Wet Fly Ways

  • By: David Hughes
  • Photography by: David Hughes
  • and Greg Thomas
Davy Wotton   

Click image for slideshow.

I wrote a book titled wet flies, and generally consider myself competent to fish them. Recently, however, I fished with Davy Wotton on the White River, near Cotter, Arkansas, and received a set of lessons that gave the effectiveness of wets a quantum leap for me. I was invited to present a workshop for the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, in Mountain Home, and did two smart things: accepted the invitation; and instantly booked a day to fish with Wotton.

I’d met him, discussed writing with him, studied his videos, but had never fished with him, and had not got around to incorporating his concepts whole into my own fishing. When I finally got that chance, I was astounded at the breadth and depth of his knowledge about fly-fishing. I also hung well behind him on the river, so that no contrasts could be drawn between his artistry and my ineptitude when we got fly rods in our hands.

The Ice Cream Cone Chironomid

  • By: Brian Chan
  • Photography by: Brian Chan
Rainbow on a Leech  

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Fly-fishing continually evolves, be it advancements in tackle, the challenges of new fisheries, or the evolution of fly patterns and fishing techniques. In fact, what may seem like a simple fishing or tying advancement may turn into a significant step in the refinement of a fishery. That’s often the case with stillwater trout fishing, where creative anglers are attracted to the sport because it offers plenty of challenge and equal reward, in the form of skeptical trout that run much larger on average than their stream-raised counterparts.

One of the most productive lake-fishing methods is to fish with chironomids, also called midge pupae. In nutrient-rich waters these members of the Diptera insect family form a significant part of a trout or char’s diet. During spring and summer daily chironomid emergences cloud the water with pupae wiggling to the surface. Chironomid pupae must taste good, because the biggest trout gorge on even the smallest pupae. Fish literally swallow hundreds of the insects as they slowly ascend to become adults. But matching chironomids and getting a fish to take isn’t as easy as you’d think it would be. In fact, in lakes fish have the time to study them closely, and they’ll likely refuse anything but a perfect match. That’s why matching chironomids has become an art form, and Kelly Davison, who runs Searun Fly & Tackle in Coquitlam, British Columbia, made one of greatest advancements in chironomid construction of all time.

Fab 5 Fall Hatches

  • By: John Holt
  • , Tom Keer
  • , Matt Supinski
  • , Skip Morris
  • and Greg Thomas
  • Photography by: Louis Cahill
October Caddis Serendipity

I enjoy watching friends fish, but this debacle was too much and I was on the verge of losing it. My pal Dan Summerfield had just missed, like, 15 eats in a row.

“WTF,” I shouted from my perch above Idaho’s North Fork Clearwater River, mocking our dreadful societal sway toward slaphappy acronyms, as if I were texting instead of sharing an afternoon on the water with a friend. He answered, “This size 20 Baetis is so small I just can’t get a good set.”

Cold-Weather Trout

  • By: Dave Hughes
  • Photography by: Dave Hughes
Oregon's Deschutes

The standard advice for trout fishing in nippy winter weather is TO rig with a sinking line and a big streamer (to coax idle fish into action), or with a pair of weighted nymphs (to roll along the bottom and right into open mouths). Both formulas have their appropriate places, when temperatures fall and also when water levels rise. But rigging takes second seat, in winter, to something far more important: Reading water to find the trout. If you cast those sunk streamers and tumbling nymphs in water that holds few fish, or just as often no fish at all, you’ll have system failure, even if you do everything else precisely right.

Sight-Casting for Black Drum

  • By: Chico Fernandez
  • Photography by: Chico Fernandez
Black Drum

Black drum get no respect. And I really don’t know why: THEY TAIL while feeding on the flats, you can sight-cast to them in shallow water, they are plentiful, they grow to more than 100 pounds (that’s not a typo), they can fight hard and they are not easy. If you haven’t cast to a big, tailing black drum, I recommend you give it a try. You may become a better angler for it. I have always thought that when you go after a new species, you can’t help but learn more about the fish’s environment and the different foods in their habitat, while improving your casting accuracy, fly manipulation and fish-fighting.