Our education pages are intended to provider our members with information that will help them improve their fly fishing experiences in our little piece of heaven here in the upper midwest. Casting, tying, equipment, and fishing techniques are all fair game for this section. If you are interested in contributing an article for posting on this web page, please contact Mike Carpenter at firstname.lastname@example.org
UMC IFFF Sponsors Becoming an Outdoor (BOW) Women's Fly Fishing Clinic (submitted June 5th, 2014)
May 29th through June 1st saw the gathering of 20 eager to learn women fly fishers at Eagle Bluff Environmental Center near Lanesboro, MN for this spring's BOW Fly Fishing Clinic. Sponsored by the Hiawatha Trout Unlimited chapter of Rochester and the Upper Midwest Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers, this group of women anglers went through instruction on a variety of topics required to become successful fly fishing enthusiasts for trout in the Driftless region.
Friday night kicked off with a bang as the women were provided an introduction to Minnesota trout fishing by the Minnesota DNR. This was followed up by introductory casting lessons for UMC IFFF certified casting instructors. The night finished off with a session on knot tying.
Saturday's topics included a review of equipment, reading the water, and continued casting instruction including on the water practice. That evening, we covered entymology and finished with a hands on fly tying session.
Sunday morning was time to hit the streams. Although we needed to dodge some ominous looking clouds, the participants had a wonderful opportunity to try their newly acquired skills across many of the wonderful jewels we call our trout streams in the Driftless region..
Judging by the enthusiasm of the participants, the weekend was an outstanding success. Many friendships were made. We now have a whole class of new advocates for fly fishing and trout stream stewardship in the Driftless Region.
Certified Casting Instructor
Tame the Slack – Slack Line Presentation Casts Using the Roll Cast (submitted April 5th, 2014)
Bill Gammel and his father Jay in their book “The Essentials of Fly Casting” made it clear that one of the essentials in fly casting is to eliminate slack in the line. The Gammel’s are correct; you cannot cast slack in the line. But many good fishing casts involve “slack line presentations” in order to reduce the amount of drag on a fly. So you want to eliminate slack in the cast but not necessarily in the fishing. So, how can we do this? My suggestion is a good use of the Roll Cast.
I began thinking about this after discussing the attributes of the Roll Cast recently with Dave Barron (MCI, CBOG). He mentioned the removal of slack as a strong attribute of the Roll Cast. I then reviewed the several Loop articles and noticed that Leslie Holmes (MCI, CBOG) also mentioned that the Roll Cast can eliminate Slack. Well that really got me thinking. When fishing using slack line casts, one of the difficulties is to pick up the line to make the next cast because of the slack. So, if one of the uses of the Roll Cast is to reduce or even eliminates slack when setting up the cast, and if slack line presentation casts are good for fishing, then can we combine the two? Yes, I believe we can!
The delivery portion of a properly executed Roll Cast is the same as every other overhead cast. Because that is true, then we should be able to make “slack line casts” any time we make a roll cast. As soon as the loop is formed, we can impart mends in the rod leg of the loop have the resulting slack line presentation. We should be able to make casts with “slack line waves”, “aerial mends”, and the “Reach Mend” presentations.
Aim a roll cast high and you should be able to make the “Pile Cast”. Within some distance limits, you should be able to make slack line presentation casts quite well with a Roll Cast.
I live in Minnesota and with the recent cold winter, I have been practicing indoors in the gym and sometimes the wading pool at my YMCA. I tried these slack line presentation casts while using Roll Casts. They work, and I encourage you to try them too. I believe that you will find this very useful and really a productive way to cast and fish. Now if the weather will cooperate, I’ll actually be able to give these presentations while actually fishing.
For additional information on the Roll Cast and slack line presentation casts, check out these resources on the IFFF web site:
Leslie Holmes’ article in the March 2013 issue of the LOOP.
Larry Allen’s article in the September 2013 issue of the LOOP.
Carl McNeil’s fantastic video “Casts That Catch Fish”. (Parts of this video are on the IFFF Web site. Look for the Educational Videos tab on the Casting part of the web site.)
Searching For the Perfect Winter Fly Rod (submitted Feb. 15th, 2014)
Minnesota has offered up a winter fly fishing season on streams in the southeast corner of the state. Although I can't say that I prefer a blustery winter day over a spring morning on my favorite trout stream, the winter season in southeast Minnesota allows the fly fisher a chance to get rid of a little cabin fever as we wait for warmer days to come.
Fly fishing in the winter gets a bit more complicated when temperatures dip below freezing. The primary problem I seem to have is that ice forms in my rod guides which eventually must be removed if you want to keep casting. The colder the air temperature is, the quicker those guides free up. Sometimes I can only get off a couple of casts before having to remove the ice from the guides. Now consider that a fly rod typically has 8 to 10 guides, and you can quickly see that this ice removal task can become rather annoying and time consuming. It also can be rather hard on your fly line.
There are some commercial products that have been touted to help alleviate this problem. Non-stick cooking spray and pastes are the typical cures offered to winter fly fishers for slowing down the ice guide build up. Unfortunately, these applications can wear out rather quickly in the winter and have to be reapplied with some regularity.
I've been building fly rods for a couple of decades and have experimented with a couple of designs to figure out how to create a fly rod for winter fishing that could give me better performance. The two problems I am trying to solve is : 1) How to slow down or eliminate the ice buildup in the guides; and 2) How to cast effectively when I have a significant amount of bulky winter wear covering me.
The first thing I have discovered in designing that winter rod is to start with black (or the darkest color you can find) for every piece of the fly rod above the cork handle. This means not only a black fly rod blank, but also black fly guides and black thread to secure the guides. I will take every bit of solar energy gain I can in my fly rod to cut down the speed of which ice builds up on my fly guides. The next thing that is beneficial is to stick with traditional double foot snake guides. Even though I enjoy the weight reduction that at single foot guide provides, the single foot guide's circular shape tends to ice up much quicker than a double foot snake guide. And speaking of guides, it is also worthwhile to oversize the tip top and the top few guides in your fly rod design. Smaller guides completely ice up more quickly.
The next thing you absolutely must incorporate with your guides is to make sure they are made of the flexible metal material. I am only aware of REC Recoil guides and have used them on my winter fly rods. They don't necessarily have any advantage on preventing ice from forming in your guide, but they are a snap to clean the ice out of a guide once it starts forming. Make sure to use REC Recoil guides for all the guides including the stripper. It greatly simplifies removing the ice out of your guides.
The last design consideration I incorporate in my fly rods is to consider how to handle the fact that I will be bundled up big time while pursuing a winter fly fishing excursion. Since I will likely be a bit more restricted in my arm movements, I really want to have a stiff rod that allows me to cast a fly line without having to incorporate a long casting stroke. Sorry bamboo and fiberglass fans, but trying to throw a 40 foot cast with a tight loop while wearing waders, thermal underwear, and a couple of outer layers is just not an ideal setup.
Even though I prefer a very fast action fly rod for winter fishing, I also like to make sure it has a soft, forgiving tip since most of my winter fishing is done with small flies and light tippets.
So a brief summary on how to improve your winter fly fishing performance:
So that's where I am at on my quest to have the perfect winter fly rod. I don't claim that I am anywhere near perfection, but I know that I spend a lot more time with my fly on the water in the winter instead of cleaning ice buildup on my guides. So whether you build your own fly rods or are out shopping for a fly rod that will help you with your wintertime fishing excursions, keep these ideas in mind for helping you get the most enjoyment out of your winter fly fishing time.
Mike Carpenter, IFFF UMC Membership Chair
Certified Casting Instructor
The Tuck Mend (submitted February 1st, 2014)
This spring, the Driftless Region in the southeast corner of Minnesota had been deluged with record setting precipitation events. March and April were unusually cold with regular bouts of rain and snow. 17 inches of snow greeted us on May 2nd. The record for a May snow event in Rochester, MN prior to this year was a mere 2 inches. Continuing precipitation fell throughout the rest of the spring that pushed an unprecedented amount of liquid runoff through our beloved trout streams. Hatches were nearly non-existent as the high water events altered their usually predictable patterns. The good news is that the drought conditions that existed prior to this past spring have been totally eliminated. Additionally, with our trout populations in already excellent shape, we are finding that our streams are still full of eager, hungry salmonids.
With stained water and very high volumes flushing through the streams well into mid summer, nymphing has been the technique of choice for the Driftless. One of the key “secrets” to successful nymph fishing for trout, that I've discovered in my 23 years of fly fishing our streams, is getting your nymph down in the water column. Weighting your nymph or adding weight to your leader are a couple of methods to help get your offering down to where the fish are. Personally, I detest having to cast a fly rig with a hunk of weight attached above your fly in an attempt to drive down your offerings. Even with good casting form (a more open loop, a slower casting pace), I find that the hinging effect from an attached weight more often results in tangles. I also find that the addition of extra weight often cuts down the sensitivity of my strike indicator.
A casting technique that can be used to help better sink your offering on the end of your fly line without the use of excessive additional weight is through the use of a Tuck mend. A properly executed Tuck mend aggressively drives your nymph into the water and provides some slack in the delivery to give it a chance to sink further into the water column before the current takes control.
Typically used with upstream casting, here's how to execute this cast properly:
1) Overpower the forward cast. Stop the rod high and slightly earlier than normal.
3) Finally, follow the fly line down to the water with your rod tip. You should be ready to quickly mend the slack that will form in the fly line as the current take hold.
Some additional notes:
- A short leader helps to turn over the nymph aggressively. It's also easier to do this cast effectively with weighted fly rigs
- Your forward cast should happen with a more open loop. The weighted nymphs will have a tendency to cause some tailing if you don't open up the loop (slightly) on your casting stroke
- It is important to make this cast with a near vertical rod stroke. Those who like casting with a more off shoulder delivery will not get the full benefit of the “tuck”. (But they will notice a little bit of a curve in their cast)
- A properly executed Tuck mend should have some like slack on the water right after the cast. This provides for more time for the nymph to get down into the water column.
As you may have already figured out, this technique would also be ideal for nymphing pocket water.
So the next time you are faced with a fast moving current and you want to get that nymph a little deeper in the water column without adding a boat anchor on to your leader, try this Tuck mend and see if that might just provide you with the additional depth you need to entice those bottom hugging trout.
Have any questions on the Tuck mend ? Feel free to email me at email@example.com
Certified Casting Instructor