Updated weekly, fly culture highlights a diverse array of material comprising the crazy obsession we call fly fishing. From awesome videos, to thought provoking writing, to inspiring artwork and poetry: fly culture offers up the best of the best. Check in every week for something new.
UPDATE: You might have been wondering why the fly water medley hasn’t been updated in the last few weeks. It’s because my wife and I are in the process of moving back to the US from Canada and buying a home. As you can imagine, an international move is a little more complicated than moving across town. Throw in being first time home buyers and you can see why there hasn’t been much going on with the site. Rest assured, when we land on our feet I’ll start updating the site again weekly.
Uncut Angling: Fly Fishing for Catfish
Catfish on the fly? No doubt. Aaron Webe puts on one of the best fishing shows anywhere.
Chasing Wild: Journey Into the Sacred Headwaters
Trips like these are what life is all about. So often fly fishing and other “adventure” films come off as staged and contrived. Chasing Wild is unabashedly authentic and captures the true essence of the DIY spirit. Films like this expose the public to what is at stake when we undertake human projects which are inherently flawed in wild places. More importantly though, it inspires people to speak up and do something when the time comes.
MOMENTS 02: "Horseshoes”
This one doesn’t need much explanation. Just an awesome moment. One of those you only get a few of in life, but when you do they stick with you.
As a photographer, this short film from Yeti gets my blood pumping. It inspires me to get outside and live an authentic life. Wyman Meinzer is someone who, through pure determination, created a life for himself by simply doing what he loves. He is a man formed by the country he lives in, and his photography is a reflection of the hard, do-it-yourself mentality that formed Texas. Its not strictly “fly fishing,” but I think anyone who appreciates the outdoors will enjoy this profile film. That’s why it’s this week’s Fly Water Medley feature.
SCOF: Doubling Down on Bad Decisions
The new issue of Southern Culture on the Fly is out! As always, its packed with the gritty photography and writing its known for. Have a look for yourself, preferably with a cheap beer in hand and southern music in the background.Click the photo to head their way.
The Feather Thief
Before you read the next sentence, know this: This is real. I am not making it up.
This week’s fly culture feature is a story about a teenage thief who broke into the British Museum of Natural History and stole a million dollars worth of rare bird capes so he could sell them on an underground fly tying market in order to buy a golden flute. Do I have to say anything else? Click the photo above to listen to the story.
Dave Zoby reads, "Dancing with Death on the Bighorn"
Click the photo to hear Dave Zoby read his feature story from the most recent issue of The Drake about nearly losing it all on The Bighorn River.
The Fly Tapes: Chris Dombrowski
The Fly Tapes is the brainchild of writer and podcast host Jason Rolfe. Recently, the podcast featured Chris Dombrowski, one of my favorite writers. Dombrowski’s most recent book, Body of Water, was published in 2016 to much critical acclaim. Most recently, The Drake Magazine published his profile piece on his friend and fishing partner, David James Duncan. Dombroski’s work is on par with greats like Harrison, Hemingway, and Stegner. You’ll want to give this a listen. Click the photo to check it out.
I have a love-hate relationship with videos like this. They are aesthetically beautiful, the cinematography is excellent, and the fishing is stellar. Its about wild fish in a wild place. On the other hand, after a quick google search I realized I won’t ever have a chance to fish there. With a $20,000 price tag for a week of fishing I’m willing to guess most of us won’t be going to Cosmoledo anytime soon.
Maybe its jealousy, but I find myself hating the guys in the film. Who are these globe-trotting millionaires who make it a “tradition that once a year we travel to Seychelles and it’s outer atolls?” Part of me wants to be their fish-bum buddy who tags along. The other half wants to stick to my “earn it” philosophy—no guides, no luxury lodge, do the research, get there by your own sweat, and figure it out yourself. However, if you or anyone you know has a free ticket to a place like this, let me know, I’m in.
It all started with a few trout...
In Yellowstone National Park, lake trout set off a domino effect that has already affected bears and elk. Now it threatens trumpeter swans and other birds. This National Geographic article is the most interesting and informative writeup I’ve found on the subject. Click the photo to check it out.
The last two weeks
By Canadian standards, it’s been hot the last two weeks. As always, the fishing in the 1,000 islands and Lake Ontario has been spectacular. The heat pushes smallmouth and pike deep, but not out of reach. The carp enjoy it, and are currently making love splashes in the shallows. I’ve been testing new flies, swimming when it gets too hot, and trying to appreciate how beautiful this area is. These are a few photos I’ve taken along the way.
The Flyfish Journal summer issue/Cameron Scott's Five Laws of Fish
The summer issue of the FlyFish Journal is nothing less than outstanding. With writing from Cameron Scott, Miles Nolte, David Zoby, Monte Burke and photos from Nick Price, Copi Vojta, and Tim Romano, it’s a prime example of why FFJ is such a quality publication.
I take my time with the journal, reading a piece or two with coffee in the morning or, if I’m being honest, while holding court on the stool. I just finished the summer issue, and every piece was great, but one in particular stood out—Cameron Scott’s, Five Laws of Fish. It’s a stellar piece of writing paired with beautiful photos. It’s also challenging, pivoting from gritty descriptions of nature’s brutality to philosophical reflections on a life bookended and punctuated by fish.
From First Law of Fish,“Fortune favors the bold, but bold fish find hooks/ driven home. Talons in backs, flopping through the sky./ Cold fish, warm fish, cod fish, fried fish, god fish.”
From Third Law of Fish, “In heavy crowd, or empty street, in pitch and floe of each rotation/ of Earth, of Earth round sun, of sun in spiral and swirl/ of which be unafraid to show up to, and love which never dies/ a natural death, and the living which go on how and in the peculiar/ ways they want. To be wrapped up in the very essence of it—/ this thing in front of our noses so close we cannot see except for/ looking over vast distances; mountain tops, airplane windows,/ the edge of the sea. Find what you love and let it kill you/ in minutes and hours and days and years.”
This isn’t the stuff of hook and bullet publications. It’s hauntingly beautiful, and FFJ is courageous for publishing it.
Seriously, this is good shit—perhaps my favorite issue of FFJ I’ve read. Click the photo above to read Scott’s First Law of Fishing and pick up the summer issue to read all five.
A few weeks ago, I posted an article titled Your Stoke Won’t Save Us. It describes how simply enjoying or using a resource does little to conserve and protect it. This video from The Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Sage should inspire you to turn your stoke into action. Even if you have never visited the Yellowstone or Paradise Valley, I can assure you it is one of the world’s most beautiful places. Please consider donating time and/or money to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and contact your representatives and let them know you support all efforts to preserve the Yellowstone for posterity.
The Last First Mile
A radio documentary about why the first mile of Silver Bow Creek in Butte, Montana, was left for last to be cleaned up, and what a crew of feisty locals are doing about it.
Your stoke won't save us
Ethan Linck’s thought provoking essay for High Country News explores the disconnected relationship between “stoke” and conservation. It examines a number of viewpoints from writers like Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey. He concludes that "the idea that outdoor recreation leads to meaningful conservation rests on a big ‘if.’" That “if” is at the heart of his article, which will undoubtedly make readers meditate on their outdoor pursuits.
Its been a While...
Wondering why you haven't seen anything from me lately? I've been roaming between Montana, Idaho, and Illinois for the past month! One broken fly rod, a missing reel cover, and 5,000 miles later I'm back in Kingston. Here are a few photos from the trip.
“Brand Ambassadors” + Social Media – What Might They Be Doing to Your Fishery?
As someone who writes about fishing and takes photographs for a living, I think it's about time someone addressed the elephant in the room. There is a ton of pressure to come up with photos of big fish in beautiful places, but at the end of the day, most people (myself included) are more concerned with authenticity than big fish. This article from Ryan Hudson of Wyoming Fishing Company points out the hypocrisy and resource exploitation that sometimes takes place in the name of money and reputation. Click the photo above to read it.
The Field Coffee Diary
This video from Rolf Nylinder captures what attracts so many anglers to trout—stalking and sight casting to rising fish. Throw in the fact that the trout is huge and your friends are cheering you on from the bank, and its one of those moments in fishing that’s indescribable. With summer on the way and a trip to Montana in the works, I'm frothing for a light rod in my hand and a cloud of insects in the air.
Want to Honor Jim Harrison? Make His Memorial Dinner
Anyone who knows me has probably heard me rant about both my love of food and Jim Harrison’s writing. Undoubtedly, part of what originally drew me to Harrison were the stories of his appetite for life, food included. He loved writing, fishing, hunting, food, wine, and smoking, all of which appear his writing. I believe Harrison is one of the great American writers. His cut-to-the-bone, no-nonsense prose and eloquent poetry are a force to be reckoned with. It is both a goal and a pleasure of mine to read his entire bibliography (a lofty goal considering Harrison published over fifty books).
If you’ve never heard of Harrison or are only briefly aware of his writing, I encourage you to read Chris Dombrowski’s recent article, Want to Honor Jim Harrison? Make His Memorial Dinner in Outside Magazine. Dombrowski (also one of my favorite writers) knew Harrison well, and the feast he attended in Harrison’s memorial rightly swayed towards the barbarous gluttony that Harrison approved of. Read the article, read Legends of the Fall, read True North, read The River Swimmer. Just read anything by Jim Harrison. Then have a glass of wine, a big meal, and a smoke for Jim. The anniversary of his death was yesterday.
Click the photo above to read the article.
With Lefty Kreh’s passing, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the influence he had on all of us that fly fish. Of particular note was Lefty’s insistence that fly fishing should be made affordable and accessible to the public. It might seem like standard rhetoric today, but in the early days of fishing it was heresy. It’s odd “remembering” someone I never met, but I suppose that’s the power of fishing, it spans time and distance and connects us to people with the same passion. Click the photo above to read the New York Times obituary of Lefty Kreh.
I stumbled on this short film last week. It’s the type of thing I think Wes Anderson would make if he filmed something about fly fishing. I really enjoyed it, and I hope you will too.
From Ben Herndon on Vimeo: “Das Fischer is a 9-minute, prop-heavy, fictional comedy about a young German man, Otto Rubschlager, and his magazine-inspired journey to Idaho to learn the art of fly fishing and uncover the mysteries of the reclusive, legendary outdoorsman, Hildebrand Richwine.”
Right Brain Retrieve
The new “540 pound baby” from Paul Puckett and Mike Benson, “Right Brain Retrieve” is a podcast that explores the confluence of flyfishing, music, and art. The first episode recently aired and it sounds like it’s going to be a hell of a podcast. Click the link above to listen to a conversation with Nathaniel Riverhorse Nakadate, a discussion about art, writing from Mike Benson, and music from Paul Puckett.
Lefty Kreh saved fly-fishing
Lefty Kreh recently announced he will no longer maintain his intense travel schedule of casting clinics, fishing conventions, and other fishing events. At 92, his health is deteriorating and he has decided to focus his efforts on writing at home. You can read his letter here.
After reading the letter and thinking about what Lefty has done for flyfishing, I stumbled across an article from Outside Magazine that does a great job of conveying just how influential he has been. Click the photo above to read the interview with Lefty, and let’s hope he still has many joyful years to come.
Hook Shots #1, Post-Record Muskie Drunk Texting
For those unfamiliar with Hook Shots, Field and Stream and Outdoor Life's fishing editor, Joe Cermele, travels around the country chasing anything that swims and having a hell of a time doing it. Hook Shots videos are a mixture of heavy metal, gonzo journalism, and fish porn. Cermele recently started a podcast for Hook Shots whose first episode premiered today (2/20). It follows Robert Hawkins as he deals with friends, the media, and everything else that goes with catching the new world record fly caught muskie.
From Hook Shots: "Have you ever dry heaved while giving a major news station a TV interview? Robert Hawkins has. After landing the biggest muskie ever caught on fly, the party was legend, and the story of the days following the catch shed great light on what to do—and what not to do—if you ever land that record fish you've always fantasized about."
The video above is of Hawkin's record catch. Click here to listen to the podcast.
A steelhead quest
"Terry Myers, a steelhead advocate and long-time angler, spent 2015 trying to catch a wild steelhead on a different river each month of the year. After successfully hooking a wild steelhead in all but two of the months, she set her sight on finding the last two fish to complete her quest.
The film explores the experience of an unassuming but determined woman on this two-year quest. Watch as she tries to unlock the mysteries of catching wild steelhead through the changing seasons. With her husband Jerry in tow, we see the challenges they face with depleting runs, while still enjoying every aspect of being on the river together—rain or shine, fish or no fish."
Montana State University's Trout and Salmonid Collection
Montana State University is home to the most comprehensive collection of trout and salmonid materials in the world. The collection houses everything from scientific materials to artwork to oral histories. I’ve recently been listening to these oral histories while at my tying desk, refilling boxes for the coming spring. It’s been a pleasure listening to people like John Gierach, Bud Lilly, Lefty Kreh, and Bob Jacklin recount their angling lives. One of my favorites has been A.K. Best, especially the story he shares at the beginning of the interview. Click the photo above to give it a listen.
"It all started innocently enough. Just another day on the Fork, another bluebird, Idaho, Henry's Fork kind of day......"
Todd Tanner's recent essay, Dead Man, for Hatch Mag is strikingly well written. In just a few hundred words, Tanner takes you through the death of a friend, the subsequent grief and sense of loss, and how a community of guides and friends came together to send their friend on one final trip down the river. The writing is tight and powerful. By the end, I wanted to shake Tanner's hand for penning such a moving piece. Click the photo above to read it.
A River's Reckoning
From Trout Unlimited:
Paul Bruchez is a fifth-generation rancher whose family raises cattle in the upper reaches of the Colorado River near Kremmling, Colorado, where he also runs a private fly-fishing guide service.
“A River’s Reckoning” tells the story of Paul’s awakening to the importance of river conservation and the legacy of his family’s ranch when drought and urban water diversions deplete the Colorado River, threatening the ranch’s operations. When Art Bruchez, the family patriarch, is diagnosed with cancer, Paul and his younger brother Doug are forced to step in and take over. This “river reckoning” pushes Paul and his family to confront new challenges and embrace new ways of thinking to keep their family’s ranch—and others in the valley—alive and productive. Paul and his brother rise to meet these challenges, working with neighbors, Trout Unlimited, American Rivers and other conservation groups and partners to find creative solutions that enhance their irrigation systems while restoring trout habitat in the river. “A River’s Reckoning” is a beautiful story of family, grit, and legacy, all in support of sustaining a ranch at 10,000 feet that depends heavily on stewardship of the Colorado River.
The film was recently honored as an official selection of the 2018 Wild and Scenic Film Festival.
Learn more at waterpartners.tu.org
The Fly Tapes
The Fly Tapes is a project of Syzygy Fly Fishing and Writers on the Fly that promotes writers and artists who capture “the moments in fly fishing we find difficult to otherwise relate.” Each episode features an interview with a writer or artist whose work relates to fly fishing and contains selected readings from Writers on the Fly events. Fly fishing has a rich literary and artistic heritage. If you are interested in hearing from writers whose work continues this tradition, I highly recommend you give it a listen. I look forward to every episode.
The drakecast strikes again
If assistant editor of the Drake, Elliott Adler, learned anything from our recent conversation, its never to ask me about carp again. All kidding aside, it was fun talking with him, and an honor to be featured on the recent episode of the DrakeCast. As someone who loves both bluegrass and flyfishing for carp, I think he did a great job with the podcast. If, for some strange reason, you just want to hear me blabber about carp, skip to the 39:50 mark, but I highly recommend listening to the whole episode.
If you haven't listened to the Drake Cast you are missing one of the best fishing podcasts around. They also happen to talk about my upcoming article on the Midwest "Golden Bones" Fly Tournament. Give it a listen and pick up the winter issue soon!
The 2017 drake video awards- saltwater
The Drake Video Awards showcase some of the best moments in fly fishing caught on film each year. While there are different categories, one of my favorites is saltwater. The raw intensity of saltwater fishing is something I'm drawn to, even though I've never spent more than a week fishing the salt myself. The first 60 seconds of this preview for the saltwater division captures this intensity unlike anything I've ever seen. The whole video is awesome, but I've found myself re-watching the beginning again and again.
Rediscover your region
By the time you read this, I'll have already been on the road for 8 hours. I'm headed back to Nebraska to see my family, bowhunt whitetails, and chase quail with my pointer, Tippet. I love being home, but its a tough time to leave the Great Lakes. Just this past weekend, I caught my biggest salmon to date across the border in New York. I love fishing the Great Lakes because of the diverse year-round fishing it offers. This awesome video from Brookdog Fishing Company should give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
The big c
The Fly Fish Journal recently followed John "Montana" Bartlett as he explored the Columbia River for carp. Like most things the FFJ does, its worth checking out. Click the photo above for a well done film, great photography, and some stellar writing.
tHE WILD PRESIDENT
It wasn’t until Jimmy Carter paddled the Chattooga River that he understood the power and raw beauty of a free-flowing river. "The Wild President" tells the story of Carter’s descent of Bull Sluice Rapid and how the experience transformed his life and politics, resulting in the "wild and scenic" designation of 57 miles of the Chattooga River, permanently protecting it from development and dams. If you've never experienced a wild free-flowing river, I encourage you to seek one out. I guarantee it will change your life just like President Carter's.
odd man out
Another great video from the folks at YETI...
Fall is here!
Its official, fall is here in Ontario. The cooler Autumn air is drawing color out of the trees and hints of red, yellow, and orange are visible on the shoreline. I'm always torn this time of year. The salmon are running, smallmouth are putting on the feedbag, musky are hunting the shallows, and the whitetails are losing their velvet. Judging from the photos, you can tell I've been on a salmon kick. That's about to change though. Hopefully I can show you a photo of a St. Lawrence musky soon!
Toe to Toe
In Orvis' new short film Toe to Toe, we meet Marty Loudder, a woman who embodies the true spirit of fly fishing. Marty suffered from polio when she was three, losing the use of her arm and hand. Instead of letting her disability control her life, Marty got creative and learned how to do a number of tasks using her feet--including fly fishing. Her perseverance, creativity, and determination should be an inspiration to anyone who has ever picked up a fly rod and knows how difficult it can be. Her story is an example of how flyfishing brings out the best of the human spirit.
SCOF Your Face
If you haven't seen it yet, the new issue of SCOF (Southern Culture on the Fly) is out and its as good as always. Click the photo above to check it out!
Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene
As fly anglers, we are drawn to remote places-- wild places with wild fish that have never seen a fly. Its in our nature to seek these places out, to explore the world, fly rod in hand. But our very presence is a threat to these places. The more the fishing community heralds them as "the next world class fishing destination," the more quickly they become domesticated. Yet, anglers can also be a force of conservation, protecting fragile environments from exploitative industries.
Kamchatka is a good example of where these issues are playing out in real time. Once protected from human incursion by the Cold War, now it is open to both anglers and industry. Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene is the best documentary I have seen on the recent developments in Kamchatka. Although it may seem distant and unconnected from the places many of us fish, the story playing out there is all too familiar.
Wondering why you haven't seen much from me lately? I've been in northern Ontario, in the Temagami region, working on a piece for American Angler Magazine! 9 days, 30+ miles of paddling, 4 miles of portages, 20+ lakes. I can't wait to sit down and write about the trip. What a beautiful part of the world!
One Man's Trash
This video contains everything I love about fly fishing-- exploring out of the way places, finding beauty where others fail to see it, and having a ton of fun with good friends. I hope you are finding the hidden beauty wherever you live!
2017 Year in Review (so far...)
It's been a hell of a year so far. I've been lucky enough to fish with some good friends, including my dad, and go on some amazing adventures. Yesterday, I realized that I've caught my biggest smallmouth, pike, carp, and walleye this year. One of those fish would have made this a memorable season, but all at once is phenomenal and speaks to the health of the fishery we have in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence. Just when it seemed like things couldn't get any better I caught my largest perch a few days ago. With a handful of trips coming up in the next several months, I'm very thankful to live here and get to fish as much as I do. Here are some photos from the last few months to give you an idea of how much the fishing gods have been smiling on me.
The Drake is one of my favorite magazines. The only problem is it only comes out four times a year. Needless to say, I was stoked to see they are now doing a podcast. The first episode follows grammy-winning musicians through Wisconsin. The second episode (which you can listen to by clicking the photo above) looks at the effects of the recent fire that ravaged Great Smoky Mountain National Park. So far, its a little like The Drake meets NPR. I'm really excited for the upcoming episodes which follow The Drake's iconic clunker, Clyde, as it rambles across the country from one fishy location to another.
Crunch Time: Fishing vs. Tying
It's not fly tying season, and that's a problem. Every winter I tie what seems like a five year supply of flies, but after a few months of heavy fishing that supply always runs dangerously low. The work horse flies disappear first, the ones you have confidence in. The ones that catch fish. Once those are gone the experimental flies make an appearance, the flies tied after too many beers, the ones you thought up in a dream. Sometimes they work, more often they don't. Finally, I turn to the duds. They were experiments that failed-- failed to cast, failed to swim, failed to catch fish. I should go back to the vise, burn the midnight oil and pump out a dozen flies a night. But I don't. I'm tired from the sun, from the wind, from straining my eyes looking for fish. I'm tired of using flies that don't catch fish.
The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast: John Gierach
If you've never listened to Tom Rosenbauer on the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide podcast, your missing a trove of fishing knowledge and awesome interviews. The recent episode with author John Gierach is particularly good. Gierach is the original trout bum, and I use the word "bum" in the best sense of the word. His writing relates the thoughtfulness he brings to fishing, and with over 20 books and countless articles, Gierach is a pillar in the canon of fishing literature. Click the photo above to head over to the Orvis site and listen to the interview.
The Littering Fisherman
This past week, I caught my first Great Lakes steelhead. Not only were there lots of big fish, but the creek where we found them was crystal clear, making for some fantastic technical sight fishing. We explored a large section of water without seeing another person the entire day. However, there was ample evidence of previous anglers--beer cans, styrofoam worm containers, energy drinks, birds nests of discarded monofilament. It left me thinking, who would pollute a place where they fish? When they return, what do they think when they see their litter still laying where they left it?
I don't have any answers, but I did find a great piece about the subject from Chad Shmukler at Hatch. He perfectly outlines the question when he writes, "[...] it seems like common sense that those who seek out these places would want to preserve them. And I'm not talking preservation in the big-picture sense. I'm talking about preservation in its simplest sense: leaving these places as you met them so that they will call you back again." Click the photo above to read the full article, and when you see some litter on your next trip, pick it up.
BahamaCon: Shrimp training and honky conchin'
“What was the purpose of your trip?”
“What is flyfishing?”
“Fishing with a fly, no worms or bait.”
The US Customs at the Nassau Airport should know what flyfishing is. Like all fishing trips, the take-outs are the worst and re-entry back into whatever was your life before takes time. It’s like time travel, don’t rush it.
Click the photo above to read/see Copi Vojta's awesome photo essay from the Fly Fish Journal's recent trip to South Andros.
Southern Culture on the Fly
Southern Culture on the Fly (SCOF) is a quarterly online journal documenting fly fishing in the southeast. Its also much more than that. Reading SCOF makes you feel like your sitting on a dock in Louisiana sipping on an Abita Amber and tucking into a pile of crawfish after a long day of redfish. Turns out when you combine the easy-going spirit of the south with fly fishing and fried chicken you get a pretty awesome magazine. Its one of the few publications I always end up reading from (virtual) cover to cover. Did I mention its 100% free? Click the photo above to check out their latest issue. Now go SCOF your face!
I don't like the word "sportsman"
This article immediately grabbed me because words like "sportmen," "angler," and "outdoorsmen" have always bothered me. They seem to trivialize those of us who structure our lives around the things we love doing. They make caricatures out of us; the portly tweed wearing "sport," the straight billed pot-smoking "I live in my van" bro, the rifle toting flannel wearing bearded "outdoorman." While all stereotypes hold a little truth, I'm never comfortable using them. However, as a writer, what word do you use when the only words available are overused redundant cliches? I don't have an answer, but Johnny Carrol Sain comes as close as anything I have read:
"Hunting and fishing transcends sport. They transcend our modern definitions of humanity. Hunters and anglers were the default form of the Homo genus for eons. It seems demeaning, beneath us, to attach an Industrial Age label to Stone Age actions. It’s a title that separates us from what we really belong to. It’s not who we are and “sport” is not what we do. It’s not an honest word. [...] What is the word for who we were and who we really are at the core?"
Click the photo above to read the full article .
This is the best fly fishing film I have seen in quite some time. It is beautiful from start to finish and truly captures the passion of fly fishing for these amazing fish. Want to go tarpon fishing now?
F3T: Fly Fishing Film Tour
One of my favorite events of the year is when F3T comes to town. There is no better way to get excited for the upcoming season than by sitting down with some friends and watching the best fly fishing films of the year all in one sitting. The lights dim, the sound of opening beers fills the room, and the hollering and cheering begins. Throw in the chance to win some awesome raffle prizes and its an all-around fantastic event! We always leave dreaming up new adventures for the year, and I'm sure you will too.
Click the link to check out the F3T website and see when they are coming to a city near you. If you go I guarantee you won't be disappointment. F3T.
Reno Fly Shop Podcast: Kelly Galloup
The Reno Fly Shop podcast puts out some interesting and informative interviews and their recent podcast with Kelly Galloup is no exception. Check out the podcast for Kelly's thoughts on recent trends in the fly fishing world, his ideas about articulated streamers, and the egos of fly fishermen.
Fontinalis Rising: Everyone Gets a Trophy
A well written and thought provoking article about the merits of private trout water. Also, if you haven't read much of Jason Tucker's work on his blog "Fontanalis Rising," its worth reading through a few articles. His writing covers subjects not typically seen with other "hook and bullet" style publications. Click the photo above to check it out.
Its the first day of Spring. Warmer weather will be here soon, melting the ice many of us have been loathing all winter, and making way for some terrific spring fishing. That alone should be enough to give you goosebumps, but if not head on over to The Drake and check out this short introduction to their Video Awards. Click the photo above to watch it.
American Rivers- Legacy
“My job was to enjoy this beautiful country, and give back for what it had given to me. And doing the Wild & Scenic bill and being involved in all the things here, I felt like I accomplished that.” – Jack Dennis
With all that's going on in Washington, its important to remember what we as sportsmen and sportswomen are fighting for. Its easy to scroll past an article about conservation, and the recent barrage of events in the political realm can seem daunting. However, Jack Dennis makes it clear that a single person can make a difference in the health and preservation of a water system. We need to pass down our nation's beauty to our children, but we also need to pass on the spirit of conservation that motivates them to fight for what they love when the time comes.
Tying up Some Answers
Its one week until our clocks "spring forward." Many of us are starting to emerge from our winter hibernation, fingers blistered from tying flies and our breath smelling of beer and whiskey. The water opened up last week and I caught my first pike on the fly of 2017. Unfortunately, a recent batch of ice has sent me crawling back to my tying desk. I haven't tied as much this winter as in years past, but I think that's because I've become more deliberate in my tying--not doing it just for the sake of tying, but really thinking about what I'm trying to achieve. At the end of winter, I used to have a pile of garbage flies that I would tear up and try to recycle, but I'm proud to say I don't have a single one this year. They are all tucked away in my boxes, begging to be tied on and just as anxious for spring as I am.
This weeks feature, by Johnny Carrol Sain, addresses what I've realized this winter--when we tie flies we are trying to answer questions, some about fish and fishing, and some about ourselves. Click the photo above to read the article.
The Itinerant Angler: Flip Pallot
Maybe its because I've been dreaming about getting out on the freshwater flats for carp, but for the second week in a row the Fly Water Medley is featuring something about Flip Pallot. In this interview with the Itinerant Angler, Flip discusses " the best and worst of fishing television, why we were lucky to have a show like his in the first place, and his most memorable travel stories." Also, the Itinerant Angler is an excellent podcast with a wealth of content to explore. Click the photo above to check it out.
Uncharted: The History of Hell's Bay Boatworks
If this doesn't make you want to buy a skiff and move to Florida I don't know what will. Flip Pallot is a legend....enough said.
Looking for Ponies
This week the Fly Water Medley is featuring a photo essay and short video by Copi Vojta that relates a trip he took to British Columbia. The video is "low-fi" but impressive; Vojta shot, edited, and recorded the music himself. The writing and photography capture the do-it-yourself mentality and sense of adventure that any angler can appreciate. Click the photo above for a link to the Flyfish Journal where you can watch the video and check out the photo essay.
The Super Salmon
Salmon are one of the most remarkable fish on the planet. Their resilience and raw power rival any other salmonid species. The rivers where they spawn are wildly beautiful, yet are under constant threat from development. As proof, check out this awesome video from Ryan Peterson that follows the salmon of Alaska's Susitna River.
For anyone who is tying like mad to ward off cabin fever this winter, or even someone who buys their flies, its always good to know where your feathers come from. Whiting Farms produces some of the best feathers in the world for a variety of tying purposes (you know those $130 rooster saddles you have been drooling over). Its important to remember that those feathers weren't made in a factory, they came from a living thing. The video above and this article from the FlyFish Journal do an excellent job of capturing the people and animals that bring us such amazing feathers to work with.
Many anglers spend their lives (and thousands of dollars) trying to catch a permit on the fly. For them, the environment where permit swim and the challenge of catching one is the ultimate experience in fly fishing. Catching a single permit is a major accomplishment.
In the new film, t. Falcatus, the crew from C1Films catch seven in a day. While some might roll their eyes, the point of the film isn't bragging rights, it's to give anglers, the majority of whom will never have the chance to cast to a permit, the opportunity to be a part of something so amazing. The film really makes you feel like you are sitting in the boat with them as they hook permit after permit, laughing at how ridiculously good the fishing is.
Click the photo above to check it out. I highly recommend you donate to cover their costs. Fly fishing films like this don't happen very often and I'm excited to see what they do next.
Will the real Theodore Roosevelt please stand up?
With it being inauguration day, it is appropriate to reflect on the last eight years and what President Obama has done for those of us who love to fish, hunt, backpack, or do pretty much anything outdoors. Surprisingly, Obama has been the greatest conservation president in American history. This article from Moldy Chum is well worth your time and sums up a conservation legacy that most people are unaware of. (Also, if you haven't heard about Moldy Chum, they put up some fantastic fly fishing content daily)
Jazz & Fly Fishing
If you don't know about Jazz & Fly Fishing, you should. Both talented musicians and passionate fly fishermen, Jazz & Fly Fishing puts out some beautiful and quirky videos guaranteed to be unlike anything you have ever seen. The beauty of the Nordic wilderness frames everything they do, and they are usually good for a laugh. If the video above has you scratching your head wondering what they are about or what else they have done, (and it likely will) I highly suggest you check out their website: www.jazzandflyfishing.com
Body of Water
Chris Dombrowski is not a great fishing writer. He is a great writer who happens (sometimes) to write about fishing. Anytime he puts his thoughts to paper, anglers should sit up and take notice. His new book Body of Water is no exception. Focusing on the legendary bonefishing guide, David Pinder, Dombrowski's new work explores what it means to love fish and fishing in the modern age. Beautifully writen and eloquent without pretension, Body of Water makes clear that fishing is not always just fishing-- that it occurs within the scope of history, economy, and philosophy, and that it's all the more interesting for it.
Wild Trout: Montana
"If you look at the evolution of the angler, we start fishing because we like to eat fish. We ultimately fish because we want a relationship with nature, and we go to wild fish because we want that relationship to be honest."
This is the Low Country
Ever dreamed of chasing redfish in the shallows? This video might make you pull the trigger on that trip you've been putting off.
The Legend of Lefty
Another legend in the history of fly fishing, Lefty Kreh is the archetype of a fly fisheman. Garden and Gun put together a great piece on Lefty that details his eventful life. Click the photo above to check it out.
Streamer Chronicles: Kelly Galloup
Kelly Galloup is a giant in the world of fly fishing. Galloup probably knows as much about streamer fishing and the Madison River as anyone alive. His shop, The Slide Inn, is a top notch establishment, having earned its reputation through hard work and days on the water. Streamer Chronicles gives you an inside look into Galloup's world. Specifically, his thoughts on fishing and tying streamers.
Along the Way
Anyone who loves to fish knows the places where fishing brings you and the people you meet along the way are just as memorable as the fish themselves. Along the Way from Hooke Films highlights this aspect of the sport and simultaneously shows off the beauty of the Canadian wilderness.
Winter is Coming...
With fall quickly fading to winter, most of us start to get a little nervous. Sure, there is fly tying, beer, and whiskey to get you through, but they only go so far before you start to get a serious case of the shack nasties. For those who live in places where the water will be getting hard soon, why not plan a trip for the sake of your sanity? Click the photo above for Field and Stream's recommendations on where to go.
The Orvis way
Hank Patterson is possibly the best the thing to happen to fly fishing in recent years. If you haven't seen his original videos be sure to check them out. They are always good for a laugh.
Cooking Trout- Halloween Edition
In honor of Halloween, lets talk about something that scares most fly anglers--killing and eating trout. While I believe in the ethic of catch-and-release fishing, there are times when it is perfectly acceptable to keep a few fish for the table. I would never keep a fish from a heavily pressured river, but a few mountain trout cooked over a campfire on a backpacking trip are an excellent way to end the day. Keeping these fish not only fills your stomach, it improves the fishing in lakes with limited forage and an over-abundance of trout.
Once, on a flats fishing trip, I was discussing how wonderful smoked whitefish are with the guy I had been paired with for the day. He immediately stuck up his nose and said he would never eat a native species. I didn't say anything at the time, but he didn't seem to mind the red snapper the lodge had caught and cooked for us the night before. My point is that there are no hard rules when it comes to keeping fish or letting them swim. What matters is thinking about what your are doing. What effect will it have on the fishery? Is it sustainable to keep a few fish? While I release 95% of the fish I catch, there are situations where keeping a fish is not as spooky as it sounds.
To read more on the subject, click the photo above for a great article from Hatch Magazine on eating trout and methods of preparing them.
Fishing for Likes
Because fishing is so much more than seeing how many likes you can get on social media. Click the image above to read a well justified rant from Pile Cast Fly Fishing on hashtags, the portrayal of women in fishing, and how a heavy focus on social media degrades the experience of fishing.
The Day the Yellowstone Died
Not many people have the pleasure of knowing that a river was one of the most influential things in their life. For me, the Yellowstone opened my eyes to the overwhelming beauty in the world. I spent weeks floating it with some of the best people I have had the privilege to know, I almost killed my father and grandfather in a moment ofcareless ignorance above one of its rapids, my wife and I pledged ourselves to one another on its banks. It is a river of surreal consequence. "[...] even people who live far from here care about the Yellowstone. They need to know that rivers like this still exist." Click the photo above to read an excellent article by Callan Wink about to read about the river's most recent troubles.
Kirk Deeter- Thoughts on "Bobbers"
Love them or hate them, most anglers have strong feelings when it comes to the orange and pink balls we attach to our leaders. Kirk Deeter offers up some interesting thoughts on the role of "indicators" in fly fishing.
"Given the circumstances, who wouldn't/ talk to birds--they can fly, we can't." So begins my favorite poem by author, poet, and fly fishing guide, Chris Dombrowski. Dombrowski's poetry is poignant, graceful, and searchingly truthful. I first encountered his work as a graduate student when my advisor handed me a copy of Earth Again and mentioned I might like. Its river water soaked pages, creased binding, and crinkled edges are proof he was right.
Dombrowski's poetry does not shy away from the darker aspects of life; death, decomposition, grieving. Yet, they are presented in juxtaposition with moments of beauty--the birth of a child, the form of a woman, and yes, the occasional trout.
I highly suggest checking out his work. You can read an interview he did with outside online by clicking the image above. Additionally, follow this link to read a short bio.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of fly fishing is its ability to lead you into places you would otherwise never visit. The urge to explore is strong in fly fishing--the best fishing of your life might be just around the corner. Blue-lining captures that spirit of exploration and gets you away from the crowds and into the mountain. I especially enjoyed this segment from Redington's Find Your Water series. The video is definitely worthy of your time, as is the entire series.
Perhaps the single greatest piece of writing about fishing is John Voelker's, Testament of a Fisherman. There is a rich canon of writing concerning fishing, but in my opinion none of them more beautifully capture the entire experience of fishing like Voelker. Inspired by the wild and scenic waters he fished in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, he wrote 22 lines that tapped straight into the soul of fishing. Aaron Peterson filmed, Testify: A Visual Poem of Trout Fishing, near Voelker's home waters in Marquette County to commemorate the author. I find myself continually rereading Voelker's work, and rewatching Peterson's video.
At the Cabelas
Long gone are the days of the mom and pop “beer, bait and ammo” store. The kind of places where you could grab a cup of coffee, a jar of worms, renew your fishing license, and get out the door. Nowadays, outdoor megastores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops (among many others) are not content to sell you the bare necessities—they want to sell you an experience, albeit one they have manufactured. It’s an experience where you march into the outdoors armed with the best that technology has to offer; $1,000 fly rods, $500 coolers, and the matching outfit that lets everyone know you are serious (or ridiculous).
Having worked at Cabela’s for two years while in college, I can attest to the allure of the outdoor megastore. They offer products that supposedly will not only make your fishing and hunting more productive, but also more enjoyable. However, you get jaded pretty quickly after hounding people to sign up for credit cards while listening to "billy buck" (an electronic deer) heckle you from the "shootin gallery.” At times it seemed like I worked at Chuck E. Cheese’s for rural America. Despite this, I still walk into Cabela’s from time to time and pick up a few things while marveling at the newest gadgets.
Dave Zoby’s, At the Cabelas, captures both the undeniable magnetism of such places while warning of “consumer experiences replacing wilderness experiences.” Characteristic of Zoby’s work, the piece is well written, thought provoking, and definitely worth a read.
Independence Day/ Carpology/ Merica
Carp are one of the most underappreciated fish swimming in American waters. There are carp swimming in your local golf course water hazard right now. The lake where you take the kids to swim probably has carp in it. The creek behind Walmart—it’s got carp too. Carp are everywhere, and the variety of ways to catch them rivals the all-American largemouth bass. What better a day than the 4th of July to proclaim carp the new American superstar? Still skeptical? If so check out Carpology by Todd Moen and Catch Magazine. Happy Independence Day! Now go catch a carp! Merica!
Living Rivers- Cast
Cast, a short video from American Rivers and Epic Montana highlights the importance of protecting our beautiful resources and not taking them for granted. I was lucky enough to live in southwest Montana for a brief period. Even during that short time, the change I saw taking place, some beneficial and some detrimental, was remarkable. Living in Montana imparted me with a baseline for what a wild untamed river looks like. Looking back at the rivers of my youth, like the Platte and the Missouri rivers in Nebraska, is at once both nostalgic and saddening. The Platte River used to be a mile wide in sections of Nebraska. Now, after urban water consumption in Colorado and agricultural irrigation in western Nebraska, it is only a shadow of its former self. I still loved floating the Platte; camping on sandbars, hunting for morels along its banks, and fishing for catfish, but after Montana, I could not help but wonder what it used to be. In the future, hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and work to protect our rivers for all who enjoy them.
Fishing has a bonding effect on those that do it together. When done with family, it takes on an almost sacred tone—you appreciate every cast, every tangle, every smile. Poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey, does an excellent job of capturing the feeling of those moments in her poem Elegy, which she wrote for her father. The poem follows the poet and her father on a salmon fishing trip to New Brunswick’s Miramichi River. What follows is an intimate piece of poetry that finds Trethewey examining her relationship with her father, as well as their future together. With Father's Day happening today, it seemed fitting to share this wonderful piece of writing.
That Three Seconds
The pleasure of fishing comes more from the process than the product. The culmination of the entire process lies in a moment known only by those who have experienced it—a flare of gills, the rocketing form, when all existence draws down to two points and a single line. When the universe holds its breath and what may be and what will be meet and become one. That Three Seconds by Max Disselkoen captures what draws so many anglers to sight fishing, the moment between when the fly hits the water and when the fish reacts.
The Glory of Failing
"I am willing to state for the record that fly fishing is the most fun a person can have when, by any objective yardstick, you are failing miserably."
Being There, by Tom Davis is an optimistic glance at fly fishing failure through the eyes of someone who sees no shame in getting skunked. Appearing in Hatch Magazine, Davis extols the virtues of living in the moment--even in moments of defeat.
The Life and Legacy of Jim Harrison
“Barring love, I’ll take my life in large doses alone — rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs.”
Recently, the world lost a legend. Jim Harrison died on March 16 at his writing desk. Anyone who has read Harrison knows he was so much more than Legends of the Fall. His poetry cut to the core of truth and meaning. He favored sharp direct writing over flowery prose and took the shortest path to his point. He lived his life with a vigorous lust most people only dream of.
Living in the Paradise Valley of Montana not far from the Yellowstone River, Harrison’s life was as wild as the Yellowstone itself. His passion for fishing, hunting, food, wine, smoke, and truth drove him to a life of prolific writing. No author of recent times captured the wild, violent, beautiful soul of rural America like Harrison. With his passing goes one of the most underappreciated writers of our time.
In the days following his death, many excellent articles have appeared about his life and work, but perhaps the greatest is Chris Dombrowski's, The Gospel According to Jim, in Anglers Journal. Click the image above to read the article.
Fly Fish Stoke
This video from Patagonia never fails to get me excited for a summer of fishing. The variety of species and numerous locations highlights the diversity of the sport. Get stoked!
Click the photo above to read a nice piece from Matt Moskal and The Drake about everyday people and the things they sacrifice to live the dream. From the comments section: “As the Yosemite climber Eric Beck said decades ago: ‘At either end of the social spectrum, there lies a leisure class’."
Through the Guides
Without a doubt, some of the most passionate and eccentric people in the world of flyfishing are guides. Guides run the gamut between romantic philosophers and obsessive headhunters, but no matter their mindset, their fishing is governed by a common theme—a love of their fisheries and the fish they pursue. Through the Guides follows three very different guides through their home waters and explores what drew them to flyfishing in the first place and what keeps them coming back.
Confessions of a Spit Rat
For anyone who has been to Alaska, or anyone who wants to go, Dave Zoby’s essay in Gray’s Sporting Journal should serve as a code to live by. The coastal towns of Alaska are strewn with the “Murphs” of the world—and they are better for it. Perhaps you have known a “Murph” or even been one yourself. If you have any fishing bum in you at all, the essay is worth checking out. Click the photo above to read it.