Fly Fishing Traditions

Fly Fishing Traditions Blog and Website
"It's about Life & Fly Fishing"

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tale of Two Days

This is a tale of two days on the Lower Yuba river, the "Opener" and the "Day After". The Lower Yuba river above the Parks Bar Bridge opened up on December 1st after being closed for 3 months. The river above the bridge is closed to protect spawning Chinook Salmon. The "Opener" is a much anticipated event that most local fishers have blocked out on their calendars, called in sick or just plain played hooky from whatever they should be doing. In other words there are a typically a lot of anglers on the river. This story is about a bunch of fish to the net on the "Opener" versus "A Few" on the next day. I'm not much of a fish counter so let's leave the counting to that.

Here's how the opening day went. I made it down to the river early with my good fishing buddy "Frank Rinella". We've fished the "Opener" for many years, it's sort of a ritual. Something we both look forward to. We hit the river at about 7:30 and took a survey of the river where we launched the boat. There was a drift boat with two wading anglers in a different run a fair distance above where we were. There were two anglers fishing the tailout of the run we were in. I noticed 2 more anglers hiking upstream. We really had one choice, get it the boat and fish the run right in front of us. This run is known for the spawning beds for salmon just upstream at the head of the run. This run goes from the drop off at the base of the riffle upstream to a nice run that is about 5 feet at the deepest and then tails out. It is about two football fields long. We had about 200 yards to fish for ourselves. Pretty darn lucky.

We had to rig up and get to fishing before the crowd closed in on us. Frank set up a nymphing rig with a Troutbead and a San Juan Worm and startted fishing. I had to put my rod and reel together and get set up. Franks was into fish immediately. It took me 10 minutes to get rigged as I kept getting distracted netting his fish. As far as my rigging up I really had a couple of things I could do, but there were salmon beds upstream and a few salmon in the riffles splashing around. So the choice was obvious to me. My Egg Rig!

I tied up a three fly rig. I started with a 9 foot 3x tapered leader, extended with 3x Fluorocarbon tippet to a painted Troutbead, natural color. I tied another 18" piece of 3x Fluorocarbon and tied on a black rubberleg stonefly, I then added another piece of 4x fluorocarbon and added a size 18 Flatulator, (BWO). When all tied up the flies are about 14" to 16" apart. I then placed two decent sized split shot at the first tippet knot above the Troutbead. This is sort of my standard rig for fishing the runs below most any spawning beds. The egg goes closest to the leader, followed by by an attractor and then a imitative mayfly on the point. I mostly fish this rig without an indicator and just stay tight to the flies. I often add an indicator to the rig but I typically start out "Tight-Lining".

Once I got rigged up Frank took a break and watched me fish. I had similar luck. We fished this run and found a bunch of willing fish. They slashed at the Troutbeads at will. Quite a pod of fish. They averaged about 12" to 13". 3 out of 4 took the beads, I caught 2 on the Stonefly, Frank caught a couple on the San Juan Worm. Not one on the mayfly. The fishing was fast until the sun rose over the ridge and shined on the river. It slowed down almost immediately. Not that it stopped, it slowed down. We fished this run and headed downstream in the boat. The rest of the day turned into a fish here and a fish there and then shuting down at about 2:00.

The summary for the "Opener" was great, a bunch of fish to the net, mostly in the first 2 hours,  mostly about 13" (the largest about 15"-16", mostly on Troutbeads. Fishermen all over the place and hard to find open water.

So on to Day Two. Frank and I decided to come back the next morning and fish until about noon. Basically start at the same spot and get there about a half hour earlier. We expected the crowd to thin out considerably and not be as crowded as the "Opener". We got there as planned, rigged up pretty much exactly as the day before. No one on the river. We had the river to ourselves, at least early on. We started with high hopes, we fished the same run as the day before, we got our clocks cleaned. Not a bump. This was after changing rigs, flies, techniques the works. We could not buy a fish. (actually 1). We took our lumps and headed down stream. The count for the half day was three. Three is easy an easy number to keep track of. A Bunch is hard.

So, the tale of two days, A bunch to a couple. I guess that's fishing, it's also about sore lips and  fishing pressure!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trinity River Steelheading

I had the chance to fish the Trinity River a while back with my long time friend Blake Larsen and another old friend and guide Mike Hibbard. Mike typically guides the Trinity from mid September through January or February every year. He is one of the most respected guides on the Trinity River. We had a great couple of days to say the least.

Here is a video of our trip with Mike Hibbard. Thanks again for being the quintessential steelhead guide. You can contact Mike at

Trinity River Steelheading from Clay Hash on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Which Stance for Fly Casting

The stance you use for casting can influence the movements that follow, such as how you move your casting arm and add force with your shoulder and body.  As with grips, each stance provides somewhat different advantages and disadvantages.

The Squared Stance

When starting from square one with beginning students using a squared stance, facing the target without dropping either foot back is a good idea. Why? The biggest advantage of this stance is its simplicity in relationship to the alignment of the casting arm.  Without moving your body, you can easily attain an elbow-forward arm position throughout the casting movements.  Such simplification of primary movements is important in achieving the consistency for which we strive and a building block for good form. Once good form and timing is achieved the squared stance is the preferred stance.

The Casting Side Dropped Back Stance

Another good option is the casting side dropped back position. This is often the second step for beginning casters once they have their elbow- forward arm position form down. If right handed, you drop your right foot back, as if preparing to throw a ball. It is recommended to start the students with the casting side dropped back 45 degrees.  The main advantage of this stance is in developing timing.

With the casting side dropped back position you are able to watch your back cast to see when to start the forward cast.  One thing to watch out for is that this stance may lead to rotating that side forward during the forward cast. This additional body turning sometimes rotates a caster’s arm and fly rod out of alignment, thus angling the fly line away from the intended direction. Having to realign your arm and rod for the forward cast can also complicate the movement, particularly if using an elbow forward half-throwing motion. So be aware and don't lose good form.

Although timing can be taught in various ways, it is said that most students, in fact, do learn timing best by turning to see the fly line straightening in back. However, it is probably best to have them drop the casting side back just enough to see the back cast, a peak so to speak, then return them to a squared stance when the timing has been corrected. Remember turning to watch a back cast is usually done when practicing, and seldom done when we’re out fishing.  I heard the expression. “Watching your back cast is bad form, except in bear country”.

If you’re casting a slow full flexing action rod, like a bamboo or older graphite, opening up your stance can be used with a lengthened hand movement for better form. 

How About the Stance for Long Distance Casting?

When it’s time to start practicing long distance casting it’s time to go back to dropping the casting side back.  Watching the loops coming off the rod tip on a back cast is the best way I know to learn how and where to stop the rod butt to form small loops in a long line on the back cast.  By this time, arm alignment should be fairly well ingrained.  This open stance offers another distance advantage, inviting long hand movements for a wider casting arc.

The Casting Side Forward Stance

Occasionally I’ll see a person casting to a specific fish and attempting to get a really accurate cast, using a stance with the casting side and foot forward, rather than back.  It is said that turning the casting side forward enhances accuracy by bringing the hand and arm that directs the cast into closer alignment with the eyes and the target.


It’s not a bad idea to start students with the grip and stance that works best for most people.  If you are a beginner, try the squared stance, with your thumb providing support behind the forward cast.  If you find yourself having trouble with timing, drop your casting side back enough to make it easier to watch your back cast.

If you are more experienced, I would encourage you to experiment with these grips and stances, considering the trade-offs in each change you make. Perhaps you will find something that works better with your cast than what you have been doing.