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Getting a friend into fly fishing, with Charlie Berens and Adam Greuel

Description: This week’s podcast is fun to listen to, even if you don’t need any tips on how to get a friend into fly fishing. Charlie Berens is a talented writer comedian with a midwestern flair (check out his You Tube videos) and Adam Greuel is a musician with the band “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades” and also has a number of solo albums. Adam recently introduced Charlie to fly fishing and their experiences are both valuable and funny.
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi, welcome to "The Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast." This is your host, Tom Rosenbauer. And this week, I have two guests in my interview, which I don't normally do. But in this case, it was very appropriate. I have Charlie Berens and Adam Greuel on the podcast.
And they're a team who sometimes produce albums together. But Charlie is an award-winning author and also a comedian. You may have seen his videos on YouTube. And if you haven't seen them, the one about the extended warranty on his car is hilarious. They're both Wisconsin boys. And Adam is a world-class musician. He's with the band, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, and also does some solo work himself. And so they're two very talented individuals.
And Adam recently got Charlie into fly fishing. And they're talking about their experiences of getting a friend into fly fishing. So they're going to offer their suggestions on how to get a friend into fly fishing. Some of it is serious and some of it is not so serious. So I hope you enjoy it. And then we'll end up with a piece of music that they did together. So hope you enjoy a little bit different podcast this week.
But first, the Fly Box, as always, and if you have a question for me, or a comment, or a suggestion, you can send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I may read your question on the air and I might not, but I do read them all. I don't just read them all on the air because I get a lot of them and some of them are redundant with things I've done before. Anyway, here we go.
The first question is from Ken, from Buffalo, New York. And it's an email. "I really enjoyed the May 20th podcast with Shawn Combs. I was inspired to get out my seven-foot, nine-inch, five-weight fire and fine. I had forgotten just what a pleasure it is to cast this rod, once my go-to rod. After hearing Shawn explain how the Helios evolved. I was wondering, what has Orvis have that replaced it? Also, I was wondering if you would ever do a podcast about cane/bamboo fly rods.
Now for an odd question. I've been fishing a small stream near home. Gas prices are getting prohibitive for traveling. It's actually urban fishing and it's fished pretty hard in the early season.
The other day, after fishing for a few hours without catching a thing and missing a few strikes, I presume were creek chubs, I decided to stop and reevaluate what I was doing. I went up to the top of a bridge and watched the water.
From this vantage point, I've always been able to see fish. This time, I didn't see one trout or any other fish. I must have watched for 15 or 20 minutes with my polarized glasses. I left.
A few days later, I went back and took my spot on the bridge before I even started to fish. Lo and behold, the trout were back in their usual spot. So the question is, have you ever seen anything like this and what could have caused it to happen?"
Well, Ken, regarding your question about the Helios, I'm not sure what you're asking because Orvis hasn't replaced the Helios. There is the Helios 3. There was an original Helios, then Helios 2, which was an improvement, and then Helios 3, which had various other improvements mainly to the accuracy of the rod and the strength of the rod. But there's nothing that replaced it right now.
And also, I do have a podcast about cane/bamboo fly rods scheduled sometime this year. I'm going to do it with Shawn Brillon, who is the Orvis bamboo rod maker. So that'll be coming sometime this year. I haven't recorded it yet, but I plan on getting Shawn on the podcast to talk about bamboo.
Regarding your question, yeah, I've seen this all the time. It's extremely common to see that. And here are a couple of scenarios that might have been a cause for that. One is that you or somebody else might have waded through that pool and fished it and spooked the fish into places where they're going to stay hidden. So they'll go under rocks or along the bank or under a log or something. Somebody might have been standing on the bridge and waving their arms or something and scared the trout or somebody might have been fishing it previously and the trout were spooked.
The other thing is, when we see trout out in the open in relatively shallow water, they're generally feeding. And, you know, they'll, sometimes, in certain streams, will stay in their hiding places, which are the places they go to when they're spooked as well, and not come out in the open. But if there is a good food supply, if there's a hatch, there are insects falling in the water or something, then they'll start to slide into shallower, faster areas where it's easier to feed.
So the fish could have been just off the feed. Maybe the water temperature was a little too cold and their metabolism was low, and there were no insects hatching, if a different time of day may be. But I do see this very, very frequently. So it's nothing unusual.
And, you know, generally, when you see them out in the open like that, it's going to be a good fishing day. If you don't, they can still be caught but you're gonna have to get a little closer to cover. So anyway, that's not unusual at all. And you may see a different scenario every time you go out.
Let's do another email. This one is from Paul in the UK. "Love the podcast. I live in the UK, but there's a lot of relevant content. I listened to this week's episode about rod design, and now know the difference between flex and load.
I've always been intrigued by rod pricing. There are two rods advertised in this month's edition of an angling magazine over here in the UK. One cost more than $1,000, the other is less than $100, both are 8 foot, 3 weight.
I'm sure the more expensive rod is an all-round better rod than the cheaper one, but is it 10 times better? I'm not so sure. Will it catch me more fish? Again, I'm not so sure. The $100 rod is probably 10 times better than anything that was available 30 years ago. My belief is that these days, the difference between high end and budget equipment, not just rods, has become marginal."
Well, I guess you're asking me for my opinion, Paul. There are lots of things that distinguish a budget rod from a high-end rod. And you're exactly right that the $100 rod will catch fish and it will catch fish just as well under most circumstances.
One of the biggest differences in the pricing of fly rods is whether they're imported, in other words Made in China or Korea, or they're made domestically. You know, the $1,000 rod that you saw in the UK is probably an American-made rod, and between the cost of the rod in the United States and then the duty that you have to pay and the shipping to the UK puts that price up there pretty well. So that's a big difference.
Labor costs in China or Korea are lower than the labor costs in the U.S. or the UK, quite a bit less. And that's a big difference.
The other difference is materials. The more expensive rods are going to be stronger. They're going to have better materials. They're going to have better tapers. You know, the imported rods are pretty damn good. And you're right, they're much better than they were 30 years ago. But they're not going to be as pleasant of a casting tool as the more expensive rods. You're gonna have to work a little harder. Things aren't going to work quite as well.
Is it 10 times better? No, probably not. But that's what...if you want the best fly rod that you can get, then you're going to pay more. And, you know, it's just like the differences in car models. You can pay well over $100,000 for a car. Is it going to get you from one place to another any better? No. It might get you there a little faster. You might be a lot happier with that more expensive car if you can afford it because you have some pride in that car and how it was made. But they'll both do the same thing.
So it all comes down to, you know, your budget, and how much you value fly fishing. If you want the very best and you can afford that high-end rod, then do it. If you can't, then just get the best rod you can.
And generally, you get what you pay for in fly rods. There is not a substantial markup in fly rods any more than there is on any other consumer goods because, you know, people want to...there's a lot of competition in the fly rod business and people don't want their rods to be that expensive unless they have to.
And, you know, you have a standard markup. You have to pay for your materials and labor and your employees and your overhead and all that stuff. And believe me, the rods, the way they are made today, domestically, they're not overpriced. They're just priced with a standard margin, just like any other consumer good. So anyway, that's a rambling answer, but I hope it answers your question.
Russell: Hey, Tom. This is Russell. I called a year ago when I was having a hard time on the trout stream, after dozens and dozens of attempts. I just wanted to follow up.
First off, thank you. Since I made that call, people reached out who were listeners. And I ended up getting a trip with a guide and as well as just a day with a fellow angler, just as gifts. And I want to thank you for having a podcast that facilitated that wonderful act of kindness. And I can't say enough things to actually display that gratitude. So I'll keep it simple and say thank you.
You know, I went out, I caught my first trout with that fellow angler, and I can't thank him enough for that opportunity. You know, we caught fish. But it wasn't about that. When I went out with Nick, I learned techniques, I had a great time, and just I love to talk about fishing with someone else.
And so, I'm so grateful for you and your podcast because I don't have any friends who talk about fishing, and I get to have a conversation silently about fishing with you, the callers, and the interviewers. And I want to thank this community for providing me with more opportunities to fish and encouraging me to continue the sport. And Tom, of course, you're the man.
Tom: Well, Russell, thank you very much. Those of you who have listened to the podcast for a while remember Russell's call. And he was just frustrated he couldn't catch a trout. And people really rose to the occasion and asked for Russell's contact information. And one guy bought him a half-day guiding trip.
And it just goes to show you the wonderful community we have here on this podcast. And I'm really proud of all the people that helped Russell out and then for all the care that people showed to a fellow angler. So, Russell, I'm glad you've learned what fishing is all about and it brings me a lot of pride and pleasure to get your phone call.
Okay. Another email from Mike in Western Mass. "Hope all is well. I had trouble sleeping last night. so I started listening to your last podcast with Shawn Combs on fly-rod designing. That was the best cure for insomnia that I've found. Really, does anyone other than Orvis' competitors really care how fly rods are designed? Come on now.
As my father always told me, 'Son, it's not the arrows. It's the shooter.' We all know that any skilled fly fisher can cast any rod with a balanced line and use it as an effective tool to catch trout. Phrases like the rod talks to you, and it lessens vibrations, and it tracks to the target, all hype to sell more rods, which is great for your business. But I don't think any dye in the wool true fly fisher wants to hear how the rods are designed.
Sorry for the long rant, but I think I'm the silent majority speaking here. I would love to know if I'm correct. Thanks, Tom."
So, Mike, I don't think you're correct because I get an awful lot of questions from podcast listeners about how fly rods are designed. And that's the reason I did that podcast. You know, this is your podcast and not everybody's gonna like every subject. But, you know, I get my ideas from you. I know what questions you people ask me. And so I try to design my podcast around those questions.
So, Mike, I'm sorry that you didn't like the podcast. I'm glad it cured your insomnia. But I think that there's a lot of people that did enjoy that and learned a lot from that podcast. And I might even do it again sometime.
Dave: All right, Tom, this is Dave from Central California. I enjoyed your podcast for a long time. I have a comment. It may sound like a complaint, but it's really not, because I know times have changed.
But I'm almost 70 and fishing since I was in college, so nearly 50 years. And, you know, when I started, you know, it was all books, learning on the river. And I bet I went 10 years with hardly catching a fish.
But I persevered and learned how to cast, how to get the angles for the right drift, how to choose a fly with dead drift. You know, I just went through the process. And I have to say that that hard work, that journey, was more joyful at times than actually catching the fish. Catching the fish was the reward for doing all the hard work.
Now, you know, people watch videos and listen to podcast and get upset if they don't catch 10 fish the first time they go out. I think they're missing the point. A lot of times, the point is that you're fishing. So, again, it's probably just an old guy thinking about the glory days, and these are the good old days for some people.
But I do have a question. When you go to a stream you're very familiar with and nothing's rising, so you start what's worked in the past, kind of go through your progression of things that have worked but nothing seems to be working, maybe you even try a few things out of the box and nothing still works, what do you do? You know, what do you do?
I usually will tie on a big stimulator and just practice casting and work on my mending and that kind of stuff. But again, Tom, I truly enjoy the podcast, all that Orvis does for conservation. Thanks.
Tom: Dave, I agree know, I learned as you did by, you know, I learned by mistakes. But it took me years to learn how to fly fish learning from books. And it was pretty frustrating. And, you know, people don't have as much time today as they used to. It's a busy world.
And, you know, everything, every aspect of our lives just about has changed over the past 50 years or so. And fly fishing is no different. But I do think these are the good old days. You know, I'm seeing lots and lots of young people and different kinds of people in fly fishing. And I think it's really great.
And, you know, we're trying to take good care of our resource. Yeah, the fishing was probably better 50 years ago. But again, it's the world that we have to live in, and we do everything we can to make the environment and the habitat better.
But, you know, I heard recently on someone's podcast about how nostalgia is a very poisonous emotion. And that really resonated with me. So I'm not going to be too nostalgic for the old days.
And the way people learn today is great. It short circuits a lot of the frustration that you and I both had when we learned, so more power to 'em.
Regarding your question, if nothing's working, I will know, if I've tried different techniques and different flies and different depths on my nymphs and nothing is working, I'll generally do one or two things.
I'll either move, and I'll move, you know, way upstream, way downstream, to a different river if I can, but I'll move. You know, sometimes fish just aren't cooperating in a particular part of a river. And sometimes, you can get to a different water temperature or place where different insects are hatching or the fish are more active. So, I'll generally move.
The other option that I have is I'll just quit and go home and do something else. So, you know, that's what I'd do.
All right, another email from Jason in Southeast Michigan. "Hello, Tom. I'm a big fan and very appreciative of all you do. In January, you discussed a question concerning the prevention of casting knots when using two or more flies. You mentioned great ideas as far as adjusting your cast.
I almost always use two flies, especially when streamer fishing for crappie or Euro Nymphing. In my experience, the best fix for that, for me, has been to taper your tippet as well as the actual fly weight from fly to fly.
For example, when using tandem streamers, and with the surgeon's knot connection, I tie the heavier fly first to a 2x tippet, then a lighter end fly to 3x. When Euro Nymphing, I taper from say 4x tippet to 5x tippet, but with a heavier fly being on the bottom anchor, since it's really more of a chuck and duck cast, with a fly line only assisting with aim.
I brought several people into this sport and this fix helps dramatically even if someone's casting isn't the greatest. I hope this helps others."
Well, thank you very much, Jason, for that tip. That's a great one. And I probably should have mentioned it before, but I want to thank you for sharing that.
Ben: Hi, Tom. This is Ben Walker from Salt Lake City, Utah. I just had a quick comment on the last podcast about beavers. And then a question.
I noticed doing some fishing in some small streams last summer out here in the West, one is in Wyoming, one is in Nevada, that there were two streams we fished, which, you know, based on some research, had traditionally had fish throughout the stream. On both of them, we searched several miles, driving and walking, and just could not find, wondering if the fish had blown out in a flash flood or if the drought had got to them.
And in both instances, we stumbled across a beaver pond and found a real high density of trout in those. In listening to the podcast, it made me wonder if in the West, in times where there's a lot of drought in the fall, where the water gets shallow and the flows aren't really there, that those beavers actually create a safe haven for those trout to weather the conditions until the water improves. So that was interesting.
My question, you know, as a kid, I used to fish the small creeks with the plunge pools, you know, rocky mountain streams, and I just throw nightcrawler in those plunge pools, probably because I was a bad fisherman and scared all the fish in any other place and used to catch, you know, quite a few trout that way.
Now, as I've gotten into fly fishing, you know, I fish these small creeks, know them pretty well, and know the different riffles and seams. But I just cannot seem to catch trout, you know, right in those plunges. And I don't know if it's just not a good fit for fly fishing.
But I knew that, you know, listening to you, that you like small creeks, too. I was wondering if you had any tips on being able to get, you know, a nymph down in that hole or well without the flow just washing it away or whatever. So, I'm happy to hear what you have to say.
Tom: Well, Ben, I'm glad you liked that beaver podcast. And yeah, I agree, based on what I've learned, particularly in his book, that beaver should help with the drought situation that we've had in the West. So anything we can do to bring back more beavers to the ecosystem is going to help our fisheries, particularly, you know, the tributaries in the upper end streams that feed the bigger rivers.
Regarding plunge pools, they are tough. They are tough. One of the frustrating things about plunge pools is people expect to catch fish right under the waterfalls where the water is foamy and swirly. And fish really don't like to feed in that area. They'll feed more in the tails of those plunge pools and off to the sides.
And often, we spook those fish that are feeding in the shallower, less swirly water. And then we fish through the plunge pool and try to get down to the bottom of the plunge pool, and don't do anything because the fish are spooked and they're not going to eat.
But, you know, in those deeper punch pools, there are two things I'll use. One is a small streamer just to try to lure the fish out from under the falls, if they're down in there, as an attractor.
And then the other thing is a dry dropper with a long tippet, long fine tippet, and a beadhead. You know, if you're going through shallower riffles and catching fish on a dry fly or on a dry dropper, and you get to that big plunge pool, you're gonna have to add a longer tippet to get down deeper into that pool, if the fish are deep. You know, if you've already fished the margins in the shallower water, then you're going to have to go to a long fine tippet.
And, you know, the longer and finer the tippet, the better within reason. But you want it to be close to the depth of the water or even one-and-a-half times the depth of the water. And you want it as fine as possible, as fine as you can get away with, because finer tippets are going to present less resistance to the water. Something we've learned from the Euro Nypmhers and the competition anglers. So try that.
But again, you know, plunge pools can be tough. And, you know, I'm like you. I often have better luck in the in-between water and the riffles and little runs than I do in the plunge pools. You expect to get your biggest fish out of the plunge pool, but that isn't always the case, at least for me.
Okay. Another email. This one's from Joe. "Nice video on how to behave on a trout stream. Another podcast just did an entire episode on stream etiquette and a point was made. A panelist had worked in a fly shop for three years and never remembered a customer asking on what is proper stream etiquette.
Possibly, fly shops and Orvis stores could post a sign with stream etiquette or hand out pamphlets with stream etiquette. With the influx of so many new fly fishers, it might help. As for all those fly fishers that should know better, it may even help with them. Yada, yada, yada (Short for thanks for all you and Orvis do for the fly-fishing community.)"
Well, Joe, thank you. You know, that's a great idea. And I'm going to make a suggestion to retail stores. And if you're a fly shop owner and you're listening to this, maybe put something up on your wall or, you know, when you talk to customers and you know they're new to fly fishing, you might give them just a little refresher on stream etiquette or just... I don't want you to lecture, not lecture. I don't want you to lecture them, but just maybe make some suggestions on stream etiquette when you have someone that's probably new to the sport.
And, by the way, Joe, we do talk about stream etiquette or fly-fishing etiquette in our schools that we do. But of course, not everybody takes an Orvis school. So thank you. That's a great suggestion. And I'll see if I can convince the powers that be to do something about that.
Here's another email from Mitchell. "I really just started fly fishing four to five months ago and I'm having a ball. That said, now that I'm actually getting bites, I'm missing a fair amount of fish. I was wondering if you have any tips on setting the hook in different situations.
For example, setting the hook on while dead drifting is straightforward. However, bites on streamers seem a bit different. I've noticed the fish often take streamer with momentum, and it seems like they are hooked. But after 5 to 10 seconds of fighting, they come off.
Should you make an effort to set the hook in the opposite direction that the fish is swimming? I have lost several trout and I'm almost certain I have pulled the hook out of several bass' mouth, so I wonder if there's a better strategy.
Now for my suggestion. Your Orvis Learning Center videos are excellent and I've watched the majority of them. To change things up, I think it'd be really fun and interesting if they film full uncut videos of you fishing a variety of locations and species with some narration from you. I think it would be very informative to see you fish from start to finish and everything in between.
For example, we would see what parts of the water you decide to work first, when to change a fly color versus size, when to change fly type altogether, when to move on, and any small nuances that you notice or think about along the way. I know you've covered pretty much all of this in one video or another, especially for trout, but it would be cool to watch it all come together in real time. Plus, I think we would all enjoy watching you fish different regions of the world on different types of water.
But your first video could even take place in the trout water behind your house. As an added bonus, it would be nice to see an expert get their line tangled or stuck on a tree once in a while. Thank you for all your time and effort. You truly are appreciated by many."
Well, thank you, Mitchell. Regarding hook sets, you know, fish are just going to come off. You're not going to land every one you catch in. I wouldn't really agonize over what you're doing right or wrong on hook sets. You know, besides, if you're dry fly fishing or nymph fishing, you strike with an overhead lift of the rod until you feel some pressure. And then when streamer fishing, you keep your rod tip low and you strip strike by basically just keep stripping until you feel you're tight to the fish.
Regarding angles, you know, it's...I mean, there is an idea that when you're Euro Nymphing, you want to set in a downstream direction so that you put the hook in the fish's mouth but all that stuff really gets, I think, way too complicated. And, generally, it's just a matter of tightening the tippet or the line enough to get the hook to stick in the fish's mouth.
And, you know, setting a hook at different angles, basically, sometimes it works. But if you have much line at all out, it doesn't matter which direction you set the hook, it's all going to pull the line in one direction. Setting the hook to one side or another, generally, the line just pulls upstream or downstream or cross stream and it doesn't really set the hook in that direction.
While in Euro Nymphing, you're fishing a relatively short line. And yeah, there, it probably matters what angle you use. But as long as you're strip striking with streamers and overhead striking with everything else, you're going to lose some fish.
And with streamers, you know, a lot of the times, fish will attack a streamer or bump it just out of aggression or territoriality. And they're not really trying to eat the fly. Sometimes, they'll even body check it or they'll attack it, but they'll just nip it with their mouth or their snout. In those cases, you generally don't get a very good hook set because they're not really eating the fly.
So honestly, I wouldn't worry much about it. I wouldn't agonize over it. You're gonna lose some fish. And that's part of the game.
Regarding the learning center videos, I think watching me fish in real time would be a lot like watching paint dry because there's a lot of boring stuff that goes on in between fish. And I did do this in one of my videos. It's in the prospecting for trout video on the Learning Center and on YouTube. And there, I did go through, you know, going up through a stretch of river that I'd never fished before. And I did kind of talk through what I did and why I did it.
But it's an idea. And we might try it sometime. We might fool around with it. But I think that, for the most part, there would be a lot of a lot of dead space in those videos where I'm just casting and not catching anything and moving on.
So, and yeah, I should show more videos of myself getting the line tangled or stuck in trees, because I do it as often as most of you do, I'm sure. So if you don't see it on video, I apologize. We should put more of that in the videos.
Jared: Hey, Tom, how's it going? I just had a question in regards to rejections, especially in the dry fly game. I fish here in Australia, predominantly in our Snowy Mountains. The water here is clean and clear and there's a lot of conflicting currents through boulder streams.
But I've sort of noticed two sorts of rejections over the years. So like the first one is like a slow fish that you see sitting that will rise slowly and turn away from the fly last minute.
And the other one is like that really aggressive fish that comes powering through the water column and then turns away and slaps out the last second.
I was trying to use this to like narrow down fly selection to know what's wrong or whether it's drift. So I sort of had thought the one that comes up slowly through the water column, maybe the fish where it looks right, but the drift may not be exact or you might be having micro-drags through the drift. And that one where it's sort of very splashy, maybe faster drift where they come up to see something and the last minute, they notice the fly is not quite right.
There are my thoughts but I just sort of was curious as to whether you've seen any patterns with rejections and how you go about, you know, knowing you've had a rejection and changing your fly from that. Anyway, thanks for everything you do and I look forward to hearing from you. Cheers.
Tom: Well, Jared, I don't think that a slow rise to a fly and then a fish turning away versus a splashy refusal tells you much about what you did wrong or what the fish didn't like about your fly. It has more to do with the kind of water the fish is in. I suspect that those slow rejections are happening in slower water, and the splashy rise is where a fish is, you know, holding close to the bottom and comes up through the water column and rejects a fly, closes its mouth at the last minute and doesn't take the fly. And the splash is just really from the fish's momentum because it had to come up from the bottom. So I don't think there's much they can tell you.
But I can tell you what I do when a fish rejects my fly in either situation, whether it's the slow or the fast. First of all, I would lengthen my tippet and maybe go to a lighter tippet, one size lighter on the tippet. Generally, I do that more, not so much for visibility, but to reduce drag, a lighter, thinner tippet or a longer tippet is going to give you less problem, fewer problems with drag. And so that can often solve the problem of a fish rejecting your fly, because it dragged.
The other thing you can do is to change positions a little bit. Sometimes by just moving a foot or two, not a foot or two, but maybe three or four feet, in one direction or another, you can change the current you're casting over and maybe adjust your casting angle a little bit to see if you can get a little bit better drift.
Regardless of whether the fish rejected a fly because of drag or because it didn't like the fly, I do like to change flies. I've found that a fish that rejects a fly, even if it rejects the fly because of drag, the fish seems to know that fly and won't come back to it again. So I generally, after rejection, I'll sometimes just find another fish.
But if I want to catch that fish, and the fish isn't spooked because I set the hook and scared it, the fish isn't spooked and continues to feed, I will change flies. And I'll generally go to one that's not too far off the one I just got the interest from. Because the fish showed some interest in the fly. But I generally will go to a size smaller and maybe just a slightly different variation of the pattern. You know, a fly that's in the same ballpark is the one that the fish came to, but I'll change it up a little bit. I usually go a little bit smaller.
So those are a couple ideas for those terrible rejections that you sometimes get. And we all get them.
And finally, I'm going to end with an email for a change. So this one is from Jeff, from Boone County, Missouri. "On your most recent podcast the caller asked about weedless subsurface bug for largemouth bass. While fly fishing for trout is a passion of mine, being in mid-Missouri I spend a lot of my day-to-day fishing time searching for largemouth amongst weeds in the small lakes and streams around my hometown.
My favorite weedless subsurface largemouth fly is a variant of what I believe is called a pike bunny. I found this fly online. If I could remember where, I would give credit where credit is due. When looking for a fly-fishing version of a Yamamoto Senko plastic worm. It's basically a bard Zonker strip tied in the backside of the hook with a loop of heavy mono poke through about one third to one half of the way back in the strip and tied back to the top of the hook. Throw on some flash and a palmered Schlappen feather or wraps of dubbing brush at the head, and you're good to go.
To keep it weedless, I tie two pieces of the same heavy mono on either side of the bend of the hook. So the memory from the spool makes them stick straight out perpendicular to the hook. Tie those pieces in right behind the eye, a couple drops of head cement, and you're done.
You can add weight with a tungsten bead or wraps of lead wire. When I add weight, I like it back on the hook shank so the bug sinks from the middle rather than head down, mimicking the action of the Senko.
Using an intermediate line and a fairly short leader, I cast this thing on the edge of the vegetation or into holes on the surface I can get to and just let it sink. Bass usually hit it on the sink. Once it sinks, long, slow strips almost always get it out of the garden cleanly unless you have the mossy algae to deal with, nothing comes out of that clean.
These strips can provide some monster strikes as well. I've even caught fish on top with this fly while dragging it across the top of vegetation. The mono loops make it bounce around and keep the hook from catching. Hope this helps. Thanks for all you do for our sport, Tom. You are truly one of the good ones. Sorry for the long email."
Well, Jeff, don't be sorry for the long email because it's a great suggestion. And for those of you that tie your own flies, let me just give you a little more detail on how Jeff ties his flies.
First of all, what I would do, this is how I would do it, I would tie in three pieces of stiff monofilament, maybe 25 pound or so. And I would tie one on top of the hook shank and one to either side. And these should be, maybe, I don't know, two or three inches long. And just let them sit there.
Then tie your Zonker strip on top. Poke a hole in the Zonker strip and take the center piece of monofilament. And poke it through that hole, the hole you make with a dubbing needle or pointier scissors, and then bring it back over the top of the Zonker strip and secure it to the hook. What this does is it keeps that Zonker strip from fouling around the bend of the hook. It just extends it a little bit further back, so it doesn't wrap around the bend of the hook and foul.
Then leave those other two pieces of monofilament on the sides, just leave them there. Finish your fly off, however you want to finish off the head, you know, with brushes or dubbing or hackle or whatever you want to do.
And then, finally, pull those two pieces of monofilament forward so that they form loops, kind of de-loops, and they cover the point of the hook. Pull them enough so that they're just a little bit beyond or below the point of the hook and then secure them to the eye and probably a couple drops of super glue will help there to keep them in place. And then you've got a weed guard on either side of the hook. And that does sound like a great way to make that fly relatively weedless.
So thank you, Jeff, for that tip and for the technique that you use, which is equally important as how you fish that flies. I'm sure that anglers that fish for largemouth will really appreciate this tip on fishing in heavy cover.
So I have two special guests today. Adam Greuel and Charlie Berens. And this is, I believe, my first three-way in a podcast. So guys, we'll have to work our way through this.
But Adam and Charlie are both very well-known Wisconsin personalities. They've released their debut album, "Unthawed" in 2020. They're slated for another release in 2023.
Adam is a musician with his own solo albums and also with the band Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, which are terrific. And Charlie is a writer and probably best known for his amazing YouTube videos. If you have not watched any of Charlie's YouTube videos, they're definitely worth a listen. My favorite is the one about, I think, it's the car warranty one.
Charlie: Oh yeah, yep.
Tom: Which I have fun with car warranty people occasionally, too.
Charlie: So it's tough for us in the Midwest to say no to them. You know, when they call, they're so nice. You're just like, "You know, thanks for the heads up on that 10-year warranty. Geez, Louise, I can't believe it's been 10 years. I still haven't renewed this. Oh, my God, honest to Pete."
Tom: So, anyways, we're gonna hear a little bit of their music together at the end of the show, but we're going to talk about... Because Adam is a serious fly fisher and got in touch with me, I don't know, about a year ago, Adam?
Adam: Yeah, you're gonna be up.
Tom: Adam has introduced Charlie to fly fishing. Charlie, you've been a conventional angler all your life, right, and you'd never fly fished before?
Charlie: Yeah. No, I've been, you know, just a rod and spinner kind of guy. And I did buy one fly rod from my dad from the sport mart back when I was in fourth grade, but I then proceeded to break it in the garage door, and so have not been fly fishing and really until I went with Adam.
Tom: Yeah, so we're gonna talk about... The topic is introducing your buddy to fly fishing because, you know, people like to share this with their close friends. And so, you guys have learned some things along the way. And so, we're gonna talk about some of the topics that might be appropriate.
And I'll let you guys kind of start out with, what are the similarities to conventional angling that you can, you know, reach some common ground with somebody that's already a conventional angler?
Adam: Sure. Well, I think, most people, at least here in Wisconsin, started with conventional angling with a bobber and a worm. And some people on the rivers, a common tactic around here is to sink a worm and kind of bottom bounce it. And I think relating those conventional tactics to fly-fishing tactic can kind of get the brain going in the right direction as far as what we're trying to do when we fly fish.
For instance, bottom bouncing a worm, in a lot of ways, is similar to dredging a pair of nymphs, you know, to nymph fishing and trying to get those nymphs to go the exact speed of the current. We're trying to do that same thing with a worm and certainly streamer fishing has similarities to spinner fishing.
Charlie: Sorry to interrupt, Adam. Are streamers, are those the ones that look like art projects? I just want to make sure I know what we're talking about.
Adam: Yes. Those are the art project one, for sure.
Charlie: Sorry to interrupt. You know, that was impolite of me. I apologize. Because they seem great.
Adam: They're all art projects to some degree. But no, you know, and then, lastly, I mean, I would even say throwing topwater baits, in some ways, is similar to mouthing. Right? So you can kind of relate these conventional tactics to that of the fly fisher to, again, just kind of get the conceptual understanding going, if that makes sense.
Charlie: And I think you even forgot one, which was, this was the first parallel that I saw. Remember when we went out that one time and you put bobbers on? And I was like, "That's just a nice fishing bobber," And then you got really upset and you call them indicators. I don't know why you were upset. It just looks like a bobber to me.
But yeah, there are a lot of those parallels. You just got to look for it. And then as soon as you get that concept, it's like, "Okay. Now, it's all the same game." Except I'm not as good at this game.
Tom: So what about gear? You know, gear confuses conventional anglers because the gear is different. And, you know, we're throwing up weighted line instead of a weighted lure. So things are a little bit different, although the object is still to stick of a hook in the corner of a fish's mouth. You know, how do you approach the appropriate gear for the time of year? And Charlie, did that confuse you?
Charlie: Yeah, I mean, first of all, I was very confused. Like, I came as prepared as I thought I would be. The gear thing can get just... You know, the weighted poles really, you know, that's a tough one. Because when you're fishing, you've got maybe a musky rod and you've got your panfishing rod. And you know, they can kind of work a little bit. Maybe I got one other rod in between.
But in fly fishing, there's just so many, and you got to have the right one for the stream, you know. And if you got the wrong weighted deal, you're mostly just walking in a river, which I've done before, too.
So, you know, each rod, it's kind of like a first date. Like, when you're getting introduced to fly fishing, you know, don't bring up all the different weighted rods. That's like hearing about somebody's ex-wives on a first date. Just have the rod ready to go, you know, and then you can hack at it.
And then, you know, third time, fourth time around, let them know, "Oh, you gotta get at least nine more of these rods, if you really want to do it right." You know, that's real terrifying. I also didn't have the satchel, the purse situation.
I did have my tackle box though. And it was a floating tackle box. So I thought that was special. I did bring my sinking tackle box, but I had one of the tubes, you know, when you go tubing down a river and you got the tube for beer, I had that for my tackle box. I thought that would be smart.
Adam did not think that was smart. I think he got a little upset. So anyway, Adam, I'll let you take it from there. Those are just my first thoughts.
Adam: Well, when I was thinking about introducing your buddy to fly fishing, one thing I thought about is, up here in Wisconsin, we've got four distinct seasons. And a lot of times, we'll be out fly fishing in 20-to-32-degree weather in winter, and, certainly, you need to be dressed appropriately. You got to get kind of tucked in there like a cased sausage in your waders.
And those things start to become important, just making sure that somebody is comfortable upsizing your wader boot one size. Just things like that because when people are uncomfortable out on the river, they're gonna get bummed out and maybe they're not going to take the fly fishing because of that lack of comfortability.
And even just little things, like I was out the other day here in spring up in Northern Wisconsin, and the rivers were high and I like to use like a waterproof sling or, as Charlie would say, a purse. And I didn't have my waterproof sling, and sure enough, it gets to be lunchtime, and I'm in the middle of nowhere, and my sandwich was soggy.
Charlie: Oh, no.
Adam: I had a soggy sandwich. And I just thought to myself, "Gosh, dang it." You know, there's these moments, equipment like that doesn't matter until it matters. And so, I don't know, I like to make sure that, you know, my buddy, when I'm introducing them, make sure they're comfortable, if they're going to be in waders that are gonna feel good.
And, certainly, you know, if you're out there on a small stream, say, in Southwestern Wisconsin, and you've got a nine-weight, you might legitimately have a more challenging time. It's gonna be harder. The angler might have a little less fun.
So just make sure that your pal is kind of set up to succeed in that way. You don't want him to get the soggy sandwich blues, which I think should go on the next album, honestly. That's a real banger of a song right there.
Tom: Yeah, I like that.
Charlie: We went out in the winter, Adam and I, I don't know, a few months ago or whatever. And I had beautiful waders and boots, which were great and they were perfect. But the problem is, I then was wearing ankle socks in my waders. And I lost the sock halfway through it. It bunched up. And somehow that made my left toes free. So it's even the little things of, don't wear ankle socks, you know, you live and you learn.
Tom: Yeah. What do you think about that 20-degree fishing, Charlie? Are you in? Are you going to do it more often?
Charlie: Yeah, I'm gonna do it. I'm just gonna wear, again, I think the right socks. But I honestly enjoyed it. The thing is, you just underestimate how cold the river is. You feel like you're Superman out there. You put on the Bat-suit when you put on your waders. And, you know, that's just not always the case. You got to keep those toes kind of going on the inside.
Maybe I had poor circulation. Maybe I should see a doctor, honestly. I think the gear is fine, but, you know, I should probably see a doctor about my circulation. But I was having a great time so I couldn't feel my feet.
Tom: I'd try electric socks the next time. I'm a big fan of them.
Charlie: Oh yeah, like with the batteries on? Yeah, I got a pair of that.
Tom: They may come with smaller lithium-ion batteries now so they're a little more comfortable inside waders.
Charlie: Got it. Okay.
Adam: So I upsize of the boot one size, and then I do like the full foot like handwarmer situation.
Tom: Yep. Yeah, they would too. Yeah.
Adam: That seems used to do that trick, yeah, a couple pairs of base layers.
Charlie: I got to experiment.
Tom: So what about getting people on the right water for the right species? You know, Adam, you think you should start out taking someone trout fishing or you think there's a better way of, different species that you should start with?
Adam: Well, I mean, certainly, getting folks into a bluegill pond to kind of work on their cast is probably the easiest and most kind of fulfilling route. I know, like, up here in Wisconsin, certainly some places I like to fish southwest, you know, it can be some like Jedi fishing. You know, where there lots of role casting in just super, super tight quarters. And that's just fun, you know, like, I really enjoy it. But man, it can be frustrating even for somebody who's been fly fishing all their lives.
You know, so just being cognizant of that with your buddy, I think is important. You know, and then, A) making sure that there's room to cast so people can work on their basic overhand, overhead cast, and their roll cast and stuff kind of unimpeded. So I think that's important.
And B) if you can think about where you might give somebody a realistic chance to pick up a fish, you know, like some places down in Tennessee that I enjoy fishing, you know, for starters, relatively easy to pick up fish there, probably a good place to teach somebody.
I taught my girlfriend down in Nashville somewhat recently how to fly fish out on a rivers of Nashville area. And she really enjoyed it. And, you know, you don't have to get that perfect dead draft, you know, things like that, that kind of come in time with more angling.
So considering that, you know, maybe take somebody to a more stocked area. You know, Charlie and I, I think the first day we ever went out, we were down there in the Driftless region. And we went out and we went to a spot that I've loved for quite a long time.
And we got in there and I'm kind of curious how this is gonna go, you know, knowing that Charlie hasn't cast a fly rod a whole lot, so I kind of get him going with that.
And he looks down. It was over, I'm sure, a right kind of down in some shallow water and there he goes, "What are these little guys?" Sure enough, he noticed scuds right away. And we hadn't talked about even like picking up a rock to identify what's in the river or anything like that, but he noticed these scuds like, you know...
Charlie: I had an eye for the scuds.
Adam: So we put on the classic, you know, driftless fly called the Pink Squirrel. It's kind of a silly-looking yet wildly productive fly that I think imitates a scud. And we get going working this pool and run it several times. And his cast is improving, getting better and better.
And finally, he gets like a great mend and he's got this perfect drift. And right as I think to myself, "He'll probably do it." Sure enough, indicator bobber down, and he sets the hook. And sure enough, just under 20 Brown, you know, a fish he's not going beat for like many, many years, probably here in Wisconsin. It goes flying through the air.
I'm talking like the classic, like the cabin paintings, you know. Like, it comes flying out of the air, head shaking, you know. And I'm like trying to play it cool, like, this is like a normal fish. But deep down I'm like, "Oh my gosh, we gotta gonna land this thing."
And it's torpedoing out of the air. It's just [inaudible 00:59:51] and I think he's got a four weight. And I'm kind of calmly talking to him, you know, about what needs to happen. And we end up landing it. And I just, you know, busted in [inaudible 01:00:05]. I'm not often like a shouter on the river, but it was just such a joyous moment.
Charlie: That was so wild because, Adam, you never stopped talking. But when you stopped talking, when I got that sucker on, I was like, "Oh, no, something's wrong here. He doesn't have any faith in me."
Usually my dad, if he doesn't have faith in me, he goes, "Stop forcing it." Adam just gets really quiet and starts walking out in the river so he can get as close to the fish as possible because that's just how much faith he has in me.
But I will say that catching my first trout on a fly rod, that got me hooked. You know, but the other thing you brought up about just noticing the stuff on the rocks, you know, matching the hatch and looking at things. That just makes it so much more engaging method of fishing for me because, you know, my brain is kind of always going all over the place.
So to always kind of have something to do, and to be able to, like, physically watch. I know I'm kind of preaching to the choir on this, but as a guy new to fly fishing, that was like, "Oh, this is so much fun," you know.
And like the worst-case scenario, you're going on a walk in the river. And then like when Adam... Adam like, you know, how some people birdwatch. Adam fly watches. I, like, find him in these high-power, magnifying glass, binoculars to look at the flies because that's what he spent all the time doing. And I was fascinated by that.
But I just like how it takes the whole circle of life, you know, and kind of puts it into fishing. You can become a little biologist when you're out there. I get a kick out of that.
Tom: So has it been all downhill from that first big brown trout?
Charlie: Oh, yeah. Yep. I've yet to match that in my fishing experience. But you know what? I'll always be chasing it, you know, probably till I die. That was a great feeling. I think I'll get another one at some point. I'm just not betting on it and neither is Adam, if you ask him off air.
Tom: It's like drawing a full...
Adam: The other thing... Sorry. Go ahead.
Tom: No, just to say it's like drawing a full house in your first poker game or something.
Charlie: Yeah, exactly.
Adam: The other thing we did that I thought was a fairly effective idea for a new buddy was we floated down Northern Wisconsin River with our buddies over there for the Wisconsin Fly Fishing Company. We went out with Gabe and Hunter. And, you know, being able to float down a river like that and have no casting obstructions, that was a pretty cool thing.
Of course, we are throwing streamers, first of all now. And of course, we can't all fork in the dough for, you know, guided trip every week like many of us would want to. But doing that with a buddy, just getting a guide and going down the river, and being able to talk to a professional and pick their brain, I feel like that's a really good way to kind of start your process of learning more about fly angling.
And, you know, it's also just such a cool memorable experience, floating down on a wild and scenic river and just like it kind of gets in your heart and makes you fall for it a little bit quicker.
I mean, we had a pretty incredible experience up there. And, Charlie, you got some pretty sweet small bits, if I remember, right?
Charlie: I did, you know my favorite part of that trip, and this might be good advice to anyone taking your new buddy out fly fishing, don't get in the boat right behind them and fish every spot your buddy just fished and pull monster bass out of every hole he just did not catch a monster bass out of. That can get a little disheartening after about the 15th bass, Adam.
So maybe, just don't, you know, on a few holes, let them slide. Let him think that there was no fish in there. But other than that, it really was a great time.
Tom: Who was the one that was pulling the monster bass? Was it Charlie or Adam?
Charlie: Oh, no, that was Adam. So I need to explain this. I would go through a nice stretch and Adam was like, "Oh, there's definitely gonna be fish in there." And the guide was like, "Hit this. This is your hole." You know, and we went through it. I didn't catch a fish.
And then no sooner am I not catching a fish, I'm on to the next hole. Adam's at the hole I was just at and pulling in, you know, a monster bass. You know, he did it not once, not twice, but about 15 times. I was counting. I was carving it in the side of the flotation device.
Tom: Another notch on the rafter.
Charlie: Yep. Yeah, exactly. One more and we'd all be plunged.
Adam: But wouldn't you say, Chuck, that was a nice, it was like an effective way to learn out there in the middle of the river, you're casting down, right?
Charlie: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, that's where I really where it kind of all came full force. You know, Adam always said like, you know, he was saying things like, "Reload it. Imagine you got a tennis ball under your arm," all that sort of stuff.
And you can hear that 20, 30 times. But at some point, when you have that much space because we're in the boat and there's not a bunch of trees you can get it stuck in, when you hear that many times, eventually it just clicks with that many opportunities to kind of cast and cast in different situations. So I think that's where I really got my cast down, which is still not fantastic, but it got passable on that day, I think.
Adam: My girlfriend said she refuses to go with me anymore if I say, "Pop to a stop" one more time.
Charlie: You do say that a lot.
Tom: Did you get that from Pete Kutzer?
Adam: Yeah. That's exactly who I got it from like in the video.
Tom: I can hear him saying that.
Adam: The Milwaukee Bucks were playing last night. And I went down to the local tavern here. And my buddy, who is just getting into fly fishing, is down there. He started asking about the double haul like, "There's this guy, Pete Kutzer," sent him a video.
Tom: Yeah, that's the best way to do it. Charlie, how about all the information that's thrown at you when you first go fly fishing? You know, how do you feel about all the jargon and, you know, the right way of saying things and all the advice? What advice would you give someone who's teaching someone else about all this stuff?
Charlie: Yeah, I think it just, start off with no jargon and literally just going out with like a pole that they can use in a particular spot and just say, "So, you're just trying to do this, you know, and just do the thing and throw it out."
And then, it's like, you can introduce a new phrase or a new name as soon as they catch a fish. So once they catch a fish, then say, "Match the hatch."
But if, on the walk down to the river, you're doing what Adam does. It's, "Yeah, you're going to need four-weight on this. You brought a nine-weight. I'm not sure why you did it. That's got streamers. We're not using those. We're using these little nymph deals. This is the Pink Squirrel. You got to match your hatch.
And by the way, don't talk on the river. I'm the only one who can talk on the river all day. And we're going to talk on hushed tone, okay? And did you really bring an actual tackle box? Where's your purse?" I forget the name for the purse. But, you know, that's what he said. And,"how do you bring this many beers yet no fly?"
I think a new piece of information can be introduced with either a fish that is caught or a beer that the host is giving to the new fisher. So that's the best way, I think, to integrate it into the mind seamlessly.
Tom: Is the jargon easier to take after a couple of beers?
Adam: Yes, it is. Yeah, it's easier to take. It's not as easy to retain for obvious reasons. But, you know, eventually, it sinks in with the suds.
Tom: That's a really good plan. That's a really good plan. A new piece of jargon with every fish, only one piece. Yeah, I like that. I like that a lot.
Adam: I think it's, you know, the way that I eventually have grown to look at it, and of course, this is like I've introduced a number of friends to the fly-fishing game and just slowly have realized kind of what works and what doesn't. And, you know, I've kind of limited it now to the basics of casting, getting somebody...
Because, you know, you're not going to have a ton of fun fly fishing if you can't deliver the flies out there. So getting the basic casting stuff done and then talking about the rig, you know, talking like, "Here, I very often personally use like, you know, a couple of pulses," which I know, you have mixed feelings about, Tom. The stickiness, it is irritating.
But I like a couple pulses and then a double nymph rig. And a lot of times, I'll change the weight, you know, on the two nymphs in order to deal with the depth, as opposed to moving the pulses, which of course I can't.
But anyhow, just discussing that whole thing with your buddy, and like, you know, okay, so that's where it comes back to, you know, relating it to sinking worms. It's like, "You know, how when you're kind of jiggling the worm in the current through the run, that's similar to what we're trying to do with these nymphs." And just kind of trying to explain things as in plain language as possible, while not kind of overwhelming somebody's mind.
When you've been studying fly fishing, like many of us have, for a lot of our lives, there's a lot of stuff up there. And sometimes, we do talk a mile a minute, trying to just kind of spit on all this information. And it's surely overwhelming. I'm guilty of that, no doubt.
Tom: Is he guilty of that, Charlie?
Charlie: He is guilty, very much so, as charged. And, you know, again, it's always coming from a good place. Like when he's talking about it, though, you can tell that he has such love for the sport that you're kinda like, you know, "I want to get there. I want to get to that place. And when I do, I'm not going to talk about it a mile a minute like he does." But you do appreciate that, you really do.
And he has been a great teacher. I've just had to learn his teaching style, you know. And he shows his disappointment or anxiety with silence. You know, if he's quiet, you're like, "Oh, no. Did I break his rod? Or do I have a fish on?" So, it's just noting that, but it all come from a good place.
Adam: But you've been like teaching your pal now, haven't you, and kind of your cousins? And weren't you telling me that you were up there at the cabin?
Charlie: Yeah. No, I've been teaching them, I have. I'm not sure that they have the best teacher. I'll say that, you know, because I kind of take a hodgepodge of what I remember from you.
But I got the cast and the mends down. And I feel like those are the two things that, you know, if you can get someone to figure that out, then the rest... That's really all I know, actually, to this day. That's pretty much all I know. And I caught some fish. So that's all that matters, right?
Tom: Yeah. It sounds like you don't agonize over fly patterns when you're teaching, Charlie. You don't worry so much about that, which I think is a good thing.
Charlie: Yeah. No, I did make a fly the other day. You'll be happy to know. What happened was I actually dropped one of Adam's flies one that he said, "Don't drop that. I like that one." Well, I dropped it and then I saw it float down the river and I tried to get after it, but then it sunk and I couldn't find it.
But what I did have was an extra bear hook and I had a piece of string in my coat pocket. And so I took a little bit of line, and I tied the string around the hook, put it back into his case, and he still hasn't found out about it until this moment right now.
Adam: I thought that was kind of a funny looking mop fly in there.
Charlie: Yeah, well, see what you catch with it. That's my first fly. Okay. That'll be at the Smithsonian one day when I'm [crosstalk 01:14:38].
Adam: Is that's the one he calls a psychedelic stranger?
Charlie: No, that's a different one. You would have noticed that I put a psychedelic stranger in your little box set. You know, that's my second fly ever, so...
That's the other thing, the names of the flies. I don't know who the... I want to do a bit on the guy responsible for naming all these flies. You know, I feel like the guy who names flies is the same guy who names router passwords. My router password right now is wide squirrel 842. I feel like that's the name of a fly as well.
Tom: Thanks for sharing your router password with everyone.
Charlie: Now, I gotta change that.
Tom: You can change it to fly formerly known as Prince or Adam's parachute 123. Do you like the fly names, Charlie?
Charlie: Oh, I love them.
Tom: What are some of your favorite fly names?
Charlie: Oh, geez, Louise. So there's, I mean, the Psychedelic Stranger. That's what I came up with. But there was like some weird...what was that? What was the one? The whirl sack [SP]? What was that?
Adam: You were laughing about the Meat Whistle.
Charlie: There's a Meat Whistle? Come on now. Come on. What are we doing here, huh? Who's doing that? What's another one from the...
Adam: The Hippy Stomper, you are laughing about it.
Charlie: Yeah. I mean, what they need...? You know how they got that app? You know, where you put it in front of a plant in your yard to figure out if it's a weed or not? I need that for flies. I want to put that in front of Adam's tackle box and just have all the names pop up.
Tom: That's a good idea. That's a great idea.
Charlie: Yeah. Yeah, we thought of it right here. Yeah, you can have 25%. But, you know,
they're very creative. And that is, again, in all honesty, what I do like about fly fishing is that the fellas who, you know, make their flies... I went up in Northern Wisconsin and I went to a fly shop and those fly shops are all fun. I mean, because a lot of the guys make the flies and some even make the rods. And so like seeing that love and that craftsmanship is pretty cool. It is.
So, you know, when you're going to spend that much time on something, you know, it's your right to give it a weird, weird name. And, you know, but I just like all aspects of it from walking through the river, you know, taking a lot of care in the craftmanship of the flies and the rods and everything. It's just a fun, fun sport, all around.
Adam: So another fly name I can never get over is the Ratface MacDougall.
Charlie: That's it. That was fun. I was trying to think of them.
Adam: Like, that's him.
Charlie: That's like what they named a boat, Boaty McBoatface or whatever. That's what that reminds me of.
Adam: Didn't that come from you, Tom, the Ratface MacDougall?
Tom: Yeah. It's an old Catskill pattern and I don't know the origin of the name, but, yeah, it's an old Catskill deer hair dry fly.
Adam: And, Tom, knowing you, I'm sure you probably know this. But, you know, the Hornberg, that funky, funky fly. That comes from right here. I live in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. And Frank Hornberg was a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point professor.
Tom: Oh, I didn't know that.
Adam: Yeah. Yeah. So that came from right here. So I ended up fishing that Hornberg. I know that's always kind of like a funny one that people talk about because it's such an interesting fly.
Tom: Yeah, it's a weird fly. I mean, it's really popular in New England. A lot of people think that it originated in Maine because it's such a popular fly like in Maine and New Hampshire. But, yeah, it's Wisconsin...
Adam: Yeah. No, I knew that. I liked to declare this publicly as much as I can. It's from Stevens Point.
Tom: All right. All you Mainers that think you invented the Hornberg? No, it's from Wisconsin.
So, Charlie, what are some of the other things about fly fishing...? I mean, you've mentioned some of the things, what else is it about fly fishing that's so appealing? Because those of us who have been doing it for a long time, have no idea how to express that thought.
Charlie: Well, I guess, the big thing... I like to be outdoors, and I like to hike, first and foremost. So, I mean, the fact that even if you don't get your pole out, even if you don't cast, you're going on a hike through a river. And that's pretty cool, you know.
And the holistic sort of nature of it, where, you know, you're matching the hatch, and you're looking at the flies that are, you know, are flying around and maybe dropping, I feel like you get a better sense of like the...
You know, I don't want to turn to Mufasa here, but the circle of life a little bit, you know. And so you're more connected to just the larger ecosystem. And I'm an environmental guy and so this is why it's kind of cool to me.
But, you know, you it see like, "Hey, if this species of fly, you know, goes away for some reason, the fish act in a different way. Or you're not going to get this many fish typically. Or, you know, the river, for whatever reason is, let's say, it warms up more than it should, that had an impact on it. I just feel like you're more connected to the reasons fish bite on certain baits and that's, you know, connected to us in the environment.
And so from a very large philosophical point of view, I kind of enjoy that aspect of it, because I just think you're more connected to what you're doing. But, you know, beyond that, just being out. Usually, you're not surrounded by a bunch of different boats. And don't get me wrong, I love conventional fishing, too. But I like kind of being, you know, out there, hanging out by myself, and then being able to get a walk in if I get bored or whatever.
And I think that's it. I kind of got a mind that goes all over the place, and fly-fishing offers, like, "Hey, maybe you're sick of doing this or that. You can walk for a little bit. You can find another spot. You can look at, you know, the birds. You can look at the flies." You know, I'm big into bird watching too. But now, I'm starting to watch flies after talking to Adam.
And it's just such a meditative process, too, like getting that cast down. And, you know, when you're actually fishing, you have no choice but to just focus on the fishing, you know, because there's so many things to keep in mind and to keep considering that the rest of your problems or whatever you can kind of forget about for a while. So that's what I enjoy about it. Also, Adam likes to bring some nice tall boys with him and that's a nice situation, too.
Tom: That's beautifully, beautifully put, Charlie. Thank you.
Charlie: Oh, thank you. Thank you. Yeah, thanks for asking.
Tom: Yeah, that's really eloquent.
Adam: You know, the nature of both mine and Charlie's lives as entertainers, you know, being out on the road and playing, you know, several shows in a row and kind of going from city to city, it can become very hectic. Life kind of flies by and sometimes you get done with a tour and it can be hard to process, "Let's just sit down."
And so, for me, personally, and I know many of the listeners will probably relate to this. It's just so nice to go in the river and be focused on one activity, you know, and just become fully immersed in all of the ins and outs of what you're doing, the particulars of fly fishing.
It's just such a blessing that we have, you know. And, for me, personally, it's a spiritual thing. It's like a church. I always love that John Muir quote, what is that? "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul." I just think that that's such a beautiful sentiment and fly fishing has done that in my life.
And I think that's why I feel passionate about sharing it with buddies, especially buddies like Charlie, who, you know, need to take some time to kind of settle down and live a hectic life. And I know that fly fishing can kind of fill up your soul tank, your spiritual tank. It'll give you energy in a world that oftentimes takes energy from you. I think fly fishing tends to give it back to you.
Tom: Wow. I've been accused of not being very spiritual on this podcast. And you guys are just upping my game today.
Charlie: Well, we're doing what we can for you.
Tom: Thanks.
Charlie: You know, I'll tell you this. When I first got into Adam's car a few years back, I said, "This is the worst smelling car." And it was a new car, too. It was like maybe three months old and it smelled like five mice had died in a mildew farm.
And it took me a long time to figure out why his car smelled so bad. But the reason is, is because he always has his waders in there. And he does not dry them out very well before he puts them back in the car, apparently, and he's always got his fly rods in there.
So that smell of, you know, just the duck schmaltz from somewhere mixed with the river water from who knows where, you know, percolating in your car. That just means that's the sign of not a disorganized man, but just a well-organized soul, is what that is. Could use an air freshener, though, I'll tell you that.
Adam: You know, since that, I got like a little Bluegill air freshener there on my back, rear view window.
But another one, Tom, that I wanted to mention was, where this started was when you're introducing a buddy to fly fishing. I think it can be important to make it about more than just the act of fly fishing.
One thing I love doing, and Charlie and I have done this, you don't need to be out there fly fishing for 12 hours a day, although, I've been known to do that.
Tom: You don't? Are you sure?
Adam: Maybe, it's whatever is comfortable for that buddy. Maybe that's a couple two, three hours. And then maybe you go off to a cool supper club or something, you know, or even just sit on the bank and have a chat and kind of talk about those things that we don't take the time to talk about in our day-to-day lives.
I know. I've had the pleasure of fishing with like, you know, PJ Smith down there, who I know he's an Orvis-endorsed guide down there in the Driftless. And Charlie got his video recently. You know, him and Donna and I have had a nice chats down there just on the stream bank after fishing for a couple hours.
And same with like, you know, Tim Landwehr, who I know these are all folks that you've had on the podcast before. And the guys in Wisconsin River Fly Fishing. I just always really adore sitting there and talking with these peers, sometimes about fly fishing, but other times it's like just taking the time to sit on the bank and maybe you're waiting for the Caddis to start popping, or maybe you're waiting for the Hendrickson to start, you know, falling, or whatever, you know.
But it's just taking that time. Like, you know, it's so important in life to take the time to kind of nourish your friendships while taking the time to sit on the bank and have a conversation and digging into life is certainly an important and soul-nourishing part of this whole deal, too.
Tom: Yeah, that's a wonderful thought. I wish I could be like that. But I fish with a buddy of mine, Shawn, and when I get back, my wife says, "What do you guys talk about?" "We talk about fishing." "Do you ever talk about your feelings?" "No, not really."
So, now whenever we go fishing, when we're driving to the river, I say, "Shawn, how do you feel today?" And he says, "I feel pretty good." And so, then I can come back and tell my wife that we talked about our feelings.
Adam: You know, I'll end up writing. I think Charlie and I've done a little writing on the river, too. You get this old like '77 Boston Whaler, your unsinkable boat. Charlie always laughs, because, for a while at a certain water level, the way I get it off the back of the trailer is, I just throw the anchor on shore and then kinda fly back with it and sort of shoot it up the trailer.
But we like to go out in that thing and cruise around. I live on the Wisconsin River here in Stevens Point on the backwaters. And we'll put the boat in there and cruise. And sure, we're fishing, but we also ended up writing material. And it's amazing how, you know, nature is such a conduit for art, you know. Like, so much of what we create, we learned from nature.
You know, for instance, the musical scale was created by birds. These are things that humans just sort of adopted as part of our intellect and our culture that have always been there. I find myself finding, you know, simile and metaphor in nature constantly, while I'm out there fishing. And it works its way into the songs, you know.
And that's just a beautiful thing to recognize. You know, people always ask, "How do you write these songs?" And it's like, "Well, you know, I kinda write the song, but really, nature is writing the song." It's like you're a conduit for processing the world around you and kind of creating art through that, if that makes sense.
Tom: Yeah. It does.
Charlie: The Soggy Sandwich Blues.
Tom: Yeah, I'm gonna look forward to that one.
Charlie: Yeah, nature wrote that song, too.
Tom: You guys are going to do it. I know you are.
Charlie: Yeah. Oh, yeah. No, I got two verses written already in my head.
Tom: Oh, cool.
Adam: We need to do a fly-fishing tune for the next record, too. We get to work on that.
Charlie: I'm all on board.
Tom: Soggy Sandwich Blues, I think that's a shoo in.
Charlie: That's it. I love it.
Tom: All right, guys. Well, that was really fun. And I want to thank you for some great advice on getting a friend into fly fishing. And I thought we would close the podcast with a song that you guys did together. And this one's called, "Ope Nope." You guys want to talk a little bit about the song before people listen to it?
Charlie: Yeah. Well, first of all, thanks so much for having me on, specifically, because, you know, I clearly don't know too much about the deal. But this is probably going to be one of my favorite things to do going forward. It already has become that. So thanks for having me on.
But "Ope Nope" is a song that we wrote. We want to have like, you know, to get ope, which is a thing we say in the Midwest, like, "Ope, excuse me, let me squeeze right past yah." Or, you know, ope, we kind of say it all the time in a lot of different situations. But it's something that's like, you know, a passive like, "Sorry for taking up oxygen on Earth." Like, "Ope, after you," ope, whatever.
But "Ope Nope" is sort of like that. Ope, you're kind of going off the deep end in life, or you're having a hard time. Nope, you know, we're going to bring you back and we're going to, you know, show you a little bit of love. I mean, that's kind of what I sort of took out of that song. Adam, do you have your own thoughts?
Adam: That's a beautiful interpretation there. You know, the chorus I remember writing out there. I was in Northern Wyoming, Tom, and I was doing a backpacking trip up there to the high Alpine Lakes. I was actually chasing golden trout, to be exact.
I had been alone for quite a while and I was thinking about how it'd be really nice to get back on a riverbank and strike up a bonfire and hang out with some buddies. It kind of goes back to, you know, a theme that I think we've been talking about in this chat today just about kind of rejuvenation from the river, such an important piece of my life and I know of many of your listeners too, just get down the river and feeling that kind of soul-cleansing vibe that helps us get by.
Tom: Well, that's beautiful. That's beautiful. So let's listen to the song and I want to thank you, guys, Adam Greuel and Charlie Berens. And you can investigate their music and their
comedy on, probably, iTunes and Spotify, right, and Facebook and where else? We'll put some links in the podcast when we when we publish it.
Adam: Yeah. YouTube, TikTok, the whole deal. And thank you again for having us on. This was a real honor.
Tom: Well, thank you guys. Thank you guys. It's an honor for me and it's been a lot of fun. So we'll close with "Ope Nope."
Adam and Charlie: Oh, dear road, going full throttle,
Put the pedal down, spinning time like a bottle,
Lost weeks, days, years trading time for fears,
Funny how tomorrow disappears,
I don't know. Have we lost all hope?
Ope Nope, let's build this fire
Down by the river, go swinging on a tire
With a couple of good friends riding high.
We've all got troubles. Sing 'em to the wind,
Let the night air come and take you in.
Ope Nope, yeah, buddy, we're just fine,
Lovin' on river time.
Friends, I know, it's a troubled earth,
But we've got each other, for what it's worth,
'Cept every dollar, dime, and golden flake
I wouldn't trade you, friend, for anything,
But maybe tonight, you aren't too busy for a drink?
Ope Nope, let's build this fire
Down by the river, go swinging on a tire
With a couple of good friends riding high.
We've all got troubles. Let's give 'em to the wind,
Let the night air come and take you in.
Ope Nope, everybody, we're just fine,
Lovin' on river time.
Friends, I know, there's a great divide,
It runs through this country without a rhyme.
Open your eyes and look around,
They split us up to tear us down,
Hate flooding the dream, we forget how to swim.
Ope Nope, let's build this fire
Down by the river, go swinging on a tire
With a couple of good friends riding high.
We've all got troubles. Sing 'em to the wind,
Let the night air come and take you in.
Ope Nope, everybody, we're just fine,
Lovin' on river time.
Tom: Thanks for listening to "The Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast" with Tom Rosenbauer. You can be a part of the show. Have a question or comment? Send it to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the body of an email or as a voice attachment. You can find more free fishing tips at