JC considers himself lucky to be part of the Fishwest Staff (editors note: We are lucky to have him). JC is an avid Fly Fisherman who has Cerebral Palsy who from a young age discovered a passion for the outdoors and fly fishing. When not fishing, JC is most likely hanging out with his dog and enjoying some hiking trails or putting some miles on his road bike.
One of the hardest transitions for me to make into saltwater fishing continues to be the art of the strip set. Countless times I have seen the backside of a bonefish travelling 100+ MPH to get away from the shrimp that just bit him in the face. While the guide laughs, the advice coming from the platform is always the same. Whatever you do, don’t trout set!
This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome for a beginner saltwater angler who primarily fish for trout. Trout anglers have been trained through countless hours on the water to raise the rod when a trout eats the fly. A slow and steady raise of the rod promotes protecting light tippets that are associated with trout files by turning the rod into a small shock absorber. Trout have very soft mouths and setting the hook with a size 20 dry fly and 6x tippet doesn’t take a lot of effort.
However, a majority of saltwater flats species have extremely hard mouths. For example, when a bonefish eats, they suck up unfortunate critters and smash them with large molar type “crushers”. Raising the rod tip upon hookup with a bonefish will result in the fly getting pulled right out of their mouth. A majority of bonefish flies are designed to ride hook up when retrieved. With that in mind when the bonefish eats the fly, a long and smooth strip will drive the hook into the hard mouth of the fish, leading to more hookups.
Things to keep in mind when learning the strip set:
KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water pointed straight at the fish, this will help to eliminate slack in the line when retrieving the fly.
If you have the fish interested chances are it is following your fly; KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water.
Once the fish has looked down to eat your fly: KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water.
Once you feel the pressure or see the fish eat the fly, KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water and give your line one long smooth pull.
Lastly continue stripping until the line comes tight. Once the line comes tight chances are the fish is off to the races.
If you miss the first strip set, keep stripping the fly as long as the fish is still actively chasing the fly. If you miss the initial eat the fly will be in front of the fish as long as you KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water.
This technique will take some time to sink in for most of us… New tricks take a while (especially for an old dog). Just remember KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water and strip till the line comes tight.
Stay tuned for more tips & Tricks. Fishwest is excited to offer trips to the island of South Andros as well as other destinations. For more information please click HERE.
One of the hardest parts for a beginner saltwater fisherman is being ready to go at a moment’s notice. The window on shots for bonefish and other saltwater species can appear and disappear rather quickly. When fishing from a boat and a guide calls out a fish, keep these tips in mind to be setup properly and to make a quick presentation.
Strip off an amount of line that you can cast & drop it below you on the deck:Know your limits! This will allow you to be prepared to make a shot at cruising fish rather quickly. Keep in mind that if you have too much line out that tangles may occur if you shoot too much line. Don’t just strip your line into the bottom of the boat however. Doing that may cause all the line to coil up unnaturally and that may cause tangles. Make sure to make a few practice casts to prepare yourself and also to remove all the twists that may be in your fly line. If you are fishing with a partner, kindly ask them to help manage your line at the bottom of the boat.
Take off your shoes: This is by far the most important tip on this list. The easiest way to blow a shot is to make a beautiful cast only to find out that you have been standing on your line. By the time you recover, the fish are long gone! Barefoot is best, just remembering to apply sunscreen liberally and often, or better yet, wear socks!
Keep about 10 feet of line out of your rod tip: This will allow you to have your rod partially loaded when a shot presents itself. Having too much line outside the rod tip can be harder to manage, so be mindful of how much line you have out.
Keep your hands off your fly: The best thing to do is to hold on to your leader right above your fly. That way your fly doesn’t get any sunscreen on it, or anything else for that matter. A shrimp or crab with the essence of SPF 50+ isn’t appealing to most flats fish.
Now you are ready to go! Keep in mind that even the best anglers screw up and blow shots… so don’t get discouraged! Just be ready for the next one!
Stay tuned for more tips & tricks. If you are interested in destination travel with Fishwest click HERE.
Our friends over at Smith Optics put out a real cool video showcasing one of our favorite fly fishing destinations. The islands of the Bahamas, and Andros in particular, boasts some of the best Bonefishing in the world. Check it out below:
For those who are interested, Fishwest Outfitters hosts a series of trips to the island of Andros and the Andros South Lodge. Check out the details for our trips HERE.
Fly fisherman are great story tellers. Not a day goes by in the shop when we aren’t witness to a fly fishing related tale. As you all know, fly fishing takes us to some of the most beautiful places in the world and a lot of fly fishers are also great photographers. Here’s your opportunity to get your thoughts and photos out there – and to a lot of people!
We’re delighted to offer the opportunity to post your thoughts and images. We’re looking for interesting articles that cover anything and everything fly fishing related. Write about some of your travels, show how to tie that hot new fly pattern or discuss a technique. If it is interesting to you, it will be interesting to others, probably lots of others.
Are you interested in sharing your stories, experiences, or product reviews? If so please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org . If your article or photos are picked for our blog you will earn valuable Fishwest store credit to use towards new gear. What fly fisherman doesn’t love new gear?
Submitting an Article
We look for articles written about anything fly fishing and we don’t want to stifle your creativity. This can include, but is certainly not limited to, trip reports, fly tying tutorials, product reviews, fishing techniques, illustrations, etc….ANYTHING FLY FISHING.
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Statement of Benjamin H. Bulis, President and CEO of American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA), for the SenateCommittee on Small Business andEntrepreneurship hearing entitled, “An Examination of Proposed Environmental Regulation’s Impacts on America’s Small Businesses”, May 19, 2015.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony in support of the Clean Water Act at the hearing today. I had the good fortune to be born and raised in the beautiful state of New Hampshire. I have fished around the U.S. and the world, but the rivers and streams of New Hampshire will always stay close to my heart. Now I have the great fortune to live and work in Bozeman, Montana, and the fishing is not too bad there either, as you may have heard!
AFFTA represents the business of fly fishing which includes manufacturers, retailers, outfitters and guides across the nation, who all share the same bottom line: furthering the sport and industry of fly fishing. This cannot be accomplished without clean water and vibrant fisheries habitat. The formula that drives AFFTA is very simple: Access to healthy habitat creates recreational opportunity that drives economic activity and jobs.
Our industry provides the waders, rods, guides and boats that 47 million sportsmen and women utilize every time they step foot in their favorite piece of water. Their quality of experience, and thus our return sales to enhance those days, is dependent on access to clean water.
I am here to express our support for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to restore protections for our nation’s headwater streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Simply put, the draft clean water rule is well crafted and appropriate, it should be allowed to move through the federal rulemaking process with support of Congress.
Here’s why. The small waters to which this important draft rule applies are the lifeblood for many of our country’s prized fisheries. The health of these headwaters sets the tone and benefits for all waters downstream, supporting and creating even the backbone of our nation’s marine resources. They flow into rivers, streams and lakes that provide the foundation of our industry, thus eventually concluding the voyage in our oceans–ourindustry’s viability depends on intact watersheds, cold, clean rivers and streams and healthy, fishable habitat.
Given that fishing in America supports approximately 828,000 jobs, results in nearly $50 billion annually in retail sales and has an economic impact of about $115 billion every year (Sportfishing in America an Economic Force for Conservation, American Sportfishing Association, 2013), it stands to reason that the health of our nation’s waters is vital to the continued success of our industry, and to the health of America’s economy. We urge you to allow the rulemaking process to continue unimpeded, carefully review the final rule when it comes out, and then determine what, if any, legislative action is warranted. We owe it to the more than one million Americans who took the time to comment on the proposal to allow the process to reach a conclusion. More than 80% of those who commented on the proposal were in favor of it. Such strong support for clean water and healthy watersheds is what our members experience every day as we interact with our customers across the Nation.
If we fail to protect our headwater streams and wetlands, we may destroy the $200 billion annual economy of the hunting and fishing industry, as well as put 1.5 million people out of work. Of those 1.5 million jobs…many are located in rural areas with limited economic opportunities and few other employment options. Some of the best trout water in the lower 48 is located here in Montana, where our entire state population just recently broached a million residents. Because of access and quality of those trout waters…world-wide fly fishing companies such as Simms, RL Winston, Montana Fly Company and Bozeman Reel Company have decided to set up shop in our relatively rural location…and employ hundreds of people in the process. If those jobs are compromised due to a lack of clean water, what options do those employees have in our rural economies across the nation?
AFFTA members from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Coast of Louisiana, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, the Florida Key, the Front Range of Colorado and the remote outfitters in Alaska are all funding their local economies by clean water and healthy fisheries. From the flies to the rods to the rain jackets for the guides rowing clients down the river…none would be possible without clean water.
In recent years, participation in fly fishing has grown. We are seeing robust interest in our sport and it is translating to our sales, to the numbers of employees we hire right here in America, and to the health of brick-and-mortar retailers all over the country. The fly fishing industry is the epitome of small business, the sustainable domestic industry is dependent on clean fishable water.
But, in addition to being acutely interested in the health of our watersheds, we are also concerned that blocking this rulemaking process could turn back the clock on the progress our nation has made since the Clean Water Act was put into place more than 40 years ago. Today, rivers that were once polluted are home to remarkable runs of steelhead, salmon and brown trout. Streams that were once uninhabitable for native brook trout are now home to robust populations of these prized fish. What’s more, our country’s drinking water is healthier and safer.
Please consider the present state of our watersheds before interfering in a proven process that has generated more than 800,000 comments from the public in support of this rule. While we understand that politics these days can be tumultuous and rancorous, we strongly encourage you not to play politics with clean water.
Again, on behalf of AFFTA, I appreciate the opportunity to testify today and I’d like to also thank this committee and staff for their continued service to our Nation.
After a few days of letting the dust settle from the most recent Fishwest hosted trip to the Andros South Lodge, I wanted to take a minute to tell you about a really nice piece of gear I picked up for the trip. This gear isn’t the latest fly rod, reel or line. I am talking about a fly box, a really good fly box for that matter.
The Tacky Fly Box from the fine folks over at Tacky Fly Fishing is a game changer, pure and simple. This fly box is extremely lightweight and compact with the coolest feature being the silicone slit storage used to hold the flies. The silicone feature grips the flies extremely well, which means no more torn and beat up foam, and in my case it was easy to rinse out at the end of the day to get all the potential salt buildup out.
The only downside about this box in the nature I was using it was the shallow and thin design. The larger bonefish flies that lived in the box did not allow the magnetic lid to close very easily. If the box was just a little deeper this would have not caused an issue.
All in all, for the first model of box I am quite impressed. When loaded with various bonefish flies (i.e. gotchas, Charlies, Mantis Shrimp) this box was able to hold about two dozen flies , which made this box perfect to tag along on flats wading adventures. This is a far cry from the 150+ trout flies that this box will hold but that is most certainly understandable. Lets just say it will become a go to trout box at some point.
I for one cannot wait to see what the guys over at Tacky Fishing produce in terms of boxes in the future. If they are anything like their first box I will be in line to pick one up for sure.
5 days to go until the Fishwest hosted trip arrives at the “international” airport of Congotown on the island of South Andros in the Bahamas. My packing list is nearing completion as that date draws closer and closer with each passing day. Between Part 1 and Part 2 of my packing list, you should have a pretty good idea of what you need in order to pack for a trip for a tropical saltwater fly fishing trip.
Next up is what I would categorize as dressing for success on the flats. Two things need to be remembered when dressing to go out. Your clothes need to be lightweight and moisture wicking “quick dry” if possible. Sun protection is also something that anglers should be mindful of when choosing apparel for a day of flats fishing. I will always opt for clothing that provides maximum coverage from the sun. I figure the more skin that is covered by clothes the better. The chances of getting a nasty sunburn diminish greatly, however with that being said don’t forget the aloe.
First up is the choice of shirt. Like I said before lightweight and quick drying is the name of the game, and you will stay cooler in those hot temperatures as well. I prefer shirts with a more muted color that is similar to the colors of the surroundings, light greys and tans are the best. Some anglers and guides will tell you to stay away from brighter colors, they say that it distracts and spooks the fish at times. I don’t know if this is true or not, however I sure don’t want to find out the hard way. It doesn’t matter if you opt for the more classic “traditional” look of a shirt like the Simms Ebbtide or the T shirt look of the Simms Solarflex, whatever you choose just make sure that they are long sleeved. The sun in those tropical saltwater latitudes has a tendency to burn very bright. If you do choose to opt for a short sleeve shirt, you can always consider using the Simms Sunsleeves for additional protection.
Next up is the choice of pants. I remember the days of getting up on Saturdays and watching the Walkers Cay Chronicles with my dad, and seeing Flip Pallot on the front of a flats boat wearing jeans. I would steer clear from jeans while on the flats but I hear they are a popular choice of some guides. Instead I would opt for some pants that are lightweight and breathable. I would opt for pants for two reasons. I know I by this point I sound like a broken record but protection from the sun is key. I would hate to have red calves at the end of the day because I opted to wear shorts one day. The second is that when fishing for bonefish you may find yourself wading through the some mangroves from time to time and your pants will provide you with some protection. Last thing… Please don’t forget to bring a belt. Nobody wants to see your underwear when you are on the casting deck.
A hat is a must when fly fishing at any time in my humble opinion, especially on the flats. A cap keeps the sun off your face, and more importantly, out of your eyes. I prefer a trucker style hat with lightweight mesh. I would always opt for a hat with a dark under brim to help reduce the glare off the water. Whichever hat you choose make sure to keep a strong hold on it while you are buzzing from flat to flat. The guides will laugh if you have to backtrack to pick up your wet and salty hat.
Polarized eyewear is an absolute must when stalking fish on the flats. When fishing the flats if you cannot see the fish chances are you are not going to be able to catch the fish. I really enjoy lenses with a copper or amber base lens tint; these lenses give the best color and contrast over a variety of light conditions and are great if you are opting to have one set of glasses for out on the flats. For extremely cloudy days you may want to consider having a set of glasses with yellow lenses, they work great on grey days.
On those days that you are lucky enough to go wade for bonefish make sure that you have a solid set of Wading boots with you. Strap sandals will not cut it in all situations. Besides If it were me I would hate to cut my foot on a limestone bottom or something like that, so rubber soled boots are important when stalking fish on foot. Since I have a few balance issues I like to have a boot with a lot of support so I can stay upright. With that being said having a nice pair of wet wading socks will help to keep all the dirt and sand off your feet, and will leave your feet nice and happy after trudging around the flats for the afternoon.
For those times you are on the bow of the boat and want to keep your toes covered without footwear, I would suggest keeping a pair of socks on. They don’t impede performance on the bow and they protect you from the sun. Runners toe socks are my choice to keep my feet happy on the boat. With those toe socks I can still feel the line under my feet when I inevitably step on it and they also help to reduce noise.
Stay tuned for my last installment of this article. I am confident this list will help you get prepared for your next tropical saltwater destination. Feel free to contact us with any questions! We always welcome your tips and advice as well.
With ten days to go until my next Bahamian saltwater adventure, I find myself still compiling all my gear to head down for another wonderful trip. In this post I want to go over some more of the packing essentials for a Bonefishing adventure. In part 1 of my packing list, I went over arguably the three most important parts of a bonefishing setup. In this article we will continue down the list of items I think belong in any angler’s travel gear.
Next up on my list is leaders and tippet. In the wind you need a leader that is tapered correctly and stiff enough to turn over big flies easily. For the sake of simplicity and ease of prep grabbing a few of the Rio Bonefish Leaders is a must. These leaders are tapered to cope with wind and heavy flies with ease. I would recommend having enough leader and corresponding tippet for the worst case scenario. I like having a few 3 packs of each of the 10ft leaders in 8lb 10lb and 12lb. I like to fish these leaders with fluorocarbon tippet for more abrasion resistance. Those mangrove roots and sand mounds can be bad news for a leader setup.
Flies are the biggest variable in this whole equation in my personal opinion. Three factors to keep in mind when selecting the right flies to take on your next adventure are size, weight, and color. Size and weight of flies is extremely important when selecting flies for bonefish because of the variances in water depth. Fishing a big fly in skinny (shallow) water will cause the fly to land with a big splash and therefore no fish will be within 50 feet of that fly. When fishing less weighted flies in deeper water the flies will take longer to sink and get in the “zone” and in a game where timing is everything, a slow sinking fly may be the reason for a blown shot.
The colors of the flies that you take along with you need to match the different bottoms of each flat. This is due to the fact that the shrimp and other food that the bonefish eat tend to take on the color of their surroundings. This isn’t an exact science but flies need to match the flat pretty closely.
With that being said there are two flies that I would never be without on a Bahamian bonefishing flat. The Pearl Gotcha and the Ververka’s Mantis shrimp are probably responsible for more than 80% of the bonefish I have hooked into. As far as sizing goes I was told that the bigger bones enjoy the larger meal, so most of the time i fish a size 2 or 4. However it is always nice to have a good selection of flies in the 2-8 size range in various colors. If you are just starting out and you want to get a good base of flies going, don’t hesitate to look any farther than the fly selections put out by Umpqua. Flies don’t always have to be stored in a fancy box either, there have been times for me that flies have come out of an Altoids tin, however a box like the Umpqua Flats Box was a nice upgrade.
Having a place to store your gear is a must when preparing for a day of bonefish. I would recommend a pack like the Simms Dry Creek Z Backpack (Available Soon) . This nice waterproof pack can serve two purposes when out on the flats for a day. It can serve as a nice small boat bag to keep all your gear in or if you find yourself out wading for a period of time it doubles as a nice pack for that as well.
Items For Your Pack or on you:
A Buff – This tube of fabric is a lifesaver for your face and neck. They are a good idea when out in the sun.
A Camera – If you meet a large bonefish you may want to snap a shot or two. However please remember keep em wet if you can.
Tippet- Who knows this may get overlooked. Say a fish wraps you around a mangrove shoot or you need to lengthen your leader for picky fish, tippet is a good thing to have.
Pliers –Another no brainer right? Removing hooks safely and easily is best for both you and the fish in question. Make sure that you get some pliers with scissor blades. My grandpa the dentist would be disappointed to hear of people using their teeth to cut tippets.
Sunscreen – The sun in these tropical locations tends to cook things. Keep yourself covered in this stuff.
Please stay tuned for part three of this article. I have plenty of more to talk about. With the first two parts we are almost ready to head out to the flats.
I find myself here with two weeks to go before the next Fishwest hosted trip to the Andros South Lodge and after a few years I think I finally have figured out how to pack accordingly. Since Bonefish are generally (and unfairly) categorized as one of the easiest fish to catch on the flats they have been they are becoming more and more popular to chase with a fly rod. These fish are a great way to introduce someone to saltwater fly fishing or for the experienced saltwater angler. From time to time we get anglers coming into the shop asking for our insight on how to pack how to pack when going to a bonefish destination. So here is a quick rundown “survival” guide on how to pack for your next trip:
First and foremost you need a fast action 8 weight fly rod. A rod with a crisp fast action makes all the difference when sight casting to bonefish on the flats. Paired with the right fly line these rods load up easier giving the angler the ability to deliver flies both quickly and accurately which hopefully leads to more hookups.
Next up is a stout saltwater safe fly reel. Having a reel with a really good drag is a must when chasing bonefish. Backing capacity definitely comes into play as well with these fish. I would say that anglers should look for a reel with a minimum backing capacity of 200yds. I generally use 20lb backing with bonefish, however an argument can be made for Gel Spun backing or even the new Hatch Outdoors Braided backing. These Bahamian flats residents have a tendency to run all over the place when hooked and you need a reel that can slow them down and bring them to hand as quickly as possible. Reels with disc drags that are completely sealed are my preference due to having less maintenance after a tough day of fishing.
Dialing in your fly line is a must when sight fishing on the flats. I would actually argue that the right fly line is the most important part of any fly rod setup out there. A line that will load up a rod quickly and more importantly pickup for second casts easily is paramount. These lines need to be able to perform accurately at medium and long distances. Having a line with an aggressive front belly allows anglers to make shots in close with better success.
With each passing day, the 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour is drawing closer. For those who haven’t heard, the Salt Lake City stop of the tour is on February 19th @ The Depot . Tickets are still available at Fishwest for $13 but are going quickly. I will guarantee that the show will sell out so if you are wanting to go please don’t wait to get your tickets. Today we are bringing you another sneak peek of the films presented at this years show.
I have to say this story was very touching for me. My introduction to fly fishing was based on a little bit of hardship so I completely understand the therapeutic nature of this wonderful life long endeavor. Fly fishing does have the power to heal both physically and emotionally. It is amazing to know that there are organizations like Project Healing Waters are out there to give back to those who serve by providing rehab through the sport of fly fishing. For those who haven’t heard of this wonderful organization I would urge you to check them out and get involved.