Recreational Fishing

Andy's Advice Column

Braided Lines in the Pacific Northwest

Fluorocarbon Fishing Lines

Fluorocarbon Fishing Knots

Reading Water

A Book Review
"Small - Stream Fly Fishing" by Jeff Morgan


Andy's Advice Column
Is it the Fly or is it the Action?
by Andy Batcho

What's typically the first question an angler asks when he observes another angler catching a fish? From my experience it's; "What fly are you using?" From the perspective of this article, you can substitute the word lure, herring, plug, spoon, spinner, etc. for the word fly depending on the kind of fishing you like to do, the same principals apply.

A better question than, "What fly are you using?" might be "How are you fishing your fly?" Meaning is your presentation a "dead-drift", moving slowly or occasionally, or moving quickly, in some cases very quickly.

Often I have experienced, that it's not so much exactly which fly pattern you're using, although we've all heard "Match the Hatch", but more so the action of the fly or lure. Before I abandon a fly pattern for a new one, I try three things:

1st, Presenting the fly in a "dead-drift", no motion mode. What is a "dead-drift"? It's easiest to describe from the perspective of a dry fly. If a grasshopper jumps into a stream, one thing you'll notice is, it doesn't have a wake behind it as it's drifting along. On the other hand, if you cast a hopper fly pattern into the water and your fly-line/leader is down stream of the fly, the line will drag the fly downstream, leaving a wake behind the fly, like a water skier behind a boat. Bad…really Bad! Most every trout I've seen is wise to this "wake" business, it's un-natural and they'll reject the fly almost every time. Mending your line (flipping your fly line upstream of the fly) prevents this drag on the fly and provides the fly a "dead-drift" (natural) presentation. This "dead-drift" presentation also works with wet flies such as nymphs, streamers, wooly-buggers, even lures, jigs & herring.

2nd, presenting the fly with some motion, either consistent or erratic. Consider that same real grasshopper in the stream. Occasionally the hopper will kick its legs trying to "swim". Often I have observed big, wise trout come up to inspect a "dead-drift" hopper fly pattern, only to swing away at the last moment. Why? He's had too much time to carefully check out the fly and was able to determine that it wasn't real. But, the next time he comes up to check it out, give the fly a little twitch at the last instant, just as the trout approaches the fly......BAM!!.....he'll sock it. That little bit of kick movement was enough to convince the trout that the hopper was alive and if he doesn't grab it immediately, the hopper will get away. This trick also works with lures, herring, jigs & spinners.

3rd, Ripping It! In this last case, present the fly with very quick motion that gives the trout little or no time to examine the fly closely, triggering a "response" strike. Similar to the quick movements of a string that entice a sleepy cat to "grab it", they just can't help it; it's a conditioned response. If you find you're getting "short-strikes" with a streamer/wooly-bugger type fly, it's usually because the trout is interested, but has too much time to determine that the fly isn't real. They'll nip at the tail, just to be sure (the short strike), but will release it. In this case "ripping" the fly as fast as you can won't give the trout time to look over the fly & you'll get the "if I don't eat it now, it'll get away" strike. So, the next time you're about to change your unsuccessful fly (lure, bait) think about the question; "Is it the fly (lure) or the action?", and give the three step presentation method a try before changing patterns.

Andy Batcho is a member of the Des Moines Salmon Chapter of Trout Unlimited; he has fished for 50+ years & fishes for all species of fish using all methods and has caught over 150 species of fresh & saltwater fish in a dozen States.  He has fly fished over 70 rivers of the West.  He holds International Game Fish Association World & State Records including Salmon, Trout & Bass, is the 2nd person to record the IGFA Royal Salmon Slam & is currently one species away from the Royal Trout Slam. 
Andy's also a charter member of the Yellowstone Gang,


Braided Lines in the Pacific Northwest
by Andy Batcho

After a recent article in the "Leader" about fluorocarbon lines & knots, several fishers asked me about braided lines.  "How are they being used for Northwest fishing?" & "How in the world do you tie knots that hold with that slippery stuff?", "I've lost lots of gear and a few big fish because my braided line knots failed!"

After interviewing a few top-notch steelhead, salmon & bottom-fishing friends & local fishing pros, I was surprised to find braided lines much more widely used in the Northwest than I suspected.
Just to be clear, when I say braided lines, I'm referring to the wide range of Kevlar or Spectra braided fiber & fused lines going by brand names like, PowerPro, Spider Wire, Spider Wire Fusion, Fireline, TUF-Line, G-Power, and others.

Let's first discuss braided line uses in the Northwest.  Originally introduced by America's Pro Bass anglers as a no stretch, yank 'em out of tough brush line, the braided lines have found their way into many NW fishing applications.
Here's a few:
Some of the Steelheading pros are taking advantage of the "no-stretch" feature of braided lines by using them with the "bobber & jig" method of fishing for the Ironhead.  Braided line allows a 30-degree upstream cast into a fish-holding seam, a downstream drift, and then free spooling the drifting jig down the entire length of the seam.  Even with an exceptional amount of line from the rod tip to the float, if the float goes down, you can hook the fish.  Why?  There's no stretch in this hard-hitting line!
Those Steelheaders that pull plugs also like the instant response & hook-up power of braided lines.
But, most Steelheaders I talked with don't use braided lines for traditional pencil lead/drift fishing, mainly because of the difficulty in breaking this line if it hangs up on the bottom......which is commonplace in steelhead drift fishing.  Monofilament leaders are used with jig fishing, but braided lines are commonly tied directly to plugs.

Salmon fishing:
The two most popular uses of braided lines for salmon fishing are; deep water mooching & jigging.  In both these situations either the plug-cut herring or lead herring imitation jigs are being worked in waters from 75 to 200 feet deep.  The braided line provides two advantages, first, very small diameter for a given pound test that allow the bait/lure to fall quickly to great depths with minimal line drag.  Second, again the "no-stretch" feature allows for a certain & firm hookup while using long lines.  Blackmouth (immature King Salmon) fishers are most fond of these methods, as the young kings tend to live deep in the water column, usually just off the bottom.  Monofilament or Fluorocarbon leaders are always used with bait mooching, but the braided line is most often tied directly to jigs.
Most top salmon fishers I talked to don't use braided lines for trolling, nor do the shallow mooching experts.  There is some concern with a "no-stretch" system of graphite rods & braided lines ripping the hook out of a salmon's mouth during a fast moving/hard strike.  I also think that tradition plays a big role here, and long-time successful anglers are often reluctant to change their proven ways.

Bottom fishing:
Most big bottom fish like Lingcod, Halibut & Rockfish tend to live in deep waters & near rocky structures.  Here again, the no-stretch feature of braided lines allow for powerful hook sets at great depths and provided an added feature of being able to pull big fish away from rocky, line cutting hideouts before they can reach them.  Bottom fishing is likely the most popular application of braided lines in the Northwest and again in this application, the braided lines are tied directly to lures or baits.

Whatever you know about the standard monofilament knots normally used for Northwest fishing, forget them when it comes to braided lines!  Most of them WILL NOT WORK with braided lines.  When I asked the top notch fishers & line manufacturers which knot they used with braided lines, the most popular answer was "the Palomar". (page 17 in Bill Herzog's "Tying Strong Fishing Knots book")   The Palomar is a simple knot (a loop thru the hook eye, then an overhand knot with the loop passing over the hook) & should be added to every fisherman's repertoire.
Other knots suggest for tying braided lines to hooks or swivels are:  the Double-Improved Clinch (Tuf Knot) (pg. 10 Herzog), the doubled line Duncan loop (G-loop) (pg. 30 Herzog), & the Uni knot (pg. 18).  Line manufactures tend to recommend, 1. always passing the line thru the eye of your terminal tackle twice when tying knots that allow it, 2. doubling the line, if terminal tackle allows, before tying knots, & 3. larger knots provide the best strength.  The improved clinch knot, common to monofilament line, IS NOT recommended for braided lines.  The best advice I can provide: Study, practice & learn the knots suggested by the manufacturers at a minimum, it'll save you a lot of lost gear & a few really big fish.

Braided line drawbacks:
There are a few drawbacks with using braided lines.  1. Some brands tend to be supple, which allows the line to wrap around the rod tip easily….& often.  2.  Some braided lines can be abrasive & cut into rod guides.  3. If you put a great deal of pressure on some braided lines, they will pull/cut down into the wraps of line on your reel. 4. The softness of many of the braided lines lead to more tangles.  5. Many high-end rod manufacturer warranties are voided when using braided lines, because these lines are so strong, check yours.  6. You must remember to set your reel drag for the pound-test of your leader material, not the pound-test of your braided mainline.  None of these concerns should prevent you from trying braided lines, but forewarned is forearmed.  There has been an additional concern voiced by some catch & release anglers; that is the possibility of these extremely thin lines causing harm to fish (especially fragile salmon & steelhead) wrapping themselves in the line.  I am not aware of much information on this subject, but if you are a catch & release angler and decide to try braided lines you might pay particular attention to your catches to assure no damage is being done.

A word about Safety:
Braided fishing lines are extremely strong & have very small diameters.  These lines WILL cut you badly!  Never pull on these lines with bare hands.  As a matter of fact, never wrap these lines around any part of your body that you'd prefer stay attached.  Most anglers familiar with braided lines suggest wrapping the line around your reel frame, or a stick to break a hung line.  Never use your rod to break these lines; it's almost a guarantee your rod will loose!  These lines are so strong that I had one angler tell me a braided line cut into the jell coat of his boat while he was trying to land a large halibut!


Fluorocarbon Fishing Lines
A little science & a lot of opinion
by Andy Batcho

More & more angler's, both fly fishers & saltwater anglers are talking about fluorocarbon line these days.  I thought I'd dedicate an article to that topic to give anglers a little more information on the product.
How is Fluorocarbon line made?  Both fluorocarbon & monofilament lines are made by putting pellets in a hopper, heating them, extruding thru dies & finally quenched in water, in a repeated process until the desired diameter is obtained.  Similar to a hot glue gun.

Where would you use a fluorocarbon line?  Definitely not as your mainline, the cost is way to high.  It's best application is as fly fishing tippet material, or as salmon leaders when mooching for those picky Blackmouth or Kings, in other words where fish might tend to be leader shy.  Bait fishing for Trout might also be a good application & Steelheading is a definite possibility.  Anywhere that the bait, lure or fly is moving slow (or not moving) and the fish has an opportunity to inspect it closely before deciding it's safe to eat it.   Fast moving baits/lures, such as trolling, cranking spinners & spoons tend to produce instinctive strikes, where the fish has less time to inspect the offering.  I don't see much of an advantage to fluorocarbon in these situations, but due to the lack of experimentation, I may be wrong.

Flourocarbon line (PVDF, polyvinylidenfluoride) has been available to fisherman for about 10 years, but few fishers use it, likely due to it's cost. (~ $10/ tippet spool)
Have I already lost you on this?  
Well, lets see if the benefits are worth 2 to 3 times that of monofilament.

Fluorocarbon absorbs no water (some mfgs. Say 3-4%), nylon absorbs 10%.
Low water absorption equals less line elongation, longer life & better knot strength (with a caveat).
Fluorocarbon line exhibits more consistent knot strength than nylon in testing & less variability in breaking strength.  
Side note: Off-the-shelf nylon lines break at 150 to 200% of their package rating.  IGFA or Tournament rated lines break at the advertised package rating, so be cautious if you buy these lines so your not disappointed by their precision performance.
Fluorocarbon's wet knot strength is superior to nylon, since it absorbs no water, but….say again, BUT,  you MUST pull fluorocarbon knots down TIGHT when tied.  Nylon swells when it gets wet & absorbs water, tightening the knot by swelling into the loose places of the knot.   Fluorocarbon doesn't!

In any case, knots must be wetted before pulling them down to provide lubricant & prevent "burning".   Burning in this case is melting.  Have you ever seen that little telltale squiggle, kink, curl on your mainline just ahead of your knot?   You've melted the line with the friction of cinching the knot.   It's now half the strength of the original line!  Wetting the line is a must to prevent burning, but it's also important to know how to tighten a particular knot.  Pulling it from the tag end, the mainline end or both simultaneously.  Each knot has a right way to tighten it, experiment with your knots & see.  I can almost guarantee you that you'll break more knots with fluorocarbon vs. nylon if you don't pay detailed attention to your knot tying.   There are also some knots that work better with fluorocarbon line, basically those with less twists involved (less chance for burning), but that's a subject for a future article.

Fluorocarbon has the highest abrasion resistance of any tippet/leader material.  Does this sound valuable for nymphing or Steelheading in rocky rivers?  You bet.

Visibility:  The visibility of anything is measure by its Refractory Index (RI).  The RI of water is 1.33; nylon is 1.62;  FC is 1.42.  The closer the number is to water, the less visible it is in water.  This also allows you to go one size larger on your tippets/leaders if you like & maintain stealth.

Specific gravity:  Specific gravity determines whether things sink or float.  The specific gravity (sg) of water is 1.0.    The sg of nylon is 1.1 while fluorocarbon is 1.7 to 1.9.  Things lighter than 1.0 float, heavier than 1.0 sink.  Nylon floats due to it's inability to break thru the surface tension of water.  FC sinks just below the surface film.  Not of much interest to those except fly fishers.   Trout often identify their buggy prey by the indentions their feet make in the surface film.  With a nylon tippet, the indentions the fly make are not only visible, but the "trough" made by the nylon tippet is also visible.  Given the better visibility characteristics of FC & it's ability to ride just under the surface film, it's nearly invisible to the trout.

Color:  I can really raise some letters to the editor with this subject, because everyone has their own beliefs on this subject.   Here's how I see it.  If I could only choose one color line to use, it'd be clear.  Baring that restriction, I use a line that most closely matches the color of water I'm fishing in.  We're talking leaders/tippets here; I don't care what color the mainline is. Green for Puget Sound, clear for mountain streams, brown for dirty waters, etc.  But, clear line matches all conditions as it takes on the color of the surrounding water.  For instance, (here we go), I'd never, never use brown line for King mooching leaders in the salt, but I'm ok with it for Steelheading leaders.   Why?  I've tried it, & I'm convinced I get less bites.  Prove it you say; well the best test I know is to gather up all those different leader materials you have (and a few more from your fishing buddy), then fill a quart glass jar with the water from your fishing hole.  Drop the lines in & look for yourself.  Which one is hardest to see?

UV rays:  All fishers know that UV rays from the sun destroy nylon fishing line.  FC is impervious to UV.  Sunlight doesn't degrade it.

Newer generations of FC are promised to have up to 60% increased strength without increase in line diameter.
Many expert line testers believe that fluorocarbon lines significantly increase their number of hook-ups.

So, there you go, pluses, minuses, & likely more than you'd ever want to know about fluorocarbon lines.  Is it worth the extra dollars?  Well you know your type of fishing best, I'll let you decided that.

For me; do I use fluorocarbon lines for all applications, No, but I do use them in stealth situations & feel I catch more fish by doing so.


Fluorocarbon Fishing Knots
A little science & a lot of opinion
by Andy Batcho

Here's a difficult subject to cover with the written word.  Fishing knots.  Why?  It's difficult to describe knots without pictures.  So I've elected to write about fishing knots, especially those used for fluorocarbon lines by making references to one of the better books I've seen on the subject.  The book;  "Tying Strong Fishing Knots" by Herzog.  If you want to see the pictures of the knots discussed here you might want to pick up a copy, although I'm not selling books here.

This is also a difficult subject because I know every fisher out there has their personal favorites, as do I, but a little study and testing on the subject reveals much.

One of my favorite knots of the past is the Trilene knot (thru the eye, twist several times & back thru the loop at the eye).  While talking to a Trilene rep. & mentioned the difficulties I was having with the Trilene knot (shown in each package of Trilene line, and Herzog pg. 9).  He said, "We don't recommend that knot for fluorocarbon line, but it does work great for nylon."  Reason, the twists in the line "burn" (really, melt) fluorocarbon in the process of "pulling down" the knot.  This was born out by several tests we tried.   Even wetting the knot well didn't help.   The test knots broke at 6-7 lbs with 10 lb. line.  With a 2 lb. tippet you're talking a 1 lb. knot.

The Trilene knot works fine with monofilament, because it is less susceptible to burning.  Fluorocarbon burns quite readily.   Evidence of a burned knot is:  any disfigurement of the line (kinks, twists, flattening) on the mainline just above where the knot is tied.

I did tie & test my light line knot, the one I use for light mono line record fishing.  It was difficult to tie in the fluorocarbon.  FC was way to stiff to tie the knot easily, (impossible with a small fly), took me 3 times to get it right.   The knot did test at 12 lbs. with 10 lb. line, and the line broke before the knot.  It's called a "Double Improved Clinch knot" or "Rivers Inlet knot".  Essentially you double the line over then tie a Trilene knot. (page 10 in the Herzog book)

With mono tests, any knot where the line passes thru the eye of the hook twice before tying, beats any knot where you only go thru the eye once, but with fluorocarbon, going thru the eye twice increases burning.  Also with the Trilene knot, 4-5 twists are ok with 15lb. line & above, but 6-7 twists are recommended for 15 lb. & below.

The knot recommended & tested by the Trilene rep. was the "Crawford Knot" (page 46, Herzog).  It's essentially a figure 8 knot.  The knot, when tied properly, has a positive "lock" feel when it is firmly pulled down, you can see & feel it, letting you know it's cinched down properly.  It doesn't burn the line, and tests at about 90% of line strength.

For joining a new tippet to your leader, tests show the Surgeon's Knot  (Herzog p. 48) is superior to the Blood knot (p. 25) when using fluorocarbon.  Again the twisting thing that fluorocarbon can't take.  

By changing my fluorocarbon knots, I have noticed that I snap off fewer flies, but there's no doubt in my mind that fluorocarbon is less forgiving (less stretch) than nylon, but I do feel I get more hook-ups by using it in stealthy situations.

So, the bottomline is; if your going to try the new fluorocarbon lines, you might want to look at adding a few new knots to your repertoire.


Reading Water
A little Science & a lot of Opinion
by Andy Batcho

"Reading Water"???...... you might say to yourself; "What has Andy been drinking, how do you "read" water?"  For those of you that are old time fishers, this article won't provide you much new information; but for those of you who are still struggling a bit to catch fish on a regular basis this article might give you some insight.

  • One sure way to spot a less experienced angler on a river is noting that they typically fish the "entire" river, while more experienced anglers are seen fishing only 10% to 15% of the "high-percentage" areas of a given river. 
    One fact that experienced anglers know about fish in rivers (lakes, streams & saltwater as far as that goes) is: "Fish are not evenly distributed throughout the volume of water being fished."  That may seem like an obvious statement, but it's a key element to catching fish.   So, if you accept that fish are not evenly distributed through any given body of water, then it would seem to make sense to fish where the fish are.   So, where are the fish?  Where are those "high-percentage" areas?  Here are a few clues provided by "reading water"; If you're fishing in a river for migratory/spawning fish like Salmon or Steelhead, one fact is, from a fish's perspective, the river is divided into two types of water, "traveling water" & "holding water". Holding water contains characteristics that the fish favor for resting, feeding, spawning or hiding. Those characteristics are usually provided by; water depth, cover (logs/brush/rocks), and/or proper flow rates and these characteristics are usually provided by pools and slots, including the headwater and tail water of the pool. These areas are most easily found by looking at watercolor, where darker green slots or purple/black pools are the key areas. Water flow around most logs and large rocks in a stream and inside bends in a river will create these deeper areas. Sections of a river that have the "contour of a bathtub", no deep water, no logs/rocks/brush, essentially no complexity would be treated by a migrating fish as "traveling water", in other words, just a section of river used to travel from one holding area to the next holding area. A river may contain 10-20% (ideally as high as 50%) holding water with the rest being traveling water. Therefore, the more experienced angler would eliminate anywhere from 50% to 90% of any given river, spending time concentrating on the "holding water" areas. That's not to say that you can't find a fish in the traveling water, obviously, the fish don't get out of the stream and walk from pool to pool; they must move thru the traveling water, usually quickly, and may be caught there occasionally, but the experienced angler will use their few fishing hours available to fish the high-percentage areas of holding waters.
  • Path of least resistance. Fish, like all other animals on earth have a common trait; "left undisturbed or otherwise unprovoked; they will take the path of least resistance". That's not a bad thing, it's just a fact of nature with creatures that the energy they expended is greatly affected by benefit gained. In nature, not to do so, is a sure formula for extinction. If you observe the actions of an undisturbed deer in the woods, you don't see them crashing thru the heaviest brush in the woods, but rather they move from area to area using trails. Only if threatened do they dash into the thickets to hide. Fish are no different. As fish travel upstream, they will take the path of least resistance (the trails). For an adult migrating fish, the path of least resistance is three mile-per-hour water. (For a visual reference; three miles-per-hour is the speed that the average human walks down a sidewalk.) Why is three miles-per-hour so important? Water faster than 3 mph requires the fish to put out too much effort to stay stationary or move upstream. Water slower than 3 mph doesn't provide adequate flow across the gills to provide the fish adequate oxygen. The reason 3 mph flow is key is it fits the rule of benefit gained is greater than energy expended. This rule also applies to trout fishing in a stream. Trout will lie in a 3 mph "feeding-station" seam where the benefit gained is greater than energy expended, then dart out into the faster water to grab food being concentrated & delivered by the current seams, then quickly return to the feeding-station. So, how do you find fish friendly 3 mph water? If a river is flowing at 7 mph and hits a large rock in the river, the current splits around the rock and forms a plume below the rock. On either side of the rock and on the outside edges of the plume, the water is flowing at 7 mph; behind the rock, the current is 0 mph, or even flowing upstream in a back eddy. If you examine the "seam" of water along the edge of the rock & plume closely you'll find that the water doesn't go from 0 mph to 7 mph immediately, but rather there is a gradient from 0 to 7 mph. Within that gradient there is a small 3 mph "seam" of water. This same situation occurs in front of the rock, where the pressure wave created by the water hitting the rock brings the water speed to 0 mph. Other places that this "speed-gradient" occurs are at the bottom of the stream, edge of the stream bank, off the end of a point of land or any obstruction interrupting the current flow. The water molecules right at the bottom of the stream & edge of the stream are meeting the resistance of the solid bottom/bank and are flowing 0 mph. If you don't believe it, the next time your out, just look closely at the water on the very edge of the river, it's standing still, even though the water a foot offshore is moving fast. So the same gradient situation exists here, between 0 mph and 7 mph is a 3 mph seam. That's were the undisturbed fish will be. The reason I say undisturbed, is just like the deer, if the fish is threatened, they will quickly leave this preferred location and move to deep and/or brush covered water for protection. That's a whole other article; how to properly approach & fish water so you don't spook fish. This 3 mph phenomenon also helps describe the difference between "holding" & "traveling" water. Holding water contains many good 3 mph situations, with cover nearby; traveling water does not. So, once you get good at reading water, knowing that the fish will travel & hold by moving upstream from prime 3 mph spot to the next, you'll be able to look at a river and see the path of fish travel in the water as clearly as you can see a deer trail in the woods.

Similar principals apply when fishing in lakes and saltwater; the fish aren't evenly distributed in the body of water; structure, depth, temperatures, food & currents determine the fish's preferred locations, and those preferred locations make up a very small portion of the overall size of the body of water.

By applying the principals of traveling water, holding water, feeding stations and 3 mph seams you will join the ranks of the more experienced anglers who; may have intuitively learned to eliminate large portions of a given river based on their years of experience on where they have & haven't caught fish over the years, and move yourself to the place where you're only fishing the high-percentage portions of a river and regularly catching more fish. Tight lines, Andy Batcho


A Book Review by Andy Batcho
"Small - Stream Fly Fishing" by Jeff Morgan

A few years ago at a Trout Unlimited National Convention in Portland, Oregon I met a young man who had a fly tying booth at the Convention.   His name is Jeff Morgan, a PhD candidate at Stanford.  Now I've seen lots of flies, in lots of fly shops, but as I wandered past Jeff's booth I was stopped in my tracks.   I'd never seen such an unusual collection of flies.  As Jeff and I talked, I began to realize that this guy had taken fly tying past an art and into a science.  Jeff talked about "bugs" & "trout" with a passion and scientific understanding far beyond anyone I'd ever met before and his fly tying reflected that understanding with patterns & methods unique to Jeff's flies.

I've had the pleasure of fishing with Jeff on a couple occasions where we fished for Atlantic salmon in a high mountain lake, Red-Band Rainbows on Oregon's Fall River, and a week in Yellowstone National Park.
I was really anxious to catch an Atlantic Salmon to complete the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Royal Salmon Slam, requiring a person to catch all the species of salmon.   Jeff tied some flies for the trip and tutored me on a unique "two-handed" fast retrieve method to fish them.  We launched our float tubes in the high mountain lake and a few casts later I'd caught my first Atlantic salmon followed by several more.   What impressed me even more was there were a few other anglers fishing the lake, all using a slow, soak a chironomid method that didn't seem to be working too well, but Jeff's method was totally opposite, fast and flashy….and it really worked!

I was also impressed with Jeff's "bug-skills" when Jeff & I fished the Fall River for Red-Band Rainbows.  These fish were pretty highly pressured and not about to be fooled by the average attractor pattern.   Jeff reached in his fly box and gave me a few tiny white CDC dry-flies and instructed me on how to fish them.  There were several anglers fishing the stream, most without much luck.  I found a group of fish and made an upstream cast with Jeff's fly, Bamm!  An immediate take!  I caught over 20 Red-Bands that day.  Other anglers walked down the bank to watch me catch the fish, asking, "What are you using?  I haven't been able to catch one all day."    Clearly these little flies tied by Jeff were the key.

Fishing Yellowstone National Park with Jeff and "The Yellowstone Gang" revealed a lot more of his secret understanding of "bugs" & "trout".   We used Jeff's tiny, tiny chironomids to stalk cruising Cutthroat along the shores of Yellowstone Lake; beetle, ant and deer fly patterns on the nervous trout of Slough Creek, and with Jeff's advice we caught lots of finicky Yellowstone River Cutts.

Jeff has a unique ability driven by his in-depth scientific understanding of nature to analyze a section of stream, it's substrate, riparian zone, plants, entomology & geology to determine the proper flies to use on that stream, that particular day.  It's been a real pleasure to fish with someone with that much understanding of what's going on out there in nature.  Now any sane person would want to keep this "fly fishing guru gem" under their hat, but Jeff has let the "cat out of the bag" by writing a book revealing many of his secrets.  Drats!  

His new book is called "Small-Stream Fly Fishing" "A thought-provoking guide to becoming a "top rod" on any stream you fish!" The book details many of Jeff's secrets that I've seen in action in the field.  Special fly patterns, methods, equipment and more…..out there for all to see….Oh the pain!

Frank Amato, the outdoor book publishing guru says; "You will find Jeff Morgan to be wise beyond his years as he instructs you in the finer points of understanding the small-stream trout game and exactly how it is played and enjoyed.  This is a gifted book with many insights that will help any fly-angler improve his or her skills and streamside satisfaction.  In a way, it is a more fully developed version of the classic Curtis Creek Manifesto that has long been the "short cut".

"Small-Stream Fly Fishing" by Jeff Morgan is available via Frank Amato Publications, Inc., P.O Box 82112, Portland, OR., 97282, (503) 653-8180, , ISBN 1-57188-346-0, $24.95.

Why do I write these articles?? …..another secret down the drain!!




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