Monday, December 29, 2014

Dave Whitlock- Meeting A Legend in Fly Fishing

Years ago, my friend Cameron Mortenson introduced me to Fly Fishing.  After practice casting a "noodly" old fiberglass fly rod on the lawn, I decided to look for a book for information on this intriguing new sport.  I purchased the L.L. Bean Fly Fishing handbook written by Dave Whitlock, and read it several times, incorporating the tips and advice that Whitlock shared as I learned how to fly fish.  I still have that book in my library, and look through it on occasion, since the advice is timeless.

As well as being an accomplished writer, Dave Whitlock is an outstanding artist.  I've seen him at Fly Fishing Shows in the past, and had always wanted to purchase some artwork and talk with him. Last January, while at the Denver Fly Fishing Show, I decided to take the opportunity to pick up a couple of prints.
Whitlock is one of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met.   We spoke for quite awhile and I shared my memories about the LL. Bean book he wrote.   He was very gracious and humble, and gave me some interesting insight on that specific book and others he has written.   I asked him if he would sign the prints I had purchased, and he said that he would be happy to do so.   When I handed him the prints, instead of just signing his name,  he pulled out a set of coloring pencils and took several minutes hand coloring the prints while we talked.  He was very careful and thorough with his work, and did an outstanding job of bringing the prints to a new life.  He then signed and personalized both prints.  I've framed both prints, hanging one in my fly tying room, while the other one is displayed in my office.  The experience I had with Dave and his wife Emily was great.   They are both great people, and it was a pleasure meeting them at the show.

Cameron took several photos of the experience, which I've shared in this post.  Dave Whitlocks's art is fantastic, and I would highly recommend that you visit with him when you have the chance.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!  Thanks for visiting this site during the year.   It's been a fun journey, and I've enjoyed the many friendships that I have made through the fly fishing community.

Enjoy the day with your family and friends, and I will see you on the river before long.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

New book- My life in Fishing by Stu Apte

Stonefly Press just released a new book by Stu Apte called My Life in Fishing.  I just received a copy, and I'm looking forward to reading it fully this Christmas season.   I've already read a couple of stories, and could hardly put the book down.    I'm a big fan of history, and really enjoyed a story about Apte guiding President Harry Truman and his wife while fishing for bonefish.  If you are looking for a stocking stuffer for the fisherman in your life, this would make a great gift.

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

In My Life in Fishing, as only the most accomplished captain and guide can, Stu Apte shares his tips and insights gleaned from his lifelong pursuit for any and every species. These are his favorite personal stories, about world records, and winds, and tides, and patterns, and flies, but also about the remarkable people who have fished their way through his life. There are stories and glimpses that you won’t find in other history books – an amusing episode with Harry and Bess Truman on board Stu’s skiff, an impromptu side-of-the-road meeting with baseball hall-of-famer Ted Williams that led to a forty-year friendship, and an afternoon of drinking Cuban mojitos aboard Pilar with Earnest Hemingway that includes Hemingway’s own mojito recipe. My Life in Fishing is more than a collection of engaging stories and fly fishing pointers; it is a glimpse of the development and evolution of the sport, and of saltwater fly fishing at its highest level, through the eyes and anecdotes of the only man who can tell the stories. 

Check out this book, along with other great books (including one of my past favorites, 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish), at

Sunday, December 7, 2014

RIO Products- In Touch RIO Grand Fly line review

The primary objective of the annual Gunnison trip is to catch big fish.  This requires that I get my fast action Sage VPX 6 weight out of the bag when fishing big water in pursuit of the large trout and salmon.  When I fish a fast action rod, I like to use a fly line that is a bit heavier so that I can load the rod to take advantage of it's capabilities.   I was looking for a line to use for this year's trip, and discovered the RIO In Touch RIO Grand WF6.

The line has several features that I liked immediately.   There are two loop connectors on each end, and the colors are bright and visible.   This fly line uses different colors to indicate the different parts of the line, including the front taper, the body, and the running line.   This intrigued me, since I am a "feel" caster, and not very technical.   While casting the line at distance on the Gunnison, I found it extremely helpful to note the different colors when loading the rod.    I was able to get more distance, and more accuracy by noting the different sections of the line as they flew through the guides.

The In Touch RIO Grand line is one full line size heavier than the industry standard, which I really appreciated in my fast action rod.  Rio says that this line contains an ultra-low stretch core for easier line lift, more precise mends, and better cast timing.   Time spent with this line verified these claims as accurate, as I noticed that the line seemed more "connected" to the rod and the reel.   Hook sets also seemed to be better...while impossible to truly quantify, it seemed as though I lost fewer fish on the hook set, which would be due to the low/no stretch core.

Color different between the body and running line.
I cast streamers and heavy flies with ease during the time on the water.   On one occasion, the trout started looking up, and I spent an afternoon fishing a size 14 parachute adams using this fly line.   I was able to cast this line into tight spots landed quite a few trout on the dry fly.

This fly line is very impressive, and I would recommend it.   The coating is very slick, and the weight of the line felt perfect for a fast action rod.  The line retails for about $89.

BDF uses a three tiered gear rating system for gear reviews.

Dry Fly =       Great Product
Emerger=       Good product with potential
Nymph=         Could use improvement   

The In Touch RIO Grand fly line earns Dry Fly status.

For more information on this line, please check out RIO's website

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gunnison Trip-Day 1

The annual Gunnison area trip was moved to September this year in an attempt to time our arrival with the famed kokanee salmon run.  Several years ago we hit the run in full stride, and enjoyed catching powerful kokanee in the Gunnison River.   Since that first year, we haven't really hooked into the Salmon, but always have a great time chasing the big trout in the area.

Seven of us loaded into the fishing vehicles and left at the crack of dawn on the first day of the trip.    Roughly five hours later, we rolled into the Gunnison area.   We headed to our traditional first spot, and eagerly strung up our six weights, ready to hook into the "salmons".   We had heard reports that they were in the river, and after having our licenses checked by an alert DOW officer, headed into the water to start working our favorite riffles and runs.

The weather was outstanding, sunny with no wind.    I started with a nymph rig and caught a nice trout shortly after I started fishing a riffle behind a rock.    I fished with the nymphs for a bit, but I noticed that a nice caddis hatch was starting, and the trout were rising.   Abandoning any chance at a Salmon for the time being, I hastily switched to a Parachute Adams, and caught quite a few nice trout on the surface, which was a lot of fun for a dry fly guy.

The rest of the crew caught trout on a variety of nymphs and dry flies.    There were no shouts of "Salmon!" on the radio this day, but we had a great time fly fishing together until the sun started to set.   We gathered back at the vehicles and headed to the cabin to discuss where we would go to search for Salmon on day 2...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A couple of hours on the stream

Living just a few minutes from my favorite trout stream is something I don't take for granted.   A few days ago, I finished a few projects that I had, and found myself with a couple of hours to spare.   I threw my gear in the back of the car and drove up to a favorite spot.   The fall air was crisp, the leaves blazing orange, and the trout were looking up!

Sunday, October 5, 2014


I've always been fascinated by Grayling, but I've never taken the time to fish for them.  There is a lake in the local mountains that is known to hold Grayling, and last week, Mike and I decided to drive up and float the lake.

Mike figured out the secret, and landed a lot of fish.   Grayling are a beautiful fish, and are a great fighter on a fly rod.   It was a great fall day spent chasing a unique fish.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Classic Rod

Fishing has been great over the last few weeks, and I've hit the river quite a few times to drift big dry flies over eager trout.   I even spotted Noconympher through the stream side bushes one day!

On one of these occasions, I grabbed one of my favorite rods, a Scott G 8'8 4wt.  Sadly, I don't fish it as often as I used to since I've got some newer rods that seem to do everything well.   The G is an awesome dry fly rod, but does not throw nymphs or streamers very well.   It is said that the new G2 addresses that issue, but I plan to

to keep this old G around, because although it does not do everything well, it excels at what it was designed for, a moderate casting action that will lay out a dry fly perfectly.   I've fished this rod quite a bit in the past, including an epic day catching fish on green drakes on the Frying Pan, and countless trips to RMNP.

What are some of the classic fly rods that you love?

Noconympher sighting

Monday, August 25, 2014

Saltwater Fly Fishing Trip-Florida

Florida Sunrise
Recently I was in southern Florida, and I took the opportunity to take a guided saltwater fly fishing trip.   The majority of my fishing time is spent targeting trout, but I have really enjoyed the opportunities that I've had to fly fish in the saltwater.  I've always wanted to learn how to fly fish effectively in the ocean, and booking a guide is the best way to accomplish that.

Mangrove lined channels
Early in the morning I met my guide, Captain Paul Nocifora, at a boat ramp in the 10,000 islands region, south of Naples.  Paul's gleaming East Cape Vantage boat was ready to go, and we headed towards one of his favorite places.   The sun was just starting to rise above the ocean, and I appreciated the beauty of the Florida coastline.  We started fishing along a channel of Mangrove trees, with Paul patiently explained the saltwater strategy to a dry fly fly fisherman.
Gulf of Mexico

We were targeting snook, redfish, and Mangrove snapper, and I was throwing the fly at the roots of the Mangroves where the fish were lurking, waiting to attack prey that swam by.   The goal was to get the fly into the root system, then strip it back to the boat.   It took a bit of practice getting the heavy fly into the small windows where the fish hide, but I slowly started to get the hang of it.

Paul is a very experienced saltwater guide, and he gave me some great tips.  As a trout fisherman, it can be easier to get away with some casting flaws, but when you are slinging big flies quite a distance, it is important to pay attention to the mechanics.  

A suggestion that Paul gave me was to try and stop my back cast around 12 o'clock, and the forward cast at around 11 o'clock.   Although you probably won't be able to do it, this thought process really helped me with casting fast action rods on the saltwater.  Another thing that we don't do much on trout streams is the strip set.   Lifting the rod tip to set the hook on a saltwater fish is a problem due to their hard mouths.   Paul recommended the strip set (holding your rod tip down, or in the water while you strip the line to set the hook).

During the day on the water, we covered a lot of territory, and I greatly enjoyed the beauty of the coastline.  We saw a lot of wildlife, and I even cast to a few sharks (no luck!).   We primarily caught mangrove snapper, and I sadly didn't take as many photos as I would have liked to since I was fishing so much!

 If you are planning to fish this area of Florida, I would highly recommend Capt. Paul Nocifora.  His boat was well maintained and comfortable for fishing, and his knowledge of the area was great.   He was patient,  fun to spend time with, and put me on fish.   You can't ask for more from a guide!

Check out his website at

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Steelhead on a rainy day

My good friend Marty spent the last few days fishing for steelhead in the rain.  He sent me this photo of a very nice fish, which I wanted to share with the BDF readership.   Marty is devoted to fly fishing, and I enjoy getting updates of his success on the river!  I used to fish this river in Michigan years ago, but never dialed it in like Marty has.  Nice work!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stimulator Time!

Last weekend I wandered up the Poudre Canyon with a fly rod in my hand, and found that the water level of the river have dropped nicely.  The water is clear, and most of the river is wadeable.

It's been a little while since I caught a fish on a dry fly, so I tied on a big, juicy stimulator.    That fly was the ticket, as the trout kept hitting it with a vengeance.   I landed quite a few rainbow and brown trout, and had a blast doing so.   There is nothing quite like a fish exploding from the depths to smash a dry fly.

Stimulator fishing can sometimes be overlooked when we focus on "matching the hatch".  Don't be afraid to tie on a big fly for some exciting fishing!  Stimulators, or "Attractor" patterns covers a wide variety of flies.  The Royal Wulff is a famous pattern that has attracted fish for years.  Some argue that it looks like a caddis, and others say that the tail on the fly can fool a fish into thinking it is a mayfly.   I don't know the answer, but I've caught quite a few fish over the years on this pattern.   Other stimulator patterns are big, colorful flies.   The fly I used last weekend was a size 10, with an orange body and elk hair.   Your local fly shop will have numerous patterns, so buy a handful, and test them out!

 Some tips I've learned over the years:
  • A stimulator will often cause a fish to rise that is not currently feeding on the surface.  If your smaller dry or nymphing set up is not working, try a big stimulator.
  • As with any fly, fishing a stimulator with a dead drift is often the best way to encourage a strike.   However, don't hestitate to "skate" the fly across the water, or give it a twitch.   Trout sometimes think that a stimulator is a grasshopper, and they love to chase a hopper before it gets away.
  • Trout will often strike a stimulator pattern fished under overhanging branches, or right along a grassy shoreline.
  • A large stimulator pattern makes a great dry fly in the dry/dropper combo.   I've found that tying a small black zebra midge or ABU on about 2 feet of tippet will pick up plenty of fish.  Tie the dropper to the hook bend of the stimulator.
  • Keep the stimulator dry!  Recently I've been using Frog's Fanny dry fly floatant.   It is applied with a brush, which seemed odd at first, but I've grown to really like it.   When I start, I put some Fish Pimp floatant on the stimulator, then use the Frog's Fanny to keep the fly dry.
  • Go big!  Even if you don't see any large flies on the water, a large trout often likes to eat a big meal.  I've caught trout on a big Royal Wulff in the middle of winter.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fishpond Bitch Creek Backpack-Update

This is a follow up to my initial review of the Fishpond Bitch Creek Backpack.  I've used this pack extensively in the past six months, and like it even more than I did when I first got it. 

The pack has gone with me on just about every fishing excursion that I have taken.   It is lightweight, has smart organizational storage and pockets, and is tough.    The water resistant exterior has protected important gear from rain several times.

Early in this review, I spent a couple of weeks in Georgia on business, and used the pack to haul gear during my assignment.   When empty the pack is very flat and lightweight, and fit very well in the bottom of my suitcase.  When I arrived at my destination, it became indispensable, hauling heavy gear, extra clothes, and essentials.   I took it to the ocean several times during the trip, and it held up very well.

The pack has traveled with me to several other states, with a variety of uses for business and outdoor activities.   I wore it on a recent ATV trip through the Colorado mountains, and it was a lightweight way to keep rain gear and water with me.  While camping on the same trip, it kept my stuff dry during a light rain.

I just returned from a saltwater Fly Fishing trip in Southern Florida.   The pack traveled with me, kept my gear stored while on the boat, and allowed me to keep water and extra gear nearby when sight fishing on the beach.  The heat and humidity were extreme at times, but the pack held up very well.

The Fishpond Bitch Creek Backpack has proven to be very tough, and extremely useful.   There are several upcoming trips that I will use it, but I wanted to give you this update.    I want to let you know how gear has actually performed in the field over time.  After all this use, the pack still looks new, and has not let me down.

 BDF uses a three tiered gear rating system for gear reviews.

Dry Fly =       Great Product
Emerger=       Good product with potential
Nymph=         Could use improvement   

The Fishpond Bitch Creek Backpack earns Dry Fly status.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Tiger Muskie-On the Big Thompson

My nephew Brady has turned into an avid fly fisherman.   A few years ago he won a fly rod from the Fishykid site that was connected with TFM, and he has put it to great use!  He has been fishing just about every day this summer, and catches a lot of fish.   He is a very impressive kid, and it is great to see his passion for fly fishing paying off in his pure enjoyment of the sport.

Brady was recently fishing the Big Thompson River, and landed this Tiger Muskie.   He told me that he was catching trout on a Wooley Bugger when something hit the fly with tremendous force.   Brady said that it took a while to land it, and he was obviously surprised to see what it was. I've been fishing that water for years, and have never caught anything but trout.

Great job on catching a very unusual fish in those waters!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Crowded Water

My good friend Noconympher claims the water level in the river is dropping, but I'm going to wait a bit before stepping into the rushing water in the canyon.  During this runoff season, I've been fly fishing a couple of lakes that have been right under my nose for years.  I've fished them occasionally, usually with nieces and nephews, but have never taken the time to appreciate them since they are primarily warm water species, and I'm a confessed trout snob.

On Sunday, I had a couple of hours free up, so I strolled down to one of the lakes.   I rarely, if ever see anyone else fishing where I generally go, but I saw  a Pelican cruising in the area where I was planning to cast my clauser.  We exchanged wary looks, but he continued to fish as he pleased, and I waited for him to finish.  

After he caught his limit and moved on, I enjoyed an hour or so of fly fishing the lake.  I caught some nice fish, and will make sure that I don't neglect the fishery right under my nose.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

New Book: Fly-Fishing Advice from an Old Timer

A few days ago, I wandered into the MacDonald Bookstore in downtown Estes Park.   The store is a unique place that we have visited for years, and I always like to support them by buying something.    While browsing the fly fishing section, a book called Fly-Fishing Advice from an Old Timer written by Ed Quigley caught my attention.   I thumbed through the pages, and was immediately hooked by the content.   There is a ton of advice for different fishing situations that he has shared based on years of experience on the stream.   I bought the book, and am looking forward to reading it.  If you see the book in your local bookstore, I encourage you to take a look at it. 


Thursday, May 8, 2014

The rising river...

If you time it right, the fly fishing on a freestone river can be magical in the hours before the runoff explodes.  A few days ago, I made a journey up the Poudre River with Dave and Jason in hopes of finding fishable water.   A quick check of the stream flow report indicated that the river was at about 500 CFS at the mouth.   It was too windy to float tube on a favorite lake, so we decided to travel up the canyon to try our luck.

We found a nice stretch of river where the water was still somewhat clear, and mostly wadeable.   Using a variety of flies (mostly zebra midges, and hares ear nymphs), we all landed nice trout. 

The weather was warm and the sun was shining, making the day on the water very enjoyable. 

Trout can sense when the river is about to hit runoff, and they can activily feed.   Although you can still do well fishing the edges of a river during runoff, I often turn my attention to the various lakes in my area during late May and early June.

Enjoy your Spring fishing, and let me know how it goes! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vedavoo Leader Wallet-Gear Review

In a previous post, I mentioned that I met Scott Hunter with Vedavoo at the Denver Fly Fishing Show.   Scott was a great guy, and I was impressed with the fly fishing products that he had on display.   I've long needed to organize my leaders, and I decided to order a leader wallet from Vedavoo.  I recently received the wallet, and used it on a trip to the Poudre River last week.  The leader wallet was hand built in Massachusetts using American Made materials.   Even though they have several different "models" of packs and accessories each one is custom built for a customer.   If you order a product, it will be built specifically for you.

The leader wallet I received is very well built with tough fabric.  I have not counted the number of leaders I can stuff in it, but there is plenty of room to keep me fishing for a while.  Although it is able to hold plenty of leaders, it is not bulky, and fits into my pack neatly.   There are a lot of colors available as well, and I selected the olive.  Vedavoo has very fair pricing for the high quality product you receive.  This hand built leader wallet cost me about $24.

I encourage you to check out the Vedavoo website at

BDF uses a three tiered gear rating system for gear reviews.

Dry Fly =       Great Product
Emerger=       Good product with potential
Nymph=         Could use improvement   

The Vedavoo leader wallet earns Dry Fly status.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

F3t Report-Fort Collins

Saturday morning, the dawn light struggled to work its way through the dark gray sky.  Light snow fell from the heavens, and the tulips of early spring had to wait another day to grow.

Thus, the day was perfect for an evening spent watching movies about fly fishing in warmer locations.   I've attended the show every year that it has been in Fort Collins, and it is great seeing the F3T tour continue to grow in Fort Collins.

This year, a dozen of us planned met for dinner before heading to the Lincoln Center.   It gave us a chance to talk about our past trips, and plan future excursions. 

My friend Dave and I stopped by St. Peter's Fly Shop to pick up a few items before we headed to the movies.  Aaron was tending shop at the time, and it was great talking with him.   Aaron is usually at the south St. Pete's location, and is a great guy, as well as a wealth of information about the local fishing.  Fort Collins is lucky to have two St. Peter's locations, both are in beautifully restored buildings, and staffed with some of the nicest folks in the fly fishing industry.

F3T was held in the main auditorium in the Lincoln Center in downtown Fort Collins.   The building was recently renovated, and is a great place to hold this event.  Several hundred people were in attendance, and it was nice to see familiar faces from the industry and the local fly fishing community.

The show was well presented, and as always, had a nice variety of movies.  F3T gave away some nice gear, including two Sage fly rods.

One of my favorite films was about fishing Labrador, Canada.   John Gierach and others flew into areas that had most likely not seen humans before, and caught huge brook trout.   I've always enjoyed Geirach's books, and it was nice watching him on the big screen. The group I was with included Al from   (check out his post about the show), and this show was one of the best times that I have had at F3t.  Now, it is time to hit the water, and catch some trout!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fly Fishing Film Tour-Fort Collins

One of my favorite events each winter is the Fly Fishing Film Tour stop in Fort Collins.  If you have never been to F3T, I encourage you to check it out.   There is nothing better than spending a winter evening with friends watching short films about our favorite sport. 

F3T is in Fort Collins next Saturday night, March 22, at 7pm at the Lincoln Center.  Tickets are slightly discounted if you buy them at St. Peter's fly shop, or you can buy them online.  If you don't live near Fort Collins...don't panic.   F3T has numerous stops around the country.  

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reactor Gamma Ti Watch-Gear Review

Grandpa was a fisherman, and I will always credit him with teaching me to enjoy the outdoor sports.  Even though he dabbled in fly fishing, most of the time we went fishing when I was a child was to throw a lure into a clear lake in the eastern mountains. Grandpa also collected watches, and I have fond memories of looking at the different watches he would wear.  That must have planted a seed for the appreciation of time pieces that I would later develop.  For years I wore a single watch, an L.L. Bean Field watch, that served me well.

About two years ago, when traveling on the east coast, I wandered into an Orvis Store, and started looking around.  I spotted a display of watches, and decided that it might be time to update my timepiece.   My wife pointed out a nice looking watch that I had not heard of, the Reactor Gamma.   As I examined it, I was impressed by its quality, and its lightweight construction.   I purchased it, and have used it extensively since that time.  Researching the watch renewed my interest in watches, and I've added a few more watches since then, but this watch remains a favorite.   The Reactor is my primary watch for fly fishing.  I've decided to review this watch for those of you who might have a need for a durable watch for the river.

The Reactor Gamma that I have is made of Titanium.  This material is tough, light, and has a nice gunmetal look.  The Gamma also comes in a stainless steel model, but the Ti is about 40% lighter.   The Gamma has Reactor's Never Dark technology, which combines luminous material on the dial, along with tritium, which is a material that does not need light to "charge" it.  Thus, when the luminous material grows dim during the night, the tritium stays well lit.  During fishing trips, I've found this very important when sleeping in a cabin with little can always tell how many hours until you get to hit the river.

The watch that I have has a glossy, deep black dial, a rotating bezel, and is water resistant to 300 meters (plenty for any trout stream I fall into).  It is quartz powered, which is nice for the rigorous activities in fly fishing, plus Reactor says that the battery lasts for 10 years, which is outstanding for a quartz watch.  The accuracy of this watch has been spot on.  There is a rubber strap option, but my watch is on a titanium bracelet.   I've found that the bracelet is extremely well made.  Unlike most watches that attach the strap to the watch case with spring bars, the Gamma has a unique lug system that seems very tough.  Not much chance of the bracelet accidentally coming off. 

Reactor uses a coated mineral crystal on this watch.  Generally, I prefer a sapphire crystal on my watches, but I understand that Reactor uses this due to the fact that mineral crystal is more shatter resistant than sapphire, which is nice if you are on a fishing trip, and this is your only watch.   I've not had any issues with scratching on the crystal of this watch.   There is an anti-reflective coating which helps reduce the glare of the sun, and allows you to see the time easily.

I've had first hand experience dealing with Reactor's customer service, and I can tell you that it was outstanding.   I've read reports online that they had great service, but I can verify that they are top notch.   I normally take my watches to a local watchmaker for any servicing, but if I need to change the battery, I plan to send it to Reactor.

The watch is comfortable to wear, quite rugged, and I think the styling fits well with the outdoor theme in which I use it.  Check out Reactor's website for additional information on their watches.

 BDF uses a three tiered gear rating system for gear reviews.

Dry Fly =       Great Product
Emerger=       Good product with potential
Nymph=         Could use improvement   

The Reactor Gamma Ti watch earns Dry Fly status.