Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cowboy Wisdom -- Fly Fishing Checklist

When I first started fly fishing -- back in the 1960s -- my outfit was pretty simple.  It included a Wright McGill fly rod, a Montgomery Wards fly reel and an old band-aid box full of flies and leader.

The older I get the worse my memory has become.  I no longer just throw some gear in the back of the pickup and head out for a fishing trip.  These days I tend to make copious lists, double check them, and revise them often in the weeks leading up to a fishing trip.

I haven't been fly fishing in a few years and had to buy a lot of new tackle because I made the mistake of giving all my fly fishing gear to my daughter a couple years back.

In preparation for my coming spring attack on the Upper Owens River -- a place where I've had enormous success in the past -- I've purchased almost an entirely new outfit.

Here's my fly fishing vest checklist to make sure I have all I need when I'm on the river…

Fly Fishing Vest:

Orange dry sack – wallet and cell phone

Current fishing license

Polarized sunglasses

Dry fly Floatant

Dry fly box and flies

Streamer boxes & streamers

Extra leader and Tippets

Retractable zinger & nippers

Knot tying tool

Hook hone

Hook threader

Hook snare & holder

Leader straightener

Line cleaner

Hemostat/forceps - hook remover

Wet fly box

Split shot

Strike indicators

Tape measure

Lip balm and sunscreen

Flashlight or Headlamp

Lighter or Waterproof Matches

Water (and usually a sandwich so I can fish all day without returning to the truck)


Bug repellent


First aid kit

Fuji camera/batteries

Swiss army fisherman's knife


Net with magnetic release

Fly Fishing Clothing:

Gore-Tex paddle jacket (optional if rainy -- I usually carry this all day in the Sierras)

nylon rain pants (optional if rainy)

polyester undershirt

wool or nylon shirt

wool whipcord pants & web belt (or quick drying nylon pants)

nylon underwear

Lightweight wool socks

Water shoes or gore-tex hiking boots

Fleece jacket (optional if cold)

Fingerless gloves (optional if cold)

Warm cap (optional if cold)

Cowboy hat with a full brim

Bandana for sun protection

Bear spray on belt (bear country)

Gerber belt knife

Mosquito net

Fly Rod and Reel (sink tip line for streamers)

I also carry an extra reel (with floating line) in the back of my vest and keep a spare fly rod in the truck.

I hope you find something useful here.  Happy Fishing.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cowboy Wisdom -- Canoe Trolling For Trout

I'm not a very patient fellow, so still fishing from shore with a worm and bobber just isn't my style.  I prefer to paddle a canoe, and to see the scenery and wildlife on any given lake or stream. 

I've also learned that I'll catch more fish if I cover more water, so trolling is my favorite way to fish.

Unless you are on big, open, windy water a canoe has a distinct advantage over boats with motors and float-tubes.  The slow surge and glide of a paddled canoe is quiet and gives your trolled bait an action very close to that of a swimming bait fish.

A canoe can also cover a lot more water than a float-tube.

Finding Fish

Over the years I've learned a few basics about finding fish on a new lake. 

1. Locate the bait that fish eat.  I always fish a shore that the prevailing wind is pushing bait toward.

2. Find protective structure fish hide in.  Look for logs, rocks and undercut banks.  One sure bet is to fish old stream beds -- I always locate stream inlets and outlets, and fish a zigzag pattern between them.

3. Find water that is oxygenated -- locate feeder creeks, and especially springs.  Often springs will be located at the bottom of rocky cliffs that abut the water you're fishing.

What To Troll

In the early spring and late fall I tend to fish pretty close to the surface.  During those times of the year I use a light spinning rod with a spoon or crankbait.

Or, a medium action, 6 wt weight fly rod with streamers.

For my favorite streamers see: http://a-drifting-cowboy.blogspot.com/2015/12/sporting-classics-fly-rod-lures.html

My favorite spinning rod baits include Original Rapalas, Needlefish and Mepps Dressed Aglia Spinners.

In the warmer summer weather -- or if I'm not having any luck surface fishing -- I switch to a stiffer Kencor trolling rod with leadcore line and flashers.

For my leadcore trolling method see: http://a-drifting-cowboy.blogspot.com/2013/08/cowboy-wisdom-lead-core-trolling.html

Final Thoughts

No matter which trolling method you choose… ALWAYS turn around and fish the same water over again whenever you catch a fish.  I caught these two trout -- a laker and a hybrid cutthroat -- five minutes apart within a 50 foot square area of water on the Snake River.

I've seen lots of photos of "tricked out" fishing canoes, but I like to keep it simple.  Everything I need to go out on the lake -- including my 33 pound Old Town pack canoe can be carried on my back to the water's edge.

Since the photo above was taken I ditched the wood frame backrest for a lighter canvas model. 

Finally, always tie everything down or at the very least keep it on a leash.  You will eventually capsize any canoe. 

Happy fishing.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sporting Collectibles -- Vintage Fisher Fly Rod

Back in 1983, I was in Seattle on a business trip.  I lodged at a downtown hotel, so after an early dinner I went for a walk and happened on to a Eddie Bauer store.

I had been looking for a travel fly rod for some time and Eddie Bauer had the perfect rod for my needs.  It's a 4 piece, 8', 6 weight fiber glass rod in a 24" aluminum case.

As luck would have it I only had an opportunity to use it one time, so it has been in storage for more than thirty years.

A few years back I gave all my fly fishing gear to my daughter, but overlooked the Bauer rod.  When I discovered it - I considered selling it on Ebay.  I did some research, and learned it was made by premier California fly rod maker J. kennedy Fisher.

The writing on these two rods leaves no doubt about who the maker is.

After learning its collector value I decided to hang on to it just in case I might want to do some fly fishing at some future date.

This has been a long hard winter for several reasons, so I'm planning on doing a little fly fishing on the upper Owens River when trout season opens.

I even bought the perfect reel to match up with my old Fisher made Bauer rod.  It's a 3 1/2", 6 weight, Hardy Brothers Princess from the late 1960s.

See you on the river.