Fall Edition

Fall Edition
Fall Edition

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Top Ten Mistakes Made By Rookie Fly Anglers for Trout ~ 7/28/2019





I’m deeply entrenched in the busy season of guiding beginner to novice fly anglers and the same minor problems of casting, presentation, and fighting fish just to name a few, become apparent. These are easily fixed by actually getting out and experiencing different fishing situations. Fly fishing is a perishable skill, and the more you practice (fish), the more proficient one becomes to achieving a higher level of mastery. As a long time guide (going on 23 years to be exact), I have learned to break down problems into smaller fragments for my guests, and to also imagine what it’s like to be a rookie all over again to help them understand more easily. Explaining the concept or a solution to the problem as simply as you can, often results in a quicker progression rate of learning. Telling your client “Oh, that’s easy” is not the answer.

There is a lot going on at the same time for a beginning fly angler to comprehend. Just the process of catching a fish has many detailed steps to see success. First you must select the right fly, make the needed proper presentation, achieve a solid hook set, playing the fish without breaking it off, and lastly landing the fish in the net. I’ve made a list of the problems I see that leads to failure in many different ways. I know other guides will probably disagree with me with this post and to be honest, I could care less. My sole purpose in life is to share my 46 years of knowledge with all things fly fishing, instruct, and carry on my Dad’s legacy of helping others and fisheries conservation. Posing with large fish is great for social media satisfaction or your guide business, but learning and teaching the proper ways to fly fish is more important in the long run as these skills will carry you through a lifetime of enjoyment and success.

1) Casting Indicators – Bobber rigs have many hinge points in the system starting with the fly line/leader junction, added split shot, the first fly, and the second dropper fly. An off shoulder “Lob” cast is best with an open loop, and your rig should be elongated and stretched out through the lob while in the air. If an angler fails to keep the rig stretched out and taunt, and allows the indicator rig to collapse upon itself, will lead to a major bird’s nest of tangles. This is no place for false casting tight sexy loops.


2) Mending – Some of my students pick this up quicker than others, and the principal of placing the fly line/leader upstream of the indicator, or dry fly, for a drag free drift is critical for success. Most importantly, the first upstream mend sets the tone for the entire drift. When making the first mend, keeping the rod tip higher will result in lifting all the line off the water, while sweeping the rod upstream to achieve the most efficient motion. A drag free drift of 10 feet beats a 30 foot drift that is compromised by constantly moving the bobber or dry fly through insufficient mends.

3) Line Control – Is everything! A constant awareness of your fly line and what it is doing (or going to do) while making presentations is critical. Having too much slack line between the rod tip and the fly will result in missed hook sets. Not having enough slack between the rod tip and the fly will result in drag, and your fly will look unnatural and be refused. Line control also involves your hand that is in direct contact with the line whether you are stripping in line, feeding line out, or micro managing it at your feet.

4) Setting the Hook – While drifting indos, or tight line nymphing, a sweeping downstream and to the side 45 degree angle motion is the preferred way to set the hook, by doing so you’re setting the hook into the side of the trout’s mouth as it is facing upstream in the current. For dry flies, it all depends on whether the presentation is upstream or a fly first down and across. The key here is to evaluate the take in a millisecond, which only comes with more time on the water. The smaller the fish the quicker the reaction time, the bigger the fish requires a slight pause to allow them to eat your offering. Day in and day out, I see my guests pull the fly right out of the mouth of an 18 inch or larger fish.

5) Fighting Fish – Many different topics here to discuss that must all be executed properly to see your prize find the landing net. First off, don’t horse the fish in if your using 5 or 6X tippet, take your time. The biggest problem I see when losing fish is not keeping a tight line down to the fish and allowing slack. A size 18 fly that is barbless will quickly come out of a trout’s mouth once a slack line is employed. Keep Tension! Allowing the fish to take line when it is aggressively swimming upstream or downstream is a must. I’ve seen far too many nice fish lost due to the “Death Grip” of pinching off the fly line on the handle of the rod, or simply holding on to the line for dear life. Your line control hand must use different levels of pressure on the fly line to achieve the fine balance of keeping a taunt line yet enabling the fish to take line without any slack. Lastly, once you have control of the situation and the fish is tiring, bring the rod over to the side of the river you are on and gently steer it into calmer water for a successful landing.

6) Landing a Fish – As a client you can help your guide out immensely by lifting your rod and getting the fish near the surface so the net operator can make the “scoop”. It helps even more if you can plane the fish on its side at the surface (where it has little power or control) and slide it into the net. Often times a fish will seem tired just before the net job, and as the net operator goes for the scoop, the fish makes one final burst of speed to get away from the net. Be prepared for this, and allow the fish to take line out while keeping tension, yet not too much as it will result in a dreaded break off.

7) Tangles – Beginner to expert, it makes no difference; when you see a tangle develop, stop everything you are doing. Continuing to cast will make it worse, or flipping/bouncing the tip around like it will magically make it better will always make it worse. If your tangle takes a minute or longer to unravel, clip the flies off. It is much quicker to do so and tying clinch knots are faster than unthreading twists and other monofilament nightmares. Some of the tangles I see defy the laws of physics with what seems an origin of the twilight zone.

8) Rod Control – Being smooth is everything while handling a fly rod. Unnecessary movements will be transmitted to the tip of the rod down to your presentation, or if you’re trying to string up your rod for travel to the next destination. Slow down, and be aware of your rod handling movements.

9) Clean Flies Matter – On tail water and most freestone fisheries there is an abundance of organic material. Moss, algae, rock snot, salad, or whatever you want to call it will prevent a trout from taking your fly if it is coated with it. Not all algae will come from the bottom of a river. There are also situations where it is free flowing in the current. Depending on the river, I will check my flies about every 3 to 12 presentations to make sure they are free of any accumulation of foreign material. A technique I learned decades ago on the San Juan River and aptly named “The San Juan Slap” is to swing your rig in a circular motion downstream and raking your flies and split shot across the surface of the water in a quick motion while it is coming back upstream. Your rig must be extended and taunt during this maneuver or it will collapse upon itself and result in a bird’s nest. If you cannot master this, simply lift your flies out of the water and manually remove the algae with your hands. Before you make your presentation, do not let go and allow your flies to drop into the idle water you are standing in. They will plummet to the bottom of the river due to a non-existing current, and instantly become “Goo’d Up” with crap. Hold your clean flies in your line control hand and as you make your initial cast, let go and watch them enter your intended target area of your next presentation area.

10) Mind Set - The vibe you give off and your mental state has a lot to do with  how successful you are. If you have a shitty and pissed off state of mind, you will most likely be unsuccessful in the catching department. But if you feel the stoke and have a calm peace of mind, yet are totally focused at the task at hand, you will be more successful. Woman fly anglers both novices to pros are so good with this positive state of mind. Countless times I have witnessed them out fish their male fishing buddies. Women possess the ultimate Mojo in fly fishing aura.



Friday, July 19, 2019

North Fork Yuba River Fly Fishing Report 7/19/2019


My guests and I have been having some great sessions on the North Fork Yuba River. The flows are perfect, the bugs are out, and those small wild rainbows are eager as ever! Fishing pressure remains light in the less traveled areas and during mid week. Water temperatures in the upper watershed are 57 in the morning rising to 61 degrees in the afternoon. navigating the NFYR (especially the upper section) is just plain gnarly. A wading staff and good boots with maximum traction both in and out of the water is a must. An angler needs to be in good physical shape to proficiently boulder hop and reach the more secluded sections of the river, yep, it's time to hit the gym if you're not.



There are a ton of caddis on the river right now! From a size 10 to a size 20 in colors of amber, gray, olive, and tan. Your everyday Elk Hair Caddis will do the trick, but up your game and put on Ralph and Lisa Cutter's E/C Caddis. The golden stone fly was hit hard this winter during the high flows as their population is not that great. Stream sampling counts with live specimens, and evidence of shucks from prior emergence reveal truthful findings. Crane flies are also abundant with a size 10 to 12 rusty colored being the most prolific, a Stimulator would be a the perfect go to dry fly. Lastly, the favorite of the NFYR rainbow, the mighty ant has proven to be incredibly effective once again. Fishing has been good morning, afternoon, and especially in the evenings. This will all change in about a month or when the weather becomes "Africa Hot" and it's a morning and evening scenario.


I'm booked up for the rest of July and August, but if you're interested, still contact me to be placed on the cancellation list - First come, first serve basis. Also, if you want to get on the water with me for the fall season, now is the time to secure your date. Don't procrastinate, get ready to drop into a gorge of sexy pocket water and dominate! See you where the wild things are...











Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers Annual BBQ & Fundraiser


Mark your calendars for August 10th at the Truckee Regional Park down by the river. This is TTFF's primary fundraiser for the year. Donations collected from the event go to youth fly fishing programs, conservation, and programs for members just to name a few. As a proud member of the club I always look forward to the annual BBQ, It's so much fun!

Lunch includes grilled fresh wild Coho Salmon and smoked Tri-Tip with all the usual sides and dessert! Soft drinks and beer are provided. BYOB other adult beverages. Live music by Fire in the Kitchen!  Our raffle is going to be bigger than ever with a wide variety of fly fishing supplies and tackle, golf outings, landing nets, fly shop gift certificates, guide trips and much, much more! We will do our regular $10/$5 tickets where you pick what you want. You do not have to me a member to attend, but after socializing with members and finding out about the great opportunities available, you'will most certainly sign up to be a member of TTFF!

For more info on the event and to sign up, follow the link here; https://ttff.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=4002&club_id=124108&item_id=889462

See ya there!


Friday, July 12, 2019

Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report & North Fork Yuba Update 7/12/2019


All systems go for the Middle Fork Feather River! The fishing is really good right now and the flows are much lower than weeks earlier and quite perfect. There is minimal fishing pressure on the river, especially off the beaten path. Tired of the crowds in the Truckee area? You’ll find plenty of solitude in the Lost Sierra, one of the many reasons I made it my home base for 14 years. 


During this time of year the MFFR can be broken into two different sections. Let’s start near the top of the watershed from Clio down to the Jamison Creek confluence. This section is perfect right now and will only be good for another few weeks as the water temps will rise significantly and most of the heavy hitters will travel downstream to find cooler water, swifter oxygenated runs, shade provided by the canyons, and pocket water. Thick lime green algae will soon engulf this section of the river thanks to golf courses and other human influences like increased populations. In decades past we never use to see these conditions of the green goo. The rock snot chokes out the bugs and does not provide the best habitat for them, even so, they keep surviving and perpetuating. Many juvenile rainbows will still remain in the area as they do not have to compete for prime lies and food from the big boys and girls. From Clio upstream to the A-23 Bridge 4 miles east of Portola provides sight fishing to the highest elevation carp in California, and top water action (think poppers, and sliding frogs) to smallmouth bass in the morning and evenings.


Downstream of Jamison Creek the water will be a bit cooler. Yesterday the water temps started at 57 in the early morning and rose to 64 degrees by the afternoon. Put those waders away, wet wading is the standard now and good advice is to wear non cotton underwear and quick dry pants. Water levels are higher than normal right now, but it’s so fishy! You’ll find trout in all types of water including faster riffles, pocket water, slower side water with structure (high grass, willows, or rocks), and transition zones of shallow to deeper water near the head and mid-section of pools and deeper runs. Your approach to start the day is to fish early! The best grab was from 7am to just before noon, and tight line nymphing (Northern California style nymphing) out preformed any other rig used (and we used them all). There is a trico spinner fall in the morning until the air temps reach near 70 degrees. Amazingly my guests and I saw very little rise forms, even throughout the day. 


Afternoons tend to slow down with minimal action with the occasional fish. With a rise in water temps and a high sun in the sky, the fish tend to lay low during this time. The trout have not totally keyed in on terrestrials quite yet. The last two hours of light provide some awesome dry fly action and rising trout. This is when the Middle Fork Feather really shines. An angler can work a section of the river during the day and catch fish, but come evening the whole scenario changes with increased activity.


Aquatic insect activity has been just normal I would say. During the day there are a few caddis out with a slighter higher amount of Yellow Sallies and Little Green Stones (Isoplera), and the much smaller Little Yellow Sally (Alloperla), plus the occasional Golden Stone adult clumsily flying to its next destination. Evenings provide many more little stone fly adults, increased caddis both emerging and ovipositing, and more Golden Stones laying eggs. 


These last couples of trips have brought back some fond memories of when I started my second segment of fly fishing journey on the MFFR, and when I returned back to my native Northern California in 1996 from my days of yesteryear finishing out my professional snowboarding career in Summit County, Colorado. You always hear old timers tell you how good the fishing was when they were younger, and it’s true, especially on this river. Though it’s not the same as it used to be, it’s still a special place. Being knee deep in the water making presentations in a canyon setting with lush green native grass serving as the peanut gallery… The ambiance of it all overtakes you. Remote solitude coupled with songbirds and warblers providing an orchestra of melodies with the sounds of wild trout splashing after a hook set remains in your mind for weeks well after the trip. Isn’t that really what it’s all about? See you on the water… 

North Fork Yuba River Update:

Upstream of Sierra City
The flows are still a little bit high, but near perfect with plenty of fishable water. The tighter the canyon section the more white water you will encounter. Below Downieville the flood plain spreads out a little more and there is even more fishable water. Water temps in the upper watershed are 54 to 59 degrees, and in the lower watershed, 57 to 62 degrees. 

Upstream of Downieville
Aquatic insects include Golden Stones, Caddis, Yellow Sallies, Crane Flies, and Midge. Fishing pressure is light during the week days and moderate pressure during the weekend. For those that know the river intimately you’ll notice both large and minimal changes from the high flows of winter. Exploring those changes is always a cool thing to do. It’s time to start fishing the NFYR, and it’s only going to get better the deeper we go into summer. We're stoked! 

Downstream of Goodyears Bar



Friday, July 5, 2019

Northern Sierra Fly Fishing Report 7/5/2019


I hope everyone had a good 4th of July! I took the week off and got to fish with a special friend that I use to race motocross against from 2001 to 2006. Just like racing moto, she is equally talented at fly fishing. On one of those days off, we revisited a very secret and rugged creek in the foothills I found several years ago that is not on any map, yet full of wild bows. What an awesome adventure that was! 








With summer in full swing, I must say that it has been unseasonably cool for the most part, and the weather has been as perfect as it gets. Flows are finally coming down for the most part, yet some watersheds are still a little high, but hey, that just means the dog days of summer may only be with us for a very short time. Lots of fly anglers out on the water and my phone has been ringing nonstop for late trip requests. You’ll see many guides like me advertising “Book Early” in February and March, and there is a good reason for that – I’m booked up for the next 4 weeks straight with limited days after that. Keep in mind I am a true ambassador for fly fishing and will always take the time to answer your questions if I cannot fulfill your trip, “Sharing the Knowledge” has been a part of my family’s mantra since the early 70’s – Like father, like son. Email is best to get a hold of me. So let’s get on with a report from the Northern Sierra and the waters I have been guiding, fishing, and executing missions of recon.


Middle Fork Feather River – Flows are perfect in the Graeagle area, and a tad high downstream of the Jamison Creek confluence. Water temps have been in the high 50’s to low 60’s. Downstream of snow melt feeder creeks will be bit colder for a ways, and vice versa, stretches of water downstream of long pools stringed together will have warmer temps due to solar radiation. There are lots of smaller rainbows which is great news for the future of the MFFR as long as they are not harvested. Active hatches include Golden Stones, midges (mostly in the early morning), caddis, crane flies, Yellow Sallies, little green stones, and any day now Sulpher mayflies in the evening. 


An angler will want to nymph in the early morning, and then switch to a dry dropper just before noon until evening, at which point the beautiful marriage of dry fly dreamin and the magic hour of last light end the day. Most of the larger trout are likely headed down to the canyon stretches but there may be a few around in the deeper pools, so don’t put away those streamers away quite yet. I have some upcoming trips in the next week so look for new intel on California’s first adopted Wild & Scenic river in the next report.


North Fork Yuba – I have not been back to the NFYR in about 2 weeks, and the gauges still show the river higher than I’d like it to be. A few friends of mine have been doing pretty well when they can find the right water conditions (walking speed flows with some depth), or mellower pocket water. The trout are starting to look up, and with good hatches of Golden Stones, caddis, Yellow Sallies, and the tail end of the Green Drakes (think spent spinners on top) the game will only get better as summer marches on. Fishing pressure is light in the more remote areas, but the campers are out in full force at the more easily accessible areas. There will be no “Dog Days” this year on the NFYR, but when it gets Africa hot, mornings and evenings will produce the best and find those springs that enter the river. With over 30 miles of river bordering Hwy 49, you can always find your own spot on one of the most amazing watersheds in Northern California.


Eastern Plumas Creeks - Most of the creeks that flow into the Middle Fork Feather River are in prime shape right now, and the creekin season begins. The harder the access is, the better the fishing, not just now, but all through the season. Which reminds me of lessons learned by my Dad in the 70’s where we would venture down steep slopes to sections of the East Branch of the Feather River off Hwy 70 and never see a human foot print. 



Fishing the creeks does not require technical rigging or exact imitations on the end of your line. These wild trout are eager to feed as their season is often much shorter than your typical salmonid of a Sierra freestone river. 



Attractors, terrestrials, and caddis patterns are all that you need. I’ve been using the Redington Classic Trout 8’6” 3 weight matched with the 2/3 Zero reel and it is the perfect tool for plying creeks – and it won’t break the bank. I also use this set up for my guests on guided trips where dry fly fishing is the norm. So many bodies of water are perfect right now that it’s difficult to choose which one to fish. Go with your heart, and I’ll see you where the wild things are…



Interior Wild Rose ~ Rosa Woodsil






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