Podcast Ep. 5: Why You Should Fish the Ozarks

Arkansas might not seem like a premier angling destination.

But if you’ve heard of the enormous browns, the beautiful rivers, and… the delicious Southern cooking, you know that the Ozarks is one of the most unique fly fishing spots in the USA.

I caught my first trout in Arkansas. That experience, and a whole lot more that followed, made rivers like the Little Red and the White an important part of my fly fishing history. The miles of river and the quantity of fish are truly mind boggling. Plus, you can probably fish however you want – nymphs, midges, or huge streamers.

In this episode, I give a brief overview of the major tailwaters and make a case for why you should fish the Ozarks.

Listen below, or in your favorites podcast app:

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Heavy Metal for Fly Tying

“Running silent, running deep, we are your final prayer…”

That is a line from Iron Maiden’s Run Silent, Run Deep off of the 1990 release No Prayer for the Dying. Decent song, decent album. It is nothing near as good as 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. But I digress. The song, and the lyric above, is about submarines, not fly tying. But the sentiment is basically equivalent.

Especially come winter time, your prayers for trout will only be answered if you get your flies running deep.

You’ve got two choices in the matter. You can fish harder or fish smarter. Fishing harder means calculating the best position from which to present your fly. It means learning new casts that plunge your fly deeper, quicker. It means fiddling with different lines, leaders, and boring. It means mending and mending and mending some more. It means working. Fun, right?

Fishing smarter means packing the weight on.

“But,” you say, “there are so many materials and methods for adding weight to flies! It is sooo confusing!” Yes, there are. And yes, it can be.  That is why I’ve created a bit of a hierarchy for bulking up your buggers. Here’s a guide to what kind of weight to use in your tying if you want to get your fly down in front of fish:

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The Casting Across Fly Fishing Podcast

Today I’m introducing the Casting Across Fly Fishing Podcast.

Fly fishing podcasts are something I’ve written about frequently. I have learned a lot from listening to them. More importantly, I enjoy them. Through the ten articles that have appeared thus far, I have sent hundreds and hundreds of Casting Across readers to the following podcasts.

Rob Snowhite’s Fly Fishing Consultant Podcast is what introduced me to the medium, and I appreciate how he can lecture and give angling play-by-play with ease. Steve Goetz and Dave Mathewson, the guys of 2 Guys and A River, explain the sport very well utilizing their friendly banter.

April Vokey holds amazing interviews with some  remarkable people. Orvis and Tom Rosenbauer do Q&A and industry sit-downs better than anyone. The Drakecast, over too soon, told engaging and pertinent stories. And I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention The Open Fly Podcast: long gone, but perhaps my favorite in the genre.

I’ll keep listening to those shows – and you should, too. With the Casting Across Fly Fishing Podcast, I intend to do something different.

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New Stream, Same Fish

Shiny and new, eh?

After three years, Casting Across has received a little makeover. I didn’t sink dozens of hours into focus groups and hundreds of dollars into design consulting. I  knew the direction I wanted to go in, and with a few tweaks I got there relatively quickly. The new font is bolder, the new colors brighter, and the overall feel is cleaner.

Of course, typefaces and colors don’t mean a can of split shot if the content is lacking. Casting Across has been, and will continue to be, about fly fishing writing. However, if you’ve read for any period of time you know that I appreciate the aesthetics of angling. Whether it be actual gear or even just the branding, there is something very pleasing about thoughtfully crafted imagery. It doesn’t make the fishing, but it can make it better.

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Mobs, Moments, & Fly Fishing Photography

What a time to be alive and to fly fish: Some people take pictures so they can brag. Some people don’t take pictures of fish, and then brag about that. It’s a real topsy-turvy world of pride, prejudice, and virtue signaling. And a bunch of poor trout are caught in the middle.

Just to catch you up to speed, if you’ve suddenly walked back into civilization and logged onto this website, I’ll explain what’s going on. We don’t kill fish, but taking pictures is okay. Unless it isn’t. The circumstances which define the line which ought not be crossed are murky. It seems to be a collaborative effort between science and mob rule. And the latter seems to be steering the ship.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the abuse of fish. I’m not crazy. I’m also not “comment section on social media” crazy, AKA the moral compasses of all things angling. I, along with a lot of reasonable fly fishers out there, like to take a picture of a fish now and again. I keep it wet as much as I can, handle it minimally, and send it back once it’s regained its bearings. I do share some pictures online. Not to brag (seeing as I have little to brag about). Certainly not to show the gold standard of photography.

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3 Ice-Free Fly Fishing Spots

You don’t have to fly fish in December, January, and February.

If you choose not to get out, you don’t loose your angler credentials. There might even be some benefits in taking a few months’ sabbatical. And let’s face it – it is cold and the fish aren’t terribly cooperative.

But if you want to get out, that is another thing. There is nothing saying you can’t fly fish in December, January, and February. As long as local regulations allow it, and you can ethically pursue fish, you aren’t limited to drilling a hole in lake ice if you want to get after some trout.

Here are three spots you can target if you want to optimize your cold-weather angling. They vary from amazing to, well, odorous. Irrespective of the scenery, all three of these spots attract fish and should attract fly fishers:

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Rusty Flybox: On the Periphery of Fishing

If I had to only write about fly fishing I’d lose my mind.

I love trout and fly rods and debating the merits of synthetics vs. naturals in fly tying as much as anyone. However, there is only so much cast and catch writing in me. Thankfully, fly fishing is interwoven  into a veritable tapestry of experiences. Some of them run parallel with angling. Some are just on the periphery of fishing.

Like any good story, the setting and the circumstances simply frame the themes. The themes – overcoming struggles, finding love, understanding self – are universal. People who don’t get cast and catch can still get these deeper truths.

Sometimes I’m writing about those themes within the frame of fly fishing. Sometimes I’m just writing about hats and barbecue. That’s my prerogative, I suppose.

Here are three posts that run just around the edge of fly fishing:

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Fly Fishing Giveaways: Why You Should Enter

If you fly fish, and you’ve ever come anywhere near the internet, you’ve seen gear giveaways.

But there are two kinds of people in this world:

  • Those who assume all giveaways are scams and rackets.
  • Those who try to win any and every free thing that could possibly be given away.

I’m here to tell you that the latter is probably closer to being right.

That doesn’t mean you should blindly give your email address, physical address, or social security number out to anyone who waves a trucker cap at your Instagram feed. Use discernment. Patronize reputable sources, like these smart people did.

Jumping through some legitimately modest hoops for a chance at winning something is absolutely worth it. Here are three reasons why you should take a minute to enter good fly fishing giveaways:

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Trout, Where They Shouldn’t Be

We rounded the corner at the exact same time. The dense streamside foliage kept the other person obscured until we were only about ten feet apart. Happening upon someone relatively unexpectedly, deep in the woods, wasn’t the startling facet of our interaction. That was this:

“So, have you caught anything?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I replied, “a brown up top and three rainbows on streamers.”

“No,” he stated, matter-of-factly. “You didn’t catch any rainbows.”

His accusation took me aback. Not only did I indeed catch three rainbows, but they were fat, strong, and less than a quarter mile from where we stood. In a rare turn of events, I was speechless.

I think he realized that his gruff allegation was a bit off putting. “Well, I mean, I fish here every week and I haven’t caught a rainbow in this stretch of water. Maybe old what’s-his-face stocked some in the feeder creek that runs through his yard. Or, I mean, there is always the chance that the state dumped some in. But they haven’t done that in a while… I don’t know how you caught those.”

“Me either,” I offered. “But I guess I did.”

***

Fish pop up in unexpected places. With a handful of environmental thresholds as limiting factors, fish can live in and move throughout all manner of interconnected waterways. It isn’t uncommon to see a picture of a giant bass pulled out of a subdivision pond or a big tarpon caught from a canal. Fish are as resilient as they are opportunistic.

For some reason, we think that trout ought to be the exception to the rule. Rightly, we understand that trout have a relatively narrow window for survival. That doesn’t mean that salmonids are feeble and frail. They do some uncanny things and show up where they shouldn’t.

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Rusty Flybox: Fly Fishing Gifts

‘Tis the season.  The season for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. The season for shopping small, opting outside, and, of course, giving.

A quick jaunt around the internet will yield an unfathomable number of deals, incentives, and other fly fishing gift temptations. Since November/December is the off season and the holiday season, now is the time to buy.

Earlier this week I put together a fly rod gift guide. If that isn’t your speed, either because it is a high-risk or a high-cost purchase, I get it. So I have some alternatives.

Below are  three different posts with about a half dozen options. Most of them are under $30. One might not cost you anything, but could be the best gift you give.

Click on the image or the title to check out each article: read more