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These folk Asked Ian

Dear Ian:
Is it okay to use dog fur as a replacement for the dubbings required to make flies? I have a 5 year old male Husky.
Helen, Michigan, USA.

Dear Helen:
YES! The answer is yes! Husky fur makes an awesome dry fly. The proof ... have you ever thrown a ball into the lake for your dog? Does he float? Well there you go.

Hey Carpfather:
Do you think the flyrod manufactures of this world will ever see the light and design a series of fly fishing rods designed for carp? We have been fly fishing carp for the last 3 years and it is awesome. Also, do you think the unwashed masses of none carping fly fishermen will ever see the light?
David, Michigan, USA.

Hey David:
Years ago I was asked to help develop a line of fly rods for carp. The project "got nuked," and no doubt around the globe all the carp said, "Whoopee!" As for the unwashed masses . . . who knows?

Hey Ian:
Will I get more fish if I use scent on my flies? I do a lot of night fishing for steelhead.
John in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Dear John:
Thanks for the update on where Northern Ontario is located. I had no idea it was part of Canada. I don't use scent on my flies, but I know a whack of fly fishermen who do. Also, many steelhead fly fishermen will put trout pellets into their boxes of flies. The theory being that the flies will pick up the scent form the pellets, and as the fish have been fed pellets when they were but "wee smolts," they will take a whack at the flies. Some folk even go so far as to tie up pellet patterns using dubbed fur bodies for sinking pellet flies or deer hair bodies for floating pellet flies. Yes, nothing like imitating the natural food source of the fish. The argument they make (and it is a good one) is, if fly fishermen imitate salmon eggs by tying up yarn flies, then why is that any different from tying up a pellet pattern? I know many anglers who use cod liver oil, garlic and strawberry jello to scent their flies.

Hey Ian:
I am new to fishing steelhead. How much weight do I need to use? I know you are a fan of not using a sink tip line, so why do you not like them?
Peter, Bowmanville, Ontario.

Dear Peter:
It is tough to control "drag" when you are using a full sinking or even a sink tip line. All too often it's a case of, "Out of sight, out of mind." If you stick to using a floating line, you will be able to see the drag starting to form in the line. Now the question about weight is simple. If you are not tapping out on the bottom once and a while, you need to add more weight. If you don't want to use more weight, add a few feet of leader to your cast, and this will help to drop the flies down to the bottom. The flies will sink faster, because they are not being held up by the tip of the floating fly line, as they are further away from it. Personally, when I fish the edges of the Great Lakes, 15 feet is the minimum length of leader I will use.

Hey Carpfather:
How do I know if I am using the right fly?
John, Michigan, USA.

Dear John:
You will be catching fish. If you are not catching fish, then try another pattern. You could always ask the folks fishing beside you what flies they are using. If they are not catching fish, do not use those patterns. Seriously, I am guessing you are steelheading so stick with Hare's Ear Nymphs, Muncher Nymphs and egg flies . . . you will do just fine.

Dear Ian:
I have been married for 15 years and I would like to get my wife into fly fishing. Do you think that getting her a flyrod and waders for our anniversary is a great idea? I want to do the right thing.
Larry H, Michigan, USA.

Dear Larry:
After 15 years you would think that you would know better. Sure, pick up the fly fishing gear, wrap it up and present it to her over a candle light dinner. Then let me know how the divorce goes. Ya gotta be kidding me. Think Larry, think. You would be much better off getting her some power tools, or a set of Limited Edition NASCAR Wrenches with her name engraved on them.

Hey Carpfather:
I guess you know that the National Hockey League season has gone down the tank. How do you think this will effect fly fishing?
Tom, Hamilton, Ontario.

Dear Tom:
Sadly there are many NHL players who flyfish. I believe that the rivers will be plugged up by locked out players hogging the best pools, and that there will be full contact fly fishing in the riffles. Don't let that worry you. Just ask them for an autograph or to pose beside you for a quick photo. As most fly fishermen look the same on the river, the easiest way to identify an NHL player is to look for someone holding a fish over their head, while they dance around the riverbank in a circle. The other way to ID a hockey player is that a red light will start to flash, and a horn will sound when they land a fish.

Dear Ian:
There is a shortage of fly fishing shows on TV. Can you come up with any ideas for a show?
Debbie, Wisconsin, USA.

Dear Debbie:
The best I can think of would be, 'Friends with Flyrods,' followed by something like 'Queer Eye for the Fly Guy.'

Dear Ian:
Last year my husband took one of your fly tying classes, and he was instantly hooked on the sport. So thank you. However, both he and my daughter have now taken over the spare room and it is awash in hooks, fur and feathers. I am holding you responsible as you got him into it. So. How can I make them keep the room cleaned up?
Betsy, Michigan, USA.

Dear Betsy:
At least it is fly tying and not a meth-lab. The solution is simple 3 step process:
1) Put a new filter bag into the vacuum cleaner.
2) Vacuum up half of the contents off the fly tying table. (Hooks, feathers and fur.)
3) Leave the vacuum in the room.
I think you will find they will 'take the hint.'
PS. This method will also work for any room filled with small items like: toy solders or Leggo. All you have to say to the kids is, "Wanna see mummy play Hurricane Ivan?"

Dear Carpfather:
I am in need of your wisdom. I was going to tie up a few steelhead flies, but the pattern called for brown tying thread. I don't have any brown tying thread. If I use black thread, will the fly be less effective than if I had used brown tying thread?
Worried in British Columbia, Canada.

Dear Worried:
Use the black thread and just get on with it. If the fish can see the colour of the thread, they can see the hook sticking out of the back end of the fly. Also, I doubt that the fish have a copy of the original fly, tied with brown thread, which they can use as a reference. I can't imagine that a 10 pound steelhead is going to look at your fly and say, "Bloody heck! What amateur tied that? Everyone knows it should be tied with brown thread, not black thread. Now, had that been tied with brown thread, I would have taken a smack at it."

Dear Ian:
I am forever getting my flies snagged up on rocks and logs. How can I get them back without wading into the pool and spooking all the fish?
Belinda, Denver, USA.

Dear Belinda:
You can try making a rollcast and then let the fly line get pulled down below the snag. This should free up the fly. This will work providing you have not tried to pull the fly free by jerking the rod up and down several times. All this will do is bury the fly into the log. If the rollcast will not do it, then you are sort of out of luck. You could always try the Snag-Out 6000 a small motorized boat, which you can control by radio-remote to get out to the snagged fly. Get the 3000 BTU Tippet-Toaster option, which will free you up in no time flat. If you can't find a Snag-Out 6000 in your local fly fishing shop (they keep them under the table as no one likes to talk about them) you could pick up a Riffle Retrieve, a breed of dog especially trained to retrieve flies. They are also good with kids and if properly trained this breed will fold laundry.

Dear Ian:
What's with all the grief coming towards you from Elora? Personally, I'm hoping to fish there in the buff, as I once did on the Big Head in Meaford. As for garbage fish, with my record of success, I'm happy to catch just about anything. You are, of course, correct about carp. The fish that provided me the most fun this year turned out to be a five pound carp when I was fishing for a large walleye. Could you maybe omit the address from the Elora folk who don't seem to have a sense of humor? We're a tourist town, and, really, most of us are friendly.
Big D, Elora (whoops)

Dear Big D:
I agree. Elora is a great town and the people are great as well. But I do need to leave the Elora postings on my page otherwise folk will think I am whimping out. At the end of the day, it is, after all, about free speech. For the record, I have caught quite a few brown trout, carp and Northern pike in the Grand River near Elora.

Dear Carpfather:
I tried dubbing a few dry flies out of the fur from my dog as you suggested in an Ask Ian. It worked. I caught a few graying on the flies I tied. Thanks for the idea!
Keith, Norwich, England.

Dear Keith.
No worries. It is not a new idea. It is not my idea. I am glad it worked out for you.

Dear Ian:
It is a well known fact that carp are smarter than trout or bass. Why do you think that most fly fishermen turn down up nose at carp? AND why do they have to justify going after carp by calling them things like: Freshwater bonefish and golden bonefish? Also, why is it okay for folk to chum the water for carp, yet this is illegal for alternative species like trout?
Sue, from England.

Dear Sue
I have a feeling that you like fly fishing for carp. Well done! Sadly too many fly fishermen are in the sport for the 'image.' There is nothing wrong with that, but to keep up appearances they like to list carp as freshwater bonefish. The true aficionados of the carping fraternity see through this and simply call them carp, or carpalope. As for chumming for carp, I feel it is horrendous. How often do you see a fly fishing article starting with the words, "First you throw out four or five dozen dew worms to get the trout feeding, then you chuck out a Woolly Bugger." Carp are tough to get on a flyrod, so it is easier for anglers to cheat in order to hook them.

Hey Ian:
As the season is almost over, can you tell me the right way to store my fly line for the winter?
Tom in Alaska.

Dear Tom:
The easiest way it to hang it over a few nails in the basement. You know, nice large loops to prevent it from forming too many tight coils. The other way to store a line is to wrap it around an old bicycle wheel rim, which you can hang in the basement. The easiest way to destroy a fly line is to leave it coiled up on your reel in the trunk of the car over the winter months. One last point. Always leave the drag 'off' on your reel over the winter. The drag system will last longer if you leave it 'off' rather than 'on.' I am guessing that in Alaska, you have a rather short season, and fly line storage in the off season is a top priority item.

Dear Carpfather:
Love your site. Found it when surfing the net. I am new to steelheading in Ontario. IF you were to stick to two styles of flies what would they be. I have taken your advice, and I am starting to tie my steelhead patterns now, August 5th.
Jim in Wiarton, Ontario.

Dear Jim:
Stonefly nymphs are hard to beat, as are Zonkers. You will have to match the size of the fly to the water conditions, but those two should do the trick for you. If not, try something else.

Hey Ian:
Why do you always knock fly fishermen who use strike indicators? They are a traditional part of the sport. I use them all the time.
Brent from Stoke-on-Trent, England.

Dear Brent:
I knock them because far too often a fly fisherman will use them when they do not need to. I find that on the river, too many fly fishermen are depending on 'bobbers' as a form of security blanket. I think, if used to excess, they 'dumb down' fly fishermen. Sadly, too many fly fishermen are addicted to using them and I honestly believe that strike indicators are a bad thing for many fly fishermen. I say we should strike the name strike indicator from the English language, and each package of Fly Fisherman's Bobbers should come with an 'addiction warning' on the package. As far as being traditional ... you have to be joking. Tell me you are joking?

Dear Carpfather:
I am still laughing at the Slow Cats banner at the bottom of this page. Brilliant! I know you were once a competitive swimmer, so perhaps you can help me out. I was hearing that at the Athens Olympics, the swimmers will be wearing goggles which are glued onto their face using a medical adhesive. (The absence of the goggle straps will reduce the drag of the swimmer going through the water.) So, do you think that fly fishermen should be streamlined to reduce drag when the wade in the water?
Charles, Texas, USA.

Dear Charles:
Medical adhesive you say? Oh this is just tooooooooo easy. I have to leave this one alone. Just use your imagination.

Dear Ian:
I have watched you fishing and guiding on the Grand River and I was surprised to see that you wear shorts. Your clients wear waders and other guides wear waders, so why don't you? Don't you feel it's a bit tacky wearing shorts on a trout stream like the Grand River?
Allen, P. Elora, Ontario.

Dear Allen:
There is no way in the world I am going to wet wade without shorts, and what are you doing . . . stalking me? If so, you need to fill out the official Stalking Ian Forms available at all good book stores. In a nut shell, "Sod-Off!" What I wear is up to little old me, what others wear is up to them. It sounds to me that perhaps you have some uniform issues from when you were in the Boy Scouts, or was that in fact the Girl Guides?

There's a great deal of controvercy regarding ATV use in Nova Scotia, the damage they cause, the garbage operators leave behind, the access it offers to once remote fishing spots, etc. What are your thoughts on ATV's, are they causing as much damage to the woods and waters in Ontario, how do channel your anger, when bubba rides his ATV through a spawning bed within double haul distance of your otherwise peaceful fishing hole? Other then a genetic cleansing tool, which is not working fast enough, I don't see the point!
C.Darwin, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Dear Mr. Darwin:
This is a tough question with no easy answer. Spike belts do spring to mind, but they would provide a clear and present danger to those fly fishermen who wade. I guess, Mr. Darwin, it is all about evolution, or in many cases, a backed-up gene pool which not even the toughest toilet plunger can unplug. However there are two solutions:
1. Find an ATV rider who is actually a fly fisherman, and who can get on your side. It will go a long way in helping you to inform and educate the other AVT riders.
2. Get the local enforcement branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources involved. They can track the ATV's back to the source and lay charges. I am guessing that it is illegal to ride an ATV up and down the riverbed. Also, keep a log book, try to click a few digital photos and try to work with the CO's to get the problem solved. If the CO shows up on an ATV with 'Sid the Salmon Slammer' embroidered on his leather jacket, you might want to look for another CO. If all else fails you could try building a 400,000 BTU flame thrower which is activated by exhaust fumes. The point is you must do something or nothing will change. For the record, I control my anger by juggling live beavers. Rather therapeutic.

Hey Carpfather:
I LOVE your website. How do you manage to keep the content so fresh? For the record, we Ask Ian addicts in Quebec do not think you look like Tony Soprano.
Jennifer from Montreal, Canada.

Dear Jennifer:
Thank you for the kind words. I keep my web content fresh by storing it in the freezer. It works like a charm. I am glad to hear there is an Ask Ian addiction group in Quebec. If you decide to separate from Canada, I hope I will still be able to head over there for some Speckled Trout fishing. Maybe you could put in a good word for me with the new king or queen.

Dear Ian,
Holy crap!!! I opened your Homepage for the first time in weeks, and who do I find staring out at me? Tony Soprano. Now I know who's really running the river -- and it ain't da fishies. Do you think you could get a friendlier looking photo, like say something of a Northern Pike, which for some reason is lacking on your Web site. You're not scared of the toothy critters are you?
BigSkyFly from Ontario.

Dear BigSkyFly:
I dunno whatz ya talking about? I let all a-my fishes go. I-am catch and release guy, so I ain't gonna whacks a-no-body. I mean I ain't a wize guy who's gonna whacks a few fish, if yaz know what I means!
(Ps. See what happens when you only hit my site once every few weeks ... you miss the good stuff.)

Dear Ian:
Love the site. Do you look at the glass of water as being half full or half empty?
Lorraine, Stirling, Scotland.

Dear Lorraine:
I don't care, just so long as there is some single malt in the water. Rather tasty stuff.

Can you lip-land a northern pike like the way you can lip-land a smallmouth bass? I have heard stories that you can lip-landed pike. Are you nuts?
Karen, Hamilton, Ontario.

Dear Karen:
Not once have I ever said that I am in fact 'not nuts.' Small Northern Pike can be lip landed, but you MUST use your thumb to squish down their tongue. If you don't, you will be 'in deep.' This technique will work for pike up to about 4 or 5 pounds. I did try it (once) on a large pike of about 20 pounds, and I must say that the results were less than favorable. Do not try this at home! Lip landing a Smallmouth Bass is not good. It puts a whack of pressure on its back. It is always best to cradle the fish when you are removing the fly before you let it go. Ouch! Take a look.

Dear Ian.
Hi, I liked your night fishing page. I am happiest when fishing for the trouts in the dark as my unique biology abhors sunshine. I'll call you; maybe we can meet for a bite. What is best flies to use at night?
Vlad D. Racula, Trans-ill-vain-i-a.

Dear Vlad:
I smell something fish here, and it is not a spawned out Chinook salmon. The best flies to use at night are dark coloured flies, or black flies. Fish 'see' the fly as an absence of light. There are a million jokes here Vlad the Lad, but I will leave them up to the imagination of the faithful readers of the Ask Ian Pages.

Dear Ian,
what is the best way to catch an Arkansas Water Moccasin?
A. C. (Chuck) Haralson, Arkansas.

Dear Chuck:
I have no clue on this. When you and I 'wet waded' for Smallmouth Bass in some of the streams near Mountain Home, Arkansas, we could not find one. A Copperhead we found, but not a Water Moccasin. I suggest you try a shoe store, as a shoe store will always have a few moccasins in stock.

Dear Carpfather:
My buddy and I can't find a sure bet for deciding which flies to use, and which flies will be successful, when we get to the river. Can you help? I am a dry fly guy and he likes to use nymphs or streamers.
Angelo, in Ohio.

Dear Angelo:
This quandary is as old as time itself. There is no right answer. You must let the fish decide on which flies will be successful, but if you must have a go at it ... try rock-paper-scissors.

Dear Ian:
I think I might be addicted to fly fishing. I eat, I sleep and I even dream about fly fishing. IS there any hope? If not, how can I get off my addiction?
Albert, Iowa, USA.

Dear Albert:
Sorry buddy. It is not looking good. There is no way out. I suggest you try a fly patch. It has the same kind of effect as a nicotine patch, but it is twice as fuzzy.

Dear Carpfather:
My wading boots stink. What can I do about it?
Tom, Michigan, USA.

Dear Tom:
Sadly there is not much you can do now. Try washing them in a mild soap solution and then drying them out in the sun. Too many folk will stuff a wet pair of wading boots into a garbage bag - to keep their car dry on the way home from fishing - then they forget about them until the next fishing trip. This will ruin a set of boots faster than anything. Wading boots should be washed off and dried after each fishing trip. All I can suggest is that if you have one you let your dog, or a someone else's dog, chew up one boot, so that you can justify purchasing a new pair. Your problem will then be solved. Also, if you have breathable waders, they should always be dried 'inside out' for a day or two, before you turn them the right way out.

Dear Mr. James:
I love your website, but I must say I am firmly behind Ticked-off and Arnie from East Anglia. Your knowledge and skills would be better spent promoting trout rather than 'garbage fish' like carp. At one of your seminars on the Grand River, you were giving out tips on catching and RELEASING pike back into the Grand, which as we all know is a world class brown trout fishery. Is this not barbaric? Pike eat trout.
William. P, Elora, Ontario.

Dear William:
As this is has now become personal, all I can say to you is: Please make sure that the two lads you mentioned are happy and comfortable with the fact that you are behind them, firmly or otherwise. I am not that way inclined, but I am glad that you are so open about it. Well done! It is always nice to get things out of the closet once and a while. Let me be clear about this issue. I believe that all fish are equal. Also, it may have escaped you (as you have been in a closet, or in the closet) that pike are a native Ontario species, where as brown trout are not. Pike were in the Grand River, long before those cute little brown trout with the ugly spots were dumped in there. Obviously you believe that predators should be removed from the Grand River, so why are you not calling for all the osprey on the Grand River to be shot? Osprey eat fish. I have watched them take as many as three fish per day from the river! And, those osprey were taking the fish from a 'no kill' section of the watershed. Further, when are you planning on holding the first annual Grand River Great Blue Heron Cull, and will it be a family event? Great Blue Heron eat large numbers of fish fry do they not? Also, how far are you planning on going up the food chain to remove fish predators from the Grand River? I ask, because I like a plate of fish and chips now and again. I was the first guide on the Grand River, and I have always promoted the Grand River as a multi-species watershed. Now, not that size matters, but on an a 4 weight rod a 20 inch Northern Pike is 'way more fun' than a 20 inch Grand River Brown Trout, and for the record, a 20 inch Grand River Carp will out scrap any 20 inch Brown Trout. As far as carp being a 'garbage fish.' Sir, your words speak volumes.

Try to get your mind around this. During The Great Leap Forward, between 1956 to 1962, the Chinese Govt under Mao Zedong decided to wipe out all the song birds in China, because song birds fed on grain. They did this. Hundreds of millions of birds were killed - most by not allowing them to rest, and the birds flew themselves to death - so that there would be less grain lost, and more food harvested for the people. The following year, the grain harvest was wiped out by insects, the same insects the song birds would have eaten, and thousands of Chinese people starved to death.
(Note: On the Ask Ian Pages, this is subject is now closed. However, anyone wanting to follow up on this can do so by sending me an e-mail, or perhaps we can have 'a wee chat' about it on the river one day. Ian)

Hey Ian:
So I fly fish a lot. I love it but every once in a while I have this problem where my leader will get all tangled up, then I would have knots and what not. Is my leader too light for my fly line, WF Floating 6? The leader is a thin 5lb test.

Dear Foxnation:
Great question. There should be no problem casting a 5 pound leader on a 6 weight rod. Chances are that at some point your are flicking your wrist, or you are twisting your wrist during the cast. If you flick your wrist, you will put a small wiggle into the rod, which will be a medium sized wiggle by the time it travels along the length of your fly line. By the time the wiggle reaches the leader, it will be a big wiggle. A big wiggle is a bad thing. A big wiggle will tangle up your leader faster than a weaver bird on speed building a nest. If you twist your wrist the rod tip will not travel in the same path as the line, and at some point the line will whack the rod, or the leader will run into the fly line or into itself, causing a tangle. If you are flicking your wrist and twisting your wrist, I suggest you stay off caffeine for while, and your casting should work out just fine.

Dear Ian:
At a recent seminar someone asked you "If you were stuck with two trout flies to use in Ontario, what would they be?" I know you said a Puke fly, but what was the other and why?
Amber K, Ontario.

Dear Amber:
A size #8 White Puke fly should be in the box of every trout fisherman in North America. Just about every species of trout will have a goat it, as will smallmouth bass, carp and several other species. It can be fished as a nymph, as a baitfish or as a chunk of semi digested, regurgitated fish food, which was the original intent of the fly. I guess in a sick sense, you are matching the hatch. The other fly would have to be an elk hair caddis, size #18 in grey. This pattern can be used all season long and trout will have a go at it. With a bit of work it can be fished dry, or as emerging caddis, cranefly or a midge. I need to say it would be a toss-up between the elkhair caddis and a size #8 Klinkhamer Special.

How dare you call trout a bottom feeder. They are a respectable fish and they deserve your respect. Trout are a worthy adversary for any angler.
Ticked-off in Toronto.

Dear Mr Ticked.
Forgive me here. There may be something I am missing, but ... the last time I checked, trout eat nymphs from the riverbed, hence they are a bottom feeder. As for trout deserving respect, I suggest to you that respect is earned. A worthy adversary? Well that is for you to decide. They have an IQ of three, they don't know you are fishing for them, they don't have a dollars worth of gear and I seriously doubt that in a 'square go' they would be capable of hanging a beating on you. They are fish. If you want a worthy advisory, I suggest you take on a black bear with nothing more than your bare hands.

Dear Carpfather;
Why do you insist on fishing for bottom feeders using advanced methods such as fly casting? That being said, do you have any doughball patterns that you took 20 years to develop? Perhaps you can create a follow-up to the tail-less stonefly that is the "Muncher".
Yours, Arnie S, East Anglia, United Kingdom.

Dear Arnie:
All good points. There is no getting away from it that carp - like rainbow trout, brown trout and speckled trout - do eat bugs from the bottom, hence they are therefore all bottom feeders. All these species are great nymphers, unlike those brutish Atlantic salmon, which are not known for nymphing, I guess Atlantic salmon have never been able to figure out a good thing when they see it. Personally, I have always believed, "A fish, is a fish, is a fish." You need to remember that carp are in fact smarter then trout. Carp have an IQ of six while trout only have an IQ of three, so I am sure that carp figured out how to nymph and then the trout copied them. Also, fly fishing is no more advanced than any other form of angling. I know some dedicated bait fishermen, spin fishermen, jig fishermen and float fishermen who, on any given day could take most fly fisherman 'to school.' I have never thought of the Muncher Nymph as a tail-less stonefly nymph, it is more of a generic pattern, with curved mayfly nymph tendencies. All the same, it is a smashing pattern.

Dear Ian,
Since we all eventually end up getting a soaker while wading, what is the proper etiquette in regards to falling into the water? Should you do the "flail and flop" or the "crocodile death roll" when you know you're going in? Some people have no class and scream like little girls when they go under. What do you think?
Dunkin' Dunc, Komoka, Ont.

Dear Dunc:
The most commonly used technique is the Calving Glacier method. It is slow and silent, but it has an impressive wake and splash. Most of the time you know that you are going in, so the thing to do is to try and keep the rod out of the water. If you try to throw it to the bank, it won't make it and it will end up getting busted. Simply take a deep breath before you hit the water, and remember to keep the rod up high. Screaming will only attract attention, and if you have an easily bruised or a fragile ego, you certainly don't need the extra attention. All to often an angler will cry out things like, "I'm going in," which is only stating the obvious.

Dear Carpfather.
Last summer I was on the river during a large mayfly hatch but couldn't get anything to hit. So, to see what the big attraction was, I scooped up a floating mayfly and tasted it. I wasn't bad. Kind of crunchy and earthy tasting. I've since admitted this to a few of my friends, and they now think that I am some sort of freak who eats bugs. I looked at it more as scientific testing. What do you think?
Hex Hatch from Michigan.

Dear Hex:
This is not good. All too often I have seen this. You start out on soft insects like mayflies but before you know it you are onto caddis and then stonedflies. Do the decent thing and see a doctor, join a self-help group or pick up a few of my addiction related books:
Hatches and Habits.
It's your choice. Methadone or Mayflies?
Take the Grass out of Grasshoppers.
Let me know how it all works out. If it all goes bad, can I have 'first dibs' on your fishing gear?

Dear Ian:
At a recent fly fishing event someone said that you, "Have the eyes of a heron." Is this true? If so, is that why you can spot fish so easily in the river?
Carol-Anne, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

Dear Carol-Anne:
I don't know about the eyes of a heron, but I do have the hair of a bowling ball. As for spotting fish... I am colourblind, which makes it easier for me to see the fish as their camouflage does not work all that well on me. Someone once told me that sharpshooters in WW2 were colourblind, so that the enemy could not hide from them as easily as they could if the sharpshooters had perfect colour vision.

Hey Carpfather:
I see from your website you are a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey fan. How do you feel now that they have been knocked out of the playoffs, and once again they won't have a chance of winning the cup?
Alexis from Montreal.

Dear Alexis:
I feel exactly the same way I do every year when the playoffs roll around.

Dear Ian:
You said at the Ike Walton Fly Fishing Show in Toronto, "Trout have an IQ of three and that carp have an IQ of six." Ian, I can't catch them. Why can't I catch them if they are not all that smart?
Ron, Burlington, Ontario.

Dear Ron:
Homer Simpson said it best, "I am so smart. S_M_R_T." Surprisingly fish don't have to be all that smart. They are fish. They don't have to learn how to drive, how to operate a microwave oven or how to program a VCR. Yes, there is an all too easy joke about schools, which I am going to pass on. Fish run - actually they swim - on instinct. There are days when you just can't make them take a fly, but then again, if you were getting them every day you would soon be fed up with fishing.

Dear Carpfather:
Where did I go wrong? Yesterday was Valentines Day, so I picked up a few boxes of flies from you which I thought would be a good way to get my wife interested in fly fishing. However, I then went out and picked her up a set of waders, flyrod, reel, spare spools and two fly lines. When she opened the gifts, she was ticked off at me. I think it may have been the over all price tag of over $2000.
Stew in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Dear Stew:
Well there you go! Who would have thunked it? Did I not mention in one of my e-mail messages to you that getting her the extra gear be over the top. I think I said it would be, "As popular as a set of Botox injections." I doubt that it was the price tag, you need to think, "Would she have loved the Dale Ernhard Junior, Limited Edition, Socket Wrench Set or a weekend at a spa?" When you told her that "Inside the gift box there was something she could slip into to make her more comfortable," I seriously doubt she was thinking, "Oh goody! Breathable waders." Take the stuff back, get a refund and get her a ticket for a show in Toronto, or keep the rod and lines then suffer consequences for the next 30 years.

Just as soon as things warm up a tad, those tiny winter black stoneflies will be crawling out of the water and be seen all over the snowy white banks of rivers around Owen Sound. Can you suggest any fly patterns that imitate these stoneflies and offer advice on presentation techniques that may be effective with those flies? Thanks.
Scott, near Owen Sound, Ontario.

Dear Scott:
Hmmmm. Perhaps a small black stonefly might do the trick. Du-Oh! There are hundreds of these patterns out there and just about all of them will get fish. However, remember that stoneflies crawl out of the water to hatch, so fish the flies 'tight' to the ice shelf as the stonflies will be found there. Stoned flies on the other hand can be found eating munches. You could also try a floating black ant pattern in a size #12. This is one of the few surface flies which will take steelhead all winter. (Don't ask me why? I have no clue as to why they take it.) Personally, I would not bother fishing a stonefly as you will get more fish - and bigger fish - by deep drifting a big fat sculpin fly under the edge of the ice.

Dear Carpfather:
My husband and I have tried winter steelheading, but the guides keep plugging up with ice. Is there any way to keep the guides from freezing?
Karen and Tom, Michigan, USA.

Dear Karen
There is not. There are several products on the market which suggest they will prevent this, but I have yet to find one which works. I have tried them all, plus home made recipes like: Vaseline, radiator fluid, garlic, canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and WD40. In a nut shell, water freezes and guides plug up with ice. Your best bet is to stay home and tie flies until the temperature reaches 1 degree above freezing.

Dear Ian:
Here we sit watching the Super Bowl from Houston, Texas. Do you think there will ever be a Fly Fishing Super Bowl, or say, a Super Bowl of Fly Fishing?
Barry, Detroit, Michigan, USA.

Dear Barry:
Nope, fish will never be able to swim fast enough to fake out the defense for a long pass, so who would want to watch a bunch of trout fumbling around with only a running game? Plus, how do you figure that the cheerleaders will be able to hold those pompoms, as fish don't have an opposing thumb? And, we all know that if there was one, it would have to be called, The Fish Bowl.

Dear Carpfather:
I have been hooked on fly fishing for the past four years. I know you are a highly trained professional, so I was wondering what do you do in the winter? Ian, when there is a foot of ice on the lake, what do you do to stop you from going crazy?
George, Orillia, in the heart of the snowbelt of Ontario.

Dear George:
Redrum, Redrum, Redrum, Redrum.

Dear Ian:
I have just found out that my wife is having an affair. As I am a regular visitor to your site, I thought you might be able to help.
Name and address with held.

Dear With Held:
Great. Think of all the free time you now have to go fishing. Plus, you don't have to listen to her asking you to do things around the house as your new out is simply, "Oh, why don't you get Loverboy to do it for you?" Obviously she is having her needs attended to, so you should do the same. Go out and drop about $2,000 on new fly fishing gear, and I am sure it will ease the pain. Don't think of it as loosing a life mate. Think of it more as: two fly in trips to Alaska without having to ask.

I understand that you have a secret formula for leader construction and I wonder if you could share it with us. Now, keep in mind, I'm a little slow off the mark, so please use simple instructions. Love the way your site gives us a good laugh, but is chock full of good tips.
Bubba in Arnpriorir, USA.

Dear Bubba:
This is just too easy. I am saying nothing other than, this question has been answered before and here is the link. "Du-Oh!"

Love your site, keep up the good work. I live on Lake Simco, and I was wondering if you can use flies through the ice when ice fishing?
George in Sutton, Lake Simco.

Hi George:
Yes you can! Many years ago when I lived in Newmarket I would use green caddis nymphs and olive damsel nymphs on Lake Simco to catch yellow perch and whitefish. Sadly my ice fishing trips ended rather suddenly when my hut burned down on a cold February morning. Hint: Never use uncovered white Styrofoam to line the ceiling of an ice hut, and for the record, a sofa is remarkably combustible. The first chap to use flies through the ice for Rainbow Trout was Jerry Meyer, from Meyers Meats in Guelph, Ontario, the home of great sausages. Jerry is not only a good butcher, but he is one of the best fly fishermen in Ontario. Back in the 1980's he developed several styles of flies which caught Brown Trout on the Grand River and Rainbow Trout through the ice in Georgian Bay. Unfortunately, I can't tell you about his flies - which still produce fish - as I promised I would take them to my grave.

My wife picked up some fly tying materials and a vice for my Christmas present. I am looking at getting into fly fishing - I now use a floatrod - but I don't know much about fly fishing gear. What is the most essential part of the gear, and what can I skimp on buying?
Frank. H, Ohio, USA.

Hi Frank.
The fly line is without question the bit you need to spend some cash on. You can get by with a cheep rod and a cheep reel, but a fly line is the heart of good casting. Stick with any of the brand name line manufactures and you won't be too far off the mark. The easiest line to learn to cast with is a double tapered floating line. Naturally there are those who will dispute this - mostly part time guides and instructors - but with almost 20 years of full time teaching experience under my belt, I promise you will learn to cast 'properly' using a double tapered floating line. One bit of gear you can do without is a landing net, but they do make you look good. Also, don't switch over from the brand of monofilament you now use. Simply run about 10 feet of it from your fly line as a leader. TA-DA. Dead easy.