microfiber mop
I catch trouts.

3 flies you hate to love

Those who don't like catching fish should move right along

There comes a time in every fly fisher’s life when your morals are compromised. Sure, you can stay pure and fish that dry fly upstream all the while extolling the virtues of your fine English tweed, but every now and then that nonsense doesn’t work and it’s time to get dirty. It’s time to tie on one of those flies that you hide from your buddies. The ones you tie late at night after that fourth whiskey. The ones that catch fish. Bright colors, flash, pom-poms.

flats casting from bow of skiff
Still on the bow. For now (photo: Chad Shmukler).

Age, pain and apologies

As we anglers age, we face unavoidable, inevitable truths

I woke up one morning late last month and felt like I’d been doing sit-ups all night. Not that doing calisthenics in my sleep would necessarily be a bad thing, but the muscles in my gut had clearly been involuntarily enlisted into some sort of nocturnal enterprise, and not one I consciously approved of.

private property no trespassing sign
Photo: Gerry Tomasen

You don't want what I have

Those with questions about public lands in the West need only look east for answers

I know this awesome couple out in Idaho. Bruce and Kat, like many folks in Idaho, are avid users of the great outdoors. Bruce hunts elk with a bow and fishes rattlesnake infested canyons with a fly rod. They both ride fat tire bikes up and over majestic ridge lines. In a day, Kat can cross-country ski distances that I won’t drive without a bathroom break. All on public lands that are easily accessible.

Buffalo River Arkansas
The Buffalo River (photo: Johnny Carrol Sain).


This is not where you put a massive, manure-spewing industrial hog farm

I’d lamented about rained-out local creek smallmouth fishing all summer long. High water had made fish tough to find and often posed a wading hazard. But just an hour’s drive north of my home, the crystalline cool flows of the Buffalo National River resembled something closer to normal summer conditions. Ever since the fly rod — an elegant tool for a more civilized angler — found its way to my hand last fall, I’d dreamed of a trip to the iconic Buffalo River.

rainbout trout release
The release of a wild rainbow from the Smoky Mountains (photo: Rueben Browning).

Seeking absolution

The catch and release debate, inside and out

There’s a tension at the heart of fly fishing, a baffling, bulbous, gordian knot that we can’t untie with logic or reason or emotion. Yet most of us — in fact, the vast majority of us — are not even aware of the issue.