Water Writes​, Journaling A Moment

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:

Photo By Jeff Holt
Photo By Jeff Holt

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!

Tight Lines

Glenn

 

Be Safe Out There! 20 things to Expect and Un-expect while Fly Fishing.

MbJUSTf7RXCFN3KI7onWBwJust reading the title of this article, I know what you’re thinking, nothing will happen to me, It’s Fly fishing! That may be true for most of us to a point, but trust me when i say, some of the wildest things happen in the most unusual situations.

As a Fly Fishing Guide for over 2 decades, I have seen my share of the unexpected.

I thought it would be helpful to share with y’all what you can, or should do if something were to happen to you on your adventure or at least give you some food for thought before you head out into the wild unknown.

Also, as a disclaimer, I am not a medical professional, nor am I an expert in outdoor survival and I claim not to be… But what I can do is give you my “in the field and on the water” experiences that I have learned from and share that with you, So he we go!

  1. Before you even decide to drive to the river or your favorite run, make sure you have gas in the car, water to drink and let someone know where you’re going. You don’t need to be exact, but at least which river. This is not only for your safety but in case you need to be found for some other reasons.
  2. Be prepared for anything. In Colorado, my home sweet home, you never can underestimate the weather, it can change on a dime, from beautiful bluebird skies in the morning to thunder and lightning or even snow in the afternoon. Take warm clothes and good rain-gear. these things takes up little room and pays for itself the first downpour when the fish start rising.
  3. Make sure you do some research on the water you’re heading to: Such as, Is it a tailwater of freestone river? What’s the water temp? Is the bottom slick or mossy, rocky or silty? What’s the flow? Should I take a staff or have cleats? Do I need waders or can I wet wade? Is it buggy? (not our kind of bugs but the annoying kind)
  4. Bring a snack always! Trust me, you’re not going home sooner that you think especially if the hatch goin off.
  5. Have all your paperwork in order. License is up to date, both of them, fishing and drivers.
  6. Check that you have ALL your gear; waders, boots, vest, bags, nets, boxes, all the things you need or don’t, Just bring it. I have been with clients that refuse to get dressed up at the shop only to find out 10 miles up the river they are missing a boot that fell out in the hotel room when they were bragging about their new “killer pattern”to show their fishing buddies after a couple of beers. It happens. Also alway bring and use your net, period.
  7. When you are heading to your secret spot, don’t become road blind and just focus on the river and ignore others on the road, you would be surprised how may bicyclist, walkers or animals nearly get hit by fishermen NOT paying attention to the road.
  8. When you find your water, don’t get upset if someone else is in it. Don’t get territorial, don’t get all angry. If you are a well seasoned angler, find another spot, truthfully, there are fish everywhere if you know where to look.
  9. When wading through the water, be always cautious and walk flat-footed if possible. The riverbed is inconsistent at best, it can catch your toes of your boots and trip you up, rocks move and slide and are generally unstable. Another thing is branches drift and hit you in the shins, dangerous. You never know, so be respectful of the unknown.
  10. Never put yourself or others in danger because you want to get to “that killer hole over there” that happens to be across fast or uncertain currents. Trust me, IT IS NOT WORTH IT! I know a guy that took a terrifying A River Runs Through It sweep down the river, out of control, near fatal risk just because of a sipping trout out of his reach that wasn’t “all that”.
  11. In that same vein, if you do fall in the river, stay calm and in control, try to work towards the bank at all cost. You may get really wet, lose your stuff, break your rod…so what! Stay alive!
  12. Always keep a pretty good medical/first-aide kit with you. Again, more likely than not, nothing will happen but you do never know. I had a trip with a father and his 11-year-old daughter, it was going really well. We walked to the river through some brush and trees, we waded in the river and dropped a line, perfect, for a while. 20 minutes into our first stop, the young girls hands started to swell up and turn beet red, she was freaking out. I asked the dad if she had any allergies, he didn’t think so but, she obviously did. Luckily we had some Benadryl that the father administered, thank god and the trooper of a girl calmed down, all went beck to normal. It would have been a whole different story otherwise.
  13. This is going to sound harsh, make sure you only bite off what you can chew. What I mean by that is don’t try do more than you are capable or willing to do. If you are out of shape and a scenic overlook is your idea of a good hike, don’t go into the back country that can cause you injury of a heart-attack! Don’t try to be a hero unless you are prepared to do so. It is “just fishing” but it is also “just hiking” says the guy who climbs a 14er for fun.
  14. Put anything valuable in a safe place. Despite all of your high-tech gear is waterproof it is not impervious. Remember, there is one big hole in your waders, it’s at the top, think about it.
  15. Wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and always keep your shirt on. Save that for your Bass or cat fishing trip.
  16. If you hook yourself, what should you do. If its barbless, as it should be, pull it out, dress it and get back fishing. If it is in a vital are aka your eye, seek immediate attention and continuously ask yourself why wasn’t I wearing my sunglasses. If you are hooked with a barbed hook, there are tricks to getting it out. Go on YouTube check it out but I recommend getting your butt to a clinic have it removed then drink a beer.
  17. Lightning and adverse weather. Get over it, get out of the water with your 9 foot lightning rod, sit in the car, wait it out or head out. Your vacation is not ruined, drive around look for those spots that were packed with anglers and are now empty because there fair weather warriors are all gone, the river is yours!
  18. Your friend gets hurt: Help them, if they’re fine, suggest they take a break, give them a Snickers bar resume fishing. If they are really hurt, don’t be a dick, get them help and help them create a really good story.
  19. You get into a tiff with another fisherman: So imagine you’re working a run from the bottom and someone steps in right above you and screws up your entire plan and the run, what are you going to do? This happens a lot, knowingly and by accident. Yes it is rude, are you going to get in a fight over it? Have some choice words then flip then off? Just walk away and mutter under you breath? Well that’s up to you I guess but nothing changes the mood of fishing more than anger. So let it go, most the time, people who do that either don’t realize you’re there of they are newbies and need to be educated about river etiquette, so educate them. Other times they’re just A-holes and will never learn. (fact is, those people usually are fishing hacks, so move to the next hole, within the sight, catch fish while they’re not, all is good in the hood.)
  20. The fish aren’t eating and you’re frustrated: Get over it, enjoy being outside then try again another time. I have said to my clients for many, many years, “Remember that there are two living things on each end of the line, only one of them is in control”

 

I know that this blog post may only have scratched the surface of the countless variables that doing an activity like fly fishing that takes place uncontrolled environs, but alway be careful, diligent and aware. It’s very similar to taking a vacation to New York City

Tight Lines as we say,

Guide Glenn Smith

glennonthefly.com

Why Counting Fish Is A Bad Thing

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“The first rule of flight club is you don’t talk about fight club”. This is one of the many famous quotes from the Brad Pitt movie, Fight Club.  There is a wisdom in this quote. Some things are best kept to one’s self and those that know the secret. I believe this deep into my fabric of my soul.

I spend a lot of time writing about the “experience” for fly fishing, what it means in the big picture? and how it can change you when you are living in “the moment”, as you follow the perfect drift to a splashy strike of a big brown. What I don’t like to do is gloat about it.

Recently we had our annual guide meeting at Taylor Creek, the fly shop I guide for. When I say guide meeting, I really mean,  a bunch of pretty unkept guys and gals with mad fishing skills, drinking cheap beer, giving each other a full rationing of shit and listening to what is expected from us as guides and ambassadors of the shop. I have been to countless gatherings like this. This is also the time when the veteran guides, more or less, stake claim to our seniority and rank in the shop. Yes, it is a pissing match between people who fish for a living. I smile and get a kick out of every one of the “meetings”.  It is just plain fun.

But a topic was brought up by the guides this year that I wasn’t expecting to discuss. It was the matter of not publicly “advertising” the amount of fish you and your clients caught on any given day. To not walk into the shop and blurt out “We got 10 to the net” or “Man, we killed it today!” This, I thought, was progress and something I take very seriously. Let me explain why…

As guides, it is our job to help you catch fish. I have always joked with my clients by saying “You can’t catch fish on your own, you don’t need me standing next to you, talking and not catching fish…” There is more to that quote but I will share this some other time. The point is simple: We will catch fish. But what exactly does that mean? Will we catch a 100 fish? Will we catch 3 fish? I believe that numbers are all relative to your clients expectations or the “total experience”.

We, as guides, should do exactly that, guide. Sure it is important to catch fish, that is what we do but it is not our job to assume that the only thing our client wants is to catch countless fish.

Case in point: I have had days on the river when the fishing was off the hook, and I have had days that it was difficult to even buy a strike. We have those swings out there, so if I am on my own, I continue to walk, wade and cast as the day passes by. If it’s slow, I find another spot. If the fishing is on fire, I stay. It’s that basic. But when out there with a paying client, guides think that their purpose has changed. They feel compelled to prove that they are fly fishing gods of the universe and all swimming creature are at their complete beck and call. We all know that this is not true and the that the only thing that has changed from your normal day out fishing is that a few extra people are tagging along. The difference is you are being paid for your knowledge, not by your fish count. With that said, why the pressure on numbers? Are you out there to stroke your own ego by vicariously upping  the number of fish your client is catching? Does it challenge your manhood? Are you less of a guide than you thought? Do you think that you will impress the shop and other guides by how many fish you brought to the net? Not at all, not even close. Your client only knows the experience you are giving them and their own past history fishing; and the shop only cares if your client was satisfied by their day out on the river with you.

The definition of satisfaction is:

sat·is·fac·tion noun \ˌsa-təs-ˈfak-shən\
: a happy or pleased feeling because of something that you did or something that happened to you

: the act of providing what is needed or desired : the act of satisfying a need or desire

: a result that deals with a problem or complaint in an acceptable way”

If your client wants to learn how to become better at casting, and you teach that, they will be satisfied.

If learning about the habitat, history of the area, insects, how it relates to our sport and the environment, they got what they wanted, they are satisfied.

If you get a client that only wants to catch big fish and a ton of them, do that. But be prepared to address this expectaions if the fishing happens to be slower than usual. What else will satisfy this client?

So to wrap this up, when you walk into the shop or at the bar next door, your fish count does not matter. Anyone who has been fly fishing for most of their lives and guide for a living, truth is, we don’t care. Every fly fishermen should remember one thing, an average or below average day to one person could be an amazing day to another, quote me on that. Let your clients do the bragging because they paid for the right to do so Our reward, as professional fly fishing guides, is knowing a job well done, securing a future repeat client and hopefully a decent tip to put towards our cheap beer that we love so much.

Keep that tip up,

Glenn

 

 

Accused of Stalking…

On the hunt

 

It is a bright, sunny day and I am a meager 6’4″ guy trying to be stealthy, trying not to spook fish. It begs the question, “Is creeping around, being as quiet as I can, really make a difference in my catch ratio”?

Truth is, I don’t know… but how can it hurt. I prefer more of a quiet fishing experience, no yelling, no Yee Ha’s or Yoo Hoo’s, just quiet action. I know that it is exciting to share with everyone around you that you have a massive, potential state record trout on the end of your line if, in fact, it is true. But take it from me, don’t do that. What’s the point? To cause envy? Jealousy? To be the P. Diddy of the river? More like Kanye West really, arrogant without reason.

I subscribe to the soft little voice in my head that say’s “I know this is awesome, I want to do that again” school of thought. It’s simple. It makes me happy and keeps me from a) looking like a dick and b) being called out if, in fact, it is NOT the record breaking. Nothing is really worse than being the guy who called “fish” for no reason.

So, be quiet, be sneaky and be humble. Only good things will come from this technique.

 

The 9 Essentials That Every Fly Fisherman Should Know

My 9

It’s early in the morning and you are getting ready for a day out on the river.  Do you have EVERYTHING you need for a successful day of fly fishing?

As a guide, it is important that I have everything that YOU might possibly need as well as everything I need. It is tantamount, as an experienced guide, not to get caught looking for something you need or worse, not having it and appearing completely unprepared.

Here is a bit of insight about my daily routine and my daily checklist for a great day of chasing trout without worry, stress and looking like a pro. This short list of nine are important to me but please, feel free to email, comment or add to this list. I would love to share your best tips in a future blog.

1. Polarized sunglasses:  It is in my honest opinion that polarized sunglasses are THE most important item that any serious fisherman should own. I love SMITH Optics, I won’t guide without them, because:

a) They give you an incredible advantage of seeing the fish if you know how to look for them,

b) They provide a much safer way to wade and to see the river bottom and any other obstacles and,

c) They enable you to see the fly on the water when a delicate little ‘sipper’ takes that #20 midge.

2. Great wading boot, or at least OK waders:  Buy the best you can afford but think about how much wear or “time in the saddle” you’re going to give them. I have always been a dedicated SIMMS guy. I think they understand what professional Fly Fishing guides need and that can only benefit the recreational fisherman with great R&D and history.

One thing to assess, if throwing stacks of 100’s at something, you’re  “just going to get wet”. I will stress buying really good boots and medium priced waders. Cheap boots fall apart and can be dangerous. Always think safety.

3. A decent rod:  You might notice that I didn’t mention a rod and reel – that’s coming up.  What you do want is a rod that feels right to you. When you’re shopping  for rods, do not start with price. First thing you should do is go to a shop that sells real Fly Fishing gear, not fishing gear and baby cloths and iPods. The only other thing that is acceptable in the store, other than flies, is other fly fishing related goods, and maybe a mug.

I have Sage and ‘Winston rods. These are the rods that I feel best casting, but there are many out there I haven’t casted that I am sure I would fall in love with, I will have to wait until the next fly fishing show or a generous Rep to show up at the shop!

Anywho, ask to cast a bunch of rods in the weight that is appropriate for the fish you’re chasing; #0-#5 are great weights to start with. Be sure to cast these rods with reels and line.  Don’t just stand in the shop and shake it around, it looks cool but doesn’t tell you anything. Choose the one that you connect with, I can almost promise that it will not be the one your friend suggested you get. Now you can look at the price. If it is too much, the shop guy will lean you into a good second choice. If you choose one that feels right and you can also afford, BUY IT. I, still to this day, fish with a old Sage RPL 2 piece that I love.

4. A good to great reel:  This is sometimes a sticky wicket. I own great reels, I own not so great reels. I own them both by choice. Personally I find it hard to spend $600 on a 2 weight reel, but no problem with that much on a 9 weight reel. One is to “put the fish on” and the other is simply to hold line. My thought is this, get a reel that has a warranty, looks great and balances well with your rod. I will leave it up to you to choose between practicality, a piece of jewelry, or both.

5. A REAL fly box:   Be sure to have a box that is easy to open and more importantly, stays closed. Do not keep the bugs you just purchase in one of those plastic specimen cups with a snap on lid….so rookie. This is the best way to lose the $30 or more worth of flies and look stupid doing it.  Also, the box should fit in whatever pocket you keep it in… securely.

Again, nothing is worse than bending over to net a fish you have been working for an hour and watch your fly box float down stream.

6. A great set of snippers:  Nail clippers don’t cut it. Buy a good set designed to cut “mono”, then buy another.

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7. Everything else:  Be sure to always have enough tippet. It is best to double up with floatant, weights, leaders, and hemostats. This will ensure that you will not to be caught with your pants down when the fish are rising and you’re not digging through your pockets looking for that 6X tippet and all you can find 3X. Get my drift?

8. Light weight rain jacket:  A must have that should never leave your car, unless you are wearing it on the river, in a rain storm.

9. Gas:  Always fill your transportation with gas. You don’t want to be worrying about running out of fuel when you should be running up the river to get the evening hatch.

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This is the basic list that I pretty much follow everyday that I get in the car and head out. I hope it is helpful and at least gives you a base of good preparation.

Next week will be my list of things you absolutely don’t need but think you do need.

Hey Hot Shot-That Ego Is Amazing!

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Just the other day I received this comment on my blog l posted last week about staying humble and in check:

S.B. penned:

“Ah well said…but I was hoping you might touch upon the truly self absorbed, hot shots….the ones that often work in a shop…the trout bum. All the obnoxious traits above are trumped by the bum”

I will do just that Mr B. Some of them shop rats are dicks, but most all of them are not. I will have to agree that the ones that act “Holier than thou” do leave a really bad taste in a persons mouth.

First off, I need to make a few quick points:

A) In any sporting industry be it skiing, snowboarding, skate-shops, and the mother of them all- surf shops, there is always the “chip on the shoulder” guy that believes there is no one better than him in his world. (You never see this in a hockey store; it’s the only sport where ego gets a punch in the face).

The fact is, there will always be those guys that feel it necessary to misrepresent their love and skill of their chosen sport with a pedestal built of arrogance, What sport doesn’t?

B) Some shops actually condone this behavior. It either stems from the owner that by nature is grumpy to the bone and it trickles down to his small and unpleasant staff or it’s just a bad shop. By the way, I love those shops, it can be so much fun just to ask stupid questions to get a rise and wait for what might spill out of their mouths. It can be priceless.  But if you chose to do that, remember, many life long fly fishermen are hunters, more than likely they are locked and loaded. 

Here is the truth. It is a shame that you had to experience this type of shop guy, it is in everyones best interest not to be that ” asshole” behind the counter. It is bad for the customers, it is bad for the guides and it is just plain bad for business. I have new clients that come from other shops to fish with us because they could not stand the fact that they were paying a lot of money for a trip and the owner was just disrespectful, and a good guide lost his client because of that owner. Totally uncool.

In my experience from both sides of this, as customer and guide, you can do a few different things:

1) Don’t buy anything, leave and go to another shop in town that is more than happy to see you. Simple as that.

2) Call him out. “Dude really? You’re awfully cocky for a 10 year old…” I have found that a bit of quick wit and carefully placed sarcasm can be a very powerful tool when have to defuse an unnecessary ego fueled situation. Word of caution, don’t pin ego with ego. Your goal is just to punctuate his attitude, to make him realize how stupid he sounds.

3) If you’re going into the shop for a fishing trip, I suggest talking to everyone in there and stick with the one that engages you in return. We ALL walk into a room and form our opinions of everyone in there way before anyone is introduced. I do it, you do it, everyone does it, it is human nature.

My only comment I would have to make is that a “trout bum” is a person that is so enamored with the sport that they are willing to live “that” lifestyle; they are OK with being broke, always chasing trout and working in a fly shop. The guys that bug you are just punks with rods or a shop owners without a business plan.

I hope this answers your question.

 

 

 

 

Hand-Held History

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I am a sucker for #oldschool stuff, be it #motorcycles, #watches or fly fishing gear. I know that this reel is far from the best, but it served its purpose for someone very well. Look at the wear of the finish and the dirt on the handle from this persons thumb and fingers.

What stories would this reel tell? How about the angler? Where in the world has this reel been? To me, Fly fishing should always more than one’s fish count.
#flyfishermen #flyfishing #trout #travel #stories #reels

The Angler and Their “Quiet Companion” Photo submissions requested!

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Every Sunday I am going to post the best photos of Fishermen and their animal companion. Dogs, cats, snakes and so on. I regularly fish with my two girls whenever I can, I think it makes their day and I know it makes mine. So if you are like me and love to fish with “a Quiet Companion” and want them to be featured on this page, and Instagram, please send them my way.

I will give photo credit, as well as link to your site or Instagram!

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There are 3 ways to submit your photos;

Send to glennandtheartofflyfishing@gmail.com

Post them on Instagram and hashtag and/or tag with #ArtofFlyFishing @artofflyfishing

Or, Just send them to me through messaging on my Facebook page,  Glenn and The Art o Fly Fishing

I am looking forward to a long standing tradition of highlighting ‘The Angler and their companions.’

Tight Line

Glenn Smith