Catch, Release, & Remember: Interview with Ty Hallock

Everyone likes to remember that fish. The big fish. The first fish. The fish you caught on a dry fly after the perfect cast.

The way it used to be done meant killing that fish. If you caught an impressive trout, killing and mounting it was the way you remembered your feat and your trip. This fell out of fashion as time went on and anglers became more conservation conscious. As technology advanced and cellphones became common, on the stream photography became simple.

But with fish mounts falling out of style and smartphone pics lacking luster, how can you remember that fish?

If Ty Hallock is your guide, you can get a custom painting of that fish.

Hallock is the head guide at Casper, Wyoming’s Ugly Bug Fly Shop. Primarily fishing on the North Platte, he rows clients through some amazing scenery en route to putting them on spectacular trout water. And while the fish and the rivers are certainly noteworthy, his talent for recreating those moments is special among fly fishing guides.

“Five or six years ago,” Hallock recalls, “there was a ton of snow the weekend of the Denver Outdoors Show. There wasn’t really anybody there and we were getting bored in the booth. I took two big Cliff boxes, ripped the stickers off, and drew a brown on one and a rainbow on the other with Sharpies. I sold both that day.”

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Podcast Ep. 14: Native, Wild, Stocked & McDonald’s

When is a fish native? When is it wild? Can it be both?

And what about stocked trout?

In this episode, I give a very quick overview of this topic. I look at the historic range of the three major American trout/char species, and talk about why knowing this information can be helpful.

Oh, and I compare trout fishers to people who eat at McDonald’s.

Listen to the episode below, or on your favorite podcast app.

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Fly Fishing, Low & Slow: 5 Winter Fundamentals

Low and slow winter fly fishing isn’t some sort of revelation.

Based on the river and the conditions, one could theoretically fish any kind of fly in the winter. Yet virtually everywhere, dragging streamers slowly across the riverbed produces. It isn’t fast and furious fly fishing, but it is consistent and effective. This is especially true if you are targeting larger, predatory trout.

There is more to it than just tying on a big fly and casting. Even if you find the best spots, there are some steps you can take to increase your odds of getting your fly where it needs to be. Again, the following five tips aren’t new or surprising. But cold weather and sluggish fish aren’t conducive to anglers sticking to the fundamentals.

Here are five things to stick to as you are streamer fishing in the winter:

Fly: Hook-Point Up

While winter stream bottoms aren’t covered in aquatic vegetation and the same kind of muck you’ll find other times of the year, there are still plenty of rocks and limbs that can snag your fly. Using a jig hook or simply a streamer tied hook-point up will reduce your frustration. You’ll still get stuck. You’ll still lose flies. But you’ll get stuck less and lose fewer flies. And less frustration is very good in the winter.

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Fly Fishing the Mushroom Kingdom

The year was 1990, and I can remember it like it was yesterday.  I took my first trip to this exotic destination. Even at the age of 6 I’d been to plenty of far off locales. In fact, I’d been only a stone’s throw from the area in question numerous times. But this was like a whole new world. It was bigger, wilder, and more diverse than anywhere I had ever been.

I have been back over and over again numerous times in the nearly 30 years that have passed. Like any place that has a profound impact on you, I’ve felt compelled to return. Just this year, I’ve been able to take my boys. It isn’t as flashy as some of the things they’ve seen in their young lives. Still, they’re captivated. Admittedly, not as much as I was that first time.

Because it was the Mushroom Kingdom, and it was up to me to save the princess (again).

Mario, Luigi, goombas, Bowser, mushrooms, and the rest matter. These are the literal stars of the show. Much ink has been spilled on warp whistles and coin caches. But there is another aspect of the Mario Brother’s 3rd (I know…) outing that hasn’t received the attention it deserves:

The fly fishing.

Here is an introduction to fly fishing the Mushroom Kingdom. The species, the patterns,  the locations, and some other considerations. *Spoiler Alert* The princess always ends up being in another castle. So you might as well wet a line on your way to rescue her.

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Podcast Ep. 13: Finding Your Own Water

When was the last time you found new water to fish?

I don’t mean flipping through a fly fishing guidebook or following the stocking truck. Have you ever gone out with map in hand, located water, and fished it? Doing this can be much more rewarding than catching fish. We don’t get to do a lot of exploration in the 21st century. But for those who are willing, a little bit of work can pay off.

In this episode I share a few stories and give a few things to think about when it comes to searching for water to fish.

Listen to the episode below, or on your favorite podcast app.

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I Heard About this Spot

I heard about this spot where there’s supposed to be trout.

Not just any trout. Brook trout. Wild. Native.

And this spot is quite close. And it is surprisingly urban. And it seems too good to be true.

This knowledge, like any lead on buried treasure or city of gold, was stumbled into. A chance encounter. I was supposed to talk to person A. We had planned it and it was all set. Then person B was there instead. He was Person A’s substitute. Person B lives thousands of miles away, but just so happened to grow up right where I live. He fly fishes, he has an interest in native brook trout, and he knows about this spot.

Furthermore, he did the very un-fly fisherman thing in sharing this spot. With me.

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Fly Patches Tell a Story

You’ll find them affixed to the front of fishing vests, clipped to the brim of ball caps, and stuck to the underside of vehicle visors. They come in shearling fleece and high-density foam. Their purpose is to hold, to dry, to accumulate.

A fly patch can tell a story.

Fly boxes say a lot about the angler who uses them. Things are organized just so, even if there is little evidence of organization. Idealists fill their foam or silicone slits under controlled circumstances. They line patterns up by size, by color, by season, so as to match the hatch. Those who aren’t as concerned about such things just stuff boxes with what they have. It is pragmatic, but it works. With either approach, a fly box shows how someone thinks fishing might be.

Fly patches record real history.

The first flies of the day will be on there: maybe an ambitious nymph rig. So will be what was quickly defaulted to: a wooly bugger, a squirmy wormy, or a mop fly. Then you saw some fish rise, so you tried a BWO. Then an emerger. Then a crippled emerger. Then something that might be a BWO but you’re not sure what it really is. Each used fly ends up on the patch.

You can trace your day, your week, or even your season on your fly patch.

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Podcast Ep. 12: Why You Should Fish the Shenandoah

Within a few hours’ drive of the urban sprawl that surrounds Washington, DC, you can get into some amazing brook trout fishing. Or, you can get into some spectacular smallmouth bass fishing. Or, you can do both.

The Shenandoah is a remarkable, beautiful, and historic region of the Mid-Atlantic. For fly fishers, it offers great fishing for two of the east coast’s most sought after species.

In this episode, I introduce the region and the fisheries. I offer a little bit of advice on how you can approach both options, and an  idea on how you can combine the two.

Listen to the episode below, or on your favorite podcast app.

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Fly Casting Practice: Literally Pick up a Book

It’s January. When was the last time you cast a fly rod?

Many, many fly fishers get out and get after fish in the coldest months and the nastiest conditions. I’d wager that the majority, however, stay inside and simply dream of spring hatches. Both are okay. Both are legitimate forms of angling expression. The former involves layers and technical fishing skills. The later usually entails fly tying and catalog perusing.

If you either don’t fish in the winter or don’t fish often, there is no reason why you can’t add casting to your routine of gear cleaning and YouTube daydreaming. Do you have a yard? If your yard is frozen, do you have access to a large room? A warehouse at work, your gym’s racquetball court, or your church’s sanctuary (not during service, of course) could all accommodate some practice time.

Even fifteen minutes can be helpful. Fifteen minutes of casting off the water is sometimes more beneficial than hours of casting on the water. Reason being, you’re thinking about casting – not fishing. And you can think about specific facets of your cast. Your grip, your wrist, the application of power on the forward motion, the application of power on the backwards motion, your stance, your waist, your elbow, your shoulder… the list goes on and on.

Being off the water and just casting allows you to isolate elements of your cast that might need some fine tuning. The position and movement of the elbow and shoulder is one area of focus that can pay off dividends if there are fundamental flaws.

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Fly Fishing Travel in 6 Steps

Casting Across isn’t a travel agency. That works out pretty well for you, because that means my expertise in the realm of fly fishing getaways is available at no cost whatsoever.

No thanks are necessary. Your angling enjoyment is all the gratitude I need.

Below is my six-step process for planning and executing a fly fishing vacation. I guarantee that it will work for all budgets. Furthermore, I guarantee your complete satisfaction.

Step 1: Dream Big

Mongolia. Iceland. New Zealand. These are the places featured in fly fishing films and magazine cover stories. The fish are big. The scenery is breathtaking. The cultures are fascinating.

It isn’t just fly fishing: it is adventure.

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