What does Aunt Sally expect?

So you decide to give your favorite fly shop a call and get a fishing report. Are you expecting ol' John to tell you the fishing sucks? He probably never will. If you are dialing one of today’s “Boutique” fly shops, the after hours recording can provide more info than Lance, who’s just working the register in between his modeling gig’s for Patagonia. If the voice on the phone explains he has no idea what the thread count on the newest Gucci wading jacket is, listen. If the dude say’s JuJuBee is a candy, hang up. A shop that operates a guide service is privy to some pretty specific information from very reliable sources. The fact that most fishing guides are optimistic to a fault should be a clue as to what type of answer to expect. Hope and luck play such a huge part in this game no one should ever say "it sucks"and besides there are to many variables to say everyday can be as good as yesterday. Clients are different, conditions, guides, locations and time of day or year, change. All can be factors affecting the data, not to mention that poor shop dick needs to figure out who’s lying before he can confidently give good tips. The leader jockey starts deciding who’s a reliable source in the large pool of guy’s trying to impress someone and that aint easy. Once his broker starts providing info he can back up, he sticks with him, you should do the same. Obviously a lot of my info comes from guides I work with, but not all of them. A few are to uptight or suspicious and a few do the same shit everyday on the water so there really is no reason to chase them for answers. You have to read between the lines but try and trust somebody at the same time. Local guys who seem to beat you to the river everyday are good friends to have. Guides who fish on their day off or after a trip probably need another fishing buddy, believe me, introduce yourself. Shuttle drivers at least know what color the water is and who’s where. It can be anyone, George the bagel guy, Tommy the restaurant owner, a bar manager, a map maker, a newspaper photographer or your Aunt Sally. I actually get a ton of info from guides who work for other companies so don’t insist that your buddies need to wear the same colors as you. The team handbook say’s to always have hope, I expect my info to be laced with it.
What are your expectations for the day? Your guide or that shop dog have no idea how good you are, so a bit of honesty is useful. "I’ve been to Alaska 5 times” only makes us nervous and a touch skeptical. "Lefty taught me how to double haul" sounds like more missed hook sets. “How many fish am I going to catch today?” is like asking the caddie you just met how many pars you should expect to scribble on your card. If you can’t deliver the bugs, mend for a dead drift, strip the bunny or even set the hook then, what you get might not be what you were hoping for. Expectations should be different based on where’s, what’s and who’s. If my skinny ass is heading to New Zealand I expect to catch the biggest Brown of my life, sight fishing in real drab clothing with a guide that won’t let me cast until we see the fish. If I’m after some fish on Salmonfly drys then I expect that would be IN the spring and not ON a spring creek. If I’m fishing in the back seat behind Aunt Sally who has dragged her package through every good spot in front of me, I won’t be expecting to catch a bushel of fish on a size 20 emerger. I’m floating you down some of the most incredible freestone streams in the country, i love fishing and guiding them all, but honestly I don’t expect them to fish like the Big Horn or the Green.
Guides and fly shops don’t possess a hidden power to control the weather. If your report filled with glee came 2 weeks prior to the gale force winds you are now facing, don’t shoot the messenger. Weather can force guides to change tactic’s in an attempt to keep your 2 dollar flies working for the cause and that can jiggle the expectation fulfillment gauge. I would not expect to throw a size 20 dry fly in a rain storm and 40 mile an hour winds, you shouldn't either. Adapt to the conditions, the river and the other nuances our ever changing sport throws at us and you can still shoot par, unless maybe you are an Aunt Sally.
Get information directly from the source when possible and that’s your guide. Ask the shop dog you are booking the trip with to have the guide call you the night before, the good one’s do anyways. In most cases your Sherpa will have more details than the dude on the phone. That poor guy has the hardest job in the industry 2 months a year so cut him some slack.
That is not Aunt Sally pictured

Mend that cord

So I heard my fly line referred to as a cord again this week. I didn’t correct the dude, not once all day. "Mend that cord" I would say or "your just leaving too much cord on the water sport". I got a kick out of it, By this time of year I really don’t care what people call fly line as long as they can mend it. It’s easy to get people to mend, you just have to tell them when (2 person full day trips average 1035 times). I hope it doesn’t come across like I short changed my boy by not correcting him, it was just a nice way for my tiny brain to stay entertained. I’m not sure if the guy in the back of the boat knew any better or not, he never said anything. At least no one called my Helios a pole.
The first picture is of JMac who is a weapon with the big yellow bug. The other picture is of Sheldon from a float this week on the Colorado, Grizzly Creek - Two Rivers. We were the only boat fishing that stretch and it’s a great one in the fall. Sheldon and his wife managed a few fish dry dropper style before the conversation turned to streamers, 6wts,sinking leaders and a bug I like to call Sam’s High Tail. Shannon either bowed out because the next inning sounded a bit testosterone heavy or she was scared to death. The whole thing was easier to mange one newbie at a time anyway. The newbie at least played ball with SU legend Billy Owens so i decided in advance there was material to work with. Shannon ended up having a great time watching as Sheldon picked things up right away and soon had fish chasing wet rabbit. Everyone in the boat understood why streamers are so much fun, it’s the chase and the brief throb of a fish that pulls free. You don’t have to touch every fish to be pleased when twice a day you have a major hog chase your junk to the boat. The high light of Sheldon’s first day streamer fishing was his biggest brown trout ever (picture). A size 4 Sam’s High tail in Olive or Fox Variant worked great as a lead and the Kobe Bryant rig continues to produce. Still loving the Rio sinking leader which now that I think of it, is a lot like cord. If you have never chucked streamers with the Helios SW 6 (Hell Boy) give it a try, it’s a great pole

Bob-ber Talk

That’s right I said it, Bobber. I have never been accused of being an old school fly fishing purist. “Old School Purist” in this case would be someone who would never be caught dead buying an indicator. I’ve tried to sell the idea to the Joe Humphreys crowd. Trimmed yarn wont tempt them, stick ons that are cut down into micro tags don’t work either but dumping a handful of large thingamabobber's on the counter makes for a great reaction. Let the old guard buy thier size 10 Adams and come join me as i watch a bobber. I am from a generation of fly fisherman who grew up with indicators and I am now very comfortable calling the damn thing a bobber. This blog is all about fly fishing and how to get better and have more fun, from a guides perspective. I didn't need any convincing about the worth of a good "cork" growing up Steelheading the tribs of the North Coast, it was the only way to hold all that lead up just off the bottom. I have since read that we fisherman still miss 61.418% of our strikes and i need all the help i can get. Like fly fishing, life is all about what you do with your opportunities and I’m sure we all have wished life came with a bobber. As a full time guide over the last few years I have come to realize that the measure of my fishing success directly corresponds to the amount of opportunities I provide. I teach this game daily. I teach it to young and old, experienced and not, even a few purist's. This blog ends up being another opportunity for me to spew another gallon of nonsense about fly fishing to a few more people. There have been occasions in the past, where i have been accused of giving to much information. My defense was always "if they can't get a drift, the info won't work anyways". Techniques and tips are only valuable if they are explained in a language you understand, application is up to you. I’m not going to give away any secret spots or the zip code of Mr Bubba Troutzilla, enough people want to kill me already. I am however, a fly junkie and i love to tie so you will definately get some of my best dribble about which bugs are working and maybe even how to tie some. I guide for Minturn Anglers in the Eagle River valley (Vail for some of you) on 100’s of miles of some of the most incredible rivers in the central Rockies. The Colorado river, the Roaring Fork, Gore Creek, numerous other creeks and my favorite THE Eagle River.They have been the back drop for some great memories with friends new and old. I am surrounded by a cast of characters in the fly fishing industry, guides, owners, competitors, reps, clients, brothers, girls, dogs and a young Jedi (Sam). Hopefully their stories will help a few people feel like they understand the sport better and maybe feed a growing passion. Let me apologize in advance for my grammar and spelling. I stared at many a chalk board dreaming about fly fishing. Now i spend many a days staring at some guys indicator(bobber) dreaming about finishing school.

As far as the legal stuff goes:

To RA Beattie, you will always own the video rights to the Bobber Talk idea.

To Sam, the copy rights to all my crap is probably all you will get for an inheritance so pay attention.

Anybody considering a law suit based on my expressed opinions, beliefs or stupid bullshit should consider having my ex wife's amateur law firm handle your case. She's very thorough and there is already a file started.

To Joey Macomber, i promise to someday repay you for your creative genius.
My name is Bob and i approve most of this message

Streamer Mike and the Enema Bugger

Every so often someone or something lives up to the hype. This perfect fall Sunday it was Mikes turn. An odd day off the river for me started with an invitation to “ride along” with Kevin and his long time client Mike for some streamer fishing. Some clouds and an approaching front at least made me feel like we had a chance, otherwise I felt like we were a little early for full blow streamer mania. Lets just say Mike has an absolute understanding of how to throw streamers, 3 at a time. 6 miles down our epic 17 mile float and he had 30 fish in the net, it was a true pleasure to watch him live up to the hype. I don’t count, Mike loves to. But for this one day I really got a kick out of it. The numbers got up there. The chasers were in the 100”s, the number of beasts that came “unbuttoned” had to be 90 and the final tally to the net was 43. One of those days we are blessed with once in a while. All the stars have to be in line for mere mortals, Mike does it every fall. We as guides try and rationalize it, give credit to weather, time of day, the bugs, the flies or the way the peep may be holding his mouth. Anything to explain further why the good days can be so good sometime. They don’t come all the way from Florida to streamer fish in the middle of July or course, they do their homework. I wont say where we floated and i have sworn never to speak a word of the Enema Bugger other than it kicked ass on the right side of the river. This was day one of 4 with Kevin this fall. Mike’s brother in law Tommy will take my spot the rest of the week and they will probably murder them, legend has it they always do.

Tommy, you can come to me anytime, I understand what you go through fishing with Mike. He kicked my ass.

Kevin, I would wear the helmet.


What about fall makes us and these big predator brown trout think about large bugs? Fall means shorter days and colder nights. It still makes me dream of whitetail and turkey in the hardwoods and ravines back east. At the vise, the Fall season brings the size 4 hooks from hiding and the Magnum Rabbit begins to hatch in multiple colors all over my kitchen table. As a fly tyer I look forward to retiring my 8/0 thread for a couple of months. The color grey starts to creep into a majority of the day light hours, but not our bugs. Patterns like Teqeelie, Autumn Splendor, Lemon Drops and Goldielocks start to mimic a fall day back in those eastern woods. We always throw 2 at a time, one big one small, one bright one dull, one heavy one light everyone has a favorite combo. It always takes a bit more to get your buddy out or to convince your client that the weather is just going to make it better. Once you get them there, it's always worth it. The picture is of a very early streamer run with Mc3, it was still August, bright and sunny, but we had to. The flow of the river definitely said "don't go" but there was just 2 of us and Cam the Lab, we had to do it. Chalk talk was simple, streamers or bust, besides i had been tying streamers every night. We were going to get stuck, no way around it, THE Eagle river doesn't get floated much this time of year. I didn't really regret just bringing a 6 wt and a streamer box until the fish started rising, but you've heard that before. Mc3 rowed all day (3 hours), thanks Joe, we only boated 2 fish but they were both Bubba's. Fall is by far my favorite time to fish the mountains. You have an opportunity to catch fish three ways, there are less crowds, happy fish and usually lots of bugs. But the true draw for Fly Fishermen has to be hurling streamers from a boat and it's going to be here before we know it. I guess we all get a bit impatient when we have a box full of junk we absolutely know is going to work as soon as it touches the water.

Streamer fishing is the polar opposite of the days of summer and the dead drift. We don't necessarily trust a heavy streamer rod with 2 wet socks to just anyone, it's just dangerous. The people we do trust have probably chucked a few before and everyone has their own style. Some are short strippers, some have a long patient pause. Some guys dance em all the way to the boat and beyond the bow. I see sinking lines, floating lines, purple flies and even trailed midges. My favorite technique(from the boat) is to heave said bugs at the bank and allow the fly line to belly downstream so my first few strips of the fly make it travel downstream along the bank, wounded like. This is by no means the right way or the only way, everyone has their own style. One of my last commercial trips down The Eagle was a streamer float and it definitely wasn't my style. I ended up on The Eagle since i had just one peep and the weather forecast was butt nasty with a chance of crap. Perfect streamer weather. Dude ends up being a Kelly Gallop prodigy, fresh off the book, video series and armed with a handful of Zoo Cougars from Kelly himself. While standing at the put in, Kelly Jr explains to me how it's going to work as the lightning sirens from the Valley Course made me want to get back in the truck. He showed me his rig. GLoomis rod, sinking line, stubby leaders and huge unweighted flies, "just like Kelly does". I have never seen double 6" articulated monsters levered out of the front seat before, but i was about to. Let's just say i saw a lot of new stuff that day and i'm a believer. Of course i'll tell you my system would have caught fish that day but it really was great not losing a single streamer, i think i only looked into that grubby box of fur twice. Sex Dungeons and Zoo Cougars articulated and not got chucked. I even saw a 6" Rainbow trout version that i would have eaten. They all worked. The only thing i would have changed is the sink rate. Things never got quite deep enough for my taste. Just goes to show you predators are predators when the weather is right and even an old dog can enjoy the day in someone else's streamer box.

Yoga and Fly Fishing

A fresh mix of extreme athletes dedicated to making things much harder than they really are, have began the march to be recognized. Anyone awake in the 80’s has experienced this before, they called it “cross training” combining two or more sports on the same day or in the same event. Now it seems that cross training has reached a spiritual level and people are starting to blend Yoga and Fly Fishing. Worst of all, it seems to have started in the bow of my boat. Fly Fishing and Yoga have been around a very long time and both have their own special soul or feeling, I am just not sure they should be mixed. Combining these two very old practices can lead to some dangerous moves left only to people who hear on a different frequency than most guides talk. I have spent enough time with people who enjoy Yoga and I’ve tried a few moves like, “Down Dog”, “Cat” and “Cow”. It take’s practice, a nice mat and LEVEL ground. That has not stopped a few people from taking it to the next level by trying to pull this off in a moving boat with a fly rod in hand. Here are a few moves I’ve seen recently.
THE LOON: The beginning pose usually involves standing off balance, in the front of a boat, on your tip toes with your casting hand 3 feet above your head. Your other hand is blindly scrambling around your waist trying to find the tangle in your line. The slack is in your mouth. The fly rod is pointed straight up at the August sun in a desperate attempt to collect slack from the cast that just landed next to the boat. Now with a mighty 3 inch power snap of the wrist, accelerate the pile of line up off the water and around the tip of your rod, which is still above your head. If this does not work on the first pitiful attempt, you are probably not using enough calves. I think this is called the LOON because of the strange bird like noise most people make after the cast, not the way they look.
THE ROCK CHUCKER: You can always tell what move an ex linebacker will settle into as the cast begins to come apart. The stance widens, the hips begin to open and close like a beer league softball player and they begin to grunt a bit. The arm motion becomes long and much too strong producing huge gentle loops that land in pretty little piles. I’m not ashamed to admit I have spent a few day’s quietly day dreaming about “ribbon dancing”, which I think was an Olympic event at one time, still no reason to do it in my boat. Apparently the rocking motion their cast is causing doesn’t feel proper until they slip out of the leg locks and throw the balance of the boat completely off. The waves from the rocking boat put a gentle jigging motion on their buddy’s nymph rig.
THE SIT AND SPIN: This is a very important move to know your directions, your left, right, front and back. This is much easier in a raft with a fishing frame, it’s not practiced in drift boats for some reason and it almost always happens in the back seat. The move starts when the guide begins to pull the boat from it’s drift down the left side of the river and say’s “right side”, yogi say’s “what side?”, guide say’s “right side”, yogi say’s “that’s the other side, right?”, guide nods. After a 20 second pause to absorb the complicated vocabulary going on, lift your knees to your chest while keeping the rod pointed at the left bank. Now while sitting, spin yourself to the right side by swinging your legs outside of the boat past the dangling anchor, keep your rod pointing at the left bank. Now since your casting arm is behind your head gently swing an underpowered, backhand flip with your fly rod. Your cast should either tangle in the anchor or pile up on the guide’s oars and it should always be followed by “this side?”
Before I have every Yoga instructor and their legions stealing the plugs from my boat please know I don’t hate Yoga. There is just no room for it in my boat. If you are exhausted after getting out of the boat on the first day of a three day fishing trip you are obviously doing a little too much………Yoga. If you properly move that special piece of graphite, whether it be a 10 wgt or a 5wgt your casting arm should never get weary. The only thing that should hurt after a day in my boat is your ears. Believe me, you are better off training for that trip by building a shed with your cousin the carpenter. That’s the only motion I teach, the swing of a hammer. Start your motion from your elbow with a strong wrist, follow an accurate swing plane and use your eyes. I may reach as far into my bag of tricks to put a golf ball in your arm pit. The effort of trying to keep a wet golf ball under your arm will help most people stop using muscles that should be relaxed. I understand we are all getting busier and multitasking is a way of life. Decide intelligently what pleasures you mix and most importantly, where. Please help keep Yoga out of the boat.

The picture is of my nephew Jason doing his best Claka Bow Pose. Thanks for the dance kid, you made me smile all day.