Tom Answers Your Questions
Tom: Hi, and welcome to the "Orvis Fly Fishing" podcast. This is your host, Tom Rosenbauer. And my guest this week is me. I had an interview for you, and the audio file got corrupted for some reason. It's happened once in a while to me. So, I apologize. We're just gonna have a Fly Box this week. I didn't have another podcast recorded that I could put out because I kind of ran out of them. So it's just me, and we'll do a Fly Box. It'll be a little shorter. And so, if you don't like the Fly Box, and just like interviews, you can stop right now. But it's a pretty interesting Fly Box.
So, anyway, and if you have a question for the Fly Box, the next time I do one, I'll also have an interview, you can send it to me at
The first question this week is an email from Joey. "I wanted to say thank you for answering my question about waders and wading boots last year. I ended up splurging on a pair of Orvis PRO Wading Boots, and could not be happier with them. I have another question regarding saltwater fishing I was hoping you might be able to help me with. This August, my fiance and I will be going to the San Jose/Santa Cruz area for her sister and sister's fiance's combined bachelor, bachelorette party. We'll be staying at a beach house right on the shore, and I was thinking I would bring a rod and try to sneak away at some point to try some surf fishing.
I should probably preface this by saying I live in Northern Colorado, and have never done any surf fishing with a fly rod. In my research so far, I've seen that for fishing in the surf, people recommend two pieces of gear that I do not currently own, a full sinking, or intermediate line, and a stripping basket. Because this trip is not specifically for fishing, and I don't know when I'll be on the coast to fish again, I wanted to see if I could get away with not purchasing any new gear, and budgeting space in my suitcase. I currently own a 9-foot 8 weight with a floating line and a sink tip line. Do you think I'll be able to manage with the sink tip line and no stripping basket for these purposes? Or will I just be setting myself up for failure?"
So, Joey, I would take what you got, and I think it could be fine. Here's a reason you sometimes need a strip...a full sinking line and a stripping basket. You know, fishing the surf, sometimes the surf can be quite calm, and if it's quite calm, you can get away with a floating line. But if those waves pick up, there's two things that happen. One is that they push your floating line all over the place, and you have trouble controlling the speed and the strip of the fly, and you can't stay tight with the fly. And the other problem is that when you're stripping in line, you're probably making longer casts, because you're trying to get out as far as you can in the surf.
If you have a lot of waves, they're gonna push that fly line all around your feet, and if there's any kind of kelp or algae in the water, your fly line's gonna pick that up. So, now, stripping baskets are kind of a necessary evil, and honestly, they're a pain, and I don't use mine unless I absolutely have to, because it kind of limits your stripping length. You almost have to use a hand-over-hand retrieve and strip into the basket. If you try to make long strips and you gotta... Even if you got the basket down at your side, you're still gonna bang into that basket if you're trying to make long strips or trying to do a strip set on a fish.
So, they are kind of a pain, but they do allow you to shoot more line, and they will keep that line out of the surf or on your feet. So, you know, if you have calm weather, you can probably get away with it, and your sink tip line may be fine in some surf. So, I would just go and deal with it, and have fun, and fish when you can. And, you know, if you find that you really like surf fishing, and you wanna do it more, then maybe you wanna invest in a stripping basket, but to be honest with you, I leave mine home three-quarters of the time when I fish the surf. So, anyway, that's my advice.
Here's another email, from Cameron from Northern New Jersey. "Love the show, and a huge fan of the discussion on making fly fishing more inclusive. Taking active steps to welcome everyone on the water is how it should be. Now for the question. Headed to Mexico soon for some tarpon, bones, barracuda, and maybe a permit if I'm lucky. Tying a few of the staples, and curious if you pinch the barb for these as well. Tarpons have tossed so many hooks, I'm thinking a barb might help. It's a habit for all other flies I do. So, is it needed for saltwater species? Maybe at least for more delicate fish like bones?"
Yeah, Cameron, I think you hit the nail on the head. First of all, you know, you can de-barb those hooks as needed with your pliers when you're fishing. So, you don't automatically wanna pinch your barbs on saltwater hooks, because you may pinch the barb on, say, a bonefish fly, and find out that you're gonna be fishing for baby tarpon, and they might take a smaller bonefish fly. So I wouldn't pinch 'em right away. And I definitely wouldn't pinch the barb for tarpon. Tarpon have a really hard, bony jaw. You're not gonna damage them much. They're fairly tough fish, you know, if you get 'em in quickly.
Most people do not de-barb their tarpon hooks, because, you know, they throw hooks often as it is. And with a barbless hook, they'd probably throw it about, I don't know, 90% of the time. So, I wouldn't de-barb my tarpon hook. You know, for the other species, permit are a little bit more delicate fish, but again, they have a hard mouth, and man, if you hook a permit, do you wanna take the chance that you might not land it? So, with permit, I think it's a toss-up whether you de-barb your hooks or not. For bonefish, I would definitely de-barb my hooks.
You are exactly correct. Bonefish are a lot more delicate fish, and you wanna handle them as little as possible, and get them back into the water as quickly as possible. I de-barb all of my all my bonefish flies, so. And cudas, yeah, it's a toss-up. Cudas jump a lot, too, so if you're fishing for cudas, you might wanna keep the barb in there. Or you can pinch it down just a little bit, if it bothers you to have a full barb. You can kind of round the point of the barb down a little. But I would definitely not de-barb my tarpon flies.
Gene: Hi, Tom. This is Gene from Northern California. I have a saltwater knot question. I need to join 80-pound heavy shock leader to 20-pound class tippet. I started using blood knots, switched to a double uni knot, and then tried an Albright knot. All of these eventually failed on tarpon, even though I tested them. So my question for you is do you have any ideas how I can solve my problem? Do I need a different knot? Do I need a different approach or a better approach to setting the knot? And should I be testing it in some certain way? Thanks a lot for your great podcast.
Tom: So, Gene, you didn't say exactly how you were attempting to tie that 80-pound to your 20-pound class tippet. To the best of my knowledge, there's no way to securely attach an 80-pound shock tippet to a 20-pound class tippet without doubling over the 20-pound class tippet. And the best way to do that is a Bimini twist. Not only does that give you a doubled line to tie the knot, so, instead of tying with one strand of 20, you're tying with two strands of 20, gives you a more secure knot, Bimini twists also give you some shock absorption, because they do stretch a bit. So, that's the way most people do it. And you can attach the 80-pound shock tippet to the 20-pound doubled section, either with a Huffnickel... Huffnickel. Huffnagle or an Albright knot.
Neither of those knots are favorites of mine, just because I don't tie them well. So, if you're like me, I would recommend that you practice both the Albright knot and the Huffnagle. Oh, actually, slim beauty. So, there's three knots you can use. You can use a slim beauty, a Huffnagle, or a Albright knot. And probably my favorite would be the slim beauty. It's a little bit easier to tie, it's a little bit more secure. And then what you wanna do is tie up some test leaders. Just attach, you know, tie some Bimini twists up in 20-pound. Attach 'em to some 80-pound shock tippet. You know, put a loop in the end of the 80-pound, or put a loop in the end of the 20-pound, sorry. And attach it to something solid, like a tree.
And then attach that to your rod, and pull on it as hard as you can. Don't forget not to high stick, but to pull down and to the side, and use your body, and use the butt of the rod. And you should be able to pull 20 pounds. Twenty pounds is a lot. Most people cannot pull 20 pounds with a fly rod, even with a 12-weight rod. So, test it, and, you know, test it both on a kind of a straight pull, but also bang the rod...not bang the rod, but yank on the rod a couple times to make sure that the shock part of the knots hold. So, it's a good idea to test them. And absolutely, you wanna practice those knots before you tie your final leaders for tarpon.
The other thing you might consider is a lot of people have gone to 60-pound shock tippet for tarpon. A little bit easier to connect to the 20-pound. The knots are gonna be a little bit more secure and a little cleaner. And most people find that, you know, if they play a tarpon quickly, they can land them very easily with 60 pounds. So you may want to go to 60 unless you're fishing for really, really large tarpon, and you plan on playing them for a long time, which you shouldn't be doing anyways, if you can help it.
Here is an email from Mike, from western Massachusetts. "My question for you is considering the use of bucktails and streamers. We all know that these flies work in the early season, when water levels may be high and swift. Do you ever fish them in the summer, when water levels are low? I've always believed and taught by my mentors, big trout eat big meals, but I'm talking smaller size bucktails in the summer, when no hatch activity is present. I believe even if trout are not actively feeding, a little minnow in their strike zone can trigger a response. I also feel the art of the traditional-style bucktail fishing is a lost form of fly fishing. I also like the thrill of the strike while bucktail fishing. Your thoughts and opinions, Tom? Again, thank you for all you and Orvis do."
So, Mike, yeah, you can certainly use bucktails and streamers all summer long. You may not have as much luck, because fish are more reluctant. When the water is lower, they're more reluctant to streak across a pool and chase a bait fish, or a streamer, for that matter. They just don't, and often, you know, just the splash of a bucktail hitting the water can spook the fish. So, it's not as subtle. My advice for you would be to fish flies like that very early in the morning, like, before the sun hits the water, and I would start, you know, a half-hour before sunrise, kind of duck hunting time, when you can just barely see. Fish them for an hour or so at that time.
And then in the evening, after the sun leaves the water and it starts to get dark, and maybe even after the evening hatch is over, and, of course, well into dark, those streamers and bucktails might work. They might also work on a rainy day, or a really, really dark, cloudy, low-ceiling day. But streamers and bucktails, in bright sunlight in the summer, are going to be a probably not a high percentage chance of getting a fish to chase 'em. Hatchery fish, maybe. You know, hatchery fish will almost always chase something. But if you're fishing for a wild trout, I think that streamers and bucktails, you're best fishing them at low light periods during the summer. And of course, if the water goes up, you get a rainstorm, the water goes up, they're gonna work well all day long. Again, on darker days. When the water's high, even on bright, sunny days, streamers and bucktails don't seem to work that well. At least that's my experience.
Here's an email from Joe, from Arizona. "First and foremost, thank you for all your educational videos that you and Orvis do. Truly help me tremendously when it comes to shortening the learning curve. My question is something I've been playing with in regard to my dry fly presentation, regarding tippet and leaders. Being in Arizona, our water temperature is a big factor when it comes to trout ethics. And I strive to find the balance between playing the fish and the mitigation of stress.
Most of my hatches are in size 16 or smaller range, but I don't feel comfortable scaling down past 6X tippet in case I catch a larger fish and need to use some muscle to end the fight for the health of the fish. I was wondering your opinion on my dilemma. Am I just getting in my own head and overcompensating? Thanks again. My usual setup, for detail purposes, size 16 to 20 parachute or dun blue wing olive, 8.5-foot Clearwater five weight rod, 6X 9-foot tippet, and the trout average 9 to 18 inches. I have seen some about 22-inch browns, however, which is the reason for my concern."
So, Joe, yeah, you know, 6X is pretty strong. You know, if you pay attention to your knots, particularly your leader-to-tippet connection. So, don't try to attach your 6X to a piece of 4X. You need a piece of 5X in there so that you're only stepping down a thousandth of an inch. That will give you a stronger knot. You can attach 6X to 4X, and people do it. But if I'm using 6X, I always want a little piece of 5X in there to help make those knots a little more secure. But I think you can get away with, if you're fishing down to size 20 and no smaller, I think you can get away with a 5X tippet. It's gonna be considerably stronger than the 6X, and it's not so much the diameter of the tippet. It's not the... No, let me start that again.
It's not the visibility of the tippet that's of concern, it's the flexibility. The flexibility of 6X helps prevent drag on those little tiny flies. They don't have much mass, and it doesn't take much to pull 'em out of the right lane. But if you can get away with 5X, use a long piece of 5X. So, you know, traditionally, you might be using, I don't know, 2 feet of 6X or something. I would go to 4 or even 5 feet of 5X. That's gonna give you some added flexibility. And you should be able to get that 5X through the eye of a size 20 fly, particularly if you're using the Orvis big-eye hooks for your flies.
If you buy flies from Orvis size 16 and smaller, they're gonna be tied on bi-eye hooks, which allows you to put a bigger tippet through the eye. You know, I have used... I think I've gone down as heavy as 4X on the size 20 dry fly with a big-eye hook. But again, it's been a long piece of 4X. So I think if you beef up your tippet, lengthen your tippet, you're probably gonna, okay, you may not fool quite as many fish as you would with 6X, but you're gonna get 'em in quicker. And I applaud you for being so concerned about getting the fish in quickly and releasing 'em in that warm water.
Here is an email from Rosie, from Westfield, Mass. "I'm a new fly fisher, and I feel like I have a bit of a leg up thanks to some instruction for my very patient boyfriend, who is a seasoned fly fisher. We live in western Mass, and I discovered a love for small-stream fishing. Something about part hiking, part fishing, part forest ecology really replenishes my happiness. I went out on a few solo trips to a stream that brought me great joy as a child, through hiking and searching for newts. I had such a successful trip with plentiful Native Brookies that I eagerly brought my boyfriend back there that week. My solo trip, I caught several Brook Trout, from fingerling to 7-inch range on both hare's ears and an elk hair caddis. When we went out again, two days later, we got almost totally skunked, with one hit from the varieties of pockets and flies we tried. Why do these mountain streams seem overflowing with fish one day, and barren the next? Thanks."
Well, Rosie, I experience the same thing. I fish a lot, very similar, small mountain streams, and they are inconsistent, and it can be due to a number of things. One is that maybe the water temperature dropped. You know, fish are sensitive to changes in water temperature. And often, when the water temperature drops, those streams probably stay cold all summer long, but if the water temperature drops, the fish are gonna be a little bit less eager to feed, and especially to come to the surface. And they just may be lying low and not feeding as actively. So, that's one possibility.
The other possibility is maybe there was somebody there before you, and they spooked all the fish. You know, small streams, if somebody wades up a small stream, it's gonna spook every trout in the stream. You know, in a big river, you know, people can wade up and down, and the fish are over 30, 40, 50 feet away, in deeper water. They don't get too disturbed. But when somebody walks up a small stream, it can spook them. Even a deer. You know, sometimes I've gone to a small stream, and there's been a deer in the stream, and then the deer will run upstream, right through the middle of the brook. And I know that, you know, I'm outta luck for the next 50, 100 yards, because that deer has run up through there and spooked all the fish. So, that's a possibility.
Other possibility is that maybe because there were two of you, there was a little bit more commotion, and you spook more fish. You know, sometimes, fishing alone, you can be a lot sneakier, whereas you where got two bodies moving around there, there's more chance of the fish seeing you. So, I don't have a great answer for you, but I experience the same things, and I wouldn't give up on it. If you had a good day on that stream, you're gonna have a good day again, and maybe send your boyfriend back by himself instead of you going along. See how well he does.
Jace: Hey Tom, this is Jace from Utah. I actually have kind of more of a personal question for you, and then a fly-tying question. So, my personal question is, I'm curious on what the largest trout, whether it's a rainbow or a brown trout, that you've ever caught. You don't have to tell us exactly where, or what you were using. You can if you want, but just be kind of interesting. I love asking fly fishers that, just to get a little background on them. And then, when it comes to fly tying, I've always been a little uncertain about shucks. I feel like sometimes when I'm tying nymphs, I'm not sure if I... I like to follow the recipe on all my patterns. I'm not sure if I'm tying in a shuck or a tail. It seems like when it's really blunt, and not tapered, like, on a Barr's Emerger, that's probably a shuck imitation, with the hen feathers just kind of bluntly cut off.
But I guess I'm just curious, like, how do you know what color to use when you're tying your shucks? Is there certain materials that are better for nymph shucks versus an Emerger, or dry kind of shucks? And maybe I'm overcomplicating this, but I just feel like, unless I'm following a recipe to the tee, I'm just totally lost when it comes to shucks, because I haven't seen a ton of insects hatch from their shuck, but it seems like brown is the most common color, but do I need to buy, you know, 10 different colors of Antron to imitate all those different kinds of shucks, and do midges typically have certain color of shucks and, you know, caddis have different colors of shucks? Any guidance you have on, you know, incorporating shucks into your patterns, and just making them as realistic and imitative as possible would be great. And again, thank you for all that you do, and we'll chat with you later.
Tom: So, Jace, I have no idea what the largest trout is I've ever caught. You know, it's not that important to me. I know I've caught some giant brown trout, like, well, over 10 pounds in Lake Ontario tributaries. I don't really count those fish. They were stocked, they grew up in a lake, and, you know, I'm a lot more interested in stream trout. So I don't even consider those when I would think about the largest trout I ever caught. And as far as fish in a stream, I don't know. I really, honestly don't know. And actually, in my opinion, the best size trout to catch, and fool, in a stream is about a 16-inch trout. They're big enough and old enough to be really wary, but they fight a lot better than the really big trout.
In my experience, if you catch a really big, let's say, 22-inch or 23-inch trout, they often don't fight that hard, and they come in pretty easily, so it's not that much of a challenge. Whereas, you know, a 16-inch fish is just gonna generally tear up a pool, and really be a lot more active. So, I'm sorry, I don't have an answer for you. I don't carry a tape measure with me, and I don't know. Regarding your other question, for shucks, you know, I like Antron and Z-Lon, but you could use... I think you could use almost anything. You could use CDC, you could use a feather, you could use a loop of Flashabou. You know, I don't think we've fully explored good ways of tying shucks, and I actually have some ideas I wanna play with in the next couple of years for making shucks.
But, you know, generally, if I'm tying flies quickly, I just use Antron or Z-Lon. And I have a conundrum that I go through, is, do I imitate the translucency of a shuck that has already had the nymphal part of it removed? Or do I try to imitate the body of the nymph that's still in the shuck? So, you know, sometimes I use a dark brown or a dark olive shuck, to imitate the nymph that's still wriggling out of the shuck. And sometimes I use a light tan, to imitate just the shuck left behind. And I switch back and forth, to try and see, you know, some days one works better, some days another works better. But I don't have a good answer for you. I think you need to experiment. And again, I think there's a lot of work to be done on shucks behind nymphs, because it is so important. Fish love those emerging flies, and shucks on both mayflies and caddis flies, and midges. So, play around, and, you know, experiment and see what you come up with.
Here is an email from Chris, from Ohio. "On a recent trip to central Pennsylvania, and during an amazing sulfur hatch on the Little J, in which I was using the guide's Helios 3D, an unreal rod that actually made this Euro-nymphing fanatic look like I knew what I was doing, I kept missing rising fish as my hook set was late, due to the slack in the line and the drift from the long cast. I then started overcompensating the hook set, to the point I was asked if I was fishing for tarpon, which of course got laughs from the group, and from me. Any advice or tips when setting the hook with dry flies on long casts with slack in the line?"
Well, Chris, I think that a lot of times, we overthink setting the hook, and you have to remember what you're trying to do. With a dry fly, you have a very fine piece of wire, a trout doesn't have a real bony mouth, and all you need to do is apply some pressure to that tippet. So my advice to you is to look at the fly, look at the end of your line, and you need to move that rod until the end of that line tightens. And that's all you need to do. And, you know, I can't give you a length, or a pace or a cadence on how to set the hook, but when a trout takes your fly, you need to somehow straighten all that slack, and just put a little pressure on that hook.
It doesn't take much, and that's gonna vary with how much line you have on the water, how much current, you know, how aggressive the fish takes the fly. If a trout really smashes your fly, you wanna be really careful and be really gentle in striking. So, you're gonna have to play with that. But I think you need a happy medium, which I think is the conclusion you came to, but just enough to tighten that line is all you need. And whatever you have to do to tighten that line is gonna set the hook. And you're gonna miss a few, too, so don't worry about that.
Here's an email from Nick in South Carolina. "I've finally given in to pursuing my dream of fly fishing. I reunited with fishing about 10 years ago, after not fishing regularly since I was a child. I've primarily been a bass and bream fisher, using traditional gear." I should pronounce that "brim." Sorry about that. "Even as a child, the thought of fly fishing intrigued me. The thought of chasing trout in small streams has always seemed so majestic. And also out of reach. A few months ago, I was quarantined with COVID, watched a ton of fly fishing videos on YouTube, and decided I was gonna go for it.
I have drifted towards tenkara because it seems easier to learn. My time is so limited on the water when I go fishing, I wanna actually fish and learn techniques, not struggle just trying to get the line in the water. I never learned to throw a bait caster for this reason as well. Traditional fly gear intimidates me, feels too complicated, and yet I feel like I'm selling myself short. It's still calling me. Should I pursue using traditional fly gear, or stick solely with the tenkara gear? They both have their place for sure, but I do not want my fishing to be limited. How do I get over the intimidation factor? Love the podcast, and thank you for all you do."
So, Nick, you are gonna limit yourself with tenkara gear. I mean, it's a very efficient method for shorter casts, for smaller fish, for avoiding drag, because you don't have any fly line on the water. And, you know, those cute little collapsible tenkara rods are very appealing. So it works in a lot of places. It would work for bream. I wouldn't do it for bass, because, you know, bass can get pretty heavy, and you need, often, throw a bigger fly for bass, and that's not gonna be much fun with a tenkara rod. It'll work with, for your bream fishing with smaller bugs. And I do it myself quite a bit for bream. It's a great way of teaching someone, but I wouldn't be intimidated with fly fishing. It's really not that complicated.
You know, you need a line... Just get yourself a line, a leader, floating line, a leader, rod and reel, a box of flies, and go out and do it. And, you know, if it intimidates you, do it where there's nobody around, so that you're not worried about somebody watching you making mistakes, because you're gonna make mistakes. We all make mistakes. And those of us have been at it for a while just kinda laugh off our mistakes. But when you're first starting out, the mistakes are discouraging, but, you know, everybody's gonna make mistakes.
So, and if your time is limited, I think you're gonna be better off, because you never know what the conditions are gonna be, I think you're gonna be better off starting out with a traditional fly rod. I would start with maybe a 9-foot 6 weight rod, an inexpensive rod, if you don't think you're gonna stick with it, and just go from there. Go out and go fishing. Go fishing at the nearest neighborhood pond, and catch some bream, see how you like it. But don't be intimidated, because it's really... It's a little more complicated than some forms of fishing, but it's nothing that should intimidate you.
Here's an email from John. "I'm a longtime trout angler, and recently moved to Florida, and have been fishing for redfish a lot since I have been here. I recently acquired a new 6-7 weight reel, and am torn between getting a new 6 or 7-weight H3 rod. I plan on using it mostly for delicate presentations to shallow redfish, but also for streamer fishing on trout trips, and maybe bonefish on calm days. I have an 8-weight H 3D, and a second backup 8-weight. So I was thinking a 6-weight might provide a bit more range than getting 7-weight H 3D, since I already have the 8-weight. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Also, I have been seeing some larger grass carp in ponds near my house here in Florida, and have trouble getting them to eat flies. I've seen them eating what looks like balls of pollen off the surface, and have tied some flies to mimic this, with no lack. As the expert carp angler, you are," I don't know if I'm an expert, "do you have any tactics that might help a newbie catch grass carp on the fly?"
So, John, first of all, regarding that rod, I have never, ever used a 6-weight rod in salt water, and probably never will. I know people do it, but it just, to me, seems like a stunt. There isn't much weight difference, so going to a 6-weight, the rod isn't gonna be that much lighter. You know, they're gonna weigh somewhere around two...the rods are gonna weigh somewhere around two ounces. And a 7-weight is just gonna give you that additional oomph, you know, the wind picks up, let's say you're out there and you're fishing for redfish and the wind picks up, or let's say you decide you need to use a bigger fly, and that 6-weight just isn't gonna throw those bigger flies. Or, if a really big redfish comes in there, you can probably land it with a 6-weight, but a 7-weight's gonna be a little bit easier.
And, you know, I just think that 7-weight is as light as you should go in salt water, and it would make a fine streamer rod for trout and carp rod as well. So, if you really think you wanna try a 6-weight, do it. My advice would be to go with a seven. And I think you're gonna find some difference between a seven and an eight. And you're gonna find it's a little bit more delicacy with the seven. So, I'd really go with a seven. I think it'll complement your 8-weights nicely. And regarding grass carp, boy, they can be tough. You know, they are mostly vegetarians, and so they eat pieces of grass and weed and balls of pollen, as do common carp.
But grass carp will actually start to eat insects and other foods when they finally eat all the weeds in a pond, when there's nothing left, they will go to insects, and you can catch 'em on more standard flies. You know, if you've gotten a fly that mimics those balls of pollen, I would just keep trying. Grass carp are tough. They're really, really tough, and, you know, you might try different times of day. They might be a little bit more receptive at different times of day. Early morning, I find, is often best for carp fishing, or just before dark, when the light's a little lower. Grass carp can get spooky.
But I would just keep trying. You gotta put in your time for those fish. They are not easy. And I don't think I have any special tips for you other than to keep at it. And one thing, I would use a 12-foot leader, with about a 12-pound fluorocarbon tippet for those grass carp. I know they're big, and 12 pound's a little light, but I've found that going heavier than 12 pounds sometimes with carp doesn't produce as well as going with a lighter, thinner tippet. So try that, but good luck. It's gonna be tough.
Here is an email from Nicholas. "My question, I know you love geeky fly fishing and fly tying questions, so here's one. Watching a recent tie-off with you and Tim Flagler on the "Henryville Special," I was amazed at how different your approach to tying the same pattern were. So, the question, what's your idea of the best way to tie a two-hackled parachute, such as an Adams parachute? Do you wind the grizzly and brown hackle down the post together, wind each down the post and tie it off separately? My trout don't care, but it makes me a little nuts when I trap hackle fibers in the tie-off point at the base of the post. Any suggestions for me?"
That's a tough one, Nicholas, because I have the same problem. And I hate tying parachute Adams because of that reason. And I do, I trap hackle fibers too. I try not to trap too many, and then I trim 'em off. That's one thing. And I do not wrap them together. I wrap them separately. And you wanna make sure that you leave just the smallest amount of space between each turn of hackle, you know, on your first hackle, whether you tie the brown or grizzly in first doesn't really matter, but you wanna make sure that you don't cram it in there too tightly, so you have room to wind the second hackle through there. Zigzag it through. You know, kind of zigzag it through. And I like to turn the vice sideways, so that the fly is...I point the vice toward me and turn the fly over to the side, so that I'm winding horizontally down the post.
In other words, I don't try to do it looking straight at the fly from the side. I look at it from the front of the fly, and that way I can tie it in a more normal way. And the other thing is, just take your time, and if one of the wraps doesn't look right and it looks like the hackle is gonna go the wrong way, then unwind it and start over again, and just take your time. Work very slowly. And another thing is selection of material of the hackles. If you're gonna put two hackles into an Adams parachute, you need hackles with thin stems. And you can get hackles with thicker stems and thinner stems. A saddle hackle is almost always has a thinner stem. So if you're using neck hackles, you may wanna try saddle hackles, which have a thinner stem.
And unfortunately, you know, you may have to buy, if you're gonna use capes, hackle capes, you may need to have multiple capes, because some capes have thinner stems, in the 14s and 16s. And some of 'em have thinner stems in the 18s and 20s, and you really have to kind of pick through your assortment of capes. But if you go with saddles, you're gonna be better off. And one final suggestion is that you get a ginger grizzly or a Cree. It's not gonna be the official Adams, with brown and grizzly, but you can get sometimes a dyed grizzly, a dyed brown grizzly, or a ginger grizzly, or a Cree hackle, if you can find them. And that way, you only have to wind one hackle. You don't...you still get the speckled effect, the brownish and blackish tones, without having to wind two hackles. So, those are my suggestions, but again, parachute Adams are tough, and you're gonna trap some hackle fibers. Even Tim Flagler traps some hackle fibers. I've seen him do it.
Here's an email from Robert, from Virginia. "Thanks for everything you do for the sport of fly fishing, and Orvis, for continuing to provide this free resource to so many of us. I have a question regarding indicators versus dry dropper fishing. I fish mostly mountain streams for Brook trout and mainly use only the dry dropper technique. When would someone replace the dry with an indicator? Is there a point to do that for this type of fishing? It seems counterintuitive to me not to have an extra fly just in case I get a fish to take the dry fly."
Yeah. I'm with you, Robert. I never use an indicator on small streams. I have occasionally gone out really early in the season, when I think there's no way a fish is gonna come up for a dry fly, the water's way too cold, and I'm gonna use an indicator, and invariably, I get a fish come up and eat the indicator. So I use dry dropper exclusively. I'd never use an indicator. And I don't recommend it in small streams like that. And, you know, if you're fishing a heavier nymph, let's say the water's fast, or deep, or early in the season, then just put on a bigger, more buoyant dry fly. You never know when those trout will come up and take a dry. So, I'm with you. Why take a chance of missing a fish that might come up for a dry fly? And I just use dry dropper. I'd never use indicators on smaller streams.
Alex: Hi Tom. This is Alex from Washington State. I wanna start off by saying thank you and Orvis for all you do for fly fishing. I have a question today about swapping leaders versus modifying the one you have on. I use knotless tapered leaders, and when I first started fly fishing a few years ago, I took the match-your-leader-to-your-fly very literally, and would always swap out my tapered leaders to match the size of fly I was throwing. Obviously, this got tiring pretty quickly, and I quickly learned that I could bend the rules and still throw size 12 flies on 5X or 6X leaders, and size 18 flies on 4X leaders, and still catch fish, depending on the conditions.
Since most of my fishing is throwing dry flies, dry droppers, swinging wet flies, and drifting soft hackles, I usually fish with a 9-foot 5X or 6X leader that I'll lengthen to anywhere between 11 feet to 15 feet with tippet, or shorten, depending on what exactly I need. On a recent podcast, though, you mentioned you generally only take one rod and one leader with you when you go fishing. I believe you may have said 4X, but I don't remember exactly, but even then, I've heard people before saying that a 4X leader is really all you need for fly fishing. So I've challenged myself the last few times I went fishing to only take a 4X leader with me, and modifying it using 4X, 5X, and 6X tippet, depending on what I need. And that actually seems to have worked pretty good.
So, my question is, in terms of getting those delicate presentations and drag-free drifts that we usually use lighter tippet and leaders for, is the difference in the butt and the midsection in prepackaged 4X, 5X, and 6X leaders actually going to make any real difference, or is it really just the tippet? Would I be easier off just leaving the leader wallet at home and modifying my 9-foot 4X leaders by lengthening them with 5X or 6X, to get more delicate and drag-free drifts, and then shortening them to be able to deliver some heavier flies? I generally use the lightest leader I think I can get away with, and really only go heavier if I feel like I need to. Am I still wasting my time by doing this? I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks again.
Tom: So, Alex, I think as long as you preserve that butt and midsection of your leaders, you can really mess around with the tippet and the transition sections at the end, and not worry too much. It's still gonna cast well. And the only suggestion I have is, as I said previously, if you've got a 4X leader and you wanna go down to 6X, I would, you know, cut that 4X back a little bit, to six or eight inches, and then put a piece of four to six... No, six to eight inches of 5X in there, and then tie your 6X tippet in. One of the reasons to do that is to provide a better...an easier knot connection, a more secure knot connection to that piece of 6X.
And the other reason is that you just need a little bit more energy transition. Sometimes if you tie 6X to 4X, the 6X tippet will kind of collapse. The energy from the 4X will kind of pound into the 6X, and make it not straighten too well. So, but I think you can leave the butt and midsections alone. They'll work fairly well, regardless of what you got on the other end, as long as you keep 'em the way they came from the factory.
All right. That's the Fly Box for this week, and that's it. Next podcast, I promise I'll have an interview, but I'm gonna have to re-record the one I did today. I don't know what happened, but the file got corrupted, so let's hope it doesn't happen again. Anyway, I wanna thank you all for listening. Really means a lot to me that lots and lots of you download these every week, and hope you enjoy 'em. Thanks.
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