Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fort Collins Fly Fishing: Tenkara and Tight Line Nymphing

Today's Blog Post

Largest fish of the day

On July 6, 2019, I assisted team Zen Tenkara at 5280 Angler Fly Fishing Festivus event, held at Boxwood Gulch  This is an annual event and more information is at 5280 Angler Festivus

It was my very first time at Boxwood Gulch, which is private land-water.  My job was assisting 5280 Angler clients, who wished to try Zen Tenkara rods 

Prior to the start, there was some pre-game chatter about fast-high-dirty water, rigging, and which flies to use.  When I fish new water, I utilize the K.I.S.S. principle (i.e., Keep It Simple Stupid).  This translates to fish the conditions and think the following:  
  1. Velocity (CFS) and depth of water
  2.  Length of leader-tippet and weight
Notice how hatch, flies, or other were not part of my pre-game thinking.  With such fast-high-dirty water, the game plan was nothing more than: 

How to get 'meat flies' down as quickly as possible, into their face!

As seen in the above photo, the game plan paid off.  With the Suimenka rod, I set up a non-indicator two fly nymph rig using:  

Anchor Fly: Fast Water Prince Jig
Top Fly: Non-bead pheasant tail

With this very simple rigging and the Suimenka rod, I was happy to see clients catching plenty of big healthy fish.   

Tenkara Lessons?

If you would like to learn how to blend traditional or tight-line nymph fishing with tenkara rod fishing, we offer a 100% customized class, called E.I. Fly 5X

With the 5X class, you tell me what you want to learn and I'll teach you! 

PS.  I had a great experience -- thank you to Zen Tenkara, 5280 Angler, and Boxwood Gulch.

Monday, July 22, 2019

'Donation Only' Family Fly Fishing Class: Fort Collins Client Testimonial

Meet Fort Collins newest fly-fishing family.

Client Testimonial:

The other night my family and I met with Mark for our very first fly-fishing class.  Mark really focused on my eight and ten year old boys, introducing them to casting methods in a fun unique way.  

My boys enjoyed the paintbrush and bubble games the most.  If you and your family are new to fly-fishing and want to test the waters without a huge expense, I would highly recommend Mark’s intro class.  It’s a great way to learn something new and spend outdoor time with your family.  We will be doing other classes with him in the near future.

G. Baca.  Fort Collins, CO


1. Info at USA Lessons
2. During your class, we do not sell products, guided trips, advertise/promote, or other -- classes are 100% dedicated to education/teaching and fun!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Fort Collins Beginner Fly Fishing Class: Donation Only Payment

Today's Blog Post

Hey FoCo, guess who just moved here?

I am Fly Fishers International (FFI) certified fly fishing instructor, that offers adult lessons and:

Donation Only 
Basic Fly Fishing Lessons for Kids and Families 
(ages 6-12)

I am pleased to announce, I have taught my first FoCo family, and hope to teach many more.

At City Park, the Baca family (mom, dad, and their two boys) spent 1.5 fun filled hours learning basic fly casting skills and lots more.

Since 2004, via New Hampshire Fish-n-Game, Trout Unlimited, Phillips Exeter Academy, and First Cast Fly Fishing, I have taught hundreds of kids and families (it's my way of giving back to my community -- all donation $ pays for equipment, supplies, prizes, gas, etc). 

Also, I am a Colorado counselor-therapist and life coach (passed all state and national background checks).

If you are looking for educational, outdoor family fun, without spending tons of $, click link: Kids-Family Donation Only 

Thank You Fort Collins! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fort Collins Fly Fishing Lessons: A New Beginning

Today's Blog Post

Meet Greeley's newest nymph fisherman.

Mr. Shetter completed our new E.I. Fly™5X class.  This class provides clients:

  • Create/customize your own class  
  • Focus on your trouble areas (e.g., casting or nymph, dry, wet, river, pond, lake fishing).
  • Fix nagging problems that prevent you from catching fish
  • Learn how to fish the conditions (e.g., deep-fast water)  
  • Combines technical casting and fishing instruction, in-water.  

He wanted advance instruction on nymph fishing (Euro Tight Line).  How did he do on extremely high-fast water of the Big Thompson? 

In short time, we corrected a handful of classic beginner errors.  He finished the day with approximately 10-14 bows and browns, with 12" being the largest.  Considering the conditions of the Big Thompson, I say he did EXCELLENT and is now on the right path (that's our goal).

Client Testimonial:

"Recently I had the privilege of spending an afternoon on the river with Mark.  Unfortunately, I didn't grow up fly-fishing and it's only been a few years since I decided to dive into the sport.  Needless to say, it's been a blast learning... but it's also been incredibly frustrating!  I was amazed at how just a few hours of instruction with Mark has breathed a new excitement into me for this amazing sport.  (He also introduced me to euro-nymphing, which is a lot of fun if you haven't tried it yet!)  If you're looking for a coach to help you move your game to a new level, Mark is your man.  He's patient and full of a passion for fly-fishing that can't help but rub off on you.  Oh, and one other thing... even on a bad day, you'll catch lots of fish with him!

T. Shetter.  Greeley, CO.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Fort Collins Beginner Fly Fishing Lessons: About Your Instructor

Do you remember catching your first fish?  I do, and more importantly, I remember who I was with. My first fish on a fly rod was an Eastern Brook Trout, other wise known as Salvelinus Fontinalis.  I was in the third grade, and I was with an older boy from my neighborhood, named Mike Vinsel. Mike had taken me fishing on many occasions, but this time our adventure would be different, and it forever changed my life!

We did not ride our bikes to this new fishing location, it was too far to make the roundtrip journey in one day. I remember driving past my school and shortly after, my mother dropped us off. With rods in hand, and backpacks filled with food and fishing equipment, we followed a small stream through the woods.  The hike in was a jagged transformation from my mom's huge 1970 car, to a living forest, pulsing with eye opening beauty.  We arrived at a spot, and I stood upon my very first New England small stream pool.  This was no pond or lake water, with featureless darkness.  It was crystal clear, and boy was it magical.  I could see the bottom, easily seeing the colors of each pebble and the yellow patches of sand.  The sun was out, the sky was blue, and the trees were in full green. I immediately felt comfortable, as though I never wanted to leave this cozy micro-haven. Mike did what Mike was very good at, he caught fish, and lots of them.  I can remember watching the fish attack his fly -- I had never seen anything like this.  I stood frozen, glued, trying to see where the fish were coming from.  One second, nothing was visible, and then suddenly, a Brook Trout was attacking his fly; was this a trick, I thought to myself.  Mike gave me the fly rod (fiber-glasss Fenwick) and soon I was reeling in my first Eastern Brook Trout.  The colors on that fish were like nothing I had ever seen. I stared at the rainbow of colorful dots on its flank.  I was motionless, in a trance, but my mind and heart were exploding in joy.  I still get this feeling each time I catch a Brook Trout; especially the small wild colorful ones.        

Shortly after catching my first EBT, my family moved from New Hampshire to Connecticut.  I was sad to leave my fishing mentor and buddy behind.  As I type, I have not seen or talked to Mike in exactly thirty-nine years. Well, just a few days ago, that changed -- I found him on Facebook.  We have reconnected.  I was hopeful we could meet in person, but I discovered he now lives and works in Japan.  Regardless, reconnecting with Mike via digital means, has been one of the best life moments for me. Why?  Allow me to explain.

  • First and most importantly, I finally had the chance to thank Mike for being my fishing buddy. Time spent with Mike has had a HUGE positive impact on my life.  I have never forgotten about Mike -- our shared memories have never left my mind and soul (i.e., Mike was always with me, whether I was fishing in the USA or around the globe).
  • My family home environment was not healthy.  As a result, there are just a few things in my life that truly make me feel 100% safe and comfortable. Fishing and nature are two of those things. Prior to fishing with Mike, and until I caught my first EBT, I never felt such pure safety and comfort. Something very good happened to me on that day. Again, I am eternally grateful that I had a fishing buddy/mentor who took me under his wings and brought such good energy into my life.
  • Contrary to what you may see, hear, or believe, in honor of what Mike shared with me (fishing and nature), my mission in the fly-fishing world/biz has always been to pay it forward -- to provide a safe, comfortable, and memorable experience for clients and friends.  Fishing can heal -- I am living proof!  If I can be a mentor like Mike, I am a happy soul.  

Over the past several days, Mike and I have been swapping old fishing stories -- attempting to recall events that happened over thirty-five years ago.  During this process, yet again, my fishing mentor did something that ROCKED my world.  He sent me the following hand drawn pieces that reflect our experiences catching EBT's.  Life has not always been easy for me, but at this very moment, I feel blessed and truly lucky. Words cannot begin to describe the emotions I had when I first looked at these drawings.  Reconnecting with Mike has been the greatest catch of my life!

This was a tough spot for a young third grader, but I can remember watching my mentor catch EBT's at this location.  

If I showed you this spot today, you would never believe EBT lived there.  Just a short bike ride from our neighborhood, we had many EBT streams and brooks. 
This is the spot where I caught my first EBT!  It was a magical experience that forever changed my life.  

Final Words

My story took place in the mid 1970's, in the Amherst, New Hampshire area.  It was a time when boys rode their bikes many miles, down quiet country roads, to go fishing.  Obviously, we live in a different world today.  Perhaps, kids riding bikes through an ocean of traffic and chaos, to catch fish, is not the best idea. Regardless, I hope you can find a way to go fishing because some things don't change -- friendship and fishing are still important, and both, just might have a tremendous impact on your life.  

Thanks and looking forward to reading your story.


PS.  Mike, thanks for sharing your wonderful artwork!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Fort Collins Beginner Fly Fishing Lessons: Safety First

Today's Blog Post 

Fly Fishing Safety

Hypothermia vs. Hyperthermia

The below information was written for 'all' possible weather conditions.

Hypothermia is a condition in which an organism's temperature drops below that required for normal metabolism and bodily functions. In warm-blooded animals, core body temperature is maintained near a constant level through biologic homeostasis. But, when the body is exposed to cold, its internal mechanisms may be unable to replenish the heat that is being lost to the organism's surroundings. Hyperthermia, in its advanced state referred to as heat stroke or sunstroke, is an acute condition which occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. It is usually caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures. The heat-regulating mechanisms of the body eventually become overwhelmed and unable to effectively deal with the heat, causing the body temperature to climb uncontrollably. Normal or Core Body Temperature is 36.8°C (98.2°F). Hypothermia can be divided in three stages of severity. 

Three Stages of Hypothermia 

Stage 1:

Body temperature drops by 1-2°C (1.8-3.6°F) below normal temperature (35-37°C or 95-98.6°F). Mild to strong shivering occurs. The victim is unable to perform complex tasks with the hands; the hands become numb. Blood vessels in the outer extremities constrict, lessening heat loss to the outside air. Breathing becomes quick and shallow. Goose bumps form, raising body hair on end in an attempt to create an insulating layer of air around the body (which is of limited use in humans due to lack of sufficient hair, but useful in other species). Often, a person will experience a warm sensation, as if they have recovered, but they are in fact heading into Stage 2. Another test to see if the person is entering stage 2 is if they are unable to touch their thumb with their little finger; this is the first stage of muscles not working. 

Stage 2:

Body temperature drops by 2-4°C (3.8-7.6°F). Shivering becomes more violent. Muscle miss-coordination becomes apparent. Movements are slow and labored, accompanied by a stumbling pace and mild confusion, although the victim may appear alert. Surface blood vessels contract further as the body focuses its remaining resources on keeping the vital organs warm. The victim becomes pale. Lips, ears, fingers and toes may become blue. • 

Stage 3:

Body temperature drops below approximately 32 °C (89.6 °F). Shivering usually stops. Difficulty speaking, sluggish thinking, and amnesia start to appear; inability to use hands and stumbling is also usually present. Cellular metabolic processes shut down. Below 30 °C (86.0 °F), the exposed skin becomes blue and puffy, muscle coordination becomes very poor, walking becomes almost impossible, and the victim exhibits incoherent/irrational behavior including terminal burrowing or even a stupor. Pulse and respiration rates decrease significantly, but fast heart rates can occur. Major organs fail. Clinical death occurs. 

Hypothermia Treatment:

Treatment for hypothermia consists of drying, sheltering, and gradually warming (making sure to not rub the patient's body, to warm with blankets and, if possible, to transfer your own body heat). While blankets help a person retain body heat, they are not sufficient to treat hypothermia. It is vital that the core of the body is warmed first or else the cold blood will be forced towards the heart and may cause death. In the field, a mildly hypothermic person can be effectively re-warmed through close body contact from a companion and by drinking warm, sweet liquids. Moderate and severe cases of hypothermia require immediate evacuation and treatment in a hospital. In hospital, warming is accomplished by external techniques such as heated blankets for mild hypothermia and by more invasive techniques such as warm fluids injected in the veins or even washing of the bladder, stomach, chest and abdominal cavities with warmed fluids for severely hypothermic patients. These patients are at high risk for arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), and care must be taken to minimize jostling and other disturbances until they have been sufficiently warmed, as these arrhythmias are very difficult to treat while the victim is still cold. 

Wind Chill & Frost Bite:

Wind chill is the apparent temperature felt on exposed skin, which is a function of the air temperature and wind speed. The wind chill temperature is always lower than the air temperature, except at higher temperatures where wind chill is considered less important. In cases where the apparent temperature is higher than the air temperature, the heat index is used instead. 

Frostbite is the medical condition whereby damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to extreme cold. At or below 0ยบ C (32°F), blood vessels close to the skin start to narrow (constrict). This helps to preserve core body temperature. In extreme cold, or when the body is exposed to cold for long periods, this protective strategy can reduce blood flow in some areas of the body to dangerously low levels. The combination of cold temperature and poor blood flow can cause severe tissue injury by freezing the tissue. Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from the heart and those with a lot of surface area exposed to cold. The initial stages of frostbite are sometimes called "frostnip". If frostbite is not treated immediately then the damage and the frostbite become permanent. Nerve damage will occur due to oxygen deprivation. Frostbitten areas will turn discolored, purplish at first, and soon turn black. After a while nerve damage becomes so great that feeling is lost in the frostbitten areas. Blisters will also occur. If feeling is lost in the damaged area, checking it for cuts and breaks in the skin is vital. Infected open skin can lead to gangrene and amputation may be needed.

Frost BiteTreatment:

To treat frostbite move the victim to a warm location and seek medical help. Soak frostbitten areas in warm (not hot) water or, if in wilderness, warm by contact with the skin of a non-frostbitten person. Continue until the victim has regained sensation and movement in the afflicted region; this often follows great pain as the nerves thaw. Never rub, slap, or shake the stricken region as ice crystals in the frostbitten skin will damage surrounding tissue. For frostbite in the feet, keeping feet in warm saline water will provide relief. Follow the treatment with a period of constant warmth: refreezing following thawing worsens the damage.

How to Prevent Heat Loss & Reduce Exposure to Cold/Wind:

1) Insulation: Cotton vs. Synthetic/Wool Fabrics

Wearing cotton in cool/cold weather is a particular hypothermia risk as it retains water, and water rapidly conducts heat away from the body. Even in dry weather, cotton clothing can become damp from perspiration and chilly after the wearer stops exercising. Synthetic and wool fabrics provide far better insulation when wet and are quicker to dry. Some synthetic fabrics are designed to wick perspiration away from the body. Last, poor circulation can cause heat loss. So, tight clothing or boots, cramped positions, fatigue, certain medications, smoking, alcohol use, or diseases that affect the blood vessels, such as diabetes can cause poor blood circulation.

2) Down Feathers vs. Poly-Insulate vs. Wool

When dry, down feather insulation is among the best in the world. However, when wet, down feathers will lose almost all insulation properties and take more time to dry than wool or poly- insulates such as sleeping bag material and poly-synthetics such as Polar Fleece.

3) Wind and Weather Proofing 

Whether we are exposed to cold or warm weather, our number one priority is to protect our skin and insulate our bodies. You have many modern “high tech” options such as Poly/Nylon weave with a Gore-Tex type material. This type of outer shell material offers the following: strength, light weight, windproof, waterproof and breathable performance. Traditional protective clothing such as rain coats, down jackets, or heavy wool jackets work well but they all come with pro’s and con’s.

4) Layering System 

For insulation and barrier protection, all outdoor enthusiast and experts agree that layering is the best method. By layering your clothes, you are able to add or subtract clothing when necessary. Ultimately, the key to a good layering system is dependent on each person’s knowledge of their own body performance in different climates, education of materials available for purchase and real world experience. For instance, Polar Fleece is available in 100, 200, 300 weight (typically, the higher the number the more insulation offered). But, a heavier weight layering system may not provide you the best insulation system available. Why? While active, a heavier weight layering system may lead to excessive perspiration may which will lead to wet clothing, which may lead to body heat loss.  


  • Feet: Water proof/insulated boots or rubber insulated boots. Gators. Poly/Nylon and wool sock combination. Extreme cold: down bootie inserts or fur products.
  • Body: (1-2) Layers of poly/synthetic underwear followed by light weight (100) polar fleece and wool.
  • Internal Shell: light weight poly shell, down or fleece.
  • External Shell: Synthetic “high tech.” 5. Hands: Waterproof outer shell. Inner fibers wool and down mittens or gloves. 
  • Head & Neck: Windproof fleece, regular fleece and wool hats, wool scarf. Why wool scarf’s? Great back-up system to warm hands.
  • Eyes: Polarized glasses or ski goggles.
  • Face & Lips: SPF skin lotion. 
  • Note: Under normal cold conditions, and while physically active, I find the combination of fleece/poly and wool products work best. However, in extreme cold conditions, when I am not physically moving, I find fur products (hat, gloves) and more down products, keep me warmer.

Walk-Wade Safety

If you want to be safe and dry, get a wading staff! Buy one or make one, just get one; it could be the best investment you make.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fort Collins Beginner Fly Fishing Lessons: Code of Ethics

Today's Blog Post

Code of Angling Ethics

Angling ethics begin with understanding and obeying laws and regulations associated with the fishery. Fly anglers understand that their conduct relative to laws and regulations reflects on all anglers. Angling ethics begin with and transcend laws and regulations governing angling and the resources that sustain the sport.

The opportunity to participate in the sport of fly fishing is a privilege and a responsibility. Fly anglers respect private property and always ask permission before entering or fishing private property. They seek to understand and follow the local customs and practices associated with the fishery. They share the waters equally with others whether they are fishing or engaging in other outdoor activities.

Fly fishers minimize their impact on the environment and fishery by adopting practices that do not degrade the quality of the banks, waters, and the overall watersheds upon which fisheries depend. These practices include avoiding the introduction of species not native to an ecosystem, and cleaning and drying fishing gear to prevent the inadvertent transport of invasive exotics that may threaten the integrity of an aquatic ecosystem. In simplest terms, fly anglers always leave the fishery better than when they found it.

Fly anglers endeavor to conserve fisheries by understanding the importance of limiting their catch. "Catch and release" is an important component of sustaining premium fisheries that are being over-harvested. Fly anglers release fish properly and with minimal harm. They promote the use of barbless hooks and angling practices that are more challenging, but help to sustain healthy fish populations.

Fly anglers do not judge the methods of fellow anglers. Fly fishers share their knowledge of skills and techniques. They help others to understand that fly-fishing contributes to sound fisheries conservation practices.

Fly anglers treat fellow anglers as they would expect to be treated. They do not impose themselves on or otherwise interfere with other anglers. They wait a polite time, and then, if necessary, request permission to fish through. They may invite other anglers to fish through their positions. Fly fishers when entering an occupied run or area always move in behind other anglers, not in front of them whether in a boat or wading.

Fly anglers when sharing the water allow fellow anglers ample room so as not to disturb anyone's fishing experience. They always fish in a manner that causes as little disturbance as practical to the water and fish. They take precautions to keep their shadow from falling across the water (walking a high bank).

When fishing from watercraft fly anglers do not crowd other anglers or craft. They do not block entrances to bays or otherwise impede others. Fly anglers do not unnecessarily disturb the water by improperly lowering anchors or slapping the water with paddles or oars.

Fly anglers always compliment other anglers and promote this Code of Angling Ethics to them whether they fish with a fly or not. 

The following is a shortened version suitable to be carried by the angler:

  • Fly anglers understand and obey laws and regulations associated with the fishery.
  • Fly anglers believe fly fishing is a privilege and a responsibility.  Fly anglers conserve fisheries by limiting their catch.
  • Fly anglers do not judge fellow anglers and treat them as they would expect to be treated.
  • Fly anglers respect the waters occupied by other anglers so that fish are not disturbed
  • When fishing from a watercraft, fly anglers do not crowd other anglers or craft or unnecessarily disturb the water.
  • Fly anglers respect other angling methods and promote this Code of Angling Ethics to all anglers.

Final Thoughts

I am not perfect. Throughout my life, I have made many angling ethical mistakes (especially when I was a young boy).  I am 46 years old now, and for the past 15 years of my life, I have been evolving as an angler. For example, I no longer care how big and how many fish I catch.  I care more about the emotional experience that fly fishing offers.  For those of you who are not in the know, the mental and spiritual process of fly fishing is more than rods-reels, tight loops, and catching big fish.  It's an amazing experience that allows you to create a union between you, nature and your fellow angler; not conquer and kill nature.  The decision is yours to make.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Fort Collins Beginner Fly Fishing Lessons: Must Know Knots

Today's Blog Post

Fly Fishing Knots

Tip #1: Get old fly line, about 24", and practice while flying in planes, driving, watching TV, etc.  Do not tighten fly line. 

Tip #2: Buy cheapest monofilament line and repeat step #1 and tighten knots. Find a substitute for the hook, such as a large snap swivel (anything without a sharp pointed hook).   

Tip #3: Always cinch knots in linear north-south or east-west direction. I.E. don't pull one way with left hand and the other way with right hand.  Helps seat knots properly.  

The following are MUST know for fly fishing
  • Arbor: Backing line to spool
  • Albright: Backing line to fly line
  • Nail Knot: Fly line to monofilament
  • Perfection Loop: Monofilament to leader
  • Double Surgeon Loop: Monofilament to monofilament
  • Double Surgeons: Leader to tippet
  • Improved Clinch: Tippet to hook
Perfection Loop
Surgeons Loop
Double Surgeons
Improved Clinch

Saltwater Knots

A saltwater set-up (backing, fly line, leader) is identical to the set-up posted above. However, as you begin to use larger diameter monofilament fishing line, and as you tie your monofilament leader to a hook, the clinch knot, may not seat and bite properly.  Therefore, the use of the clinch knot is not recommended when fly fishing in saltwater.  When attaching a fly to a leader, the preferred saltwater knots generally are loop knots.  Why?  One, they are easier to tie and hold excellent break strength.  Two, loop knots are the preferred knot when fishing flies that mimic small and large bait fish.  In other words, when the fly is in the water, the open loop allows the fly to have more natural action.  Just be sure to keep your loop size to a minimum.  By doing so, you won't spook wary fish.  

Non-Slip Mono Loop

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Fort Collins Beginner Fly Fishing Lessons: Balanced Rod-Reel-Line

Today's Blog Post

Balance: Rod - Reel - Line 

By now, if you have tapped into the info on this blog, you have read information on fly lines, fly rod actions, and fly reels.  Now it's time to put it all together to achieve BALANCE. 

Once again, the general rule to follow is: match fly rod weight with fly line weight, with fly reel weight.  If this is so simple, then why do I see so many anglers with un-balanced outfits? 

Avoid the follow mistakes while in a store shopping for a rod, reel, line outfit: 

  • Most anglers will pick up a rod, without a spooled reel on it, and wiggle and flex it. Then they'll say things like, "I like the action."  Folks, sorry to say, this does very little and some would say, absolutely nothing. The only way you can effectively determine how a rod will feel and flex, is to attach an appropriately weighted reel and line, and then cast it on a lawn, or better yet, on the water.  By casting a rod, you'll feel the rod's action and determine if the action is best suited for the conditions you'll be fishing; and also match the action of the rod to your preferred casting stroke (i.e. tight loops vs. open loops).  You'll also have the best chance to determine the balance of the outfit.  However, a problem associated with this process is that many stores will attach a fly reel and fly line that is not properly balanced for the rod.  In fact, many stores will put on a low-cost heavier reel and cheap line because they really don't like folks test driving expensive light weight reels.  Bottom line, if you plan to fish with this outfit for many years, if not a lifetime, you should test your rod with a balanced rod-reel-line set-up. PS.  I let all my students test my personal fly rods.  It gives them a chance to feel what perfect balance is all about. The feedback from students is nothing less than amazement (they all want to buy my set-ups).  
  • After the beginner angler has flexed the rod while in the store, he/she will then review potential reel choices.  Most people will make their choice based on the retailers suggestions and their budget.  Chances are, the conversation will be dominated by the strength of the drag system and the features of large arbor spools. Another note worthy comment, even if you wanted something different, these days, most stores only carry large arbor reels.  Here's the truth, when trying to achieve a balanced outfit, the drag strength and the arbor size, has very little to do with it (especially with rods 1wt-6wt). Instead, focus on the weight of the reel, the quality of the parts (screws, plastic vs. metals, etc), and the ease of use (easy turning knobs, easy changing spare spools, etc). For example: I have used rods and reels, that would be considered heavy by today's standards, that were perfectly balanced, and caused no casting fatigue.  On the other hand, I have used super light weight rods, with modern large arbor (heavier) reels that were not balanced well (caution: with poor casting mechanics, this may cause casting fatigue, and even injury).
  • You have picked out your rod, then your reel, and now it's time to buy fly line.  For some folks, this is when sticker shock sets in.  As a result, most people end up buying the cheapest line possible. I would strongly recommend reversing the process entirely.  In other words, buy the highest quality line possible.  But, before buying your line, focus on the water that you'll be fishing, and any factors that would lead you one way or another (WF vs. DT, Floating vs Sinking, etc).  By doing so, you'll simultaneously determine the weight of both the fly line and fly rod (and, possibly the action of the fly rod).  Once you have picked out your fly line, you now have the ability to selectively choose which rod and reel are weighted properly to give you the desired feel and balance.  Be vigilant about achieving balance because, for example, a 5wt rod and a 5wt reel, although suggested by the manufacture to match properly, may not achieve perfect balance. Even complete rod-reel-line outfits marketed and sold by top manufacturer's, may not achieve optimal balance.  In the end, if you can place one or two fingers at or near the end of the cork grip (away from the reel), and achieve a level rod, then your entire outfit should be balanced. 

Final Thoughts

Again, focus on perfect balance.  Do not under estimate the need for BALANCE.  Even though your rod-reel-line does not weigh much, if you you do not have optimal balance,  and if your casting mechanics are not perfect, you may encounter problems with stress, fatigue and ultimately, you may injure your body (especially with rods over 6wt). 

How I achieve perfect balance with my single handed fly rods:
  • I use light weight click-pawl reels on rods 1-6wt (no drags).  I believe the need for a drag system on these reels is absolutely unnecessary. On rods 6wt-10wt, I use mid-arbor reels because I am not convinced the function/performance and the extra $ for large arbor reels is necessary.
  • I generally pick the lightest reel and size it one size down. For example: On a 9ft 5wt rod, I will use a 4wt reel. I will then add 6wt line to this set up.  Due the larger diameter of the 6wt line and the smaller arbor of the 4wt reel, I will need to add less backing than the manufacturer's recommended guidelines.  With my method, to achieve perfect balance, it may take several attempts of spooling and un-spooling line.  For me, achieving perfect balance is worth the extra time and effort. 

PS.  When I am walking-wading (hunting), my dry-fly rod of choice in Patagonia is a medium-slow action 4wt, with 5wt WWF line, on a 3/4 wt click-pawl reel.  Many anglers think my set-up is crazy (a bit undersized for my prey), but I do just fine and frequently catch/land fish over 20".

Monday, July 1, 2019

Fort Collins Beginner Fly Fishing Lessons: Nymph Fishing Class

Today's Blog Post

Meet Fort Collins newest nymph fisherman.

Mr. Taylor completed our new E.I. Fly™5X class.  This class provides clients:

  • Create/customize your own class  
  • Focus on your trouble areas (e.g., casting or nymph, dry, wet, river, pond, lake fishing).
  • Fix nagging problems that prevent you from catching fish
  • Learn how to fish the conditions (e.g., deep-fast water)  
  • Combines technical casting and fishing instruction, in-water.  

He wanted advance instruction on nymph fishing (Euro Tight Line).  How did he do on June 29, 2019, with approximately 2,000 CFS of extremely high-fast water? 

In short time, we corrected a handful of classic beginner errors.  He finished the day with approximately 12 bows and browns, with 14" being the largest.  Considering the conditions of the Cache la Poudre, I say he did EXCELLENT and is now on the right path (that's our goal). 

Client Testimonial:

Fly fishing is hard; it is also very rewarding.  I grew up bass fishing in Michigan and in the last few years I have tried to hone my skills with the fly rod.  I've worked with several guides and have improved with each of those trips.  It's still easy to make mistakes that cost you a catch and not even know.  Mark is a very skilled & intuitive instructor and has probably forgotten more about fly-fishing than I will ever know.  I would recommend his services to anyone looking to up their game with a fly rod!

B. Taylor. Fort Collins, CO