Ask Ian. Fly Fishing Advice
Ask Ian? Fly Fishing advice from the Grand River fly fishing guide Ian Colin James. The original Grand River guide, the man who put, and keeps, the "fun" in dysfunctional. So, if you have a fly fishing problem: Ask Ian. Yeah right!

Hidden Tips
Now, there are a bunch of fly fishing and fish catching tips hidden in the Ask Ian pages, but you will need to go digging for them. If you find a few fly fishing chunks of wisdom in the Ask Ian pages, please tell all your buddies. If you don't have any buddies, just tell anyone you happen to bump into. If you want to send in an Ask Ian question, you just go ahead. All you need to do is click the e-mail link below, but before you do, just to give yourself some peace of mind, please read my Privacy Statement

Ask Ian Archives:
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Updated 2008

Dearest Carpfather:
Like you I am also miffed that the US navy managed to blow up that satellite before it hit the Grand River. I have had my name in the free fly draw for almost three years, I am a huge fan of your website and I have get to win. I am bummed out. Here is my question. As a fellow conspiracy theorist, how do we know that the US Navy actually hit the satellite. It brings back into question, did they ever make it to the moon? Have you any thoughts on this?
Gwen, Idaho, USA.

Dear Gwen:
Yes, I can see how you would be miffed. Still you could be a Leafs fan which would make things much worse. I don't know if the US hit the satellite or not. US 193 was 130 miles above Ireland and they fired the missile from the USS Lake Eire which was of the west coast of Hawaii. Just as Marvin the Martian would say, "Where the big KA-BOOM!?!!"All the same, it was one hell of a shot. I know, hardly the same as hitting a tin can with a potato gun, and being from Idaho I guess you would know a lot about potatoes. Please don't start dragging up the old, "did they go to the moon," debate. That generated so many emails it almost fried my poor wee Mac. As for being a conspiracy theorist... you are from Idaho, they hit the satellite over a country well-know for its spuds. Coincidence? I think not.

Enough already. Enough. I have had it with this winter. Will it ever end? I have been tying flies all winter and I am well stocked up for spring, but for the love of God, I have had cabin fever for 6 weeks now. I can't take it any more. I may start listening to my daughters Spice Girls CD's
Clinically Depressed and Certifiable from Toronto.

Dear Depressed
"Step away from the fly tying vice .... that's it. Come toward the sound of my voice... There ya go." I agree, this has gone on long enough. The solutions are simple. Move to Florida or get yourself put into suspended animation from, say, December through to June. I am not a psychologist, but I think your bigger issue would be that your daughter has Spice Girls Cd's and that you know where they are.

Hey Ian:
Love the website, used some of the tips and caught a few fish. Thanks. Here's my question. How critical is the color of the fly tying thread? Just about every book on fly tying list a million different colors of thread. I know it's not expensive, but do I need peach tying thread when surely mango will do? And what's with splitting the tying thread when dubbing?
Joe, Michigan, USA

"Hey Joe, I heard you shot your woman down."
Sorry I was having a Jimmy Hendrix moment, and I have always wanted to say that.
Now, reading over your email I thought you would be from L. A. I dunno why, by that thought sprung to mind and I started humming, "Y-M-C-A." I don't know of any patterns which call for peach tying thread, but I am sure they are out there. For most of the time, the thread colour makes absolutely no difference to the productivity of the fly. However having said that, on some of the traditional soft hackle wet-flies, a love of mine, the dubbing on the body of the fly is so thin, that the thread colour can play an intricate part in the final colour of the fly. However, having said that, if the fish can see those subtle hues of colour, then they sure as heck can see the hook point sticking out of the back end of the fly. As for splitting the thing thread ... good luck with that. It's the latest and the greatest trend to roll along, which has it's roots in tying the classic salmon flies. Nothing more than that.

Dear Ian,
I was at the Winters Hatches Symposium in Toronto last weekend. As usual, you made me laugh. For those of you who were not in attendance, Ian was given a hand-made wooden landing net. We all know that you hardly use a landing net. I've fished with you and watched you tail, without a glove I may add, steelhead well over 12 pounds. Will you be using that landing net, or will you be selling it off for charity? Just asking.
Annon, Toronto, Ontario

Dear Annon,
Glad you liked the workshop. The Hatchlings do put on a great event, and I mean a great event. As for the net. I am going to keep it. Turns out it holds a 6-pack with some space left for ice.

Dear Mr. James.
Long time visitor to your site. First time sending you an email. Do you really catch quillback on a flyrod? We have a bunch of them close to where I live, and I can't catch them on flies. I can catch them on my flyrod if I gently cast out a live mayfly nymph. Thoughts?
Frank, Alabama

Dear Frank
Yes we can get them on small nymphs or traditional soft hackle wet-flies, like a size #14 Partridge and Orange. Your best bet is to stick with Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Beadhead Hare's Ear Nymphs and any of the burrowing mayfly nymph flies. If you root around on the riverbed, I am sure you can find a few of the natural mayfly nymphs to use as a pattern. If not, check your bait bucket.

Dear Carpfather:
I saw you fishing a "bobber" on TV in Arkansas. I was in shock. What do you have to say? Say it ain't so? I may have to take down your posters from my garage. I use them to keep away the mice.
Donna, Burlington, Ontario

Dear Donna
It was my stunt double. Honest!
Seriously. I was fishing with John Gulley, one of the best guides in the USA. We were shooting a show on how to fish the Norfork River and the White River. I was simply showing the viewers how John fishes a bobber. What you failed to see was my disclaimer saying that I did not inhale and that I washed my fishing gear with disinfectant to avoid any infection from "bobber cooties." I had not fished one before that show and I have not fished one since that show. Yes, I picked up a whack of comments about the use of a bobber. I hope you watched the other shows I shot down there where I was fishing with trwo other great guides, John Wilson and Duane Hada, where I did not touch a bobber.

Hi Ian,
Each time I open up a fly fishing magazine, there sits in front of me the latest and greatest fly tying material ever invented. It's getting to be a bit much. I've been tying flies for only 5 years. Can you please provide me with a short list of "essential" fly tying materials. You can leave out hooks and thread.
Charles, Montana, US

Hi Charles:
I wonder how you are going to tie a fly if you leave out the hooks and thread, but I am sure you will figure it out. You simply can't beat a hare's mask, pheasant tails and something to add a bit of flash like Flashabou. Some tiers do get caught up in trying out the latest stuff, and some do not, preferring to use the more traditional materials. It's a personal choice. At the end of the day where would be be if there was only vanilla ice cream?

If you are out on the river all day and you don't get a tap, what do you do so that you don't get psyched out on your next trip to the river? I find that after I get thumped, it's tough for me to head back out.
Frank, Manitoba

Hi Frank:
If you want a tap, try a plumbing supply outlet. It may not be your lack of luck that is dragging you down. It could simply be that you live in Manitoba. Could be worse, you could be living in Vancouver ... in the rain. In all honesty, I never give it a second thought. Each cast can produce a fish, and because I don't know which cast will produce the fish, it's like Christmas for me every time I head out to the river, only without the tinsel and the sleigh bells.

My 120 pound male rottie is 6 years old. He has recently started "nesting" under my office desk. There's not enough room for both the dog and my legs under there. Any suggestions?
Samantha, USA.

Dear Samantha.
The old, "dog under the desk trick" is it? He has found a little cave where he feels safe, secure and comfortable. A place where the world can pass him by, and he can hide in anonymity. I am sure that every male reading this can relate to this lost soul and fully understands his plight. The solution is simple. You need to make the dog feel slightly uncomfortable. Try installing a plasma TV for him to watch, but keep it tuned to the Shopping Channel or the Woman's Network. Those two T. V. stations will make any male uncomfortable. If this fails to work, put out some veggie dip for him, a bag of carrots and ask him something like, "What you thinking?"

Just wondering. Do you know of anyone who is allergic to fish?
Beth, Atlanta.

Great question but I simply don't have a great answer. Having said that, judging by the number of anglers who are wearing a tailing glove to protect them from touching a fish, there must be a lot of folk who are allergic to them.

Any predictions for the year 2008?
George, Liverpool, England.

I predict that the rivers will flow downstream and that they will be "wet" except when they are frozen over during the winter months. Looking into my ball of Krystalflash I can see most fly fishermen getting skunked because they fail to "degrease" their leader. I also predict that the Maple Leaf Stanley Cup ticker tape parade will be cancelled ... yet again ... just like last year.

Dear Ian:
I just finished reading over your comment below about the Spotted Owl. For someone who touts conservation, I found it disturbing that you would say such a thing about a Spotted Owl. They are endangered after all. Don't you have a conscience or is it all about getting a laugh for you?
Anne, British Columbia, Canada.

Dear Anne:
Yes I have a conscious and funnily enough, I have a sense of humor to go along with it. Let me try to explain this to you. If they paved over all the B.C. old growth forests, we'd not have to spend all that energy, time and money trying to protect them, would we? My conscious allows me to sleep at night, well I would be able to sleep if it wasn't for the racket from those darn owls. What is disturbing is that seals poop on the ice flows making it slippery for Polar bears to walk around. What's also disturbing is that when those Great White sharks have scoffed down a seal, no dental floss is available for them to use. Who is dealing with the serious issue of gum disease in the shark populations around the globe? When you can get those issues sorted out, get back to me. And thank you for letting me know that British Columbia iss in Canada. Who knew?

The recipes for various spiders in the Brit mag. calls for starling as the hackle. What can I substitute, or do I have to shoot one of these bothersome birds?
Jack, Toronto.

Dear Jack
Great question. I use a dun or pale dun weby hen hackle. If you can't find those, Spotted Owl makes a cracking substitute. Make sure that you trim the fibers from one side of the feather before you tie it in, and for the love of God, make one or two turns at the most. Do not overdress the fly! One of the best soft hackle / wet fly books on the market is without question:
Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies, by Sylvester Nemes.

Dear Ian:
This is not an Ask Ian, it's a thank you note. I switched over to using a clear fly line and during the summer I found that I caught more trout and carp. Thanks for the pointers. A few years ago at the Walton Show in Toronto, you were trying to convince a rather reluctant audience that a clear line can help you catch more fish. It stuck in my mind, and I eventually got around to buying one (they were on sale) and trying one. Again, thank you.
Frank, near Coberg, Ontario.

Hi Frank:
No worries. Those lines do have a place in fly fishing and they do help you catch more fish. I am addicted to using them during the winter when the water is gin clear and in the summer when the water is low and clear. I have to ask you why the dickens did it take you so long to try one?

Dear Carpfather:
Why do you have so many photos of your dog on your web site? He is rather handsome, but, I would like to see more fish photos after all it is a fly fishing web site is it not?
Kathy, Minnesota, USA.

Dear Kathy:
I will pass your comment on to Torque, I am sure he will be chuffed to bits. At the end of the day fly fishing is not just about catching fish. My dog is just as important to me as say hooking the elusive 50 pound brown trout, or enjoying the banter with my fishing buddies during the drive home after a fishless day on the river.

Dear Ian:
I saw you fishing for steelhead with some of your friends and noticed that each of you had a thermos flask with you right down on the river. Great idea. I was going to wade over and say "Hello" but declined doing so as I am a float fisherman. I mean I fish with a float rod and not a "bobber" as you call them on a fly line. It looked to me like the three of you were having an absolute blast out there, was there something other than coffee in your thermos flasks?
John, Ontario.

Dear John:
You should have said, "Hi." If I am guiding I won't be fishing, and if I am fishing, well wander over. No, there was absolutely nothing in those flasks other than tea with milk. Alcohol and angling just don't mix. Stevo has been doing the thermos thing for decades and we finally got around to doing it a few years ago. It's nice to be able to sit on the bank, relax, enjoy the day, watch the river and have a spot of tea. Plus it actually saves a whack of cash and here's how. I take two flasks with me. One which I will take down to the river and one which I keep back in the car so that I don't have to stop at a coffee shop on the way home. Works like a charm. The $40 I shelled out for the two stainless steel flasks soon paid for itself, and by not going into the coffee shop I stay away from scarffing down a bag donuts. Purchase the stainless steel flasks ... if you drop them, they will bounce.

Sorry to hear about your heart attack. I wish you a speedy recovery. When you are back to tying flies, can I place an order for some Undertakers and some Coffin flies? No doubt someone beat me to the punch on this one.
Your buddy, Andrew, Scotland.

Dear Andrew,
Yes, I'll beat you with a punch. No problem there. Actually about half a dozen folk tried the same thing. For those that don't know, the Undertaker is a cracking rainbow trout fly from the UK and the Coffin Fly is a mayfly imitation. Some other folk have placed orders for the Heart Attack Hopper, the Bi-pass Bivisible, the Nitro Nymph and last but not least the Coronary Caddis.

Have you ever thought that the fish in southern Ontario were somehow behind your heart attack? They have the motivation and the motive to see that you don't keep ticking them off. Perhaps you should send your Norwegian Carphound out onto the river to shake things down a bit and to see who is to blame. As a fellow conspiracy theorist, I find it odd that you would have the attack on a walking trail and not in a river. It's all rather suspicious and you should investigate this full. You could even do something like: C.S.I Streamside.
Kathy-Anne, Michigan

Dear Kathy-Anne
I must admit, I never thought of that but now that I do, it makes perfect sense.

Dear Ian:
I have watched one or two anglers constantly throwing streamers into one or two pools on the Grand River. They are at it night and day, and day and night. While they do get fish, I was wondering will the fish start to smarten up and eventually refuse to hit streamers? This won't effect me as I am a nympher, I have never soiled my hands by touching a strike indicator, and darn proud of it.
Concerned on the Grand River.

Dear Concerned.
You are right. The fish will eventually figure it out. Sadly streamer fishing is perhaps the most addictive form of fly fishing and once hooked on it, there is little hope, if any. There are support groups for this sort of thing, but many of them involve nude drumming, walking on cold coals, candle making with pure bees wax, aroma therapy and in extreme cases watching endless reruns of the Leafs powerplays. It's not a pretty way to get the job done, but the results speak for themselves.

This is not an Ask Ian but it needs to be said. I see your beloved Leafs went golfing instead of making the play-offs this year.

Dear Annon:
At least they are consistent.

Dear Grandmaster Carp:
I have tried spring steelheading here in southern Ontario and I don't have much luck. My question is this. How can you tell when the steelhead have all dropped back out of the rivers into the Great lakes?
Helen, Midland, Ontario

Hi Helen:
It's much easier than you think. If you look in the pools, and you can't see any steelhead, well, they have all dropped back out to the lakes. If you can't be bothered walking to the river to see if the fish are there then take a look at the apple trees in the spring. When they have dropped their flowers, its a good bet that the steelhead have left the rivers. It took me about 25 years to figure that out.

Dear Ian:
I have started to become attached to my fishing flies. They look so cute when they are lined up in my boxes and I can't resist them. I know you say that they are disposable items, but I have seen them in a different light. I know that this will lower my chances of catching fish as I won't fish them as hard as I should, but they do look pretty. Ian, is there any hope for me?
Frank, Hamilton, Ontario.

Frankly Frank, all is lost.

Have you ever wondered what a Canadian winter would be like if snow was black and not white?
Melanie, Toronto.

Dear Melanie:
Dark and gloomy, which is much the same as being a Leafs fan.

Dear Carpfather:
Thought I would let you know that white puke flies catch whitefish through the ice in Georgian Bay. I mean they work!
Dan from Windsor, Ontario

Dear Dan:
Thanks for the update. Gerry Meyer, the butcher from Guelph, was using flies as far back as the late 1980s to get rainbow trout, splake and whitefish through the ice on Georgian Bay. If you think about it, the smaller flies will not spook fish as easily as say a large roe bag or a bunch of salted minnows impaled on a hook. I also know of a few folk who will use large Hare's Ear Nymphs and White Puke flies through the ice on Lake Simco for yellow perch and whitefish.

Dear Ian:
Are fly fishermen responsible for global warming? It's a bit of a worry.
Tom, Michigan, USA.

Dear Tom:
We sure are! Look at the manufacturing processes involved in making waders, fly lines or graphite rods. Plus, each time I drive my petrol sucking, 18 cylinder, MAC truck-cross-Hummer, Kyoto ant-Christ to a trout creek, there can be little doubt I am emitting greenhouse gasses. Having said that, I try to atone for my ecological sins by picking up litter along the banks when my day on the river is done. All joking aside it's a global issue, but you can act locally by pick up some garbage, by pulling some monofilament out of a bankside bush or by packing lunch on your trip instead of picking up a drive-thru bucket of chicken for lunch.

While the rest of the world has to work through another Canadian winter, what do fishing guides do when the trout creeks freeze over? Hibernate?
Frank. R. Ontario

Dear Frank
While I can't speak for other guides, I can say that I spend the winter in a stasis chamber. Much of my time is spent in deep meditating and drinking filtered mineral water, which is spiced with two organically grown lemon slices. For entertainment I work at perfecting my amoeba racing team. I got into amoeba racing about 6 years ago and its rather addictive. Sure they may be small, but they need the same amount of training as any professional athlete, but without the steroids. It would be silly to give an amoeba a dangerous, heath destroying product with a whack of nasty side effects.

Beckham is going to L.A. How will this effect fly fishing in Noth America?
Carlos, Boston.

It's good news. More folk will flock to the football games, all be it to see an over-rated and somewhat over the hill player, so there will be less folk out on the rivers. It may lift football up to be as popular as bullriding in the USA.

Oh Mighty Carpfather
I took one of your fly tying workshops at the Winters Hatches Symposium held in Toronto last week. As usual I picked up some pointers and you made me laugh. So, thanks. All the same I was wondering what you do when someone rips of one of your patterns? I was going to ask in the workshop, but it got away from me. Also I feel obliged to add that I have taken a few of your workshops and out of them all, the Dan's Turkey Tail emeger is the fly I get the most fish on. Then again I fish that fly more than any other fly you have shown me how to tie.
Annon, Toronto

Dear Annon:
Don't thank me. Thank the folk who put the event together, they did a stand up job. Just stellar. As for the rip-off artists ... in the end it boils down to fear. They are easy to find, and the riverbanks sure get slippery at night. Actually I have managed to close down a few folk who were selling my patterns, and advertising that I had tied the flies. It took a while, but I did it. Most fly fishermen can see through the rip-off artists; those folk who have the IQ of a rock, those folk who have never had an original thought in their life and those folk who honestly think that by changing the colour of the head on a fly, the fish will scarf it back. Sure they will ... yeah that's it.

Dear Ian
I found your website while surfing the net. What sort of person sends you an Ask Ian question, because you would think that they can see your answer before they send you the question?
David from Texas, USA.

This one is far too easy, and because your probably sitting in your basement cleaning your handgun, I ain't gonna say a thing.

Here in the US carp eat mulberries. Do they eat mulberries in Canada? I am heading to your part of the world in the summer and I want to catch some carp.
Don W, California

Hi Don:
I have yet to find a carp in Ontario scoffing down mulberries. Why? Well we don't have any mulberry trees in this part of the globe, because the eucalyptus bushes just choke them out. Back in the day, had the settlers not discovered the medicinal use of the eucalyptus bushes, one wonders if they could have survived the harsh winters. Bring a box of Pheasant Tail nymphs and some Hare's Ear Nymphs with you and you will do just fine. Further to that, here in Canada you will never see a beaver with a chest cold due to their consumption of eucalyptus. It's amazing how nature takes care of itself.

Dear Carpfather
As you have suggested in your website, I have switched to a floating line and I am getting better drifts. However, I think I should be catching more fish. Any pointers?
Charlotte, Michigan

Dear Charlotte:
Try making a shorter cast and use a shorter drift. In general you will get more fish is you make a 15 foot cast and you let the fly drift for 5 feet, than you will if you make a 20 yard cast with a 30 foot drift. The longer the cast, the harder it is to manage the drift. with proper mending.

I see that your Razorbacks got thumped by Wisconsin 17-14 in the Capital One Bowl. Funny that your Leafs are not doing well. Maybe if you stopped "rooting" them, they would improve.
Frank, Ohio

At least I am not a Michigan fan.

Global warming is here. So far, and it's January, we have hardly a touch of snow in Toronto. Do you think we will be fishing dry flies all year long if this keeps up?
George, Toronto

You can take a black stonefly, or even a black ant, pattern and fish it all year long. Well, all year long just so long as the ice has not shown up. Even in February and March, steelhead will take blackstone flies off the surface. Then again, who fishes dry flies these day.

Just found your site. Very funny. Did you take your Italian mastiff to see the new Rocky movie?
Carole from the off-leash park.

Not yet, but I am going to pick up the sound track for him for when we are in the car.

Last season on the Grand River I overheard two anglers talking about German Brown Trout and Scottish Brown Trout. What the difference between them?
Mat, Toronto.

Dear Mat:
I dunno? Brown Trout are a non native species and many years ago there were brought over here by boat, in milk churns, from Germany and from Loch Leven in Scotland. Some anglers swear that they can tell the difference between the two strains of fish, but I can't. I suspect that if you catch a trout wearing an Oktoberfest hat while it's selectively feeding on schnitzel it's a German Brown. On the other hand if it's wearing a kilt and it's scarfing down haggis, then obviously it's part of the Loch Leven strain.
(Note: Please, before someone starts sending them in, no Wrold Cup Soccer jokes. Ian.)

I need help. I can find carp, but I can't make them hit my flies.
Frustrated in Michigan.

Dear Frustrated.
Try a long fine leader and fish the flies very slowly. Carp are spooky creatures, so you must fish for them fine and far off. Try to keep the leader around the 15 foot mark and try to keep the flies moving at a snails pace. Also, cut out your false casting so you don't thrash the water to a frenzy and wade as slowly as you can. If this fails to work, try having a chat with them. Explain to them that you are going to release them and that at some point their pictures could be all over the Internet. It just might work. Honest.

Why the heck are you not updating your website? I miss the Ask Ian questions. Have you been attacked by a herd of rabid beavers while fishing in a far off land?
Caroline, Arizona, USA.

My computer went down and then I got busy giving some lectures in the US, and then the fishing "got good" and then things got backed up when the weather turned bad ... and then ... and then. At the end of the day, over the winter, I am going to streamline my site to prevent it from happening again. You were not alone in missing the updates.

Mr. James:
How can I stop the snow and ice from building up on my felt sole waders?
Franky P from Ohio.

Dear Franky:
In a nutshell, you can't. Here is the long version; You can't. Felt soles attract snow like a flame attracts moths or a tank of anhydrous ammonia the meth lab operator. Rubber based soles will prevent snow and ice build up, but at the moment they can be costly. Another option is to only fish during the warmer months and as you are just across the lake from Ontario, stick to June and July which could put a damper on your ice fishing. Here in Ontario, I have never had any snow build up on my felt sole boots during these months.

Dear Carpfather:
I can't get fish. I have tried. For 5 years I have tried. I just can't get them. I feel that they outsmart me everytime I head out there. Is there any hope? I am also a Leafs season ticket holder and I bet Germany to win the World Cup.
Hank, Toronto.

Dear Hank:
It's over. There is no hope. Please send all your fly fishing gear and your tickets to my POBox. I am willing to take the hit for you and attend all the games next year. And, I hope you have expensive fly fishing equipment. For the record, I too picked Germany.

Dear Ian:
I've heard that some brighter coloured fly lines will spook fish, is this true? What colour is your line?
Name withheld,
(It's actually Cory Ferris who was just inducted into the Carp Registry.)

Hi Name withheld:
Good question. I use the brightest coloured line I can find, so that I can see the takes. If you have the setup working properly, the fly should be the first thing that the fish sees, then the leader and last but not least the fly line. I have fished with a few anglers from Australia, many of them dye their lines with tea to darken them and they do catch a whack of fish. Some Scottish fly fishermen also dye their lines with tea, especially if they are fishing in the clear highland lochs, so there many be something in it. I prefer to keep the fly line away from the fish by using a long leader of at least 15 feet.

Dear Ian:
Ever notice that as soon as you get into your waders, you have the sudden urge to take a #1. What do guides do when this happens and how can I prevent it from happening?
Mark from Michigan.

Hi there Mark:
This is an all too often occurrence brought about by drinking far too much coffee on the way to the fishing location. Still, better a #1 than a #2. To prevent it, simply stay well away from caffeine and the sound of running water. I can't speak for other guides on this issue, but since "the accident" I am unaffected by this condition.

Hi Ian:
Sitting here munching on my lunch and reading your website. Saw the piece on the Fireline leader, but darn it, I couldn't tie a knot that would 'stick' and couldn't cut the stuff with my snips. Your site does not explain what knot you use to connect the fly line to the fireline and the fireline to the mono tippet. Can you enlighten me? And what do you use to cut the darn fireline, an acetylene torch?
In The Dark, Hamilton, Ontario.

Dear In the Dark
Great question. You need very sharp line snips to cut the Fireline. Stay away from anything with a flame. Flames can be far more trouble than they are worth. When have you ever seen a team mascot come out on the right side of the equation when a flame was involved? Use a 6-turn clinch knot to tie the Fireline around the back of the Granny Knot in the tip of the fly line. When you are going to attach Fireline to mono, go with 6 wraps of mono and 5 wraps of Fireline. You need one less turn of the Fireline.

Oh Carpfather,
I have read that you are known far and wide for your ability to carry the minimum of fly gear. My vest is bulging (Ok, so is my waste, but that is another story) with pounds and pounds of stuff: spools, flies, nippers, hemostats, net, bottles of float goop and powder, split shot ... Please, oh wise one: what is the minimum amount of stuff you would take to fish any river or stream that could fit in a fanny pack and not weigh me down?
Keith in San Antonio, Texas.

Dear Keith:
Great question. Here is my list:
Tippet spools in 7x, 2lb, 4lb, 6lb and 8lb test fluorocarbon.
Two hook sharpeners (two, just in case I drop one)
Two sets of needle nose pliers
Three film canisters of shot in sizes: extra small, small and medium.
Two bottles of Gink
One film canister of "mud" to degrease my leader.
One small bottle of Armorall to clean my fly line.
A small bottle of Ombrel SPF 30 sunblock
A few boxes of flies.

Now on the subject of mud, Joe Wdowiak a buddy of mine has been working with 'green clay' powder available from health food shops, as a leader degreaser. I have found that he is onto something. The stuff is brilliant and it sticks well to the leader. Mix the clay with some washing up liquid soap and a drop of glycerin. This stuff works much better than the traditional Fullers earth mix. Nice one Joe!

Dear Carpfather:
In a nutshell. The wife picked me up a brand-new set of waders to the tune of about $600 for our anniversary about three weeks ago. Our dog chewed a hole in them. Suggestions?
Help in the USA.

Dear Help.
The only way out is as follows:
1. Get one of your fishing buddies to pick you up a new set, so that the Dearly Beloved won't notice the cash coming out of your bank account. Repay him in small amounts to hide the paper trail.
2. Buy the dog a rawhide chew toy and your buddy a case of beer. It's important not to mix this up, and make sure your buddy does not talk to your wife if he has just finished consuming the case of beer.

Dear Ian:
Do you think that Team Canada (Olympic hockey) threw the game against the Swiss so that we could get a better deal from them when we import cheese?
The Cheese Hound, Ontario

Dear Cheese Hound:
Too true they did. That stuff is expensive. I also found out that the Olympic two man luge event is gonna have a permanent facility built up on Brokeback Mountain.

Dear Ian:
How about a few "hunting with Dick Cheney" comments? For you it would be just as much fun as the M. Jackson trial, O.J. Simpson in court or the Seahawks in the Superbowl.
Waiting on the Web.

Dear Waiting:
Good old Cheney ... far too easy, so I am going to leave it alone. Having said that I did hear that he is now wearing ovenmits to help him reload as he has developed a rapid fire technique.

Hey Ian:
Do you think that Avian Flue will put an end to fly tying if it hits North America?
Ted, Austin, Texas.

Dear Ted:
It may slow down the dry fly fishermen as hackle prices will shoot through the roof and force folk to switch over to nymphing. I check all my bags of feathers on a daily basis to make sure that none of them are running a fever or sneezing.

Dear Ian:
My dog eats a lot of sticks.
Allison, Age 7 (sent in by her dad.)

Dear Allison:
Great question. My dog also eats sticks. I think it is just one of those things dogs like to do. You may want to make sure that your dog is a dog and not a beaver in disguise. Beavers can be very tricky characters, so if you see that the leg of your kitchen table has been chomped at, and your dog has a large flat tail, it may be a beaver. Ask your dad to check.

Dear Ian:
What is the best all round size of Klinkhammer Special for use in Ontario and on the other side of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie?
Mr. Dry Fly, Toronto

Dear Mr. Dry Fly
John Roberts, the fly fishing author form Yorkshire, England, was the first angler to use a Klinkhammer Special in Ontario. I watched John hit 7 fish on 7 casts in the Grand River, in a pool which I had just fished through. He said then, "The only size to use is a #8. It's a big caddis." John was right. About 5 years after John had shown me the fly, I tied it at the Winters Hatches Symposium in Toronto. No one knew about the pattern on this side of the Atlantic, but I had used it with stellar results for Steelhead, Brown Trout, Smallmouth Bass and Carp. In the wokshops repeated many times that a size #8 is the only size you need. Since those workshops, the pattern has became quite popular in Ontario and there are hundreds of variations on Hans Van Klinken's original creation. Guess what, at the end of the day, all you need is a size #8, dressed as he tied it.

Dear Ian:
Give me one tip for fishing ice out steelhead in Michigan along the edges of the lakes.
Fred the Net, Michigan.

Dear Fred:
Make sure the ice is all the way out or the fish won't be able to hit your fly, and use a long leader of at least 15 feet, with a stonefly nymph on the end.

Dear Ian:
Why do you have a picture of your dog in the guiding section of your site? Is this not the perfect place for a fish picture, or one of you guiding?
Geoffrey, Yorkshire, England.

Dear Geoffrey:
You make a good point, however he is a good dog and he deserves to have his photo on my site, as he was on death-row when we rescued him. At the end of the day it's my site, and I have to make those tough decisions on my web content on a daily basis. No doubt you would have been happier had I posted a photo a Yorkshire Terrier, wearing a cute little bow, growling at a grayling. And for the record, I do not take sponsorship money from the manufacturers of the Fish-O-Matic 3000 which is mentioned in the text.

Dear Carpfather:
I am a huge fan of your Brass Ass Buzzer. When you tie them, or when you are using copper wire, do you use the soft copper wire or the regular copper wire?
Becky, near Loch Leven, Scotland.

Dear Becky:
I use what ever happens to be handy at the time, and up until now I had not even thought about it. Have you heard the joke about how copper wire was invented? There were these two Scotsmen fighting over a penny ...

Dear Goby-Boy
a.k.a. The Carpfather,
I've read through the pages on your website with interest, ever since Googling the evasive "Round Goby" on the Internet and landing smack in the middle of your website. What can I say? That photo of the goby is about the biggest specimen I've ever seen. The guy who caught that must be a true expert. Here's an idea: Since you already have a Carp Registry, why not start up a Goby Registry? You could give each of the little rascals a name and serial number so when they're caught and MNR wants to go after them, all they have to do is put out a public service announcement for all such invasive species to report to the nearest fish-kill zone. Yeah, that's the ticket ...
Gobi-Wan Kenobi, Far, far away.

Dear Goby-Wan:
Who would have thought that when I took the photo of you holding that fish, things would rapidly spiral downward to this. Please send me a box of calorie reduced donuts, or I will make your name public, and post your photo on my site. For those of you who have not seen it, here is the photo of the goby.

Dear Carpfather:
I have been scanning your site for a report about the World Carp Championships that were held on the St. Lawrence in the summer. I thought you would have said something about it.
Frank, Ohio, USA.

Dear Frank:
You are right. I should have made a big song and dance about it, but I don't dance, as there were some great prizes. England won it and the USA were second and third. The winners picked up $100,000 US. No one in the event caught a New York state record which would have landed them $1 million. I have never seen prize money like that at another event like the World Fly Fishing Championships or even the Bass Pro events, the NASCAR drivers of the fishing world, from the US. Makes you wonder why with that sort of prize money, bow hunting for carp is legal in both New York and in Ontario. No matter how you slice it, catch-and-release is tough with a bow and arrow.

Dear Carpfather:
My family are pestering me to pick up a family pet. Should we make the selection based on the pet (dog, cat or bird) or the potential fly tying supplies of the fur and feathers from the pet at my tying bench? Please do not publish my name, as my wife is a regular on your site.
Anon, Canada.

Dear John:
Hope the fishing is good in Vancouver. There is no way that your wife will discover you have sent this in. Last summer I taught her to cast, and she picked up two boxes of flies for you, so there is absolutely no way in the world when she see this, Vanessa will be able to join the dots. No way in the world. The short answer to your question is "Yes!"always make sure that the family pet can supply you with a bunch of tying materials.

Dear Ian:
On a recent steelhead fishing trip, my buddy killed a dear with his Honda. We did manage to get it into the back of his car, and we took it home for the freezer. Is this legal in Ontario? I often see dead deer at the side of the highway, and I don't know if I can harvest them.
Pat, Owen Sound, Ontario.

Dear Pat.
Yes you can harvest dead deer in Ontario, but you must contact your local MNR office to tell them where you picked up the animal. No, saying, "It was at the side of the highway," is not good enough. You need to let them know the exact location. I would also follow up with a quick call to the local Ontario Provincial Police branch so that there is a record of your good fortune. This will prevent someone from laying a poaching charge at your doorstep at a later date. Clicking a few digital pics of the carcass before you pick it up is also a good idea. One other point. Make sure the deer is dead before you try to stuff it into your car, and if the carcass has been chewed up, then you should not take the deer, as it may have picked up a disease or two. A fresh dead deer still carry a lot of ticks, so when you pick up the carcass, you are a prime target for them to do a wee bit of relocating.
For the record at this time of the year (the fall) deer are starting to rut, and they are most active during the hours of 4 am to 7 am, which is when most fishermen are on the road.

Dear Ian:
It's getting pretty depressing really, the better at fly casting I become, the less fish I catch. I remember when I was just starting out and couldn't cast more than 30 feet or tie anything but Woolly Worms, I could catch fish in a rain barrel. What's your expert theory on that Ian?
Perversely Reversed, Oakville, Ontario.

Dear Reversed:
Go back to fishing in the rain barrel, which I am guessing you must have stocked at some point and also shorted your casts back up to 30 feet. Sadly too many folk get caught up in making long casts, which may look great on the cover of a fly fishing magazine, but year in and year out shorter casts will produce more fish. Why? You can feel the take on a shorter cast. If you are fishing on the Grand River, a 30 foot cast is all you need. Your predicament is very common within the fly fishing community, but it is never talked about as rod manufacturers in their subversive attempt to take over the world, are constantly promoting the longer cast as a means of getting more fish. Several top notch guides and gillies I know won't let their clients cast more than 30 feet to 40 feet, so that should tell you something. What it should be telling you that many top notch guides and gillies I know won't let their clients cast more than 30 feet to 40 feet.

Dear Ian:
If I am fishing dry fly and it sinks then a fish hits it, does it count as a fish on a dry fly or is it now a fish taken on an emerger?
Mary, Ontario, Canada.

Dear Mary:
This is perhaps one of the most hotly debated questions in fly fishing, well this and "Are float fishermen, bobber fishermen and strike indicator fisherman all one and the same?" I would have to say that the pattern is still a dry fly, therefore the fish hit a dry fly, not an emerger, even although it was being fished as an emerger. I say, "A hit, is a hit, is a hit." Just so long as you released the fish who cares?

Dear Ian:
This is not an Ask Ian Question, but I feel I just have to tell someone. During the summer I purchased a box of White Puke Flies from you, and I was surprised at how well they worked on Smallmouth Bass. Long story short, I was on the way home from some fantastic smallie fishing and I was sitting at a set of traffic lights admiring your box of flies when, "WHAMMO!" I was broadsided by a van. The end result. I picked up new truck. My $100 investment in the White Puke Flies was a but a pittance. I should also tell you that the flies survived the crash and they they are still producing fish.
(Name withheld)

Dear Name Withheld
Like the cat question below, I am not going to touch this, but it's comforting to know that the flies are still working.

Do you know if there is, "more than one way to skin a cat," as outlined in the old proverb?
Hank, Florida, USA.

Hi Hank:
Call PETA as I am sure they have a department for stuff like that.

Hey Ian:
I caught and released a female mallard duck on a White Puke fly last week. Is this some sort of ground breaking achievement worthy of a bunch of your flies? The duck was released unharmed. Would you please start a Duck on the Fly Registry, somewhat like your Canadian Carp Registry, so that I can have my 15 minutes of fame?
Don, New York, USA.

Hi Don:
In Canada we have laws against fly fishing for ducks, but hey, so long as you are happy, that's what counts. Nope, this has been done before. Back in 2002, Stephen Eszen (the man who invented the Black Froggie of Death, landed both a carp and a duck on the same cast. In 2003, Cindy from Washington, DC. was up here fishing the mighty Thames River and she also had a duck which hit a White Puke fly. In 2000, Karla from London, Ontario was the first person to land a brace of carp using a dropper system and two flies. All the same, nice try on trying to weasel your way into a few fishing flies. As for starting a Duck on the Fly Registry, PETA would be all over that faster than a fat kid on a chocolate bar, but you go ahead.
The link to the: Canadian Carp Registry.

Dear Ian:
My wife is forever getting on at me to spend more, "quality time" with her and less time fishing. Can you help?
PJ in Wisconsin.

Dear PJ:
Sadly, no man alive can help you with the quality time issue, as most of us are not familiar with the phrase. Have you ever heard the play-by-play announcer at a football game say, "He just ran that ball back 80 yards for a touch down, and it was all quality time with the pigskin." You haven't? Well neither have I. Not once have I heard an NHL announcer, say, "He's getting 5 minutes of quality time in the penalty box." No, what you need to do is learn a few key phrases and if you use them in conversation, you may be surprised. Things like:
"I was just thinking that."
"Is that so?"
"Starting a book club is a great idea."

Dear Ian:
Rumor has it that you chopped off the end of someone's fly line. Is this true and what kind of example is this setting for children, and other fly fishermen on the river?
Susan K, Ontario.

Dear Susan:
I was just thinking that starting a book club is a great idea. Yes I jolly well did, and yes I would do it again. What you may not know is that the chap had the whole river to fish, and he deliberately walked into the run below where I was fishing. I did ask him several times - in a polite and non-threatening manner, using hushed tones - to move, as he was snagging up the fly line of the lady I was fishing with. He said, "It's a free country and I can fish anywhere I want to." That, as you can imagine, was "the wrong answer." Eventually after I had snagged up his line several times, I simply cut off about 20 feet from his fly line to untangle a rather large mess, which occurred when I had accidentally snagged his line, again. What is that teaching our kids?
1. If you have the whole river to fish, don't be an idiot and fish within 40 feet of two anglers who are already there.
2. If a 290 pound Scotsman asks you several times to move, it may be a good idea.
3. Always carry a spare fly line.
4. Had he started a book club, the incident may not have occurred.

Hey Carpfather:
I have been reading a lot about degreasing my leader. You have been saying this for years, so which product do you use?
Ted, Ohio, Good Old USA.

Dear Ted (in Good Old USA)
Yes there are now a few commercially produced degreasing products on the market, but you still can't beat Fullers Earth from England. Sadly it can be hard to find on this side of the Atlantic, and as it is a white powder good luck getting it into the US. All I use is spoonful of dirt from the garden, mixed into a squirt or two of dishwashing liquid. It works like a charm. Now, if you are a dry fly fisherman - don't worry, you will get over it in time - and you want the leader and tippet to hang just below the water surface, your best is to use ground up rocks from the top of Mount Everest. These rocks have adapted to living at a high altitude and they have become lighter than say the same size of rock found at sea level. Therefore the powder made from the high altitude rocks has a tendency to float the tippet, especially if you beat an egg white into the powder, just like you would if you were making a soufflé or a meringue.

Hi Ian:
You gave me a crayfish fly when you were demonstrating fly tying at the Memphis Fly Fishing Expo. It caught a few smallmouth bass and several bream. Thanks. What is the back made from and what is it called?

Dear Anon
Great that the fly produced a few fish for you. You can call on it all you want, but it won't come back to you, it won't play fetch and it won't bring you your slippers. If you want to call something, buy a dog. Most dogs are good at coming when you call them, except those which are not, then there are those with selective hearing, but they can hear a fridge door opening at 200 yards. The pattern is an Outcast Crayfish and the back is made from brown plastic raffia. Some folk will use brown ribbon for the back as it lasts much longer than the raffia does. One of the first folk to use ribbon for making flies was Oscar Feliu the chap who created the Oscars Hex. For the record, Swiss straw is of no use to you when making this fly, so don't even think about using it. Now, the body on the fly is made from beige chenille and I only use the farm raised chenille, as wild chenille - now found only in a few pockets of swamp in Florida - has almost been harvested into extinction.

Dear Ian:
I know you are a die hard Maple Leafs hockey fan. Do you think this will be their year? It has not been their year since the mid 1960s. Do you think the fans will pack the arenas now that the NHL lockout is over?
Peter T, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Dear Peter:
Nice to see that for at least this week Quebec is still part of Canada. Hey, every year is the Leafs year but we just don't want to show off, you know, let the other teams have a chance of lifting the cup. Plus as a team, the Toronto Maple Leafs have more top notch golfers on the bench than any other NHL team, and they are rumored to have a putting green and a sand trap in their dressing room. How many other professional sports teams can you say that about? I hope that Don Cherry hosts Coaches Casting Corner, as our sport could do with a few opinionated and flamboyant folk, who are willing to call a strike indicator a float or a bobber.

Hi Ian:
This is not a question. I have used some of your Ask Ian information, and I have found that it helped me get a few fish. Thank you.
David from Falkirk in "Bonny Scotland."

Hi David:
Glad it helped you out.Ian:
New to fly fishing, need your help. When you get to the river, which fly would be first out of your box? I fish for Brown Trout, and I am rather good at being unsuccessful.
Andrew, Woodstock, Ontario.

Hi Andrew:
A Gold Ribbed Hare's Nymph in a sizes #8 to #16 is tough to beat, as is a Pheasant Tail Nymph in a size #16. If you find the fish won't come to these two patterns, try tipping them with a small minnow or even a hint of dew worm.

Dear Carpfather:
It appears that my youngest son, aged 7, has his nose stuck in various bait-fishing and spin fishing magazines. Is there anyway I can get him switched over onto a few fly fishing magazines? I have fly fished for about 30 years, and I would love for him to follow in his fathers footsteps.
Peter, Michigan, USA.

Dear Pete
Sadly there is nothing you can do, nor should you try to make him to switch ... just give him time. What you could do is read the magazines before he gets to them, so that you are up to speed on each issue. Next, you engage him in a fishing conversation, which is always a good thing. Also, those magazines are full of useful information which you can adapt to fly fishing. Pay particular attention to lure retrieve speeds and lure colour selection, depending on the water conditions.

Hey Ian:
I am a fly-fishing nubile, nervous newbie. If you could give me one piece of advise for catching trout and carp, what would it be?
Ann, K in Ohio, USA.

Dear Ann K:
Use a leader of between 12 feet to 14 feet, don't forget to tie a productive fly onto the end of it and only go after carp. I could also add; start out by practicing on an easy species like trout, THEN when you get the hang of things, go after carp. Don't be nervous, we are all "still learning." And what is with the alliteration?
Also see: Ian's Leader Illustration.

Dear Carpfather:
Why have you passed up on making a comment on the Michael Jackson trial? I thought that with, to quote your front page, "Your laser sharp wit," you would have, or should have had something to say about it.
Mark from Florida.

Dear Mark:
I thought about it, but ya gotta draw the line someplace, which is why I did not advertise Productive Pontiff Poppers on my site. If however it comes out in the trial that Mr. Jackson is a closet dry fly fisherman, I will be all over it like a swarm of hungry wasps at an open jam jar.

Dear Ian:
I have been sending in my name to your free fly draw for several years now. I have never won. What can I do to increase my chances?
Allen, Frustrated in Toronto, Canada.

Dear Allen:
You can't. All the names go into a hat and then one or two are drawn out. The winning names are posted on my site and the flies are shipped out to the winners. Done. However, if you stick your name onto my Scratch and Dent list, you could always buy a few cheap flies, which in the long run will be cheaper than you sending me three bottles of single malt, which will have no influence on you winning some flies, but it will sure as heck make me feel good. You need to remember, I get about 150 to 200 names per month for the draw.

Dear Max the Rottie.
I have seen your photo on Ian's Website and on the banner for Idiot Out at the bottom of an Ask Ian Page. So, I thought I should send you a note, which is tough to do as I don't have an opposing thumb and this keyboard was not designed to be used by the paws of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but, what can you do? I live in Cambridge, Ontario and I was wondering if you would like to take the Greyhound Bus over here from London, Ontario so that we could get to know each other over a bowl of Nibbles. I like long walks in the park, having my ears scratched, rolling on the grass, digging holes in the backyard and when no one is home, sleeping on the sofa. I don't chase squirrels or cats, (that is for ruffian, uncouth and uneducated dog breeds) I am good with kids and I love going for a drive and having my ears flapping around in the wind. I have a bunch of old Lassie movies we can watch, but I am sure that she was wearing a wig and she had a stunt double for most of her work. Don't worry Max, I won't keep you on a short leash.
Thanks. Truffles. picture and photo
(Well worth taking a look! Ian)

Dear Truffles
I will call you on my Fido. What can I say? You look smashing. I hope this not just a Puppy Love and that we are not barking up the wrong tree. I am a blue-collar dog (my collar is blue, but I also have a red one) who likes the simple things in life, like being first to the fire hydrant after a good rain. There is nothing I like more then performing a splash of impressionistic artwork on a canvas of crisp and freshly fallen snow. I am a huge fan of the movie: Wag the Dog, and I will bring my copy of it over for you, however the edges of the video box are a bit dog eared. Some call me an Alpha dog, but you can call me anytime at 1-555-big-paws.
Max the Rottie.

Dear Carpfather:
I am 65 years old, and I have to say that this, 2004/2005, is the longest winter I can remember. It is now late March and I still have 5 inches of ice on my back pond. I am thinking of heading up the local church bell-tower with a .303 and a scope.
Disgruntled in Michigan.

Dear Disgruntled,
Leave a bit of space up there for me. I'll bring the coffee, ammo and a bucket of chicken.

Hey Ian:
I am new to fly fishing and I am looking at picking up a travel rod. Is there any difference between a 2 piece rod, a 3 piece rod and say a 4 piece rod? Thanks for the advice.
Ken in Toronto, Canada.

Hi Ken:
A two piece rod has two pieces, a three piece rod has three pieces and funnily enough, a four piece rod has for all intents and purposes, four pieces. You will find that these numbers hold true across all fly fishing rod manufacturers. Also, thanks for letting the world know where Toronto is located. No one would ever have guessed that it's in Canada. If someone moves it, please let me know so that I can update all my maps of southern Ontario.

Hi Ian:
You spend a lot of time outside. Have you ever seen a a UFO? Also, do you know if any fly fishermen have ever been abducted by aliens?
Tammy in Ohio.

Dear Tammy.
I have never seen a UFO. However, I have seen a ghost and I know one other guide who tells me he did see a UFO many years ago over the skies in Michigan. As for aliens... I have never seen one of them, but I have seen a few folk with white buckets who could be aliens. And what is all this about being abducted... have you a hankering to lay down on a cold gurney? I figure that most aliens are catch and release folk anyway. Look at how many people they catch, tag and then throw back. Earth may in fact be a catch and release zone. "Whoopee," I say. No doubt in some far away swirling nebula of hot gases and funky planets, the owner of "Leisure and Laser Off World Outfitters" has a catch-and-release board, between the displays of Major Tom Jerky and Mitochondria Max Mix, on which are hundreds of photos of happy looking locals holding up their latest catches.

Dear Carpfather:
Why do flies from the UK work in Canada? Don't the fish know the flies are from a foreign country?
Big Sid, Halifax, N.S.

Dear Big Sid:
The fish don't know where the flies are from. They look at the pattern as some form of food, or the fly ticks them off so much that they take a whack at it. Look at all the Atlantic salmon flies we use over here that originated in the UK: Alleys Shrimp, the Logie and the Collie Dog all spring to mind.

Dear Mr. James:
My husband loved your book. He was laughing so hard that he woke me up one night when he was reading it in bed. Now Mr. James. My question to you is this; do the flies listed in the appendix actually catch fish or is it a cruel joke? After all, you do have a reputation for pulling the wool over the eyes of many a fly fisherman.
Rebecca, Denver, USA.

Dear Rebecca:
On the advice of my team of crack lawyers I can't answer that. What I can say is that I know of three fly fishermen who have tied each of the flies in Fumbling and caught fish on them.

Hey Ian,
I have a question about Gar pike. A gentleman on a fly-fishing site I visit was in Mississippi fishing for Gar and kept losing them do to not being able to set the hook. Then a local fisherman came over and gave him a piece of silk rope (no hooks) and use that as it gets tangled in all the teeth. He ended up catching a monster with it. Have you ever heard of this technique, I can't seem to find anything about it on the internet?
Ryan, Toronto.

Dear Ryan:
Yes I have heard about this 'technique.' It is not new, I remember hearing about it way back in the early 1980s. However, gar pike do take flies. You just have to be keen on setting the hook. Some folk I know use this silk rope system, if you can call it a system, here in Ontario, but they use chopped up bits of womans nylons. The folk in question are not married, so it sort of makes you wonder why they would have access to the nylons in the first place. Not that I am trying to suggest anything, but they do go on a lot of weekend trips together, if you get my drift. No, stick to streamer flies and you will be able to 'catch' gar pike, and not 'snag' them. Tangling the gar pikes teeth in something and then hauling them in is nothing short cheating. Sort of like chumming the pool with roe and then drifting an egg pattern when fishing steelhead. Maybe they will soon be using catch-and-release gillnets for going after brown trout and brook trout.

Dear Carpfather:
I have tried some of your fishing tips and they worked out. Thank you. But did you know that there is a lot of fly fishing information in these Ask Ian pages? There is a lot of bull as well, but I am just letting you know that your tips worked.
Jen, USA.

Dear Jen.
I am glad the tips helped you get a few fish, and I did have an sneaky suspicion that there was some fish catching tips and fish catching info hidden in the Ask Ian pages, as I write the answers.

Dear Ian.
As there is no NHL this year, is it not great to see your Toronto Maple Leafs doing so well?
Chuck, Montreal.

Dear Chuck:
Hey, this is a building year for the Leafs...just like last year... and the year before that... and the year before that... and the year before that...

Dear Ian:
As you are from Scotland, can you please tell me why it is that at this time of the year, New Year, people always think of Scotland, drinking, shortbread, playing the bagpipes and that Bobbie Burns song called Auld Lang Syne?
Perplexed in Pittsburgh, USA.

Dear Perplexed:
It is obvious from your question that you are in fact a closet Scotsman, or woman. That's okay. Just try to be more open about it. You know, show up at the office wearing a kilt, or go out and rent a bunch of Big Sean Conory movies to watch at home with your family or neighbors. If you can't find any Sean movies, go with Trainspotting, which is hardly "good clean family entertainment," but it has some smashing one-liners in it.
Now you should know that Robert Burns (not Bobbie Burns, bloody Yankee!) did not write Auld Lang Syne. Auld Lang Syne is a traditional Scottish song which is much older than Robert Burns. Burns added a few lyrics to this traditional song and it is his version of the song which is now famous. If you sing the lyrics backwards you can use it for calling wild haggis down from the mountains, which is a cunning poaching technique used in the Highlands of Scotland, just north of Inverness. By the way, I was born in Toronto, I am a Canadian citizen and I carry a Canadian passport. But, I do like a glass of single malt, Barrs Iron Brew and a plate of haggis.

Dear Mr. James.
I was wondering. I have a rottie and she won't chase cats. Does your dog chase cats? He looks cute.
Amy, almost age 5, (sent in by her mum.)

Dear Amy:
Great question. No, Max does not chase cats. He will bark at squirrels, but he won't chase cats and he won't chase birds. If you send me a picture of your dog, I will hang it up on the wall beside his blanket. Maybe they can e-mail each other, or even go for a w-a-l-k.

Dear Carpfather.
I just stumbled upon your website as I was surfing the net and I LOVE it! I have been fly fishing for almost 3 years now, and I must say that I am not doing all that well. Other anglers will be catching fish, but I don't get a take. Any ideas on what I am doing wrong?
Frank L, Ohio, USA.

Dear Frank:
Well I am glad you liked my site. Take a look through the Tips and Tricks section as there is a whack of fish catching information in there. Now about not catching fish. Here are a few common errors most fly fishermen make:
1. Using the wrong fly.
2. Using the right fly, but fishing it the wrong way.
3. Fishing in the wrong place.
4. Fishing in the right place, but with the wrong fly.
5. Fishing on the wrong day.
6. Fishing on the right day, but sadly, with the wrong fly.
7. Fishing on the right day, with the right fly, but fishing it the wrong way.
8. Fishing on the right day, in the right place, with the right fly fished the right way, 20 minutes after the fish quit feeding.
9. Fishing on the right day, in the right place, with the right fly fished the right way, but quitting 20 minutes before the fish start feeding.
10. All of the above, some of the above or any combination of the above.

Hey Ian:
At one of the fly fishing shows last year you said you were going to pick up a digital camera so that you could put more pictures of your flies on your site. So after a year, what is keeping you? Can't you find a digital camera to run on that bit-of-poo Macintosh computer you love so dearly?
PCBoy in Ontario.

Dear PCBoy:
Please send me the make and the plate number of your car, where-n-when you fish and a recent photograph of yourself.

Dear Ian:
As you suggested in an Ask Ian I tried using the fur from my dog for dubbing flies. It worked and I caught a few small brown trout on the flies I tied. Thanks. But now my fly box needs to go for a walk twice per day.
Harry P, Cornwall, England.

Dear Harry:
Well done. You need to remember that if you are heading up to Scotland to fish grayling, you should only use the fur from a West Highland Terrier or from a Scottish Elk Hound. The fish in Scotland are super selective and they will not take a fly made from the fur of an English dog.

Dear Ian:
I know that last year when you were in Little Rock, Arkansas you saw the Bill Clinton Library being built. Did you know this was opened a few weeks ago, and that it was the first time Bill had been in a library? I hear the Hillary Clinton wing is rather cold.
George, Arkansas, USA.

Dear George:
Yes I saw the library, no I am not going to touch that. I am heading back to Arkansas (some of the best fishing in the world, and some of the best folk you will meet) in the summer of 2005, so I need to remain neutral on the Bill Clinton debate. All the same, I did chuckle at your e-mail.

Dear Ian:
My kids (ages 5 and 8) want to get into making flies. What is the easiest way to do this? My husband is not a fly fisherman.
Mary from Michigan.

Dear Mary:
Get a divorce! Seriously, the easiest way is to buy the kids a good vise - one each so there is no fighting - and some basic tying tools. Start them on kid friendly patterns, easy to tie and with great names like: The Cats Whisker, the Puke Fly or the Woollybugger. They are easy to make and kids love the names. When I teach kids, I tell them are tying Buggers, which they soon rename as Boogers. If you can't find the tying steps for these flies in a book, let me know and I will send them out to you. You should also tell them that "Dry Flies" are "bad words."




Vertical Chicken
Nothing says "I love you" like preparing a mouth watering meal for the one you love ... but who has the time? This works like a charm and it's tasty too. Plus, once you have the chicken on the BBQ you will have lots of free time to tie up a few flies.

How to
Purchase a vertical chicken roaster, which should cost you about $10.00.
Wash and pat dry a 3-5 lb chicken.
Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and herbs.
Preheat the BBQ to 400-425F.
Place a can half-full of water, lemon juice, orange juice or soda on the base of the roaster.
Pour the other half of the liquid into the base of the roasting pan
Put the chicken on the roaster and place on the BBQ.
Cook until the inside temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165F.