Trout Fishing Sun, 22 Jul 2018 04:39:56 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Tom Rosenbauer’s 12 Essential Trout Flies

There’s a confusing array of trout flies available today. Many of them are redundant, and you don’t need that many patterns to cover most of the situations you will find in trout streams around the world. If you want to simplify your fly selection or are just starting out, here are a dozen I would not leave home without, and with this selection I’d feel confident on any trout stream I have ever fished. Don’t even think about saying “What about….” You probably have your own favorites. This is my list.

Dry Flies

Parachute Adams (Sizes 10-20)

It just works. It works during mayfly hatches, caddis hatches, and in smaller sizes midge hatches. People worry about using it during caddis hatches because it has tails. Yeah, and caddisflies don’t have hooks sticking out of them either but it just works. The color is mixed enough so trout seem to pick out what they want.

BWO Sparkle Dun (Sizes 14-24)

There are tons of small olive colored mayflies in the world. From late winter through late fall, they hatch in trout streams throughout the world. Don’t worry about what species they are—just know that you’ll see them. This imitates the stage trout prefer—an emerging mayfly with the shuck still sticking to its back end.

PMD Sparkle Dun (Sizes 10-22)

Like Olives, cream colored mayflies range across scores of species that generally hatch late spring through late summer.

Low Rider CDC & Elk Caddis (Sizes 12-18)

The Elk Hair Caddis is a decent fly but sometimes it rides too high. Bigger trout avoid skittering caddis, and this one works good enough for an emerging or spent caddis. Plus it still has the floating qualities and visibility of an Elk Hair Caddis. Plus I think trout eat this sometimes thinking it’s a moth.

Chernobyl Ant (Sizes 8-12)

You gotta have a foam fly. Pick one. This one works as well as any. For big western rivers it’s a great searching fly or hopper imitation. It works when big stoneflies are out and about. You can float heavy nymphs on a dry dropper arrangement with it. In smaller sizes it even works in mountain brook trout streams. You will be surprised the places these big ugly foam flies work.

Griffith’s Gnat  (Sizes 14-22)

It imitates a small beetle or other terrestrial. It works during midge hatches. It works during small caddis or mayfly hatches. If fish are sipping something invisible just put one of these on. You’ll catch trout.


Pheasant Tail  (Sizes 12-20)

It works during hatches, before hatches, and when there are no hatches. Don’t leave home without some. I like mine both with and without beads but find trout accept it better in heavily fished waters sans the bead.

Gold Bead Hare’s Ear  (Sizes 8-18)

Trout probably think it’s a mayfly nymph, caddis larva, caddis pupa, scud, or stonefly. All I know is that they eat it most days if they’ll eat any nymph at all.

Brown Sexy Stone (Sizes 6-10)

Some kind of rubber-legged stone is essential on most rivers. It also imitates large mayfly nymphs, baby crayfish, and hellgrammites.

Tunghead Zebra Midge (Sizes 16-22)

In some rivers, you need to go tiny with your nymphs—especially in tailwaters. Although this one officially imitates a midge larva or pupa, it works when trout eat small mayfly nymphs and caddis pupae as well.


Bead Head Woolly Bugger (Sizes 6-12)

Don’t fight it. Just load up your box with these. They imitate so many large trout foods, and they just seem to create that impression of life that aggressive trout find difficult to refuse. Don’t rule out fishing this fly dead-drift, under and indicator. Sizes 6-12

Olive Freshwater Clouser (Sizes 6-8)

I don’t think you need many streamers. When trout turn on to bigger food items they’re not picky, but at times you need a more baitfish-looking fly than the Woolly Bugger. Plus it’s good to have a light streamer and a dark streamer in your fly box. Sizes 6 and 8.

]]> (Tom Rosenbauer) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 20 Dec 2017 10:03:56 -0500
Small Stream Fishing Part 1: How to Find a Stream of Your Own

0118-stream1It might surprise most fly fishers to find out that the number of fellow anglers in this country is not growing by leaps and bounds; in fact it is hardly growing at all. It is just that a finite number of anglers gets pushed around from one great spot to another at prime time, local people who bemoan the vast hordes of yuppies cluttering up their long-treasured secrets should blame the Internet more than A River Runs Through It. News of a great hatch on the Bighorn can be around the world in a matter of hours. Still, all of us yearn for a stream of our own, a place visited by only a few other fly fishers each season, where the tight feeling in your chest when you round the bend to check if anyone is in your favorite pool could be banished. You can find such a spot and it might be closer to home than you think.

There are no more secret medium-to large-sized trout streams. They lie exposed to easy casting, publicity, and tradition. Small streams are where you’ll find a place of your own. The easiest to find are the smaller branches of major trout streams. As you climb up the trunk and into the narrower limbs, crowds and other annoyances like canoes and inner tubes dissipate. Your chances of finding a huge trout decrease, but most often the sheer number of trout per square foot of stream increases dramatically. An adult trout can thrive in a pool the size of a large coffee table as long as at least part of this pool is over 2 feet deep or one edge of the pool has a log or rock they can use when danger threatens.

0118-stream3I often drive along one of my favorite streams with another fisherman and casually ask “Would you fish that?” “Naw, looks too small and brushy” is the usual answer and I put on my best poker face (which the Wednesday night crew will tell you is not too good) and agree. It’s almost axiomatic that streams like this look shallower from the car, and until you get off your butt and wade them that you see how deep the pools are, and you see that by working directly upstream you can get as much as a 30-foot cast, which is more than you need on a tiny stream. I have also found that by hiking upstream or downstream on these trickles, the streamside brush and the size of the pools open up. One such river near my house looks impossibly small from the road but if you bother to hike upstream 50 yards you’ll find a waterfowl pool that is 50-feet wide and 6 feet deep. It holds plenty of trout as long as the skinny dippers haven’t frightened them for the day.

You don’t always have to go to the very top of the system, of course. Sometimes you’ll find a small tributary that no one bothers with well down in the course of a famous river. My advice is to skip the first hundred yards, as most people try a few casts off the main river and then give up. Persistence will pay off. Don’t rule out irrigation ditches, either. Trout get sucked into irrigation systems and some of them are almost like spring creeks. One of my best evenings of trout fishing in California was in an irrigation ditch in the Fresno raisin country.

A word of caution: Little streams look notoriously fishy at high water and the realities of mid and late-season water levels can be disappointing. Just walking the banks won’t tell you much unless you happen to hit one at a rare time when there is a hatch of insects and the fish are rising. Small stream trout are remarkably talented at hiding their presence, seeing or sensing your presence long before you can see them and bolting under the nearest flat rock or log, rather than bolting upstream through a pool where they can be spotted. When I was a kid I found them either by poking along the undercuts in meadow streams with a stick or (gulp) worming them. Better yet is to fish them in prime time—late May to early June in the East and before or after runoff in the West.

When you do find one of these gems, leave your tip flex or fast action rods at home. Casts are very short, often just a few feet of fly line. You need a full-flex action to straighten the leader with these short casts—plus it’s just more pleasant when you feel the rod bending. The Superfine Trout Bum rods or a classic bamboo rod are the sticks designed for this kind of fishing. Do you need a super-short rod? It really depends on the size of the stream, and whether you have room behind and in front of you. With meadow streams, you can get away with an 8-foot rod and sometimes need one to keep your casts out of low brush along the river. In some mountain streams, trees don’t grow right up to the banks so you can get a 20 or even 30-foot cast behind you as long as you are casting straight upstream. But when you venture into the true wooded gems that most people walk by, you’ll be happier with a 6 1/2 or 7-foot rod that will fire a bushy dry under streamside brush with ease.

]]> (Tom Rosenbauer) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:39:36 -0500
Small Stream Fishing Part 2: Successful Flies for Small Streams

You’ll understand small-stream fly selection much better by thinking terrestrial insects, rather than the aquatic insects that most fly fishers study and discuss. Trout stomach content analysis done by scientists has shown that up to 90% of a trout’s diet in small streams is terrestrial insects, and that percentage seldom falls below 50%. Bigger rivers have large expanses of insect-producing riffles, and trout then position themselves in places where the current funnels this food to them. In small streams you don’t have these big insect factories, they are typically less fertile than larger rivers, and trout are forced to live in the few places with enough depth to protect them from predators. The banks of small streams are alive with ants, beetles, crickets, inchworms, spiders, grasshoppers, crickets, and leafhoppers. The air above a small stream hosts moths, bees, wasps, and many species of true flies like deer flies and houseflies. Mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies do live in small streams, but if a trout had to depend on these for subsistence it would starve.

Do small-stream trout key in on one species of beetle or ant and feed on it selectively? Probably not. In fact, small stream trout can’t afford to be selective, no matter what they’re feeding on. As long as you show them something that looks sorta like something they’ve eaten in the past, a meal that looks like food and not a threat, your fly will probably be eaten. It doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the insects you see along the stream, though. If you’re fishing a rocky, hemlock-lined stream a size 8 grasshopper fly might not be a good bet because those trout have never seen a grasshopper. Something that looks like a beetle or an ant or a deerfly would be a better choice because these are the insects you see in mountain forests.

news marchapril streams1

Now before you start loading up your fly box with little ant and beetle imitations, let me suggest that you may already have the right flies in your box. Even though you now know that small stream trout eat a lot of terrestrials, many of the terrestrial imitations designed for spring creeks and other quiet waters are tough to fish in small streams. You have to be able to see your fly when fishing this kind of water, so something that floats high or offers a white wing will help you fire your fly right into a deep slot and keep an eye on it. An Elk Hair Caddis does a fine job of imitating a moth in size 12 and 14, and a leafhopper in smaller sizes. A Humpy or a Royal Wulff can suggest the bulky profile of a beetle or big carpenter ant. A Parachute Adams does a fine job of imitating a house fly or wasp. Anything that suggests the bulk and shape of a terrestrial insect works; just save your low-floating and delicate emerger patterns for bigger rivers.

You’ll notice so far I’ve talked only about dry flies. I find them to be most effective in small streams, probably because trout here are used to seeing their food falling in from above. However, small streams do host aquatic insect larvae, plus terrestrials get pulled under the surface, so nymphs are effective as well. Sometimes trout in a deep pool that won’t come to the surface for your dry (or don’t see it) can be fooled on a nymph. The best tactic is to tie a 10-inch piece of tippet to the bend of the hook on your dry fly and hang a Beadhead Hare’s Ear or Prince Nymph under your dry fly. The dry acts as your indicator and at least half of the fish you catch will be on the dry, but now you’re covering the subsurface feeders as well. Another approach is to tie a low-floating ant or beetle dry to this dropper. You won’t be able to see the smaller terrestrial, but you’ll know if a trout takes it when the high-floating dry darts upstream.

How about streamers? I don’t think you’ll find them as effective as dries and nymphs, but early in the season you can sometimes do well with a small (size 10 or 12) Woolly Bugger, Blacknose Dace, or a Mickey Finn. Minnows and crayfish do live in small streams but since most trout in small streams are not much bigger than the streamers you might fish on a big river, keep your streamers to a size that won’t threaten these little guys.

Because small stream trout are opportunists and will usually rise for anything that resembles food, larger (size 10-14) dries and nymphs work better here than they do on most large rivers, where trout can feed selectively on smaller but more abundant aquatic insects. To push these bigger, more wind-resistant flies, it’s more efficient to use a 4 or 5-weight line than a delicate 2- or 3-weight. Those lighter lines are fine for spring creeks and tailwaters, and are fun to use on small trout, but to really get the job done without working too hard I’d suggest a rod that will push a bigger fly but is still fun to use on small fish. Our Superfine Trout Bum Rods are the perfect tool — light and fun to fish, with an action that loads perfectly on short casts, yet makes a tiger out of a 9-inch rainbow. I suggest the 664-3 for the tiniest brushy streams, the 704-4 for mountain streams with plunge pools, and the 795-4 for wider meadow streams or mountain streams with wide flood plains where brush does not encroach on the river banks. And, yes, if you really want to go with the lightest wand for tiny trout, a 602-4 is lots of fun. Just scale down your flies to a size 16 and keep your casts short.

]]> (Tom Rosenbauer) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:45:37 -0500
Small Stream Fishing Part 3: Smart Tactics for Small Streams

Which Fly First?
If the water is at a normal level and its temperature is above 50°, you have a choice of nearly any fly. If the water is shallow and not overly rich, choose a dry fly. You can cover a lot of water quickly without spooking the entire pool or run with a dry fly. The thinner the water, the more likely a blind-fished dry fly will produce. In fishing a dry, I’ll often find a deep pool where a dry won’t produce and throw on a weighted nymph that may catch a trout that didn’t come up for the dry.

Move more quickly than you think. Often fishermen move too slowly—spending too much time flogging one pool. Dries, especially in infertile streams where trout grab the first morsel that drifts by, can be fished fairly quickly, with one or two casts to each attractive spot. If there is tricky water in a pool or run, where drag is influencing your fly, you might make a half-dozen casts to the same spot, to learn the currents, or to throw slack line or curve casts to improve your drift.


With dries it also makes a difference what species of trout are in a stream. Rainbows, cutts, and brookies are more likely to take a dry on the first decent cast than browns which may wait for over a dozen seemingly perfect casts. Nymphs require a slower pace, especially if you know there are trout in a spot and feel confident you haven’t spooked them. Your first cast with a nymph should still be your best, as each subsequent cast has more potential to frighten the fish. Trout may often ignore a nymph until it drifts right in front of them, particularly if the stream offers a lot of food. A smart plan is to add weight to your leader, or to use a tuck cast, to get the fly deeper if your first dozen casts don’t produce a strike. Add weight until you start hanging bottom.

How long do you go before changing flies?
I’ll always give a dry fly a complete run through a small stream’s pool, or maybe half a riffle in a larger river. If I catch any trout, I’ll stay with the fly. If I catch a small trout, I might try a similar fly in a larger or smaller size, usually smaller. After a while, if I keep catching smaller trout, I may drop a nymph off the back, figuring the larger trout are not interested in surface food. Often smaller fish come to the surface but the lazier, more efficient, careful adults are reluctant to feed on top.

How to Make a Careful Approach?
When prospecting for trout, you don’t have the advantage of knowing exactly where the trout are, as when fishing to rising fish, so your approach is even more critical. Not only don’t you know where they are, but trout not actively feeding are more alert. Assume that the fish can see or hear you before you see them. 
You can get closer to a trout by approaching from directly behind, but many times stream conditions or the method you have chosen won’t allow it. Keep your profile low and your approach as stealthy as possible.

The crucial part starts before you step into the water. Staying well back from the water, read the water in the entire pool or riffle and figure out where most of the fish are before you step in. Then make a plan for the pool. If you’re faced with a pool where you suspect most of the good fish are at the head, starting at the tail may spook smaller trout into the head, causing a chain reaction of spooked fish. Your plan here might be to cut into the middle of the pool, so that any spooked fish will be forced to the tail.

Remember not to push ripples ahead of you when you wade. Any trout within the concentric circles will stop feeding. Stay on the bank if you can. As long as you can keep your profile low and kneel or crawl along the bank and don’t create heavy foot falls, you can almost always fish a meadow stream more effectively by staying out of the water.

If you have to wade, shallower water dissipates ripples quicker than deep water, and fast water keeps them from moving upstream, so try to stay in fast, shallow water. In slow, glassy water, ripples radiate in all directions, so moving slowly downstream, stepping no faster than the current, is stealthier than moving upstream and minimizes disturbances.

By staying directly below an object, you can break up the effect of wading, and often wade to within 15 feet of a trout with a rock or log between you and it. It is always better to kneel or crouch when approaching trout. Most of us are not physically suited to crouching through six hours of fishing, so it’s best to save the crouching for areas of a stream where it is really needed, like the tail of a pool or shallow, slow water. 
Avoid making a silhouette against the horizon. It draws attention to you. When possible, stay on the side with the brushier bank. Choose the color of your fishing vest and clothing to match the background of a stream. Green for brushy streams, tan for summer grasslands in Montana or Wyoming. Avoid bright metal objects like metal pin-ons or forceps.

In small streams, the shorter your casts the more successful you’ll be—as long as you make a careful approach. Making a 20’ cast when a 10-footer will do is asking for trouble by spooking every fish in the pool and having your fly drag as soon as it hits the water. Not to mention catching brush behind you. This is why many small stream fly fishers prefer Superfine Trout Bums. They cast precisely and accurately at shorter distances, places where a normal trout rod would need to be pushed too hard to get a short line moving.

Have fun and good luck.

]]> (Tom Rosenbauer) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:48:52 -0500
Rabbits Foot Emerger and Parachute: An Interview with Tom Rosenbauer

Some patterns just have it - that ability to imitate no particular insect or food, yet somehow imitate most all of them and attract the wiliest of trout that have thus far snubbed all other offers. Think the Parachute Adams. The Woolly Bugger. The Pheasant Tail. The go-to fly. The rabbit’s foot that increases your luck. This is Rosenbauer’s Rabbit’s Foot Emerger and Parachute: Flies you simply do not want to be without on the river, especially during a hatch of Hendricksons (or Baetis, or PMDs… you get the picture).
We got together with Tom Rosenbauer to ask him about this proven pattern.

ON: Why do these flies work so well?
TR: Honestly, I don’t know why, exactly. I can surmise though. And I can say, without a doubt, I’ve fooled more trout during more and different hatches - and while prospecting - on this fly than just about any I’ve ever fished. Once, during a Hendrickson hatch on the Delaware, I tied on a Rabbit’s Foot Parachute. I caught three twenty inch browns in short order. I mention this because these are seriously finicky wild trout. That river gets an onslaught of fisherman during this time, fisherman everywhere, and those fish see everything. They refuse a lot of flies that look a lot closer to the real thing than my Rabbit’s Foot. Flies that I swear would work better than this pattern, but don’t. Many times, trout take this pattern when they won’t take much else, or anything else.

Tom Rosenbauer's Rabbits Foot Emerger
ON: What do you surmise about the Rabbit’s Foot Emerger’s success? 
TR: The hare’s foot fur has a lot to do with it. I was inspired by Bill Phillie’s Usual and some of Galen Mercer’s emergers. It was the first fly that used hare’s foot. I love the buoyancy of the material. It keeps the top half floating while the rest is submerged subsurface, which looks so natural. Plus, that “bugginess,” that slightly unkempt look. Trout seem to really love it.

ON: What else?
TR: I think it’s the sum of the parts. The materials are basic. But as a whole, they add up to something special. The curved nymph hook gives it that great classic emerger profile. It half floats and sits low, the body sits just subsurface. Trout prefer emergers naturally over duns because they’re more vulnerable. They take less energy to consume. And then there’s the Antron shuck that gives the look of a fly that’s just sprouted its wings and is sort of riding its shuck like a raft and is very susceptible. The CDC adds movement and traps air bubbles.

ON: What’s the pattern supposed to imitate?
TR: Originally, a Hendrickson. But now I use it for March Browns, Eastern and Western Green Drakes, BWOs, PMDs. That’s another thing that’s so great. It covers so many hatches. Tied smaller or larger, in different colors, it’s one of those great Hendrickson patterns that you can use in almost any situation when you need some luck. Originally, I spent the length of a Hendrickson season studying the hatch and the big brown trout’s reaction to it. I played with the pattern that whole season. The parachute version I tied a bit later. All I did was raise the wing and tie it upright with parachute style hackle. So you have an indicator. It allows you to float and track the same pattern better in more broken water. Plus, the way a trout’s optics work, the trout sees the wing first, and gets the impression of something floating toward them, so you can attract them from farther away. It really works great as a prospecting fly.

ON: So, it’s worked for you to prospect?
TR: Not just for me. Guides tell me all the time it’s a go-to fly. They ask me if they can put it on their websites. I was on the Bighorn fishing with a bunch of great young guides who were touting a hot pattern they were slaying the trout on. It was their hottest fly. They called it the “Jimi Hendricks” and fished it deep, along the bottom with weight. They said Orvis sold the pattern, but we didn’t sell a fly by that name. Turned out it was my Rabbit’s Foot Emerger. So, you can also fish it deep, with some split shot, and have great luck. That’s when you know a pattern works, when word-of-mouth gets around and people fish it in different ways than intended and call it by different names. All they know is that it works.

ON: That’s all that matters.
TR: Right. I’ve “invented” hundreds of patterns. Maybe ten I still fish that really work. Most of them looked a heck of a lot more refined or spectacular than the Rabbit’s Foot, but none get trout to jump on it like this one. This one is my best. Trout just love it. I won’t hit the river without some in my vest. They really are that lucky rabbit’s foot when you need it. Buy a handful and see if you don’t pick up trout you might not otherwise fool and turn a slow day of fishing into a memorable one.

]]> (Orvis News) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:25:45 -0500
Tips for Winter Trout

Tom Rosenbauer concentrates on a 
small Vermont Stream

Want to have more success fishing for trout the rest of the winter? Here are some tips and fly suggestions to increase your odds.

1. In winter, trout won’t move more than a few inches for your fly and they’ll be close to the bottom. So, fish your flies deep and slowly. Your best bet is a nymph fished dead-drift.

2. Winter streams are typically very low and clear, so keep your tippet as long and light as possible. You often need to go to 6X or 7X with small nymphs. Mirage Fluorocarbon can really give you an advantage because of its transparency.

3. In tailwaters and spring creeks with stable water temperatures, you may find trout rising to midges any time from dawn to dusk. Early mornings are often surprisingly productive. Look for them and give some midge patterns a try. You may be pleasantly surprised by the big fish that will take such a small pattern.

4. Warm afternoons, either sunny or cloudy, may stimulate stonefly or blue-winged-olive mayfly hatches. Keep your eye out for both hatches.

5. You’ll find most fish rising in the middle or tails of bigger pools. Look for water that is almost, but not quite, still and you’ll increase your odds.

6. Trout eat minnows and crayfish during the winter but won’t chase them far. A small streamer, fished upstream like a nymph with an occasional twitch, may interest a trout.

7. Don’t bother fishing high water in winter. Flooded or dirty water combined with cold water temperatures make fly fishing nearly impossible. Stay home and tie some great patterns instead!

Speaking of great patterns, here’s some to make winter fly fishing hot. Check out these and hundreds more great flies at


  • English Pheasant Tail Nymph sizes 18 and 20. Far more effective than the bulkier American version for imitating the slim blue-winged-olive mayflies and small brown stoneflies common in winter.
  • Disco Midge sizes 20 and 22. Imitates tiny midge pupae that hatch all winter long, particularly in western tailwaters. You can fish this one in the surface film for risers, but it’s usually more effective deep, with Sink Putty on the leader (as are all of the nymphs listed here).
  • Flashback Scud size 16. In spring creeks and tailwaters that hold tiny freshwater crustaceans called scuds, this fly is essential.
  • Micro Stone size 14. Small stoneflies often hatch during the winter, so the nymphs are active in cold waters.
  • Vernille San Juan Worm. This fly, in both red and tan, imitates aquatic worms that get washed from the streambed when water rises slightly during dam releases on tailwaters.


  • ICSI (I Can See It) Midge. Gray, size 22. A floating midge pupa pattern you can spot on the water because of its orange parachute post.
  • Griffith’s Gnat size 20. Great when adult midges skitter across the surface, especially when they form clumps.
  • Cannon’s Bunny Dun, Baetis. Sizes 18 and 20. My favorite imitation out of many for winter blue-winged-olive hatches.


  • Bead Head Lite Brite Zonker. White, size 8. This fly has become one of the favorite streamers of the fly fishers on our staff. It’s particularly effective in tailwaters, where light-colored shad and alewives get washed through turbines.
  • Moto’s Minnow, Dark. Size 10. This small dark fly wiggles in even the slightest breath of current, important when you are fishing nearly dead-drift in winter. Its coloration is a perfect imitation of the sculpin, a small baitfish common in freestone streams.

Tom Rosenbauer is currently Marketing Director of Orvis Rod & Tackle. A veteran of Orvis for 30 years, he’s the author of more than ten books on fly fishing, including The Orvis Fly-Tying Guide, Reading Trout Streams, and Prospecting for Trout.

]]> (Tom Rosenbauer) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:21:03 -0500
Fly Line Tips for Beginners

Slicker Lines and Lighter Reels Increase Casting Efficiency

As a beginner, you’ll spend a higher percentage of your time casting as you improve your technique. Easier casting line reduces arm fatigue. If you’re arm is less tired, you’ll make more casts in a given session, quickly increase your proficiency and shorten your learning curve. And, as you spend more time actually fishing as opposed to false casting or resting your arm, you’ll get more action. More action – more fun!

Actually, increased casting efficiency is great for all casting levels. A more efficient cast will ultimately lead to a relaxed casting motion. You may begin to shoot line just by experience and feel. You’ll feel the fly line tugs at your line hand towards the end of your forward cast. You’ll develop a feeling for when to release the line in your off hand and before you know it – you’re shooting line and casting farther. As your casting improves, you’ll spend more time fishing and less time untangling your lines.

Wonderline Fly Lines

The slickest line on the market just got slicker – they tell me the new one is 20% slicker than the original. A new, slick line almost casts itself – it slips through the guides with ease, resulting in less casting effort and reduced false casting. There’s nothing like casting a slick line! And, the improved Wonderline Advantage floats even higher than before, making pick up easier and reducing surface water disturbance.

There’s a Wonderline Freshwater Floating Line for any rod and fishing situation. The new taper formulas are designed to efficiently load today’s high-modulus graphite rods for maximum power. For trout fishing in the Rocky Mountain West with a floating line, you have four choices: (link each of these to the appropriate line on site)

  • WF (weight forward) Trout
  • DT (double taper) Trout
  • LB (long belly) Easy Mend, or
  • WF (weight forward) Superfine

Which line taper should you choose? WF (weight forward) tapers work very well in most situations, and are by far the most popular lines in the world.

For special situations, consider LB (long belly) or DT (double taper) lines. LB tapers work well on small to tiny streams where casts are short – with line mass biased to the front end, you’re able to load your rod with little line beyond the tip. LB tapers also work well when making long casts in windy situations, or when you need to mend line over several tricky currents. It’s the favorite secret weapon of many western guides.

Because DT tapers have the least amount of mass at the end of the fly line, they’re the preferred choice when stealth and delicacy are the primary concerns. DT lines let you make the lightest possible presentations. Also, as the name implies, DT lines are equally tapered at either end. Simply reverse the line on the reel once one end is worn. It’s like getting two lines for the price of one!

Weight-forward Superfine Wonderline is a special taper for full-and lower-mid-flexing rods. With these rods, delicacy is the name of the game and the Superfine Wonderline takes full advantage of their slower tapers for the ultimate in delicacy.

Fred’s Guide Tips

Fly Lines

  • Purchase a new fly line at the beginning of each season. And, purchase the best line you can afford. The cost is small in comparison to the benefits. Changing to a new line immediately improves your casting - at any skill level. Be sure to place the line ID sticker on the outside of the spool. Give away your old, but still usable, fly line to a child or friend. And, take the opportunity to give them some casting lessons. Or, better yet, take them fly fishing!
  • Clean your lines frequently. The process typically takes less than five minutes. I recommend Orvis Zip Juice Wonderline Cleaner, made specifically for the super slick coating on Wonderline Advantage lines. If Zip Juice is not available, use mild soap and water. Clean more frequently if you fish ‘dirty’ water - stillwater or moving water with lots of organic material.
  • Avoid practice casting on hard and/or dirty surfaces, like asphalt roads or dirt lots - it trashes your line. Practice on water whenever possible for realism. Second best is grass or artificial turf if you don’t have easy access to a body of water. Clean the line afterwards.
  • Before you begin fishing, take a few minutes to stretch out and smooth your fly line and leader by removing the memory coils. Enlist the help of your fishing partner or secure the end of your fly line to a fixed object like a tree or car. Straighten the leader by pulling several times through your fingers.

Casting & Mending

  • Reduce your false casting. Strive for “pick up–lay down” cast - no false cast. There are only three reasons to false cast: 1) change direction, 2) change length, or 3) dry your fly. If you’re false casting for any other reason - it’s just for show.
  • Practice casting at home and you’ll enjoy your fishing outing more. Spend most of your time on short (<40’), efficient casts with one or zero false casts. Long casting is overrated, as you’ll spend little actual fishing time attempting maximum distance casts. Keep practice sessions short – no more than 15 minutes. Your arm will get tired and your casts sloppy.
  • Practice line mending on moving water. Mending line means throwing a curve into your fly line after the line hits the water. With the rod held low in front of you with a stiff arm, flip the rod by rolling your wrist, usually in the upstream direction. The result is an upstream curve that the current will have to invert before it will pull on your fly. It's best to release some slack line as you make the mend, otherwise you'll move the fly when you reposition the line. Whether to mend upstream or downstream depends upon the speed and direction of the current between you and the fly on the water. Mend whichever direction you need to put in appropriate slack

Fred Haney began fly fishing twelve years ago in Arizona as an escape from the urban sprawl. He’s been fishing for trout with a fly ever since. His professional experiences include working for fly fishing lodges across the country and abroad. Besides plying the waters in and around Arizona, he’s guided for several lodges in Colorado and in the Patagonia region of Argentina. For the past eight seasons, he’s worked exclusively for Spotted Bear Ranch in Northwest Montana, managing their office and Orvis Pro Shop, as well as guiding the occasional guest.

The South Fork of the Flathead in Northwest Montana is a river perfectly suited to beginning fly fishers. And, Spotted Bear Ranch is the only dedicated fly fishing lodge on the river. An Orvis Endorsed Lodge and Expedition Outfitter since 1997, they offer the perfect locale for beginning fly fishermen to try out the new Wonderline Fly Lines. For much of the season, hungry, aggressive wild cutthroat trout rise willing to large attractor patterns – a perfect situation for the novice. Put your line on the water, throw in a little mend, the fly drifts into the feeding lane over the fish . . .wham! There will be no doubt when you have an interested fish. The secluded location at the end of a 55 mile unpaved road virtually assures uncrowded water and a relaxed setting.

]]> (Fred Haney) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:17:10 -0500
Tips for Safe Wading

These tips for safe wading will make your fishing a lot more fun — and could save your life!

Mac Huff Veteran Oregon Fishing Guide

Note from Tom Rosenbauer: This article from one of our endorsed guides contains some of the finest nuggets of wading tips I’ve ever seen. I’ve been wading trout streams for 40 years, but I’ve learned a lot from Mac’s article. In particular, point number 5 below is the finest treatment of the relationship between balance and wading I’ve ever read. If you know someone who could benefit from these tips, please feel free to forward this e-mail to them. It could save your fishing buddy’s life!

Minimum beginnings. Felt soles are minimum wading equipment on your shoes in rocky rivers. Studs and cleats will increase the security of your shoes on rocky surfaces.

Tri it! A wading staff is an indispensable piece of equipment when wading conditions are difficult, giving you a vital, third point of support. The third point of support will make all wading easier by letting you maintain two points of contact while one foot is making a stride. A wading staff may make the difference between staying dry and falling in, and lowers your anxiety level during difficult wading.

Give ‘em a belt. A wading belt is mandatory when using waders. It will slow the flow of water into the legs and boots of your waders and make escape from the river easier. When I fall in, my legs and feet usually remain dry until I get into shallow water and stand up to walk out. I have learned, even as uncomfortable as it is in icy water, to stay horizontal as I approach shore and drain the water out of the tops of my waders before I stand up. My arms are already soaked and will probably require dry garments, but if I drain the water out of the waders and keep my pants and socks dry I can finish my day of fishing in comfort.

Go slow. This has broader implications than you may think. It obviously includes being careful while wading, but also encompasses taking time to evaluate current conditions and particularly to evaluate conditions when you are visiting unfamiliar rivers or locations. When entering the river and moving through the water, make your moves slow and controlled to minimize the risk of falling. With experience "slow" will become much quicker, but wading is always slower than traveling on dry land and as the hazards become greater your approach demands greater caution.

Stand firm. Create a wide base to stand on when you are on a slippery surface. Widen your stance so your feet are shoulder-width apart; flex your knees to lower your center of gravity. When I enter a river or stream I automatically shift into a stance with my feet slightly wider than my hips and with my knees flexed. As the wading gets deeper and more difficult, my knee flex increases just as athletes sink deeper into their stances to achieve greater agility. Learn to slide your feet and, as with other athletic activities, never cross your feet. This stance will seem foreign and awkward in the beginning, but practice will make it feel natural - besides, you will have great reinforcement to use this advice when you fall in because your feet are close together or you lose your balance with your feet crossed.

The mechanism that usually makes you fall is having your foot slip under you, or toward the center of your body. By having your feet wide apart your slipping foot tends to shift your center of balance to the opposite foot. With wading experience and practice you will probably find that you are able to wade faster by taking advantage of this phenomenon. In "easy" wading situations you will, in effect, "skate" across the bottom, allowing your boot to slide into a secure position by sliding outward and forcing your weight onto your other, secure foot, followed, at roughly a slow walking speed, by the next successive step.

Foot placement and balance are other important and critical elements of safe wading. Typically, your foothold will not be flat and uniform, like a floor, so you must adjust your foot position. Your foot must be turned inward or outward, as well as up or down, to fit the foothold. Precise foot placement is essential to safe wading. Most of the time the foot must be placed precisely in a small area.

In addition, I find that placing my foot in a secure foothold among cobbles or boulders is most secure when I stand on my arch, rather than the ball of my foot. Visualize that you are securing your foot in the junction between rocks so the boot heel holds the foot from sliding forward and the curve of the arch holds the foot from sliding back.

If you are constantly searching for your balance or your foot is constantly slipping from yourchosen foothold, then you should evaluate your foot placement and determine whether you are fitting the terrain or hoping that the terrain is fitting your step. Only experience can teach you to recognize the feel of secure footholds and the more you practice wading the easier wading will become.

Find the low places. In the water, when you can’t see where your feet are landing let gravity help. Slide your feet into position and work them into the valleys between rocks and cobbles, rather than standing on rounded top of slippery rocks.

Step sideways. In shallow water, less than knee deep, you may be able to walk "normally" with a modified, wide stance. As water gets deeper and footing becomes obscured by water depth or turbidity sidestepping will maintain a wide, stabile base. NEVER cross your feet while stepping! When I am exploring the bottom with this sidestep method, most of my weight is on my stationary foot, which helps prevent me from falling by either tripping forward over a high rock or slipping spread-eagle over the far edge of a smooth rock ahead of me. The idea is to not commit to the moving foot until you know you can stand on it. Typically, when I’m using this stride I’m in fishing water, so it is an easy method to move and cover water. In these difficult conditions if my next move is 30 feet or more I will wade back to shore, walk down the bank, and then back out into the water.

Go with the flow. This recommendation is aimed primarily at efforts to cross a stream. It’s easier and safer to move at a slight downstream angle with the current than move directly across or against the current. There is often a trick to finding the balance between shallow water with fast current and deeper water with a slower current. Either situation can be disastrous, knocking you down and sweeping you into faster, deeper water, so test the current as you proceed. This is the perfect place to use a wading staff. If you don’t carry one, it might be worthwhile to use a streamside stick.

While fishing you will often want to move upstream. Take advantage of slower current while fishing upstream. Move through shallower water or use current breaks behind boulders.

There will be times when you must move against the current to cross or get out of your location. Don’t let yourself wade down a gravel bar above deep water to discover that you have to wade back against a current that is too strong to move against! Sometimes apparently moderate currents can be treacherous when the water gets well above your knees, and wading that was easy with the current becomes seemingly impossible when trying to move back against it. Always approach moving water with a great deal of caution until you know your capabilities.

Move ahead. Try to make your movements sideways or forward. Your balance and recovery are better in these directions, where you can see well. If you hook your heel while backing up, your chance of falling increases dramatically. If you must back up, rather than turn around, feel behind you with the lead foot (usually your downstream foot), set it securely and bring the other foot into position. Hooking your heel is often the problem that tips you over while backing up in a stream, but any slip is more hazardous while trying to move backwards. Getting into a predicament that requires you to back up is a situation where you would trade your fly rod and all your flies for a wading staff.

Choose your substrate. Sand and gravel bottoms are usually secure and safe bottoms to wade on. Wade here when you can. Cobbles are more difficult because there are irregular surfaces to deal with and the surface of each cobble is an algae-covered, zero-friction trap looking for a victim. Why hasn’t NASA discovered this stuff? Next up the difficulty list is boulders. These add the problem of navigating among large obstacles to the slippery problems of cobbles, and, there are more "tall" rocks to trip you than you find on a cobble beach. The same "tall" rocks that may trip you may provide relief from the current and make wading easier by moving into the slipstreams of upstream boulders. Boulders also will hold pockets of sand and gravel, which cobbles don’t, and you may find secure footholds amidst treacherous footing. Once you learn to recognize these substrates they may give you an opportunity to move aggressively from a tenuous position to absolute security.

Mud bottoms may seem safe, but they also hold many pitfalls. Firm mud or clay bottoms are very slippery with felt soles. If the bottom is flat, you probably won’t fall, but be careful that you don’t get stuck and have difficulty climbing out of the stream. Mud accumulates in slow-current areas, and logs and sticks left by floods may trip you, and the silt you stir up will continue to obscure your vision. Finally, the erosion that occurs in muddy backwaters may create unexpected and slippery drop-offs.

The most treacherous bottom type is bedrock. These are areas with large surfaces of solid rock that have been polished smooth by eons of water erosion. The obvious problem is the large slippery surface. While cobbles are equally slippery, your foot can soon find a joint between rocks for a foothold, but on the large, flat surface of polished bedrock there is no redemption for a misplaced step. Even with careful sidesteps, if your foot slips it may skate so far out that you lose your balance and fall

Are you ready to move up? It’s often tempting to fish from the top of a midstream boulder. The problem comes when it’s time to get back down. Be sure you have a safe route back down before you climb up.

Plan your escape. This starts before you even enter the river. Should you even be wading here? What will you do if you fall in?

Final safely considerations. A personal floatation device is necessary for waders that can’t swim and may be a good investment for anyone in big rivers and cold water. Both CO2 inflatable suspenders and solid, kapok-filled vests can be found in stores selling whitewater gear. A whistle is one of a mountaineer’s 10 essentials and is an excellent safety item for waders to carry for emergency location.

Mac Huff has lived in and fished northeast Oregon for the last 28 years. He received a degree in Wildlife Biology in 1976, worked as a biological technician for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that summer, and continues to contract biological work for the U.S. Forest Service. He operated a sporting goods store in Enterprise, Ore. for 13 years before selling the business to devote his energy to Eagle Cap Fishing Guides, a business he started in 1994 with partner Frank Conley. Mac has fly fished since childhood, guided for the last 15 years, and is an FFF certified fly casting instructor.

River fishing is the emphasis in northeast Oregon and the three rivers that he spends most of his time fishing are the Grande Ronde, Wallowa, and Imnaha rivers. Most of his guided trips are float-fishing trips, using either a Clackacraft drift boat or a 14-foot cataraft. Each craft easily accommodates two anglers and can transport up to three anglers. His fishing seasons begin in late May, usually Memorial weekend, when trout season opens, and continues through the summer and winter until April 15, when steelhead season closes. Early season trout fishing is usually good, but trout fishing improves later in the season when water levels drop and continues to be good through Oct. 31 when trout season closes. Steelhead season opens Sept. 1, and a few steelhead are available then, but fishing improves each week through November. Winter fishing depends on the weather, but by late February ice is reliably melted and fishing is fair to fabulous through April 15, depending on water level.

Eagle Cap Fishing Guides
Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide
P.O. Box 865
Joseph, Oregon 97846
(541) 432-9055


]]> (Mac Huff) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:13:24 -0500
Secrets of Fishing Terrestrial Flies
If you think terrestrial imitations are only for summer fishing, you’re missing a great deal of dry-fly action. The normal thought is that trout ignore land-bred insects in the spring and early summer, until mayfly and caddisfly hatches dwindle with the heat of summer. They ignore terrestrials about as much as you ignore chocolate mousse when out to dinner.

fishingenewsjuly-1Stomach content studies of trout show that land-bred insects are dominant trout food not only in August, but also in May, June, and September. Well into October and November, beetles can be the most abundant food in a trout’s stomach, and leafhoppers have been seen there as late as December. The studies I referred to above were done in upstate New York, and if you’ve ever spent December in Rochester or Syracuse (I’ve done both), it’s hardly what most fishermen would consider terrestrial weather.

I’ve known about these studies since my college days, but do you think I’ll be smart enough to act on it? The other day, fishing a wild trout river in late morning, I noticed a number of big March Brown and Gray Fox mayflies on the water, plus a smattering off caddis in the air. There were no rises. Feeling very clever, I put on a big Hare’s Ear Nymph to imitate the mayflies and a Lafontaine Deep Pupa in case the fish were eating caddis. It’s a shallow, clear stream, so I added a pea-sized glob of bright red Strike Putty instead of my usual yarn indicator the size of a baby sparrow. Three fish rose to the Strike Putty before I was smart enough to switch to a beetle. Nobody touched the nymphs. Now if I had been in a river with hatchery fish I would have told you they took the indicator because it looks like a food pellet, but no fish have been stocked in this river for 20 years. I can’t imagine those trout mistook my round red indicator for anything but a beetle.

Do trout prefer terrestrials to aquatic insects? It’s said that trout like the taste of ants, but I’m leery of anyone who claims to know about the taste preferences of the American public or Labrador retrievers, much less silly little fish. However, it has been proven that adult trout are good at judging the relative caloric value of prey and balancing their energy expenditures with energy inputs. A size 14 beetle would seem to have a lot more “meat” than a size 14 mayfly, and a big grasshopper must provide more calories than anything except a big minnow or crayfish.

If you fish small streams, terrestrials are even more important than in larger rivers. A trout’s diet in some small streams is made up almost entirely of terrestrials, as these smaller waters don’t have large expanses of insect-producing riffles. This may be why such so-called “attractor” flies like Humpys and Royal Wulffs are so effective in small streams—both flies, from a trout’s-eye view underneath, look suspiciously like beetles or other land-bred insects. And an Elk-Hair Caddis looks very much like a tiny early-season grasshopper. But, you say, these flies have wings. So do beetles, bugs, katydids, and many ants!

Unlike fish responding to a hatch, trout can be eating terrestrials and you’ll never notice. One reason is that they might see a beetle only once or twice an hour, and the chances of you looking at exactly the right spot aren’t good. An even more important reason is that when trout eat low-floating terrestrial insects, there is hardly ever a splash. Sometimes you see a subtle ring on the water, sometimes a black snout poking above the surface, and sometimes you see a hopper just disappear into a hole in the water with no visible sign of a rise. Best places to try a terrestrial fly are where riffles deepen into a dark slot (especially near a deep bank but not necessarily), in concave impressions along a bank that form small bays, and along undercut banks, especially ones that flow through meadows.

Finally, one of the most deadly midsummer rigs I’ve ever used is a tiny nymph tied as a dropper to the bend of the hook of a beetle or hopper. Tie a size 14 beetle or ant to a 12-foot 5X leader. Knot an eight-inch piece of 6X Mirage tippet to the bend of the hook of the beetle with a clinch knot, then tie a size 18 Pheasant Tail Nymph to the end of the 6X tippet. You’ll catch about half of your fish on the beetle, and on the other 50% you hook on the nymph, the beetle makes a damn good but subtle strike indicator.

Tips for Fishing Terrestrials

  • Be just as stealthy as with any other kind of dry-fly fishing, but some times a fly that lands with a distinct plop will catch their attention. To do this without splashing line and leader on the water as well, point your wrist slightly below the horizontal at the end of the cast. Practice this before you try it on live fish!
  • Don’t ignore the center of the river with terrestrials. Most ants and beetles fall into the water along the bank, but the current eventually draws them to the center of the river. A Skilton’s Quick Sight Ant or Quick Sight Beetle is often deadly fished in fast riffles.
  • An occasional twitch can be effective, but don’t overdo it, as it’s more likely to put a fish down than a fly carefully dead-drifted over its head. Try casting downstream with some slack in your leader, then make the fly twitch just a fraction of an inch with your rod tip. Immediately drop the rod tip so the fly drifts naturally after the twitch.
  • Many terrestrials sink after hitting the water. Try a Hard-Body Ant, or a floating beetle or hopper with a small piece of Sink Putty eight inches above the fly. This arrangement is best fished with a strike indicator. This is a deadly secret that a couple of my fishing buddies use for their hole card when nothing else works.
  • Terrestrials are more productive on windy days and from late morning through evening, when terrestrial insects are active and more likely to fall into a river.
  • Trout eating hoppers will often follow a fly downstream for 10 or 20 feet before either eating the fly or refusing it. Don’t pick up to make another cast too early, even if the fly is dragging because a trout may still be tagging the fly. And they sometimes take a hopper fly when it’s dragging.

Best Terrestrial Flies

You don’t need a broad selection of terrestrials. Fish are seldom selective to a certain kind of beetle or ant. I would, however, carry a broad range in sizes, as the trout seem to prefer smaller or larger flies on a given day or in a certain river. I have no idea how to predict what size they might like. If the water is high or fast, lean to the bigger sizes to get their attention, and if it’s low and clear, pick a smaller pattern to avoid spooking them. Other than those guidelines, you’re on your own.

  • Schroeder’s Hi-Vis Hopper. It’s surprising how subtle a rise to a hopper can be. If you can’t see your fly you might miss the big snout inhaling it in fast water. Ed Schroeder’s brilliant pattern has a great profile and you can always follow it on the water.
  • Quick Sight Beetle. This is my personal go-to fly when nothing is rising. I’ve had great days with this fly at home in Vermont and in Montana. It is always in my vest, no matter what time of year. Developed by one of the masters of Pennsylvania spring creek fishing, Bill Skilton.
  • Travis Para-Ant. As with hoppers, if you can’t see your fly you’ll miss a lot of rises. Most ant patterns are nearly impossible to see, even at 20 feet. This one, by gifted Montana fly tier Tom Travis, has a great ant profile and high visibility.
  • Terrestrial Selection. This is a selection of the most popular patterns and sizes we sell, so you can go with my picks or what several thousand other fishermen like.
]]> (Tom Rosenbauer) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:07:56 -0500
Best Emerger Patterns

When buying or tying emerger patterns, either choose one to imitate the hatches you expect to see on your next trip, or get an assortment in a variety of colors and sizes. If you aren’t sure what to expect, make sure to have some mayfly patterns in tan in sizes 12 and 14; cream or yellow in sizes 16, 18, and 20; olive in sizes 16, 18, and 20. For caddis hatches, drab brown-and-yellow and brown-and -green or just drab gray-brown in sizes 14, 16, and 18 will cover almost all hatches. For midges, carry cream, black, olive, and gray in sizes 20 and 24. Don’t forget that fly tiers can get the recipes for all of the fly patterns listed here just by clicking the links.

Mayfly Emergers

  • Emerging Para Dun. Developed by my fishing pal Pat Neuner, this CDC fly is terrific on flat water when the fish are really picky. You can also buy these flies in a selection that includes the best sizes and colors.(39R2)
  • RS2. Possibly the best emerger imitation for tiny mayflies, especially small olives. Developed in Colorado by noted fly tier Rim Chung.
  • Sparkle Dun. This one floats high and combines a shuck with an upright wing of deer hair. Developed by world-class fisherman and fly tier Craig Matthews of West Yellowstone, Montana. My favorite for fast, broken water. 
  • Klinkhammer. A European fly that has become very popular in the States. It’s a combination of an attractor fly and an emerger, and seems to work best when you are not quite sure what the fish are eating.

Caddis Emerger

  • LaFontaine Sparkle Pupa. One of the best flies ever developed for caddis pupa emergers, by the late Gary LaFontaine, one of the finest fly-fishing gentlemen of our generation.

Midge Emerger

  • Birchell’s Hatching Midge. One of a myriad of fine midge emerger patterns, this one is the one I use most often and it seldom fails me. Don’t fish any tailwater river without a selection of these.
]]> (Tom Rosenbauer) Trout Fishing Articles Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:05:50 -0500