Chasing Redfish!

It must have been back in mid October when my wife mentioned we had a chance to go to Hilton Head for vacation.  I am a self admitted trout snob in the fly fishing world and not much of a beach person at all.  I tend to hate heat and humidity and just really don’t do to well being out in it.  So basically my wife  who grew up in Mobile Alabama did her best to sell the idea too me with talk of fishing and staying right on the water near a small creek that last time they were there had lots of fish activity that she was not sure what it was but she did a decent sales pitch and I said fine but one day is dedicated to some time with a guide trying to catch Redfish.

I will admit my competitive preparation side took over pretty quick and by Thanksgiving I already had a respectable selection of flies tied for the trip.  By spring I had a guide trip booked with Mark Nutting of LoCo Fly  Charters I was official pumped to fish the salt for the first time.  I tried not to let this fact on too much to the wife since this was a family vacation.

I quickly figured out once I got to our condo that we were staying right on a pretty good fishing spot.  We had a small creek that feed into the sound that was just loaded with bait fish so I knew there had to be some fish in it.  I also quickly noticed the girls seemed interested in fishing so we headed to Walmart and got a cheap outfit and some bait to give it a go and for me it would let me know what was in there.   The first night the eldest and I caught a couple fish on shrimp and missed a bunch.  The next day our luck changed when at low tide we found a beat up old minnow trap that was washed up on shore.  This proved to be the difference maker!

Mark with a small redfish.
Bella with a flounder that really caught us by surprise!
A school of sea trout that entered the creek every day during incoming tide made for some fast action for an hour or so daily.

After we figured out the fishing behind the house some and I personally even got a low country slam (redfish, sea trout, and founder)  one morning.  I was ready for the guide trip.  I will admit it was fun and I learned a lot on the trip I only caught one lady fish but the views alone were worth the price of the trip.  I honestly did not realize how hard casting off the front of a flats boat is.  Being a bigger guy I never really felt all that steady up there and by the time I got my sea lags the tides had changed and the trip was over.   I missed a handful of redfish and that only served to get me wanting to catch one on the fly even more.

With only a couple day left and not much time with good tides and other family plans I knew my shots at them would be limited.  On Friday morning I woke up and headed out to see what was going on in the creek at low tide.  I was blown away when I noticed a half a dozen or so decent size redfish and ended up missing one that morning.  One looked to be in the high 20’s size wise so just getting them to check out my fly that morning was a rush.  After those misses and a few spooked fish I figured my chances were pretty slim to get a my redfish on the fly after that.

On Saturday morning the day we checked out I knew I had to get up early and give it one more shot with low tide when I could see the fish.   I took my rod out with a Kwan fly that I tied over the winter tied on and hoped to see more red’s in the creek.  Quickly I noticed one working the far bank 50′ feet down the creek.  It was a tough cast but I got close to it on the cast but noticed it was headed the opposite direction so it never noticed my fly.  After that I said ok might as well walk the short section of creek and see what else is in here now.  I did not get very fay maybe 10 feet when I spotted a pair of redfish cruising right toward me down the creek. I made a cast leading them by 7 feet or so and hoped for the best.  In an instant the lead redfish seemed to speed up and turned right toward my fly and inhaled it on the 3rd strip!  It was fish on!  Somehow during the fight I managed to call the wife on the cell phone so she could come out and help me land it.  That had to make for a comical scene to anyone watching I am sure.  The fish made a few good runs and tired out.  Once I had that fish in hand and the wife took a couple quick pictures I was on cloud 9 the rest of the day.  Sometimes the fish that you spent months thinking about and preparing for ends up being more magical than you imagined.  Other times you are disappointed.  In hind sight how I caught this fish could not have happened any other way.  It was fun to share the moment with family and it made the last day more memorial than just packing the car and heading home would have been alone. It was my last cast into the waters of South Carolina for this trip but it will not be my last cast for redfish.

First redfish on the fly was a great way to end a great vacation.
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Catching a Case Worth!

This past weekend was a good one.  I don’t get home to fish with my Dad as often as I would like to but when I do it is always a good time.  When I got there around 4:00 on Saturday afternoon my dad said we are going fishing on a stream we had not fished since I was in high-school.    It is not know as a great stream locally and over the years it has only been stocked once a year in mid May so we really did not expect to catch many but we knew the section we were going to fish also holds some natives so we figured we would catch something and see how the stream is doing now days.

We got there and the water looked pretty good and we split up some and fished.  To say the least it was slow other than the fast pace action on cubs and other minnows.  Right about the time I was about to head down stream to catch up with my dad and see how he was doing I noticed a good size fish moving up stream in the flat section right toward me.  I did a double take and it registered that is was a trout.  I wish I could say it was a tough one to catch or a heck of a fight.  Nope this trout was what I refer to as a suicide fish it moved 6 feet upstream to take my fly like it was its first meal on weeks!  I set the hook and fought it for maybe 30 seconds and then I had it in the night.  About this time my Dad was back in sight since I made some commotion hollering for him to come see this big fish.  Once he got they we noticed the tag in the fish.  We both were a bit puzzled at first but as we were taking a couple pictures I mentioned I bet it’s one of the trout Straub Brewery tagged.  We both figured well we better keep it and since its 7:15 we better head over the the brewery and find out!  Well long story short yep it was a Straub trout!  We have been fishing the streams in the area they put them in for 30 years I bet and never caught one.  My brother and I had seen a few caught by others and always talked about man I can’t believe we never caught one.  Mark this one of the list of life goals!  It is true free beer is always the best tasting and even more so when you earn is on the stream.  So cheers to Straub Brewery for putting these fish out there to make an fisherman’s day.

A cold Straub Lager makes a great end to any fishing trip.


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Fly Rod Chronicles Signature 9′ 5wt Fly Rod – Review

I have been fishing this rod for about 3 weeks now and I am getting a pretty good feel for the rod.  I was able to cast the 6wt versions of the rod before they were release and I already knew they were amazing casting rods.  Casting is important but in all honesty it is not the main reason I like this rod.

When it comes to a trout rod which is what I consider the 5wt for the most part I personally look for a rod that can get the job done in different situations.  So for this review I will break down each type of fishing I did with the rod and score it on a scale of one to 10.  I will also explain why I gave it that score.  I will give remarks for the overall quality of the blank and visual quality of the overall rod.

Overall Rod Quality and Craftsmanship: 9/10 –  The overall design and build of this rod is really  top notch.  I have a hard time ranking any rod in this category a 10 since there is always some subjective aspect that anyone can find wrong with a rod.  The build quality is on par with the big time rod makers in the US.  Honestly being made in the USA as this rod is give is some bonus points in this area.  I really like the attention to detail with the FRC logo etched into the reel seat and the logo is also on the blank.  The rod also comes with 3 stripper guides which is something you don’t see on many rods I am not sure if it helps improve the casting on the rod but I can say for sure it does not hurt the rod in that area.  The rod feels light in the hand and the grip fits better in my hand than most rods I have fished.

Aesthetics: 10/10 – Personally I love the look of this rod.  The blue color really pops and makes it unique that is for sure.  The rod case and bag being embroidered with a FRC logo is also a great extra touch.  That is something extra that you won’t find on a lot of rods out there.  Some that I have shown the rod to or let them cast it are not a fan of the blue rod color but others simply seem to love it.   This rod was surely built with pride and it shows in the finished product.

Fishing Performance:

Casting:  10/10 – If you need to cast 60 feet or more in the wind this rod will do it with ease.  It is described as extra fast and it really is a fast rod that many describe as a cannon.  I am pairing with Cortland 444 5wt DT fly line and it loads the rod well.  I do think I would get some more distance with a WF line but honestly I do not need it.  Earlier this week I was casting dry dropper rig to risers on a local pond and was hitting the spots and distances I wanted with much less effort than other rods I have used there.  50 to 60 feet with accuracy is easier with this rod for me.  Even those that are not as proficient casters say the rod feels easier to cast to them.  This rod would make a great western fly rod or is great for bigger water and longer cast.  Distance is what it may be designed for but this rod holds its own with close quarters in the 10 to 25 foot casting range where most fishing is done.  At this range I feel like I can put the fly exactly where I want it and the rod tracking is perfect here.  It really is a great roll casting rod to which is something I feel many of the other fast rods out there are not as good at.

Dry Fly Fishing:  10/10 – Dry applications is what this rod is made for if I had to pick what its best at.  It puts the fly where you want it with efficiency and that is what matters with dry fly fishing.  The quick loading of the rod also allows you to change direction and cast to different rising fish quickly and effortlessly.

Indicator Nymphing:  8/10 –  I Like a longer rod with most of my nymphing but this rod will get the job done well for most guys with no issues.  If this was a 10′ rod I would likely give it a 9 or 10 out of 10 here.

Streamer Fishing:  8/10 –  Again this is a product of a bit heavier rod just being a better tool for the job.  This rod will perform great with most streamer applications but the 6 and 7wt versions would be my pick for someone looking for a mostly streamer rod.

Tightline/Euro Nymphing:  7/10 –  Compared to other 9′ 5wt rods I have nymphed with this rod performed awesome.  It is sensitive enough to detect strikes well and did cast a long leader good enough to work.  I feel with the action of this fly rod the same blank in a 10’4wt or 10’3wt would be one heck of a nice euro rod.  It will get the job done here but it is not what this rod is built for.

Dry Dropper Fishing:  9/10  – Pretty much the same as the dry fly review with the fact that it is not a 10 foot rod making it impossible for me to give it a 10 here.  Overall it works awesome with dry dropper and its likely I personally with use it with this application most.

Fighting Fish:   10/10 –  I can hear it now from the comp guys yeah right a super-fast rod that is good at fighting fish and protecting light tippets?!!  This rod has a great flex to it when under pressure fighting fish of all sizes.  I was actually very surprised by this personally I it really makes me enjoy fishing this rod even more.  How this rod is able to handle fish so well and still be a cannon of a casting rod I do know know but really it is what puts this rod in a class all of its own here.   The main trout in the first picture fought like crazy on  7x tippet and this rod protected it and brought the fish to the net.

Overall (Average score): 9/10  Really you can’t get much better than this.  This rod is 100% in the class of quality and performance with any top rod makers out there right now I would love to do a side by side with the Sage X or Orvis Helios 2 rods just for fun and to be able to say for sure it belongs in that class of rods.  But I am pretty sure already it does belong on the same top shelf in any fly shop as those rods.

My wife also enjoys fishing this rod.


PS:  This rod has some serious big fish MOJO!

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Trout Legend Secret to Common Carp on The Fly : The TL J150 Hook!

We got a reat review of the Troutlegend J150 Jig hook from a long time customer;  Bradley Clodfelter. Braley has been a fan of the hook ever since we started selling it and recently he sent some pictures of some monster carp he brought to hand with the 150.  Well, we knew it was a great trout hook, but you just can’t beat this kind of stress test on the 150 wire.  Anglers are always looking for strong hooks that won’t “bend out”… look no further.

Bradley with a nice carp.
I bet this one was a heck of a fight!

He even sent us a picture of the fly that got the job done.

Awesome fish Bradley and thank you for sharing the pictures with us.

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Hatch Alert!: Brown Drakes

Well I will keep this short and sweet for all of you in Northwest and Western Pennsylvania the Drakes are out.  Locally the Brown Drake is out in full force on my local streams in numbers that are just as fun to see as they are to fish. So get out there maybe start your holiday weekend early and call off sick.  Sorry boss I won’t be into day my arm is in a cast!

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Wet Flies: The Overlooked and Under Utilized Approach

When I started getting into fly fishing I was introduced to two approaches that my Dad had know of and they were really simple dry fly fishing and wet fly fishing.  For years those really were the two schools of thought.  It is actually funny to think of the fact that at one point it was seen as unfair to fish upstream so the trout don’t see you coming and that wet flies were frowned upon much like some guys complain about the mop flies and worm flies of today. I was introduced to wet flies by one book that I later learned has become a bible of sorts to the wet fly fisherman especially the soft hackle crowd.  That Book “The Art of Tying the Wet Fly” and my Dad’s stories helped send me on the path of a fly angler.  The book was handed down to me by my father and it was giving to him by his Uncle Dick.  My great uncle passed away well before I was born but his reputation according to my dad was that he was a heck of a fly fisherman.  The stories of my great Uncle really got me excited to fish with hopes of one day being able to fly fish like he did in the stories.  Well as a result that book handed to me became important even if I did not read through the old worn out book until years later I did use the pattern section from time to time as a kid.  Still today if I want to catch fish and feel like a kid again I stick to swinging wet flies.    I still remember the words my Dad echoed about the book  that his uncle told him “Kid you will catch a lot more fish on wet flies than you will on dries!”.

James Leisenring’s “The Art of Tying the Wet Fly”

Traditionally wet fly fishing is considered just casting a brace of 3 flies and let them swing down and across and yes that is likely one of the most common ways of fishing them but really they can be fished many ways.  Here are a few.

  1. Standard wet fly swing down and across:  This works great in moderate depth and speed riffles.  It also has an advantage of allowing you to cover a lot of water quickly and thoroughly.
  2. Up stream:  Also usually has a brace of 3 flies and you fish them up stream in front of you.  Lead the flies much like you would in tight line nymphing but allow for some sag in the line and if that sag tightens or changes in any way set the hook!
  3. Dead Drift:  Much like you would do with dry flies but you need to pay more attention to the area around your flies and watch you line for a take.  I feel this technique is the hardest to pull of but it has proved to be deadly at times and I have caught many of many quality size brown trout this way.
  4. Wets as a Dry.  Put your favorite dry fly floatant on and fish them to rising fish.  It gives a great representation of a struggling or still born insect and when trout are really tough on your standard dries it can really be a great option to fool them.
  5. Dry Dropper: Fish them this way just like you would with a nymph trailed behind a dry.  I really like this tactic when lots of caddis are hatching.  It will work during any hatch really and its a great way to pick up some extra fish.  This is very similar to the dead drift method and I started using it personally when I was struggling to detect takes on the dead drift across stream.

Get out there and give it a try!

This little brown crushed a wet fly on the swing.
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Confidence Flies

There are some things in fly fishing that really take time to really get good at and lots of time on the water or tweaking flies to get what the trout want just right.  Well sorry that is not the reason for this post.  If you have fly fish there is a good chance you already have the flies that are the confidence flies in your box.  The reason is simple they are different for everyone in most cases.   The simple fact is they are your own personal favorite or lucky flies.  How do they become those go to flies?  Usually they are flies that just catch fish for you when nothing else seems to work. They are the flies you usually use first on new water.

I personally feel for just about everyone this is a list of 6 or less flies maybe a few more for some and less for others.  Some of mine may have came about by fooling a big fish that proved tough to fool.  Others were flies that I learned to tie early on and seemed to work so I stuck with them.  Whatever the reason they are flies I always have a few of with me and some of them I have a lot in my box.

The rainbow trout in the upper picture was caught on a Loren William’s Sexy Waltz Worm (Loren’s Sexy Walts).  It is a great little update on the standard Walt’s worm and it really for me has proved its place as one of my confidence flies.  I don’t fish it all the time but it is a fly I turn to when fishing gets tough.

Some other would be the old tried and true Woolly Bugger and I would bet it makes a lot of guys list.  When it comes to dries the elk hair caddis has always been a fly I turn to when I am targeting a random rising fish or just searching new water in the mood to fish dries.

The Frenchie or any good old pheasant tail nymph make the list as well.  One thing with me is at different times of the year certain flies make the list as well based of hatch that happens at that time.

The real story here though is not what I use but that really everyone has their own list.  It’s the flies that you feel good about using and honestly the real trick is that confidence you have in them makes you fish better.  Half this game is mental and if you think I fly will catch fish chances are it will.

TL CEO shared this picture of some of the flies he turns to as confidence flies.


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Fly Tying Tip: Prep Your Hooks and Materials

Every fly tier out that likely has a few tips and tricks they use to save time at the fly tying vise.  This one is one I use just about every time I hit the vise with a pattern in mind.  First off never tie just one of any pattern.  I usually tie my flies of at least 6 or 12 at a time.  When doing so before I hook ever makes it into the vise I prep my hooks for the pattern.  With beaded or weighted flies I do that step first and line up the hooks I plan on tying.  As you can see in the picture at the top of the post I have all my hooks loaded with a bead and ready for material.

Ok you got the hooks ready now what?  Well I like to prep my other materials.  This may be hackle sized out and picked for the flies you are tying or prepping other materials you may need.  For this fly the Squirmy Worm It was pretty simple its only one material other than thread that I need so I cut the material to size and set out what I needed on my desk.

Squirmy material cut to size and laid out on the desk.

This should be enough to give you an idea of what can be done to speed up the tying process.  This really is something any production tier is already doing but it is something every fly tier should be doing and its a great way to be more productive and get your boxes filled a bit quicker.

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Fishing the B, C, and D Water

Let face it we all like to get our favorite spot once we get to the river.  Those nice productive holes and runs are always a sure bet for a few trout and a good time on the water.  Its also a fact that most of us don’t always get to the water to get those prime pieces of real-estate.  I grew up in a family where keeping up with my older brother on the stream was impossible at times he always fished faster than I did and always seemed to get to the prime water first. As a competitive younger brother I hated it I always felt like I had to fish the crap water or find fish he over looked.  As I got older I realized he taught me more than he would realize by fundamentally forming the way I fished.  I become use to fishing pressured water and finding those fish that might be harder to catch.  In the end I can admit it made me a better angler.  If you want to get better follow a good bait angler up a stream I promise you will become a better fisherman.

What did this teach me?  One was that there is more to a stream than just the prime water.   Don’t get discouraged if your favorite hole is taken by another angler if it is a stocked trout stream fish down stream of it.  Fish that are stocked do swim and downstream of the popular hole is often more productive even if it is a shallow riffle.  I have had many great days fishing water that 95% of guys walk right by and honestly many times I catch more than those in the A water catch.  It is simple unpressured fish are easier to catch in most cases.

Late summer rainbow caught in some skinny water.

What is B, C, and D water?  Well to everyone that might be a bit different.  On quality wild trout streams I have come to feel that really is no bad water sure some is better than others but wild trout may be anywhere.  What makes some water better is its easier to fish.  Lets face it now many of us will run right to a shallow glassy section of water and say oh I love this spot!  Are the fish there yeah no doubt usually they are spooky and harder to fool.  In the competition scene sometimes by virtue of the draw that may be just the water you have to fish. sometimes if you make the best of it and fish it well its the best beat on the stream.

My Breakdowns of Water Types:

A Water:  Deep Runs, Pocket Water, near cover or structure

B Water:  Deep holes, moderate depth riffles.

C &D Water:  shallow featureless riffles,  glassy flat water

These are some general examples and really this grading water process is different for everyone and without looking at the water its really hard to grade with a set standard.  Factors like time of year and stream conditions can change what water is graded what on any given day.  In short fish the water that most over look it might make for a great outing on the water.


This glassy water at times is a great area to target feeding fish. Most fly anglers seem to avoid it at all cost.
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Fly Fishing Friends

Fishing buddies are not something to be taken lightly.  Yeah there are a lot of guys out there that we may fish with over the years but many come and go. Honestly this is with good reason.  It really is hard to find guys that fish with a similar outlook and style to what we personally do.  Finding that right mesh of someone that you enjoy fishing with is not as easy as it sounds.

These fishing partners can come from anywhere often they are family members or even a guy you might meet on the stream and just decide to fish with that day and share the water.  Ask any angler out there and they will have some stories on how they meet the people they enjoy fishing with the most.   I will admit it personally over the years I have always tended to be one that enjoys fishing alone much of the time and I find that the time alone is when personally when I seem to do my best fishing.    But those times with others do seem to end up with better stories and no matter what someone to share the experiences with.  Here are a few of my memories spent on the stream with others.  Feel free to share your own pictures and stories with us.

Nick Bell with a solid hook jaw lake run brown.
Bradley Clodfelter with a nice Cabins WV brown trout.
Dejon netting a nice fish on the Roaring Fork.
Toria was excited about this rainbow.
I love seeing a trout put a smile on my wife’s face!

After further thought maybe I would rather not fish alone anymore.


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