers and anglers continue to ply the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. It has changed a lot since Smith’s day, but a few things are still true: The bay continues to teem with a variety of aquatic life; it may be challenging but it is never boring; and good captains are still very much in demand. Beau Beasley is the director of the popular Virginia Fly Fishing Festival ( and the author of “Fly Fishing Virginia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters.” You can reach him through his website:

Photo by Beau Beasley

is just a rule of thumb. During some seasons, bay fishing can be fantastic all the way into January. A great deal depends on the weather, which affects fish migration schedules. And where are the fish? Nearly everything you read about bay fishing will tell you to “watch for the birds.” This is a lot like telling a kid to start listening for the ice cream truck when he sees it coming. Although chasing birds may be effective at times, often it simply isn’t. By the time you’ve located the birds and repositioned the boat, the fish are gone. Sure, they’ll pop up a mere hundred yards away and they’ll be gone again by the time you get there. This approach often wastes fuel and fishing time, both of which are precious commodities to this angler. The best approach is to work the structure available to you, which may be in the form of oyster beds, bridge pilings, old wrecks and even buoys. For example, the four “islands” that support the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel are actually giant 5-acre rock piles that act as condos for the surrounding aquatic life. Bigger fish sit off these rocks waiting for baitfish to swim out from the safety of this structure. Also be aware of the Bay’s tidal fluctuations: Moving water often means feeding fish.

Fly Fishing for


Practical Tips for Getting Started

Story and photos by Zach Funkhouser

If you’ve never hooked

a steelhead on a fly, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Steelhead are wonderful fish to catch, and most steelhead rivers are beautiful. Once hooked, a steelhead has no equal; they are powerful fish that love to jump. When you land a steelhead on a fly rod, you’ve earned it. If not, you’re about to. With no other freshwater species is the law of averages so apparent – steelhead truly are a fish of a thousand casts. Learning to fly fish for steelhead – and sticking with it until you land that first fish – can be a daunting task. For some lucky anglers, it will happen relatively quickly. For others, it might take months or even years. If you’re contemplating stepping into the world of steelhead fly fishing, following are a few practical tips that will help you along the way.

Reading Water Knowing how to spot a steelhead run is essential to a fly fisherman. A steelhead spends its entire life fighting against the most powerful force on earth: flowing water. As you approach a river, watch for conditions that form good holding water, places where steelhead can find shelter from heavy currents.

First, observe the speed of a run. Steelhead are very comfortable holding in water that is flowing at a moderate to quick walking pace. Steelhead don’t generally hold in slack or very slow water, they prefer a smooth and uniform flow. When water is too fast, it doesn’t offer a steelhead much time to hold and rest. When you locate promising water, try to gauge the depth of the run. A good steelhead run can be anywhere from 2 to 8 feet deep. A run that is moving at a moderate speed and is 4 to 6 feet offers ideal conditions for fly fishermen. Steelhead, like most fish, prefer structure. Runs that have large rocks in them, depressions or ledges in the river bottom or large woody debris along the edges, provide good resting lies. As you read water and locate places to fish, consider any factors that allow you to maximize your fishing time. Look for long runs because the less time you spend moving from spot to spot, the more time you spend fishing. Locate channel features, such as gravel bars, that push or funnel steelhead through relatively narrow areas. Swimming through rapids will tire steelhead and require them to hold and rest afterFlyfisher Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


Photo by Stephanie Bellaan

ward. Locate rapids that transition into runs with a current speed and depth suitable to hold fish. The habitat parameters of all rivers are interconnected, and you will find that most good steelhead runs have several of these conditions present, and the great ones have all of them. Find those places, and fish them.

Presentation Whether it’s your first time fishing for steelhead or you’ve been out a few times, you will eventually need to vary your presentation. A fish has rolled on your fly but did not take it. What next? There are several tactics that will increase your odds of hooking a reluctant fish. Cast again. If a fish comes to your fly but doesn’t take it, don’t step downriver. Remain in that location and give the fish


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

a few opportunities to take the fly with the same presentation. Vary the speed of your presentation. Mend your line to slow the fly down. If that doesn’t work, grease-line the fly through the run with a larger belly in the line, a little quicker swing, and broadside presentation. Recast to the fish, showing it several variations in presentation and fly speed. Make a substantial change in fly size and color. Switching to a much smaller fly with a different color is often productive. Switching from a size 2 hook to a size 8 or even smaller can be a very effective method for encouraging hesitant fish. In combination with changing fly size, try changing color. Switch from the common steelhead colors such as black, purple or chartreuse to more neutral colors such as silver, pink or burlap. If this fails, don’t be afraid to try a bright color such as orange. Try a bomber. If you have an interested fish, there’s no bet-

ter time for a topwater presentation. If a fish has touched your fly and you know it’s there, try skating a dry fly over it. The worst that can happen is the fish does not rise. If you’re lucky, you get the most exciting experience fly fishing for steelhead has to offer – a rise and take on the surface.

The Grab Steelhead can grab a fly incredibly hard. Oftentimes, an angler doesn’t have to hook the fish as much as hold on to their rod and enjoy the explosion of energy and screaming line. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way. Steelhead are quick and have very hard mouths. It is amazing how gently a steelhead can come to the fly. Soft takes often result in a poor hookup, but there are a few techniques that can help you hook those fish. If you feel the weight of a fish, but it is not taking line on the grab, give the fish a traditional hook set. This is accomplished by lowering the rod tip and setting the hook low and hard toward the riverbank. The objective of this motion is to attempt to set the hook in the corner of the fish’s mouth. However, there is an alternative to the traditional steelhead hook set. Next time you feel a fish on your fly, grab the line with the index finger of your rod hand, and then give a firm pull, straight back. Instead of attempting to set the hook in the corner of the mouth, this action is meant to bury the hook straight into the mouth of the fish. This straight hook set approach is quick and effective because the angler has control over line tension and the fly rod does not dampen the application of power.

Landing Fish Most of us can remember the first steelhead we brought to hand. The feeling of excitement that accompanied this experience is not often duplicated in the realm of fly fishing. Playing a steelhead is very exciting, in part because it’s not uncommon to lose fish during the fight. Be thankful for that. Steelhead fishing wouldn’t be much fun if we landed them all. Many steelhead are lost within 10 feet of the bank. This is a dangerous moment, when many anglers make a poor decision. Here are a few things you can do to increase your odds of landing a fish: Relax. Oftentimes, you’ve fished for hours or even days to hook a fish and excitement can get the best of you, particularly if it is a large fish. Before you get a fish into shallow

Opposite page, Scott Freeman releases a large wild buck. Inset, an angler sets the hook by looping the fly line with his index finger and pulling straight back with the fly rod. At left, an angler uses the snake roll while Spey casting for steelhead. Above left, underwater gravel bars force every fish in this river to swim through a narrow channel. Above right, small islands braid the river, producing areas where the angler will often find steelhead.

Flyfisher Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


Kent Goodman caught this steelhead on a floating line and a swinging fly.

water, take a moment and reset your nerves. Consider the situation and remind yourself of the mistakes you won’t make, such as attempting to horse a hot fish to the bank before it’s ready. If you watch enough anglers land fish, you’ll be surprised at how many mistakes are made by nervous fishermen. Observe your surroundings. Take a look at the bank you’re standing on and decide where you’re going to land the fish. Locate a spot that’s free of obstacles such as woody debris, large boulders in the water or ledge rock. You may need to move up or down the bank to position yourself in a good place to land a fish, but you’ll be ahead of the game if you take the time to do this. Don’t horse a fish. One thing most steelhead have in common is relentless strength. When you get a fish into shallow water, and particularly when they feel gravel under their bellies, they get a renewed burst of energy. Be ready for this. A steelhead of average size will often turn back toward the river and do so with enough power that you can’t really stop them. There’s a fine line between putting too much pressure on a steelhead and being too soft on one. It’s not uncommon to get a strong fish into the shallows only to have it run on you. You may have to allow this to happen several times. Watch for that moment when you can physically overpower and turn the fish, even when it wants to run. That’s when the fish is ready to land.


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

Consider the well-being of the fish. Land the fish as quickly as possible and don’t haul the fish out of the water and onto the bank. Gently pull the fish into shallow water until it falls on its side. At that moment, approach calmly and grab the fish by the tail. It’s not necessary to pull the fish out of the water. Remember, whether or not the fish cooperates, your goal is to release it unharmed.

Steelhead Fly Fishing Etiquette There are rules to good steelhead fly fishing etiquette that every angler should know and follow. Take the time to educate yourself. Make sure you know and understand accepted steelhead fly fishing etiquette. The foundation of a positive experience is built upon good river behavior. Never go into a run below another fisherman. Fly fishing for steelhead is about covering water. An efficient steelhead fly fisherman moves through a run at a consistent and steady pace. Do not stand in one place. Stop only to work a fish that has come to your fly, and then continue to move through the run. When you’ve fished the run, move on to new water. Good luck and good fishing. Zachary A. Funkhouser is the senior environmental planner for the Idaho Transportation Department based in Lewiston, Idaho. His home is only a few minutes from one of Idaho’s best steelhead waters, the Clearwater River.

By Zach Funkhouser


Photo by Kent Goodman

magine this: You have a trip to take, and it’s urgent. You’re being called to a destination that is miles away. The path you must take is hazardous and obstacles of every description are in your way. The journey will be a struggle. You will walk, crawl and claw your way there. The route is uphill, all the way. You will not eat, drink or sleep, stopping only occasionally to rest, and you will travel this way for months. That is the life of an adult steelhead. The lifecycle of a steelhead trout begins in fresh water, often in small streams and their tributaries. In these streams, male and female fish pair up to spawn. The female, commonly called a hen, will dig a depression or nest in the stream substrate, in which she will expel thousands of small eggs. The male, commonly called a buck, will follow the female closely and release sperm that will wash through the nest and fertilize the eggs. The nest is commonly called a “redd.” When steelhead are done spawning, the female fish, or “kelt,” begins the difficult journey of migrating back to the ocean. If she is physically up to the challenge, she will once again begin to feed. If she regains her strength and makes it back to the ocean, she may return the following year to spawn again. The male fish will continue to seek out additional ripe females. The arduous task of competing for numerous females eventually takes its toll on the buck. Beaten and scarred from the mating ritual, the buck may not have enough strength to migrate back to the ocean and may die in the same stream he was born in. Precious few steelhead, male or female, will become repeat spawners.

Over the coming months, the fertilized eggs will be absorbed into the bodies of small developing steelhead and tiny fish will emerge from the redd. The steelhead have now become a miniscule part of a large coldwater ecosystem, and must feed and find cover. One to two years later, the steelhead will be four to eight inches and schooling in small, protected A male and female steelhead pair up to spawn. reaches of their stream. During this another migration, this time back timeframe, the small fish have transitoward the river of their origin. On a tioned from ”alevin” to “fry” to “parr” journey that may vary from a few to “smolt.” The mortality rate during miles to over 900 miles, it is still a bit all stages of a juvenile steelhead’s lifeof a mystery how steelhead find their cycle is high. They are the perfect size way back to the rivers of their birth. meal for aquatic and terrestrial predaConventional science attributes this tors; they can be caught by anglers ability to an acute olfactory sense that and are susceptible to disease and allows them to smell their way back adverse environmental conditions. A home. During their migration, steelcouple years after emerging from the head navigate a maze of obstacles redd, the surviving steelhead smolt including variable ocean conditions, will begin an outmigration from their unpredictable river flows, lethal water natal streams. temperatures, gill nets, dams, marine During their migration, smolt will predators, sport fishermen, commercial undergo an internal biological change fishermen, habitat degradation and a that will allow them to survive in salt host of human-related activities that water. Their physical appearance, prihave led to an ever-increasing decline marily color, will change to one more in their habitat and their numbers. suited to a fish that will spend the next Despite these difficulties, steelhead two years in the ocean. While at sea, return to the rivers of their birth, male the steelhead will grow to adulthood, and female pair up, and the cycle of all the while feeding ravenously to life begins again. On the last leg of build reserves of fat and muscle tissue. this journey, a few will encounter Here again, many will not something odd – a colorful bit of fur survive, but those that do and feather that they will be comwill grow to an average size pelled to strike. A few steelhead will of 24 to 30 inches. A select find themselves in the hands of fly few will grow to 35 to 40 fishers, where they are admired and inches, perhaps in excess of released to continue their journey. 20 pounds. Zachary A. Funkhouser is the senior environA wild steelhead’s mental planner for the Idaho Transportation unique lifecycle eventually Department based in Lewiston, Idaho. His home Wild steelhead should always be handled gently and then catches up to it, and adult is only a few minutes from one of Idaho’s best released. fish once again begin steelhead waters, the Clearwater River. Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


Photo by Zach Funkhouser


Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

Biology on the Fly

Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

Fly Box STEELHEAD FLIES Story and photos by Verne Lehmberg


he 2009 Buz Buszek Memorial Fly Tying Award recipient is John Newbury of Chewelah, Washington. He is an extremely versatile tier, tying excellent flies from scuds to steelhead flies. He is well-known at FFF Conclaves where, in addition to his steelhead flies, he demonstrates how to tie his hinged body Wiggle Damsel and Erv Emerger caddis. Both have undulating motion in the water. Steelhead flies rival their parent Atlantic salmon flies in the materials used and methods of fishing. FFF steelhead tiers create some of the world’s most innovative patterns, crafted to suit the different water conditions, often with modern materials substituted for traditional feathers now unavailable. Harry Lemire uses old-style materials and traditional methods to create his steelhead flies. He holds the hook in his hand, in place of a vise, as he ties. “Tying in hand, now, is strictly for nostalgia,” says Lemire. “The tradition is what I like about it, and the tradition is why I do it.” He developed the Grease Liner, a fly that skates across the surface or may be fished downstream – a “damp fly” darting in the surface film. Traditional, as well, is the Lady Caroline, tied by Steve Brocco. This steelhead fly originated over a century ago as an Atlantic salmon original named for Lady Caroline Gordon-Lennox of Banffshire County, Scotland.

This Spey fly is now tied with blue-eared pheasant for the body hackle, not heron. Brocco is famous for his Witch series of steelhead flies. Favorite patterns from Idaho’s steelhead flytiers range from the dry fly Muddle May by Al Beatty, to Dave Tucker’s hair wing and blue-eared pheasant hackle adaptation of the classic Aberdeenshire Dee Strip-Wing Akroyd salmon fly, designed by Charles H. Akroyd in 1875. Jeff Smith uses “fun fur” made from acrylonitrile, a substitute for the heron of old salmon Spey flies. The Green Hornet is another Smith favorite. It is usually tied as a small trout fly, but he recommends a larger version as a dark day steelhead fly for summer fish. Gretchen Beatty’s Electric Skunk is adapted from the real skunk hair patterns that originated in Washington in the 1930s. Variations of the Green Butt Skunk have been popular West Coast flies ever since. Farrow Allen’s Blue Charm is now tied for steelhead fishing. The Blue Charm started as a salmon fly, made famous by E.H. Woods, who caught 3,540 River Dee salmon with it in the early 20th century. Editor’s Note: Read Zach Funkhouser’s steelhead article on page 31 to learn how he fishes his favorite flies. Verne Lehmberg from Dayton, Texas, is a longtime Federation member and an excellent photographer. His contribution to Flyfisher is always appreciated.

Thompson River Caddis Harry Lemire Black Diamond, Washington

Grease Liner Harry Lemire Black Diamond, Washington

Lady Caroline Steve Brocco Fall City, Washington Hoh River Witch Steve Brocco Fall City, Washington


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

Olympic Sunrise Steve Brocco Fall City, Washington

Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

Electric Skunk Gretchen Beatty Boise, Idaho

Fun Fur Spruce Jeff Smith Nampa, Idaho

Muddle May Al Beatty Boise, Idaho

Spider John Newbury Chewelah, WA

Plumb Crazy John Newbury Chewelah, WA

Green Hornet Jeff Smith Nampa, Idaho Dutot’s Blue Charm Farrow Allen Ashville, North Carolina

Hair Wing Akroyd Dave Tucker Parma, Idaho

Dream Catcher Zach Funkhouser Lewiston, Idaho

Night Dancer Zach Funkhouser Lewiston, Idaho Beats Me Zach Funkhouser Lewiston, Idaho

Spruce Spey Jeff Smith Nampa, Idaho

Glo Getter Zach Funkhouser Lewiston, Idaho

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


RANDOM CASTS Techniques to Try in the Pre- or Early Season By Tom Tripi


ver the past few issues, I’ve focused on casting techniques and the value of casting practice. Many articles got a little “windy” before final reviews for word count, and formatting resulted in shortened final pieces. Edited sections were always saved for follow-up articles or topic expansion. Following are a few interesting excerpts from those edits. I currently conduct three or four casting seminars and instruct a dozen or so students each year. That may not seem like many, but in our New Orleans postKatrina economy, it’s great. Approximately two years following Katrina there was little or no interest in fly fishing! However, recently I’ve seen renewed interest and have been getting more calls regarding the FFF Casting Certification Program. Many calls Dr. Mike Ferris watching/feeling for that magic moment originated from seminar attenwhen the line loads the rod during the backcast. dees, and most were relative to the level of difficulty for the required casts, especially for the masvisit Bourbon Street, but mostly to “do ter certification. quick casting lessons with me for the My initial focus when contacted is Masters.” He was recently certified as determining if the caller is a casting an instructor but never actually taught. instructor. Many are not. Some just He called himself a good caster and want to collect a title. I explain that now wanted a master certification. My testing is not just to observe that you reply was that he should acquire some can proficiently roll cast 45 feet to a teaching experience and concentrate target – it’s a little more involved. As on the testing process more than fishan example, I like to ask why the rod ing. He was taking the master certificais held a certain way, or why the line tion process too lightly. is doing certain things (i.e. I need As soon as the Master Certification some background on the cast being Program was announced back in the demonstrated and the candidate’s mid 1990s, I literally gave up fishing, knowledge). I ask the type of questions did a lot of reading, and practiced my a student might ask an instructor while casting for about 18 months. Daily he’s demonstrating a cast. practice took place in the morning on Often I’m asked how to study for the way to work. I’d pick a certain the various tests. Is it different for the cast, and worked on it for weeks. If it masters? The short answer is “yes.” I was the curve, I’d practice every variwas an experienced casting instructor ety the cast could take, right and left when I took FFF’s first certification handed. The objective was to perform test. My preparation involved brushing any form of the curve and discuss all up on various descriptive elements aspects of it when asked by the tester. prior to the test. A recent call on this As a tester, I’ve noted that an subject came from a man who wanted inexperienced candidate’s reply to a to come down to Louisiana to fish, question that has them stumped is


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

always quite vague. They’re unable to get to the main point. They don’t know the answer, and by rambling around, they apparently think they’ll eventually answer the query – but they typically don’t. The secret is to be in mental command of every cast you’ll be asked to demonstrate and be able to discuss, as briefly as possible, what you’re doing to complete the cast. One candidate actually started to spout the physics of fly-line dynamics as part of his response. No, no, no! He should have spent more time on the practice pond than in theory books. Speaking of practice, I was practice casting in the early morning at a Conclave a few years ago. During that session, I was casting just 60-foot loops using a 9-foot, 8-weight rod. The line (a 95-foot weight forward saltwater taper) seldom touched the ground for about 15 minutes. Next, I picked up a 9-foot, 5-weight and did another 15 minutes at the same distance. A few attendees were watching me from a nearby patio. They asked what I was doing, but more pointedly one asked “Why?” I explained that the object of exercising was to get my casting rhythm and timing honed to the point that I used no upper body motion to complete the false cast – only my arms moved. I was trying to alleviate all unnecessary body motion. A pet peeve of mine is wasted body motion while casting. Lefty Kreh once referred to it as looking like a “monkey hoeing weeds.” Wasted motion does nothing for the completion of a cast. In fact, it can tire you and sometimes hinders a good cast. One question centered on timing and the longer length of my false casts. My reply was that it was all about tuning the entire cast and learning how to feel the line’s weight as it traverses the length of the forward and backcast. I was trying to identify that particular instance when you feel through the line Photo by Ken Schallenberg

Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing


An ideal practice loop sailing out to 70 feet.

over the student’s hand. Trying to have them feel what I’m doing helps them complete the cast. I frequently give their arm time to recover by demonstrating a few techniques such as the dry fly pickup and basic line mending. The student takes a turn casting and by this time a 30-foot cast comes quickly, i.e., either via a big looping forward cast or flipping rod tip for a roll cast. The line is cast far enough to get the fly near a fish. The student is happy; they can “fly cast,” and feel they now have a chance to catch something. Lastly, I explain what to do when the fish is hooked, i.e., rod position, retrieving the hooked fish and line by hand stripping or on the reel. This is an interesting part, especially for some women and children who have never fished. Pretending that I’m the fish, I have them cast to me and strike “the fish” while I’m holding the fly/yarn. Next, they “play” it in. I exert the pressure of a three- or four-pound rainbow or smallmouth in moving water on the fly line. They’re surprised by the required one-handed arm strength necessary to bring a fish to the net. Some literally give up in a few minutes due to muscle fatigue. That’s when I discuss backing up to the shoreline and trying to beach the fish or just let

the guide help out. One of the greatest rewards of teaching fly fishing whether you’re a certified instructor or just an experienced fly fisher is watching a student at the moment when they “finally get it” and start casting proficiently. If you have interest in pursuing casting instructor certification, check out the FFF Web site ( under “Instructor Certification.” If anyone has a unique casting technique, share it with everyone via the LOOP or e-mail me and I’ll help out. Master Casting Instructor Tom Tripi is from Folsom, Louisiana, where he uses a fly rod and canoe to pursue his favorite fish, teaches casting to students of all ages, and studies astronomy in his spare time.

e Sinc 1996

• Fully outfitted Hyde Drift Boat with licensed guide • World-class trout and smallmouth Arkansas rivers • Photos of trip • Full- and half-day trips

(479) 273-0276

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

Photo by Cheryl Dunworth

that the rod is loaded, without having to watch the backcast every time. As it turned out, Doug Swisher was one of the observers, and after the others left, we talked for a while. He asked if I ever false-casted the entire 90-foot fly line. I replied, “No, why?” He carried my explanation (above) a step further, mainly focusing around how vitally important practice for timing was in all aspects of learning a cast, and how much the timing and cadence of body and rod has to be honed. I was able to comfortably carry 70 feet of line at that time. After absorbing what Doug said, and with a little practice, I was soon able to false cast the entire fly line. With that ability, casting over 100 feet becomes easy. Later that season, I achieved my best distance cast ever with an 8-weight rod, measuring 134 feet. Practice does pay! As I mentioned, interest in fly casting has starting to increase. In the same light, so has specialized individual instruction for those getting away for a vacation trip out West. On occasion, instruction is only a one-time, four-hour event with no follow-up. These beginner/novice fly fishers want to learn fast and dirty, and how to catch a fish on a fly. Many readers who are experienced casters, but not instructors, have been asked by friends for help in getting ready for such a fly fishing trip. Many of you help by spending some time on the water casting and talking about fishing, all of which helps immensely. My crash course/quick-fix remedy for this situation is a three- to four-hour, one-time-only class. “Teaching” includes two basic casts: the standard forward cast and the roll cast. I keep the distances to 40 feet and under, and use the student’s rod if they have one. Otherwise, I use a 9-foot, 6-weight with a double-taper line and a 9-foot leader. An hour is spent on basics, simple rigging and essential flies for their destination. I ask the student to do a few practice casts on his own just to check proficiency. The second part of the lesson includes about a half hour of “handson casting,” i.e., my hand is always


Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

Woman’s Outlook By Carol Oglesby


ate June on the Grand Mesa in western Colorado: The grass was knee-high, wildflowers were in abundance and eagles soared overhead. The Grand Mesa, an ancient volcano, towers over the valley 6,000 feet below, and rises to an elevation of about 11,327 feet. It has more than 300 snow- or spring-fed lakes and is one of the largest mesas in the world. After being cooped up in the house for weeks, I was having a glorious day in the mountains. As we neared the top of the mesa, we spotted a small stream that cut through a mountain meadow lush in variegated greens interrupted with patches of yellow asters and purple lupine. No one was around as we parked and got out to inspect the water. Creeping quietly closer to the dark depths of the pool, I spotted the unmistakable silver and rosy-hued undulations and my pulse quickened. The trout were stacked in a trough at the head of the plunge pool like hungry students in a cafeteria line. We promised to go back the following week. Three weeks earlier, I had undergone a six-hour back surgery. The morning after, that familiar, dreadful, unrelenting pain was gone, and I was walking the hospital hallway. My recovery progressed splendidly! I was off work for six weeks and had lifting and bending restrictions, but I could travel as much as I wanted – as long as someone else drove. Two weeks after surgery, we spotted that lovely stream on Grand Mesa. A mere three weeks after surgery, we headed back up the mountain so I could attempt to fish. The surgeon, a beginning fly fisher who understood my passion, said it was OK to fish, as long as I didn’t get crazy or start wading. I didn’t say, “Define ‘get crazy.’ ” Besides, I don’t technically consider standing in a small stream the same thing as “wading.” It was not the altitude that made me giddy that day. As we neared the curve leading to the meadow with the promising trout stream, I grew more and more excited. And then … there it was, MY meadow … infested with dozens of white-faced, miserable, mooing and


Carol Oglesby fishes a small stream atop the Grand Mesa in Western Colorado.

cud-chewing *!?*!@!*%! COWS! The grass and wildflowers were trampled, and the dunderheads were wading, drinking and peeing in MY stream! How dare them! I was incensed! We parked, and I pouted and mumbled about there being no point in staying there. While we raided the cooler and fixed lunch, the skies grayed, storm clouds gathered, rain spat, and lightning played mischievously at the ground. Then, a wonderful thing happened: The cowardly cows ran for safety in a spruce thicket! As the clouds dispersed, I thanked the fish gods, donned a rain jacket, grabbed my 3-weight rod, a box of dry flies and headed to the stream. With a multitude of pesky mosquitoes buzzing around, I decided to tie on a Parachute Adams. By the time I had rigged up, the water and the fish had settled down after the bovine disturbance. I, however, was so keyed up that I flailed miserably at the innocent stream and missed the first eager lunge. Determined to calm my excitement, I took a deep breath and focused my attention on the even rise of a rainbow feeding rhythmically in the surface film. Mesmerized, I slipped into a rhythm with the fish. After following the cadence of his ascent, I mentally counted and then cast the fly softly in the quiet water just ahead of his next rise. One, two, three, four,

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

thwack! He took, I lifted, adrenaline rose and we danced! After a short tussle with the fish, my husband, Pat, kneeled to release my fish for me. Again, I thanked the fish gods – and Pat – and watched as the silvery trout vanished in the safety of the cold water. Pain free at last, I was the happiest I had been on the water for years! After major back surgery in midJune, I’ve developed a fresh attitude and a renewed gratitude towards life! Still on light-duty fishing, I am anxious to get through the winter months to do some full-on wading again. I love the invigorating rush of water around my legs, the breeze in my hair and the hot sun on my back. For years, all I heard were secondhand horror stories of failed and bungled back surgeries. One friend-of-afriend even said to me, “Back surgery never works on WOMEN!” (Huh?) Now, I would say to her, “Well, friend, please step aside while I straighten my posture and scale this fence stile that stands between you, me and the RIVER!” If I can be an inspiration to any person considering back surgery, then I am glad to share my story. Here’s to good health, the wind at your back, and great fishing! Carol Oglesby from Grand Junction, Colorado, is a regular contributor to Flyfisher on female fly fishers’ interests. She may be contacted at


Leave a

Legacy Feel good today about the gift you leave tomorrow. By making a deferred gift to the FFF Foundation, you will help to ensure the sport you love is fostered and kept thriving with our future generations. The principal of your gift will remain in the Foundation to fund youth education, conservation and scholarship support. In addition, there are attractive income and/or estate tax benefits. The FFF Foundation was established in 1995 as a 501(c)3 public charitable foundation and is managed by an independent board of trustees.

For further information contact Josset Gauley at FFF headquarters in Livingston, Montana, telephone (406) 222-9369.










The Federation of Fly Fishers Foundation, Inc. Post Office Box 1688 Livingston, MT 59047




Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

At the Vise PEACOCK SPIDER By Gretchen & Al Beatty


ost of the steelhead fly fishers we know would give almost anything to find a fly pattern that drives the fish crazy when it is drifted past their noses. We felt that way until we received a care package a few years ago from our longtime friend, John Newbury. The package included three flies: the Tangerine, the Plum Crazy and the Peacock Spider. They all were beautiful patterns, but the Peacock Spider really caught our eye. We called Newbury to learn more about it. We could see the fly was tied out of some type of peacock feather, but we didn’t have that particular plumage in our inventory. On the phone, he advised: “That hackle is made out of male peacock breast feathers.” We didn’t have any of them and knew it was not a feather that was readily available in most fly shops, so we asked Newbury to send us a supply. A few weeks later, we tested several freshly tied Spiders on the Clearwater River in central Idaho, not far from our

home. The results were stunning, unlike anything we had ever experienced before. Usually a day pursuing steelhead on our area waters is considered really successful if each angler lands one or two fish each; we were lucky enough to land seven fish between us. As the years since that trip have unfolded, the Peacock Spider has become one of our main “go-to” patterns when we fish our home waters all of which are part of the Columbia River system. Is every day a multiple fish experience like our first outing? No, but now we seldom have a day when we don’t get at least a solid swirl on the fly from an interested fish. Often, the Spider is the first pattern we tie on our tippet, and many days it never leaves that position unless to replace a lost or damaged fly. How wonderful that we get to share this great pattern with all of you, and surprise, surprise: It was developed by our friend and the 2009 Buz Buszek Memorial Awards recipient

John Newbury. This isn’t the first time we’ve shared this pattern with all of you, our Federation friends – it also appeared on page 128 in our book “Innovative Flies and Techniques” published in 2005 by Frank Amato Publications. That book features patterns by many FFF flytiers, and Newbury’s concoctions were prominent throughout. The Peacock Spider is an important part of the steelhead fly boxes we developed for the Columbia River system near our home. We have not introduced it to other waters – we leave that to all of you. Let us know ( in your part of the country, and we’ll pass the information along to Newbury. Al and Gretchen Beatty are longtime contributors to Flyfisher. They own and operate BT’s Fly Fishing Products in Boise, Idaho.


Hook: Size No. 2/0 - No. 2, salmon Thread: Red or reddish brown Body: Peacock blue Diamond Braid Hackle: Peacock breast feathers Head: Thread

Fly-tying note: If you have trouble finding the peacock breast feathers, you can use small peacock eye herls in a dubbing loop; they’re not quite as good as the breast feather fibers but are a fair substitute.

Photography by BT’s Photography



Place the hook in the vise and apply a thread base that starts at the eye and stops at the end of the shank. On this hook we identify “the end of the shank” as the position directly above the throat of the barb. Select a 10 inch section of peacock blue Diamond Braid and tie it to the top of the hook while advancing the thread back to the hook eye.


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010



Wrap the thread back from the eye to the start of the looped platform and leave it there. Wrap the Diamond Braid forward forming the body. Notice the material has a tendency to twist, but it is quite easy to place a counter twist as each turn of the Braid is applied to the hook, thus producing a nice, smooth body.



Start with the offside feather and wrap it one turn around the hook. We suggest working that feather behind and in front of the other two while making the wrap. Tie it off and remove any waste end.

Continue wrapping the body material forward to meet the thread. Tie it off and trim away the waste end.





Prepare two (size No. 2 hook) or three (size No. 2/0 hook) peacock breast feathers by stripping away the fuzzy material at the base of the stems. Tie the feathers to the shank, staggering their position; in this case we are using a 2/0 hook so they are placed on the near side, top, and far side of the hook. This positioning is what surprised us. John’s flies always looked so neat we just assumed the hackle was constructed from one feather only!

C. Boyd Pfeiffer AVAILABLE FOR SHOWS & CLUB EVENTS Slide shows Seminars Workshops Banquets For information: 410-527-0717 •

Now select the top feather and wrap it the same as described in Step 5. Tie it off and trim the waste end. Wrap the last hackle in front of the other two, tie it off, and remove the excess. Build the thread head tight against the hackle to force all three feathers together. Whip finish and remove the thread. Apply a coating of Aqua Head or cement to the whip finish

BT’S ROTARY TYING STATION The Station includes the vise, pedestal/tool base, and seven brass tools.

BT’s Fly Fishing Products 11965 W. Reutzel Dr. • Boise, ID 83709-4414


(toll free phone & fax) Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing



Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing


Photo by BT’s

Photo courtesy of Dave Mosley

Even a blue fly can be productive. Here, the author shows off a beautiful New Zealand brown trout.


Photo by BT’s


couldn’t attend Conclave this past summer as a result of surgery, and therefore was unable to man the bamboo rod booth. Lowell Davis, Bill Armon and some of their friends graciously agreed to help out. Thank you very much, fellow rod makers, for your help and for a successful booth. While recuperating from knee surgery, I began planning new projects and fishing trips. Some trips require the building of a new rod based on the rod action desired and the number or length of the pieces needed. I have built 2-piece, 3-piece and now 4-piece rods of the same taper and have found that the action is not generally affected if the taper isn’t too unusual. While planning and anticipating for this trip, I reflected on a rod – with a mistake – that I had built for another trip. This rod enabled me to capture a fish I probably would have otherwise lost. Let me take you on a journey back in time. In 2002, I took my wife to New Zealand for touring and a bit of fishing. I had been there the previous year and made some Kiwi friends, who had invited me to return for another visit. On that trip, I had used a medium action 3-piece, 6-weight rod, but the action was a little too slow for the dry fly fishing I had experienced on the Mataura River on the South Island. I decided to build a 3-piece, 5weight rod with a faster taper. Then I could take both rods on the trip and use one for dry flies and the other for subsurface offerings. I built the 5weight just before going on the trip and after constructing the bamboo

Photo by Dave Mosley

Story and photo by Dave Mosley

The prepared bamboo pieces are triangular in shape, with two sides coming from inside the bamboo culm and one from the outside. Here, the half-round illustration prepared by the author has the center piece installed with one of the “in” sides facing out – a mistake.

blank, I noticed that when I had been gluing and wrapping one of the tips, one of the six strips in that section had flipped over and an inside surface was facing outwards. It was too late to build another tip, so I completed the rod (the butt and both tips) as they were. I decided to just use the mistake tip and fish it, while throwing all caution to the wind. I planned on replacing it after my trip. My wife and I flew to Christchurch, New Zealand, and toured the west coast down through Queenstown, Milford Sound and then on to our friends in Gore. I had purchased some flies along the way and one was a Bottle Fly (a black Humpy with a bright light-blue thorax). Two of our friends, Bev and Peter McDonald, decided to take us on a picnic at a friend’s sheep station. The trip required an hour and a half on paved roads and another hour of dirt roads. The scenery was delightful and the picnic menu was superb as the couple owned two of the most popular restaurants in Gore. We had stopped for lunch beside the upper part of a local river and, after lunch, the ladies talked while Peter and I went fishing. I remembered a local shop owner telling me to use the Bottle Fly if sheep lived close to the water. I hadn’t observed any rises on the stretch of water, so I decided to try a size 16 Bottle Fly based on his suggestion. The second cast produced a rather large trout and, of course, I was using my mistake tip with a 5X leader. I decided to apply as much pressure

Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010

to this big boy as I could because I really wanted to land it (and didn’t care if I broke the rod in the process – I had already decided it was expendable). I fought the fish for about 15 minutes, refusing to allow him to run. The ladies came down to watch, but my wife couldn’t see the fish. Bev told her to look at the small log under the water, and when my wife replied that she could see the log, Bev told her that was the fish! Peter helped net the fish – a brown trout weighing 8 pounds and measuring a shade less than 28 inches. Considering the tackle I was using, I was very pleased to have landed it. Peter had been using an 8-weight cane rod for fishing this stream and was amazed that the 5-weight “mistake” stood up to the test. He referred to the fish as “a wee tidler caught on a matchstick.” I was so pleased with the mistake tip that I have refused to rebuild it, and when I went back to New Zealand two years later, I fished it again through the same hole and caught a 6pound brown. I could apply as much pressure as I needed. The moral of this story is something that I learned many years ago, but frequently forget: “Mistakes teach you more than your successes.” Bamboo is a stronger and more resilient material than I had believed possible, and a visiting angler should pay attention to local experts – even if the fly color is blue. Dave Mosley is retired from teaching and has been active in the FFF since the early 1980s, holding various offices and organizing bamboo rod activities. He resides in Hamilton, Montana.


Ice in guides or on lines impedes casting and twitching retrieves, and can even scar line finish. Fortunately, there are several solutions for winter fishing. A temporary solution is to dip the rod underwater to melt the ice and then make your cast before ice-up occurs again. A good long-term solution is to coat the guides with Loon Outdoors Stanley’s Ice-Off Paste or with regular petroleum jelly such as Vaseline. These both prevent water from clinging to the guides and thus prevent ice build-up. Loon Outdoors Stanley’s Ice-Off Paste is non-toxic and environmentally safe for both line and guide anti-freeze coating. It will wash off when used,

stays, and we fished well into the fall, the propane heater splitting the wet and chill of the boat’s back deck, playing cards between each coho. And after awhile Mom’s new friend came out. Fred lived to fish. I remember him standing on a beaver dam in Yukon, fishing his Black River bamboo spin/fly combo, taking his first grayling on a fly. Such joy! Whether whales, salmon, trout, grayling, or dollies, he would exclaim, “David and Norma have to see this!” A pause, another fish eating his Adams, and he would continue, “I got to get Ray out here!” I’m stuck in Connecticut now, as Fred has passed and Mom needs help. She’ll return with me to Southeast Alaska, just in time for fall coho in Cowee Creek and Peterson Salt Chuck. On Sunday afternoons, as Juneau reclines glued to football, we’ll sneak off to the chuck. Mom and Lesley will walk the dog and sit in thin sun on the shore, as I throw soft hackles to foolish rainbows. Lesley has managed to flunk her latest effort at retirement badly, having taken a certified position again. I will continue to attempt to show her the way, nobly sacrificing final opportunities for responsible behavior in the cause of fly fishing through retirement. Jon Lyman from Juneau, Alaska, describes himself as just a trout bum on the lam in ski country with a writing habit. Editors are pleased to learn he isn’t retired from Flyfisher.

Photo by C. Boyd Pfeiffer


Photo by BT’s


y wife Lesley has flunked retirement three times. I appear to have made it on the first try. She is a wonderful teacher, beloved for decades by her colleagues, then in demand by the Juneau Schools as an aide, then a substitute. I, on the other hand, probably like to fish too much. I also like to read fishing history, and that, in Alaska, where fish remain largely the provenance of commercial interests, often got me in trouble with my agencies’ fish gods. So I haven’t been back after retiring, which gives me more time to fish and ponder – good things as fishing friends drop around me like flies. I have been re-reading the classics and enjoying a few new authors. I find myself retreating back into “Trout and Salmonia”; spending days with “Walton and Cotton,” re-discovering old favorites like “Thy Rod and Thy Creel.” My newest find is “Two Coots in a Canoe; a mid-life crisis lasting the length of the Connecticut River.” “Look Ramsey,” he said, “Don Quixote had his Sancho Panza, Holmes his Watson, Steinbeck had Charlie, Bryson had Katz: Somebody’s got to make the protagonist look good.” I am originally from Connecticut, having made my escape 40 years ago to the far west, rarely returning since. For the first few years my parents would finish all communications with, “When are you coming home?” Then, after they saw whales bubble-net feeding, caught salmon and halibut, tasted king crab and Dungeness pulled from the Pacific in front of the house, it became, “When can we visit?” After awhile, calls became short and to the point: “We’ll be out next week.” Thank goodness that I made it into retirement on the first try, because I have the time to fish with all the relatives. Distant cousins, not heard from in decades, appear off cruise ships, friends-of-friends park campers on our drive. Our deck spills accents all summer from England to Alabama, Southern twangs overlapping severe New England tones, sometimes with a soft Spanish lilt stitching the conversations together. I have come to love and treasure all my fishing friends. Dad died a decade ago. Mom came out for longer

Conserving, Restoring and Educating Through Fly Fishing

Fly-Fishing Heritage

By C. Boyd Pfeiffer

and requires reapplication – perhaps several times – during a day of fishing. Petroleum jelly in generic and name brands will not wash off, but might wear off in time, also requiring reapplication. Both prevent ice from forming on lines and in guides, allowing for free casting and fishing. Be sure to remove all such applications after fishing, since either can pick up dirt and grit to harm fly lines. Also, long-term use of petroleum jelly may ultimately affect fly lines. C. Boyd Pfeiffer is an internationally known sportsman and award-winning photojournalist on fishing, hunting and the outdoors. His 27 books include many on fly fishing and fly tying.

The easy way to prevent ice build-up in guides and on lines while winter fishing is to prevent water from reaching the guides where it will freeze. To do this, use a coating such as Loon Outdoors Stanley’s IceOff Paste or petroleum jelly such as Vaseline. Apply with a finger, as shown here.

2009 FFF Show and Conclave Photo Contest 1

1st Place Winners: 7

(Images, clockwise from top, left) 1. Fly Anglers in Their Element: “First Trout” by Dennis Galyardt of Tecumseh, Missouri. Caught on the Big Thompson River near Loveland, Colorado. 2. Grand Prize Winner: International Fly Fishing Experiences – Freshwater: “Good Fight” by Patti Magnano Madsen of Bainbridge Island, Washington. Taken on the Hope River in New Zealand. 3. Chairman’s Award Digital Category: “Gettin’ Ready at the Car” by Tom Ziegler of Broomfield, Colorado. Taken at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. 4. Native Fish of North America: “Twins” by Jeff Pierce from Scottsdale, New York. Caught in the Roaring River, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.



Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010




5. Naturals and Their Imitations: “Western Green Drake” by Laurel Dixon, of Calgary, Canada 6. Professional Images: “Resting” by Alastair Gowans of Pitlockry, Scotland. Taken at the River South Esk., Scotland 7. International Fly Fishing Experiences – Saltwater: “Tough Day Guiding” by Patrick Richards of Hereford, Arizona. Taken on Ambergris Cay in Belize.


Flyfisher Autumn 2009 - Winter 2010


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