Three Months Out: Plan On The Fly Fishing Show

What do you have planned for three months from now? I can assure you that you have a lot planned for the time between today and three months from now. The last major fall fishing trips, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everything that goes along with the holiday season is coming up in the next 90 days. After that, the winter doldrums really kick in for most of the country. So what should you do?

As a fly fisher, there is an easy answer: fly to the Bahamas for some bonefish.

There is also another less expensive and less time consuming option: go to The Fly Fishing Show.

With dates in venues across the country, The Fly Fishing Show is an annual tradition that gets penned into the calendars of anglers young and old. It isn’t a fishing trip, but it is the kind of mid-winter day or weekend that feeds into and fuels fishing trips to come. Checking out new gear, buying “last year’s” models at closeout prices, and talking to reps gets you thinking about what you need to be prepared for the spring. Listening to seminars, watching professional fly tyers, and getting casting tips will help you use what you bought to be prepared for the spring. And the numerous lodges and guides with date planners open will gladly take your reservation so you have something in the spring to prepare for.

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Flies – Just a Click Away

It was over eighteen months ago that I wrote about the concept of monthly fly subscriptions. I took a look at the flies, the packaging, the cost, and the presentation of a handful of the companies that were offering a “flies by mail” subscription. By and large, every offering was relatively close to one another in what they were selling anglers.

What I found that set some apart from others was the little things: a newsletter, a sticker, some information on the flies. These little touches not only made them unique, but they appealed to the interests of potential customers.

One company that hadn’t even launched yet was The Fly Crate. Since then, The Fly Crate has opened for business and begun to carve out a niche for itself in the angling marketplace.

Before I mention anything else, I want to make the most important thing clear:  the flies are good. I have fished a number of trout patterns and bass poppers from The Fly Crate, and they look and hold up very well. In fact, I know the source of the flies and was impressed to see where they were coming from.

But there is more:

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Catch & Kill & Release

Back in the spring I was paddling the shallows, casting into likely spots to see what kind of fish I could get into. This pond – a slow part of a river, actually – holds largemouth, smallmouth, chain pickerel, yellow perch, stocked trout and salmon, and a handful of other species. I had already landed a large pickerel and a number of perch, but larger fish were elusive. In this situation it is always and only the fault of the lure, so I decided that after one more cast I would switch to something larger. This would, of course, elicit strikes from the larger fish I had been presenting my paltry offering to already.

One more cast. Famous last words. For many anglers they mean a few more hours on the water past the point when good judgement would have had them home. For a few, it is the cast from which memories are made. “Then he hit,” you brag, “on the last cast of the day.” Incidentally, you probably made a few more casts. But what is a little embellishment between fishermen?

For one golden shiner, “one more cast” wasn’t just a phrase. It was a death sentence.

At this point in the story I have already tipped my hand. A fish died. That, both in context and in a vacuum,  is  a sentence that sends the online angling police after you these days. The shedding of innocent golden shiner blood? Too much to bear. Capitalizing on the tragedy with pictures and jocularity? Atrocious.

Let me explain.

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Fall Run: Eastern Steelhead

There is an inherent symmetry in the fall run of steelhead within the Great Lakes system. There is cool rain, and the fish move from the lakes into the tributaries. There is a run of fish, and the anglers move from the trout streams into the tributaries. The fish shed their silvery sheen, and the anglers don their fleece. All the while leaves fall, college football’s regular season begins and ends, and the world goes from back to school to Christmas decorations.

It is nonsensical to make qualitative comparisons between the fish and people. But a  quantitative analysis of the previous eight months might reveal that many steelhead have been much more active and productive than some of the anglers pursuing them. Although their life isn’t nearly as harrowing as their truly anadromous  forefathers, they’ve been cruising the depths and fattening up for the spawn. Undoubtedly, that has been a more goal-oriented existence than some folks. But who are we, or a fish, to judge?

Certainly one  can fish for steelhead year round. Powerful boats, depth-plumbing rigs, and electronic fish-finding gear make this a reasonable endeavor. However, there is something ritualistically special about pulling off the road across from a supermarket, scrambling down the gravelly edge of a bridge’s slope, and seeing a 30-inch fish in a small creek. The rod has been left strung up in the car from the last fishing trip a few days ago. The boots, waders, and fly boxes are all primed to be  equipped for a few hours’ worth of chasing big trout before dinner.

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Last Cast of the Week, 10/6/2017

Most Fridays on Casting Across are  devoted to other people’s contributions in the fly fishing community. Articles, pictures, social media accounts, videos, podcasts, products, and more will be featured on The Last Cast of the Week.

Today, I’m sharing items from  Blue Halo, Rep Your Water, & Douglas Outdoors.

If you’d like to be featured in the Last Cast of the Week, or have seen something that others might be interested in, use my  contact form  or shoot me an email (matthew[at]castingacross[dot]com). Also, be sure to  subscribe to Casting Across to never miss a post.

Check out the links, along with my thoughts, below:

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5 Thoughts for Streamers on Small Streams

I love fishing small streams, and I am not alone. The pay off from the whole experience of fly fishing on a small stream equates to a lot more than just catching fish. Usually you are alone, in beautiful places, and away from it all. Usually, you are only catching small fish. But, there is no reason why you can’t get a 12 or 14 inch mountain brookie or cutthroat into the rotation every now and again.

Larger fish will certainly eat dry flies and nymphs, seeing as they too are opportunistic feeders in these particular habitats. But how do you go about catching the largest fish in any other river? Big, meaty, streamers.

There are differences between chucking articulated flies against the bank of a roaring tailwater and fishing a streamer in a small creek. There are also differences between dapping tiny attractor patterns and fishing a streamer in a small creek. The rod, flies, and approach have to all be significantly  altered from what you’re used to. Here are five things you ought to consider if you want to get into the pool bosses of your local, small stream – including my favorite presentation:

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Setting Sail Again with Pirate Fly Fishing

If their first fly patch caught your eye on social media because of the vivid colors of the brown trout pattern, the brook trout design of the new First Mate probably had you following links to learn more about Pirate Fly Fishing.

Back in March I spoke with Justin West of Pirate Fly Fishing about the launch of their first product. Recently, I had the chance to speak with the other half of Pirate Fly Fishing, Maddie Bonthron, about the next item they will hopefully be rolling out: the First Mate Patch.

The First Mate isn’t an upgrade or replacement from the Pirate’s Fly Patch, it is just another option for anglers. The same high-density foam and near-indestructible plastic create the core product. Now, two super-strong magnets sit at either end of the patch. They allow anglers to drop flies or tools on the edges. This patch also uses Velcro to affix to surfaces – boats, car interiors, coolers, or even sling packs. And it is generating similar buzz in the fly fishing world to their initial offering.

“Since March we’ve had some great experiences with the patch,” said Bonthron. “In particular, going to trade shows was great for exposure, networking, and having people get the product in their hands. Once they did that, they saw how relevant it could be.”

The key to this relevance, and the spark of inspiration for the next project, is the simplicity that embodies the design. In a time where even the simplest fly fishing products have the tendency to be over engineered, pirate decided that there was a real benefit to the less is more approach. Bonthron explains: “Sometimes even the simplest things have a learning curve. We like the idea of people understanding what we make, but then seeing a whole range of possibilities of how they could use it.”
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Video: Office Fishing Knickknacks

Have you ever answered a question that wasn’t asked?

I have. And you get to hear and watch the answer.

All the while getting the treat of rapid motion, awkward camera angles, my not looking at the right part of the cell phone, glowing hands from being too close to the lens, and other enjoyable byproducts of anyone and everyone being able to film and upload random nonsense to YouTube.

That being said, you do get to see some stuff that is in my office. With commentary.

Come to think of it, I don’t have a lot of fly fishing stuff in my office. All of my good  angling whatnot is still  in a box at the new house… Perhaps this is just the beginning. Yeah – treat this video as the beginning of the HGTV show, and sometime down the line the big reveal will happen.

There will be excitement, there will be surprises, and there will be tears.

Check out the video below:

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Astral: My Favorite Fly Fishing Shoe isn’t a Fly Fishing Shoe

After I blew out the heel/ankle on my third pair, I knew I was going to have to bid adieu to a very popular brand of sandals. For over five years, this particular pair of footwear had been pushed with varying degrees of success. Wet wading, beach trips, and casual summer wear saw me in these sandals. But averaging less than two years for over $100? I was ready to move on.

My first inclination was to try out one of the options from within the fly fishing industry. Plenty of brands have angling-specific sandals or wet wading boots. To be honest, however, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. And wading footwear gets expensive quickly.

As much as I love getting the latest and greatest in fly fishing, I was feeling the crunch of being cost-effective and realistic about my chances of justifying another pair of “fishing shoes.”

I did have a gift card to an outdoor retailer. This chain has angling gear, but their focus is on adventure and casual items. I browsed through their selection of sandals and shoes. One pair, initially only through it’s aesthetics, stood out to me.

The Astral Brewer.

A relatively young company (2002) focusing on PFD’s and other water sport accessories, Astral is a popular brand among kayakers in particular. This North Carolina company not only seeks to be on the front lines of both function and form, but also eco-friendly practices. Their reputation is strong, both for use and durability.

Yet I could not find anything, aside from a few random message board comments, about their footwear being used by fly fishers.

But why not? The Brewer, the model I was looking at, seems like a perfect fit for many of my wading needs. Quick drying fabric, solid construction, sticky rubber sole, ports for expelling water and small debris, and the almost universal  accolade of comfort. And, they look good.

I bought them, and I used them.

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Casting Across Comes Alive!

Ah, technology. Today I went fishing and live streamed it across the universe. Using Instagram, I recorded myself on my cell phone and allowed the public to join me on my adventure.

As you may be aware, I hadn’t caught a fish in the month of September. Trying times, these. I saw an opportunity in my day to fish in a spot that I knew would be sick with panfish. There are carp, there are smallmouth, but there are lots and lots of panfish.

If you’ve ever watched fishing shows on television before, you are probably well aware that all they do is catch fish. Big bass after big bass. Bill Dance is in a constant state of unhooking 7 pound fish.

I knew that this was the expectation that my audience would have going into my live stream. So I stacked the deck in my favor, made sure the beard and mustache looked good in the mirror, tied my fly on, and action.

I froze. What do I do? What do I say? Should I show myself or reverse the camera and show the water? A few seconds in and I’ve stared blankly, the awkwardness only being slightly reduced by the fact that I’m wearing mirrored sunglasses.

Instagram does you the favor of showing you how many people are watching you. Or, conversely, how many people are not watching you. It became immediately apparent that this was going to be an exercise in futility.

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