Ian Archives #5 of 5.
If you want to Ask Ian: E-mail
(Keep them clean or I can't use them!)
If you laughed out loud, tell all your buddies about my site. (Please.)
If you want to use an Ask Ian in your club newsletter - many clubs
are - please ask me first. You also need to send me two issues of
your newsletter before I make a decision on the use of my material.
Yup, I can write an Ask Ian specifically for your newsletter.
More Ask Ian Archives:
Archives #1. | Archives
#2. | Archives #3. | Archives
#4. | Archives #5. | Ask Ian Schematics.
These folk Asked 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
How do I know if I am using the right fly?
John, Michigan, USA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a shortage of fly fishing shows on TV. Can you come up
with any ideas for a show?
Debbie, Wisconsin, USA.
The best I can think of would be, 'Friends with Flyrods,' followed
by something like 'Queer Eye for the Fly Guy.'
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.
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?"
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.
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."
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
Belinda, Denver, USA.
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.
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.
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.
No worries. It is not a new idea. It is not my idea. I am glad it
worked out for you.
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.
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.
As the season is almost over, can you tell me the right way to store
my fly line for the winter?
Tom in Alaska.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Medical adhesive you say? Oh this is just tooooooooo easy. I have
to leave this one alone. Just use your imagination.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Love the site. Do you look at the glass of water as being half full
or half empty?
Lorraine, Stirling, Scotland.
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.
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.
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.
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.
what is the best way to catch an Arkansas Water Moccasin?
A. C. (Chuck) Haralson, Arkansas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My wading boots stink. What can I do about it?
Tom, Michigan, USA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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.
I feel exactly the same way I do every year when the playoffs roll
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
Ron, Burlington, Ontario.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Karen and Tom, Michigan, USA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Redrum, Redrum, Redrum, Redrum.
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
Bubba in Arnpriorir, USA.
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.
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.
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.