Deep Water Smallies

Click here for VIDEO

TESTED: Bozeman Fly Reel

Click here for a full review

Top Five Flies for Browns

Click here for more

Out of the Riffle Woodworks

Click here for details

Monday, January 2, 2017

Streamer Fishing Pocket Water



Imagine a roaring freestone nestled in thick pines with smooth, round rocks scattered throughout it's tealish water. For me, this is exactly what I picture when I hear pocket water - a term used to describe a beat of water with many pools and eddies. Pocket water is a good thing due to the abundance of oxygen and shelter, two things that trout and trout food love. Most fly fisherman would tackle this scenario with some tungsten bead heads and an indicator. Well, I'm here to say screw that! In this article I am going to outline what, in my opinion, is the best approach to fishing these pockets with a streamer.

Reading the Water
Trying to dissect a section pocket water can be overwhelming at first. What you need to focus on first is finding the "hot spots." What's a hot spot? Well in streamer fishing, a hot spot is wherever you think a trout will be hiding out ready to ambush it's prey.  Remember, you aren't targeting nymph fish, likely to be in the middle of the run. These are smart, calculated fish that hide in the smallest nooks, eager to mangle a sculpin. Below is an illustration to point out what I would consider to be hot spots.


Choosing Your Meat
Like nymphing, choosing the correct streamer pattern is crucial to your success, especially in conditions like these. There are three things I want you to ALWAYS keep in mind, whether you're out there: 

  • Water Clarity
  • Water Depth/Characteristics
  • Weather 

In pocket water, you're almost always going to want some weight, so a Sculpin helmet or dumbell eyes are an absolute must. The addition of weight to your fly (or through the use of a poly leader) will allow you to quickly and effectively reach the bottom of swiftly flowing pools where fish will be likely to ambush. Next, take a look at the water; a good rule of thumb is natural colors in clear water (olives, tan, rust) and exotic colors in merky (black, purple, fire tiger, white). As for the weather, if it is sunny take advantage and use something a bit flashier. When the sun is out, everything in the stream lights up. On the contrary, when it is cloudy, flash can deter a fish. In other words, look up, look down, then pick your fly. Take these three factors into consideration when choosing your meat. 


How to Fish the Water
Arguably the most important aspect of streamer fishing is how you cast and retrieve your fly. If you think it is a matter of double hauling, and stripping, the fish will soon let you know that you are sadly mistaken.

By taking the time to understand and observe what your fly is doing under the water, even specific for different patterns, you will realize there is an entire art to streamer fishing you once never knew. Below are a few of the key points I like to focus on when I approach pocket water.


  •  Make Your First Cast Your BEST Cast - In these conditions, 9 times out of 10 your targeted species will strike within a few strips of your first cast. These fish are ambush predators and will make haste for a tasty snack. The second your fly hit's the water you need to be connected with your fly. I do this by making one long strip as I lift my rod tip, ensuring that there is NO slack between you and your fly.

A Brown that ate a Pocket Rocket on the second strip
  • Get to the Hot Spots -  Those hot spots we mentioned earlier can be fished in many ways, but getting your fly to them is the tricky part. First, think about this:

    When a baitfish is evading it's predator, it definitely isn't going to swim upstream, it is going to turn downstream and get the hell outta dodge!


    You should fish your streamer similarly. Land it as close to the bank or rock as you can, get connected, and swim your fly in every single crevasse you can see. Your fly will pass more fish than you can imagine, as they hide all over. This is what will turn your 5 fish days into 20 fish days.
    Fish. Are. Everywhere. So make sure you hit every seam in that riffle before you move on, because although streamers cover a lot of water, fish will sit in pools smaller than you can imagine. Below is an illustration to show how I would swim my fly down this beat of water. As you can see, there are plenty of casts to make, which I will address next.
An example of effective paths to swim your streamer down
  • Stop False Casting - I don't care how tight you think your loops are, stop false casting so much. This style of streamer fishing is not about quiet, perfectly laid down casts...it's about covering your water effectively. Plop your fly in a hole (it's like a dinner bell in that loud water), and get in contact. Swim your fly down one of the orange paths above, and when your fly is either in unfishable water or at your feet, raise the tip of your rod and fire that meat to your next line. So many people spend more time false casting than actually fishing. If you limit yourself to one or two false casts, your fly will spend much more time in the water, resulting in more fish; it's as simple as that! Learn how to single and double haul too, as it can be extremely helpful when launching a sculpin, with a single hauled roll cast, across the way.
Conclusion
Streamer fishing pocket water can be extremely effective when done properly. If you consistently focus on getting your fly into places trout will be, you will catch fish!  Just remember to stay connected, read your water, and find those hot spots. The trout will do the rest!

Ty

Sunday, January 1, 2017

VIDEO: Deep Water Smallies

Awesome weekend in Buffalo with Justin Damude of Hip to the Strip. This trip we were fishing for Smallies in the depths of Lake Erie. Enjoy

Deep Water Smallies from Keystone Fly Fishing on Vimeo.



Top Five Flies for Browns

This is a post we originally did for Seneca Creek, and are now posting here as well. Enjoy.

Stimulator

Stimulators are an awesome dry fly for imitating the “big bugs” on the water. When stoneflies are on the surface, this is a very effective pattern. It can be fished for most of the spring and summer. It has a strong presence on the water and can be fished in whatever color that matches the bugs on your stream. Since they are large bugs they provide a lot of surface tension and can float under pressure. Because of this, stimulators can be used as indicators in hopper dropper rigs. They are easy to tie, and very easy to see on the water.

Elk Hair Caddis

The elk hair caddis is a great pattern for any common caddis hatch. It fishes well in fast moving water as well as the slower moving pools. It has a long lasting float life especially when floatant is applied. The elk hair caddis is a very effective fly in the sense that it is versatile. If needed, it can be fished in small sizes and fool fish into taking it during mayfly hatches as well.

Frenchie Nymph

The frenchie is a great go to nymph pattern. It is very generic, and can be fished 365 days of the year. An advantage of the frenchie is it doesn’t just imitate one particular nymph. If you are fishing new water without knowledge of the biomass, this a pattern you can fish with confidence knowing that it has a great chance of fooling a fish. It can be tied in many different colors and variations, between how you weight it with either lead or bead head, the ribbing, and the hot spot collar. 


Stonefly Nymph

The stonefly is a very important bug and often signifies a healthy stream. It can be tied in many different colors depending on the type of stoneflies in your stream. Even in streams without a population of stoneflies, they can often be fished with great success due to simply how buggy they look. Fish will almost always readily take a stonefly.

Pocket Rocket – Sculpin Streamer

Most streams have a population of baitfish, sculpins, or both. Streamers are meant to imitate these. Sculpins offer a large intake of calories (energy) at once, where as a nymph provides only a fraction of the amount. This is both an attraction for large, and smaller fish. We have to remember though, it requires energy to obtain energy. A fish expends very little effort into swaying in the current gobbling nymphs all day. Chasing down and successfully eating a sculpin is a much higher risk of energy loss. So of course there are peak times to fish a streamer.  Early in the morning when still dark, or when the water is off colored from a recent rain. Fish will be on the prowl at these times because they will feel secure in the cover of darkness and will be able to hunt with better stealth. Streamer fishing is exhilarating, the takes are aggressive and you will feel the strength of the fish smash into your streamer.
Tying tutorial for the Pocket Rocket can be found here

What it all comes down to in the end is how buggy your fly looks, and how well it is presented. If you can combine these two aspects and truly implement them into your fishing, you’ll have many successful days on the stream to come. 


Saturday, December 31, 2016

TESTED: Bozeman Fly Reel

These days hoards of new gear continually floods the niche market that is fly fishing. What does this mean for you? Well for starters, it can make for a frustrating learning curve. Basically you can buy a bunch of hyped up new products and can test them yourself...or you can rely on the word of friends / gear reviews. The problem with most reviews: they are written directly after purchase. Not the case here folks, I have been fishing this reel for over a year.

This review is an honest look at the Bozeman 325 Fly Reel.



Where to begin...well for starters each reel is 100% American made and engineered in Bozeman, Montana. This is a huge deal for us because these days you can choose from dozens of cheap reels made somewhere in China. I have fished many of these cheap, poorly designed reels only to be frustrated when the drag would fail on a fish, line would suck through or they would break. The amount of corners that are cut (i.e. quality control, CNC tolerances) to produce those is sickening. Thankfully, Bozeman has done things properly and thoroughly engineered these reels to take a beating and keep on performing day in and day out. This is the craftsmanship you need in a reel you plan to put to use. 


Now the proof. I have fished this reel for well over a year now and I can personally attest that I don't know anyone who abuses their gear the way I do. This reel has been dropped, thrown, stepped on, dunked, kept in a hot truck and pretty much everything under the sun. With that being said, it continually performs flawlessly like the day I got it in the mail. This reel is top notch! 


Bottom line: If your looking for a high quality American made reel that will last your lifetime look no further. I've caught everything from 3" Brook Trout, to Smallmouth Bass, to Hefty carp with it; sometimes being pretty covered in mud and grit, and have never had one issue with the drag or any other part of the reel for that matter.  This reel is worth every penny! 

Order your Bozeman today! 



VIDEO: Leadbelly Loomis Tutorial


Leadbelly Loomis from Keystone Fly Fishing on Vimeo.

A streamer pattern for anything that will eat a streamer. All it takes is 3 materials, hook(s), wire and beads. We give you, the Leadbelly Loomis

For those who don't watch the video, this is my little trick. Secure a few beads to the "bottom" of the hook shank to make the fly ride hook point up.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Chucking Meat: The Series

Never could I have imagined what to expect when I heard my friend John screaming up a storm streamside. I was about 150 yards away and heard a lot of commotion, in my mind I was already excited picturing the 20+ trout he had on his line. Without haste I made my way over yelling "you got one?"  To my surprise he was yelling back "I caught a sculpin, you have to see this thing!' when I got there I saw it, a fairly large sculpin on the verge of death. This was johns first sculpin he ever saw in person, and honestly made me feel like I've taken for granted how many I've seen. I could see wheels turning in his head,  and to be honest I had some ideas begin stewing myself. we proceeded to attempt to revive the sculpin to no avail, and then we took some pictures.


  In case you didn't know, Sculpins are awesome. I would say 90 percent of my streamers are some sort of sculpin imitation. So many things make sculpins interesting to me, nothing more so than a huge trout completely annihilating one. Sculpins have a fairly wide range and are definitely a favorite food source for trout. Take some time one day on the stream, maybe when the trout have decided they want nothing to do with any offering you have, and turn some rocks. See if you can't find a sculpin. Watch it swim, observe it's profile and color, pay attention to where you found it and it's habitat. Take what you learn home with you and apply it to the vise. For me I can personally say I will never have just one sculpin pattern. Although in my mind  I constantly am trying to do just that, have one ultimate perfect sculpin to rule them all. Some things to consider : Sculpins are dark olive or tan the majority of the time and usually very motteled or sort of spotted, they spend most of their time sneaking around on the bottom of the stream under rocks, and personally I've seen them from 1'' to about 4''.


PURSUING ESOX

A few years back we filmed a piece of PURSUING ESOX with Austin Green of the Uncommon Angler. Well the time is here and the film is out! Check it out on SCOF Magazine's Summer Issue - 2016 PAGE 42. This film encapsulates everything that is chasing toothy critters. There's also a pretty epic figure 8 eat from a 40" purebred that Clark and Ty encountered. Check it out



Monday, July 4, 2016

The Ride Out - The Start of Something

Knowing we had 2,300 miles of driving ahead of us, we got into the car, turned the key, and left home. I had packed my life into a backseat for the next two months. The destination was Missoula, Montana, to work a job for a Forest Products Company. My Dad was making the trip with me, and we had mapped out our venture in the atlas weeks ago. Drawing lines and circling the places to visit along the way.

I have since settled comfortably here for the time being, and my Dad flew back to Pennsylvania weeks ago. I have a lot of stories to tell, but for now, enjoy the pictures and come along for the ride. 

-Dando


South Dakota









Wyoming





























Montana