Monday, August 2, 2021

Throwing/Trolling a Tandem Streamer Rig- How I Do It!

Last week I wrote about throwing and trolling a tandem streamer rig.  I was able to land a channel cat and some hybrids using this set-up and it definitely has its pros and cons.  Let's start with the negatives first.  It is a little harder to cast since you have two flies dancing around one another in the air.  If your casting is off by much, you're going to end up with knots which takes time away from fishing.  The feel of the cast feels a little awkward as well.  You just don't get that pure-feeling cast that you get with one fly.  On top of this, the two flies that I was throwing were both waited fairly well which made things a little bulkier.  

On the other hand, there are some positives with the main one being an attractive set up for fish.  Fish might see the first fly and it might get their attention.  By the time the second fly comes by, they are already in a more aggressive mood and are prepared to strike the second one.  I just see it as a way to increase your odds for a bite.  Then there is the opportunity that everyone probably hopes for when throwing two flies and that is catching two fish at the same time.  This is not something that I have ever accomplished but I know the day is coming and I will chase it until it happens!

As far as how I assemble this rig, it is pretty easy.  I like simplicity so I keep it simple.  I use an improved clinch knot to attach the leader to the first fly.  I then tie an improved clinch knot to the bend in the hook of the first fly.  I finish things off with an improved clinch knot on the second fly.  In terms of distances between the flies, I like to keep it between 1 and 2 feet.  If the distance is too short, then I feel like you lose some of the action.  If the distance is too great, then you are going to have more tangles.  

When it comes to size line, I really don't have a definitive answer for that.  I typically use 6 pound fluorocarbon as a leader and as a connector when I am fishing for smaller hybrid striped bass, bluegill, and smaller bass.  For bigger fish, I would bump up to 8 or 10 pound fluorocarbon.  You can always make the connector lighter than the leader as well if you want.  This would afford you the opportunity to only lose the back fly rather than the entire rig in a situation where the last fly gets hung up on something.

As far as fly size, color, and type of streamer, that is another tough call.  I have been doing well with two white wooly buggers lately.  The fish that I have been catching have been feeding on shad so this makes sense.  I sometimes use a fly that is heavier in front and a fly that is lighter towards the end when casting.  When it comes to trolling, I usually have both flies of the same weight and size because they are both going to stay close to the surface anyway.  In terms of color, feel free to play around with colors and experiment.  On a bright day with murky water, use a bright colored fly up front and a darker one in the back...or vice versa.  There are not rules that you have to play by here.  It's the same case when it comes to types of flies.  Throw a zonker and wooly combo or troll a clouser with a game changer.  Whatever you choose to do, just take note of what works on that day and what works best for you!  The better you get dialing in your set up, the closer you are to that two fish on one line experience.

Friday, July 30, 2021

It Almost Felt Criminal

"He who hesitates is lost."  "Seize the opportunity."  "Know an opportunity when you see it."  These are all things that came to my mind when my buddy Cris (of Carpenter Bros. Fly Rods) sent me a text yesterday.  It felt like deja vu.  You see, about a year ago, I got a text from him telling me that Cargo Largo in Independence, Missouri had a fly rod combo with line and a case for $40.  I ended up purchasing the rod and liked it so much that I even made a YouTube video out of it!  It's a great rod for trout parts as well as bluegill and small bass.  When I received his text message yesterday, I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity without hesitation.

What Cris sent me was a picture of an Orvis Clearwater rod with a price tag of $119.99.  He didn't know if it was a good deal or not so I headed to the Internet.  My search results showed that this rod retails for between $200 and $230.  I informed him that it was indeed a good deal and inquired how many rods were in stock.  He said it was the only one and my heart sank a little because I was more than willing to come purchase it ASAP!  An important item to note is that I do not own an Orvis rod.  They've always been a little out of my price range and the ones that I HAVE run across were the same weight and length as rods that I already had at the time.  I've always wanted one and have always appreciated how much Orvis supports conservation as well as the promotion of our fine sport.  Well it just so happens that I have been in the market for a 4 weight.  I have a 4 weight I love but the company went out of business and I wanted something else.  Wouldn’t you know that not only was this rod a 4 weight, but that it was a 10 footer which I have always wanted and never owned.  My heart just about leapt out of my chest when he said that he wasn't going to buy it!

I jumped in the truck and called him after I raided my fly fishing fund.  What Cris did next speaks to the kindness and generosity that this man possesses.  He said that he would have the folks in the electronics department put it behind the counter and that he would be back to purchase it after shopping a little longer.  He also told them that his name was Tyler.  How awesome was that?!?!  It took me about 20 minutes to get there and Cris was the first guy I ran into.  He was excited for me and happy to help me out.  I'm surprised that he hasn't gotten tired of helping me because he's done it so many times!  I headed to the back of the store, talked to a very nice gentleman that located my rod, and purchased my first Orvis fly rod.

I am really excited to use this rod, however, next comes the moment of truth.  Will this rod live up to all the "Orvis hype" that I have heard so much about?  Will I be placing this on Ebay within a month?  Will I fall in love with a 10 foot fly rod?  Will this become my go-to rod?  Only time will tell but I sure am excited to find out what happens next.  You better believe that you will be hearing more about this in the future.

I am curious if this rod was so discounted so much because the end of the case was messed up?

Thursday, July 29, 2021

I Can’t Catch a Freaking Gar!

You like to catch fish on a fly rod right?  I mean, you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't.  Chances are, you like to catch different species on a fly rod.  If we take that idea a step further, there is a chance that you like to catch species of fish on a fly rod that you have never managed to catch on a fly rod.  I'm definitely that way.  I've been fortunate to catch a wide range of fish on a fly rod.  I even caught a Mayan cichlid in Florida a few years ago and an albino catfish here in Missouri.  There is however one genus of fish that eludes me and that is the gar.

A Mayach cichlid from Florida.  I don't have a digital image of the albino catfish because it was taken on a disposable 35mm camera.  Kids, that's before everyone's cell phone had a camera so's been a while and yes that makes me old.

Gar are in the genus Lepisosteidae and there are multiple species of gar.  The ones common in the waters that I normally fish are the longnose gar and the shortnose gar.  I know they typically eat small baitfish and that they are a non-game fish.  While many anglers consider them to be "trash fish," I see them as the fish that will bedevil my days until I land one.  I know wooly buggers are good flies to use as well as "rope flies" that don't even have hooks.  Rope flies simply have unbraided strands of string which are supposed to entangle the many teeth of a gar.  I've thrown both with limited success.  Speaking of success, let me share a couple of brief stories with you to show how this species eludes me.

It was the last day of school in 2019.  All the kids went home for summer break and my colleague Howard and I decided to kick our break off with a little fishing excursion.  We decided to fish the spillway on the back side of Blue Springs Lake.  As we fished, I saw 3-4 longnose gar gulping air in the pool below the spillway.  They ranged from 2-4 feet long and I decided I was going to only target these fish and I was looking for one bite.  That bite came on a wooly bugger I was throwing.  By my estimation, I hooked one of the bigger ones and the fight was on.  My six weight was doubled over and I even saw the fish some to the surface a few times.  But then, the worst case scenario occurred.  I guess his teeth eventually rubbed on the line enough that it lost its integrity.  That one hurt.  

This one did too.  I was at Capital Federal Sports Complex in Liberty, Missouri, the other day.  I was again targeting gar.  If truth be told, a large reason for me doing this was because my buddy Corey sent me a video of him the night before catching a gar in the Smithville Lake spillway.  I finally found three gar that were interested in my John Deere.  They were circling it like sharks and I was ready to see who the lucky winner was going to be!  My indicator went down and below is a picture of what I caught.  The little devil ruined my plans and spooked the gar.
This little guy blocked me from potentially hooking a gar.

I even had multiple chances last Saturday on the Little Blue River and couldn't get a bite.  I bet I saw 20 gar!  I ended up spooking them or throwing a fly that they just weren't interested in.  

This story WILL end with me landing a gar and I will be sure to keep you posted.  I'll get one some day, but until that post if you would like learn more about gar, just click on the the link below.  The Missouri Department of Conservation has extremely detailed information on gar as well as every other fish that lives in Missouri.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A Mixed Bag at Watkins Mill Last Night

 I went to Watkins Mill State Park last night and arrived around 6:30.  With the warm temps and lack of wind, I was hoping that I would be greeted with the sight to shad busting on the surface and hybrid striped bass just begging to be caught.  This is not what I saw.  What I did see was water with a little bit of a chop with zero activity.  It wasn't like glass so I started wondering if the hybrids are more prone to chase shad to the surface in calm water.  As I contemplated this as well as other mysteries of the universe, I also debated whether I should fish at all.  My hopes were dashed and I felt deflated.  But then I started to wonder if the hybrids were just staging slightly below the surface and might be enticed by a tandem rig of white wooly buggers trolled at a slow speed.  I unloaded the boat.

Waylon and I trolled for 20 minutes or so without a bite.  I decided I would go catch a few bluegill or redear under an indicator and then call it a night.  I hooked a few and even got a nice redear to the boat but Waylon knocked it off the hook before I could snap a picture.  It felt like that was the theme of the evening; nothing awful but nothing spectacular either.  I landed a couple more small fish and then decided to try one more spot for some bass.  I had some luck at that spot last time and it was close to the boat ramp so it wasn't out of the way.  

I pulled up to the spot and one of my flies got SMASHED on the first cast.  I expected to see and feel a 1-2 pound bass but instead was surprised to see a channel cat.  The evening was starting to look up!  I decided to stay put a little longer and see if anything else was lurking around.  After a few more casts, I looked over my shoulder and saw bait busting on the surface.  It was 8:00 so I guess the hybrids were just late starters.  I told Waylon a pat on the head and told him that this was what we had come for!

We pulled up to the first school and one of my flies got crushed on the first cast.  It was a small hybrid but still put a bend in a six weight.  We pulled up to the next school and my fly got hit on the first cast there as well!  Two hybrids in two casts felt pretty darn good.  We had a ways to go before we got to the next blow-up so I trolled the flies behind the boat and caught a third hybrid.  Fish #2 and #3 were all the same size as fish #1.  I have heard that hybrids will travel in age groups so this made sense.

I ended up catching one more fish (same size again) while casting to boiling water.  I also had a larger hybrid on the line that was probably between 1-2 pounds but lost it at the boat.  I landed one more small hybrid as we trolled to the boat ramp.  We were in the truck, headed home at about 8:30.  What I came fore didn't last very long, but it was pretty fantastic while it was  happening.  I sure am glad that I got out of the truck and unloaded the boat!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Fishing the Blue River with My Buddy Gil- Part 2

After I landed my grass carp, I was hoping that it was Gil's turn.  I say hoping because you just never know what is going to happen on the water.  One guy might catch 10 fish and a guy in the same boat, throwing the same lure, might get skunked.  I can't explain the biology or physics behind it, but I've seen it happen!  I prefer trips where everyone is catching and everyone is happy.  That is why I was rooting for Gil.  He was also on his "home water" so I felt like he had a pretty good chance.  

We fished apart for a while and we both had bites but never landed anything.  Gil eventually text me and told me that he was fishing for a big drum.  I hadn't seen a drum all day so I headed his way to see it and hoped that I would get to see him hook the thing.  When I arrived, he told me that he was fishing a weightless worm and had actually watched the drum take his bait once but missed it.  We both looked for it but it must have spooked and headed to safer water.  I made some casts to some more grass carp but snagged on some brush so that pretty much ended my day.

We were both getting pretty hot so we started to slowly head to the truck and fish a little along the way.  It wasn't very far into our walk when Gil spotted a common carp.  It was actively feeding and it sure seemed like he had a shot to hook this fish.  I was standing a few yards away when I heard the sound of splashing and drag being taken off a spinning reel.  I headed his way with my phone to take some video and audio.  He played the fish really well and landed it like I'm sure he has many, many times.  It was a REALLY pretty fish that had golds, reds, yellows, and oranges.  I don't think there is such a thing as a trash fish, and if you look at a fish enough, you can find the beauty in any fish!  Gil released the fish and it swam away with plenty of energy which is always great to see when fish aren't being kept.  

This was an OUTSTANDING day on so many levels!  Quality fish were caught, new water was fished, and a new friend was made.  It doesn't get much better than that.  Another positive was that my early signs of heat exhaustion faded on the way home...which was nice.  All of those qualities point towards the idea that there will be future trips to small rivers around Kansas City and definitely more time on the water with my new buddy Gil.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Fishing the Blue River with My Buddy Gil- Part 1

Last Saturday, I was able to fish the Blue River near Grandview, Missouri, with my buddy Gil.  Gil and I have a mutual friend and this was our first time fishing together.  He was gracious enough to invite me to one of his favorite fishing spots and I was excited to fish somewhere that was new to me.  I will admit, when he asked me to fish the Blue River, I was a little hesitant because everything he described sounded so foreign to me.  First of all, it was in the middle of a fairly busy city.  Second, I haven't done much small river fishing in my life.  I fished the Little Blue River in Independence, Missouri, a couple of times but that was about it.  He also said we would be wading, which I had not done when I fished the Little Blue.  It all sounded as exciting as it was intimidating.  

We weren't able to hit the water until about 10:30 (because of some scheduling conflicts that I had) and by that time, it was already starting to get hot.  I also invited my buddy Joe, which I have just recently started fishing with as well.  Joe and I got rigged up in the parking lot with fly rods while Gil started fishing with some corn on a spinning rod.  From the minute we hit the water, we saw fish!  There seemed to be grass carp pretty much everywhere along with bluegill, gar, and the occasional bass.  The water was low and slow which I liked because it almost felt like a trout stream.  The water was pretty stained as well which made sight fishing difficult but not impossible.

It took us a while for us to hook into a fish and Joe was the first on the board.  He caught a small largemouth bass on a jig under and indicator and that was a big confidence boost to me.  In my experiences, any positive activity on new water can give a boost of confidence that can keep my motivation high.  The group started to spread out some and get into our individual grooves.  Gil started fishing a nightcrawler, Joe stuck with his set-up, and I changed to a John Deere about a foot under an indicator.  I had caught a couple of grass carp and a goldeneye on the Little Blue with this before so I had confidence in its abilities.  I also saw a lot of minnows in the shallows and tried to pair the greenish water with the light olive color of my fly.

I saw a few schools of grass carp that were cruising and seemed like they were on the prowl for food.  I kept telling myself that one of these were going to eventually make a mistake and that I would get a shot at one of them.  I've done the same thing at Bennett Spring State Park before and eventually the technique would produce.  This gave me confidence as well.  My strategy eventually paid off and I saw my indicator go down with the subtlety of a broken shoelace.  

From the minute I felt the hook set, I knew I had a good fish.  I could tell that it wasn't snagged by the way the fish swam and knew it was big because it used its weight to fight rather than its power.  It made some short runs at times and would try to get deep in the channel at others.  After thinking that I had him landed in the shallows on three different occasions, he eventually tired the fourth time.  I knew a lot of people look at fish like carp, drum, and gar as "trash fish" but to me, there is no such thing.  Even grass carp have some amazing qualities and to me, this one was a beauty.  Gil did some great work taking pictures and video and it was an incredible thrill!  After the fish swam off, I was excited to throw at some more fish and wanted to see Gil have some success as well.  It didn't take long for Gil to connect with a fish...but we will pick up from there tomorrow!

Friday, July 23, 2021

A Case for FishTok...I Mean TikTok


I'm not one to tell people what to do, I mean except for my students and kids.  I tell them what to do all the time.  When it comes to peers, friends, and family though, I'm more a person that gives some ideas and lets others figure out a path to take.  Today's post follows that theme.  I'm just going to throw out some information for you to mull over.

I joined the TikTok community last January.  At the time, there wasn't a lot of fly fishing content and there were only a few folks like Svend Diesel and Fly Lords that had accounts that included good content.  Holy cow has that changed in the last few months.  TikTok has become a source of outstanding fly fishing content which includes a variety of locations, people, and fishing opportunities.  Many videos are of high quality and are short, as in a minute-long kind of short.  There are fly tying videos that are fast-paced but extremely well done at the same time.  Some videos are serious, some are exciting, and some hilarious.  

While I am a fan of the app, I also realize that social media is not for everyone.  Some people see it as a time-consuming object that does not improve their lives one iota.  Some people don't feel the need to see what other people are doing with their lives.  Some people would just rather pick up a phone to call those they are close to or email someone when they have a question.  I cannot argue with any of those statements and I see value in those beliefs.

On the other hand, I see social media as a source of both entertainment and education.  Wendy has gotten MANY recipe ideas from TikTok.  I have laughed uncontrollably at videos that feature dudes falling out of boats or casting a rod so hard they fall off a pier.  Some videos have made me almost cry and some videos make me want to jump in the truck and head to my closest fishing spot.  There's even a little movement on TikTok call FishTok.  It's a hashtag that fishers use to help guide users towards fishing videos.  

At the end of the day, I get a lot of enjoyment out of TikTok and that should be it's purpose.  If you get offended easily, it's probably not the place for you because people are going to speak their minds.  If you're looking for something to do when there's nothing on TV and you can't find anything on Netflix, then maybe you download the app as another entertainment option.  Aside from consuming content, I also create content as well.  It has been a lot of fun to read comments on the videos that I have made and all of my feedback has been positive.  Well, almost.  One guy commented that Branson, Missouri, "sucks".  That one hurt but I got over it pretty quick.  So if you decide to pull the trigger and download the app or take the next step and actually become a TikToker, look me up!  My username guessed it...ShowMeFlyGuy.  If you decide this is not something for you, then hopefully our paths cross on the water someday and we can enjoy one another's company that way!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Variations on My Favorite Streamer

As most of you know that follow this blog, my favorite streamer that I throw is called The Brave.  It is a streamer that has worked really well for me in the past and has helped me land catfish, largemouth, white bass, and hybrid striped bass.  It is made of natural materials that are easy to work with and is a pretty easy tie.  Here's a run down of how to tie it if you are interested.

1. Size 1 (or whatever size you want) Gamakatsu B10S hook.

2. Large conehead

3. 10-12 wraps of 0.03 lead wire behind the conehead.  This will keep material from being pushed back on the hook by the conehead.

3. Tie in marabou on the bottom of the hook near the rear.

4. Tie in a rabbit strip to hang off the back of the hook.  Length is up to you but leave enough to be pulled over the top of the hook and tie in behind the conehead.

5. In front of the rabbit strip, tie in a lighter colored rabbit strip and palmer to the front of the hook.  Tie off behind the head.

6. Pull the first rabbit strip over the second one and tie off behind the head.

7. You have two options at this point.

    A. Tie in hackle/schlappen, wrap forward, and tie off.  Tie in second hackle/schlappen, wrap 

    forward, tie off, and whip finish.

    B. Tie in hackle/schlappen and then tie in second hackle/schlappen.  Wrap both forward 

    simultaneously, tie off, and whip finish.

I've been playing around with some different colors lately, one in a bluegill color pattern and the other that is more shad-like.  Here's some pictures for more detail.

If you're interested in tying this fly, I hope you like it and I hope it works well for you!  If you're not a tyer, then I saw a quote that might apply in this situation- "If you can't tie 'em, buy 'em."  I have a few patterns up on the Etsy store to see if folks are interested in these patterns.  If they sell out, I will definitely be tying more!  If they don't, then I'm just going to keep them for my own personal use...which is just fine too!

Etsy Store:

Bluegill variation of The Brave:

Shad variation of The Brave:

To original version of The Brave:

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Bass Fishing with my Buddy, Jeff

Yesterday I had the pleasure to fish with a buddy of mine that I had never fished with before.  I've known Jeff for a few months now and when both of our schedules allowed for it, we decided to hit some local water to chase some largemouth bass.  We got on the water at about 9 and things did not start off well.

It had been a while since Jeff had fished and he had some rust to knock off.  As for myself, my old tricks just weren't working.  I landed two bluegill on jigs and that was about it.  With both of us struggling, I decided to set the fly rod down and simplify things for both of us.  A local fisherman told recently told me that the bass in this lake would suspend in the middle of the lake during July and August.  It felt like trolling for these fish might get a reaction bite so we tied on some crankbaits and turned the trolling motor to high!  We didn't get a sniff.  This was not going well.  

I felt bad that Jeff wasn't catching anything.  I was getting frustrated with my inability to make the right moves.  Confidence for both of us was starting to wane and the writing on the wall said "This just isn't a good day to fish boys."  As a last ditch effort, I decided to start hitting the shallows and what little shade there was with a soft plastic worm.  That's when the first bite came...and the second...and the third!  After a few more fish for me and some bites for Jeff, we started to crack the code.  The bass were shallow and near rocks.  They didn't seem to care for moss or vegetative cover or even logs for that matter.  Once we started focusing on the rocks, our entire morning changed.

I ended up landing about 10 bass total but Jeff was struggling to get the hang of worm fishing.  This was a new technique for him and like anything new, there was a learning curve.  He missed some bites and had a few fish on the line but just couldn't get anything to the boat.  I wanted him to land one probably about as much as he wanted to land one himself but we were running out of spots and time.  He had to take off around noon and it was a little after 11:30 when I started to get nervous.  However, just like our luck had turned earlier in the morning, it was about to take a similar turn for Jeff.

I watched him make a cast to a rocky bank and the next thing I saw was him reeling in line that was headed toward the middle of the lake.  The anxiety and excitement that he was feeling could be seen on his face and heard in his voice.  He eventually got the fish to the side of the boat and I applied the force of a vice grip on the bass.  It was all smiles and pictures next followed by literal sighs of relief from both of us.  Jeff didn't get skunked, I landed a few bass, and what started off looking like a rough morning turned out to be pretty darn good.  The icing on the cake was when Jeff asked, "So do you go fishing every Monday and Tuesday?"  I have a feeling that this won't be the last time you hear about Jeff reeling in fish!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Stickers For Sale at the Online Fly Shop


It dawned on me the other day that I had stickers but they weren’t up for sale at the online store. I only have three right now but I have more on the way. These stickers are water and scratch resistant. They are also 3 inches by 3 inches and are $1.50 each. These are probably better suited for cooler and refrigerators than the back window of a truck or on a boat. The store is also pretty well stocked right now so if you need some flies, feel free to order some and toss a sticker into your order if you would like!