Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Photo Rainbow Trout Photo Utah Tiger Trout
Photo Utah Rainbow Trout
Photo Strawberry Cut Throat Trout

As a gregarious, novice fisherman, I used to seek out "experienced" fishermen and ask for advice and tips. I learned early that others experience and advice was a much faster way of learning than learning the "ropes" on my own. This is how I learned to catch more fish fly fishing, by following some simple techniques learned from others who gave me the same guarantee.

I met one old timer on a small stream. He was quite old and grizzled, but I said "Hi" and he was quite friendly. Armed with an old bamboo fly rod and automatic fly reel, he had a creel full of nice trout where I had caught nothing. So I said, "What's the secret to fly fishing?" His answer surprised me, he said; "Well, before you do anything else, tie good knots."

Frankly, I thought his answer was kind of stupid. I used an improved clinch knot and thought that would suffice for just about all fishing. But, shortly after meeting the old man, I lost a nice fish, careful inspection showed me that the knot had come undone and I lost both the fish and fly! I began to think more carefully about the old man's advice.

With trial and testing I began a lifelong study of knots. I used up a good deal of line carefully tying two knots to a swivel and pulling to test which one would break first. I would also experiment in the field to see which worked best. From all this testing, I developed a few simple knots and rules which have served me exceptionally well.


Wherever possible, double the line through they eye of the hook.

My recommended knot for most line end situations is a Palomar Knot aka Duncan loop.

The Palomar is quick, easy to tie, exceptionally strong and complies with knot rule #1.

I even use the Palomar for rigging two flies on the same line - I simply leave a 12" or longer tag end after the knot to tie on another (bottom) fly and I use the Palomar to tie on the bottom fly as well.

The double improved clinch knot (DICK) will be slightly stronger, however the Palomar is so much easier to tie, I just don't use the DICK.

The only exception to this rule is when the eye of your fly is too small to accept a double loop of leader. When this happens, I use a improved clinch knot.


Spit and Polish

Use saliva to lubricate your knot as you carefully tighten the knot. This step is critical: watch carefully as you tighten to make sure it snugs up correctly. Often, your loop catches over the shaft of the fly rather than the line itself and will be significantly weaker than a correctly tied Palomar.


Inspect often

Carefully inspect your knot (and fly) regularly especially after catching a fish or a troublesome snag. Years ago, While fishing a remote mountain lake, the Cutthroat Trout were hitting my fly on nearly every cast but I kept losing the fish. They would hit, stay on for a few moments and then get off. It was very frustrating. Finally I inspected the fly and the point of the hook had broken off! All I had was the bend of the hook terminating in a dull stump. "Old Stumpy" would get the fish to rise but would not get them landed and he taught me a valuable lesson about inspecting your fly and knots.

For tying leader to fly line I use two Surgeons Loops as I find the loops slip through the guides more easily than a knot. Occasionally however, I will use a Nail Knot in the same situation. For most of my loops, when needed I use the Surgeons Loop which is basically a doubled Palomar knot. To tie tippet to leader I use Surgeons Knot - not to be confused with the Surgeons Loop

Practice the knots you intend to use. You could even start with a piece of rope or other cordage till you get the feel for them. Then practice on lengths of your fishing line or tippet until you can just about tie them blindfolded.

I have learned to use only two or three simple knots. I tie them carefully and consistently and I seldom loose fish because of knot breakage. If you are not following the knot rules, I suggest you try them and I guarantee that you will catch more fish. Remember the old man's advice"
"Before you do anything else, tie good knots."


F. Fleigenbinder

Thursday, February 19, 2009

First Things First - Fly Fishing Beginner Fly Fishing

Be Prepared & Have A Great Time Fly Fishing Beginner or Seasoned Pro.
It is winter. And, when the snow stops, the arctic blasts subside and the snow slowly starts to melt, our hearts turn to fishing. Latitude and sun combine with the bright blue winter skies
to make us feel spring is just around the corner. But before we toss our rods, waders, and other equipment into the trunk and head for our favorite fishing spot, lets consider a few basics which should be the start of any new fly fishing season.
Photo Strawberry Cut Throat Trout
Photo Utah Cut Throat Trout

What Condition Is My Rod

Photo Strawberry Cut Throat Trout

First, take a moment to carefully inspect your rod. Any scratches or dings warranting our attention? Are all the windings and eyelets ship shape? If you have ceramic inserts in your eyelets, be sure to inspect them carefully for cracks or chips which can cut your line. And, don't forget to check the reel seat as well. It is far better to find and repair any problems now rather than when you are on your favorite the river, stream, lake or pond where you may not have your tools or resources to fix the problem.

Nail Polish Helps Seal Reel Screws & Scratches
Next, check your reel. Make sure it is lubricated and that all the screws are tight. If you should find a loose screw, now would be a good time to use Loc-Tite or clear nail polish on the screw before carefully replacing it. Also check for scratches on the reel and use touch up paint (I use flat black nail polish) and cover those. It's just cosmetic but I always feel better when my reel looks new rather than all beat up.
All Dressed Up Your Line Is Ready For A New Season Now check your line. I like to clean and dress mine at the beginning of each year and as needed through the year to make sure no problems exist. I check my line-end loop very carefully and replace it as needed.
Choose A New Leader & Check Your Backing
Photo Strawberry Cut Throat Trout

(Don't Want That Big "One To Get-Away)

If you still have last year's leader attached, take it off and chuck it! Grab a new fresh one and put it on. For my trout fishing, I like a 9' or longer leader down to about a 4 lb tip and then add the tippet I need for the conditions. Use whatever works best for you. You might even un-spool all your line and double check that your backing line is still good. Replace it if it is discolored or fraying in any way.
Photo Strawberry Cut Throat Trout

Check Waders For Leaks & Nets For Holes
(The Bathtub Makes A Great Imitation Of A Warm Body Of Water)

Don't forget to check your landing net, waders, flies and everything else you carry and make sure it is in good shape. There are few things worse than discovering a leak in your waders while on the stream in February or March - believe me I know!
Take Some Memories Home To Share Photo Utah Fly Fishing Utah Carp

Everyone Loves To See A


And A Grandpa & Grandson

Don't forget your camera so you can make a record of your trip (cell phone camera's work great, but set the pixels high for the best quality) ! Include some scenery for the best framed shot around your subject and you will have a great memory of the subject as well as the surrounding beauty.

Hows the P.M.A. ?

You are not quite ready...there is one last piece of equipment to check. It is the one between your ears. I am convinced that your attitude is the most important tool in your possession. Have you thought about how you will make this season better than the last? Have you managed your expectations so that regardless of the outcome, you come back from fly fishing restored and refreshed? P.M.A. (positive mental attitude).

Photo Trout Stream
Take In All Of Your Surroundings

Your time on the water is a priceless and an extraordinary gift. If your quarry is gracious enough to let you catch them; and, in rare cases, even give its life to you, are you prepared to cherish and care for your stewardship? If catching trout and/or possessing them is your only objective, by all means, go and help yourself. My suspicion is you are missing something vital and important. Just as if you went with a cracked rod or broken reel, you may be going to the water completely and totally unprepared.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fishing Memories Of Broken Fly Rods and Torn Up Flies

Memories Are Just As Exciting As A Photograph
I don't know how many fishermen keep their old torn up, chewed on flies, but I do. They bring back some fond memories of fishing trips gone by and good times in the outdoors with my friends and sons. I even have a special fly box I keep the old soldiers in and always carry the container in my vest pocket next to the new members of my line up. The trusted and proven players are with me everytime I hit the water just in case the action is slow or I Photo Utah Rainbow Trout want to take time out to enjoy the natural beauty and reminise about times gone by.

Teeth Marks, Missing Tail & Barely A Wing Case Left
Before Fly Met Trout
Photo Utah Rainbow Trout
This old style goes back 15 years ago when my son Daniel and I were taking our first fly tying classes together during the winter of 1994. He was 14 and wanted to learn how to fly fish. I had always been a bait and lure man myself but was open for some new experiences and the opportunity to spend some one on one time with one of my children. So we went into the local fly shop located in Layton Utah to sign up for the fall and winter season of tying classes that they offered.

Daniel tied at least a dozen different wet flies and streamers for us to use that winter and spring. Sad to say there is only one pheasant tail left from that time. But it had a great life and brought us both some additional memories with the trout we took and released on the Ogden and Weber rivers that winter and following spring.

Thanks to Daniels embrassing the sport my other two sons have taken up fly fishing too (my daughters just don't appreciate this sport) plus a granddaughter and grandson.

Now Three Generations Fly Fish Together

A few evening classes during the winter and spring months spending time with some great local fly shop owners in Layton Utah has created a lifetime of memories for me as well as my family. The shop is now gone but my memories and gratitude to these kindred souls who spent time with me and my son patiently passing on their well honed skills will never be forgotten.

Broken Fly Rods

Photo Rainbow Trout
Have you ever worn out a fly rod ? I mean have you ever caught so many fish and placed so much strain as to create small stress fractures up and down the tip section that the rod finally fails ? I haven't, ( mine break off in trees, shrubs and get snapped off by tail gates or fall into fire pits).

But my fellow author Fenwick Has!
Fenwick Broke Two Rod Tips While Fishing This Year !

(On Two Seperate Fly Rods)
Photo Rainbow Trout

Please understand, he was not using rods that were too light for the fish he was catching nor does he abuse his rods. In fact he "babies" his rods like they are members of his family. Granted they were older rods, but that is the beauty of the story. They were both old and have some great stories to go with them. The stories and fish took their toll, slowly years of hook setting, bending under the stress of a worthy opponent and continuous flexing ended in catastophic failure. Close examination of the tip revealed the previously unseen stress fractures running up and down the shaft both above and below the compound fracture. Each one of those previously unknown fractures had a hidden story to tell. A story that was not revealed until the end of the life of a fine quality friend.

Momentos Are History

So the next time you think about tossing out a worn out fly or one that has a broken hook. Stop and think about all the history that you would throw away. Just like me, I'll bet you place that momento into a special place in your fly box and learn to appreciate gazing on it's presence when ever you take a moment to reminise in the out of doors. Be sure to leave a note or two for your family about these special warriors and your family will treasure them just as much as you do.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February Fly Fishing In Utah Rainbow Trout Utah Trout

Do You Need Some Motivation To Go
Out In To The Cold ?

Here's Your Cure For Cabin Fever !!!
Photo Utah Rainbow Trout
This morning I am looking at some photo's from a couple of fishing trips me and a friend took about two weeks ago here in Northern Utah. As you can see from the photo's the weather was a little cooler than the January day we were last here. But not so cold as to discourage a pair of hardened fly fishermen.

Photo Utah Rainbow Trout
Successful fishing means you have to keep the flies in front of the fish, no matter what time of year or the weather. However, I do prefer the sunny days over rain and snow. But cabin fever does have a strange affect on fly fishermen and I have been known to be standing in the middle of a river with my fly rod flailing and rain pouring down from the heavens by the bucketful (did I mention the thunder and lightning in the background ???) !
Photo Rainbow Trout Utah.
What a wonderful time and what a great memory ! But enough about rain and back to Winter. This next photo really gets my blood to pumping and if a picture is worth a 1,000 words this next picture says it all...
Photo Utah Rainbow Trout

Oh Yeah !!!!

Now That's What I'm Talking About

No... that is not a football.

It is the shape of a mighty fine trout...

It is a mighty fine trout that is eating so much food he looks like a football ! This is truly the picture of health when you bring in a lunker like this.

So what were we using to make such a successful trip?

Dark green muddler minnows with a gold cone head, size 8 was the ticket for the day. We use 9 foot two piece 3-5 weight fly rods, reels with adjustable drag, floating line, 9 foot tippets, with an additional 2-3 feet of leader and an adjustable strike indicator. If the fish are in cruising mode to feed the indicator shows the line movement long before you feel the tension or "tug" in your fingers, the indicator makes certain you won't miss setting the hook. However, your own response time may allow you to miss one or two...

Secure That Fly

The knot of the day is the polymer. It is not only really strong (I like the double loop going through the eye of the hook for a solid connection) but quick to tie when your fingers are numb from the cold.

The Weight Of The Matter

The gold cone head adds enough weight that you won't need any additional lead on the line to get to the bottom where the muddlers hang out. The muddler of course resembles any number of small fish so even if your trout don't have access to this specific variety, they do know small fish and how to quickly dispose of them.

Presentation Is Everything

Our presentation is to allow the minnow to sink to the bottom, hesitate and then "jig" by moving or raising the rod tip and at the same time stripping about 6 inches of line to create an up and forward motion. This allows the minnow to leave the bottom in an upward angle toward the fisherman and then to fall back to the bottom imitating an injured fish. At least that's what I tell myself. The results speak for themselves. The fish usually grab the fly as it is falling back towards the bottom.

Dress For Success

Be sure to dress in layers since the weather can change quickly and no one wants to be too cold or too hot. Fleece is great for a hoodie, and you will notice this is always my choice. It will repel snow and rain and continue to keep you insulated. Fleece also breathes to help keep you comfortable.

Fleece sweat pants are warm and provide lots of room to move around in when worn under your waders.

These Boots Are Made For Walking...On Ice

Shoes or boots designed for wading work best in snow and water with a metal cleat over the sole. Ice builds up fast and makes a slippery surface on your felt soles so cleats are a must for safety and are inexpensive to purchase. There are several manufactures to choose from. I like the clip on ones, they are fast and easy to attach or detach and don't allow ice to build up and of course they don't slip.

Speaking of your feet, don't forget a good pair of socks. Not cotton either ! Wool or synthetic are the best. Wool will continue to insulate your feet even if they become damp. Synthetic material will wick the moisture away from the skin to help keep you insulated and dry.

Get Fleeced

If a fleece isn't enough on really cold days I add a parka over it with a stocking cap or a pull over hat, similar to a ski mask that will come down around my neck and "tuck" into my shirt. This arrangement keeps my head dry and warm while protecting my neck, front and back, at the same time. The cuffs on my parka are water proof and have an adjustable velcro "grip" around the wrist so I can keep my arms dry while releasing fish in the cold water.

Magic Fingers

I also keep a pair of gloves to put on if I need them. They are the open finger style so I can easily strip line. They also have a "rubber pad palm" to make holding the slippery fish easier while keeping the water off my skin.

Make Sure You See The Light

Remember to take along the sun glasses, preferably polarized combined with U.V. coating, to block ultraviolet light. This will protect your eyes and allow you to see the fish in clear water. Speaking of U.V. keep the sunblock handy and apply it liberally. You will still get sunburned in the winter on sunny days so be prepared.

What You See Is What Everyone Will See

My camera is my cell phone. I never leave home without it. Even though many of the area's I go to don't have cell service the camera always works ! I keep it in a zip lock baggie in my front pocket so it is kept dry and readily available. Be sure to preserve some photo's with your memories and no one will ever doubt just how big the fish are that you are catching !

Plan "B"

Last but not least, pack a spare change of clothes and shoes. Over the years I have pulled a number of my fishing party from the water and even fallen in once or twice myself. There is nothing better than having an extra set of dry clothing to put on, especially in the winter to make a bad situation feel a whole lot better. Besides, it beats driving home cold and soaking wet. I keep the spare clothes tucked away in a gym bag located next to my fishing gear in my Jeep.

What Are You Doing For Winter Fishing ???

Have you got a winter fly fishing memory and photo's to share...let me hear from you and if your story with photo's beats mine, I'll post it (go to the comments section) !!!

Until next time...may you have Tight Lines and quality memories !

Saturday, February 14, 2009

January Trout Fly Fishing Tips and Photos Rainbow Trout Tiger Trout

Fly Fishing Tips and Photo's rainbow trout tiger trout utah rainbow trout utah tiger trout Photo Rainbow Trout Utah

Photo Rainbow Trout Utah
The Trout are really active in the

winter and as you can see this one wants nothing to do with posing for a picture. Photo Tiger Trout
This 22" Utah Tiger Trout wants to get back in the water, now ! Even though it is January, the sun is out and there is no wind so I am down to shirt sleeves for the afternoon.

Yes, that is snow on the ground and a 23" Tiger Trout about to be released, now that he is settled down.
Photo Utah Rainbow Trout Utah
So what if it's cold outside. The fish still bite in the middle of winter and if you are willing to dress warm and concentrate on a few simple techniques and tactics you can create some memories and photographs that will warm the cockles of your heart.

Trout spawn based on water temperature, not the month of the year, so it is important to remember that the mature trout will be more protective of their spawning beds than actually focused on feeding with the colder waters of winter. So large streamers and wet flies work well at exciting a non feeding lunker to strike at the fly.

Go deep, go deep, go deep. The trout are hanging down at the bottom of deep pools this time of year. In a lot of river and stream locations the water is at the lowest run off level for the year and the trout need a secure place to hide, breed and yes...sometimes eat. Work your streamers and wet flies near the bottom and "bounce" the fly with a jigging motion to keep attracting the agressive trout that is either feeding or protecting the nest.
Winter hatches do occur, here in Northern Utah we have small white winged with a white body midges, size 22-26 and a close relative, the black bodied midge with a white wing, same small size. The hatches are usually small and very sporadic depending on the weather. But even during the hatch don't expect the spawners to develop a sudden urge to come and eat.

My favorite flies in January are :

Dark green muddler minnow with a gold cone head, sizes 6-10.

Dark green sculpin gold or silver cone head, sizes 6-10.

Black wooly bugger with red ribbing, sizes 8-12.

Black marabou leech, sizes 8-12.