IN THIS ISSUE : MIDDLE FORK OF THE SALMON ON CONSUMPTION AND FISHING BURNING CHROME INTERVIEW: KRISTEN MUSTAD
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BOZEMAN, MONTANA 2018 | THE CURRENT | TROUTS FLY FISH ING 3
IT’S ABOUT THE PEOPLE by Tucker Ladd: Owner, Trouts
here is something unique and special about a fly shop. No two are alike, with each having its own look, feel and personality. Fly shops are a place where anglers can immerse themselves in their passion and find an equivalent break from reality that comes from spending a day on the water. In an era where buying online is becoming more commonplace than buying in-store, fly shops have not only survived, but have been able to remain viable and relevant, but most importantly, necessary. A fly shop’s continued existence and relevance isn’t because of the products they carry or where they are located, it’s because of the experiences they offer. 2018 will mark my 13th year as owner of Trouts Fly Fishing. Prior to me owning the business, Trouts had been my go-to fly shop that ultimately helped propel me into the sport of fly fishing. As such, the opportunity to carry on that legacy was a dream come true. And while I may not have known everything there was to know about running a fly shop, there was one simple philosophy that I strategically applied to Trouts from day one: treat every customer with the same level of service, support and advice, no matter who they are or what they spend. This was by no means a revolutionary concept, but it was the main reason that I always loved shopping at Trouts. As I reflect on another year gone by, I can’t help but reminisce about how much has changed. From new locations, to new websites, to new education and outfitting services, Trouts has evolved and grown beyond my wildest dreams. But despite this change, our philosophy of customer service has remained the foundation of our day-to-day existence. Through all of those years there has remained one constant, that being the incredible people who have helped make Trouts the fly shop that it is today. What makes Trouts so special is not what hangs on our walls, rather, it is the people who sit behind the counter, spool your fly reel or help you pick out flies for your next outing. These people are the authentic persona of the sport of fly fishing, not because of what they do, but because they are passionate about what they do – and they love nothing more than passing that on to every customer who walks through the door. These are the people who ultimately make Trouts standout from the rest, and I am thankful every day for the opportunity to work beside them. But don’t just take my word for it, I encourage anyone reading this to come by Trouts to see firsthand what makes us...well...us.
Sincerely, Tucker Ladd Owner, Trouts Fly Fishing
TROUTSFLYFISHING.COM 1303 E. 6th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80218 303.733.1434 309 B Main Street Frisco, CO 80443 970. 668.2583 ©2018 Trouts Fly Fishing
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Editorial 4 26 Middle Fork of the Salmon River by Ian Davis
Guide Service/Rates 2017
On Consumption and Fishing
by Jesse Robins
On the Water 10 34 Burning Chrome by Louis Cahill Trout Tips 12 56 Interview: Kristen Mustad Mends and Bends 14 Educational Guide
Educational Offerings 2018
On the Water
Mends and Bends
About Trouts Trouts Signature Services
Mends and Bends 54
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GUIDED TRIPS, OFFERINGS & RATES
ne of the best aspects of fishing in Colorado is the abundance of angling options, many of which are available yearround. It is with that reality that we are proud to offer Guided Fly Fishing Trips 365 days a year! Trouts Fly Fishing is committed to offering our clients the best in guided fly fishing adventures. We cater our trips to our clientsâ€™ needs to ensure that their time on the water is relaxing, enjoyable, and most importantly, memorable. So whether you are looking for a quick half-day outing, or want to organize a unique corporate event on a world-class private ranch, look no further than Trouts Fly Fishing. The following is a list of fly fishing trip options as well as their associated costs. To maintain a quality experience for all of our clients, we try to keep the guide to client ratio at 2:1. All trips go out rain or shine unless conditions are deemed unsafe by the guide. If you have any questions or you would like to book a day on the water with us, please call us at (877) 464-0034 or email us at info@ troutsflyfishing.com.
HALF DAY FLY FISHING TRIPS
BEST-OF-DAY FLY FISHING TRIPS
FULL DAY FLY FISHING TRIPS
GROUP AND CORPORATE (7+ PEOPLE) FLY FISHING TRIPS
1 ANGLER $320, 2 ANGLERS $345, (+$150 FOR 3RD ANGLER) Half day trips take place during the most productive time of day for fishing during a specific time of year. These trips typically last 4-5 hours, and include 3-4 hours of fishing time. Trip includes: drinks/refreshments, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippets, etc.) and rental of a fly rod, waders and boots. * Lunch is available for half day fly fishing trips upon special request and for an additional fee. Please make sure to discuss this at the time you book your trip.
1 ANGLER $420, 2 ANGLERS $445 (+$160 FOR 3RD ANGLER) Full day fly fishing trips offer 8 hours of time on the water, and are typically conducted during the most productive time of the day. These trips include: lunch and drinks, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippet, etc.) and rental of a fly rod, fly reel, waders and boots.
FULL DAY FLOAT FISHING TRIPS
1 ANGLER $545, 2 ANGLERS $570 Full day float fishing trips offer 8 hours of time on the water and take place on the Colorado, Roaring Fork or Eagle Rivers. These trips include: lunch and drinks, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippet, etc.) and rental of a fly rod, fly reel, waders and boots.
1 ANGLER $370. 2 ANGLERS $395 (+$160 FOR 3RD ANGLER) - AVAILABLE OCTOBER 15TH-MARCH 15TH Best-of-day trips are offered from November 1st through April 1st. These trips last 6 hours and are designed to take advantage of the phenomenal fishing still to be had throughout the colder months of the year. Trips will run from approximately 9:30am-3:30pm, when the sun is at its highest and the fishing is at its best. Trip Includes: drinks/lunch, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippets, etc) and rental of a fly rod, fly reel, waders and boots.
Group trips can be conducted as bestof-day or full day trips. They include: lunch and drinks (cold sandwiches, although hot lunches are available upon request) terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippets, etc.) and any necessary fly fishing equipment. In addition, the cost of these trips includes a 20% gratuity for the guides, and all trips are billed in full in advance.
ALL OR PART OF THIS OPERATION IS CONDUCTED ON PUBLIC LANDS UNDER SPECIAL PERMIT FROM U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
TROUTS IS A PROUD ORVIS ENDORSED OUTFITTER WITH LOCATIONS IN DENVER AND FRISCO AND PROUDLY OFFERS BOTH WALK/ WADE AND FLOAT GUIDED TRIPS ON A QUINTESSENTIAL COLLECTION OF CLASSIC WESTERN WATERS. 6 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G | THE CURRENT | 2018
Colorado has some of the finest and most extensive public water options of any state in the Rocky Mountain West. While our water access might not be as encompassing as some of our neighboring states, the abundance and quality of public access is unmatched. Trout’s Fly Fishing is proud to offer the most in-depth and encompassing resume of public water options of any outfitter in the state. So whether you’re looking for a close-to-town option for a quick get away, a challenging tail-water fishery to enhance your angling abilities, or a relaxing day spent in a drift boat, we have the water and resources to meet your needs. But don’t let this list of angling options overwhelm you, as our seasoned and qualified guide staff will determine your fishing location based upon experience level, angler goals and seasonal conditions. However, in the event you have a certain piece of water you’ve been dying to fish, don’t hesitate to formally request one of these world-class fisheries when booking your next trip with us. TROUTS FLY FISHING IS PROUD TO GUIDE ON THE FOLLOWING PUBLIC WATERS: Colorado River, South Platte River (and it’s tributaries), Arkansas River, Blue River, Williams Fork River, Roaring Fork River, Frying Pan River, Eagle River, Bear Creek and Clear Creek.
In addition to our extensive list of Public Water offerings, Trouts Fly Fishing is pleased to offer our customers unparalleled access to some of the finest and most sought-after Private Properties & Ranches in the state. Our list of Exclusive Properties is ever evolving and designed to offer anglers a plethora of fishing options and experiences. Tossing dry flies to wild brown and brook trout sound like your idea of fun? What about sight fishing to trophy rainbows that could exceed 30”? Got a group of 20 of your best clients you want to show a day on the water they’ll never forget? Rest assured our extensive list of Exclusive Properties will have you covered on any of the above situations, plus more! TROUTS FLY FISHING IS PROUD TO GUIDE ON THE FOLLOWING EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES: Boxwood Gulch Ranch- N. Fork of the S. Platte River Long Meadow Ranch- N. Fork of the S. Platte River North Fork Ranch- N. Fork of the S. Platte River Granby Ranch- Fraser River Bull Basin- Troublesome Creek
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ON THE WATER HOW TO BUY A FLY ROD The Golden Rule of Purchasing a Fly Rod: It’s not what fly rod is best, it’s what fly rod is best for YOU. Purchasing a fly rod used to be a simple exercise. You’d head on down to your local fly shop to seek the advice and expertise of the store’s staff, and ultimately make a purchase. You may have had to travel to a couple different stores to make sure you’d seen all of your options, but the main source of information and advice always came from the fly shop. Fast forward to today and one’s options to purchase a fly rod are endless. Now not only do you have your local fly shop, but you can puruse the wares of any online fly fishing retailer across the country or globe. There is also an endless amount of product information and reviews that you can use to research and educate yourself on what fly rod is best for you. While this all sounds great, I can tell you from experience that this process is getting people into fly rods that are not ideal for their needs, or the rod’s intended application. The truth of the matter is that fly rods are a technical piece of gear and there is a lot that goes into understanding and determining what fly rod is best for the individual angler. This is why I have grown increasingly concerned about the value and merit that consumers are putting into fly rod reviews. Sure, these reviews offer relevant content about a product, but keep in mind that most of these reviews are conducted by people who 8 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G | THE CURRENT | 2018
by Tucker Ladd are no more of an expert on fly rods than the average consumer. In this day and age, it’s just as easy for a consumer to learn the ins and outs of a new fly rod as it is for the guy behind the counter (thanks Google). That’s why it’s so important to remember the Golden Rule of Purchasing a Fly Rod: It’s not what fly rod is best, it’s what fly rod is best for YOU. The following are a few suggestions for things to consider when purchasing your next fly rod.
NOT ALL REVIEWS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Studies have shown that online reviews are becoming increasingly important when it comes to online purchases. In fact, recent data indicates that as much as 70% of online shoppers will consult an online review prior to making a purchase. What scares me about this statistic when we talk about purchasing a fly rod is that there are a lot of people who are making large dollar purchases by relying on information that is possibly skewed by personal opinion at best, or at worse, totally incorrect knowledge and assessment of the product. Does this mean that ALL online fly rod reviews are bad? Absolutely not, but you need to be mindful about who is writing the review. • Bloggers - this is a good source for finding quality and reliable reviews. The authors are typically unbiased towards the product, as they aren’t selling anything other than ad space. They also don’t have anything to gain or lose with a product review, so I have always found these reviews to be honest and reliable. • Fly Shops - this is another source of good quality and reliable reviews. One of the key advantages to reviews from credible shops is the breadth of fly rod inventory they have on-
hand, so the reviews can be more “comparative” across other models and brands. You’ll likely find good technical information in these reviews as well, as well as pertinent product insight like line suggestions and weight/length comparisons. • Consumers - this is where I start to get skittish about online reviews. Consumers are going to offer the least technical and most personal opinion-oriented review. While their opinion of a fly rod is 100% valid, it’s not going to give you any idea as to whether the reviewed fly rod is right for you. • Magazines - these are really hit or miss as some can be very valuable and others are just glorified ads. These reviews are a great way to see what the latest and greatest rods are, but they’re not going to provide you much value beyond that.
KNOW WHAT OTHER FLY RODS YOU OWN PRIOR TO HEADING TO YOUR LOCAL FLY SHOP
We encounter this issue on a daily basis. Customer comes in to purchase a new rod, but doesn’t know the specifics of their current fly rod(s). Listen, I get it, not every angler knows the model of their fly rod(s) like their children’s names and birthdays. But before coming in to purchase a new fly rod, take a moment to note what other rods you currently own (model, weight, length).
BRAND DOESN’T MATTER
I know that our fly rod vendor partners aren’t going to like me saying this, but when buying a fly rod it’s important to be as impartial as possible. There are certainly brand loyalists out there, and I’d be lying if
I said I don’t prefer certain brands over others, but the more impartial you can be when buying a fly rod, particularly if you’re newer to the sport, the better. In the end, every rod is different, and I personally believe that you are doing yourself a disservice by not trying a rod from a manufacturer you’ve never cast. In the end THE MOST important thing to consider when buying a fly rod is how much YOU like the rod, not somebody else. Forget the brand, the price, or even the looks, if you like how the rod feels in your hand then that is all that matters. In the digital world we live in it’s hard to not pay attention to the abundance of reviews across the web, but I promise you that if you follow the Golden Rule of Purchasing a Fly Rod, you’ll never be disappointed.
FLY ROD “SHOOT-OUTS” ARE FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED
I’ll come right out and say it, I do not like fly rod ‘shoot-outs.” They are a great marketing tool for the person/business creating the content, but they do nothing for the end consumer. There are too many of these online now to count, and each of them has a flaw that discredits the review entirely. The biggest and most consistent problem with these reviews is that the “tester” uses the same fly line on every rod. The issue here is that there is not one fly line that has been created to cast every fly rod. Stiffer rods necessitate heavier tapered fly lines, and softer rods need lighter tapered fly lines. So, it’s fair to say that many of the rods being cast are not done so with the best line for each rod, so how can a reader get a good sense of what a particular fly rod can do? 2018 | THE CURRENT | TROUTS FLY FISH ING 9
DESTINATION: CAYO LARGO, CUBA HOSTED BY TROUTS FLY FISHING
$7,210.00 PER PERSON (BASED ON DOUBLE OCCUPANCY) Join Yellow Dog Flyfishing Authorized Representative and Partner - Tucker Ladd, Owner of Trouts Fly Fishing, on a hosted trip to Cayo Largo, Cuba for a week of fishing for bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook and other marine species. After a successful visit to Cayo Largo in 2017, Tucker jumped at the chance to book a prime week in 2018 before they were gone. With accommodations at Villa Marinera (located a short walk from the marina), this should make for a relaxed and fun week with an expert of all things fishing, both salt and freshwater.
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The fishery surrounding Cayo Largo has become known as the permit capital of Cuba! Situated in the south-central region of the Cuban Archipelago, Cayo Largo (â€œLong Keyâ€?) is one of the finest permit fishing destinations that we have found anywhere in the Caribbean. The island itself offers 17 miles of picture-perfect, white sandy beaches. Upon arrival, you will be surprised to find a natural flats environment that has remained totally unchanged and largely untouched for hundreds of years. The incredible Cayo Largo fishery came under the management of Avalon Fishing Center in 2008 and has since developed into a fantastic permit and bonefish destination (with some tarpon in the area as well). The
fishing season runs from November through August. The beginning of the season from November to January is very good, with plenty of bonefish (especially big ones) on the flats and permit found in strong numbers. Fishing for tarpon and other species can also be good. Peak fishing season is from February to June, when all species are present in the area. The typical package to Cayo Largo is seven (7) nights /six (6) fishing days. Additional days in Havana or on other parts of the island can be arranged and itineraries can be customized. Interested parties should contact Tucker Ladd at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone (303) 733-1434.
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TROUT TIPS ROW VS. WADE I t’s nice to have choices when it comes to spending time on the water. The Centennial State boasts over 6,000 miles of streams and 2,000 lakes and reservoirs. I often get the question, “What’s better; a wade trip or a float trip?” That’s a tough one and there is no right or wrong answer. Undoubtedly, each will offer a fun and memorable experience on the water. Let’s start with wade trips. As a former guide, I enjoyed having the chance to be a bit more interactive with my clients. Wade trips offer more of a controlled setting for the anglers and guide and allow for added teaching opportunities. Having a guide along side providing instruction and guidance reinforces confidence and helps set anglers up for success. Whether it’s casting, fighting a fish or that ever-important presentation, you’ll have a guide at your side to reinforce what you’re doing well and assist you in improving your technique. This is indispensable
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for anglers who have had limited experience on the water to gain confidence in their abilities. Wade trips also allow for some great sight fishing opportunities. For many, there’s nothing more rewarding than walking along the river, spotting fish and coaxing the fish to eat your fly. In regards to a float trip, the customer experience is also the focus for the day. If the idea of a relaxing day fishing a river from a drift boat or raft with fly rod in hand sounds fun, you can’t go wrong. One major benefit of a float trip is it allows for not only great fishing, but also provides anglers abundant opportunities to cast to fish that you couldn’t access on a wade trip. Float trips also allow you to cover miles of water and provide a new sense of adventure around each bend. Best of all, like a wade trip, your attentive guide will take care of your every need and provide coaching and guidance. It’s a great way to experience some of Colorado’s
by Dave Lovell
grander rivers, all while fishing from the comfort of a boat. If you enjoy casting larger dry flies and streamers, fishing out of a boat is a great way to cover more water without the legwork of moving up and down the river. If your party consists of two anglers, float trips also provide a great bonding opportunity for you and your fellow angler for some good conversation and spirited ribbing. Float trips are great for those that prefer a less strenuous day walking in the river or who have mobility concerns. Regardless of which trip you choose, our professional guides’ number one goal is to not only meet your expectations, but also exceed them. Bottom-line, you can expect Trouts Fly Fishing to provide you with a world-class experience second to none. We look forward to getting you out on the water with us!
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MENDS & BENDS
by Kyle Wilkinson
HOW DOES THE ANGLER KNOW WHAT FLY ROD ACTION WILL BEST SUITE THEIR NEEDS AND CASTING STYLE?
f you’re an experienced angler reading this you may already know the answer to the topic of today’s discussion. However, I have a strong feeling many people reading this don’t fall into that category and have on more than one occasion heard the term “fast action” or “medium action” and thought to themselves, ‘What in the hell? All I want is a fly rod I can take to the river and catch a fish with!’ If you’ve ever found yourself in that situation — or if you’re in the market for a new fly rod but don’t know what makes the most sense to add to your line up — then I highly encourage you to read on! It’s no secret that fly rods come in all shapes and sizes these days, and with the continued advancements we’re seeing in rod building technologies, the corresponding actions are getting more and more refined. This can be confusing to
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interpret for any angler out there, regardless of skill. But back to the question of which action is right for you? In my opinion, the short answer to this is simply going to depend on the type of fishing conditions you’re going to be facing. Now I’m sure some of you are already thinking that both angler skill and angler preference are major factors as well, and you are correct. I’ll be sure to touch on both. For the sake of keeping things simple though, let’s take a 10,000-foot view of this topic and break fly rods down into the three most dominant categories (slow, medium, fast) and where I find their most useful applications to be.
It seems most rod companies tend to shy away from the phrase ‘slow action’ these days and use terms such
as ‘full flex’ or ‘presentation taper’ to categorize these type of rods. Additionally, you’re usually going to see these rods predominantly offered in sub 9’ lengths, with rods down to 6’ long not out of the question. To the newer angler, the first thing you’ll likely notice when picking up a slow/ full flex rod is that it seems a little ‘noodly’ when giving it the ol’ fly shop wiggle. When casting, slow action rods are going to flex/bend all the way down to the cork grip when loaded. Why you would want it: DRY FLIES. Fishing dry flies is the primary reason manufacturers still produce slower action fly rods. These rods do not generate nearly as much line speed as their faster counterparts, which is ideal for situations where soft, quiet presentations are key. A slower action fly rod is going to have a tremendous amount of ‘feel’ throughout the casting stroke, allowing the angler to have utmost
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control over his or her presentation. Why you wouldn’t want it: Big water where long casts and big mends are the norm. Heavy winds and big nymph rigs/streamers are also not going to be ideal for a slow action rod.
The ‘All-Arounder.’ Medium action rods — also often called moderate action — are a great all around option, especially if you were only going to have one rod in your quiver. The flex pattern of a medium action rod is going to equate to it bending about 50-60% of the way down the rod when it’s loaded. These rods are going to still offer plenty of ‘feel’ while offering more backbone to deal with wind, bigger/heavier flies, and larger fish. Why you would want it: The first category of anglers that would likely benefit from a medium action rod would be beginners. Additionally, most entry-level rods or starter kits on the market today are going to feature a medium action rod. The reason for this is two-fold: 1. Going back to the mention of ‘feel’ in the previous paragraph, newer anglers will enjoy this action of rod because it will help them sense when the rod is loaded easier than if they were learning on a fast action rod. 2. If this is going to be the only fly rod an angler owns (which is likely true of a beginner), the versatility will allow the angler to have his or her bases covered to a larger degree than if they just had a slow or a fast action rod. While it may not be the best techy spring creek or big water streamer rod, it will at least allow them to get the job done. That said, medium action rods are by no means just made for the beginner. Anglers with a slower casting stroke, or (just like the
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beginner) want a versatile rod that can be used for nymphs in the morning, dries in the afternoon, and twitching around a streamer in the evening hours — but don’t have the ability to swap rods throughout the day — could likely benefit from a medium action rod. I personally find myself constantly reaching for a more moderate action rod to fish my home water on the South Platte. This rod still has plenty of backbone to handle a large trout and the softer nature of the tip helps me better keep big fish buttoned up with the small flies and light tippets required on this river. Why you wouldn’t want it: Anglers with a fast casting stroke or who fish in notoriously windy places may feel underpowered with a medium action rod. Big rivers where long casts with heavy flies/rigs (again, possibly into the wind) may fish better with a faster action rod.
I feel the fast action rod craze is on a slight downhill trend compared to a few years back, however I think it’s safe to say most ‘advanced’ anglers reading this likely own more fast action rods than anything else. As you might guess, fast action rods are going to have the least amount of flex and arguably, the least amount of feel. However, with the loss of ‘feel’ (again my opinion) they are also going to have the most power, by far. Most fast action rods on the market today are going to flex between about 60-75% of the way down the rod when loaded. Why you would want it: Fast action rods are great for anglers with a quick casting stroke, those who need to battle wind, make long casts and/ or cast heavy flies. Fast actions rods are also great to use out of a drift boat where there’s not a lot of time
to set up for your next cast and being quick and concise is key. Throwing streamers are also best done on a fast action rod and nearly every ‘streamer’ or ‘big game’ rod on the market today will feature a fast action. All saltwater rods are going to fall into this fast action category as well. Why you wouldn’t want it: Any place where a delicate presentation is required is not going to be ideal for a fast action rod, or will at least require some additional technique. Additionally, fast action rods are generally going to be the least effective at protecting light tippets and small flies due to the power they generate. Does that mean you can’t fish 6x and a size 22 on a fast action rod? Absolutely not. I still do it quite often. Just know that a fast action rod won’t absorb big headshakes and last minute runs from a fish quite as well as a rod with a slower or more moderate action. In the end, the ‘best’ action of a fly rod is still going to come down to an angler’s personal preferences for the water they’re fishing and how it feels in their hand when casting. I’ve said it for years now, but I wish there was a way when testing rods at the shop with customers that I could cover up the labels of each rod and make the blanks the same color. In my opinion, this would inevitably lead to customers picking a rod based on what feels best with their casting stroke and in their hand. That said, there’s still no denying that certain actions of rods will always perform better in certain situations. I hope this breakdown of rod actions and their various pros/cons has helped demystify the rod action topic for a few of you and makes your time on the water much more enjoyable and efficient.
No rod has ever silenced all the variables. No engineer has ever found a way to transfer back cast energy directly into forward accuracy. No angler has ever erased all the doubt from his or her mind. FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING.
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EDUCATIONAL GUIDE New to Fly Fishing… where should you start?
At Trouts, our goal is to help our customers break the preconceived notion that fly fishing is challenging to learn and cost prohibitive. This is hardly the case — our great sport has become more user-friendly than ever before. As beginning anglers, you do the appropriate research and often end up with more questions than answers. What gear do I need to get started? Where should I go? What flies should I use? Rest assured we’ve all been there and asked the same questions. Well, where should you start? First and foremost, keep it simple. Nothing ruins a great day on the water more than over-thinking it. Fly fishing should always be fun and relaxing. Here are some gear essentials to consider. Although fly rods come in countless configurations, if you could only have ONE fly rod to effectively
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fish in Colorado, a 9-foot, 5-weight will provide the most versatility. A corresponding reel and appropriate 5-weight floating fly line are a must. Tapered leaders are another gear essential. Leaders are what anglers use to connect their fly line and flies to. The most common leader configurations are 4X, 5X, & 6X in either 7-½ or 9- foot lengths. Since it is called fly fishing, flies are used to get the desired strike from the fish. Many are already familiar with a fly floating on the water called a dry fly. In reality, as much as 80% of a fish’s diet takes place under the surface of the water. Subsurface flies called nymphs are used as well and should never be overlooked before heading out to the water. Although it can be a bit intimidating, keep it simple when selecting the appropriate flies for the day. Be observant. If you see fish feeding on the surface, pay close attention to the size, shape and color of the insect the trout are feeding on.
by Dave Lovell Although fly selection is important, you’ll find that a good presentation will often trump having the right fly. No need to fully immerse yourself in entomology. One of the most enjoyable aspects of fly fishing is being in the water while you’re fishing. Although it’s not always necessary, you’ll find that a pair of breathable chest waders and boots is a good investment. Waders and boots allow you to cover an abundance of water all while staying dry and comfortable. Appropriatelysoled boots provide some muchneeded stability while walking on uneven terrain. Another essential often overlooked, is a good pair of polarized glasses. Glasses are essential for both form and function; nothing worse than the potential of an errant cast ending with a hook in the eye. Polarized glasses also cut down glare and allow you to see into the water and target your quarry. They are also indispensable when navigating through the river and seeing where you are walking. Remember, there are more than 6,000 miles of rivers and streams and 200 lakes and reservoirs in our great state with many open to fishing 365 days a year; certainly, there is no shortage of places to fish. To recap, here’s the essential gear to consider for a successful day on the water: • 9 foot , 5-weight Fly Rod, Reel and Line • Tapered Leaders & Tippett • Flies to include Dry’s and Nymph’s • Breathable Waders and Boots • Polarized Sunglasses • Line Nippers • Pliers Finally, just add water, have fun and remember at Trouts, were always here to help.
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GET TO KNOW THE BUGS One of the aspects of fly fishing that has anglers scratching their heads is trying to better understand and identify the insects that play such a crucial role in a trout’s diet, here in Colorado, and throughout the west. As anglers we often hear the phrase “match the hatch.” In reality, budding anglers tend to experience information overload which often leads to frustration. They loose some of their newfound passion and ask themselves, “Man, there is so much to learn, how am I ever going to get my head around this and retain all of the nuances of fly fishing?” Well the good news is we’ve all been there. One of the best attributes about fly fishing (and there are many) is you never stop learning, EVER! The best advice I can pass along is to keep it simple! All to often we over think the process of fly identification and fly selection. No need to go into a master’s level course in entomology (I couldn’t teach one if I had to), better to concentrate on a more simplistic approach – SIZE, SHAPE, and COLOR when trying to “match a hatch.” Simply put, if you have box of flies and have no clue what fly to use, spend five minutes or so doing nothing but taking in your surrounding environment. Do you see any insects? If so, what size shape and color are they? Are you seeing fish rising? You get the idea. Fly fishing success depends largely on our visual acuity. You set the hook when you see a fish eat your dry fly, and you set when your indicator goes upstream. Take a similar approach when selecting your flies. In most cases, trout are constantly telling us what they are eating each day. We just have to take the time to look at our surroundings and under a few rocks in the river now and again.
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by Dave Lovell
Below is what most consider the five most prolific insect groups that trout eat throughout the year:
MIDGES A small, two-winged insect group found virtually everywhere around water and marshes. Midges are in the water 365 days a year and play an important role in a trout’s diet, especially in the winter months. The most effective sizes are 18 – 24. Larger sizes are 10 – 14 for still water fishing. Grey, red and black are always great color choices. MAYFLIES: BWO’S, PMD’S, DRAKES, TRICO’S Easy to identify, mayflies have a transparent wing post that looks like a sailboat. Most mayfly patterns can be imitated with the same pattern just by using different sizes and colors. CADDIS Very abundant in Colorado, caddis can tolerate all types of water and can be the most abundant streambottom insect in most of our rivers. STONEFLIES Considered to be a primitive insect,
stoneflies are easily recognizable by their size and are the largest of the aquatic insects. Their presence in a stream or stillwater is usually an indicator of good or excellent water quality.
TERRESTRIALS Terrestrials (land-based insects) are
another staple in a trout’s diet. Terrestrials include grasshoppers, crickets, ants, beetles and just about any other bug that might get knocked down into the water. On your next visit to the river, leave your fly rod in the car for a half hour or so. Spend some time just observing your environment. You’ll be amazed at what you see and learn. And most importantly, trout don’t speak Latin, but they do speak size, shape and color. You just have to feed them!
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EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS 2018
t has been said by countless anglers that one of the greatest things about fly fishing is that you’re truly never done learning. It is with this in mind that we are proud to offer an incredibly comprehensive Educational Program designed with one simple goal in mind - to make you a better fly angler. Whether you’re brand new to the sport, have traveled the world countless times over with a fly rod, or perhaps fall somewhere in between, we are confident you won’t find a better line-up of lessons, classes and schools ANYWHERE. Read on to view the exciting array of educational offerings we have in store for 2018!
CLASSES & LESSONS ORVIS 101- Offered multiple times each month, Orvis 101’s are the perfect way to immerse yourself into the wonderful world of fly fishing. These classes are mindfully built with the beginning angler in mind and cover basic terminology, fly selection, rigging and knot tying. Class size is limited to eight students. Offered at our Denver location only. Cost: FREE! Duration: 1 hour. ORVIS 301- Recently completed an Orvis 101? Our Orvis 301’s are the perfect next step in continuing on your path to becoming a selfsufficient fly angler. During your 301 you’ll have the opportunity to spend a day on the water with one of our professional fly fishing guides, building upon the skills learned during the Orvis 101. During this 22 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G | THE CURRENT | 2018
course you will have the opportunity to work on rigging, fly selection, basic entomology, safe wading practices, proper presentation, various casting techniques — and the best part of all — fighting and landing fish! To ensure maximum attention is given to each student, we adhere to a max ratio of three students per guide. Offered through our Denver location. Cost: $175. Duration: 6 hours.
UMPQUA FLY TYING 101- Always
wanted to learn to tie flies? There’s never been a better time! Trouts is excited to partner with Umpqua Feather Merchants to begin offering FREE introductory classes geared towards the budding fly tier. Topics covered include general terminology, tool identification and application, basic materials and their uses, and tying flies! Upon completion of the class you’ll walk away with several hand-tied fly patterns that are ready to fish on our local waters! Offered at both our Denver and Frisco locations, December through March. Class size limited to six students. Cost: FREE! Duration: 1 hour
CASTING & COCKTAILS- Let Trouts Fly Fishing help you become the best caster you know! Our legendary Casting & Cocktails events are held once a month from April through September and are geared towards one simple goal — to make you a better caster! Each month we’ll head down to a local park to offer FREE casting lessons to anyone that shows up. There’s no need to sign up in advance. Simply come on down, bring your fly rod (or use one of the many we’ll be providing) and let us help you improve your casting…all while enjoying a cold beverage or two! It doesn’t get easier than that! Casting & Cocktails are offered at both our Denver and Frisco locations. Check our Customer Events Calendar for details on date/time/location. Cost: FREE!
BUGS FOR BEGINNERS- Have you ever felt confused about what fly you should be fishing? Ever been overwhelmed on whether to reach for a size 18 versus a size 20? Beadhead or non-beadhead? Flash or no flash? Well then, this class is for you! Our Bugs For Beginners class is designed to help take the mystery out of fly selection. Rest assured you will walk away from this class a more confident and knowledgeable angler when it comes to fly selection. Classes are held once a month at our Denver location. Cost: $25 (but you’ll also receive a dozen flies!) Duration: 1 hour
ONE DAY SCHOOLS DAY BEGINNER FLY FISHING SCHOOL-
Our one-day beginner fly fishing school is the perfect way to get on the fast track to success towards becoming a self sufficient fly angler. These schools are held on our Exclusive Private Property – Granby Ranch, located on the Fraser River just outside of Granby, CO. Class size limited to twelve anglers. Cost: $195. Duration: 8 hours.
CARP SCHOOL- Catching a carp on
a fly rod is considered the ultimate freshwater challenge by many anglers. They’re smart, spooky, and can at times be downright challenging! During this on-water school, our expert instructors will provide you with the knowledge and tactics to increase your success when pursuing this worthy game fish. Class size limited to nine anglers and will be offered through our Denver location. Cost: $195. Duration: 8 hours.
Streamer fishing can be one of the best ways to catch the largest trout of our life. During this school you’ll have the opportunity to float down the Colorado River as our expert
instructors teach you the basics of fly selection, retrieval methods, presentation and more. You will walk away from this school a much more confident and knowledgeable streamer fisherman. Class size limited to six anglers and will be offered through our Frisco location. Cost: $250. Duration: 8-10 hours.
NYMPH FISHING SCHOOL-
It’s no secret that as much as 80% of a trout’s diet takes place underneath the surface of the water. This class is designed to introduce you to NEW techniques and strategies to include rigging, drag-free drifts, high stick and long line nymphing, reading water and, most importantly, presentation. Class is limited to six anglers and will take place along the South Platte. Offered through oud Denver location. Cost: $195. Duration 8 hours
SALTWATER PREP SCHOOL-
January 28th, February 18th Got a saltwater trip on the books? This two-hour class is designed to provide casting, presentation, and retrieval tips to ensure success on your next saltwater adventure! Class size limited to eight students and will be offered through our Denver location. Cost: $150. Duration: 2 hours.
PRIVATE LESSONS- Aside from our
extensive list of classes, lessons and schools, we are proud to offer a variety of private lessons designed around what you are hoping to accomplish in your fly fishing education. From casting to fly tying and rigging or improving your on-water skills, give us a call and tell us what you’re looking for. We’ll be more than happy to design a program tailored to your exact needs! Private lessons are offered through both our Denver and Frisco locations.
WOMEN’S ONLY CLASSES WOMEN’S ORVIS 101 – Offered
throughout the year, our Orvis 101’s are the perfect way to immerse yourself into the wonderful world of fly fishing. These classes are mindfully built with the novice angler in mind and cover basic terminology, fly selection, rigging and knot tying. Class size limited to eight students. Offered at our Denver location. Cost: FREE! Duration: 1 hour.
WOMEN’S ORVIS 301 – Recently completed an Orvis 101? Our Orvis 301’s are the perfect next step in continuing on your path to becoming a self-sufficient fly angler. During
your 301 you’ll have the opportunity to spend a day on the water with one of our professional fly fishing guides, building upon the skills learned during the Orvis 101. During this course you will have the opportunity to work on rigging, fly selection, basic entomology, safe wading practices, proper presentation, various casting techniques — and the best part of all — fighting and landing fish! To ensure maximum attention is given to each student, we adhere to a max ratio of three students per guide. Offered through our Denver location. Cost: $175. Duration: 6 hours.
BUGS FOR BEGINNERS – Have you ever felt confused about what fly you should be fishing? Ever been overwhelmed on whether to reach for a size 18 versus a size 20? Beadhead or non-beadhead? Flash or no flash? Well then, this class is for you! Our Bugs For Beginners class is designed to help take the mystery out of fly selection. Rest assured you will walk away from this class a more confident and knowledgeable angler when it comes to fly selection. Classes are held once a month at our Denver location. Cost: $25 (but you’ll also receive a dozen flies!) Duration: 1 hour.
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UMPQUA FLY TYING 101 – Always wanted to learn to tie flies? There’s never been a better time! Trouts is excited to partner with Umpqua Feather Merchants to begin offering FREE introductory classes geared towards the budding fly tier. Topics covered include general terminology, tool identification and application, basic materials and their uses, and tying flies! Upon completion of the class you’ll walk away with several hand-tied fly patterns that are ready to fish on our local waters! Offered at our Denver location, December through March. Class size limited to six tiers. Cost: FREE! Duration: 1 hour. BEGINNER FLY CASTING – NEW to fly fishing? Intimidated by the thought of casting a fly rod for the first time? No problem, Trouts has you covered. Fly casting isn’t hard but does require some practice and patience. Our FREE onehour clinics provide expert instruction, all while developing your new found skill set. No rod, no problem! We have you covered. Class size is limited to six participants. Beginner Fly Casting Clinics are offered at our Denver location. Check our Customer Events Calendar for details on date/time/location Cost: FREE!
CASTING & COCKTAILS – Let Trouts Fly Fishing help you become the best caster you know! Our legendary Casting & Cocktails events are held once a month from April through September and are geared towards one simple goal — to make you a better caster! Each month we’ll head down to a local park to offer FREE casting lessons to anyone that shows up. There’s no need to sign up in advance. Simply come on down, bring your fly rod (or use one of the many we’ll be providing) and let us help you improve your casting…all while enjoying a cold beverage or two! It doesn’t get easier than that! Casting & Cocktails are offered at our Denver location. Check our Customer Events Calendar for details on date/time/location. Cost: FREE! LADIES ONLY BEGINNER SCHOOL-
Fly fishing has long been thought of as a male dominated sport. The good news is, we’re out to change that! Like our One-Day Beginner School, this school will be held at our Exclusive Private Property — The Rowdy Trout Ranch — and will cover basic terminology, rigging, knot tying, flyselection, followed by an on-water portion of the day where you’ll get to practice your casting and presentation and catch a few fish! Class size limited to 10 anglers. Cost: $195. Duration 8 hours.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS ORVIS 101- Offered multiple times
monthly. Please see Customer Events Calendar for available dates. Space is limited so make sure to call and reserve your spot!
ORVIS 301- Offered on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s throughout the year. Please see Customer Events Calendar for available dates. UMPQUA FLY TYING 101- Offered at our
Denver location once monthly from December through March. Please see Customer Events Calendar for available dates. Space is limited so make sure to call and reserve your spot!
CASTING & COCKTAILS- Offered at our
Denver location once monthly from April through September. Please see our Customer Events Calendar for available dates.
BUGS FOR BEGINNERS- Offered through our Denver location once monthly. Please see Customer Events Calendar for available dates. Space is limited so make sure to call and reserve your spot!
At Trouts Fly Fishing, we understand the importance of providing a quality educational experience for those looking to get into the sport of fly fishing. The goal behind our educational curriculum is to both inspire learning and offer our customers, no matter what their age or experience level, an opportunity to learn something new about fly fishing. Whether it’s familiarizing yourself with knots and rigging, learning and mastering the art of casting, attending any of our on the water schools or learning to tie your own flies, we have the instructors and classes for you. At one point we have all been novice anglers, and we all understand the difficulties and frustrations that exist for beginners. Yet we also know that satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from mastering this beautiful sport and becoming a self-reliant angler. It is our understanding of this unique educational process and our passion for introducing people to the sport of fly fishing that truly separates us and our fly fishing educational offerings from the competition. For those who prefer a more one-on-one learning experience, we offer a wide variety of private fishing classes including fishing lessons, casting clinics, tying instruction, and guided trips.
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THE RIGHT LINE
FOR EVERY CUTTY, BROOK, BROWN AND BOW. RIO TROUT LINES
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INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE MIDDLE FORK OF THE SALMON RIVER
In today’s hectic world, it is challenging to create quality time away from the distractions of “constant connectivity”. 26 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G | THE CURRENT | 2018
by Ian Davis
uch of our cherished vacation time is invaded by wi-fi access or the ever-growing, worldwide umbrella of cell phone coverage. No matter whether you are on a fishing-focused trip, a romantic couples get-a-way, or a family vacation…can we totally disconnect? Many jobs today require us to always be available and connected. It is difficult to justify a vacation that is totally “off the grid”. We can conjure up numerous excuses ranging from vital conference calls for work, board meetings, or simply checking in with family to always be connected. The fact is that we all need to “unplug” and enjoy how simple life used to be before smart phones overtook our down time. We must schedule time to be free and 100% focused on the natural world. Fly fishing is a wonderful way (or excuse) to submerge ourselves into nature and chase fish with our friends and family. It might be time to book a trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River if all this sounds too familiar. Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness area and the Sawtooth Mountains is one of the most secluded and rugged regions in the lower 48, and there is no cell service or wi-fi access! Class three and four rapids, abundant wildlife, and typically crystal-clear waters make this one of most treasured, multi-night camping float trips available anywhere in the western U.S. On a typical Middle
Fork trip, you will float for roughly 100 miles over six days through an ancient granite rock canyon utilizing classic McKenzie-style drift boats. This fishery has been managed by the state of Idaho as a catch and release fishery since 1973, making it one of the finest fisheries in the Northwest for both numbers of fish and for consistently good action on a dry fly. Tightlines Fishing and owner Jeff Helfrich is a third generation outfitter in the Western U.S. and currently runs the finest camp and fishing operation on the Middle Fork. Jeff’s grandfather Prince Helfrich pioneered river running on both the Rogue and Mackenzie rivers, and was one of the first guides to float the Middle Fork in the 1940s, having first discovered the river while seeking a good summer trout fishing destination to compliment his salmon and steelhead outfitting business. Prince is enshrined in the Mackenzie River Driftboat Museum and is largely credited with the modern dory design. You will find the traditional, hand-built wood boats aesthetically pleasing and very comfortable. This adventure is much more than just a fishing trip. It might actually take a day or two to settle into life on the Middle Fork (especially if this is your first trip), but as the days pass you will flow into the cadence of
the river. Life is sweet when you are being so well taken care of by some of the most caring, hard working, and professional guides found anywhere in the world. The Tightlines crew works like an outfitting orchestra of efficiency, with a heavy undertone of fun. All the guides have decades of experience and an undying passion to show you the river. You will feel the pride in their workplace from the effortless expertise of their rowing skills, to the homemade delicious meals. You can always read a guide by the level of their confidence, and the Tightlines crew knows you will enjoy your time on the water. The guides allow for your personal experience to unravel organically whether you are fishing or not, so that you can discover the wonders of the Middle Fork on your own terms. The fishing is straightforward and will entertain the most experienced to novice angler. Pure-strain Westslope cutthroat, rainbows (believed to be juvenile wild steelhead), and a few “cutbow” hybrid trout await your highriding dry fly. There are bull trout, but they are illegal to target and sometimes are accidentally caught. Any variations of a foam stonefly, Chernobyl ant, or foam hopper will produce consistently for the trout. If you really want to increase your
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catch count, a dropper nymph in the mornings will keep your rod bent. After a big rapid, the McKenzie style drift boats are all bunched up, floating together like a train — and amazingly — the caboose boat is still taking fish on dries. This is a truly resilient fishery. Three and four weight rods are perfect, and there is no need to use less than 3X tippet. If you have calm conditions, a fiberglass rod is a pleasure to fish. You can feather smooth presentations into the seemingly endless runs, pockets and pools where the eager trout hold. Setting the hook and fighting a feisty 15-inch cutty can be felt all the way through the tapered fiberglass and into the cork grip. The fishery is ideal for all skill levels. The guides are educationally focused and keep the fishing interesting for those new to the sport of fly fishing. The fishery allows for consistent action, so mistakes are welcome and allow the guides to teach through “trial and error”. 28 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G | THE CURRENT | 2018
This is a rare attribute for today’s trout fisheries. Even someone who has never fished can be successful. The guides will teach the “refloat” presentation, which is basically letting line out and trolling a dry fly, and with occasional lifting of the rod to “refloat” the drift. This is a deadly tactic and even the most novice angler will quickly be rewarded. As we all know, kids often require constant stimulus and immediate gratification and the Middle Fork will keep’em busy. Aside from the fishing, guests love the scenery, rapids, wildlife, pictographs, hiking, hot springs and guides intimate knowledge of the history, flora and fauna. Often the hardest core anglers take a break from fishing to simply sit back and “take it all in”. The guides will teach the youngsters about the geology and history of the Frank Church Wilderness area, take them swimming, and have water guns for the heat of the day. Floating down the majestic Middle Fork is a soothing, meditative experience. You will feel rejuvenated after your time on the river. The outfitter will handle all the rigorous aspects of the outfitting process. As the sun drops below the canyon walls, you will ease into camp to find everything already set-up. Appetizers will be laid out and cold drinks set up at the bar. Your tent will be set-up complete with a raised cot, inflatable bedroll and your personal dry bags waiting for you. All the tents are spaced out within a predetermined campsite. A vanity table with mirrors, a private tent bathroom, and a hot water shower (available every other day) will keep you clean and comfortable. The kitchen, dining area and campfire are the social epicenters around camp. The children are encouraged to help the guides with cooking and cleaning, so they learn about backcountry outfitting. The outfitter tries to choose campsites with good wade fishing around camp. There are numerous smaller
tributaries that enter the Middle Fork that provide an excellent opportunity for small stream wade fishing. If there is a “plug” of off-colored water from rain, the guides will focus on these side creeks. Typically though, the river clears quickly when rain storms pass through. The guides all have their specialty meals. Whether it is Dino’s lasagna or Roy’s fried chicken, the meals are often the highlight of the trip. Each evening freshly prepared soups start off diner, and are followed up by main courses such as ribeye steaks, Cornish game hens, salmon, fried walleye and pork and lamb
chops which are all accompanied by fresh veggies and salads. The Dutch oven turns out freshly baked breads and casseroles. Breakfast consists of freshly cut fruit, Dutch oven pastries, eggs, pancakes — and even eggs benedict. Lunches are picnic-style made up of salads, sandwich meats, chips, fruit, snack bars and plenty of cold beverages. Seda’s fresh salads are amazing. The outfitter will customize a trip based on your specific needs and group size. If you have a large family and only a few hardcore anglers, you may float down the river in a combination of rafts and drift boats.
Most anglers choose the drift boats, where two anglers sit in the front of the boat and switch off fishing. Having the anglers both in the front of the drift boat enable the guides to safely navigate the white-water rapids, and store gear in the stern. Groups of three-to-six people can share a raft and this will reduce the per person cost of the trip. The sweeper (gear boat) rowed by the swamper (camp rookie who sets up camp) is a large raft with all the personal dry bags, the tents, kitchen and outfitting gear. Just experiencing the finely-tuned outfitting process is entertaining into itself. Booking with Trout’s Fly Shop
who partner with Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures (www.yellowdogflyfishing. com) will ensure you are fishing during the peak time, your trip is customized, and your expectations are realistic. They will also arrange for your travel, overnight accommodations in Stanley, Idaho on your first night, and making sure you have all the right gear, tackle and fishing equipment for this epic excursion. While this trip is not for everyone, it is an experience that most guests rebook immediately. It is imperative to book well-in-advance, since space is limited and so sought after. We suggest booking at least 12 months out!
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ON CONSUMPTION AND FISHING 30 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G | THE CURRENT | 2018
by Jesse Robins
I woke up face down, in the dirt. When I opened my eyes, there was darkness and I was instantly hungover.
had to think for a second to remember where I was. It came back to me. I was on the South Island of New Zealand, next to the Caples River and at the end of the night, I had elected to pass out next to the fire pit. This last detail was mostly due to the fact that I had surrendered my tent to a buddy and one of the female travelers we met on the trail a few days earlier, and partly to the fact that I probably couldnâ€™t have made it to the tent anyway. But in my end-of-the-night state, I did have some wits about me, for the face-down position was also to combat the sandflies that would surely be active when I rose. And they were. The hood of my sleeping bag was covering my head, hence the darkness, but I could hear them buzzing. There was surely a thousand of them, hungry and angry and well aware that a warm, living, blood-bearing creature was on the other side of the sleeping bag.
While in New Zealand, my fellow angler Lucas and I had become friends with a group of other American travelers, three of which hailed from Georgia, the other two from Michigan. We had met the Michigan boys one overcast afternoon on the banks of the Oreti, the four of us stuck in indecision on whether to fish there, go somewhere else or just sit around. We had learned quickly that spotting fish in foul-weather conditions made for a tough day, hence the sloth. Chris and Kris were on a trip comparable to mine and Lucasâ€™: fly to New Zealand, acquire a vehicle, travel and fish. That afternoon we parked our vans next to each other with the sliding doors facing, and strung up a tarp between the two vehicles. It seemed that both groups were on their last legs of a week or more out in the bush, as our food supplies were pretty low and random. When we met, they were enjoying a lunch of 2018 | THE CURRENT | TROUTS FLY FISH ING 31
avocado and chip sandwiches, and we had just finished our second helping of knock-off Ramen noodles. That night we combined supplies, polishing off each other’s remaining booze and whatever other foodstuffs we had left. We ended up becoming quick friends and after a re-up on groceries, we fished together the next four days before following them back to their apartment in Queenstown where they introduced us to the guys from Georgia. The seven of us wasted a
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few days there, while we slowly made plans for a backcountry trip. All of us were tired of being hungry and thirsty while backpacking, so we decided that we would pack enough supplies to keep us satiated and drunk for four days. We all agreed the theme of our trip would be consumption. One of the hardest tasks a traveler in New Zealand meets is just the decision on where to go. It’s nearly impossible to pick a destination there that isn’t bold and beautiful, but that’s the issue – there are too many places that you want to go to. We finally settled on the Caples Track, which followed the river. Each of us carried a bottle of Jack Daniels, plus a selection of extravagant foods not normally used for backpacking trips: loaves of French bread, bricks of cheese, cured meats, pre-baked meat and berry pies, donuts, chips, canned soups and other barely-packable delights. Our packs were heavy on the way in, but we all knew there wouldn’t be anything coming back out with us. Still under my sleeping bag and in the dirt, I assessed the situation. It was the third day of five that we would spend on the Caples. We spent the first day hiking in and setting up camp. The second day was spent in camp, eating and drinking. I hadn’t made a cast on the trip yet, but we were equipped to fish and we had spotted fish in the river on the way in. I couldn’t hear anyone else stirring, so the rest of the party was likely still asleep. Sitting around the sandfly-
infested camp, waiting for everyone else’s hungover asses to get up didn’t sound too appealing, so I decided that I would make a dash for the river before the bugs could get me or the hangover paralyzed me. I took a deep breath and shot up, throwing the sleeping bag off me and headed for my gear. I grabbed rod, reel and vest, stuck a few granola bars in my pockets, filled up my water bottle in the river and was off. I was then struck by that feeling you get when you realize you are going fishing, right now. It’s a combination of excitement, anticipation and optimism wrapped into one feeling. I’ll get to see new water! Will the fish be rising? I might catch a big one! Spirits were high. It didn’t take long before the hangover caught up to me. Soon the granola bars were gone. Thankfully the river water was OK to drink, or at least I’d decided it was. Fishing conditions were not ideal either. It was windy and cloudy, not what a sight-fishing trout angler hopes for. I was fishing about as well as I felt. I had spotted a fish here and there, but they were mostly at the bottoms of deep pools, and not very interested in my nymphs dragging four feet away. It got to the point where I didn’t even cast at some fish, something I hadn’t done before; usually I’d give any fish I saw a chance to eat. Still I carried on. A few more fish came and went,
either spooked or uninterested in my presentations. I had reached a sort of truce with my hangover. It wouldn’t get any worse and I wouldn’t complain to myself about it anymore. I thought that it would be nice to catch a fish. Just one would do. As I continued upriver, I realized that the problem was that I hadn’t found any feeding fish. Either the fish were sulking or were just too hard to reach. The wind wasn’t making things any easier, but that wasn’t as big a deal as the fish themselves. “Give me something I can work with,” I said to myself. “All I need is one good shot.” I was optimistic; the opportunity would present itself eventually. And sure enough, it did. As I approached one pool, I saw a fish not ten feet from the bank, in very shallow water. I walked slowly behind the shape in the water, preparing to cast the two nymphs that I had on from my last attempt. I was about to start false casting when I saw a sight that made my heart soar and also made me hit the ground in hiding. The fish made a move four feet toward the bank and sucked down a bug off the surface. Hand-sized jaws broke the surface in a slow, deliberate rise. My own jaw dropped. Instead of casting, I just watched. The fish came up again. And again, this time chasing a bug downstream. I then knew what I
had to do. My hands were shaking as I cut off the nymph rig and began preparing a dry fly leader. Tying knots while simultaneously watching a large trout rise is a little unsettling, to say the least. Three blood knots and an improved clinch later and I finally had the leader finished. I had tied on my standard, first-cast dry fly tied on: the venerable Parachute Adams. The fish was still happy and feeding. Now I just needed to cast this fly in front of the fish. My attention back to the water, I realized the wind was still blowing. It was blowing directly into my face. So, there I sat, on my knees, fly in one hand, rod in the other, staring at this incredible feeding fish while the wind whipped downstream. With every rise, the fish got bigger. I started to pick up on its pattern and eating habits, how far away was too far for a bug to pass, uneaten. I was in a trance, content to watch this creature carry on with its own consumption. It felt like I sat there for a half hour, but I have no idea how long it was; it may have been five minutes. Eventually I had the thought that I should try to catch it. I was also waiting for a break in the wind, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t get a shot at this fish without some sort of breeze and that I’d just have to cast. You can kick the tires only so long before you
either buy the car, or go home. Still on my knees, I started false casting and then let it go. The following events occurred in the course of the next three seconds: My line hit the water. My eyes quickly scanned the river. I could not see my fly. I started to panic. I found my fly on the water. I realized I had made a perfect cast and that the fly was about to float right over the fish’s head. The fly floated over the fish’s head. The fish rose to the fly. I struck immediately and pulled the fly out of the big brown’s mouth. The fish went down to the bottom of the river and didn’t move. I fell off my knees, onto my back, shaking my head as I looked at the unsettled sky. I sat up and put my head in my hands, unable to speak, tears forming. I couldn’t believe it. I thought about the occasion, the whole scenario, how far I’d walked, how many fish I had casted at without an eat. All I wanted was one fish and I blew my only chance. It was laughable, but I sure didn’t think so at the time. I picked myself up and began the walk back to camp. I had apparently covered some ground because it seemed like hours before I got back to camp. By then, I had licked my wound enough to tell the story with a smile. The bottles were already out.
“ALL I WANTED WAS ONE FISH AND I BLEW MY ONLY CHANCE.”
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BURNING CHROME T
he air is hot and dry, and the wind is howling. It’s unsettling. You’d expect it to feel like fog or overcast but it doesn’t. It’s almost the opposite. When you catch a glimpse of the sun, it’s just a vague red blotch in the sky. The air burns the soft tissues of my eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Everything smells and tastes like a camp fire. I cough constantly and spit up chunks that look like
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by Louis Cahill
THE SUN NEVER RISES. NOT TODAY, AT LEAST NOT HERE ON THE DESCHUTES RIVER. THE LIGHT IS AN EERIE YELLOW-ORANGE.
cottage cheese into the river. The Deschutes River Canyon fades as I swing my fly from behind a hot, gray vail. It feels like the whole world is on fire. A few miles away the Columbia River gorge is consumed in flame. One of the prettiest places I know, reduced to ash and coal. The fire is so intense that it jumps the mile-wide Columbia River and sets Washington
ablaze. Stupid kids shooting fireworks. They caught them, but what are you going to do with a bunch of kids who burnt down the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Oregonians. Fire fighters do an amazing job of saving what can be saved while the rest of us just watch it burn. I left my home in Atlanta less than a day before Hurricane Irma was scheduled to hit. The day before it
had devastated the Florida Keys. It’s still hard to picture. I had been in the Keys the week before, when Harvey was washing Houston from the map. While the East drowns, the West burns and I don’t know which is worse. I have learned this much during my stay in Oregon. When they call for evacuation from a storm, Texans may say, “We’ll see what happens,” or “I’m not leaving my home,” but when they call for evacuation from fire, everybody goes. No one “rides it out.” Everyone in the camp admitted to having gotten up in the middle of the night to look for an orange glow on the horizon. As terrible as the fire in the gorge is, it isn’t the forest being lost that most of us are concerned about. We have all been watching the count of returning steelhead to the Columbia system and the news is no better than that of the fire. 2016 was one of the worst steelhead returns in decades. As we stand in the Deschutes, 2017 returns are only about a quarter of last year, which biologists called a complete year-class collapse. Burned trees will grow back in time but, with ocean conditions worsening, steelhead populations may be harder to replace. It’s anyone’s guess if we are seeing a few bad years or a worsening trend. Notably absent are the B-run fish. The big steelhead headed for Idaho, who stop in the Deschutes for a breather in the cold water. This year only eleven-hundred are expected to enter the system. Far fewer will find their way here. If you were to draw a bubble-graph with one bubble representing B-run steelhead in the Deschutes and another representing Georgia steelheaders, the intersection would not inspire confidence. With the gorge burning and the steelhead runs so poorly reported, most anglers have elected to stay home, or maybe fish somewhere else. The river is as lonesome a place as I’ve ever seen it. Normally
a traffic jam, the Deschutes is pleasantly deserted. The water is the clearest I’ve ever seen it and flowing strong. If breathing the air wasn’t as painful as pepper spray I’d be swinging flies in paradise. I am lost in thoughts of fire and fish when I feel the familiar pluck, pluck, pull of a hot summer steelhead. It seems that someone showed up after all. After a few good runs and cartwheels I have a beautiful wild fish at my feet. She’s taken a little red hairwing swung on a dry line. What a gift. As I reach for her tail she rolls and the barbless fly comes free. We are done without a handshake. I can’t help but wonder if this is as close as I will come to holding a fish this trip. When the group meets up for lunch, I’m excited to hear that almost everyone has at least had a fish on and several landed. We’ve done better than expected and spirits are high. The afternoon session proves productive as well. The next day the wind changes direction and the sun returns. Mysteriously, and beyond any explanation, we are having good fishing. What’s even more surprising is that we are catching wild fish. The numbers of wild fish returning have been depressingly low, and yet all but one fish we have caught has been wild. On the morning of the third day
I have a few nice fish to my credit, but my morning is slow. Most of the anglers in the group have landed a fish but I haven’t had a pull. We make one last stop before heading back to camp for lunch and a midday nap. Curtis Ciszek, my guide, puts me alone in a deep run while he takes two anglers upstream. “The trick here is to think deep thoughts,” Curtis tells me. “Get it down.” I look at my T-11 sink tip and back to Curtis. “I’ve got T-14,” I offer. “Well ok,” he replies, “If we’re going to do that, I’ve got a fly for you.” Curtis digs in his box and comes back with a huge black fly tied with lead eyes. “There’s probably a twenty pound chinook in there. Call me and tell me you’re screwed when you hook him.” Casting the heavy fly and sink tip is a chore but it digs in and swings well. I cast the fly to the far side of the seam and step down with it as it sinks. I lead the fly in and it swings slow and straight, right into the seam. Four or five steps into the run my fly stops hard. There are a couple of head shakes and all hell breaks loose. The fish digs deep and heads downstream for the rapid below the pool. I pull low and hard toward the bank as I run through knee deep 2018 | THE CURRENT | TROUTS FLY FISH ING 35
water after the fish. I grapple for the walkie-talkie in my waders, press the key and say, “Curtis, I’m screwed!” By the time Curtis gets to me with the net, I have the fish turned away from the rapid. It’s a heavy fish. It would be cool to land a nice chinook. They are the only salmon I really enjoy targeting. I’ll have some work to do yet, though. I’m just getting my running line back on the reel. Curtis and his dog Rowlf stand by as I work the fish in. As it gets close I lift its head and we get our first look at the beast. It’s no chinook. It’s a beautiful B-run buck. A big wild steelhead headed for Idaho. Curtis scoops the big silver fish into the net. I can’t believe it’s real. It’s the biggest fish I’ve ever caught on the Deschutes and to catch it this year seems unbelievable. One of eleven-hundred. I hold the fish carefully with this head in the water and Curtis takes a couple of quick photos with my camera. I release the fish and pray that Curtis has the shot. I’m not taking the chance of over stressing this fish. He has important work to do in Idaho. I show the photo around at lunch and get a few pats on the back. Everyone has had a good morning. Better than we ever expected. Even if the afternoon does not give up a fish, we have had a great trip. After lunch I have a shot of whisky and grab a quick nap in my hammock. This is as content as I get. When we switch boats and hit the river for the afternoon session, traffic is picking up. No doubt word is out that the fishing has been good and local anglers are turning out. Guide Barrett Ames takes us for a jet boat ride upriver and finds some fresh water. Barrett drops my buddy Mark Haffenreffer off on an island and takes me and another angler downstream. We barely get to our run before Mark hooks up. It’s exciting, but brief. The fish unbuttons and Mark has to take a minute to walk it off before starting 36 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G | THE CURRENT | 2018
the run over. Before I have made my first cast Mark is hooked up again. It’s moments like this when you question the moniker “Fish of a thousand casts.” Barrett grabs the net and heads up river to assist while I start to fish my run. After a few casts I look upstream to see if Mark has landed his fish. Barrett has him by the straps of his waders hustling him downstream, his bright orange backing glowing in the air. I reel in and grab my camera. Mark was nearly spooled but by the time I get there he’s close to sealing the deal. Curtis, running down river with the rest of the group, has stopped to see the action. Barrett makes one perfect scoop and nets a beautiful, wild B-run hen. Mark is beside himself. It’s his biggest steelhead ever. The sun is out and the light is perfect for a couple of quick photos and a release video.
Watching that fish swim away strong and healthy, I can’t help but feel something I never expected from this trip to the Deschutes. Optimism. There is no doubt that steelhead are in trouble everywhere. Especially the Idaho fish. They are like hen’s teeth, but seeing two of them this day, a male and a female, I can’t help but picture them meeting up on the Clearwater or Salmon. Hovering together over a redd and making babies that I might one day hold in the clear cold waters of Oregon. Even as I am heartbroken over the desperate counts of returning fish and the destruction of the forest, I am reminded of how resilient these fish and these rivers truly are. If given a chance, they will find a way to survive. If we can make just a few good decisions on their behalf they will come back and they will meet us here on the river.
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ON THE WATER
by Ivan Orsic
MADE IN MONTROSE
t first glance, Montrose is an unassuming, historic town of roughly 19,000 nestled on Colorado’s Western Slope. However, there’s a lot more to this high desert community than meets the eye, as this modest town is home to three iconic brands in fly fishing: Scott Fly Rods, Ross Reels, and most recently Abel Reels. Each company has earned their respective stripes over the past several decades by producing some of the finest, hand-made and/ or precision-machined pieces of equipment available on the market. While each brand started outside of Montrose, there’s good reason that all three brands have made Montrose their new home. In October 2016, I visited with Scott Fly Rods president Jim Bartschi, Abel Reels Executive Vice President Jeff Patterson, and Ross Reels Sales Manager Bart Larmouth. All three 40 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G | THE CURRENT | 2018
sang the praises of this tiny high desert town. Montrose strikes the perfect balance between fishing and industry. With the Uncompaghre flowing through Montrose and the Gunnison and Cimarron only short drives away, it’s hard to find a better setting to test out world-class fly fishing gear. Montrose boasts a skilled and dedicated workforce, as such, it’s no wonder that Scott, Ross, and Abel are able to pump out quality handmade and machined USA-made gear for us to use on the water. For the last 40-plus years, Scott Fly Rods has handbuilt every rod they’ve ever produced in the United States. In 1996, Scott Fly Rods moved to their current facility in Montrose, Colorado. The facility itself is an unassuming one. As we walked through each rod building station, it felt more like a collection of passion project garage shops than
a manufacturing facility. Not to wax too poetic, but there was soul in that facility. For Jim Bartschi, he believes that is reflected in each rod that leaves their factory. As it’s constructed each fly rod passes through dozens of hands. From cutting sheets of graphite or fiberglass, wrapping blanks, handpainting alignment dots, constructing the cork handle, or hand wrapping guides, each step requires a new, highly specialized set of hands. Sometimes it’s difficult to put a face to “Made in the USA.” Not so, at the Scott Fly Rod facility. Scott keeps every metal taper for every rod they’ve ever produced. There are two reason for this: (1) They use existing tapers as references for newer models and (2) They can reconstruct any section of any rod that they’ve produced. Scott Fly Rods sees value in learning from their past successes and failures and they aren’t trying to
force their consumers into the next, newest rod. As Bartschi explained it, “Our customers purchased a specific rod for a specific reason. They have a relationship with that rod and we aren’t interested in separating someone from that relationship.” Ross and Abel are now housed under the same roof, after Abel made the move from California in 2016. Owned by Mayfly Outdoors, a Colorado-based investment company, Ross and Abel have benefited from sharing their space. Increased manufacturing efficiencies and constant search for design improvements have resulted in the impressive designs and redesigns of quintessential Abel and Ross reels like the Abel Super Series, the Abel Sealed Drag Salt and Fresh varieties, the Colorado LT, the new Ross Evolution R, the upcoming Ross Evolution LTX and the reintroduction of the Ross Gunnison fly reels. Precision and efficiency are king at the Ross and Abel factory. Ambient air temperatures are closely monitored, as the bar-stock aluminum that makes up each reel expands and contracts with changing temperatures. Machinists are working to reduce the number of machining steps and do so with tolerance levels of a ten-thousandth of an inch to ensure the reels perform flawlessly over the course of their life out on the water. There are many times when we take for granted the amount of work that goes into the production of any physical good or product. It’s impressive to see the number or American hands that involved in each step of the production of these fine reels. In 2018, Ross and Abel, along with their parent company Mayfly Outdoors, will be relocating all of their facilities across the street to an 160-acre property that sits along the
banks of the Uncompaghre. As part of this project, Mayfly Outdoors will be conducting river restoration on “blighted” stretches of the Uncompaghre and will be donating 41 acres of river corridor back to the town of Montrose for public use. The property will also feature retail, office and additional light industrial space. It is expected to take 10-15 years for the project, which includes the construction of 2.25 miles of riverside trails, to be completed. The uniting theme that stuck out to me during my time at both facilities was “Attention to Detail.” Whether it was machining to tolerance levels of a ten-thousandth of an inch in the Ross and Abel factory or using transparent finish to demonstrate the how true their wraps were at Scott. The level of craftsmanship that is required at both Scott and Ross & Abel is impressive to say the least. Before I visited these facilities, I imagined that there was very little human involvement with the manufacturing of both rods and reels. It was not the case, the number of people involved with the production of each rod and reel was astounding. More than 125 Americans are employed between these three Montrose-based brands. Watching rods and reels that will someday hit our shelves and then make their way to the water was an eye-opening experience. Watching machinists and specialized craftsmen construct these works of art gave me an additional level of appreciation for the money that I might spend on a Scott Fly Rod or Abel or Ross Fly Reel. To know that my hard-earned money is supporting craftsmen who are proud of the hard work and attention to detail that went into each rod or reel is a fulfilling feeling to say the least.
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ON THE WATER THE PARALLELS OF PERMIT AND STEELHEAD I will be the first to admit it, I have a permit fishing problem. And while that is a hard enough itch to scratch while living in the urban wilderness of Denver, CO, I have also developed a bit of a steelhead fishing problem in recent years. And while more often the idea of standing on the bow of a flats boat superseeds the thought of standing waste deep in 40-degree water, the satisfaction of hooking either fish is something that seems to haunt me daily. But it’s not just what these fish do to the psyche of an angler that makes them similar, as there are also similarities as it pertains to the practice of trying to catch one of these elusive fish on a fly.
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IT’S ALL A MIND F*&#
Let’s face it, there is a lot of “down time” when fishing for either of these species. Let me clarify that by “down time” I mean the duration of time spent in between catching either fish. Now sure, there are those epic days where one may hook, catch and land multiple fish in a day, but these days are certainly few and far between. So an any normal day of fishing for either species requires a mental toughness to not only get through the down time, but stay focused, alert and always ready for when the fish eats (steelhead) or presents itself (permit). Any angler who has regularly pursued either fish I’m sure has their
by Tucker Ladd
own technique and methodology for working through this mental challenge. And let’s be clear that it is a tremendous challenge. Day one is always easy. You’re fresh on the water, the possibilities are endless, and you’ve got that feeling of “this is the day!” Day two you’re feeling challenged, but the previous day’s fish sighting(s)/bump(s) are keeping the energy up and your attitude in check. Even if you didn’t see or feel any fish, the “newness” of the experience is keeping you going. Day three can go a couple of different ways. Scenario one is you have already caught and landed a fish, so you feel a sense of calm that that proverbial monkey is off of your back. You’re casting/looking for fish with more confidence, which also translates to fishing/casting with more confidence. Scenario two is that you haven’t seen any or many fish, or maybe you were fortunate enough to get a few good shots/bumps. But the lack of action is getting you down
and weighing on your mind. Even worse, you fishing buddy has already caught some fish, leaving you feeling even more desperate for action. By Day four the quality of your trip is 100% in your control, but keeping positive is beginning to be a struggle. You’re tired, mentally exhausted, and the idea of staring down a flat for hours, or casting and two-stepping endlessly, is beginning to sound more like a chore than a privilege. The morning of Day five and six is a grind, regardless of how many fish you have seen, felt or caught. This is likely your last, or second-to-last day, so the end of the trip is in sight. This is both a blessing and curse, as your body and mind are ready for a break, but you are not ready for the unfortunate reality of stepping back into your normal day-to-day reality. This keeps your mind on task, as well as providing a bit more energy and willingness to continue to repetitive nature of this pursuit. The idea of “one last fish” prevails over the failures and lost opportunities of the week, and it almost seems like you’re getting a fresh start (but not really).
IT’S NOT A NUMBERS GAME…
There is only one species of fish where committed anglers keep a tally of how many fish they have landed, and that fish is the permit. Del Brown still holds the record (513 to be exact), but who’s to say that there isn’t a humble flats angler out there who has surpassed this benchmark. Regardless, you don’t encounter trout or bonefish anglers who can tell you how many of these species they have landed in their life, and there’s a reason for that. Coming from someone who has spent considerable time fishing for both permit and steelhead, I am a firm believer that before you step onto a flats boat or wade into a steelhead stream, you must be prepared for the good old
goose egg, day in, and day out. Sure, you’re going to have banner days, but those will inevitably be followed by dry spells that can go on for weeks if not months. But for anyone who has spent time pursuing these fish knows that the satisfaction of touching a fish following a period of nothing, is probably one of the best feelings in the world.
THE TUG IS ABSOLUTELY THE DRUG
Now I know that this saying has always been applied to steelhead, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the a permit tug is equally as rewarding as a steelhead tug (agreeably different, but equally as cool). But what people don’t fully understand is that this saying isn’t referring to some amazing power or force contained within these fish, but instead it’s the culmination of effort, time, persistence, skill and in most instances the almighty dollar, that went into catching one of these fish. So the subsequent feeling of a fish on the end of your line has tremendously more meaning when so much has gone into getting it there. The other “addictive” factor to both fish is the sensation (visual or
tactile) that comes with the eat. For permit, this is a visual sensation of watching the fish turn on, swim to, and hopefully eat your fly. The timing and sequence of this varies, but the ability to remain calm through this progression is most certainly a learned skill. On the steelhead side of things, the eat is most always sensory (unless you’re fishing a dry fly), where you’re looking for anything from a subtle tab or tub, to a violent grab from the fish. Regardless, the ability to make good on the hook set is the point of victory or defeat for any angler in this pursuit. What I have always loved and appreciated most about fly fishing is the endless opportunities to grow and learn. There is no “mastering” this sport, because there is no finality to what one can learn and ultimately apply. What I have always loved and appreciated about fishing for both permit and steelhead is how these fish challenge, reward, and break you as an angler. Yet for some ungodly reason, whether victory or defeat, we always seems to step back up or wade back in for another round, keeping our fingers crossed that the next pursuit will deliver the drug we’re ultimately looking for. 2018 | THE CURRENT | TROUTS FLY FISH ING 43
by Matt Todd
ROCK & ROLL A
few years back there was this Nike commercial that showed folks waking up entirely too early to go running, with AC/DC’s “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” as the 30-second soundtrack. I don’t run. Not even if someone’s chasing me. There are only two things worth waking up at a ridiculous a.m. hour for, and that’s fishing and barbecuing. And yes, “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” starts off both of those activities very well. Tomorrow morning my alarm clock will wake me at 3 o’clock in the morning. I’ll then drive my groggy ass to Denver International Airport to catch a 5:30 am flight to Missouri, where, after a few hours of planes, trains, and automobiles, I’ll arrive at the North Fork of the White River. Missouri...that’s where I’m from. That’s also where I’ll meet up with several old friends and my pop to...
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you guessed it, fish and barbecue. The boys will be bringing the smoker, which will more than likely just live in the bed of a pick-up truck during our four-day excursion. Another early alarm clock will be set in order for us to rise before the sun to trim and rub the brisket, let her get to room temperature, and allow our fire to peak at 250 degrees with ample smoke rolling out of the stack. During this process we will ingest several pots of cheap coffee and multiple B oody Marys. As we stare at the temperature gauge, an early game of poker will commence and wake the others as the chips get tossed and crash into the pot. “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” will be playing. Smoke’s rolling. The dial is pointing at 250. Everyone’s awake. Time for bacon and eggs. After a greasy breakfast, the
washing of the dishes, and some quality library time, those that fish will suit up and walk down to the river. My trustworthy barbecue brethren will stay land-locked, keeping a sharp eye on that fire, feeding it when that needle dips in the least...at least until that sharp eye becomes a little blurry. Although barbecuing is my second favorite thing in this world to do, my first favorite takes precedence and I’ll head down to the river in search of large trout and possibly a rogue striper. It’s okay, I’ll watch the fire when we do ribs tomorrow. I’ve found that trout aren’t as particular about the early a.m. bite as, say, largemouth bass tend to be. So I’m content with a 9 a.m. canoe launch. Just need to keep an eye on any possible hatches, but I’ll already be rigged with big, ugly, ridiculous articulated streamers. Maybe wishful thinking.
SEALED DRAG FRESH
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BEST OF SHOW REEL FRESHWATER
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As I push off from the shoal, I’ll be looking for that pick-up truck driving down the hill from the cabin to park on the gravel near the water, meat smoker strapped in tight. Smoke billowing out from the stack, smell of hickory wood and fatty beef mixing in the air with our fried bacon, coffee, and the damn outdoors. Morning sounds of kingfishers, babbling river currents, and AC/DC will fill our ears and make us grin. I can’t speak for the others, but my canoe will be equipped with an 8-weight, a 6-weight, and a 5-weight, as well as a flask filled with brown liquor that lives in the chest pocket of my jacket. One needs to stay warm on a snowy, windy day on the water. I’m sure several fish will come to net, unless I just jinxed us by writing that. At any rate, after my face gets windburnt-red and that casting muscle in my back that I can’t reach starts to bark, I’ll paddle up to our shuttle truck, conveniently parked at an easy take-out and only a 7-minute drive from our cabin. We rendezvous. The brisket just comes off the smoke and is ready to be wrapped in a cozy blanket like a precious little meat baby for 2 to 4 hours and stored
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in the YETI. That gives us ample time to share fishing stories around the campfire while we break out the good whiskey. Good whiskey is always first, cheap whiskey comes afterwards. Remember that. We unwrap her, let her breathe, and then slice her the way you’re supposed to slice a brisket. Slicing brisket correctly is every bit as important as drinking the good whiskey first. Don’t fuck it up. Slices of fatty or lean, accompanied by beans, slaw, and cornbread create a delicious and substantial foundation for campfire hijinx. When seven friends get together once a year to do as they please, the hijinx can continue into the wee hours of the morning. And generally someone gets hurt. Maturity is an afterthought. The next morning, regardless of how any of us feel, we will wake up early again. Because there is another day to be had filled with fishing and barbecuing. Because there is another bottle of good whiskey. Because our adult responsibilities have been left at home. “Because rock and roll ain’t no riddle, man. To me it makes good, good sense. Good sense, let’s go.”
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Matt Jones Photography
routs Fishing opened our doors to the greater Denver fly fishing community in 1995 on Old South Gaylord Street. The business enjoyed nearly a decade in the quaint Washington Park neighborhood, but began to fall on hard times as did so many other fly shops across the county at that time. As luck would have it, in May of 2005 Colorado native Tucker Ladd purchased the store from then owner Jim Park. As an avid angler and veteran guide and fly shop employee, as well as a longstanding customer of Trouts, Tucker was well versed and ready to launch the business in a new direction of service and success. Nearly 13 years later, Trouts Fly Fishing has grown into a internationally-recognized fly fishing retailer and outfitter, now with two locations in Colorado, Trouts Denver and Trouts Frisco. Having both an urban and destination location has allowed Trouts to grow and mature in the services we offer our customers, as well as the manner in which we help get people ready for their time on the water. Each of our Trouts locations is uniquely different in character and product assortment, but are equal in the superior customer service and expertise found by all of our shop staff and professional fly fishing guides.
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Trouts Fly Fishing opened its doors to the Denver angling community in 1995 on Old South Gaylord Street. In 2005 Denver native and Trouts customer Tucker Ladd purchased the business, and moved the store to its current home on 6th Avenue in 2007. Boasting nearly 2,000 sq/ft of retail space, Trouts Denver has become the benchmark for what it means to be a true specialty fly shop. With the intention of having gear to meet the needs of every angler, Trouts Denver offers a diverse and curated product selection from the finest brands in the industry. Our Denver location is also proud to offer a complete mix of educational classes and seminars, as well has playing home to our world-class guide service.
We proudly opened our Frisco location in April 2016. Located on Main Street, Trouts Frisco has become our Mountain Outpost where customers can be sure to find the knowledge and expertise for the vast angling options in and around Summit County. With a “trout centric” product selection, Trouts Frisco has everything you need to chase trout throughout the Colorado High Country, and is proud to offer a year-round guide service as well. So while the location and feel may be a bit different than our Denver location, you can be sure that you’ll receive the same level of customer service that has become synonymous with Trouts Fly Fishing. For years people have been asking us to open our doors in more locations, and Trouts Frisco was a resounding response. We have been thrilled to be a part of the Frisco, CO community, and we continued to be humbled by the community and support we have received in Denver for over two decades. We look forward to seeing you in the shop, or maybe we’ll just see you out on the water!
FI S Y L
IT’S OK. WE SEE IT TOO.
EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE, COMPLETE TRIP PREPAREDNESS, EXPERIENCED TECHNICAL SUPPORT AND INCREDIBLY RELEVANT INFORMATION FOR EVERY DESTINATION WE WORK WITH... AT THE SAME PRICE OR LESS THAN BOOKING IT YOURSELF.
WWW.YELLOWDOGFLYFISHING.COM • Toll free: 888.777.5060 Africa • Alaska • Argentina • Bahamas • Belize • Bolivia • Brazil • Canada • Chile • Cuba • Guatemala • Guyana Iceland • Kamchatka • Mongolia • New Zealand • Seychelles • St. Brandon’s • Venezuela • Yucatan • United States 2018 | THE CURRENT | TROUTS FLY FISH ING 49
TROUTS SIGNATURE SERVICES
routs Fly Fishing has always strived to be more than the traditional fly shop. With a diverse customer base that fishes locally, as well as traveling to the far reaches of the globe with a fly rod in hand, we know that to be an industry leading fly shop we need a dynamic offering of services to meet the needs of everyone of our customers. This is what we call our Trouts Signature Services. Trouts Signature Services are a variety of services unique to Trouts
Fly Fishing, and more importantly help us stand out from the competition. While we are a fly shop, first and foremost we are a fly fishing retail store. Our focus is on the goods and services we offer our customers daily. While we proudly offer one of Colorado’s most reputable guide services, guiding is not how we pay our bills. Far too many fly shops these days rely on outfitting as their primary source of revenue. While this is great if you’re only looking for a guided trip, you will find that these stores lack in the ways of added benefits and value to their customers. From day one, Trouts Fly Fishing has strived to do things differently, and we are confident that you will find that the experience offered at Trouts Fly Fishing is far beyond what you will find at any other fly shops.
Properly rigging any fly reel, whether for trout or tarpon, is a technical and highly important factor when getting ready to hit the water. Nothing will ruin a fishing trip faster than equipment failure. We believe one of the most crucial pieces of this is rigging your fly reel. While this can be done at home, we always recommend bringing your fly reel into us so that we can ensure that everything (backing, fly line, leader) is properly loaded onto your fly reel and ready to hit the water. Whether you’re headed to a local, high mountain brook trout stream, or Tanzania to chase tigerfish, our team of experts will make sure you’re fly reel is properly set up and rigged to ensure maximum enjoyment during your precious time on the water. With years of rigging experience, and countless trips across the globe to fish for a multitude of species, the staff at Trouts Fly Fishing is highly experienced and detail oriented when it comes to getting your gear ready. This is an often overlooked aspect to any fly fishing excursion, but it is something we take very seriously. So what does this service cost you? Well, if you purchase your fly reel and/or fly line from Trouts, this service is free of charge for the life of the product. If you weren’t fortunate enough to buy your gear from us, we charge $5 to rig any trout reel, and $10 for all big game reels (saltwater, salmon/steelhead, pike/musky, etc.). So the next time you’re looking to purchase a new fly line, or just make sure your reel is ready for your next trip, be sure to bring it by Trouts Fly Fishing and let our expert staff make sure you gear is in fish ready form!
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FLY FISHING TRAVEL The staff at Trouts Fly Fishing has
longed enjoyed traveling the globe with a fly rod in-hand, and we are thrilled to offer a variety of hosted fly fishing trips to our customers, family and friends. All of these trips are planned, organized and hosted by a Trouts Fly Fishing representative, and are a great way to enjoy a world-class fly fishing trip with other like-minded anglers. Additionally, we have proudly partnered with Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures to assist us with all our travel needs, as they are renowned in the fly fishing industry as the leading experts in Fly Fishing Destination Travel. Our list of hosted fly fishing travel options is ever-evolving, and we are constantly adding new destinations and itinerary’s to are hosted trip offering. Don’t see a destination that you’re wanting to explore? No problem, simply inquire with us here and we will get you in touch with the Yellow Dog Fly Fishing representative that is an expert on your desired location, and will be able to assist you with the entire trip booking process.
If you fish long enough, it’s not a matter of IF something will break, its when and how many times. Whether it’s a snapped rod, tear in your waders or a reel with a worn out drag, we have just about seen it all. A majority of the brands we support have great warranty programs and will do whatever they can to make sure their products are fulfilling their duties on the water. With that said, we know it can be fairly intimidating picking up the phone and calling a company like Simms, Orvis or Sage on your own. That is where we come in. Before starting the process of any warranty we will gauge the situation and if it is fixable without sending it to the manufacturer we will take care of it. If it is deemed that it needs to be send back for repair, we are more than happy to help you through the process or simply handle the entire situation for you. So the next time you are looking for help with a repair, come by the shop or give us a call at 303-7331434!
YELLOW DOG ALWAYS DELIVERS THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE, THE WORLD’S FINEST DESTINATIONS, AND THE MOST DETAILED TRIP PLANNING AND SUPPORT.
AND NOW … WE’VE RAISED THE BAR ONCE AGAIN. INTRODUCING THE YELLOW DOG COMMUNITY & CONSERVATION FOUNDATION.
WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR NEXT TRIP WITH YELLOW DOG, WE’LL BE MAKING A DONATION* IN YOUR NAME TO PROTECT, PRESERVE AND ENHANCE THE FISHERIES AND COMMUNITIES WHERE GREAT FISHING IS FOUND.
COMMUNITY & CONSERVATION foundation
LEARN MORE AT YDCCF.ORG
ANOTHER GREAT REASON TO BOOK WITH YELLOW DOG.
*The full amount of this donation is made by Yellow Dog and participating lodges on behalf of each qualifying booking, and there is never an additional cost added to any trip or invoice.
FI S Y L
PROUD TO BE WORKING WITH TROUT’S FLY FISHING TO OUTFIT ANGLERS FOR THE WORLD!
WWW.YELLOWDOGFLYFISHING.COM • Toll free: 888.777.5060 Africa • Alaska • Argentina • Bahamas • Belize • Bolivia • Brazil • Canada • Chile • Cuba •• Guatemala • Guyana Iceland•• Kamchatka • Mongolia • New Zealand • Seychelles • St. Brandon’s • Christmas Island • Yucatan • U.S. 2018 | THE CURRENT | TROUTS FLY FISH ING 51
LET US HELP YOU GET OUT OF YOUR OLD, OUTDATED EQUIPMENT, AND INTO SOME NEW GEAR!
We know our customers are always interested in getting into new and better fly fishing equipment, and we also understand this isn’t always practical when you already have gear that is suiting your needs. So we created a program to help you get out of the old, and into the new. Whether it’s a piece of equipment you never use, or a rod that just doesn’t meet your needs any more, bring it in and let up do the leg work to help you turn your unwanted gear into cash.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
- Print out our Gear Upgrade Sales Proposal Form and fill it out. - Bring in the equipment you would like for us to sell, in addition to the completed Gear Upgrade Sales Proposal form. If you live outside of the Denver area, you can simply send in your gear along with the completed form. Once your shipment has been processed, email us to let us know your gear is on its way, and provide us with the associated tracking number for our records. Please ship all equipment to the following address: Trout’s Fly Fishing ATTN: Gear Swap 1303 E. 6th Ave Denver, CO 80218
Trout’s Fly Fishing is proud to offer a full selection of quality rental gear. Whether for a trip to Montana for trout, Belize to chase permit, or just heading up to the South Platte with some friends, we’ve got the gear to meet your needs. Your experience on the water is our top priority, so we only utilize the top manufacturers in the industry for all of our rental equipment.
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- Once we have received your gear, we will do some research and give you a quote for what it is worth. This quote is based upon our expertise and knowledge of fly fishing gear, as well as our experience selling used fishing gear online. - We will then sell your gear on eBay where we are noted as a Power Seller. Items will be listed with professional quality photos, and their value will be thoroughly researched to ensure you get the most cash for your gear. - Once the item sells, we will notify you of the sale price and place these funds in a store credit account here at the shop. These can be used when purchasing goods at the store or online. So what will this cost you? NOTHING! That’s the beauty of this program; we do all the work for you. The only money that will be deducted from the sale price is any eBay and PayPal fees associated with the transaction. Plus, you get the piece of mind of knowing that your gear will be sold in a professional manner, and that we will make every effort to ensure you get the highest value for your unwanted gear. Ultimately, we just want to earn your trust and patronage by serving our customers in every way possible to the best of our ability. If you would like learn more about this program, please contact us at by email at email@example.com, or by phone at 877-464-0034.
All of our rentals are available at affordable daily, weekly or monthly rates. Rentals are available on a first come, first serve basis, however can also be reserved in advance to ensure we have what you need, when you need it. All rentals come “ready to fish”, but things like specialty fly lines, leaders and tippets are not included and will need to be purchased separately.
SIGNATURE ROD SERVICE
WHY WOULD YOU PURCHASE A FLY ROD FROM ANYONE ELSE?
Trout’s Signature Rod Service is a unique offering that signifies two key things: our confidence in the rod manufacturers we represent, and our commitment to providing quality equipment and service to all of our customers. Let’s face it, when it comes to fly rods, it’s not a question of “IF” a rod will break, it’s “WHEN” and how many times. The Trouts Signature Rod Service means if your new fly rod breaks, we will cover the costs of repair (including related shipping and handling charges). It’s our way of saying congratulations to you for purchasing a fine, USA handcrafted fly rod. Here’s how it works: buy any fly rod that is $500 or more from us, and if the rod breaks, bring it back to us and we’ll send it back to the manufacturer for repair, and cover all the associated costs. The Fine Print: • The start date for the program is August 15, 2014 • You must have purchased your fly rod from Trouts Fly Fishing • Your repair must be processed through our shop • TSRS is redeemable for one (1) complimentary repair • TSRS has no expiration • Trout’s Signature Rod Service is presently available for Scott Fly Rod, Winston, Sage, Orvis, Thomas & Thomas and Epic products only. So the next time you’re looking to purchase a new fly rod, be sure to remember that at Trouts Fly Fishing, we’re dedicated to ensuring you’re happy and pleased with everything you buy from us, no matter how long it’s been since the purchase was made.
Trouts is proud to offer rental equipment from these fine brands: Simms, Scott, Sage, Ross, Abel & Nautilus.
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MENDS & BENDS
by Dave Lovell
MAKE THAT CAST COUNT
uch has been written about proper fundamentals for casting a fly rod. Lets face it; it can be the difference between catching and not catching fish. Simply put, if you can’t get the fly to your intended target, you probably aren’t going to be as successful on the water as you you’d like. Rest assured with a willingness to learn and some practice, you too can be well on your way to becoming the best caster you know. Fly casting is not hard but does require you to understand some essential basics.
THE FLY LINE GOES WHERE THE ROD TIP GOES:
One sage piece of advice that still resonates with me is to always remember that where you stop the rod tip on both the back and forward cast, is where the fly lines will go. All to often, anglers tend to drop their rod tip on the back and forward cast, causing the fly line to hit the water rather than the line traveling parallel to the water’s surface. Think of it this way, when throwing a ball, look to see where you’re letting the ball go; for a shorter throw, your aiming the ball at your intended target with a shorter throwing motion. If throwing the ball a fair distance, your releasing the ball earlier or higher in the throw to get some trajectory under it. Try
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applying those same principles in your cast.
IN YOUR CAST:
Slack can wreak havoc on a cast as well as setting the hook on a fish. When casting, we need to allow for the fly line unroll and nearly straighten out behind us before beginning the forward cast. Fly rods are similar to a bow and arrow, the more load or bend we can put into the rod, the further the line will travel.
This is essential in learning to cast. All you need to do to cast is to get the rod to bend through the casting stroke and then abruptly stop the rod similar to initiate the rod to throw the line forward or back. This is when that all-important timing is critical… don’t rush the cast. Allow the line to straighten out both behind and in front of you. Your back cast and forward cats should be mirror images of each other. I often tell fly casters “Fly rods are like puppies, they want to please, you just have to train them first.” The nice thing about fly fishing is it’s gender-neutral. Ladies and kids always seem to have the ability to pick up a fly rod, and within minutes can make some very nice casts, they also listen and take direction better than most, myself included.
KEEP THE ROD TIP MOVING IN A STRAIGHT LINE:
Knowing that your fly line goes where the rod tip is pointing, practice casting and keeping the tip of the fly rod traveling in a straight line from your back cast to your forward cast. Then, allow the fly line to pass over the tip of the rod and straighten out on the water in front of you.
SHORTER CAST, SHORTER STROKE, LONGER CAST, LONGER STROKE:
There’s two things we as casters need to remember anytime we introduce additional fly line beyond the tip of the fly rod. Our casting stroke needs to increase and we need to wait longer to allow the line to straighten out behind us. Remember, too much slack will kill a cast Practice early and often, whether you’re headed for that once in a lifetime saltwater trip or you just need to knock the dust off, a little practice goes a long way in ensuring a good day on the water. Also, check out our FREE casting clinics and Casting & Cocktail events.
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Photos: Willy Lee
ow did you get started manufacturing fly reels?
I always knew I would work in the fly fishing industry. At least I dreamed of it. When the opportunity presented itself I jumped on it.
Nautilus started out as the Old Florida Reel Company, how did the name Nautilus come about? The running joke was “what’s new at OLD Florida?” So we had to act fast and change names. We had a short list of names, and Nautilus stuck since we could incorporate the name into the design.
How many people does Nautilus currently employ in Miami? We have 15 full-time employees. It is a great environment to come back to every morning. It’s almost like a family but without the teenage drama. Several employees have been with us since day one.
With so many reels currently in the market, what is it makes Nautilus stand out from the rest? Starting in 2003 with the birth of Nautilus Reels, we decided that we would push the envelope with technological and design. Smart design and lean manufacturing come first. When we think of a new reel, it’s usually because we’ve come up with a better mouse trap that we can’t incorporate into an existing design. Then we pick the components — NEVER SKIMP ON COMPONENTS — and build a reel around them. Using the best bearings, bushings, springs, seals, and lubes comes first. If you don’t, and many manufacturers look for savings there, it is guaranteed to result in a worse performing product and generate
huge customer service costs. We are certain we make the best reels out there, and a testament to this is that we still do not have a full-time repair employee. Thousands upon thousands of reels getting dunked in rivers and oceans worldwide, and we still don’t have one full-time employee for repairs. I am positive we have the lowest ratio of “repair reels to reels in use” of any manufacturer.
You’ve made some pretty unique and oneof-a-kind custom reels in the past, which one has been your favorite? My Swarovski bedazzled NVG 9/10. 3,000 Swarovski crystals were cemented onto the frame, spool, and brake to create a stunning piece of art. I have taken it to shows, and it is missing some crystals now, but I have found a jeweller who is willing to make a fishable one for me. No question who’s on that flats boat when it blings like that!
How much does being based in Miami, FL have an influence on your reel design? We are (305). Miami is a part of us and probably acts as a little push when it comes to taking a risk and designing something new like the X or the GTX. We see a lot of designer work here every day, like sports cars, furniture, artwork, and buildings that may catch our eye and inspire a new design idea. Most importantly, though, I think it helps calm the fear of making radical changes.
What’s your favorite Nautilus Reel? Two of them actually: the XM and the NV-G9/10. The X because no detail was skipped in its design, which is innovative from the way it is machined to the way it performs. The NVG-9/10 because it think it is the Giselle Bundchen of fly reels: smart,
sexy, zero maintenance and looks better today than she did 10 years ago.
You’ve got a pretty remarkable list of Ambassador Anglers, did you find these guys and gals, or did they find you?
They found us, and that is probably one of the most gratifying parts of having spent all these years building reels. Our ambassadors are awesome. Like with my wife. How did I get so lucky?
Tell us about your best day of fishing?
There are so many. I think they are all good. I am a trout guy at heart, and I cherish every minute on a stream. It’s a million bucks worth of therapy every time. But the best day? My last day, Nov. 4, 2017. Second day of a tournament. The first day I took a beating that made me think about why I even bother with permit. The second day, though, was different. Cloudy skies and too much wind at sunrise turned into perfect conditions that offered only one shot at pair of permit. I went into panic mode and had to strip line out fast and cast 40 feet. All went almost perfectly. The permit turned, looked at it, and moved on. The rest of the day we saw only one more, and it happened to be while I was taking a bathroom break, and I had to look on at a missed opportunity. But the first “almost” take had me fired up for the rest of the day, and now I want to go back and do it again.
If you could be fishing anywhere in the globe right now, where would it be?
Wading on a trout stream with a cool breeze but warm enough for a T-shirt. And a caddis hatch just starting. Where? Outside city limits where it smells good. Anywhere really. I love my brown trout …
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/ I n tro d u c i n g
S PECTR U M FAM I LY O n e R e v o l u t i o n S e a l e d C a rb o n D ra g
When we introduced our first-of-its-kind Sealed Carbon System it was a revolution in reel technology. Many have followed, but our new Spectrum family stays one evolution ahead. Our Sealed Carbon Drag â€“ featuring numbered micro-adjust able detented drag settings in a single revolution â€“ delivers unmatched reliability, repeatability and precision whether stalking the smallest spring creeks or wading legendary saltwater flats. Housed by fully machined, forged and tempered 6061-T6 aluminum, each member of the Spectrum family is solidly built with the detailed craftsmanship that defines Perfecting Performance.
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From tying flies out of the back of a Volkswagon bus, to being the leading fly manufacturer in the world, Umpqua Feather MerchantsÂŽ has been tying you to the water for over 45 years.
#tiedtothewater 60 TROUT S F LY F I S HI N G |
CURRENT | 2018