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The Orvis Fly-Fishing Podcast (general)

Produced by The Orvis Company and hosted by Tom Rosenbauer, author of The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide, this podcast will provide you with tips on how to get the most of your time on the water. Read more about Orvis at

Captain Drew Rodriguez [27:23] is the only Orvis-endorsed freshwater guide in Florida and specializes in largemouth and peacock bass in the canals near Miami and also the Everglades. In summer, peacocks are his main target as they just love hot weather, the hotter the better. He discusses how to find them, what flies to pick, and what tackle he recommends. They are a year-round target in the Miami area and, according to Captain Drew, a 30-fish day is a slow one.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting questions and great tips from listeners, including:
  • Can I fit my fly boxes, lunch, and a raincoat in the standard Orvis Sling Bag?
  • A tip from a listener on how college fly-fishing clubs can get involved with the Trout Unlimited Five Rivers program
  • A tip for taking notes on your phone to remind you of podcast questions
  • A tip for using desiccant packages in your fly boxes
  • Should I tether myself to my 7-year-old daughter when we are wading together?
  • A tip from a listener on "urban blue lining".
  • If I fall in, what steps should I take to dry out my gear?
  • What would be a recommendation for a basic surf fishing outfit for the East Coast, Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America?
  • How can I manage the fly line around my feet when it gets stuck on obstructions in the river?
  • Why don't they make longer fiberglass rods?
  • If I am catching more whitefish than trout, should I move?
  • What is the best way to fish nymphs without an indicator?
  • Is dry fly fishing on a lake better in calm or riffled water?
  • A hot tip from a regular listener on a great fly pattern
Direct download: Peacock_Bass_in_South_Florida_with_Capt._Drew_Rodriguez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Brandon Dale [43:32] is a licensed New York State guide who specializes in fishing, of all places, Central Park in the middle of The Big Apple. You may not be interested in fishing for carp in Central Park, but Brandon offers some valuable tips on carp fishing in murky water, and has developed some innovative techniques that all carp fanatics will want to learn.
In the Fly Box this week, we have a wide variety of questions and tips from listeners, including:
  • Any tips on finding places to fly fish close to home?
  • A tip from a listener on how to get studs in wading boots to mount properly
  • What about kapok dubbing and wing burners?  What are your thoughts on using them?
  • How can I fish a small mountain stream when it gets murky?
  • Should I wear my wading jacket inside or outside of my waders?
  • How should I read the water in rivers for bass?
  • Is there an advantage to shorter rods when fishing for bass in rivers?
  • I caught two rainbows that looked exactly the same.  Could it have been the same fish?
  • Do graphite rods get slower over time?
  • What advice do you have for getting a fly rod for a 5-year-old?
  • How do fish get rid of flies when you break them off?
  • I fished a river and all I caught was creek chubs.  Is that a good or bad sign, and is it worth going back to that river?
  • I have problems when I cast bigger flies.  What should I do to practice with big flies?
  • Are prescription progressive polarized glasses worth the extra cost?
Direct download: Fly_Fishing_in_Central_Park_with_Brandon_Dale.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

I feel that European stillwater anglers are far more sophisticated in their approach to stillwater trout fishing and have studied it in more detail than most North American lake anglers. As a result, they use some techniques that are unlike what you see on most trout lakes and ponds in North America and both the flies and methods they use are worth experimenting with. My guest this week, Chad Critchley [48:21], is a guide and stillwater angler (and a lapsed competition angler) who shares some of these methods with us.
In the Fly Box this week, we have these questions and more:
  • How should I retrieve Woolly Buggers for bass and panfish?
  • My knots to my flies are always slipping.  What am I doing wrong?
  • Do you have any tips on fishing larger rivers?
  • Any reason, when fishing a popper/drop[per rig for bass, that I can't tie my popper on a separate dropper instead of tying to the bend of the popper hook?
  • If daytime water temperatures are around 70 but night time temperatures when I fish are 65 degrees, do you think it's safe to fish for trout?
  • Why don't fly anglers use braided line for tippet—it's very supple.
  • Do you take fly tying materials with you on a fishing trip?  How do you decide whether to take them or not?
  • We saw huge schools of striped bass on a flat but they would not take any fly we presented to them.  Do you have any tips?
  • How do you recommend I clean my polarized sunglasses, and what to you recommend to keep them from fogging up?
  • What kind of mayfly spinner patterns should I carry in the Northeast?
  • What is the best way to keep trout hooked when fishing downstream with wet flies?
  • I am young but I still have trouble seeing small dry flies on the water.  What tips do you have for seeing them? 
Direct download: Innovative_Techniques_from_UK_Stillwater_Anglers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

This episode was originally posted on March 10, 2022.

Josh Nugent of Out Fly Fishing in Calgary has been doing a series of “Seven Deadly Sins” podcasts with me over the past couple of years and this one is chock full of great advice [38:38]. Josh is a very preceptive angler and thinks deeply about how flies behave in the water and how trout react to them, and in the interview we go off on a number of tangents—all interesting and all about nymph fishing—and all of them with great advice on how to make your indicator nymphing game more fun and productive. 

In the Fly Box this week, we have some great tips and questions from listeners, including:

A terrific tip on why tying tube flies is a great way to get kids started

What kind of other storage systems does Tom use around his roll-top desk?

Where can I learn more about fly fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass?

What do you suggest for preventing cutoffs by chain pickerel?

Can I use sitka or axis deer, antelope, or goat hair for fly tying?

A great tip on replacing wing cases on smaller nymphs with a drop of UV cure resin

Should I use my leader straightener?

Can I do longline French/Spanish nymphing with a two-handed rod?

How can I locate pinhole leaks ion my waders?

How do older series of rods compare to the modern ones? What is better about the more recent models?

I know your higher-end rods are made in Vermont, but where do the components come from?

Why do Americans shoot and kill birds?

What is a good two-line rotation for streamer fishing in Michigan?

I kept my fiberglass rod in a hot car and now I notice it has a kink in it. Could the hot car have been the reason?

Direct download: Backcast_7_deadly_sins_of_nymph_fishing_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Last week we looked at urban fly fishing in the Rockies.  This week we venture into the American south with Orvis Atlanta fishing manager Devin Lancaster for an expert look at how to find and catch interesting fly-rod species within your own city limits by using a method he calls Blue Dotting.  You'll need to listen to the podcast to find out exactly what that is.
In the Fly Box this week, as usual we have some interesting questions and helpful tips, including:
  • If I am fishing for smallmouth in a river that also hosts trout and the water temperature is 68 degrees, what should I do?
  • How can I cast to smallmouth in a river where I have almost no back-cast room?
  • In lakes with multiple species, when fishing from shore should I expect to find different types of fish at different times?
  • I have difficulty setting the hook on trout with a "trout set" and do better with a strip set.  Why is the 'trout set" recommended for trout?
  • Do you have any tips on fly fishing for walleye?
  • Why do some nymphs call for a partridge collar and other nymphs use a CDC collar?  Is there any difference?
  • A listener relates that the Ralph Cutter podcast on wading safety literally saved his life.
  • Are all the new Helios models four times as accurate, or just the 905?
  • Are there any dry flies tied with cork these days?
  •  How can I get my fly into a deep pool directly below a waterfall?
  • What do you know about the old PM-10 and T-3 Orvis rods?
  • Is a double or triple surgeon's loop better than a perfection loop in lighter tippets?
  • Does hook shank shape affect hooking qualities?
  • How can I swing wet flies in small streams?
  • A great tip from a listener on wearing wool socks underneath neo socks when wet wading to avoid sand between your toes.
  • Is a George Harvey leader the same as a braided leader?
Direct download: The_Secrets_of_Blue_Dotting_with_Devin_Lancaster.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

It's no secret that the more popular trout rivers in the Rocky Mountains have gotten more crowded in the past few years.  Yet there are so many species of fish that are fun with a fly rod, closer to home, and that live in places that are far less crowded.  Davis James shares his experience with the "25 On the Fly" event, where anglers in the Front Range try to catch 25 different species of fish on the fly rod in two days (no one has ever done it).  He share his tips for what species are available, how to find them, what tackle to use, and what fly patterns to try.  We all need to embrace these wonderful fish to have fun closer to home and to take pressure off our more productive trout streams.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and tips from listeners, including:
  • What percentage of the time do you use a dry dropper or double dry rig?
  • What weight fly rod is best for panfish?  And what flies should I use?
  • How do we ensure our fly fishing traditions are passed on to the younger generation?
  • How can I make my dry dropper rig drift tight to the opposite bank?
  • Is fly fishing for carp popular in Europe?
  • How do I organize and carry my wide assortment of trout flies?  How does Tom do it?
  • How can I fish for panfish and largemouth bass in an old gravel pit that drops off steeply?
  • A great tip from a listener about how to tie a more durable egg pattern
  • I was fishing a double dry rig for fish rising to small mayflies and my imitation was perfect but I didn't fool as many fish as I should have.  What should I have done differently?
  • I have trouble threading my tippet onto a small dry fly.  Can I tie the tippet to the bend of the hook instead?

I get lots of questions about polarized sunglasseshow are they made, what exactly do they do, glass vs. plastic, what color lens should I pick, and do expensive ones really offer an advantage?  And why can't I get clear polarized sunglasses for low light?  My guest, Renato Cappuccitti [41:51], is an expert on polarized sunglasses and will answer your questions and mine about one of the most essential pieces of gear.
In the Fly Box this week we have some thoughtful and interesting questions and comments, including:
  • Why can't I get braided leaders any more?
  • Can I just put a long level tippet on a braided leader?
  • My brook trout stream does not seem to have any fish larger than five inches.  Do you think there are any bigger ones in there?
  • I was fishing a sulfur hatch and it started raining and the fish turned off completely.  Why do you think this happened?
  • How can I eliminate wind knots when fishing a dropper rig?
  • My girlfriend has trouble stripping in fish.  Do you have any tips for improving her coordination?
  • What are the pros and cons of furled leaders?
  • My floating line starts to sink after fishing for a while.  Can I apply gel flotant to it?
  • A listener reminds us that for many balance problems while fishing the best place for help is to find a licensed physical therapist
  • My fly line broke eight feet from the tip.  Can I still use it?
  • How many leaders should I carry in my leader wallet?
  • A listener reminds us that too often when wading we worry about dropping our rod or phone in the water at the expense of safety.
  • An expert on UV cure adhesives gives advice on using the right wavelength of light and the correct amount of time and distance to use the light.
  • If you have a 9-foot 5-weight and a 10-footer in the Helios models, what reason is there to have a 9-foot, 5-inch model?
  • How can I avoid putting a set into my bamboo fly rod?
  • How can I catch brook trout in high water?
Direct download: All_About_Polarized_Sunglasses_with_Renato_Cappuccitti_of_Bajio_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

What is a delayed harvest stream and how do the regulations work?  Do you use different flies and methods for hatchery fish?  How far do hatchery fish move and in which direction?  You'll learn the answers to these questions and many more with Dustin Coffey [46:39], the winner of the 2024 Orvis Endorsed Guide of the Year award.
In the podcast this week, as usual we have some interesting and thought-provoking questions, including:
  • Does fly line color matter?
  • Why don't my subtle baitfish patterns work in Patagonia?
  • Can I use my big brown trout streamers for Atlantic salmon since they are related to brown trout?
  • How deep do you insert studs when adding them to felt-soled waders?
  • How do I get my streamers deeper when fishing for sea-run brook trout in rivers where weighted flies and sinking lines are not allowed?
  • Is it acceptable if I troll from a kayak for striped bass, and what rod should I use?
  • A listener writes in to tell us that the orange goo found in some rivers is a natural phenomenon
  • What do I use for a practice streamer when casting on my lawn?
  • Does the noise from my wading shoes and wading staff scare trout?
  • Do trout live in streams with mucky bottoms?
  • Any other casting methods besides the roll cast I can use on smaller streams?
  • I fished over some rising trout with my nymph rig and didn't catch them.  Should I have switched to a dry fly?
  • How should I rig for pike?
  • What are the pros and cons of using an 8 ½ foot rod vs. a 9-foot rod in Colorado tailwaters?
  • When do you put down your rod and take photos?
  • How can I get the cement off my hooks when I want to re-use the hooks from beat-up Clouser Minnows?

Breckenridge Outfitters is this year's winner of the Orvis Endorsed Outfitter of the Year Award and Tim West [44:07] is the glue that holds this fabulous guide service together.  In the interview, Tim talks about how to decide which fly to tie on at the beginning of the day, or when you first approach the water.  Do you start with a streamer, a nymph, a wet fly, a dry fly, or some combination of them?  What clues should you observe to decide which one to try?
We have some fascinating questions this week in the fly box, questions I am sure many of you think about yourself, including:
  • Can you explain the difference between fast, medium, and slow fly rods?
  • I noticed a bright orange sludge-like material on the bottom of my stream.  Should I stay away from this one?
  • Do you think kayaks spook trout more than belly boats?
  • After a rod, reel, and line, what piece of gear should I consider next?
  • When tying to fill a fly box, should I tie one of each pattern or 4 or 5 of the same one?
  • Is there a disadvantage of using a perfection loop instead of a non-slip mono loop when tying on a streamer?
  • If I see a heron in a pool in a small stream, should I move on and avoid that pool?
  • Would it work to have a leader with a very long butt section, a short transition section, and a very long tippet?
  • Why do trout eat or reject an imitation of a midge pupa in a lake?
  • Do you think a 5-weight outfit is a good rod for taking to Alaska?
  • Why don't my marabou flies stay fluffy once they have been used?
  • A listener tip for tying a dropper to the bend of a hook.
Direct download: Whats_the_first_fly_to_tie_on__With_award-winning_outfitter_Tim_West.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Carp are difficult any time but around spawning time they can be extremely frustrating.  But they can be caught on a fly.  You need to know where to look and which fish to target.  Guide Rowan Lytle [44:38] has it dialed in, and if you always wanted to catch a carp on the fly you need to listen to this podcast.  Rowan, not yet 30 years old, has already caught 202 different species of fish on a fly rod, and some of them will surprise you.  But you'll need to listen to the podcast to find out what they are.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and tips from listeners, including:
  •  I tip for taming your line and leader when you don't use a hook keeper
  • How far do I hold my UV lamp form the fly when curing UV epoxy?
  • What do I do on my local lake when the Power Bait crowd out-fishes me?
  • How do I catch catfish on a fly rod?
  • Do you fish different caddis pupa patterns for cased vs. uncased caddis?
  • How do different holes in a river change throughout the season?
  • Should I fish dry flies and nymphs in a lake different from the way I fish them in streams?
  • Do weed guards on flies actually work in thick vegetation?
  • If we see mayflies about size 12 hatching in our lake, should we use a size 12 nymph or one smaller?
  • What is the difference between flow, thin, and thick UV resins and when should I use each one?
  • My size 20 grizzly hackle keeps breaking.  Do you have any tips for keeping tension and not breaking the stems?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a complete outfit vs. separate components?
  • A tip from a listener on whether to use your wading staff upstream or downstream of your position.
  • I want to start tying flies.  What pattern would you recommend I start with?  
  • What are your favorite bass and bluegill flies?
Direct download: Secrets_of_Carp_Fishing_Around_Spawning_Time_with_Rowan_Lytle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

My guest this week is Sarah Foster [54:15], executive director of The American Museum of Fly Fishing, on why she thinks learning about the history and traditions surrounding fly fishing are important and add to our enjoyment.  She talks about recent exhibits and acquisitions, and what is in store for the future of the museum.  It's a must-see for anyone visiting southern Vermont.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some especially interesting questions and tips from listeners, including:
  • Why do I keep getting strikes on nymphs while stripping them upstream like a streamer?
  • Is the throat of a pool a common place to find trout feeding?
  • At what temperature does a brown trout start to actively feed?
  • When I see a pod of rising trout, why can I only fool one fish even though the other ones continue to feed?
  • How do older Orvis bamboo fly rods compare to contemporary models?
  • I found eggs in holdover brown trout in the spring.  Were these fish that never found a mate?
  • I have trouble with rabbit's foot hair coming loose on my flies.  How do I secure it better?
  • If you only had one line for striped bass from shore, what line would you choose?
  • How much time before the incoming or outgoing tide should I fish for striped bass?
  • Can you explain exactly what a shock tippet is?
  • What is your "last fly" during the evening hatch when it gets tough to see?
  • Do polarized sunglasses lose their effectiveness over time?
  • A listener gives a tip for an easier way to tie a surgeon's knot
  • A listener gives a caution about fishing below sewage treatment plants after a major flood event
  • My 70-denier thread keeps breaking.  What could be the problem?
  • What feathers from a chicken are useful in fly tying?
  • I fish a 6-weight rod and want a different rod for smaller streams.  What should I pick?
  • I always use a wading staff.  Is the metal tip on the staff an alarm clock for trout, and have you ever put on a rubber tip to prevent this?
Direct download: Are_Fly-Fishing_Traditions_and_History_Important_with_Sarah_Foster.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Scott [41:18] is an assistant professor of motor control and learning at Long Beach University, as well as a fly fisher and podcast listener.  He has a small number of quick tests you can do at home to check your balance, and then simple exercises you can do at home without any special equipment to improve your balance in a matter of weeks.  Wading safely and comfortably on a river involves both balance and confidence, and what you learn here will give you help with both.  You'll enjoy your time on the water more.
In the Fly Box this week we have so many great tips from listeners that I may be able to retire and turn the podcast over to you.  But we also have some interesting questions that I'm happy to answer as best I can.  Some of these include:
  • A listener suggests when a self-inflating PFD may be a good option
  • Two listeners weigh in on how to access scientific articles on fisheries science with paying a fee for access
  • A listener offers a great suggestion on how to easily attach a dropper to the bend of a hook.
  • Should I be concerned about fishing below a sewage treatment outlet?
  • A listener tells a great tale of his momentous catch on one of the new Helios rods
  • Should I be concerned about angling for fish when they are on their spawning run?
  • With the new Helios rods, do you still prefer the F version for trout and the D version for salt water?
  • If I dispose of the shiners I catch will it help the local trout population?
  • What do you think of using an indicator with a big nymph or crayfish fly for early season smallmouth?
  • Can you explain the difference between a shooting head and a sink-tip line?
  • A listener gives some expert advice on the choice of insect repellents
  • I am having trouble with short roll casts.  Do you think it's my casting technique?
  • Is it helpful to pre-treat dry flies right after you tie them?
  • If I fish an indicator and split shot and a nymph, should I use a double taper or weight-forward line?
Direct download: How_to_Test_and_Keep_Your_Balance_When_Wading_with_Scott_Ducharme.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Ralph Cutter [36:53] is an extremely perceptive, pragmatic angler with a lifetime of experience in white water, both fishing and in watercraft and water rescues.  He feels that what we’ve been taught to do if we fall in wearing waders is all wrong, and he has a number of tips for getting to shore safely that most of us don’t know about.  He also recommends a second wader belt for wading in very tricky waters.  He’s proven this through countless experiments on the water.  If you spend any time at all wading in rivers, you must listen to this podcast—or you can read an article in Fly Fisherman magazine he wrote a number of years ago through this link: How to Wade Safely and Get Out of Dangerous Situations - Fly Fisherman



In the Fly Box this week, we have questions that range from the very basic to more advanced, and tips from listeners as well, including:

  • Why do my CDC dry flies sink like a rock?
  • I am not feeling strikes when I am nymph fishing.  Are there improvements I can make to feel more fish?
  • Would a longer rod help more in nymph fishing?
  • Why aren’t knotless leaders marked with a small segment of color so that the butt, tippet, and transition sections are clearly demarcated?
  • A listener clarifies the issue of whether northern strain brook trout were ever stocked in the southern Appalachians
  • If I want to fish pools that are 8-10 feet deep with a Euro rig, do I need an 8-10-foot tippet?
  • What do I do if I am fishing a dropper rig and my upper dropper tippet breaks off or gets too short?  Do I need to tie another surgeon’s knot?
  • If I am fishing straight upstream, do I need to mend my line?
  • If my hook bends after removing it from a snag and I bend it back into place, will that weaken the hook?
  • I have trouble tying a dropper onto the bend of a hook.  I lose tension and pressure before cinching the knot down.  Do you have any tips to help this?
  • The water temperature was in the 40s and there was a mayfly hatch, but I only caught fish on nymphs and nothing was rising.  Why did this happen?
  • Does choosing a fly rod really depend mostly on the size flies you’re throwing?  When I fish a small bass fly, I don’t want to try to land a bass on my 3-weight.
Direct download: This_Podcast_May_Save_Your_Life_with_Ralph_Cutter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

The use of the natural toxin rotenone to remove invasive, non-native species of trout to protect native species is a controversial topic. Does it really work? What does the poison do to the insect, mammal, and bird populations? Ted Williams [52:36], a proponent of these tactics in selected waters, discusses where reclaiming populations has been successful and also places where it would not make sense. Ted is one of the foremost environmental writers of our time and is never afraid to stick his neck out, so you may agree with what he says or you may not, but you’ll learn some important biology in the process.


In the Fly Box this week, we have a host of interesting questions and some great tips from listeners, including:

  • A plug for Trout Unlimited’s “Trout in the Classroom” projects
  • What is your favorite rod for small streams, what size flies do you use, and where do I find the biggest trout in small streams?
  • Can I use nymphs in small streams?  They have not worked for me.
  • How do you test water temperature?  Do you need to suspend the thermometer deep in the water?
  • How can I catch walleye on my fly rod?
  • At what water temperature should I fish for bass?
  • How long do you stick with one fly before changing it, and what do you look for in new water?
  • Have you found any difference between painted and unpainted flies on streamers?
  • I want to do some writing about fly fishing.  How do you handle criticism when you do this?
  • What is the best practice for tipping guides?
  • Do you recommend studs for rubber-soled waders, and how often can you remove them and then put them back?
  • On cloudy days I can’t see as much with my polarized glasses?  What should I do?
  • How long does it take for trout to get back into their normal positions after a flood?
  • Should you present streamers differently in the early season than you would later in the spring?
  • The dry fly on my dry/dropper rig keeps twisting.  What can I do to avoid this?
  • How do you get your fly to fish in deep water running along the bottom?
  • I keep breaking my tippet where it connects to my tippet ring even though I am using a lighter tippet to my flies.  What can I do?
Direct download: How_to_Preserve_Native_Trout_Species_with_Ted_Williams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT


This week, my guest is guide BJ Gerhart [33:50], a longtime veteran guide at Three Rivers Ranch in Idaho and one of the savviest anglers I know.  He shares his tips for getting around the common problems of early season trout fishing, mainly cold water and high flows.


In the Fly Box this week, we have some helpful tips from listeners, and some interesting questions for Tom, including:

  • If adult trout can’t see UV light, as you said in last week’s podcast, what should I do with all the UV and flashy materials I have in my fly-tying collection?
  • What kind of standard trout flies are closest to the kebari flies used in tenkara fishing?
  • When fishing a dry dropper, all the trout took my dry fly yet when I removed the nymph I stopped getting strikes.  What caused this?
  • Why are beads on nymphs usually gold?
  • Why is my casting worse when I use beadhead flies?
  • What are the main differences between the 9-foot and the 8-foot, 5-inch Helios rods for a 10-weight line?
  • Why is fly fishing for salmon in Great Lakes streams not as popular as steelhead fishing?
  • When choosing a fly line for a two-handed rod, should I add the grain weight of the sinking head to the grain weight of the Skagit head?
  • A great tip for wading safety with a buddy
  • A listener raves about the Orvis rod repair team
  • Do you think I should stop trout fishing at 60 degrees just to be safe?
  • Are there public resources I can use to find out if a river might be too high to fish?
  • A listener gives a tip for adding a long mono rig easily without the need to tie a clinch knot to the permanent loop in a fly line.
Direct download: Tips_for_Early_Season_Trout-Fishing_Success_with_BJ_Gerhart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Can trout see color?  Can they see UV light?  How does a trout's window on the outside world affect how they feed and how they notice predators like us?  How can a trout see so well at night and also in bright light when they have no eyelids, and their pupils don't constrict?  Jason Randall [31:10] is an experienced fly fisher and scientist, and he stays up on the latest scientific papers on trout and also talks to leading scientists, and is one of the best at distilling this information for us ordinary anglers.  This is a fascinating podcast and Jason does a great job of explaining trout vision.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions but also a bunch of great tips from listeners, including:
  • When water is low and the sun is bright, what tactics do you recommend for Great Lakes steelhead?
  • Four great fly-tying tips from a tier in the UK
  • I am looking at the 10-foot Helios rods.  For all-around fishing, should I get the 3-weight F model or the 4-weight D model?
  • A guide from the mid-Atlantic shares tips on targeting snakeheads
  • A young fly tier asks for advice on a moderately priced vise for tying bass flies
  • Why do my 9-foot 6X knotless leaders keep breaking?
  • A new fly fisher from Ohio recounts a wonderful experience he had on the river
  • A listener provides some great tips on rooftop rod carriers
  • A listener asks for suggestions for a book on the history of trout in North America
Direct download: New_How_Trout_See_with_Jason_Randall_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

My guest this week is Brandon Hoffner [35:55], executive director of the Henry’s Fork Foundation, and the topic is the diverse habitat and trout-fishing opportunities of this world-famous river that has influenced so many anglers, techniques, and fly patterns over the years.  Like all trout rivers today, the Henry’s Fork also has its share of environmental issues and we’ll explore how the Henry’s Fork Foundation works to maintain this magical fishery.


In the Fly Box this week, we have a roundup of questions and tips from listeners, including:

  • What is the advantage of a 9 ½-foot rod over a 9-footer or 10-footer?
  • A great tip from a listener on how to remove salt water from flies you have fished
  • When would you use a Tenkara rod over a traditional Western rod?  And do you have a favorite Tenkara rod?
  • Does Tom Rosenbauer actually tie the flies in the Orvis Tom Rosenbauer fly selection?
  • What is the history of the famous Orvis Far & Fine graphite rod, and what line would you put on it?
  • For small creeks, is it better to use a 2-weight or a 3-weight line?
  • What can I substitute for goose biots on the tail of a stonefly nymph?
  • Can you explain the pros and cons of polyleaders vs. sink-tip fly lines?
  • What are the best fly lines on the new Helios 7 ½-foot 3-weight rod and the new 8-foot, 5-inch 7-weight rod?
  • A listener talks about how he uses the new Orvis wading staff as a hiking staff as well.
  • Will the heat inside a car in summer hurt my Orvis raincoat?
  • A call from Captains for Clean Water with some great news from the Everglades
Direct download: All_about_the_Henrys_Fork_with_Brandon_Hoffner_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

The Montana Supreme Court recently reversed a decision that would have blocked a copper mine on the headwaters of the Smith River.  Where we thought we had a win in preventing a mine in the wrong place, we now may have to live with that mine.  David Brooks [33:02] on Montana TU tells us how, at the very least, TU and other organizations convinced the mine to put in a number of mitigation solutions that were not in their original plan.  Trout Unlimited has one more hail Mary on this issue, which you can learn about in the podcast.  This is a tough subject to listen to, but we learn that we can never give up on environmental issues, even when it looks like we've won. 

(To sign a petition in support of Trout Unlimited's position preventing the mine from expanding onto public land, click here


In the Fly Box this week, we have some more fun and positive topics, including:
  • What is a tailing loop in fly casting?
  • To practice casting for a saltwater trip, should I just use yarn or should I use a hookless fly similar to the size I will be casting?
  • What is the purpose of a wing on a wet fly?
  • Does the loop at the end of a fly line cause energy loss?
  • How can I photograph striped bass beneath a bridge?
  • Can I keep fly rods in my cartop quiver in hot weather?
  • A great tip from a listener about using white poster board on the surface of an old rolltop desk.
  • Another tip from a listener on using inexpensive drill gauges to size hunks of deer hair and beads.
  • Would a one-piece rod be better than a four-piece rod?
  • How do I keep debris from drifting downstream when fishing the top of a riffle?
  • What is a good all-around fly line for bonefish and redfish?
  • I had a fishless day and then a guy with a spin rod caught a trout right in front of me.  Should I have switched to a streamer earlier?
Direct download: Disturbing_News_on_Montanas_Smith_River_with_David_Brooks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:01am EDT

Josh Miller [43:10] is a guide and has been a competitive angler and coach for years and he, like many young fly fishers, is an innovative angler who doesn't rely only on older methods of fly fishing but develops his own techniques based on how he wants his flies to drift.  This is a geeky one with some rambling, but I think Josh has some thought-provoking ideas that will get many of us thinking.
In the Fly Box we have some interesting questions and tips from listeners, including:
  • What model of an older Orvis rod do you still fish?
  • Do you have any tips from casting a Spey rod from the beach?
  • The head on a fly I tied unraveled.  Was it because I used Superglue and half hitches?
  • A tip from a listener on a product that will sharpen fly-tying scissors.
  • What conditions are best for fishing a bamboo rod?
  • Can I underline a fiberglass rod?
  • Can I cut the taper off an old WF5F line to make a lighter line for small streams?
  • How can I get my fly-tying thread to jump backward so I can tie in tricky materials?
  • What kind of setup do I need for catching snakeheads on a fly rod?
  • Why do smaller streams produce smaller trout and bigger rivers bigger fish?
  • What kind of PFD should I get for wearing under a fishing vest?
  • Why can't I find good brown and grizzly dry-fly hackle in size 12?
  • What do I need to do to switch between conventional nymphing and Euro nymphing?
  • Do most communities have fly-fishing clubs and how do I find them?
  • If I am going from a small stream to a lake, should I lengthen my butt section or lengthen my tippet?
Direct download: A_New_Way_of_Fishing_a_Dry_Dropper_with_Josh_Miller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

This week, my guest is Orvis rod designer and my fishing buddy Shawn Combs [14:05], who uses the new Helios rods as an example of how a new rod series is developed.  What kind of input goes into a new rod design?  Why do we keep making new rod series?  How are they tested?  How many prototypes of a new rod are built before we decide on the final model?
The Fly Box is short this week because I've caught up with questions and am doing this before I leave for a couple weeks.  But they're good ones, including:
  • Do I need to set the hook in a different manner with a glass fly rod?
  • Is there something about the new Helios rods that is not covered on the web site and catalog copy?
  • Is there a place where I can still pick up a Helios 3 rod?
  • I am going to Cozumel and will be wade fishing from the beach.  What should I know in advance?
  • A listener gives some great tips on fly fishing for trout in Missouri
Direct download: FlyRodsDevelopSCombs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

This week, my guest is educator and aquatic entomologist Anna Le [18:57], who introduces us to the amazing world of trout-stream invertebrates.  She tells us how to gauge the health of a river by looking at the bugs, and also how we can all be citizen scientists and alert the authorities when we see a decline of important indicator species.
In the Fly Box this week we have the usual mix of difficult and easy questions, plus tips,  including:
  • A great tip from a listenerdon't try to fish while you are wading.
  • Can I put an 8-weight line on my 7-weight Pflueger Medalist reel?
  • A funny story from a listener on another way to break a fly rod
  • As I get older my eyesight and finger dexterity are not what they used to be.  Is there an easier knot for attaching flies to my tippet?
  • Why don't more people fish for chubs, and why are they considered a trash fish?
  • Do you have any recommended cicada patterns?
  • A listener who is also a toxicologist warns that not all fly-tying materials are harmless and gives tips on how to avoid undue exposure to them.
  • I have trouble tying tails on size 18 and smaller flies.  Do you have any tips?
Direct download: TroutStreamBugsAna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

This week my guest is Charlie Schneider [45:30] from Cal Trout, a great organization that Orvis has supported over the years because they are really effective in protecting wild trout habitat.  Charlie talks about the many species and subspecies (or races depending on whether you are a lumper or a splitter) of wild trout found in California, some of are unique to California.   The incredibly diverse topography and geology (and proximity to the Pacific Ocean) contribute to this array of salmonids and it's fascinating to get an overview of them.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and tips, including:
  • Why do I have trouble Euro nymphing in slow pools when I have such good luck in faster water?
  • I catch steelhead from Lake Ontario tributaries during the colder months but I don't catch trout there during the summer.  Why?
  • I am having trouble casting a Euro rig.  What tips can you give me?
  • How can I wean myself off my spinning rod when it's so much more successful that my fly rod?
  • What are your thoughts on the Non-Slip Mono Loop for dry flies?
  • Have you ever tired the Australian Braid Knot as a replacement for the Bimini Twist?
  • Which is more important in choosing a line size—the size of the fish or the size of the fly?
  • Can trout spill over a dam into streams below?
  • Can you give me some tips on catching cutthroat trout?
  • How can I tell if there are trout in a small stream?
  • I am 17 and can't afford a hackle cape.  Is there any way to save money on a cape,  and what color would you recommend I start with?
  • Is it so bad if I want to keep a few wild trout to eat?  Why the big emphasis on catch and release?
  • What is that protrusion on the opposite side of the spool from a reel handle?  It can't be a counterweight.
  • If I have a medium-fast 5-weight rod, will a 6-weight line make it more of a medium action?
  • I lost 30-40 fish in the tail of a pool swinging flies.  What was I doing wrong?
  • How do you select deer hair for Comparadun wings?
Direct download: CaliforniaTroutCharlieSchneider.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

My guest this week is Charity Rutter [39:50], a great friend and longtime guide in the Great Smoky Mountains.  She and her husband Ian have just finished a great book (I read the manuscript and loved it) and although it won't be available until April, you can pre-order it  here:

Charity shares her secrets for making more out of your time on small waters, and although she concentrates on her area, she has fished small streams throughout North America and her tips will help you no matter where you fish.


In the Fly Box this week we have a nice assortment of questions and tips on fly fishing and fly tying, including:

  • Why do you hate hook keepers so much?

  • Is it true that you should not hook your fly onto your stripping guide?

  • A listener recounts his first experience with selling flies he tied himself.

  • A number of people chide me for not using a wading staff—yet.

  • Will it hurt my fly line if I stretch it first before fishing?

  • A listener gives some good advice on how to get out of a dangerous situation while wading, and how to prevent your waders from acting like a sea anchor.

  • A tip from a listener on how he deals with litter during a day of fishing and one on how he carries rods on the back seat of his vehicle.

  • A listener tells me how pleased he was with Orvis reel repair service.

  • Should I wear socks when wearing the new Pro Approach Hikers in salt water?

  • Can I Euro nymph in lakes and ponds?

  • A tip from a listener on making more durable peacock herl bodies.

  • Where should I put the heavy section of mono on a shock leader?

  • A listener shares a tip on playing darts during the winter to keep those casting muscles in shape

  • I used rubber soled wading shoes on slippery rocks and had poor traction.  Should I stud them or just get a pair of felt-soled boots?

  • In a remote lake with an inlet and outlet, will trout move into the outlet as well as the inlet?

  • How can I keep my dropper and tippet from slipping off my barbless hook when fishing with a dry dropper?  And what knot is best when attaching a dropper to a hook bend?

  • I have a 9-foot 5-weight rod and want a rod for fishing for panfish and streamers for trout.  What rod should I get next?

Direct download: SmallStreamsCharityRutter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Lindsay Kocka [42:30] is a fly-fishing instructor, formally trained natural movement and strength coach, mobility specialist, yoga teacher, and mindfulness educator.  She taken her fishing experience and formal training to come up with a method to help us wade stronger and more confidently.  Regardless of your age, you'll benefit from this podcast, which will give you lots of tips on how to feel more comfortable and confident on the water.  You'll also learn about how to get your body and balance in better shape for your upcoming trips on the water.  
In the Fly Box this week, we have an unusually large number of useful tips from listeners, as well as the usual questions for Tom, including:
  • Will my Clearwater fly lines be OK in salt water?
  • Why don't we use grain weights instead of the AFTMA number system for identifying the weights of trout fly lines like we do for double-handed rods?
  • The fly shops are always out of my favorite fly pattern, the Purple Haze.  I just want to tie those.  Should I start with a kit or should I just buy the materials I need for that fly pattern?
  • A tip from a listener on how to attach a fly so that it does not twist your leader
  • When you work a section of water, should you work the near seam or the far seam first?
  • A tip from a listener on how to replace the permanent loop on your fly line with a new one
  • A tip from a listener on how to remove burrs or grooves in your fly-tying bobbin
  • A tip from a listener on why you should save old waders, and how to use them to patch new ones.
  • A tip from a listener on why it is important to support your local fly shop
  • Tips from a blind fly fisher on methods he uses to enjoy fly fishing, and a couple tips from him on how to make threading a fly easier—something that all of us can benefit from.
  • Tips from a listener on practicing your fly casting from the position you'll most often be fishing from.
  • What is the etiquette when wading anglers and boaters cross paths on the water?
  • Why would someone pick a 91/2-foot or 9-foot, 5-inch rod over a 9-footer?
  • What tips do you have for casting a sinking leader?
  • Can I keep my rods set up in or on my car for extended periods?
Direct download: WadeWellLindsayK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

All about Floating Fly Lines, with Josh Jenkins
What is the difference between freshwater and saltwater fly lines?  How about warmwater and cold-water lines?  How long do fly lines last?  How do you care for a fly line?  How do you clean a fly line?  Why do we have over-weighted fly lines?  These are questions I often get for the podcast, so I asked Josh Jenkins [49:28], head of R&D for Scientific Anglers, to answer these questions and more about floating fly lines.
In the Fly Box this week, as usual we have some great questions and helpful tips from listeners they want to share with you, including:
  • What is the best rod length, line size, and leader for brook trout?
  • Can I throw a small Woolly Bugger with my 3-weight rod or do I need a heavier rod?
  • Are there any fly-tying materials that could have a negative health impact?
  • Do you know of a source for those bags used to hold fly-tying materials?
  • What flies can I use ruffed grouse feathers on?
  • Should I use my heavier nymph as my point (lower) fly?
  • I am looking at an Amplitude Creek line for small streams but it states the line is one size heavier.  Will it spook the brook trout I am after?
  • How many flies do you lose every season, and how do you lose most of them?
  • How long should I expect a fly to last?
  • I love carp and bass fishing and have always been underwhelmed by trout fishing.  What am I missing?
  • Are 6-piece rods any good, and would you take one on a long trip?
  • I got some old feathers that are bug infested.  How can I clean them to make sure all the critters are gone?
  • A useful tip from a listener—to slow you down and help you observe a river better, don't string up your rod until you get to the river.
  • What do you do when you change species?  Do you have separate fly boxes for each?
  • When coming up with a new fly pattern, how do you decide hook style and thread type?
  • Tip for keeping young kids away from a fly-tying areause a baby gate
  • What is the most versatile fly for catching bass, carp, and panfish?
  • I get seasick.  What is the best place to go bonefishing where I will find calm water?
Direct download: FloatingFlyLinesJenkins.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Are there any tricks to spotting fish on saltwater flats, especially if it's your first time?  You may be disappointed to hear that there is no magic bullet and every place you fish will offer different species, water color, and depth.  But Jason Franklin [37:36] has a lifetime of experience helping his clients to spot bonefish and permit in the water, and he gives us some solid tips on how to develop this skill.
In the Fly Box this week, we have an unusual number of great tips from listeners, along with some questions Tom attempts to answer, including:
  • Will a 2-weight rod give me more enjoyment  than my 7 1/2-foot 3-weight when bluelining on my local streams?  How about a 10 foot two-weight?
  • What is the purpose of tying a tippet ring on the end of big dry flies?
  • Three great fly-tying and fishing  hacks from a listener
  • A listener describes how he fixed a bobbin that kept cutting thread using a fly-tying bead.
  • What hook sizes can I cast on my 5-weight when fishing for bass?  And would it help to put a 6-weight on my rod when casting larger flies?
  • What do you think of trying weedless carp flies for fish that are in pockets between weeds?
  • If I am tying various styles of streamers in a range of sizes, should I get a rooster cape?
  • Do I need to dry out my fly line before putting my reel away?
  • I want to try a tenkara rod but my fishing buddy says it's not fly fishing.  What do you think?
  • I could catch trout on Woolly Buggers but had trouble catching them on small midges.  What should I try in this tailwater the next time I go?
  • Three tips from a listener on getting success when tight-line nymphing.
  • Is it possible to get transcripts for the podcasts?
  • What is the process for experimentation with new fly patterns?
  • A listener adds another common way to break a fly rod
  • When you talk about leader length, do you include the tippet?
Direct download: SalwaterFlatsJFranklin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

This week's podcast is a recording of a live interview I did with Sue Doroff [48:56], co-founder and outgoing president of The Western Rivers Conservancy, which does amazing work throughout the West by buying valuable riparian land, making the surrounding habitat more natural and resilient, and enhancing public access to many of our important trout, salmon, and steelhead rivers.  You'll learn how Western Rivers finds these areas, the financial model for how they do this, and how most are eventually transferred into public ownership.  It's fascinating story of how a small organization punches well above its weight.
In the Fly Box this week, we have lots of questions and valuable tips from listeners, including:
  • How to use forceps to smooth down weighting wire
  • How to easily reverse your tying thread using a dubbing needle
  • How do I get deer hair to behave?
  • Any tips for attaching eyes to Game Changers?
  • Why can I catch trout from tiny streams on dry flies but not on nymphs?
  • Advice on the differences between Helios and Recon rods
  • How do I get into commercial fly tying?
  • How far do stocked trout travel?
  • Can I catch a carp on my 8 ½ foot 5 weight rod?
  • Can I use split shot with streamers?
  • Advice on a fiberglass rod for bass and panfish
  • Do I need to adjust water type or tactics for browns vs. rainbows?
  • A great tip from a listener on how to avoid losing beads and hooks under your tying table
  • What should a non-angler do when going fishing with a fly fisher?
  • How can I prevent losing fish on size 24 flies?  Should I keep the barbs on?
  • Does how you tie a clinch knot have any bearing on how it rides in the water?
  • A listener suggestion for another great writer of fly-fishing essays
Direct download: Saving_rivers_with_Western_Rivers_Conservancys_Sue_Doroff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

How has fly-tying changed in the past 50 years?  It's changed a great deal in the time Tim Flagler [43:55] and I have been practicing it, and I often get questions from people about what has changed over the years.  Tim and I discuss the way information was shared, what hackle was like back then, innovations like beads and synthetic materials and chemically sharpened hooks, and advances in fly-tying tools.  Our main conclusion is that fly tiers today have never had it better, and it continues to evolve almost daily.
In the Fly Box this week, we have lots of rod questions and the usual queries that people can't seem to find an answer to anywhere else—and we're glad to help!  Some of this week's questions are:
  • I am taking a rod-building class and want to know what rod I should add to my quiver (and he details the rods he already owns)
  • I have heard that Florida snook fishing is best from shore during the summer, but also that the season is closed.  Can I still target them and release them?
  • What do you know about fly fishing in Bermuda?
  • Can I put a 9-weight line on my Clearwater 908?
  • What Mirage LT reel should I put on my 11-foot Blackout rod?
  • Are there any introduced cutthroat populations in the eastern US?
  • For fishing from a float tube for brook trout in Maine, should I get a 10-foot 3-weight or 4-weight rod?
  • Would it be bad to wear tick repellent when fishing?  Will it harm aquatic life?
  • Why do  reel manufacturers put the drag adjustment on the opposite side of the reel handle?  I find it cumbersome to adjust my drag.
  • How will warm springs in my river affect bass behavior and feeding?
  • What is the minimum length of rod you recommend for most trout streams, other than small streams?
  • How do stocked spring creeks in Missouri compare to Colorado rivers?
  • Where can my friends and I find a good fly-fishing coach?
  • What clothing, equipment, and flies should I take for a bonefishing trip to the Turks & Caicos? 
  • I am new to New England and have been frustrated with high water conditions.  What can I do to have more success in high water?
Direct download: FlyTyingEvolutionFlagler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EDT

We frequently discuss water temperature in regard to trout fishing but you seldom hear much about how water temperature affects popular fly-rod fish like bonefish, tarpon, permit, redfish, striped bass, and bluefish.  Yet the water on the flats can vary dramatically depending on local weather patterns and tides, which will in turn affect where the fish move to and how actively they feed.  Learn from Bonefish Tarpon Trust's science director Aaron Adams [51:35] (also a superb fly fisher) on the science of water temperature and saltwater species.
In the Fly Box this week we have a great selection of questions, tips, and rants from listeners, including:
  • Is it appropriate to tip a guide when he or she runs a group class at a fly shop?
  • What kind of footwear do you use when blue lining when you are wet wading?
  • Does monofilament have a shelf life?
  • Is a fiberglass rod a viable option for carp, bass, or bonefish?
  • Has Tom developed any new insights on carp fishing in 2023?
  • My sister harvested a moose.  What flies can I tie with moose hair?
  • I've often had good fishing before a thunderstorm but not after.  Is there any validity to this observation?
  • A mild rant from a listener who does not like to chat on the water with other anglers.  And a less mild rant about anglers who invade his space.
  • Can I turn my fly line around to the running line when I want to Euro nymph?
  • How have developments in fly fishing changed the productivity of fly fishing in the last 100 years?
  • Why am I not seeing many fish in rivers that run into reservoirs in the fall?
  • How can I tell the difference between my nymphs ticking the bottom and a strike?
  • A great tip from a listener on removing all of your backing and rinsing it at the end of a saltwater fly-fishing season.
  • Should knots ever break?
  • This fall I fished a river that was 18 to 24 inches deep and uniform without much structure.  I fished hard with various methods and didn't catch a thing.  How would you approach water like this?
Direct download: WaterTempAaronAdams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

This show on winter fly-fishing was originally posted on 28 January, 2011. Before we had interviews, the Flybox, or even call-ins, it was just Sir Tom rambling into a microphone. 

Don't forget there are hundreds of shows from our archives that are freelly available on your podcast reader and at

Direct download: Best_of_Tom_-Top_Ten_Tips_on_Winter_Fly_Fishing_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Careful observation, active instead of passive, is the hallmark of a good fly fisher.  They pick up patterns by observing exactly where in the river a fish came from , or how it behaved when feeding, or what weather patterns preceded a particularly successful day.  Head guide Cliff Weisse [46:15] of Three Rivers Ranch in Warm River, Idaho tells us some things many fly fishers don't pay enough attention to, and thus lose the ability to improve their skills.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and tips, including:
  • How many flies and leaders will I need for a single day of guided fishing in the Bahamas?  And what gear will I need that I would normally not take for a day of trout fishing?
  • If I catch a trout from a small pool, should I assume the rest of the fish in that pool are spooked?
  • When should I strip a fish in, and when should I get the line on the reel?
  • My buddy and I lost 100% of the trout we hooked one day.  WE normally land most of them.  What did we do wrong?
  • What flies will imitate shad, small rainbows, sculpins, and small brown trout?
  • I fish a piece of water with lots of swirling eddies and have trouble with a normal hard strike indicator.  What should I use instead?
  • How can I manage using multiple fly lines without buying a new reel or spool for each one?
  • Is it OK for a guide to give me an unsolicited lecture on etiquette even though I never crowd anyone?
  • If I only make casts at a maximum of 15 feet in a small stream, is there a special fly line I should be using?
  • I read somewhere that the author uses "gel flotant on all my flies".  Am I missing something?
  • How do you determine the shuck color on a Sparkle Dun?
  • A great tip from a listener about using a "backing barrel" on a sighter leader when you have trouble seeing it.
  • How can I avoid spooking smallmouth bass on a small, clear stream?
Direct download: ObservationinFlyFishingWeiss.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Originally Posted on March 3rd, 2023

Back in 2008 when I first began this podcast I had two dreams—that I would have my two literary heros, John McPhee and Thomas McGuane as guests (they are both passionate fly fishers). I was lucky enough to record a podcast with John in August of 2021 and this week's podcast is with Tom McGuane [44:36], author of 20 highly regarded novels, screenplays, collections of short stories, and what is in my opinion the finest book of fly-fishing essays ever written, The Longest Silence. Most people who interview Tom want to talk about his crazy days in Key West in the 1970s, , fishing for tarpon with Jim Harrison, Guy de la Valdene, Jimmy Buffet, and other notable characters. However, in the podcast we talk about what he is doing now—his fascination with small-stream trout fishing, why he would rather wade than fish from a boat, his opinion on guides who yell at their clients, and how to grow old gracefully and still continue to fish with a fly rod. It was a real honor to chat with him and I know you'll enjoy this very special podcast.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some wonderful and thought-provoking questions and tips form listeners, including:

What is that white rod that Pete Kutzer uses in your casting videos?

Is there a written history of Orvis?

What is the best reel lubricant, and how should I maintain my cork drag surface?

Can dumbbell eyes damage fly rods? If so, what should I do to keep flies tied with them from hitting my rod?

Do trout eat those little black and brown stoneflies that hatch during the winter and early spring?

 Can you explain when I would use weighted flies vs. split shot vs. poly leaders when fishing nymphs?

Can you compare the relative advantages of the 10 1/2-foot 3-weight and the 11-foot 3-weight Blackout rod?

I saw people catching fish on nymphs. I tried exactly the same patterns and didn't catch anything. Why?

I have a reel that takes a 9-weight line. Can I get an extra spool and put it on my 7-weight rod?

Direct download: BackCast_A_life_in_fly_fishing_with_Tom_McGuane.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Todd Tanner [43:02] is a lifelong fly fisher and journalist and spent years as a guide on the Henry's Fork, one of the best (and toughest) dry-fly rivers in the world.  He also prefers not to fish nymphs.  Todd shares his 12 tips on improving your success with dry flies this week, and they are solid and helpful.
In the Fly Box this week, we have a great and varied selection of questions and tips from listeners, including:
  • I don't see any brook or brown trout in the usual places this fall.  Are they all upstream spawning?
  • Two great tips from a listener for beginning fly tiers.
  • Is a 10-foot 4-weight a good rod for both Euro nymphing and dry-fly fishing?
  • A great tip from a listener on how to prevent your dry fly from getting too soaked before retrieving it for the next cast.
  • A listener makes the point that watershed-level stream restoration is often not possible.
  • If my stream is stocked with rainbows, will I find them in other parts of the river system and will they survive?
  • Can I use a less expensive spool of fluorocarbon spinning line instead of the expensive stuff sold for fly fishing?
  • If I use only the tip of a CDC feather, can I use the remaining fibers for something else?
  • Kudos from a listener on a wonderful experience he had in the Orvis retail store in Atlanta
  • What kind of insects are most common in infertile streams?
  • Is there a reason Orvis makes a 10 ½ foot and 11-foot H3 rod and not a 10-footer?
  • A great rattlesnake story from a listener
  • I found a whole bunch of trout rising in a seam and tried everything but could not catch them.  I tried all kinds of dries and nymphs and changed my tippet and my angle of approach.  What do you think the fish were eating? 
Direct download: 12TipsForDryFliesTanner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

I get frequent questions from listeners on what I would recommend they read in fly-fishing literature, as there is so much out there it's tough to sort through it to find what's worth reading.  Michael Checchio [38:10] is a retired journalist and investigative reporter and a student of fly-fishing books, so we spend some time discussing what he feels are must-reads (or maybe just interesting reads) in the vast river of what has been written about fly fishing.
Here is Michael's list:
  • A River Runs through It by Norman Maclean
  • "Big Two-Hearted River" by Ernest Hemingway (short story)
  • Ninety-Two in the Shade by Thomas McGuane
  • The River Why by David James Duncan
  • The Longest Silence by Thomas McGuane
  • The Angler's Coast and Dark Waters by Russell Chatham
  • The Curtis Creek Manifesto by Sheridan Anderson
  • "Hat Creek" and "Deeds Among the Steelhead" by Bill Barich (magazine articles; may be tough to find)
  • The Spawning Run by William Humphrey
  • Trout Bum by John Gierach
  • "The Same River Twice" by David Quammen (published in Outside Magazine)
  • "A Sporting Life" by Jim Harrison (magazine article, may be tough to find)
  • My Story as Told by Water by David James Duncan
In the Fly Box this week, we have lots of questions and tips, including:
  • How do I know when to strip strike and when to trout strike?
  • Do I really need to go barbless on small dry-fly hooks?
  • How do I know what size material to use if I want to lengthen my leader?
  • A great tip from a listener on learning to cast with your "off" hand
  • A tip from a listener on wetting new tying materials befor you use them to see what color they will be
  • Why do I only see larger wild brown trout in one section of a river I fish?
  • How do I see my sighter in difficult lighting conditions?
  • If I am fishing for stocked rainbows and grayling, where should I place my grayling fly—on the bottom or on the dropper?
  • Should I use my 10-foot 7-weight Recon that I use for steelhead for streamer fishing from a boat for trout?
  • What is the main difference between a Helios D and Helios F rod when fishing for bonefish?
  • My bamboo ferrule only fits ¾ of the way to full engagement.  Is that OK?
  • Why do I see steelhead smolt in my river but never chinook salmon smolt?
  • Is there any way to get the bad smell off a bucktail?
  • Why don't people fish bucktails much these days?
  • Is there a way to tell a northern strain from a southern strain brook trout visually?
Direct download: MustReadsLiteratureChecchio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

My guest this week is Chris Jordan [41:13], a scientist with NOAA who specializes in habitat restoration.  His view is that, in our arrogance, we've gotten habitat restoration projects all wrong most of the time.  We think we can engineer river systems to conform with what we think they should be, but rivers are dynamic and mostly unpredictable and that, whenever possible, we need to look at watershed solutions—helping rivers do the job with a lighter hand but a larger scope. Follow this link to learn more:
In the Fly Box this week we have a wide variety of interesting questions, including:
  • Should I bother fishing carp flats when the water temperature is in the 50s and air temperature is in the 30s?
  • Will brown trout live in warm water rivers some of the time?  Is it worth it to fish the mouths of cold-water tributaries for brown trout?
  • You always say that trout prefer to be in water that is two-to four-feet deep to feed.  Yet I have caught my largest trout in pools that are 10-to 15-feet deep.  I'm confused.
  • How does George Daniel attach his light nymphing leader to his fly line?
  • I fish small streams with a 10-foot, 4-weight Recon rod.  I worry about spooking trout when my rod casts a shadow over the pool I'm fishing.  Should I go with a shorter rod?
  • Some great suggestions from a listener about fishing with kids, and why we should make it more about building relationships and not always about catching fish.
  • I consistently foul-hook trout when fishing multiple flies.  Am I striking too soon or too late, or striking too hard?
  • If most people fish barbless flies, why don't manufacturers make more barbless hooks?
  • Do states only stock trout in specific locations due to allocated quantities, or are there environmental factors in play?
  • Can I use a 6-weight Bank Shot line on my 11-foot, 4-weight Euro rod to try two-handed casting?
  • I have a friend who ties all my flies.  What should I get him as a thank-you gift?
  • If I hook but lose a big lake-run rainbow, would it be possible to go back later in the day to try for it?
  • I have a small brook trout stream on my property.  Should I put some trees in the river to help the fish?
  • A listener suggests that although smallmouth bass don't need much habitat help from us, they grow slowly so handling them with care is important if you want a trophy smallmouth fishery.
Direct download: FixingTroutStreamsChrisJordan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Besides breaking your fly rod in those boring old ways like car doors or ceiling fans, there are other, less obvious ways and most of them are preventable as well.  This week I chat with Charlie Robinton [49:00], rod repair expert on the Orvis Outfitter Team, and we'll explore other ways fly rods are broken—including some unusual ways they have been broken over the years, thanks to stories from our terrific rod repair team.  True, if you break an Orvis rod we can usually have it back to you in about five daysbut a broken rod is still not a fun way to start (or end) a fishing trip.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some perplexing questions, tips from listeners, and some listeners who take exception to some of the things I've said in the past, including:
  • Where can I take my sons and granddaughter on Route 20 in Idaho where they can easily catch trout?
  • What is a good rod manufacturer?
  • A listener describes a perplexing day on a difficult river and analyzes his day and asks Tom if he agrees.
  • Do you take all of your fly boxes when you fish or do you determine what you will likely need for the day?  And where do you put your lunch, sunscreen, and raincoat?
  • Last year I had great luck for pre-spawn brown trout and this year I can't hook them.  Should I keep trying different streamer patterns?
  • A caution from a listener on serious reactions to UV resins
  • A suggestion from a listener on sliding beads down your leader if you want to make any nymph a bead head.
  • A listener says he has never had fly-tying threads weaken over time and disagrees with my suggestion that they can weaken after a few years.
  • Are beaded or non-beaded flies more successful?
  • How can I use adhesives to keep the dumbbell eyes on my Clouser Minnows from rotating?
  • You have said trout eyes are designed to look up.  When I catch trout they are always looking down.  Why?
  • You recommend using a throat pump.  But what good does it do you when you have already caught a fish?  And then you take their food away?
  • Does gel flotant on a hook have a negative effect?
Direct download: 15WaysToBreakRodRobinton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

My guest this week is the great George Daniel [42:00], who is always pushing the envelope, evolving and experimenting.  He tells us why he uses a 10-foot fly rod for nearly all of his trout fishing, even in smaller streams and he also introduces a new nymphing technique he has been experimenting with.
In the Fly Box this week, we have a great variety of questions and tips, including:
  • Can I use a poly leader in salt water for stripers?
  • Why do I find fewer and smaller fish in low water conditions later in the season?
  • How often do you find yourself adjusting indicator depth in medium and large rivers?
  • What should I do with the reject flies from my tying bench?
  • Is a bow-and-arrow cast stealthier than a roll cast in small streams?
  • I see large crayfish in a stream.  Why don't I see smaller crayfish?
  • Are fiberglass rods more sensitive than graphite rods?
  • Do creek chubs compete with brown trout?
  • What can I do to keep the wings on my parachute flies at 90 degrees once I start fishing them?
  • I found I could double haul better with some Orvis rods I tried than with entry level rods I have.  Is it simply the difference between a premium rod and my current lower level rods?
  • I keep breaking off coho salmon.  What could I be doing wrong?
  • Can I fish egg and worm patterns and streamers with my 7-foot, 4-weight rod?
  • A tip from a listenerif you want to find out where trout live in a particular river, observe them from a bridge.
  • Is there an organization devoted specifically to smallmouth bass?
Direct download: George_Daniel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Hal Herring [50:31] has been reporting on conservation issues in the American West for over 30 years for Field & Stream magazine as well as other publications.  In this week's podcast, he explores the many complexities of trying to keep enough water in our rivers for both agriculture and trout populations, which has become an increasingly difficult juggling act.  Hal also gently berates today's hunters and anglers about educating themselves on the science and the politics behind these issues.  It's not enough to just complain about the lack of waterit's important to understand the issue before you can have a credible  opinion.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great tips and questions, including:
  • Do bamboo and fiberglass rods load differently than graphite rods?
  • When you have a very limited time on a river, do you have a fishing method that gives you the most bang for your buck?
  • Is there an alternative to the "chuck and duck" method for fishing for salmon and steelhead on Michigan rivers?
  • If you are buying older fly tying material, what should you look for to make sure it has not been degraded?
  • How would you adjust your fly selection for smallmouth bass throughout the season?
  • Is rising or falling water better on a fluctuating tailwater?
  • Can I use my 10-foot, 8-weight rod in the surf?  
  • If my Mop flies have fallen apart, can I easily add a new piece of mop material to the hook and bead?  I am not a fly tier.
  • Are two three-turn whip finishes better than a single 6-turn whip finish?  
  • A tip that textured lines in a long day of stripping flies can cut into your fingers
  • Is the San Juan Shuffle ethical?
  • Is a fast action 5-weight rod actually a 6-weight?
  • I have been lipping bass for many years.  Why do you say it's bad for the fish?
Direct download: Hal_Hering.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm EDT

Helen Neville [38:57] is Trout Unlimited's senior scientist and also an expert in trout genetics.  In this interview, we talk about what scientists have learned about trout evolution and relationships in the past decade.  They now have tools at their disposal that can tell them how closely two trout populations are related, how much hatchery trout have interbred with wild populations, and how various races and subspecies of trout have evolved.  You'll also learn how they extract this DNA and study it—but you had better review your high school or college genetics first because it gets a bit complex.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and a couple helpful tips from listeners, including:
  • A listener from Germany relates a horrible experience he had with a guide
  • Can I underline my Orvis bamboo fly rod?
  • What do you think putting a strip of material on a leader as a "worm attractor"?
  • A great tip from a listener of how to make a paddle and rod rest for a canoe
  • A warning from a listener that the drop shot method of fishing nymphs is illegal in Californiaand possibly other places.
  • A listener wants to know if he can effectively use the Euro nymph technique with a 10-foot, 5-weight rod
  • What is the best way to get polarized glasses for someone who needs a strong prescription.  Do clip-ons work well?
  • Should I lubricate the zipper on my Pro Zippered Waders?
  • When fighting fish, is tippet size or rod weight the deciding factor?
  • When by myself, how do I take a photo of a fish so that I can later judge its size?
  • Why is fall fishing better?  Do trout feed heavily in anticipation of winter?
  • What size leader and tippet should I use for carp, and should I use my 6-weight or 8-weight rod?
  • I tie my tippet directly to my fly line for small stream brook trout.  What advantages will I have by going to a tapered leader?
  • Do brook trout in a small meadow stream move throughout the season?
Direct download: genetics_2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:26pm EDT

The Battenkill is an iconic and often frustrating trout stream.  It's a gorgeous river with a healthy population of wild trout but it has had its ups and downs over the years.  Doug Lyons [49:48] is a lifetime Battenkill expert and knows the river perhaps better than anyone, and his new book Fly Fishing Guide to the Battenkill unravels many secrets of this special river—perhaps more than many of us locals are comfortable with!  Doug and I had fun sharing our theories and thoughts about the river.
In the Fly Box this week, I have some especially interesting questions  from listeners, including:
  • I have been experimenting with streams on a floating line with a short leader with no success.  What am I doing wrong, and what do you suggest?
  • Is there a way to tell the various subspecies of cutthroat trout apart?
  • What are the pros and cons of smooth vs. textured lines?
  • Why are reel prices so expensive these days?  Aren't they just used to store line?
  • How can I tell what line size a bamboo rod takes?  I bought an old rod that has no markings on it.
  • Why don't more fly shops sell nymphs with matte beads?
  • Will I save money by tying my own flies?
  • How can I identify the various mayflies and caddisflies I have in southern Michigan?
  • Why do I get tippet curls just ahead of my fly when I tie it on?  I have tried a couple knots and they still seem to do it.
  • Will a Spey rod with a larger line size cast farther than a lighter one like a 6-weight?
  • A reminder from a listener about the perils to wildlife of using lead weights in fishing.
  • Will it hurt to store my fly line on the reel in the off-season?
  • What tools do you personally use in fly tying and which are the most important?
  • If I am making my own leaders should I use blood knots or surgeon's knots to connect the sections?
  • Does it matter which way your fly is oriented when fishing?
Direct download: Secrets_of_the_battenkill.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16pm EDT

This week, my guest is long-time Orvis-endorsed guide George Hunker [49:26], who has won two awards (guide of the year and the coveted lifetime achievement award) for his excellence in creating wonderful experiences for his customers.  George has a lifetime of experience in fishing alpine lakes in the Wind River range in Wyoming, and his tips will be valuable to anyone who fishes these wilderness gems for trout.
In the Fly Box this week, we have a varied assortment of questions about tackle, fly tying, and techniques, including:
  • Am I missing out by just fishing close to home and not putting more exotic trips on the calendar?
  • How can I stop my streamer tails from wrapping around the bend of the hook?
  • Can I use a heavy switch rod for fishing in the surf in North Carolina and also for king salmon in Michigan?
  • Can I tie large nymphs or streamers on some old Mustad salmon hooks?  How about saltwater flies?
  • I want to get an 8-weight rod.  Should I get a Recon or Clearwater?
  • How do you fish scuds in lakes?
  • What is the best way to fish a short, narrow, deep, and fast pool in high water?
  • Why can't I catch many trout on dry flies in small Missouri wild trout streams?
  • Why do some 6-weight rods have fighting butts?  Do I need one to fish for trout in Virginia?
  • What fly line do you recommend for striped bass in the Chesapeake region?
  • How can I keep the eyes from coming off my deer hair bass bugs?
  • Why not use a small perfection loop instead of a tippet ring?
  • Why would you not fish a dropshot rig with nymphs all the time?
  • How can I explore other parts of a favorite trout stream?  What should I look for?
Direct download: high_alpine_lakes_2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49pm EDT

Northern pike are a fascinating and explosive fish to catch on a fly rod.  There is not much that beats a big northern smashing a streamer close to the surface or eating a popper.  Josh Nugent [47:05] is a very experienced pike angler and has a host of tips on tackle, leaders, flies, retrieves, and how to find pike all year long.  This episode should really be called Everything You Need to Know about Fly Fishing for Pike, but Josh loves those Seven Deadly titles so I'm going with it.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions, both basic and more advanced, including:
  • What rod and reel do I need for chasing king salmon in Great Lakes rivers?
  • Are posts on parachute flies for us or for the fish?  Do they imitate wings on a mayfly or are they just a strike indicator for us?
  • How do I keep my line from tangling in a canoe?
  • I have trouble seeing small ants and beetles on the water.  What can I do to help see them better?
  • A listener offers another reason why we love trout fishing so much.
  • What is the best strategy for fishing in the rain?
  • What do you do when dry-dropper fishing in small streams with varying depth?  Do you constantly adjust the length of your dropper?
  • Why do I see only one brook trout in a series of pools in tiny streams?  And do brook trout populations fluctuate from year to year?
  • What detrimental effect would ammonia have on breathable waders?  If it is not recommended, what should I use to wash my waders?
  • Is there a store-bought solution for leaders longer than 12 feet long?  And do you have any tips on getting them to straighten?
  • Why are tarpon guides so obsessed with tying their own leaders?
  • How much does time of day matter when trout fishing?
Direct download: Seven_Sins_of_Pike_Fishing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:12pm EDT

You may have some amazing fly fishing right in your neighborhood even if you live in a big city.  Urban fly fishing may not be pristine, but it has its own charms and moments of excitement, and you don't need to drive for hours to get to it.  James Spica [46:05], fishing manager of Orvis Royal Oak, gives us good tips on finding this kind of fishing in your area, what species you might encounter, and some tips for making the most of your experience.
In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions as usual, including:
  • Are there any fly-tying materials made from plant fibers?
  • Are trout equally susceptible to stress in low water temperatures as they are in high water temperatures?
  • What is the best way to dye bucktails?
  • What feathers should I keep for tying from ducks I harvest?
  • What is the difference between the Blackout 8-weight rod and the Helios 3 8-weight rods?
  • What's a good rod for small stream brook trout fishing?
  • Do you need to open your casting loops with leaders over 13 feet long?
  • In a Pile Cast, will the line and leader butt hit the water before the tippet and fly?
  • Is it OK to put my rod and reel in the water when landing a fish?
  • What can we do about the flood damage in Vermont?  What will the fishing be like in the near future?
  • What is the most effective way to interact with the people in a fly shop when looking for information?
  • Why can't I get white Woolly Buggers to work in my river?  I hear people have good luck with them.
  • What's a good rod for smallmouth and smaller stream steelhead fishing?
  • Does underlining a rod help for longer casts?
  • What is a short heavy rod, like the old 7'11" Recon rod for 8-weight, used for?
Direct download: urban_fly_fishing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:04pm EDT

My guest this week is Matt Miles [55:11], 2023 Orvis Guide of the Year.  Matt has extensive experience guiding for trout in the Rocky Mountains, but has returned to his home state of Virginia to concentrate on warmwater species, especially smallmouth bass.  Matt offers 10 great tips for fishing for summer smallmouth in rivers based on his extensive experience.
In the Fly Box this week we have some interesting questions and also some great tips from listeners, including:
  • I got advice on the right fly patterns from local guides on my river but I am still struggling.  What else would you suggest?
  • What flies do you suggest for targeting freshwater stripers in rivers?
  • I can only afford one guide trip.  Should I pick an easier river with stocked (but large) trout or should I go to the more technical river with wild but tougher trout?
  • Why do you recommend cutting the back hook off an articulated streamer and not the front hook?  Don't fish attack baitfish at the head?
  • I would like a longer fiberglass 3-weight rod for small streams.  Why don't you make them in 9- or 10-foot models?
  • I am terrible at spotting fish.  Do you have any tips?
  • Six great tips from a listener for novice to intermediate anglers on trout water
  • I have trouble tying Perfection Loops in material smaller than 3X.  What do you suggest?
  • Some great advice from a listener on how to get a friend or spouse more interested in fly fishing.
  • I am having trouble Euro nymphing.  I only catch a fish or two in a 3-hour trip.  I know I am getting deep enough and I have the right fly patterns.  Do you have any tips?
  • Do you have a systematic approach when working a piece of water?
  • Why don't my flies work as well as live eggs when fishing in murky water for pink salmon?
  • Anything I can do to land more fish that get downstream of me?
  • The fly shop said to fish big Stimulators but I couldn't hook any fish that rose to them.  Then I went to a smaller Elk Hair Caddis and was able to hook them.  Why?
  • If I am not catching any fish could it be there are no fish there?  Or fish are there but not feeding?  Or are they feeding on something else and I am not using the right fly?  And how long should I stay in one spot if I am not hooking any?
Direct download: ten_tips_for_smallmouth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32pm EDT

My guest this week is Jeremie Prine [47:39], owner and head guide of Dunoir Fly Fishing Adventures of Dubois, Wyoming.  He specializes in fishing small wilderness creeks (as well as larger rivers) in Wyoming and is one of the best small-stream anglers I have ever met.  Jeremie shares his tips on finding these streams, how to fish them, and of course what flies he likes for bluelining.  He also gives some great tips on exploring in grizzly bear country, and you should pay attention to his tips, because in a lifetime of chasing fish in the back country he has never had to use bear spray (but he still carries it every time he goes out).

In the Fly Box this week, we have some excellent tips form listeners, as well as many questions on fly fishing conundrums, including:
  • All the size 16 dry flies I had bent open in large trout.  I bought cheap flies online.  Is this common, or did I make a mistake?
  • I saw bass jumping for dragonflies and chasing baitfish but when I tried to match these, I had no luck on the bass.  Any suggestions?
  • I have trouble shooting line.  It either lands too hard or piles up on the water.  What am I doing wrong?
  • Can I use a 2-weight or even a 1-weight rod on small streams if I am using smaller flies?
  • Should I expect rainbow and brown trout in the UK to behave the same way and eat the same flies in the UK as in the US?
  • A great suggestion from a listener that when fishing in the Big Hole Valley, it's as important to clean, inspect, and dry our wading gear as it is to take care in releasing fish.
  • I am having trouble making long downstream mends in the rain because the line sticks to my rod.  What can I do?
  • A great tip from a listener on how to dye white rubber net bags to a darker color for better photos.
  • Is there any reason not to tie giant hopper patterns for bass?
  • Some great tips and new insights from a listener on how to land more big trout.
  • If I see certain nymphs when turning over rocks in a river, how far can I deviate from them when choosing my nymph patterns?
  • What can I do when faced with high, turbid water and bright, sunny skies?
  • Should we take the same care in releasing bass as we do with trout?
  • What is the best thing to do when I hook a trout deep in its throat and can't get the hook out easily?
Direct download: bluelining_the_rockies_2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

This week my guest is guide and lodge owner Wade Fellin [45:48] of Big Hole River Lodge. Wade is on the vanguard of trout health in Montana, particularly in the Big Hole Valley, and they have been seeing trout die at the time of year when water temperatures and flows are optimum, which is concerning. Wade shares with us how they are obtaining samples of trout to send to a lab, and some possible reasons for this problem, and what might be done to address the issue. He also makes it clear that trout fishing in Montana is still awesome and that people should not cancel a trip or not plan a trip. Fishing is still great but we need to perhaps take even more care in releasing fish—and in deciding how many fish to catch in any given day. 

In the Fly Box this week, there are some great questions, tips, and comments from listeners, including:

A listener shares with us how he analyzed a problem with his casting and solved the problem.

 Are we over-using UV cure resins in our fly tying?

I can't afford new waders and have leaks in my old ones. Should I try to buy a pair of used waders?

When fishing dry flies in lakes, should I twitch the fly or just let it sit?

When aren't all nymph patterns tied on jig hooks?

Why am I missing so many small trout in a local stream?

With the severe flooding in Vermont, how will that affect my fishing when the water drops?

A listener wants to give a shout-out to two generous anglers who gifted him and his wife with a box of flies while they were on their honeymoon on the Henry's Fork.

Good tips on the benefits of a long-handled net

Why am I missing hook sets on my fiberglass rod?

How can I involve my family more in my fly fishing?

Do you have any tips for coiling line so that it does not tangle when I shoot line?

I am moving from DC to Dallas and I know there is no trout fishing around. Are there any fly-fishing opportunities near Dallas?

Direct download: montana_trout_mystery2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EDT

I think most stream anglers are interested in foraging, since we're immersed in nature all day long and although we watch for fish and insects and birds, many of us don't pay attention to the plants. And there are many delicious plants along trout streams you can take home for dinner—most of which will be more nutritionally dense than what you buy in the store—and free. If you have done any foraging at all, you have probably read some of more of Sam Thayer's [40:38] books. In our household his books are the primary source. I was lucky enough to spend some time talking to Sam about why foraging along streams is especially good, and what we can expect to find there. 

In the Fly Box this week, we have no phone calls but some great questions via e-mail, including:

Why do trout in small streams take flies more readily when the water is high?

Where do you recommend I go trout fishing in the East in July when I visit this summer?

A great story about a listener getting generous advice from a famous angler along a trout river.

A tip for keeping rod sections together using clothespins.

What is the best streamer reel, line, and leader for a 7-weight rod?

What do you do when there is a very heavy hatch and almost too many natural insects?

I am having trouble hooking fish using the hand-over-hand retrieve when striper fishing. What can I do to increase my hooking rate?

What are three things a novice dry-fly angler should pay attention to?

Do you ever tie up dry/dropper rigs at home prior to going fishing?

Will my 8-weight be enough rod for fishing for striped bass from a boat?

What are some tips on picking flies for striped bass fishing at night?

Direct download: foraging_2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:33am EDT

Scott Sadil [41:39], author and Fly Fishing Editor of Gray’s Sporting Journal, is a pioneer in fishing the surf in Baja, and in his many years of experience he’s learned a ton of valuable tips. Even if you never plan on fishing Baja, you’ll find his advice helpful for finding fish along a wide beach, choosing which flies and tackle to use, and learning new techniques for moving the fly.  

In the Fly Box this week, we have some fascinating questions from listeners, including:

I am having trouble casting a size 6 fly with lead eyes on my 5 weight. What can I do to correct this?

I am struggling with my distance casting. Any tips for helping with this, and for fishing large tailwaters?

When I hook panfish and bass along a shoreline, they always head for shore yet carp always swim to deep water. Why?

My Royal Wulffs don't float properly when I drop them in a glass of water. What can I do to help?

What kind of flies and colors do you suggest for fishing the surf in Costa Rica?

How should I dispose of old waders that leak?

Is there one rod I can use for surf fishing, largemouth bass, and streamers for trout?

If you float a river in a canoe of kayak by yourself, how do you get back upstream at the end of the day?

 Should I use a 7-weight or 8-weight rod for throwing big streamers for trout?

How should I fish freshwater rivers that are tidal for bass and pike? And how do I get wire onto the end of my leader for the pike?

Why do people use a Bimini Twist? I would think it just pushes the weak spot in a leader further back.

 Is bug spray harmful to fish?

If I am hiking into high alpine lakes, should I hike in my wading shoes?

Direct download: fly_fishing_baja.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

Warning—this week's podcast with biologist Michael Miller [36:28] is not exactly uplifting, in fact it's downright depressing. I feel that neonic pesticides are the main reason we have seen dramatic declines of insects on our trout streams and may be even more of a threat to invertebrate populations than climate change. But it is a problem we can remedy more easily than climate change because it's mostly a problem in the United States (Canada and the EU have either banned or greatly restricted their use). I hope this podcast makes all of you take action and raise your voices to get the EPA to ban these dangerous chemicals.

On a happier note, we have some wonderful questions in the Fly Box this week, including:

It's great to hear that Tom gets skunked as often as the rest of us.

Why did I see mayflies when I was a mile from the nearest stream?

Do bright fly lines spook fish?

Why were fish slashing at my streamer without me hooking them?

I am having problems casting a 15-foot leader

Where should I take my sons fishing in the Bozeman/Livingston area if I can't afford a guide?

 If I hook a fish deep in its throat, should I try to get the fly out or cut the tippet?

Can I get closer to fish in a riffle?

What are Tom's top 5 trout flies?

I am losing a lot of fish on my 10-foot 3-weight rod. What should I do differently? Where do big trout tend to live in a river?

 If I am catching just small fish will there be any big fish around?

I can't get my floating line to float well, even after cleaning it. What can I do?

Direct download: neonic_pesticides.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40pm EDT

OK, I lied. There aren't 15 tips. There are probably more and if you want to count them up you can e-mail me and correct my mistake. But I get a lot of questions about fishing emergers, and I thought a podcast on how to identify when fish are taking emergers and how to fish them would be welcome. Not only that, world-famous and beloved fishing guide and author Pat Dorsey [36:05] gives us his favorite fly patterns for fishing emergers including a couple secret ones.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some thoughtful questions and a few tips from listeners, including:

A great tip on casting with your non-dominant hand

Will wildfire smoke affect trout populations?

If I hear there are native brook trout in a stream, how do I find out where they are?

 A nice tip on untangling snarls of fly line.

Bigger brook trout started taking my nymphs on the swing instead of dead-drifted.

How should I take advantage of this next time?

How much of an incline in a small mountain stream can trout survive?

A listener was disappointed in my podcast with John Gierach because we did not discuss how anglers can have a positive impact on climate change.

Two listeners want to know what type of floating line to put on their Euro rods when they switch to dry flies.

Why are some articulated streamers tied with the hook down and why are some tied with the hook up?

I have a busy life. Am I missing opportunities by not tying my own flies?

Brown trout are invasive in my cutthroat stream. Should I take them home to eat them, or just kill them and throw them up on the bank?

 Is it ethical to back and fish a place on my own if a guide showed me the spot?

I have heard if you cut the welded loop off a fly line you can't use it any more because it will absorb water. Is this true?

Direct download: 15_tips_on_emergers_2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45am EDT

This week my guest is Joshua Caldwell [32:30], director of the new movie (premiering in theaters today) "Mending the Line", about a combat veteran with PTSD who works his way back into society with the help of a fly fishing curmudgeon. The movie stars Sinqua Walls, Perry Mattfeld, and Brian Cox as the old curmudgeon (of course). It's a story that could easily fall into cliche but I found it to be heartwarming and compelling, and the casting is excellent. Joshua talks about the trials and tribulations of making the movie in a short time frame, challenged by tough weather. It's a fascinating peak behind the curtains of an independent film.

In the Fly Box this week we have the following questions and helpful tips:

What is your opinion of an approved IGFA leader for tarpon as opposed to using straight 60- or 80-pound leader?

I am having trouble with the partridge hackle on size 20 soft hackle wets. Can you help?

How much time should I spend in each little pocket when bluelining?

I have a Recon Saltwater 7 and I want to get a 7-weight freshwater version. How much difference is there between the two?

Will a black bottom on my boat spook fish in shallow water?

A great letter from a fly fisher in Switzerland detailing how to negotiate the tricky fishing regulations in his country

Can I use a tippet ring with different tippet sizes, even ones that are quite different in diameter?

Do stocked trout move as much as a mile, or do they stay close to where they are stocked?

Direct download: mending_the_line.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am EDT

The better your casting, the more and fun you'll have and the more relaxed you'll be on the water. Pete Kutzer [46:13] is one of the finest casting instructors in the world, and not only that he's one of the finest anglers you meet, which means he teaches casting as a means to have more enjoyable fishing so he's pragmatic and flexible. He practices casting himself almost every day, and he gives us hints on how to practice at home no matter what kind of fishing you end up doing. You'll be glad you did—and so will your guide if you hire one.

I n the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting questions and helpful tips from listeners, including:

I need a rod for bass fishing as well as throwing streamers for trout. I only have light trout rods. Which rod should I choose?

What is a competition hook and how does it differ from a regular hook?

A good tip on how to make matte beads from shiny gold ones without painting or markers

I know you should not go more than .002" difference when knotting on a tippet. Can I get away from bigger differences in heavy butt material?

I have been fly fishing for 35 years and am looking for a more advanced course. Where should I go?

Do you know anything about fishing in Switzerland?

How can I target carp in dirty water?

I am going Atlantic salmon fishing in Norway. Can I use a single-handed rod even though most people use two-handers?

A tip from a listener on always mashing down the barbs of hooks when fishing with kids.

My line gets twisted when I fish with a dry/dropper arrangement. Is there any way to lessen this?

My tungsten beads crack when I hit my back cast on rocks behind me. Are there beads that are more durable than tungsten?

How can I fish the tails of pools in small streams without getting drag?

I can't get redfish running a surf line to eat my flies. Any suggestions?

Direct download: how_to_practice_casting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43am EDT

Jacks are an under-rated gamefish and under-utilized resource. They take a fly aggressively, fight harder than most other saltwater gamefish, and are common in most warmer saltwater ecosystems. Yet most anglers, and most guides, pass them up on the way to chasing the glamor species like bonefish, permit, or tarpon. They're missing a lot of fun. RA Beattie [34:28] is a talented film maker who regularly has films in the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) (International Fly Fishing Film Festival® - IF4™ ( and his spectacular film, produced by RA and Jako Lucas, called "Jacks", is currently on tour with the festival. He talks about making fly-fishing films, and also his love of fishing for jacks.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some fun questions and helpful tips from listeners, including:

Where can I learn Spey casting in preparation for a trip I'm taking?

I saw some large brown trout chasing shiners in the shallows. What fly pattern and tactics should I use?

I keep missing strikes on a balanced leech under an indicator. What am I doing wrong?

Great suggestions from a listener on how to train a dog to be a good streamside companion.

Why am I having problems with short casts on my 9-foot 5-weight rod?

Driving in Alberta, I see a lot of nice-looking rivers along the road. How can I tell if they have fish in them?

What other patterns should I try those cool wing cases made from saddle hackles I see on the Tom Rosenbauer's Deep Caddis Pupa?

A great tip from a listener on a special material for organizing your fly-tying bench. Where can I find flies with black beads?

A tip from a listener on how to keep cool while fishing during the summer in the deep South.

Why do I catch big wild rainbows in one pool and only smaller ones in the next pool downstream?

Any suggestions for setting the hook on brook trout in a very tight stream

Direct download: jacks_2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46am EDT

Our climate is changing, and regardless of whether you think it's human caused or natural it is changing. If you don't believe that you need to get outside more. John Gierach [58:00], thoughtful guy that he is, wanted to talk about this subject and how he deals with changes that have happened in his lifetime, and what we can all do to deal with climate change and still enjoy fly fishing, because as he says "we still gotta live" and to some of us fly fishing is life. I

n the Fly Box this week we have lots of questions, many of them quite basic but still fun to answer because you can always give them a new twist.

What is the best rig to catch trout with worms? (I hope he meant worm flies and not real worms)

What can I do to keep my Depth Charge line from tangling?

I am moving to Texas and want one rod for inland bass and one for inshore saltwater. Is there one outfit that can do this?

Am I better off buying one high-end rod or several lower priced rods if I fish in a variety of trout situations?

Can you overline bamboo and fiberglass fly rods?

I have a dog that likes to chase rocks and sticks.

Any tips on how to train a dog to be a good fishing companion?

 Is there any way to tell a trout rise from a chub rise?

I am confused by fly line numbers and hook numbers. Can you explain them?

What do fish deep in a lake take my Pat's Rubber Legs fished quickly? What do the fish think it is?

 How do you fish your Rabbit's Foot Emerger patterns?

What do I do with my rod when tying on a new fly or landing a fish?

Is there a better knot than a clinch knot for tying on size 18 to 22 flies?

My welded loop has cuts in it. What can I do to fix that?

What kind of dry/dropper arrangement do you use when there is nothing visibly hatching?

A good tip from a listener on walking the banks of your favorite rivers in low water to get a sense for the bottom structure.

Can you tell the difference between a male and female trout by looking at the anal fin?

Direct download: fishing_through_climate_change.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:19am EDT

A few weeks ago we did a podcast on eastern caddis hatches and I promised to get an expert on western hatches. ME Sorci [43:40] is a student of entomology, a guide, fly fisher, and manager of Orvis Jackson Hole. You can tell by her enthusiasm in the podcast that she thinks caddisflies are fascinating, and she gives us some great tips on when, where, and how to fish these prolific hatches. I learned a lot on this podcast and you will, too.

In the Fly Box this week we have some interesting and unusual questions as well as tips from listeners, including:

How do I fish short, fast, deep plunge pools with streamers and what line should I use?

What tips do you have for fighting a big fish when it runs downstream?

Should I fish a 12-foot leader when bluelining? Can an old cork handle on an Orvis bamboo fly rod be repaired?

What line should I put on my 10-foot, 3-weight rod for fishing dry flies?

Why don't we use other feathers from peacocks besides the eyed tails?

Where can I find something that shows me pictures of saltwater prey so I can imitate them?

Should I change tactics when fishing at sunrise and sunset?

So I don't transfer invasive species how can I tell good algae from bad algae?

 Is it possible to put too much hackle on a dry fly?

 Why do we use dubbed bodies on dry flies?

Why causes a dry fly to not sit properly on the water?

 I put small glass beads on my dry flies so I don't crowd the head. Do you think this is a good idea?

 Where would Tom like to live (for fishing reasons) if he didn't live in Vermont?

Direct download: Western_caddis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40am EDT

Swinging wet flies, specifically soft hackle flies, is an often misunderstood method of fishing and many people try it but give up when it doesn't seem to work. But it's an elegant, relaxing, and fun way to cover a lot of water and probably the oldest way to fish for trout. There are some tips to rigging and fishing soft hackles, and wet fly expert Steve Culton [42:39] shares some great tips with us this week.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting questions and great tips from listeners, including:

With the high water in Utah this spring, should I try to fish rivers or stick to lakes? And what flies should I use?

 For float fishing smaller streams for bass, should I get a small raft or a kayak? Would it be better to use a double taper or weight forward line for small streams?

Are fly rod actions and recommended line sizes consistent across manufacturers?

Two great tips from listeners for getting the fly line out of your guides when you start fishing. At what point should I give up repairing my waders?

How should I fish a river that alternates between rocky rivers and slow, mucky pools?

Should I change techniques when going from one type of water to another?

When should I switch from a nymph to a dry in early season?

How can I prevent fish taking streamers form getting foul hooked?

Should I fish a pool with a nymph or streamer first?

Why did I see few fishing rising in an afternoon hatch and many more fish rising in the evening?

 Where should I go to catch bonefish, tarpon, and roosterfish from shore without a guide?

I want to start guiding for striped bass. Where should I start?

Direct download: wet_flies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:18am EDT

No, I am not talking about buying a trout stream and locking it up in a private club. I am talking about buying a piece of a trout stream, fixing (basically rewilding) the habitat, and then ensuring public access on the water for perpetuity. That's what the good folks at Western Rivers Conservancy do, and in this week's podcast I talk to Josh Kling [45:30], their conservation director, about projects they have on the Yakima and Big Hole rivers—two rivers treasured by fly fishers and in need of help.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and tips from listeners, including:

I fished a 5-weight line on my 10-foot 3-weight rod and liked it. Is there anything wrong with this?

I foul-hooked a couple fish when using a dry dropper. Is there a way to avoid this?

A good tip from a listener on getting the line to leader connection out of your rod tip by using the current.

 If I use a kayak for accessing wade fishing, should I park at the head of a pool and fish downstream or should I park at the tail and fish upstream?

 How should I fish deep, slow-moving pools with a mud bottom?

Where in the US should I go on a fishing trip with my father?

Why are fly rod grips from different manufacturers so different?

 I impacted my rod with a heavy bead-head fly. How should I inspect it to look for damage?

 A great tip for attaching the leader to a fly line when using a mono rig. When did fly fishers first use backing on fly reels?

Can I throw big flies, as large as a 5/0, on my 8-weight rod? 

What flies should I use for spawning carp?

How do I tell if a bass is on a bed and spawning as opposed to chasing bait?

Why did fish strike my Prince nymph when I stripped it and not on a dead drift?

Are rods getting stiffer and fly lines getting heavier?

Direct download: how_to_buy_a_trout_stream_fixed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:54pm EDT

There's some real positive news in the world of trout these days, from the mitigation of acid mine drainage in wild trout streams to replacement of perched culverts to an unprecedented funding opportunity for habitat projects. Chris Wood [38:36], president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, takes us through some ongoing and upcoming projects that have him excited and optimistic.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some very helpful tips and interesting questions from listeners, including:

I want to sell some of my flies. Should I start an online store or go through a local fly shop?

Why don't light-colored flies like the Light Cahill work in my streams? I

s there a database of older Orvis rods?

Brown trout from a larger river spawn in a tributary that holds a good population of native brook trout. Should I feel bad about fishing for those spawning brown trout?

For a small stream fly rod, I am looking at a 10-foot 3-weight and a 7 ½ foot 3-weight. Which should I choose?

How do you keep the body thin when tying a Comparadun or Sparkle Dun?

 I fish small streams with tricky current. When it gets windy, should I fish a longer or shorter leader?

The trout got active when the wind blew some seeds into the water. Is that typical?

A great tip from a listener on using a balanced leech and an indicator in plunge pools.

My friend just fishes Clouser Minnows and outfishes me when I use my fancier Game Changers and Dahlberg Divers. Am I wrong to be wasting my time on these more complicated patterns?

 What is the best way to get the leader knot out of the guides before you start fishing?

What recommendations do you have for fly fishing for crappie?

A terrific tip from a listener on a different way to rig a dry dropper.

How do I feel about yarn flies for gar and egg flies for carp?

I want to replace my fluorocarbon with nylon. Will I notice the difference?

Direct download: good_work_of_trout_unlimited.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am EDT

Hey folks! This is Jamie, I produce The Orvis Fly-Fishing Podcast with Tom Rosenbauer. Today is the 15th anniversary if the show and to celebrate we are running the first episode that was published on April 17, 2008. It's short! Only 5 minutes or so.

We weren't sure if anyone would listen. Twenty-one million downloads later, we know you are listening, and more importantly, contributing to the show.

Thank you for all you have done to make this a real joy to be a part of, and thank you to Tom Rosenbauer for letting me be a part of it.

Let's do another 15!

Direct download: 15th_Anniversary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:37pm EDT

Champions of clean water and an intact ecosystem have a lot to celebrate with our recent victory in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. But this ruling only protects a relatively small part of Bristol Bay, which is a huge body of water. Nelli Williams [33:34] from Trout Unlimited Alaska, a veteran of this battle, gives us her perspective on what has been protected, what remains to be protected, and what we should all be vigilant about in this magnificent watershed. It's a feel-good story but a reminder that we need to keep our eyes and ears open in the future.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting questions—and some phone calls that seemed to have come out of the woodwork!

How do I narrow my efforts in fly tying so I don't end up with 10 fly boxes?

A great tip from a listener on another way to separate stuck rod sections

What do people mean by a "technical" trout stream?

A bunch of great tips for fly fishing from a canoe from two different listeners

A tip from a listener on using deer hair instead of elk when tying small Elk Wing Caddis dry flies

What kind of fly-fishing questions are reasonable to ask from an AI chat? And is this ethical?

A great tip for fly tiers for keeping the hook eye open when finishing the head of a fly Where do I put the studs in my new Orvis Hybrid Wading Shoes?

Direct download: future_of_bristol_bay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11am EDT

This week begins a month of habitat/conservation podcasts as a celebration of Earth Month. We start the series off with Steve Davis [43:25], Chief Science Officer for the Everglades Foundation, and instead of talking about the boring aspects of Everglades Restoration like funding and politics we're delving deep into the science of how the water will be stored and cleaned, which plants aid in the cleanup, and how this process will aid in more fresh water to Florida Bay and the Everglades, and less polluted fresh water to estuaries on both coasts of Florida. We'll also talk about immediate benefits, but also how it will take seven years to completely fill the reservoir. And yes, we will talk about fly fishing topics this month in the Fly Box.

This week we have some great tips and questions, including:

I have a 5-weight, 6-weight, and 10-weight rod for fishing in the Mississippi. I may be catching fish up to 20 pounds. Do you think an 8-weight will handle them?

Three great tips from a listener on fishing from a canoe.

Is there a database where I can plug in the fly-tying materials I have and have it tell me what fly patterns I can tie?

What flies can I use India hen backs on?

I have trouble with my back cast hitting the water when I wade waist deep. How can I correct this problem?

 I have been stumped by fish rising once and then not rising again for a long time. What are these fish doing and how can I target them?

 What are your thoughts on intermediate lines for tarpon? Should I get tarpon flies in bigger hooks like 3/0 to 5/0?

Will a bit of bucktail under my pine squirrel streamers help to keep them from fouling?

 A listener asked a bunch of specific fishing questions to a chat bot for a trip he was going to take to Grand Lake Stream in Maine and asked me to critique the answers he received.

How should I kill and keep the occasional stocked fish I want to eat?

If you see a nymph in the water that you want to imitate, how would you go about creating a pattern to match it?

Are hooks trending to shorter shanks and wider gaps? Is this a good thing?

Direct download: update_on_the_everglades_2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11am EDT

I did a podcast a few weeks ago that was billed as a canoe and kayak podcast but my guest and I spent a lot of time on Kayaks and not much on canoes. Some of you took me to task and asked for more information on fly fishing from canoes, so I asked retired president and CEO of Orvis, Perk Perkins [49:06], to share his tips with us. Perk fishes from a canoe more than anyone else I know, and has been using these craft all his life. He gives us some great tips on making fly fishing from a canoe more fun and productive. 

In the fly box this week, we have some fascinating questions from listeners, including:

Should l I use a double taper or weight forward line on my small stream rod?

If you fish barbless dry flies with a dry/dropper rig, won't the knot slip off the hook?

What can I do to lessen my shoulder involvement in casting?

I have severe arthritis in my right shoulder. Should I learn to cast left-handed?

Do tippet rings make tying on a dropper less fussy? Won't the fish see a tippet ring?

What is your opinion on attractor patterns?

What do you think of UV resins and tying materials?

If I want to fish a leader with a light butt section, what diameter should the permanent loop be on my fly line? The permanent loop on my fly line got damaged.

My fly line says "cold to moderate temperatures". Can I also use this line for fishing for bass during the summer? 

Do flies need to be perfect and symmetrical? I

s road kill of any use in fly tying?

We were catching hickory shad on spoons we made using Krystal Flash and UV resin. People told us we weren't fly fishing.

What's your take on flies that aren't really "flies"?

How are fly rods most often broken?

What rod do I need to make my mono rig work better?

I see many color variations in pre-made dubbing blends, for instance one March Brown dubbing is brown and another one is light tan. Do insects vary in color? Does color even make a difference?

Direct download: Great_tips_on_canoe_fishing_with_Perk_Perkins.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33am EDT

This week, my guest is Dom Swentosky of the Troutbitten blog [33:16], podcast, and guide service. If you have not seen his stuff it's definitely one of the most informative and thoughtful fly-fishing blogs out there. Dom devotes a lot of his blog to the mono rig, which is sorta like Euro-nymphing in that it uses a long leader and no fly line, but it's more of a method for everyday anglers than pure Euro nymphing, which is based on competitive rules that prohibit things like split shot. Dom goes through why it is such an effective method, how he builds his leaders, and how he presents his flies this way. It's just one more thing to try if you're interested in new ways of using a fly rod. 

In the Fly Box this week, we have some helpful tips from listeners and an assortment of questions from rigging to watercraft to fly tying, including:

If I am using a drop-shot rig with a single nymph, can I just tie the weight on a long tag from the clinch knot I use to tie on my fly?

What is your opinion of traditional Catskill-style dry flies?

Could spawning affect a trout's diet?

In your canoe and kayak podcast, you didn't say enough about canoes. If I want to use my canoe for fly fishing, what considerations should I have? And should I put a trolling motor on my canoe?

 I have a stream nearby that has nice gravel, cold water, deep pools, and nice riffles. I have not caught any trout there. How can I find out if trout even live there?

A great tip from a listener for finding tiny leaks in waders

Do trout use shelf ice as cover?

A listener suggests the float tube as a great option in the inflatable category, which I did not mention in my recent podcast on inflatables.

A great tip from a listener on how to cover up items in a boat that could snag your fly line.

When do you switch from a floating to a sinking line in streams?

A great tip from a listener on using forceps to hold tiny flies when tying them on.

I am looking at monofilament thread. What is the difference between 6/0 and G size, and where did the G designation come from? And is there any application in tying freshwater flies with monofilament thread?

Direct download: All_about_the_mono_rig_with_Dom_Swentosky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:01pm EDT

This week, we delve into the confusing world of inflatable watercraft. There are so many styles to choose from, including SUPs, kayaks, and rafts. Which are best for fly fishing? What are some tips on how to fish from one? How do you handle anchoring and paddling while being ready to make a cast? Regardless of which type you choose, they are lightweight and packable (except for the larger rafts) and they'll get you into places where drift boats and motorboats can't go. Mike Dolmage is a fly fishing fanatic and is in charge of marketing fishing craft for NRS so his knowledge will help you make an informed decision and give you some tips on fishing from your inflatable.

In the Fly Box this week, I try to answer some easy and difficult questions. Some of the questions include:

Would you recommend a Power Taper or Bank Shot fly line for fishing for largemouth bass form shore?

How can I catch striped bass on the Hudson River?

I have a 6- and an 8-weight rod and I want to streamer fish in Montana. Do I need a 7-weight?

How can I get permission to fish private land when bluelining?

I am catching big trout on nymphs and want to get a rod longer than 9 feet. Can I fish Euro-style and still land big trout on a 10-foot 3-weight, or should I look at a 10-foot 4-weight or 5-weight?

 How long do you think is too long to play a trout?

Can I use a sinking Polyleader with an intermediate line?

How do you fish attractor flies?

Do I just throw one out there or should I pay more attention to hatches?

 What line should I get for tarpon fishing with my 11-weight rod?

Do brown and rainbow trout have different feeding strategies?

Is there a sinking fly line I can use with both streamers and nymphs?

Direct download: inflatables.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13pm EDT

Learn how to decide between a canoe and a kayak, what kind to get, and how to maneuver and cast using these hard-sided watercraft (next week I'll be doing a podcast on inflatables). Ryan Lilly [47:30]  is a fly fisher and Old Town's expert on fishing from these craft, and has many great suggestions for how to make the most out of your canoe or kayak experience.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting questions that I'm sure will be of interest to many of you, as well as some thoughtful tips from other listeners, including:

What do bead-head nymphs imitate?

Aren't flies tied without beads more natural in the water?

Isn't it more natural to use a nymph without any added weight?

How do you fish wet flies?

Do you use a single one or more than one? And do you ever use weighted wet flies?

I recently saw a bunch of large carp in a pond in Florida. Why didn't I see any smaller ones?

I had trouble getting a good drift against the slow water on the far bank of a river. Every time I tried to mend my line the small dry fly sank. What else could I have done?

Can I fish two dry flies at once?

A suggestion from a listener on why upgrading from an entry level fly line is a wise investment.

Are there any performance differences between a 6-piece rod and a 4-piece rod?

How can I get an extra tip for my Orvis rod?

A great tip from a listener on how to make a device to hold scrap pieces of tippet using two pieces of Velcro.

I am going to a place where they have stocked golden rainbows. Do these fish behave any differently from normal rainbows?

Can I use a Poly Leader for tarpon?

Is there any difference between up-eye and down-eye hooks?

A tip from a listener on how to change thread colors with a permanent marker.

A tip from a listener on how to keep a partially used tube of Aquaseal stay fresh.

Why do people hold bass by the jaw? I have heard that this can dislocate their jaw.

I am taking my first guided trip. Should I do a float trip or a walk/wade trip?

Direct download: Fly-fishing_from_a_kayak.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Back in 2008 when I first began this podcast I had two dreams—that I would have my two literary heros, John McPhee and Thomas McGuane as guests (they are both passionate fly fishers). I was lucky enough to record a podcast with John in August of 2021 and this week's podcast is with Tom McGuane [44:36], author of 20 highly regarded novels, screenplays, collections of short stories, and what is in my opinion the finest book of fly-fishing essays ever written, The Longest Silence. Most people who interview Tom want to talk about his crazy days in Key West in the 1970s, , fishing for tarpon with Jim Harrison, Guy de la Valdene, Jimmy Buffet, and other notable characters. However, in the podcast we talk about what he is doing now—his fascination with small-stream trout fishing, why he would rather wade than fish from a boat, his opinion on guides who yell at their clients, and how to grow old gracefully and still continue to fish with a fly rod. It was a real honor to chat with him and I know you'll enjoy this very special podcast.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some wonderful and thought-provoking questions and tips form listeners, including:

What is that white rod that Pete Kutzer uses in your casting videos?

Is there a written history of Orvis?

What is the best reel lubricant, and how should I maintain my cork drag surface?

Can dumbbell eyes damage fly rods? If so, what should I do to keep flies tied with them from hitting my rod?

Do trout eat those little black and brown stoneflies that hatch during the winter and early spring?

 Can you explain when I would use weighted flies vs. split shot vs. poly leaders when fishing nymphs?

Can you compare the relative advantages of the 10 1/2-foot 3-weight and the 11-foot 3-weight Blackout rod?

I saw people catching fish on nymphs. I tried exactly the same patterns and didn't catch anything. Why?

I have a reel that takes a 9-weight line. Can I get an extra spool and put it on my 7-weight rod?

Why am I not catching anything when fishing nymphs in the winter?

Great tips from a world traveler on taking your vaccination records with you, and warnings about carrying gear when traveling to Mexico or New Zealand.

What environmental cues will tell you when specific flies are hatching?

Is it true that emerger patterns are more effective when they look messy?

How do you explain when trout take smaller insects and ignore bigger ones?

Direct download: A_life_in_fly_fishing_with_Tom_McGuane.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:47am EDT

This week, we go into great detail about the life cycle of caddisflies and the various species found in the eastern United States. Tom Ames [33:05], author of the book Caddisflies is my guest and although we go into great detail on the various types of caddisflies, don't let it overwhelm you, as imitating these insects is merely a matter of observing what stage of their life cycle is present and what the trout are eating. It's not something you can predict in advance—you need to arrive at the river and then figure out the puzzle by your powers of observation. But this podcast does get geeky so be prepared!

Our Fly Box questions this week are much more basic, a good counterbalance to our discussion of caddisflies. Questions and tips include:

I want to go beyond my typical attractor patterns and match some hatches. What basic flies do you recommend?

A great tip from a listener on fixing rough fingertips for fly tying

Tom's thoughts on the Murdich Minnow fly

What three lines should I get for fishing lakes?

Why don't more people wear PFDs?

What color of Clouser Minnows should I get for smallmouth bass?

Can I tie my second Euro nymph fly onto the bend of the other fly, or can I leave a tag end long on the knot to the first fly and use that?

Several rod selection questions

Can I double haul with my bamboo fly rod?

Is it a good idea to pinch the line against the cork to put added pressure on a running fish?

Tips from a listener on wearing felt boots on a trail and drying out wading boots.

What rod is best for practicing my casting skills?

Direct download: caddisflies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23am EDT

This week is my guest Seth Berger [1:00:18], Fly Fishing Travel Specialist with Orvis Adventures. In his job, Seth visits Orvis-endorsed operations around the world and always packs his fishing gear, so he's a great resource for advising us how to travel with rods, waders, and flies—how to pack them, what to carry on, and pitfalls you should avoid. Seth also talks about what to pack, and items that are often forgotten or ignored by traveling anglers. Anyone who gets on a plane, whether it's a short hop or an international flight, will benefit from his knowledge.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and comment that run the gamut of the fly-fishing experience, including:

A listener who recommends the mono rig method, which is different from the standard Euro nymphing setup. And tries to tell me 20lb. mono casts just as easily as fly line (I'm not buying it)

Why not put a tippet ring on the end of a poly leader? I've used straight monofilament for a leader for bass and bream.

Why do I need a tapered leader, and do I need tippet?

When you fish two dry flies, what should the distance between them be?

Do I need to learn entomology to pick flies?

Is there any difference between picking flies for small streams vs. bigger rivers?

What do you look for to help you choose a fly?

Can I fish steelhead with my 9-foot 5-weight rod?

Is it true that lighter lines cast better in the wind because they have less air resistance?

Have you ever fished with just a bead on a hook?

Some great suggestions from a listener on how to keep fly tying materials away from young children.

I am coming from Korea to the US. Will I have problems brining flies and fly tying materials into the country?

Have you ever tried wiggle nymphs?

Why do Euro nymphers stand in the water and make short upstream casts while people with conventional lines try to fish as far away as possible?

Why don't we see a lot of blue streamers?

How deep can I effectively fish with a fly rod?

How can I tie patterns with partridge feathers smaller than size 16?

Direct download: traveling_with_fly_fishing_gear.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:14am EDT

Capt. Pete Scafaru [32:53] is a new Orvis-endorsed guide in New Orleans (he's not new at guiding, just new to the Orvis program), and he shares his vast experience on what to expect at different times of the season, how to present the fly, and how to target redfish in shallow water. Regardless of where you fish for redfish, his tips will be valuable.

In the Fly Box, we have some questions and tips that I think will be of interest to all fly fishers, including:

What tips or tricks do you have for an older angler who has problems threading small flies?

A tip from a listener about how he attaches a dropper nymph to his tippet with a clinch knot so he can change either fly without re-tying both flies.

A tip from a listener on how to estimate measurements using parts of your arms and fingers.

Why does Orvis not sell a 7-weight Superfine Glass fly rod?

Do you ever use indicators when fishing nymphs on small mountain brook trout streams?

Can I fish soft hackles during the winter?

Why are people so nasty when I post fly-tying videos on social media? Do you get those kinds of comments in the podcast mailbox?

Does it matter where I put my wing case on Perdigon nymphs, and why are some Perdigons relatively fat? I thought "thin for the win" was the mantra for these flies.

Why would people throw streamers on Euro-nymphing rods?

I bought an old 7½-foot, 6-weight Madison bamboo fly rod. Will this be better with a 5- or 6-weight line, and will it be OK for general trout fishing?

Direct download: redfish_with_pete_scafaru.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07am EDT

This week, my guest is Joshua Simmons [44:00], who with his brother Caleb hosts the podcast "Dads on the Fly". (It's not just for dads, it's for moms and families as well, but they just both happen to be dads and brothers who wanted to give back to the world of fly fishing.) In their podcast they explore the ways families can get together through fly fishing, and have talked to many people across the country about this subject, so Joshua has a lot to share from his conversations and research. If you have always wanted to bring your family together in fly fishing, you'll pick up some great suggestions.

In the Fly Box this week, we have an eclectic mix of suggestions and questions, including:

Why do I have trouble mixing my dubbing in an old coffee grinder? It comes out like rope. I

 have trouble tying with a hackle cape with thick stems. What can I do?

I have trouble hooking steelhead. What am I doing wrong?

A comment from a listener on the growing movement that helps fish and game departments protect all aquatic species, not just gamefish and game animals.

How can I practice casting before my next bonefish trip?

What footwear do you recommend for wading the flats?

It seems like I can get closer to bonefish wading that from a boat. Is that usually the case?

I have a new baby coming. How can I childproof my tying area?

Phil Rowley says that eutrophic lakes offer the best trout fishing, but all the eutrophic lakes I fish in New Hampshire are too warm for trout. Why the disconnect?

Someone told me to switch from left-hand wind to right-hand wind when I go saltwater fishing (I am right-handed). Should I heed their advice?

Why don't more fly anglers wear a PFD?

If Tom had one final trip, where would he go?

A great tip from a listener on pre-rigging flies at home

I can't cast a Euro rig with my 905 rod. Should I invest in a specific Euro nymphing rod and what will it give me that my current rod does not?

Direct download: dads_on_the_fly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:38pm EDT

This week, since we have not had any hard-core fishing podcasts in awhile, I thought I would give you all some tips on winter fly fishing with Chip Swanson [40:09] of Breckenridge Outfitters in Colorado. Chip won the Orvis-Endorsed Freshwater Guide of the Year in 2019 for good reason. He's fun, patient, superbly knowledgeable, and a terrific teacher. He also does a lot of fishing and guiding throughout the winter, no matter what the weather. He has some great tips on staying warm, techniques to use, and what conditions are best for winter fly fishing.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some especially helpful tips from listeners as well as some questions that will be helpful to many fly fishers, including:

Is using a scented fly for sturgeon not fly fishing? And do you have any tips for catching these giants on a fly rod?

I am having trouble casting a double nymph rig plus split shot and an indicator. What casting advice do you have?

When is water too cold to try a dry dropper rig?

Some good advice from a listener on kneeling instead of sitting in a canoe for easier casting

A fly shop owner told me not to fish a local river because the flows were too low. Why is this bad in the winter when oxygen levels are higher?

How can I use online product reviews to inform my tackle purchases?

Which ones are the most reliable? What should I look for in a pedestal for my vise?

What are Tom's top 10 fly tying materials for fresh and salt water? What is Tom tying right now?

Great advice from a listener on kayak fishing and first aid kits for fishing trips

How long will it take my local river to recover after severe wildfires last year?

What can I use to hold those tippet scraps I want to dispose of?

Direct download: winter_tips_with_chip_swanson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:25am EDT

This week, my guest is Tom Kiernan [38:50], President and CEO of American Rivers, an organization Orvis supports and endorses highly for the world-class work they do to protect our rivers. I wanted to explore the ins and outs of the Clean Water Act, one of the most important pieces of legislation of the 20th century. I think it's important that anyone who enjoys time on the water understands just what it has done for us, and what it can do in the future.

In the Fly Box this week, as usual we have some thought-provoking questions, including:

What kind of personal watercraft do you recommend for lakes and slow-moving rivers?

Is the abdomen of a natural insect the only important thing to imitate?

What do you prefer when fishing, a rain jacket or a wading jacket?

If I can't use weighted flies because of regulations, how can I sink my nymph?

What's the difference between a nail knot and a loop-to-loop connection?

Is there a time when one is better than another?

How do I keep the bodies on my big foam flies from twisting around the hook?

What do you do with your rod when landing a fish?

What is a Bimini twist used for?

When do you know that a fish is too much for the rod you are using?

A great tip from a listener on how to teach kids to tie flies without using a sharp hook.

If there are people swimming in a small mountain brook, how far away will the fish be spooked?

Direct download: American_Rivers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am EDT

This week my guest is award-winning investigative journalist Robert O'Harrow [44:45], who has been with the Washington Post for over 30 years. Last fall he wrote an extensive article on the threats to mayfly populations worldwide and is continuing to research this issue, so I thought it would be interesting to share his findings. Bob is also a lifelong fly fisher who admits he didn't know a lot about the plight of mayflies in the past, so he gives us a great perspective.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and phone calls, including:

What is a good net for wade fishing when pursuing multiple species?

I recently caught a bunch of large trout in a river but no small ones. Where do the small ones go?

Can a "working fly box" apply to non-competition anglers as well?

What does Tim Flagler use to cut his thread on his videos?

I am a beginning fly fisher and the trout in the larger rivers in my area are difficult to catch. Should I first concentrate on small streams, ponds, or reservoirs?

What is the best way to give a fish line when it's running without giving it too much slack?

Is it a good idea to put UV resin over my nail knots?

How do you determine how deep the water is so you can set the indicator at 1 ½ times the water depth?

I keep getting crowded by other anglers on Colorado rivers. Should I try to educate them?

I lost a big fish by following it downstream.

My buddy says I should have stood my ground and not followed the fish. What do you think?

Do you think it's a bad idea to use beard trimmings in my dubbing to imitate hare's ear?

Direct download: Are_mayflies_in_trouble.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:31am EDT

This week, my guest is Orvis product developer Jesse Haller [43:48], who besides being responsible for products like nets, wading shoes, and fishing packs and vests spent many years as a fishing guide. Jesse discusses how to pick the right net, some cool tips and carrying a net, how to plan your netting before you get a fish close to you, how to get the fish in the net with a minimum of fuss—and some great tips on releasing the fish you've caught.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some fascinating questions and some helpful tips from listeners, including:

Do you think it's a good idea to blacken your tippet close to the fly with a sharpie?

What conditions decide whether you should fish a large or a small streamer for bass?

A listener has a conundrum about booking a guide who used to work for another outfitter.

Some great tips from a listener about safety when bluelining in the Smokies.

What advice do you have for fishing out of a canoe? I have trouble finding trout in larger rivers, coming from a small stream background. What should I do?

Where can I find trout in winter?

What should I do about families with kids throwing rocks in the water when I am fishing?

How can I fish small midge emergers just under the surface?

During a heavy hatch, is it better to look for an individual fish or prospect a likely seam or run?

A great tip on a device for letting people know where you are when fishing the back country.

If I am running multiple midge nymphs, should I use a light or heavy tippet?

What is the best beginner outfit for saltwater fly fishing?

Direct download: Landng_and_netting_fish_wifh_Jesse_Haller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50am EDT

Ian Rutter [43:06] is a long-time guide in the Smokies and one of our top field testers. He specializes in small mountain creeks (as well as their local tailwaters) and because I have had numerous requests for a podcast on "Blue-lining" I wanted to get him on to get the views from someone who does this in the heart of wild mountain brook trout country. For those of you who don't know the term, blue-lining refers to looking for new small trout water on a map and then exploring it to see what it holds. It's part hiking, part fioshing, and part discovery.

In the Fly Box this week, we have lots of tackle questions, some good tips from listeners, and some other technique related questions.

I was gifted a Helios 3 906F. What reel do you recommend for it?

I have a 7 ½ foot rod for panfish, a 4-weight for trout, and an 8-weight for steelhead and stripers. I want to fish streamers, redfish, and corbina. Should I get a 6-weight for that?

I have a Recon 10 foot 4-weight and a Blackout 11 foot 3-weight for Euro nymphing. What rod would you recommend for a standard trout rod for bigger rivers?

Can I catch smallmouth bass in stained water with trout techniques like big dries or a dry-dropper rig?

I have the opportunity to make my own bamboo rod. What length and line size do you recommend for small to medium0sized rivers? I listened to your podcast recommending a touch of parrafin on loose ferrules and thought I would do it later. On my next trip I broke my rod because of a loose ferrule and realized I should not have put it off. I see all these videos of people sight-fishing for trout but I almost never see them in the water myself. Should I practice spotting trout or is there something else I should do?

After reading the book Lords of the Fly by Monte Burke I decided I never want to fish for tarpon. And what do you think of guides who "discover" a spot and then claim it as their own and push other people out?

What is Tom's most memorable worst day of fishing?

What tips and tricks does Tom keep secret and not share with us?

Where does Orvis get its products. I know you make some of your rods but where does other tackle come from?

Direct download: Tips__for_Blue_Lining_with_Ian_Rutter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06am EDT

My guest this week, Sarah Baker [35:40] is a woman who has a job most of us would envy—she studies and manages the populations of wild, native brook trout in the mountains of northern Georgia. Learn more about these southernmost populations of brook trout, their life history, and where you can find them (no spot burning, just some general areas to investigate for yourself).

In the Fly Box this week, some great questions that range the spectrum of fly fishing, such as:

A listener is confused by recommendations for sinking lines for an Alaska trip

Can I tie flies smaller than size 18 with the regular jaws in my tying vise?  Do I need to purchase midge jaws?

Someone told me not to use water-based head cement on size 20 and smaller flies. Why?

If I know I have a reasonable fly and good drifts, does it make sense to spend more than a half-dozen casts in one spot?

I am a newbie and other than the typical questions about what fly to use, what other questions should I ask in a fly shop that will be helpful?

If I want to try Spey casting with my single-hand fly rod, what fly line would be best?

Can smaller Spey patterns be used for trout and bass on a single-handed rod?

I am taking my first saltwater trip to Turks and Caicos. I have an 8-weight freshwater outfit. Do I need to get a special saltwater rod and line?

Can I use a 450-grain Depth Charge line on my 10-weight rod? And besides fishing for striped bass, what other saltwater applications are there for this line?

I am having trouble with my Clinch Knots breaking in cold weather. What am I doing wrong?

Any advice for tying on a size 22 Zebra Midge in cold weather?

Direct download: Georgias_Native_Brook_Trout_with_Sarah_Baker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EDT

Can you really catch giant cutthroat trout in the desert? Are they truly a native species? And do they really fish with ladders? You'll find out in my interview with Orvis-endorsed guide Mike Anderson [45:23], who guides for the Reno Fly Shop.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some wonderful comments and thought-provoking questions, including:

I can keep the knots in my rubber legs on hopper patterns. How do you do it?

What common fly-tying materials can I get from animals I have harvested, what parts should I use, and how to you prepare and store them?

What is the advantage of going from 140 denier tying thread to 70 denier and when and why should I use it?

A listener explains why he welcomes new people to the sport.

I just got an intermediate line for fishing in lakes. Will it be useful in streams?

I have an old rod with a loose ferrule. Is there any way of fixing it?

Is my 9 ½ foot 6-weight rod too light to throw big articulated flies for bull trout?

I know trout lie in seams in a river. Will steelhead be in seams as well?

Can I use sewing thread for tying flies?

My double surgeon's knots keep breaking. What am I doing wrong?

Are there special fighting techniques when you hook a fish on a downstream drift?

Why do people tell me to fish at high tide, when I can walk out farther at low tide?

Can I swing a streamer in salt water?

Do changes in air temperature affect fish in the ocean as much as in fresh water?

What do I do to take my trout fishing to the next level?

What should I concentrate on?

Why are bamboo rods typically shorter than graphite, and how do I travel with a two-piece bamboo rod?

I am losing more fish with large flies than I do with small flies. What is the issue?

Direct download: Pyramid_lake_trout.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59am EDT

Bill Sisson [27:29] is the founding editor of Angler's Journal magazine and his recently published book, Seasons of the Striper, is an elegant pictorial love letter to striped bass fishing. Bill has seen many changes in the striped bass fishery over the years, and his family goes back for generations of striped bass anglers — both sport and commercial fishing. He tells some great stories of past striped bass escapades, which I know you'll enjoy listening to.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some solid questions and some informative information from listeners, including:

On a recent podcast a listener described a method of pre-tying nymphs on a dropper with a perfection loop, but I can't figure out how to attach them to my dry fly with a loop-loop connection. How do you accomplish this?

A listener gives us some great background on the history of public stream access in the United States.

A listener warns of of an alarming trend of beaver misinformation

Why do I keep losing trout on my barbless flies? Am I putting too much pressure on the fish?

What tips can you give me on fishing with my fiberglass rod in salt water?

I fish for bass in spring creeks.

Do you think they will be active in late fall and winter?

How do the gases in the exoskeleton of a midge pupa form?

Is there any hope of fishing a dry dropper in winter?

Do you have any tips for fishing small streams when there is ice in a creek?

Direct download: Seasons_of_the_Striper_with_Bill_Sisson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50pm EDT

I get a lot of questions about midges and their life cycle, so I thought I would invite a professional entomologist to give us an overview of these insects and how to imitate them. Rick Hafele [3816] has not only been an entomologist all his working life, he's also a superb angler and fly-fishing author and perhaps one of the best authorities on aquatic entomology we have. Learn about what color midges to imitate, which part of their life cycle is most important to trout, and how to effectively fish these imitations. In

The Fly Box this week, we have some thought-provoking questions and some terrific suggestions from listeners, including:

I have used both rubber and felt soles and I still have problems wading. I am in good shape and have good balance. What wading shoes do you suggest?

I witnessed a huge hatch of insects but only caught largemouth bass. Is there a depth and current speed where fishing a dry fly is futile?

What type of poly leader would you suggest for my 5-weight rod?

How long should my leader be when fishing a poly leader?

What CFS do you consider safe to wade in a river?

If I catch a wild brown or rainbow in a brook trout stream, should I relocate that fish below a waterfall?

What is the purpose of releasing large hatchery brood stock trout into wild trout streams? Do they have any effect on a wild trout population?

How would you fish a slow, tannic river with a mud and sand bottom?

How long do you stay in one section of a river?

Should I match the diameter of the butt section of my leader to the diameter of my fly line?

What should I do if I hook a large striped bass and it thrashes close to me but does not take line. Should I try to get the line on the reel?

Some great tips from a South Dakota angler on how to find superb fly fishing close to home.

Direct download: All_About_Midges_with_Rick_Hafele.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52pm EDT

My guest this week is Steve Carew [40:58] of Fulling Mill Flies. Steve is the guy who gets fly patterns from an original sample to those gorgeous flies you see in the fly bins of your local Orvis store or dealer. How do commercial flies get made? Who are these people who tie flies for a living? Do they actually fish? How good are they? And how do they produce such consistent, high-quality flies in large volumes without sacrificing quality?

In the Fly Box this week, we have some helpful tips from listeners as well as some interesting questions, including:

A great tip on how to protect the tip of a fly rod when carrying it inside a vehicle fully assembled.

How do I know what color midge to use? Are there seasons and times when different colors work better than others?

I saw a carp feeding but tried a dozen flies and none of them worked. How can I catch these fish?

I fish a lake with trout, bass, pike, walleye, and perch in it. How can I target each one of these fish?

I am going to fish a lake and want to know what two fly lines I should take.

Does the newer technology Orvis uses in its fly rods make older rods obsolete?

I am fishing an older fiberglass rod and lost a bunch of fish. Do you think the rod is the problem?

I fish an aqueduct with steep banks that prevent a back-cast. Do you have any suggestions on fly lines?

A tip from a listener on gluing an aquarium thermometer to his net.

Do you think the occasional flip of my fins when using a float tube will spook fish?

Do you have any tips for mending a dry dropper rig without moving the fly?

What is Tom's favorite fly to tie and favorite fly to fish?

I purchased an old bamboo rod. How do I find out what line size it takes?

I saw some brook trout actively working a redd. Does that mean I should quit fishing that stream entirely?

Direct download: Where_flies_come_from_with_steve_carew.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:58pm EDT

My guest this week is Alex Waller [41:36] from New Zealand. You've likely seen his great videos on or on You Tube, in his channel Trippin on Trout. Alex shares his techniques for fishing nymphs in late fall and winter with us, and his techniques are a bit different than what most of us use, so you make pick up some tips for your own trout fishing wherever you live. And because he often fishes for migratory rainbows coming out of giant Lake Taupo, his techniques will play well with Great Lakes "steelhead".

In the Fly Box this week, we have a host of interesting questions, including:

What is the most buoyant natural material for dry flies?

Does adding UV resin to dry flies affect their buoyancy?

What is the best way to carry and store tube flies?

Is there a universal rule for what size nymph you can use on a dry dropper?

How do I keep my hook gap clear of materials so I don't miss strikes?

What should I do when a big fish shakes its head when fighting?

If black is the most visible color for flies, why do some anglers prefer black hooks when fish are spooky?

If black is most visible in murky water, why do some people recommend bright flies under these conditions?

I am stuck in the rolling plains of the Midwest, four hours from a trout stream. Can I still go fly fishing?

A local river is highly pressured with very clear water, so everyone uses tiny midges.

Would a bigger fly work sometimes?

What is the best upgrade I can make to my Clearwater outfit, without spending hundreds of dollars?

Do you ever swing wet flies in small streams?

If so what leader do you use?

When do you use a strike indicator instead of a dry dropper?

And what kind do you use?

I have a floating line for striped bass fishing and have done well with it. What other line would you recommend?

What do you suggest if I want to try night fishing for striped bass?

Direct download: late_fall_and_winter_nymphing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34pm EDT

This week, my guest is Dave DiBenedetto, Editor-in-Chief of Garden & Gun Magazine, who is a lifelong fly fisher. If you read the magazine, you can see that they frequently publish fly-fishing stories, and also that they stress conservation. In their latest issue, they make public their Champions of Conservation Awards, which go to people who are making a difference at the grassroots level in all areas of conservation. Recipients range from Capt. Bennie Blanco in the Florida Everglades; to Savi Horne, who works to keep agriculture sustainable for Black farmers; to Dr. Jennifer Rehage, who has discovered shocking levels of pharmaceuticals in Florida's bonefish population—and seven other fascinating individuals who have made a difference. We also talk fishing, from marsh redfish to small-stream trout in the mountains of the South.

In the Fly Box this week, we have these questions and more:

What is your take on small river fishing from a kayak for smallmouth bass?

What is the best way to travel with a fully assembled fly rod inside an SUV or Jeep?

Can I fish a dry/dropper or indicator with my 10-foot, 3-weight Euro rod?

What is the minimal number of fly rods one can own for the most diverse situations and number of species?

And what rods should they be?

Is there any way to have a smooth connection from line to leader with the convenience of a loop-to-loop connection?

Do we need to be as careful when releasing bluegills and bass as we are with trout?

Is there anything wrong with adding colored marks to the end of my fly line and Euro-nymphing with a short leader?

Will trout that are eating tiny flies take a bigger dry at last light? Can I Euro nymph in small streams with a short rod?

What is the minimum and maximum amount of gear you would take for an afternoon of fishing?

The fish I get in my net quickly often struggle a lot. Should I play them longer?

Is there an app to analyze your casting?

Someone suggested using thinner-bodied Zebra Midges. Is that a good idea?

Direct download: gardengun.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:24pm EDT

I've long been fascinated by the way geology affects the character and richness of a trout stream, and I know other anglers are as well. My interview this week is with geology professor Dr. Nelson Ham [40:36], who has been studying the effects of both geology and historical land use practices on the character of our trout rivers. The discussion also goes into the value of ground water on how productive our rivers can be. I learned a lot in this interview and I know you will as well.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting an unusual questions and comments, including:

I have six Helios 3 rods and want to sell one. Which one should I sell?

Do you think the affect of COVID on swelling the ranks of fly fishers will go down?

I found an Orvis 1856 bamboo fly rod in the attic of my new house. Was it really built in 1856?

A listener encourages me to keep making fun of various kinds of fly-fishing methods.

In places I used to catch brook trout I am now only catching chubs. Do you think trout will re-inhabit these streams?

A listener reminds me that organizations like Project Healing Waters promote the therapeutic value of fly fishing in young veterans.

Do you think tube flies would be effective for golden dorado?

If it's legal, how many flies do you think are too many on a single leader?

When I fish a dry dropper, why do the smaller fish take my small Zebra Midge and the larger trout take a poke at my dry fly?

What flies and gear are recommended for catching Atlantic mackerel on a fly?

If I don't want to use head cement, is a double whip finish a good way to increase the durability of my flies?

When I use a throat pump on trout, why do my samples sometimes come up empty?

Direct download: geology.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28am EDT

This week we take a trip Down Under to talk to guide Angus Reynolds [41:21] in Australia. Angus customarily guides trout anglers, but because of the recurring drought in Australia he has been pursuing alternate species and carp are one of his major targets. I thought we could learn some techniques to try on our North American carp, which are the same species, and Angus has some interesting tips on fishing a sunken dry fly for them. He also tells some great stories about catching Murray cod and eels on a fly rod!

In the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting questions and comments, including:

Can I use my 11-foot, 3-weight Helios Blackout rod for trout Spey? If so, what grain weight should I use?

When should I use jig hooks and slotted beads as opposed to regular nymph hooks and beads?

Do you have some tips for Eastern stillwater trout fishing? Is it much different than what they do in the West?

Is there a reasonable do-it-yourself repair kit for fly rods I can take into the field with me?

Does UV resin attract trout? And are UV materials really attractive to trout?

A listener from the UK says the whole idea of public water in North American blows his mind. He asks if it is really true that we can fish any river we want?

A listener takes me to task for insinuating that people who use Euro nymphing techniques are only after racking up numbers of fish.

What is the difference between graphite and fiberglass rods for small streams, and which is better?

If I see a beaver on one end of a pond and an otter on the other, which one should I stay away from when fishing?

A listener shares his experience of brown trout favoring one fly on his nymph rig and rainbow trout the other fly.

Direct download: aussie_carp_and_eel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:35pm EDT

Originally Released Jul 09, 2021

This week I am delighted to have biologist John McMillan back as my guest [46:00]. John gives us a detailed view on the affect of water temperature on a trout's metabolism, particularly at the upper end of their safe range. In this summer of low flows and high water temperatures nearly everywhere in North America, it's a critical topic. And as usual, John puts his critical eye on how we, as anglers, can mitigate these effects by changing our fishing behavior. John is never without optimism, and I think you'll enjoy his discussion and learn more about trout biology and how we can be more responsible anglers.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and tips from listeners:

Why did my guide tell me to use heavier tippets? Why did she suggest this would put less stress on the fish?
A suggestion from a listener on getting an old bamboo rod and refurbishing it to bring one back to life.
What is the difference between hen and partridge?
How do I know where to find trout streams?
What size should I tie my ants in?
A new way of tying a clinch knot with heaver hooks is suggested by a listener
Why, when fishing with a dry dropper, do I only catch browns on the nymph and only cutthroats on the dry?
What do you suggest for catching pressured largemouths in summer?
A belated Father's Day message
Can I use the Euro nymphing method from a drift boat or float tube?
Why am I having trouble mending at 30 feet with a dry dropper?
When tying a Chubby Chernobyl, how do you get the legs to separate?
When you see a large mammal like a beaver or otter in the river, is it time to move on?
Why do I catch myself with my fly when casting?
Is it OK to dry my waders and boots in the sun?
How should I handle my gear for air travel?
Why do I keep losing fish when using bead head flies?
Does using a frog pattern change the flex of my rod?
Why do Scandinavians hold their rods so high when playing a fish?

Direct download: backcast_How_does_water_temperature_affect_trout_behavior.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30am EDT

Anyone involved in the world of fly fishing knows that young people are getting involved at a rate greater than any time in its history. Why? What do they want out of fly fishing, why does it appeal to them, and what do they see as the future of fly fishing? This is Part two of a podcast series where I interview young people about these questions, and this week my guest is a college student, Lukas Draugelis [37:14], president of the University of Vermont Fly-fishing Club—a very vibrant organization.

In the Fly Box this week we some great questions, as well as a bit of humor, including:

I get my fly line, rod tip, net, and flies stuck in trees and bushes, sometimes at the same time. Does this happen to anyone else?

How do bursts of rain and muggy days affect fly fishing? How about barometric pressure?

I have never seen a good hatch on a river. What kinds of environmental cues trigger a hatch?

What grain weight should I put on a fiberglass rod that calls for a 5/6 line?

What does the term “boat rod” mean in fly fishing?

I fish a wild trout stream with numerous small fish with the biggest around 14 inches.

How many and what size can I safely harvest?

Any tips on how to make my first casts in a pool as good as the ones I may 15 minutes later when I am “warmed up”?

How can I avoid foul hooking fish, and am I killing fish that I foul hook?

What does a fish sound like when it is spooked?

If I came fly fishing with you on small streams, what rod, leader, and flies would you be using?

Is there a good way to make an adjustable dropper on a dry/dropper rig?

Direct download: young_people_part_two.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EDT

This week, my guest is Austin Boswell [37:57], owner and guide for Eastern Oregon River Outfitters. I wanted to talk to Austin because I'm doing a two-part series on why young people are suddenly getting into fly fishing after many years of it being mostly an older person's pastime. I got into fly fishing at a young age, but in those days all the fly fishers I knew were older, and today we're seeing a great influx of young people taking up the sport. Why? I don't have any answers so for the next two podcasts I am going to be interviewing two fly fishers under the age of 30 to find out why it is so intriguing to them.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting questions and comments, including:

I found my fly line wrapped over itself on my reel. How did that happen and how can I prevent it?

My normally easy-to-approach brook trout have become really spooky in the low water of summer. Will they be easier once the water levels come back up? Is my fly line scaring them and what can I do?

How long do felt soles last?

When did Orvis stop impregnating bamboo rods and why?

A great quote on harvesting fish by blogger and author Bill Robichaud

Is there a standard for reel foot sizing?

Are the reel feet different in different-sized reels?

What taper model are the various Recon models based on?

Why do my Chubby Chernobyl flies not float well?

Do trout eat woolly bear caterpillars?

How do I cast an open loop when using indicators or dry droppers?

Why do caddis flies and midges have a pupa stage and mayflies don't?

How do I mix dubbings with different textures in a coffee grinder?

Direct download: young_people_part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:17pm EDT

We all get occasional aches and pains from casting, or as we get older we worry about getting them. Dr. Jason Smith [51:14] is an expert in sports medicine and has worked with many professional athletes in developing routines from strengthening muscles and connective tissue. He has some great advice on avoiding casting injuries, types of therapy to alleviate the pain of these issues, and also some easy exercises to avoid injury in the future. Fly fishing is supposed to be fun and any way we can take the pain out of it is welcome advice.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some controversy and some great questions, including:

If I am fishing an articulated fly in a place where only a single hook is allowed by law, should I cut off the back hook or the front hook?

I’ve tried night fishing without any success. What do you suggest?

If I am using a dropshot rig in very deep, fast water, how many split shot is too many?

A tip from a listener about a great suggestion for casting he got from George Daniel

If I am fishing two or three flies, is there any rule as to where I should place my heaviest fly?

I only have a 5-weight and a 10-weight rod and I want to fish for bass.

Can I use my 10-weight for bass fishing?

It’s still hard to reconcile catch-and-release fishing for ecological reasons with a carbon footprint from cross-country trips. And I heard that there is at least an 11% mortality rate in catch-and-release fishing.

Do trout eat whirligig beetles and water striders? And what do they tell me about a trout stream?

How should I adjust my fishing tactics when it rains?

I fish a catch-and-release pond with picky fish and heavy fishing pressure. If no one fished this pond for a year, would the trout get less selective?

A listener takes me to task for saying I try to avoid fishing for stocked trout. And then asks me what I would do if I lived in an urban area where there were only put-and-take fisheries for trout.

A listener is confused by the different sizes of aquatic insects and asks if the same ones hatch in different sizes.

A physicist weighs in on how to stalk trout, knowing how the physics of refraction works.

A listener gives me a list of the rods he owns and asks if there is something missing in his arsenal, especially for small streams.

Direct download: preventing_injuries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:43pm EDT

Catch-and-release fishing for trout is not a conservation tool. It’s a way to manage trout populations for larger fish, based mainly on sociological or even political pressures. Sometimes it doesn’t even produce larger fish, and it can backfire when it inflames local anglers. Tim Traver [38:50], author of Lost in the Driftless, has spent years studying the effects of fishing regulations on both fish and human populations and I think your eyes will open to the limitations of regulations like “fly-fishing only” or “catch-and-release”.

In the Fly Box this week, we have lots of interesting questions and comments from listeners, including:

What can I do to avoid crowds on a heavily pressured eastern trout stream?

What is the best way to carry a net when using a sling bag?

A listener has some great comments on why bamboo rods are so special.

Why am I consistently breaking off large brown trout using 6X tippet?

If I don’t have a fishing backpack or vest, how can I carry a net?

How can I fish very fast water effectively with a dry dropper rig?

If most fish food is dull colored, why do we use so many wild colors in our flies?

A listener makes some great points on why fishing close to home is desirable.

A physicist weighs in on what a trout can see from underwater.

Can I effectively Euro-nymph with my 9-foot, 5-inch Blackout rod?

What are some good uses for squirrel tail in fly tying?

What is everyone doing in the northeast for fly fishing during the drought?

Direct download: When_Catch-and-Release_Doesnt_Work_with_Tim_Traver.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm EDT

My guest this week is Sean Carey [48:31], drummer and keyboard player for the indie folk band Bon Iver, who also records solo work as S Carey. Sean has been fly fishing for many years, beginning when he was in high school, and we spend a lot of time discussing the concept of “growing where you were planted” or learning the pleasures of discovering fly fishing close to home. And of course we talk about how fly fishing has influenced his song writing, and also what the theoretical difference might be in the way a classically trained musician approaches fly fishing as opposed to the way a jazz musician might. At the end of the podcast is a special treat—a recording of his song “Yellowstone” (but no it’s not a fishing song even though we all associate that area with fishing).

In the Fly Box this week, we have a bunch of thought-provoking questions from listeners, including:

If I can see a fish in the water, does that mean it can see me? Or does a trout’s “window” work in reverse?

What do you think of tying the dropper onto the eye of the dry fly instead of the bend when using a dry-dropper rig?

Are those rock dams that people make in streams bad for trout?

What is your opinion of Jack’s Knot?

Will Tenkara fishing work on small, clear spring creeks? W

hy does the Crackleback fly work?

If I have a bunch of old reels with lines on them, can a fly shop tell me what size they are?

What kind of additional flies and gear do I need when moving form smallmouth bass fishing to tailwater trout fishing?

What do you do for protection in bear and cougar country?

What is your preferred method for fishing a nymph under an indicator?

I got an H3 rod as a gift and I don’t feel I am good enough to use it yet. What do you think about this?

Shawn Brillon gives me the answers on four questions about bamboo rods as a follow-up to his recent podcast

Would my 10-foot 7-weight rod be OK for bonefishing in the Turks and Caicos?

Bass keep throwing my heavy cone-head streamers when they jump. Would keeping tension on them when they jump prevent this?

How do you know what rod size to use?

How do you know what tippet size to use?

Direct download: fishing_close_to_home_bon_iver.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:26am EDT

I get a lot of questions from listeners on how to get kids into fly fishing--what's the right rod outfit, what species to go after, how to structure (or not structure) a day on the water, what resources are available, and how to instill a sense of ethics and conservation in kids. My guest this week is an expert on the subject. Marsha Benovengo [40:20] is state chair of New Jersey Trout Unlimited, and this year she received the coveted Mortensen Award from TU for her volunteer service and dedication. She has a host of great tips for guiding kids through their fly-fishing education.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some interesting questions and tips from listeners, including:

I noticed trout living in a polluted pond near a garnet quarry. Don't trout always live in completely pristine water?

I have a kink in my fly line that I can't remove. Do you have any tips on getting it out?

What do you do to help your feet after a day of wet wading?

Can I travel with fly rods in a duffel bag?

A tip from a listener on using Lycra dive socks for wet wading How exactly do you check the balance on a fly rod?

Does Tom ever get to fish anymore?

How can I get more distance when surf fishing for snook?

I am doing well using Euro-style jig flies with an indicator and a standard 9-foot 5-weight rod.

Would I be even more successful with a Euro rod? And how do they fish dry flies with those 10-foot 3-weight rods?

Should I attach my nymphs with a loop knot?

How can I fish a high mountain lake with extensive weed beds?

Would my 12-year-old son be better off with a double taper line than the weight-forward line he is currently using?

A great story from a listener in Sweden who has a friend that has caught 100 species of fish native to Sweden, all on fly tackle.

Will fishing my "cold water" Bank Shot line in warm water and air temperatures damage the line?

How can I clean some peacock feathers I got from a friend?

How can I keep my fly lower in the water column when swinging streamers for smallmouth bass?

I have a small spring on my property and would like to see if it will hold trout. Should I dig it out and clean out all the willows around it?

Direct download: getting_kids_into_flyfishing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:28am EDT

Want to know how a bamboo fly rod is made? How long it takes to make one? How many different hands touch an Orvis bamboo fly rod before you (and your children and grandchildren) become its lucky owner. And finally, what's so great about bamboo fly rods? How are they different from fiberglass and graphite, and what will they do for you on the water? This week I interview Orvis bamboo fly rod craftsman Shawn Brillon [45:09], who loves to talk bamboo rods as much as he enjoys making and fishing them.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and tips from listeners, including:

I could catch rising trout in one part of a pool, but when I moved 50 meters upstream I couldn't catch any. What was going on?

How do I determine the correct size leader if I am going from a single size 16 fly to a hopper or multiple nymph rig?

What are your thoughts on weed guards on flies?

I caught a dragonfly on my elk hair caddis. Am I the first?

I hooked a trout in the corner of the mouth and even with a barbless hook it bled and looked like it would die. Would it have been better if I left the fly in the fish?

I have been fishing with an 8-weight shooting head outfit for striped bass and halibut. I want to catch corbina but I hear they are spooky. Do you think my 8-weight is too heavy?

I keep seeing these large fish rising in a heavily pressured river but can't catch them on any multi-fly rig. What can I do to fool these fish?

What do you do to stay in shape for fishing?

What are the advantages of a big dry fly over a bobber?

Does bead size really matter regarding attractiveness to trout? And is there a seasonality to what color beads you should use?

I have been catching catfish on a fly. Does anyone else do this and is it a "thing" or is it bycatch?

I went to Banff to fish and they required that all my tackle, including lines and leaders, could not have been used for 45 days and had to be cleaned and treated. What do you think about the potential for things like lines and leaders to transfer invasive species?

Direct download: all_about_bamboo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am EDT

My guest this week is Cameron Mortensen of The Fiberglass Manifesto [51:24]. Cam is one of the most knowledgeable anglers when it comes to fiberglass fly rods. I know a lot of listeners are curious about glass rods, and so we can to answer the questions: What is the history of fiberglass rods? How do modern ones compare to the older styles? What are the advantages of fiberglass rods? What are the drawbacks of fiberglass rods? What are the new 4-piece Orvis Superfine Glass rods like? If you've been curious about trying a fiberglass fly rod, I hope this podcast answers some of your questions.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some thought-provoking questions, tips, and complaints, including:

What are the benefits of a strip set, and what is happening at the end of the line?

When should I use the strip set?

Should I buy an 8-weight or a 9-weight for a combination of saltwater and largemouth bass?

Why do largemouth bass follow my fly and not take it? Why don't people use duck-quill-wing wet flies anymore?

A listener takes Tom to task for making fun of Tenkara fishing

A guide makes a plea for clients to practice their casting before a day of fishing.

I have some 50-year-old flies that look to be in good shape and the hooks are not rusty. Do you think the hooks are still good and won't break?

A listener asks for advice between a 7- or 8-weight rod for bass and carp.

If the mono in my poly leader gets too short, should I cut back the coating to try to expose more of the core?

A tip on using crushed material from inside desiccant packages for a fly flotant

Do some fly tiers get royalties on the patterns they designed?

I see bass splashing up against the shore and logs. Are they chasing baitfish, and if so, how do I catch them?

How do I get the curl out of my leader when fishing big flies?

 I had two 9-foot, 5-weight rods break in the same place, a half inch from the tip. What do you think happened?

What does Tom do when he gets frustrated and his casting mechanics break down?

Direct download: All_about_fiberglass_fly_rods_with_Cam_Mortensen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38am EDT

This week, my guest is guide and author Matt Supinski [51:36], one of the most innovative thinkers in fly fishing with a long history in the business. The topic is selectivity, which Matt wrote an entire book about a few years ago. What is selectivity in fish feeding, is it always operating, why does it happen, and how can we use it to our advantage when fishing? It’s a fascinating topic and one Matt and I explore in depth.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and comments, including:

Do longer rods roll cast better than shorter ones? And do slower rods roll cast better?

Can I use one of those yarn practice rods to fine tune my double haul?

Why can I only find lead split shot? Isn’t it bad for the environment?

Who were your “media heroes” when growing up?

Do the vibrations from car-top rod carriers damage rods?

A listener takes me to task for suggesting people use a throat pump to see what trout are eating.

Why do trout sometimes not respond to heavy hatches?

The smallmouth bass in my local streams are quite small. Why don’t they grow bigger?

How can I catch trout in a small stream that runs into a local pond?

What can I do to make stripers on the flats take my flies? They keep following but don’t commit.

Why do fly shop employees get paid such a low wage?

Does green-colored tippet material offer any advantage?

How can I improve my dexterity and efficiency when tying knots on the water?

Can I use a reel suitable for an 8-weight line on my 5-weight rod?

Direct download: selectivity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28pm EDT

This week, my guest is captain Drew Price [56:13], an expert on fishing large, multi-story, multi-species lakes. Drew has pioneered methods of catching unusual and fascinating freshwater fish like bowfin, gar, and freshwater drum. He also loves to fish for trout, bass, and carp but there are days on his home water, Lake Champlain, when those popular fish may not cooperate. And it's fun to fill your life list with new species, some of which may live in your own back yard. If you're looking for a new challenge, want to escape summer's crowded trout rivers--or if your rivers are too warm--learn about how you can fish large lakes for all kinds of cool fish.

In the Fly Box this week, we have lots of thought-provoking questions, including:

What should I pack for my trip to Alaska, and how should I pack my waders?

Why did they use heaver stuff, like size 8 wet flies and 3X leaders, back in the 1930s through 1950s?

Why am I missing brown and rainbow trout striking my leech pattern?

Why am I missing small cutthroat trout on my dry flies?

I see large brown trout very close to me in a heavily fished river, but they won't take any of my flies. Are they spooked?

Tips from a listener on how to store rods and other tackle Why do some rods not have hook keepers?

What fishing fiction do you recommend, beyond Big Two-Hearted River and A River Runs through It?

For fishing hopper patterns, should I go long and fine or short and heavy with my leader?

I caught some big rainbow trout but also saw some huge suckers in the same river. How can I catch those suckers on a fly?

Where is the best place to set down your rod and reel when switching flies or leaders?

If I see some debris on my nymph, should I clean it off?

How does the hard-sided Orvis stripping basket compare to collapsible mesh versions?

When I release trout, should I try to feed them mealworms or something to make up for them losing a meal?

Direct download: drew_price_large_lakes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52am EDT

This week, my guest is Capt. Benny Blanco of Islamorada, in the Florida Keys [37:38]. Benny talks about his life in the Keys and about how he came to realize that the fishery on which he made his living was threatened--and how he learned to make a difference. The Everglades will never be completely pristine again, but with people like Benny involved, it can regain much of its former glory. And it's not only the Everglades.

Restoration of the entire watershed will also help the world-class fisheries in Florida Bay, the health of the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, and the drinking water supply of the 9 million people in South Florida. It's a study in best practices that people in any part of the world can learn from to protect their treasured resources.

In the Fly Box this week we have some lighter topics:

How long does it take for a fish to remove a hook that has been left in it? Is there much of a mortality rate?

How do you fish with friends on a small stream?

Great tips from a listener for making sure you don't leave any gear behind on a trip

What parts of my fly gear can be damaged in a hot car?

Have you ever tried a "dry dropper" arrangement with a popper when fishing for striped bass?

Why are most imitations of mayflies so small?

If I am used to fishing small streams, how can I read the water in a big flat piece of water in a big river?

When fishing multiple flies, should I use a weaker knot on the droppers so I don't lose my entire rig?

How do I set the hook when stillwater fishing?

When fishing three flies at once, I foul hook a lot of trout. How can I prevent that?

Direct download: benny_blanco.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:23am EDT

This week, my guest is longtime guide, fly shop owner, journalist, musician, and all-around great guy Jim McLennan [40:26]. Jim is a thoughtful fly fisher who always has solid tips on fly-fishing techniques, and this week we talk about mayfly spinners—their mysteries, how to identify when they are active, and how to target trout feeding on them. Mayfly spinner falls are some of the best opportunities to catch large trout on a dry fly because trout gorge on them and sometimes get stupid, so it pays to have some intelligence on taking advantage of these opportunities. And this is a timely podcast because in most parts of the country, we are about to get into the prime season for the tiny Trico spinners.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some intriguing questions and tips from listeners, including:

Why can I do to prevent my mono eyes from breaking on my tarpon flies?

How do I clean my saltwater flies after a trip so they aren’t all mangled?

Can I use more than one subsurface fly with a dry-dropper rig?

How can I fish a deep plunge pool with a dry-dropper?

I have broken a bunch of rods in the past couple years. Is it due to my bad casting?

Some great tips from a relatively new angler on where to get the best help and advice.

What is a good way to enjoy a fly-fishing trip with a young family?

How can I break into writing stories and poems about fly fishing?

Is using a stomach (throat) pump unethical, and is it looked down upon by other fly fishers?

A tip for using neoprene socks when wet wading

In the short and long term, what do you expect the results of the Yellowstone flood will be?

Direct download: Tips_for_fishing_mayfly_spinners_with_Jim_McLennan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31pm EDT

You may have never heard of redeye bass or seen one. Yet they are a wonderful fly-rod fish. They live in spectacular, clear mountain streams and take a fly very well. They’re mainly found in the deep South, particularly in Alabama, so they’re a great fly-rod target in places where you would not ordinarily think of fly fishing. They’re a native species that deserve more visibility from the fly-fishing community and my guest, Matthew Lewis [44:27], is perhaps the world expert on fly fishing for them.

In the fly box this week, we have some interesting questions and great tips from listeners, including:

What percentage of the time do trout in lakes feed on the surface?

What is a go-to fly for late summer fishing on small streams?

What can I do to prevent foul-hooking so many fish? And when I hook a trout in the belly, is it sure to die?

Do oils from our hands harm trout?

Do you have some general rules of thumb for how rain affects fly fishing?

I am using wide gape hooks and missing a lot of small brook trout. Is it the hook that’s my problem?

I saw some large brown trout in shallow water around spawning season and could not get them to take a fly. What can I do?

What do you think of the Double Davy Knot?

A listener shares a killer nymph pattern he developed.

When I practice casting, why does the end of my leader fray and my fly line loop come apart?

Do you ever guide?

I fish a stream with rainbow trout, and for the first six months of the season I can’t find them. Where do they go?

How much less backing fits on a spool when I use 30-pound backing instead of 20-pound?

Are the natural materials we use for fly tying from ethically treated animals?

Direct download: redeyebass.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21pm EDT

This week my guest is Paul Bruun [39:50], a legendary figure in fly fishing who has been involved with the fly-fishing world even longer than me.

On Thursday, June 30th, he received the Izaak Walton Award from the American Museum of Fly fishing for a lifetime of contributions to our sport. Paul is a guide, writer, newspaperman, and he developed the famous South Fork Skiff, which has recently been resurrected and redesigned by the famous Adipose Boatworks Company in Montana. Paul is a wonderful storyteller and he tells us about what it was like to learn fly fishing in South Florida in the 1960s—not an easy task!

In the Fly Box this week, we have some great questions and suggestions from listeners, including:

I am too slow in striking to small mountain trout. Is there a way I can fix that?

A listener alerts us to a water issue on an Oregon tailwater

A listener is confused by the differences in pound test and diameter on leader butts and wants to know if there is a rule-of-thumb for the correct leader butt section.

Do you think the studs on my wading boots are spooking trout?

Do trout in different micro-habitats in the same river choose different insects?

How small of a river is too small to use trout spey equipment? And should I use a Scandi or Skagit setup?

Is it useful to be able to cast with either your right or left hand?

I see larger fish suspended a foot from the surface over deep water. What are they doing there?

A listener suggests that a previous question about not being able to hook rising trout during a caddis hatch may have been due to mountain whitefish, which have a much smaller mouth than trout.

I am getting lost flies and a pigtail at the end of my leader when using a clinch knot. What should I do? Is there a better knot?

What is the best way to store fly rods in their tubes?

Direct download: Paul_Bruun.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:27pm EDT

My guest this week is Timbre Pringle of Faceless Fly Fishing  [46:26] and the topic is small stream fly fishing, particularly in the Rocky Mountains. Timbre has some great tips on fishing dries, dry dropper combos, and streamers in small streams, and the differences between the different species of trout in small streams. She also gives some great tips on avoiding encounters with bears, something that can be an issue when certain areas of the Rockies once you get away from the road.

In the Fly Box this week, we have some seasonally appropriate questions and some good tips from listeners, including:

Four good tips on storing tying materials from a listener

When do you use a dubbing loop, and when do you use the standard noodle method instead?

How do I avoid the numerous small steelhead parr on my local river?

Why did I miss 20 fish in a row when fishing a dry fly during a caddis hatch?

A listener takes issue with the advice of using heavier tippets to play fish quickly

Do trout get full and not rise when there is an over-abundance of bugs?

Why can I catch fish on dries and not on nymphs?

A listener asks my thoughts on nymphs with a bobber vs. a dry dropper rig.

A listener tore a small piece of the jaw off a trout because he forgot to pinch his barb. He wants to know if that hole in the trout’s jaw is a death sentence.

How should I get set up to swing flies for smallmouth bass?

How can I intercept a hatch?

What features should I look for if I want to try to wait on the bank for a hatch to appear?

Should I avoid putting flotant on the bodies of foam flies?

Direct download: Timbre_Pringle_Small_Streams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48pm EDT

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