Fly Fishin’, Fly Fishin’
By Guide Glenn Smith
Fly fishin’, fly fishin’
My how much fun
to see what you’ve been missin’.
Do you want to know how?
What about now?
Pay close attention
with the utmost retention!
Look through this book,
read all the pages.
You will learn a new skill,
fit for the ages.
You will learn where they live,
and what they’re about.
Rainbows, Browns, Willy Brook Trout.
To know where they swim
is part of the riddle.
By a rock? In the riffle?
Deep, deep in the middle?
These fish are clever,
and clever they seem,
when you visit their home:
a freshwater stream.
You could peek in a seam,
or a big still pool.
With patience, you’ll find,
this kingdom the trout rule.
Perhaps a big blue lake,
or a fast-moving stream.
If we’re really lucky,
trout will swim in our dreams.
Fly fishin’, fly fishin’
What else should you ask
What else have you been missin’?
A whole lotta people
fish with a pole, a hook, and a worm.
They spend their whole day
with nothing to learn.
Waiting, waiting, waiting they wait
Are they early? Are they late?
Waiting, waiting for a bobber to churn
A whole lotta nothing
with so much concern!
Fishing like that – OH what a bore!
Like a kite on the ground refusing to soar.
Fly fishin’, fly fishin’
Let’s learn more
about what you’ve been missin’.
With patience and detail,
a little bit of wishin’,
you’ll stand a good chance
to catch a freshwater whale.
You will learn to catch,
honest and true,
just treat the fish nicely.
As if it were you!
A few more things to catch a beautiful fish,
just read on!
No way you can miss.
First: It’s a rod, not a pole.
A rod is for casting, a pole is a pole!
Next, to finish the deal:
a line, leader, fly, and a trusty fly reel.
Fly fishin’, fly fishin’
Oh My, how much fun
to discover a new mission.
Fly fishermen are an interesting breed.
Those who practice,
are those who succeed.
This is the rod,
this is the reel.
Choose yours by touch
Choose yours by feel.
This is the line.
It appears really thick.
It is made that way:
slippery and quick!
This is a leader,
It’s long AND it’s thin.
Fish will not see it,
unless it grazes their fin.
These are the flies.
They look almost real!
Made to match a trout’s evening meal.
Flies can be made with feathers and leather,
Others are made with hair and much care
Some are made with plastic, which can be super fantastic
They can be made of copper, all to look proper.
If that’s what it takes
to make convincing, editable, delectable Great Drakes.
After learning this magical way
you will spend a glorious day.
Learning to be patient.
Learning to cast.
Develop a passion
that will forever last.
Fly fishin’, fly fishin’
See how much fun
You will have
With the knowledge, you’ve given
Let’s start here: You’re a fly fisherman, a seasoned angler, you know what the term 5x is referring to, you know the difference between a comparadun and a parachute BWO, you have racked up a ton of days on the river, Life is pretty good for you, but do you have the proper mindset?
Do you miss more strikes then you think you should? Do you get frustrated when you have a great drift and you think it’s more often than not a rock or a stick? Only to find out it was a strike that you just lost out on?
Welcome to the world of an improper mindset – a world most fishermen believe they are above or shouldn’t be concerned about.
Let’s paint another picture.
Imagine this; You find yourself the most remarkable spot on the river, alone on great water loaded with gorgeous “bubble seams” flowing under a shaded tree section, just the right amount of cloud cover. You tie on a fly that matches the hatch perfectly, all is right in the world. You skillfully judge your distance, line, and rod in hand, you make the perfect cast to that one sipping trout you spotted from the bank, then BAM, he takes your bug, you set the hook, hastily and snap the fly off…then your line is tangled in the trees, you yell “Mother FK’r” then your temper rises because you have to wade through the water you were planning on fishing…you feel your day is now ruined.
Question is, is this fishermen’s head in the right place? Some may say yes, there is nothing wrong with trying to achieve perfection while doing any sport, being disappointed that your masterful effort wasn’t rewarded, frustrated that errors were made and so on, that’s fine, but, what a shortsighted way to do something you claim to love…I see things a bit differently.
I do understand that missing an opportunity can be aggravating but in my mindset, at least you were given the chance. Something to remember is fishing is about compromise, it’s about giving and taking, some times you “win” and sometimes the fish “wins’. But you can’t forget that at that very moment, that very second the trout did its part, you fooled the fish in believing that your offering was better than the real thing. So what if you lost it, what it should teach you is to take a moment to reflect on what you could have done differently to have the result you were expecting. The proper mindset is realizing there will always be another opportunity, another chance in the future. That snapped off fly and spaghetti in the trees is only a moment, the only thing that got hurt was your ego.
The fact is this, you could easily be sitting in your office, behind a counter, mowing your lawn, painting the fence, sitting in the blistering heat, hating life, instead of collecting yourself, looking around at the beautiful surroundings of the river, digging out your fly box, tying on a new length of tippit and focusing on that next “opportunity” just around the bend.
The next change in mindset (and this is directed to the millennials reading this blog) is don’t get fixated on taking photos of every fish you catch. I do understand the importance of social media and how it has become a deep-rooted part of the youth culture but leave something for you. Despite popular beliefs, you will not become the next fly fishing influencer nor will you make a living by having a certain company beer can placed oh so perfect next to your catch or having a reel manufacturers hat on, tilted so it looks good in the image, truthfully it’s transparent and kind of ridiculous. The proper mindset is you’re out doing a beautiful, poetic sport in places most people won’t have an opportunity to enjoy. Instead of being vainglorious, you should really be humbled. Secondly, and most importantly, it is really bad for the fish and our fishing resource to abuse the fish that way, the more we handle them, the more we keep them out of the water only shortens their life span if it doesn’t kill them that day. I take this very seriously, your wishing for more likes and shares is nowhere as important to respect the life, habitat and well being of the animals which are the reason we fly fish in the first place.
One other point of mindset is to remember why you started to fly fish in the first place. I can tell you mine;
It takes me to beautiful places, quiet solitude, wilderness, water, a place to escape the ‘real’ world.
I enjoy the riddle that every day brings on the river when I’m hunting for fish. What’s the hatch? Is it bright today? Are they on dries or nymphs? What’s the flow? and so on.
Lastly, I never forget that the Trout, Bonefish, Tarpon, Whitefish did me a favor by eating my fly, so my mindset is that I am just grateful for a day on the river.
Guide Glenn Smith
Well here we are, it’s mid-October, the first snow has fallen and the fly fishing season is slowing down. It is that time of year that the army of amazing guides start to migrate to other waters or sunny destinations where the water is clear and the beer flows like beer.
I had every intention of writing a blog post once a week with magical stories of fish caught and the newest, freshest techniques, as well as videos of showing knot-tying, beautiful water, and tours of our local rivers. As you can see, my feed was as dry as a spring creek during a drought, yes, I did none of what I promised myself to accomplish.
But the year is not over! So here I am, trying to backpedal and make journalistic amends. I got busy, the bar is next door to the Fly Shop and 6 AM comes early during a 7 day a week workweek.
Enough of the filler content, let’s get right into fish pics!
So this photo series is just proof to recuse me of the appearing unengaged and lazy. Truth is, I was fishing like a bandit and making memories for my clients as best as I could. So please keep checking back here for new and interesting content and I promise I wont disappear like a dry-fly hatch on a windy day!
As many the followers of Glenn On The Fly can attest, I really enjoy sharing stories about fishing incidences and practice. I very rarely write about just a good day on the river, John Gierach-esque style. I write mainly about process and etiquette of fly fishing, almost to a fault. But that’s going to change as of today.
As a Profession Guide, I am on the river every day from early morning to when the sun starts to set, and yes I know, I am very lucky, I know it.
I also realize that my every day is someone else’s “once in a lifetime”… I try to never forget that notion. For years, I have as a habit, try to look at the river and my surroundings with “fresh eyes” every time I drive up the river or drop into the water with my new C.O.D. (clients of the day). It is very easy, almost too easy, to take everyday occurrences for granted, it’s the ‘been there done that’ approach which is never a good thing.
This is why I advocated taking the time to write in a journal anytime you hit the water. Even a better plan is anytime when the mood strikes you. Nothing is better than reaching for your own written word to bring the texture and more life to a fond memory or for the dramatic of you, a not so fond memory.
Photos are fine and good but can be the Cliff-note, short cut take on what you actually were doing or experiencing. Sure, we all know it is said that a picture is worth a 1000 words but that is if you want someones else’s words or someone else’s take on your day. What gets missed is all the details, the little stuff that makes it that much more special.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about:
This photo is a nice pic. A nice shot with a dark moody feel and a touch of some action. All is good.
But what the photo doesn’t show is how beautiful the day was, a legendary Colorado bluebird sky. The wind was doing the craziest things that mid-afternoon. Its gusts were blowing swiftly upstream, then sideways, then back again which made casting the size 24 Blue Wing Olive pattern with a 24 black biot emerger as a dropper just 16 inches from the microscopic curved shank of the lead fly.
We had to have our line set-up this way because it was the rising fish that Mister Haute Couture lifestyle photographer Jeff Holt and I were trying to entice. We were taking turns casting at 3 or 4 amazing brown trout sipping just under the surface film of the still water at the tail end of an eddy in the “Eagle Pool” section of the Frying Pan River.
Jeff was new to fly fishing but had the perfect temperament to get very good, very quickly…it was a treat for me to teach someone so eager to learn the nuances of presenting a small hand-tied fly to a feeding Brown trout and get the poetry of the motions.
I decided to take a few casts toward this selective, picky trout with a long reach cast, then high sticking with a slight rod lift with just a touch drag to emulate a delicious insect freshly leaving the water. That moment, BAM! my object of desire struck my small fly with a vengeance. This was the first time Jeff had seen a fish take a dry. At that moment I set the hook quickly to tag this trout just in the right spot of his mouth. He takes the classic short run upstream and then downstream, he did exactly what he was supposed to do. I brought his head up, skated him to the net as quickly as I could. I took just a second to remove the hook while our catch lied calmly half in my net, mostly submerged in the cool water of the Frying Pan. Both Jeff and I admired the spots and colors, its full majesty then within a minute was set free to live another day.
I realized I caught two things at that moment, a gorgeous fish and witness the enthusiasm of a soon to be a fishing good friend.
Now, isn’t that better than just showing a shallow photograph that only tells 1/100 of a second of the story? I can’t emphasize the power of a good story perfectly seasoned with a great image.
All I can say in my cheesy Matthew McConaughey way;
Write On, Right On, Write On!
No matter what Sport you decide to take up, it all requires stuff, stuff you need, stuff you want and stuff that just gets in the way. This article is about the extras, the add-ons, the things you buy because you think you need it but find it a year later in the gap between your car seats. It’s OK that you do that, I do that. Sometimes it’s cool just to have those things, This blog is only meant to bring it to ones attention, not divert your American right to buy anything you please. So read on…
- Newer is not always better. That widget may be the newest tech in the coolest colors but that does not make you any better of an angler, it makes you a chaser. Get good enough to need the latest.
- Don’t fall in love with shiny things. This is a hard one for anyone, pretty things are just that, pretty. I have dirty waders, a vest, spooged with floatant and whatever else. Hey, I still catch fish. Also, $150 anodized clipper to cut 5x tippit seems more of an ego boost than a necessity, for that price it better cook me dinner.
- If it’s sitting at the Point Of Sale, it’s a want, not a need. Yes, things at the counter are things you might need but you should already have. Remember they call it a POS for a reason.
- Don’t try to keep up with the fishing Jones’s. We all have that rich friend or obsessed friends who gets everything and goes everywhere. That’s cool as long as you can pay that credit card bill at the end of the month. If not, do what you can do, don’t go to the poor house because you want to live someone else’s life.
- Rooftop Rod Holders. Again, these things serve a purpose, for some. But most people, it’s a way to brag, showboat, set your “rig” apart, whatever. It’s nice to have as a Guide but as your average Joe driving around the city with it and you only fish twice a year…you’re selling an image instead of filling a need. AND why would you want to invite a possible thief? Dude, if I was a dishonest chap, I would look at that Rod carrier as a reason to look in that ride because, man, this cats got some good stuff I might want.
- A leader straightener or any other weird things to clip onto yourself. Tippit, clippers, hemostats and maybe a knot tool, That’s it!
- Any Gimmick. If it claims to be Hi-Vis, “Fool any Fish”, Celebrity endorsed gadget, avoid it like the plague. If you do buy it, I have some top secret fish attracting stank to sell you as well as an affordable property on the Frying Pan.
- Any Fly that your brothers best friend’s uncle says is guaranteed! This is the best way to burn through your fly budget a buck or two at a time. Listen to the shop guys, local fishing report or what you hear Guides talking about at the bar that afternoon.
- Guide Beers. Truth is that guides like their beer and they like their shots, and some don’t, but most do. You may think it’s a way to get free advice and/or make a new friend to shoot the shit with… that can happen. But don’t count on it. Guides are good people but also keep things close to the vest. Not that they don’t want you to have success but we want to be an “active” part of your success, aka make a days wage and hopefully a good tip. To make this point more relatable, would you go up to the Golf Pro at your country club and ask him to give you free tips on your golf swing? Just say’n.
- Don’t be egotistical. Everyone is out there for the same reason, you weren’t born a Fly Fishing prodigy when you came screaming out of your mother so lighten up and be humble.
I am sure that you might call BS on some of these items on my list and others you might agree with, that is what makes this such a great sport, we all are in our own world and make our own decisions. Decisions like putting on a BWO emerger instead of an Adams Parachute like your buddy did with no success.
So if you want a machined aluminum tie-dyed autographed leader straightener with a web-enabled automatic blood knot tying feature, have at it, more power to you. I’ll stick to my years of diligently practicing my knot tying for the sheer joy of mastering a beautiful skill.
Imagine this: You’re driving up the river and you see that one of your favorite spots is open. You pull over in the single car pull off, get out and start setting up your rod for some dry-fly action. As you get the last knot tied off and you look up at the glorious pool, you see another fisherman B-lining straight into “your” hole you were planning on dropping a line in…What do you do?
This happened to me just the other day, and to let it be known, I despise conflict. Not that I’m a pacifist, I excel at saying exactly what’s on my mind and can escalate the situation in two seconds flat into fist-a-cuffs and possibly violent scene, that can be a problem, a problem I don’t want. So I do everything I can do, even what I don’t want to do, to avoid a battle. But that does not mean that I let things slide.
It begs to be asked:
What do you do when someone snakes your water, steps up on you or steps in directly above you?
How do you react when you see another “show off” fishermen, hooping and hollering while keeping the fish out of the water so long that it is unlikely it will survive?
What if you see a someone catching and keeping fish in a catch and release area?
How about if someone is just plain rude, blatantly ignores basic rules of being decent?
I have been on the river a very long time and I have witnessed a lot of these scenarios. I won’t say I’ve seen it all because people are just crazy. What I have seen is enough. The question is what do you do?
I have been in some dicey situations out there, ranging from anglers breaking river etiquette to straight you verbal battles. In the heat of the moment I chose to think about one thing, It’s fishing. It’s nature.
What should be happening on the river what the world should always be. A Peaceful, quite, respectful place.
So I suggest if you’re confronted by any of the above listed, step back, take stock and defuse the situation. It’s fishing, try to not engage. Let the A-holes wallow in their anger and be the better person.
What you don’t know is why they are so angry? Something more lingering is at play, don’t let their problems become your problem.
If they stepped in on “your” water, simply move right or left and move on. If you want to passively punctuate your point home with some satisfaction…catch a fish in the hole they bypassed, nothing is sweeter than that.
Now what to do about the blatant rule and regulation violators, the ones not following the rules. First off, start a friendly conversation, find out if they even know that what they’re doing is not cricket. If they do know and just being dick about it, Call the DOW. People like that don’t care about the rules and truly don’t care about you or your opinion. If it gets tense, head somewhere else, it’s not worth it. If you can, snap a pic of them and get their license plate, save it for the cops if it gets out of hand.
What I do want to reiterate is we are all out there for the same reason, to enjoy the outdoors, catch some fish and have a good time. Leave the fighting and bickering for Reality TV.
Guide Glenn Smith
Documenting and bragging has been big part of fishing since the beginning of time. I can imagine the earliest of the human race catching a fish, holding up proudly, then scurrying away to hide and eat the bounty. I also can search a historical photo archive and find a deguerreotype somewhere of a guy holding, hanging from a stringer or fighting a fish, just like this one:
It’s always a grainy, black and white image of a big fish or a ton of fish. It’s almost predictable but somethings never change.
The question is, Why do we do this? Why is it necessary to document your outing? Are you a notorious liar, and nobody will believe you otherwise? Or is it you believe you will never catch a fish again and you need the proof to show all your friends?
I don’t really have an answer and I am not an expert of human nature, what I do know is ego plays a big part in this. Why else would it be necessary to take a photo of yourself holding a fish that you just caught?
Trust me, I am no saint. I am a fly fishing guide.
I take pics with fish, I take photos of my clients with their fish as well as the surroundings were enjoying. I do this for a couple of reasons.
Sometimes the fish is amazing and I want to show it off…so there is my ego shot.
I have many photos of my clients with fish for the main reason of fueling their excitement, as well as hopefully securing my spot as their guide for future trips when they are back in my waters. It’s simple, if I’m out of sight I’m out of mind.
This brings me to the ‘Instagramation’ of fishing and how it has cheapened the status of the sport I love. Instagram excels at bring forward the worst in people.
Social Media is now the new synthetic fabric of todays society.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, whatever social dot-com comes down the pike, has created false realities and false envy for their users and followers. What Instagrammers promote is the image of “amazing” in a second reality that is far from real. How many times have you seen the perfect pose, in the perfect place, in the perfect car drinking the perfect expensive drink with the tag line; “#livingTheDream” or “#mylife”? And you know they drive a 10 year old car and their selfies without a filter they would never look like that.
Every time I check out Insta’, it’s almost ridiculous. I will even admit that seeing scantily clad beautiful women has become completely benign and old hat…EVERYONE does it. “Likes” are that important to the poster that having dignity and mystery is no longer a value, it’s an engagement killer.
So that brings me to fishing pictures on instagram. I will once again state that I use and post on the platform and I am not condemning it. What I want to stress is to get your priorities straight on the reasons your posting the images you taking. And to take those photos with respect the to sport and the wildlife you have captured.
Having the opportunity to spend time in the outdoors, communing with nature is one thing, taking that experience, sexing it up, exploiting it or damaging it is a completely other story.
The examples I can give of this are many, the extreme ranging from a girl who poses topless with all saltwater fish she caught to the asshole that posted himself using a baby shark as a bong. If you find this funny, you might want to reevaluate you sense of humor.
Next up the list is the posters that believe that they are “influencers”. For those of you that don’t know what a instagram influencer is, It is a person that gets free stuff from companies because they have a substantial amount of followers. I get that, more eyes, more sales. Conversely, I have seen many photos posted of people with a fish, with their hat down so the Logo of upfront, with a beer can propped up with the label proudly presented in the frame with a million hashtags, thinking that they will get noticed and become sponsored.
Two things; One, having 210 followers does not make you an influencer and secondly, you’re really not all that interesting. On a side note, if you’re a cute girl, that’s a perk for gaining more followers but, I can assure you that those followers are not all that interested in that fish you caught. What exactly are they trolling for? Just remember that.
One of the things that social media does do well is highlight failure. Get online and search #fishing #flyfishing #bigfish, check out how many anglers are mishandling the fish. They have them by the gills or hanging from their jaws. They have them flopping around on the shore or out of the water too long.
My personal favorite is the people who forgot they were trespassing and fishing private water. Even worse than that is the people who willingly break the rule JUST for the photo-op, Talk about losing sight.
I know it sounds like I’m a grumpy old dude and I just don’t get it but let me move to the great part of instagram fishing pics…..I got nothing”n
I love seeing beautiful places, gorgeous fish, amazing flies, exotic destinations, you know, it’s the reason why we do this.
I would like #flyfishing or #fishing to be more like the Travel Channel or The Drake Magazine less like a venue for shameless self-promotion
My advise, keep the camera in the car, or if you cant resist, take fast and thoughtful photos. Always respect the fish, the enviorment, and if you’re a catch and release angler, “keep’um wet” let them go quickly.
One thing I know for certain is a well told fish story is way better than a photo any day of the week.
Tight Lines (from the socially unsocial guide)
10 things you need to do BEFORE you hit the river!
It is the end of winter, I would expect that you’re getting anxious for the up coming fly Fishing season. I have done this routine for over 25 years and it is a great way to get primed and ready.
Here is a checklist of things to do ahead of time that will make your spring, summer, fall adventure successful.
- Do a dry run with your waders and boots. It is a great time to see if you need to repair leaks in your waders from last year, the ones you forgot about that soaked your socks. Also, check your boots of delaminating, wear and condition. Make sure they’re good enough or still fit you well. Soak your boots and change your laces.
- Go through all your flies. At the end of the seasons we just put our flies in our boxes, close them up, that’s it. What people forget about is that the hook itself can rust. Check to see if they still are in good shape and also take the time, with the help of an adult beverage, organize your boxes. I have a separate box for nymphs and dries as well as each family; Mayflies, Caddis, midge and so on. You never need to carry ALL of your patterns with you at all times. Do your homework, or ask your favorite shop what’s hatching and stock that. (but also keep a few secret bugs with you just incase.)
- Set new goals. Where do you WANT to fish? Learn a new technique? Take a float or do the high country? Maybe a stretch of new water would be interesting? Should you try the salt?
- Make sure to throughly clean, lube and/or rebuild or replace your fly reels. Look at the line, flip it if a double taper. Clean and “lube” your line. Check the drag, lube the spindle. Make sure it’s not dented or out of round. Again, alleviate a problems before it’s a problem
- Be sure to inspect your rod for nicks and the ferrels are square, not bent out of wack. How’s the cork? Do you even like that rod anymore?
- If you need to buy or replace anything, now is a great time. Fly Shops have great deals on last years inventory, big companies like Orvis, Sage, Simms might have deals on their websites. It’s a good time to find a deal. (don’t get caught up in “newer is better” trap… Truth is, there can be upgrades or new tech out there but you have to be so incredibly sophisticated to realize the difference, so last years stuff is awesome. Remember, it was the ‘New Tech” not that long ago.
- Make sure your fishing license is up to date and what you need to get it. In Colorado the rules have change up and you HAVE to have a drivers license or passport on you to get it at the shop. Be prepared. You can also get it ahead of time through a state run website, which I fully recommend.
- Obviously, do your inventory of disposables and consumables. Leaders, tippet, floatant, strike indicators, so on. If any of this stuff is old, like over a year, think about replacing it. Nothing is worse that losing that state record fish due to line failure.
- Practice, practice and practice. It’s time to rig up that rod and start casting in the yard or park. Make it fun, set up hoops and cans to cast into or towards and master the feel of the rod (again) and judging your distances. It will pay off you when you see that sipping fish under that branch 30 feet up.
- Get out there, enjoy yourself and remember why you’re there. Please don’t make it about your Instagram, hunting for that big fish or filtered pic to share for “likes”. You’re out there to be part of the experience, not to think you’re the next fly fishing god or goddess, planning on becoming a fly fishing “influencer” to get free stuff from the big companies or magazine mentions, it’s a touch sad really…Last thing you want to do is disrespect the fly fishing pioneers before you and cheapen what they wholeheartedly loved to the core of their soul for a free hat.
I plan on doing a post on the Instagramination(TM) of fly fishing in another future post.
As we say;
Guide Glenn Smith