Thursday, February 1, 2018

Testament of Float-n-Fly

I have been experimenting with float and fly techniques for about 10 years. I keep coming back to it because it continues to shock me how successful it can be. But why is it so successful? In this page I will share what I have learned in a decade of experimentation. 

What is Float and Fly
As the name inplies it is a bobber and a fly but that description is quite vague. The way I understand the birth of this technique is crappie anglers in the Tennessee area used this technique in cool water and often complained about smallmouth bass getting in the way of their crappie fishing. Somebody overheard this problem and decided it was time to investigate. The evolved smallmouth technique involves a long (often 8' or longer) spinning rod with light line, a float and a jig with hand tied materials that may include but not limited to craft fur and marabou.

When and where it is used
not just for smallmouth
Most eastern float and fly anglers use this technique in the winter time when smallmouth pretty inactive. Even while their metabolism is slowed way down they do in fact still eat. Aside from finding them, the bigger trick is presenting a realistic pattern in a suspended state and remaining patient enough to let his feeding instinct to take over.

I use it year around. Spring summer and fall is prime time for suspended presentations. Unlike winter, you can speed up the presentation quite a bit. It's not just bobber watching. It's much more like fishing a popper except the meal is out of your site.

Columbia River Smallie
I craft my own flies. Shortly after learning this technique and finding good success, I started to try to craft my own flies. Those early patterns were quite the eye sore however they still brought success and just furthered my interest and perfecting the fly

I use a fly rod. While you can do this with a spin rod I find a fly rod to be more successful. I can cast more accurately, fish lighter, mend line, and the long length gives leverage for the hook set

My favorite floats are...I like the Thill Ice 'n Fly indicator in the 1 1/8" size.

I find most success when....

Also caught on float and fly

Always hooked in top lip

Carp like pink/white

Fall Time Smallie
This Ohio Largemouth refused three different streamers but he didn't hesitate to inhale Float-n-Fly. Don't believe me? Just ask Greg Senyo, he was there and saw it all.
Fall time smallies luv black/purple. Top lip everytime
The Sage first generation Bass Series Largemouth Rod has caught more fish then any other rod I own. This is another Columbia River Smallie  in the hands of John Garrett.
10lb Cat! Float-n-Fly is a multi-species technique. F-n-F has racked up 12 species and the count is growing.
This Smallmouth ate a shad pattern F-n-F on my local Conchas Lake
The St.Croix Mojo Bass Rods are great sticks. Fall time Conchas lake Largemouth
It's unbelievable how catfish give in to this presentation. My local lake has a strong catfish population and Float-n-Fly has caught too many to count. I have also caught them in other watersheds as well.
This Columbia River Smallie ate Float-n-Fly on a late fall, cold day in the Government Cove area fishing from Outcast Stealth Pro. It was one of ten I caught that chilly, windy day.
99% time they are hooked in the top lip and rarely ever get away
Shad Pattern

Mr. Bucketmouth

Copper coneheads can be very productive
This Columbia River Smallie fell for a shad pattern float-n-fly
Crappie on Float-n-Fly
Always hooked in top lip
White Bass on Float-n-Fly

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Haunted by "The One"

Yeah...You know what I'm talking about. The One! Or Many! The fish that makes you lose sleep at night! The fish that haunts you!

I can't remember a year go by that I didn't suffer defeat from a piscatorial kind. I can recall three within this very year and the most recent was just last week. I don't know what's worst, not knowing what the loss really was or trying to figure out how it could have been prevented. Regardless the experience is haunting me.

This years first account came early in the winter swinging flies in an icy cold stream. To add insult to this injury the location of the loss has defeated me in the past as well. It's a high percentage micro seam that when you get your fly to swing just right, hold on! On this day the take was so solid it felt like I snagged into the rocky bottom. Holding steady pressure something started to give and in the next second the explosion of a solid rainbow came leaping into the air and out came my fly. Only a glimpse still burns in my memory.
Over and over, what could I have done different!? I don't want to talk about it.

Another frame etched in memory occurred just a couple months ago on a warm water reservoir. I was enjoying a day of fly rod fishing for bass with great success I might add. Dropping a streamer into the depths of a boulder field I detected a tell tale tick. Upon hook-set, I knew right away I hooked into a good fish but it wasn't until I saw his bronze tiger striped flank that he was well above average. I held tight to him but he dove for the depths and somehow in that rocky underworld he managed to escape.
Like Houdini...How did he do it!? I checked my tippet and fly was still intact. Although I was happy he didn't get free only to deal with a hook in his mouth but at the same time mad knowing my system did not fail. Must of been me! But what could I have done different?

This most recent event was even witnessed. The setting, a pristine trout stream nowhere in Wyoming. Fishing a hopper and having a great day. Casting was good, fish where happy and looking up. A seam with a bubble line appeared up ahead and I stretched a cast to ride a downstream drift. Shortly into the drift the big brown appeared, as my guide put it, like the scene straight out of the movie Jaws. Almost in shock, I still remembered to set the hook but it was not meant to be. We briefly connected but it wasn't this brown's first rodeo. Back-stepping while stripping, I could never keep a tight line on him as he shot downstream and escaped my hook. What could I have done different!?

Is it skill or lack of. Is it luck. Is it fate. Although I never want to see a failed piece of the puzzle it's almost easier to accept knowing that there is something to blame. In all three of my accounts there was not an equipment failure.

Although scared for my next failure I must let passion drive me forward and not fear whatever the outcome is to be. Try and try again and success should be assured. Or will it! This is what haunts me!
The Tormented Angler

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bassin` in the Ozarks

Crooked Creek Smallie
I took a trip to the Ozarks in spring of 2017. Turned some Heads with Float and Fly. Recap article submitted to Dally's called Bassin in the Ozarks. read...

Friday, January 27, 2017

Wading Deep Waters - Crooked Still

I am wading deep waters trying to get home
Lord I am wading deep waters trying to get home
I am wading deep waters
Wading deep waters
Wading deep waters trying to get home

I am climbing high mountains trying to get home
Lord I am climbing high mountains trying to get home
Lord I am climbing high mountains
Climbing high mountains
Climbing high mounts trying to get home

Lord I am walking deep valleys trying to get home
Lord I am walking deep valleys trying to get home
Wading deep valleys
I am walking deep valleys trying to get home

I am wading deep waters trying to get home
Lord I am wading deep waters trying to get home
Lord I am wading deep waters
Wading deep waters
Wading deep waters trying to get home

Trying to get home
Trying to get home
Trying to get home
Trying to get home

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Headhunters Video - Switch it Up

Switch it Up from scumliner media on Vimeo.

Inspiring video from the guys and gals of Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig, Montana on the Missouri River.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Columbia River Smallies - 2016

Few Smallmouth Bass fisheries are as demanding and rewarding as the Columbia River on the Washington and Oregon border. In the fall of 2016 I decided to tow my boat nearly 1400 miles one way just to spend a week on this forsaken fishery. You see the Smallmouth bass here are hated by most. They're are not native here and according to the coldwater anglers they're not welcome here either.

In five days I saw two other boats fishing for the bronze kind. One of which I personally know the angler. I boated over 20 miles of this river and the only other anglers I saw besides those two bass anglers where salmon anglers and Native American salmon netters.

While it is in late season for the smallies on this fishery they are still very active if you can find them. With clear water conditions you won't find them shallow. Early in the week I claimed that you won't find one in 10 feet or less of water and by end of the week I would have upped that claim to at least 15 feet of water. Most of the best fish either came to topwater over deep points or were hooked in 20 plus feet on drop shot gear.
20 inch

The topwater game here this time of year is most unusual. As I said above there are no shallow fish this time of year. The ones that do come to topwater are over deep water and they don't come up for a weak presentation. Your bug better be thrashing and splashing if you want to see one of these giants breech surface.

Mike Was Getting In Tune With Drop Shot
I got a couple to come to the fly this week. It took all my effort to do it. This is not a place you come to expecting to take fish on the fly. It can be done on a limited basis. The wind is usually the great equalizer to the fly. The picture above is actually rather calm for this big river. Not uncommon to find yourself fishing in 3-4 footers. The other key factor for taking fish on the fly is fish location. During clear water they just don't inhabit shallow water. I sometimes think the predator Ospreys are part responsible for this but it might just also be the majority of the food source is found in deeper water.

Lyndsey With Topwater Chunkie
I had a great week of fishing with friends and also got to spend some time by myself. I caught two 20 inchers and many 19's. Admittedly I had to rely greatly on my many years experience fishing and guiding this big river. Without that knowledge I could have easily came up empty.
Part of the mystic of the Columbia is that the more you understand the river the more you realize what you don't know. It's holding many secrets and with so few of anglers seeking the knowledge it's likely to keep most of it's secrets hidden deep within. You learn to appreciate what it gives you cause success is not necessarily given.

What is a given is the wind will blow and the rain will fall.  The Smallies are strong and will test your knowledge. The scenery is amazing and hazards are many. The Columbia River will test your faith and here God will reveal his grace.
The Tormented Angler

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Trout Spey - Why Do It

Why do I fish a two hand rod for trout? In this recent article I wrote for Gorge Fly Shop I explore several reasons why I swing a two hand spey rod for trout. Check it out...Gorge Fly Shop Blog: Trout Spey - Why Do It:

Friday, September 23, 2016

One Lure Changed Everything

I bet you have a special lure or fly in your box that trumps them all. One that you would swim for if it became snagged on bottom. I've had many special lures and flies over years but if you asked me which one is the most special only one comes to mind.

Why so special?
My special lure is a Bill Lewis Rattletrap. I bought it new over 25 years ago. The particular color has not been available since I don't know when. This lure not only has caught in the 3 digit numbers of fish but also has numerous species to its name.

Bass including large, small and spotted species. Stripe bass, white bass and their cross bothers. Catfish, crappie and even bluegill respond. Walleye, sauger and saugeye. Carp and freshwater drum have even chased it down. Pike, gar and coho salmon have all fallen victim to its allure.

Coho Salmon Fell Victim
After months of searching I finally found one exactly like it on ebay. Once in hand and several attempts fishing has proven that this impostor just does not have the mojo of the One that I now keep in a secret secure place.

I can't explain what makes this lure so effective. I've always liked Rattletraps and I a fan of other brands of lipless crankbaits. They cast far, vibrate crazy and work fast. Fish that are willing to go after them do so with pure aggression.

This obsession has sparked a whole collection of them. Seriously like 4 Plano boxes full. Old and new. More than I will ever have time to fish with.

If I only had one lure to fish it would be a rattletrap.
The Tormented Angler

Monday, September 19, 2016

Toothy Critters - Esox Lucius

A recent adventure took me to a lake that reacquainted me with an old toothy friend Esox lucius or Northern Pike.

My first encounter with toothy critters was with a Gar on an Ohio River tributary called The Great Miami. Near impossible to catch but one of the most intimidating fish I have ever handled. The only creatures I feared more in that water were the snapping turtles.
My next encounter although certainly toothy it was the giant eyes of the walleye that memorized me.
The next fish with teeth that came to hand was the prehistoric looking Northern Pike.
My first pike came to hand from a canoe on a little watershed in southern Ontario. I was not even sure how to handle the scalely creature so I grabbed on behind the head like I've seen others do from pictures and carefully removed the hook with pliers and immediately literally threw it back in the water as to get it out of my hands as quickly as possible. Since that first encounter I have handled dozens of these toothy critters and today they are not quite so scary. Just don't stick your fingers in their mouth. The long body predators handle well cradled in your hands and often need some rest time in the water to fully revive after a fierce battle. Be sure to take your time and be patient in releasing them. 

My latest experience with Esox came while fly casting a big deer hair frog for bass. I've read Navajo lake had pike but was not expecting this sudden encounter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Gorge Guide Service

Came across one of my old guide business cards the other day. Info is still current. I found this image on the website that let's you build you own business cards. Hard to see but look in the right lower corner for the crayfish this smallie is getting ready to attack.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Video - Streamer Chronicles Trailer

"I think when most people think of fly fisherman they think of pretty laid back people. But than you have another group of us that are a little.......Different!"

This video comes from Dally's Ozark Fly Fisher. It's part of a series coming this fall 2016...I can't wait!

Mike Schmidt really lays down the definition of streamer angler in this video. Note how he recognizes his passion for streamers in part comes from fishing rapalas as a kid.

Kelly Galloup talks real about streamer fishing and really defines what the drive is. He makes it clear it's not for everyone and not everyone who tries it will succeed.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fishing Is Sharing

The greatest reward in fishing is sharing. At least that is what I realize every time I see the results having shared my passion for fishing.
Not the Sharing of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram although yeah this will probably end up there anyway but I’m talking about real sharing, not the kind where you push that funny looking symbol on your phone. While that method can reach a lot of people it seems to be missing something. I never feel the reward of my efforts when other people like my shared post.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What is Suspend Fishing

I will attempt when writing this article to cut out all fluff and get right to the point of "What is Suspend Fishing". This article is only meant to define the term and be a precursor to a future article of Float and Fly - Closely Guarded Secrets.

  1. 1.hang (something) from somewhere.
    "the light was suspended from the ceiling"
    synonyms:hang, sling, string; swing, dangle

Back in time on one occasion while driving home from the lake with my mind deep in thought about my fishing experience, a light bulb idea illuminated. I quickly grabbed my phone and sent myself an email with only a subject line of "What is Suspend Fishing". As I will soon give examples of this term you will quickly recognize one or many applications and in this I hope to expose the reality that this area of techniques is largely unexplored as well as unexplained. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

BoogleBug Bassin

Update 6/30/2016...Cloudy and humid conditions on Conchas lake kept the topwater bite going all day. This BoogleBug survived the entire day of being ravished by smallies, bluegills and largemouth! At end of day it's still going strong. No popper beats a BoogleBug!

Oh Darn! Forced to become a warm water my sarcastic voice. My box of BoogleBugs are ready for action. The Electric Damsel Blue are for the blue gills and the Solar Flare Yellow are for the bass. Not all poppers are created equal. BoogleBugs pop better, cast better, tougher than others and look incredible. Can't wait
The Tormented Angler

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Float & Fly - Method to the Madness

This big guy first got interested in a Schultz'y streamer known as Swinging D. But before he committed a little 12" rat came out of nowhere and slammed the big streamer and sent this big bass to his retreat. A little later my fishing buddy Greg Senyo also got him to pay attention to one of his streamers and he just wouldn't commit. I had my Sage Method rigged with a Float & Fly setup. I pulled off some line and presented to him and like slow motion we watched him come right up to it and inhaled my fly. While Greg was yelling "he took it, he took it" I gave a pause and planted the hook. There is nothing like watching it all go down and even bigger reward for me with a first hand witness to another Float and Fly success.
What is it about this technique that will get a fish like this to eat when he just is not in the mood to react to other offerings!? I'm about to publish an articles called 'What is Suspend Fishing." In this article I present my own definition of suspend fishing and give examples of the technique accross many different forms of fishing.
Tormented Angler

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Froggin on the Tittabawassee

Grandpa was the first to show me how to take bass on frogs way back when I was about 10 years old. We would take the boat out on the old farm pond just as the sun was getting ready to set. He'd say cast it up there as close to shore as you can and let it sit a minute than give it a twitch. The first time I watched as the the still water turned in a swirl and just about the same time I was wondering what is happening the big bass broke surface and smashed that frog. Somehow in the midst of total shock and awe I managed to get a hook on him and we landed that big bass. The experiences Grandpa gave me 40 years ago are still alive and drive my tireless passion yet today. I hope one day long after I'm gone someone will remember me the way I remember Grandpa.

The frog bite comes in many different forms. Sometimes the bass will come up behind it slowly and pause, sometimes it will stay well below as nothing more than a shadow. Many times they will swirl the water and wake the frog. Other times they just absolutely charge and smash it without a hint of hesitation. The smallies on this day were being quite elusive. After working several different flies I finally settled on Schultzy's deer hair diving frog. This frog dives when given a slow long strip. The bass in the photo inhaled it while the frog was in the dive under the surface.
Big Thanks goes out to guide Dave Cross of Little Forks Outfitters and Scientific Anglers Erick Johnson for setting me up on this incredible evening float.
The equipment: Sage Method 890-4, Lamson Litespeed #3, Scientific Anglers Wavelength Titan WF8F. This setup worked the big hair frog with authority. Casts easy and hook sets are solid!
The Tormented Angler