Todd Tanner's blog

Musky Madness: Big flies, big fish and big smiles

Join the musky hunters in Wisconsin this September
Photo: Mike Dvorak

Legendary guide and respected artist Bob White sure knows how to throw a great party. Bob has learned that if he brings fly fishermen together at the right time and in the right place, they can catch huge muskies on fly rods. With that in mind, he’s arranged for some of the world’s best musky guides to rendezvous in northern Wisconsin on September 22, 23 & 24, where they’ll float 10 lucky anglers down the Chippewa and Flambeau rivers in search of massive water wolves.

Seeking absolution

The catch and release debate, inside and out
The release of a wild rainbow from the Smoky Mountains (photo: Rueben Browning).

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.


In all things, we need balance
Photo: Todd Tanner

I drove over to the West Fork late this afternoon. Molly was gone for the day, off to Idaho with her friend Elizabeth, and I’d been holed up in the house with the doors and windows shut to keep the heat - low nineties in the shade, a hundred and two outside in the direct sun - at bay.

Whiskey and steel

2 out of 3 fish test positive for plastic
Plastic bottles and other marine debris wash up on beaches like this one (photo: NOAA).

We live in an imperfect world where the problems we face as anglers — what fly to use, where to fish, what rod to buy, how to fix leaky waders — are dwarfed by a whole litany of issues that impact not only our fly fishing but also our day-to-day lives. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our economy is held together with balling wire and duct tape. Free market fundamentalists and rapacious profiteers are trying to steal the public lands where we fish, hike, hunt and camp. Our oceans are filling with plastic, and growing ever more acidic.

Stage fright

Putting the fly fishing industry in the spotlight

Have you ever stood up in front of 800+ cheering fly fishers? Have you ever stood alone on the stage in front of a beer-lubricated crowd that’s been whipped into a frenzy by the great “Hank Patterson” and then blown away by some truly incredible fly fishing films?

Because that was my Saturday night. The legendary fly fishing town of Missoula, Montana was deep in the throws of an epic “Down The Hatch” tent revival, and the powers-that-be at Orvis handed me a microphone and sent me out on the stage of the Wilma theater with a mandate to talk about our new film CHROME.


Help move the needle

Last October, on a blue-bird, 80 degree day, a handful of amazing, iconic anglers hooked up to fish a beautiful Montana spring creek and talk about the single largest threat to America’s trout fishing.

Steve Hemkens of Orvis drove over from Jackson Hole. Photographer extraordinaire Tim Romano flew up from Colorado. Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies made the short drive from his Madison Valley home. Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia flew in from … well, I honestly don’t have any idea where Yvon flew in from. All I can say for sure is that he was there.

Down by the river

Todd Tanner is old as dirt and proud of it
Angler Mike Sepelak tosses a big streamer at a logjam on the Elk River near Fernie, BC (photo: Chad Shmukler).

I’m thinking about driving up to British Columbia in the morning to sneak in a little dry fly fishing. It’s crazy, but I just can’t get Neil Young out of my head.

Old man sitting
by the side of the road
With the lorries rolling by,
Blue moon sinking
from the weight of the load
And the buildings scrape the sky,
Cold wind ripping
down the alley at dawn
And the morning paper flies,
Dead man lying
by the side of the road
With the daylight in his eyes.

Cold Waters: The Inside View

The view from the inside of a film about what climate change means to anglers.
A still from the film.

You might think that putting together a fly fishing movie with Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies, Steve Hemkens of Orvis and Tim Romano of Angling Trade would be an absolute blast. And while that’s true (you can’t fish with Craig, Yvon, Steve and Tim and not have a good time), the pressure was intense.


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