The Glass Renaissance

  • By: Ted Leeson
  • Photography by: Greg Thomas
Glass Rods

Like most anglers of a certain vintage, I began fly-fishing with fiberglass rods. Cane rods, aside from their prohibitive cost, were considered a bit old fashioned, and “graphite” was still a word that applied to pencils. Fiberglass was modern technology, a lighter, stronger, more versatile, “high-performance” material, and to many fishermen, that automatically meant that we had to have it. Some things never change.

Maine's Smallmouth Bass

  • By: Rick Ruoff
  • Photography by: Barry Beck
  • , Cathy Beck
  • and Val Atkinson
smallmouth_3_9_lg.jpg

Flip open a copy of Delorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer and you might be amazed at all the water in the state. Probably best known for big brook trout and classic landlocked-salmon fishing, Maine has everything required to fulfill fishing fantasies. Throw in some wonderful saltwater fishing for stripers and blues along the coast, not to mention the big bluefins shouldering along the continental shelf, and what else do you need? Well, bass, for one thing. Largemouth and smallmouth inhabit areas of the state as large and varied as the trout and salmon habitat, in some spots even overlapping those salmonids.

Tarpon, Man, Tarpon

  • By: Greg Thomas
  • Photography by: Louis Cahill
  • , Greg Thomas
  • and Jeff Edvalds
Man Vs. Tarpon

That I ever ended up in the Florida Keys at all was happenstance. Catching a tarpon on the second cast I ever made to those fish, from the bow of a 28-foot cabin cruiser called the Water Lilly, no less, was pure miracle.

But that’s getting ahead of myself. First about the Keys—to be honest, in my 20s I had no interest in saltwater fish, aside from the Northwest’s salmon. I was fixed instead on the northern Rockies and learning those waters better than any trout-bumming author on the planet. My thought process was this: There are too many great trout streams in the Rockies, and too many varied hatches and water conditions, to understand many of them well, let alone to know a few completely. So, why stray?

secret spring creek

  • Photography by: Brian Grossenbacher
Secret Spring Creek

Kept from public knowledge; withdrawn, remote, secluded.

Photo essay

Foreign Tied

  • By: Zach Matthews
  • Photography by: Greg Thomas
Foreign Tied Flies

“DEAR SIRS,” the e-mail started, “My name is Reginald Kibugi, and I am seeking to sell you excellent-quality fishing flies.” My cursor hovered over the Spam button, but the next line made me hesitate: “My asking price is $3 per dozen.” That’s a quarter a fly. Was this a good deal? A bad deal? I didn’t know, and chances are, you’ve received similar e-mails, if not this very one, and you don’t know either.

In order to answer that question, you have to know a bit about the world of commercial fly-tying, and that means you need some history. Back in the 1970s, an American professional fly tier named Dennis Black was driving from shop to shop to peddle his wares. On one of his long road trips across the West, he had an epiphany: He might be better off supervising other tiers than doing all the work on his own.

Fishing Soft-Hackles

  • By: Dave Hughes
  • Photography by: Dave Hughes
Sylvester Nemes on the Yellowstone River

I first met sylvester nemes through his 1975 book, The Soft-Hackled Fly. It was a small book, tightly focused on its single subject: wet flies tied with bodies of silk thread, sparse hackles, rarely anything extra. Sylvester’s prose reflected his subject perfectly. It was spare, compact and didn’t stray from its subject. Which is to say, the book was beautifully written. Best to me: It was—and is, because it’s still in print under the title The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles—one of those rare books that enthused me to immediately sit down at the vise, tie a bunch of the flies described, and rush from there to a stream to fish them.

The flies, and the methods described, worked. Sometimes they worked wonders. One of my favorite days with them came on a gloomy fall float of Utah’s Green River, downstream from Flaming Gorge Dam. Few trout rose all day. My friends and I tried pestering them to attention with weighted nymphs tumbled along the bottom, which turned out to be ineffective—and because it produced few trout, was also very little fun.

Picture This

  • By: Val Atkinson
  • Photography by: Val Atkinson
Light is Everything

Fly-fishing, travel and photography go together like ABC. Documenting our adventures afield can be a very satisfying part of our experience, whether we’re traveling far away or just down the road. But too often anglers spend a small fortune on equipment, travel and perhaps a camera as well, and after returning home they are disappointed in their pictures.

Pay to Play

  • By: Will Rice
  • Photography by: Barry Beck
  • , Will Rice
  • , Cathy Beck
  • and Greg Thomas
Private Waters

When i was growing up in southern Idaho, private property meant, “Close the gates behind you and don’t spook the cows.” The rare No Trespassing sign just meant a grouchy old farmer didn’t like his neighbors. But by simply asking permission we were able to hunt pheasants in the stubble-fields and fish for rainbows and cutthroat in the moss-filled spring creeks. In exchange, we occasionally dropped off a couple of fish or a brace of mallards for our hosts.

Fly Girls

  • By: Stephen Camelio
  • Photography by: Dusan Smetana
Fly-Girl

Not every family fishing vacation has to involve all the members of your clan. Heck, not even everyone who joins the fun has to be a blood relation; just ask Oprah Winfrey, who this past fall went fly-fishing with her best friend, Gayle King, during their girls’ trip to Yosemite National Park. We all know that women pick up the rhythm and feel of fly-fishing quite quickly, so it stands to reason that one of the fast-growing types of angling vacations are for women only.

Before Hell Freezes Over

  • By: Jim Butler
  • and Greg Thomas
  • Photography by: Cathy Beck
  • , Barry Beck
  • , Jim Harris
  • , Jim Butler
  • , Greg Thomas
  • , Mark Lance
  • and Jeff Edvalds
Man holding fish.

We all have one: A list of places we just have to fish sometime. Some we’ve never been to, some deserve a return visit. They’re the places that occupy our daydreams, when we’re stuck in a meeting and wish we were somewhere else, when we’re shoveling the drive after yet another dumping of snow… These are places where the weather’s always good, the tides are in our favor and the fish are on the feed (in those daydreams, anyway). Our lists include familiar waters (perhaps because there’s a certain comfort in that familiarity, but also because the fishing can be terrific) mixed with plenty of exotic locations we may never get to. But we can dream, can’t we?