Fly Fishing Traditions

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Phil Rowley's Stillwater School

My journey to become a better stillwater angler was greatly enhanced by attending Phil Rowley's Stillwater School in Idaho a week ago. The school was located at Sheridan Lake which is located near Island Park. It was hosted by the local fly fishing legend,Lynn Scott, of BS Anglers.

For those unfamiliar with Phil Rowley, he is a stillwaters educator and Canadian television fly fishing host. He has an excellent website and blog, . In his website you will find tips regarding strategies and tactics, fly tying, entomology, upcoming stillwater schools and events and many other points of interest. He also has an online store for unique products and flies. If you are interested in expanding your fly-fishing knowledge, particularly stillwaters, consider attending one of his stillwater schools. His goal is to teach and pass along his experience and knowledge to you. He is a true educator.

The stillwater school was a two day event with 8 hours of classroom type instruction and about 14 hours of fishing on Sheridan Lake. The topics included;
  • Strategies and Tactics for stillwaters
  • How to find trout in stillwaters
  • Dry Fly Techniques
  • Techniques for fishing nymphs and chironomids
  • Entomology for bugs you will find on stillwaters
  • Retrieve Techniques
  • Fly Patterns and Selection
  • Seasonal Transition and Food Choice changes
  • Tactics for Tough Days
  • How to read conditions, water, weather, structure and habitat
These topics were covered in a classroom situation with PowerPoint presentations and then put to test on Sheridan Lake. We fished with both Phil and Lynn and they were able to answer our questions as be put various techniques to use.

Here's Phil checking out the bugs at the shoreline of Sheridan Lake. There were damselfly nymphs and adults, callibeatis nymphs, snails, and leeches sampled. Phil reminded us that the first thing do do when you arrive at a lake is to do some detective work and see what kind of bugs you can find along the shoreline. He had a glass box that he had made that was about 8' x 10" x 8" tall that he put samples in. This enabled him to look at the bugs closely and take photographs of the bugs.

We fished out of these aluminum prams which were set up with fore and aft anchors. There were 5 people attending the school and four prams so I fished the 1st day out of my pontoon boat. I only had an aft anchor set up and I found out the hard way why you need both fore and aft anchors when the wind started blowing. It wasn't pretty! I've got the right set up now as I've learned my lesson. I've installed a Scotty Anchor on my left front foot arm.

Here's a Kamloops rainbow that ran about 4 pounds that Phil was able to get a picture of. The largest trout landed over the two days ran about 7 to 8 pounds. I caught about 3 that went 5+ pounds and one that went about six pounds. Six pounds of jumping fish!

We fished this arm of Sherdian Lake where Sheridan Creek comes in for Kamloops Rainbows. I had the most success with a Rickards Callibaetis Nymph and a damsel fly nymph with a Cortland Camo Intermediate Line. The Callibaetis nymph oufished the damselfly nymph 4 to 1. The fish were taking the fly when I used choppy 4 inch strips. Strip, Strip, Strip, wait and let it sit, Strip, Strip, Strip and so on. I managed to land one fish that went about six pounds and about 4 others in the 5 pound range. Thanks for showing me how, Phil and Lynn!


I fished with Phil on this part of the lake where he showed me how to fish chironomids with a slip indicator. There were not many fish hanging out in this part of the lake, according to Phil's fish finder, and the fishing was slow but I managed one nice fish under indicator set at about 16 feet fishing about a foot off the bottom. Phil showed me how to rigg, how to cast the long indicator setup, and how to be patient when fishing this method. Phil told me. "When deciding to move the fly using the slip indicator method, imagine that you're sitting on a keg of dynamite. When you retrieve the line to move the indicator, if you see any rippling of the water from the indicator or the line, you set off the keg. Boom! Move it that slow!"


The following photos were shot by Phil Rowley while we fished on Sheridan Lake.


Here's a photo of an emerging damselfly that Phil photographed on his net.


Here's an adult damselfly that Phil photographed.


Here's two mating pairs of damselflies doing their thing.

If you ever get a chance to attend one of Phil's schools or seminars, do it! You won't be sorry.

1 comment:

  1. Man your lucky. His stillwater fishing dvds are packed with information. Watching it for the 4 time and still getting pointers from it.


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