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Fly Fishing Equipment Basics

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The following is an excerpt from a book on stream fly fishing for trout currently being written by Michael Gorman. 
Fly Fishing Equipment Basics
by Michael Gorman

McKenzie native rainbow / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly fishing GuideThe Hamm’s Beer Commercial
    “From The Land of Sky Blue Wa-a-a-ters comes the beer refreshing . . . Hamms, the beer refreshing.  Hamms!”  This commercial refrain was sung on television when I was a kid.   The tune was cleverly catchy, but what drew my intense attention was the scene of a fly angler standing in the middle of a beautiful mountain stream casting a fly rod as the beer is advertised.   When the line is extended on the final forward stroke the fly lands immediately in front of the camera lens held at water level.  The artificial drifts a short distance when suddenly a trout charges through the surface to grab the fly.  To a young fish killer this was an exciting moment.  My very favorite commercial.  I always watched it with high anticipation.  The trout always got the fly.   Someday I would be that fly fisherman.

    My moment to graduate to a higher level of fishing consciousness soon arrived.  In the summer of my fourteenth year I pedaled my Schwinn American --- ruby red, and very fast --- to my local sporting goods store.  Summer work had allowed me to set aside enough cash to buy a fly fishing outfit and some flies. 

    As for research, I had done none.  A couple of my uncles had talked about having done some fly fishing in their younger years, but neither had ever demonstrated their skills.  Besides, each had lost his religion to consort with a spinning rod. 

    My local library was of little help.  It had but one fly fishing text which centered on  fly fishing for steelhead.  The book went home with me for a brief stay.  I was a trout fisherman.  There was little which was helpful I could glean from the text to guide me in the selection of fly fishing gear to suit my needs.  So, the book was soon returned to the Stayton Public Library.  There was no chance I would be billed at the rate of ten cents a day for an overdue text. 

    As I strolled the main aisle of my local sporting establishment to buy my first fly rod I, naturally, examined the price tags.  Assuming all fly rods are essentially created equal, I chose the least expensive of the lot.  Fly reel --- same thought process and selection.  I got a real deal on the fly line: 98 cents.  I already had thousands of yards of monofilament at home, so there was no need to buy a leader since I had no suspicion that a leader should be tapered.  Ah, now to the flies.

     I made a studied perusal of the fly bins, and then politely asked for suggestions.  My hope was that the patterns that held some visual appeal for me would be confirmed by the store owner.  Nope, didn’t happen.  He suggested an assortment of drab looking fur and feather concoctions.  Even tried to sell me a fly he had tied using some of his young son’s hair in the wing.  Maybe not coincidentally, the boy had been named after a fish: Marlin.  So, after thanking him for his suggestions I proRoyal Coachman Parachute /  McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly fishing Guideceeded to select a handful of artificials that suited my taste.  The sole criterion was that the fly be pretty.  I was particularly fond of flies that had red floss somewhere on the body.  Among my other feathered dandies, the Royal Coachman was the runaway winner in the “pretty” category.

    After paying for my collection of items, I inquired about the basics of fly casting and fly fishing technique.  The shop owner queried “Do you know how to fish a salmon egg on a spinning rod?”  Little did he know of my angling prowess.  I humbly replied, “Yes.”  To my relieved amazement he finished with “Well, you a fish a fly the same way you would a salmon egg.”   Fly fishing was going to be fun . . . and easy.

Is it “bird nest, or “bird’s nest”?
After a hasty assemblage of my new fly fishing outfit at home, it was time to practice casting in the backyard. Back & forth, back & forth, let it rip.  Forth & back, forth & back & forth, let it rip harder.  Next time: FASTER, HARDER.  My initial fly casting attempts were as successful as training a cat.  The more enthusiastic my efforts, the more disastrous the results.  Line, leader and fly would fall together in a tangled nest a few feet beyond my rod tip.   Sometimes it was just line and leader.  A whip-cracking sound was often accompanied by the disappearance of the fly once tied on the end.  I whirling lawnmower blade would eventually find it, but I would not.

    Then an interesting thing happened.  As my casting arm grew weary and weaker the better my casts became.  They graduated from grossly pathetic to merely bad.  Then, from bad to poor.  I was making progress.  Lighten up on the power, shorten the arc of the waving rod tip, and the line would sometimes land fairly straight without tangling.  Hope emerged.

    The next ten years found me vacillating somewhere between exhilaration and throwing the fly rod javelin into the trees.  Often I parked the fly rod in the closet and took my dependable Old Friend, the spinning rod, on my angling adventures.  Sometimes the fly gear did not see the light of day for months, even during the prime of the fishing season.  It was a fickle affair.  My casting ability leveled off at mediocre, and my fish-catching results were inconsistent.  I blamed these on my lack of fly fishing athleticism and my inability to find the one, true Magic Fly.  Not once did I suspect that I might have mismatched my rod, reel and line combination, or purchased inferior equipment unable to perform well under ANY circumstances.

    It wasn’t until graduate school at OSU that I met another fly angler.  His experience far exceeded mine, and he talked a good game.  We agreed to fish the Middle Deschutes in late spring, in pursuit of brown trout and rainbows.

    Fishing was slow but we each brought a couple of brown trout to net.  During a mid day break my new friend asked if I wanted to cast his rod.  I readily accepted.  In spite of my ability his rod cast the line effortlessly, extending it smoothly both fore and aft.  When I presented the fly on the final forward cast it settled gently on the water at a surprising distance from us.   Subsequent casts produced the same results.  I COULD cast a fly.  My companion explained to me in simple terms that a fly rod and fly line are meant to be a “matched pair”, and that a fly line should be tapered in order to extend its length upon being properly cast.  This was all new to me, and made good sense.  I reflect on this as a pivotal day in my fly fishing life.  When the student is ready, the teacher will EVENTUALLY appear.  This student had been waiting for more than ten years!

    Purchasing a new fly rod and line to match moved to the top of my outdoor priority list.  And, in short order, I followed through.  I had a custom-built 8 ½’ Fenwick fiberglass made for me.  Upon my request I was allowed to watch the craftsman at work.  I learned the basics, and would eventually make some of my own rods.

    My old Pflueger reel did an adequate job of holding my new Cortland tapered floating fly line.  With a tapered leader rounding out my new outfit I was ready to begin fishing life anew. 

    An evolutionary chain reaction was begun.  New balance, functional equipment allowed my casting skills to blossom.  My confidence soared, which, then, fed my persistence.  Persistence led me to increased fish-catching success.  Success led to more success.  Critical mass had been reached. 

    I said goodbye to my long-time girlfriend – Old Blue, the spinning rod --- and took up with a new love.  If you have ever experienced the new frontiers of love and white-hot passion you can relate to my emotional state.  If you can’t relate, oh well.  This passion would lead me eventually to make fly fishing the center of my life’s work.  It would not be a straight line path.  You will see as the pages which follow are turned.

     Adequate equipment can make or break the angler in the early stages of the pursuit.  There are fly fishing tools, and there are fly fishing toys.  Toys are the $39.99 “just add water” outfits that make enjoyable and productive fly fishing very unlikely.  Major league hitters don’t use a Little League bat.  Tiger Woods doesn’t buy his golf clubs at the pawn shop.  And, you won’t find many Yugo’s driven in a NASCAR race.  Use tools, not toys.

basic equipment set-up / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing  Guide

Equipment Basics

    The basic fly fishing equipment system is composed of a fly rod and a reel holding the fly line.  Behind the fly line, secured to both reel arbor and tied to the rear of the line, is 50 – 100 yards of braided Dacron backing. A leader, commonly 9’, is attached to the front end of the fly line.  At the unattached fine end of the leader a fly is tied.  Add water and fish.

Rod Selection --- Know Thyself
As explained in the Introduction, as a teenager beginning my fly fishing career I had no clue there were any major differences among fly rods other than that some were longer or shorter, thinner or fatter, different colors, different prices.  It did not occur to me that there might be specific fly rods for specific gamefish.  No clue that the same fly rod for pursuing bluegill might not be the same rod for fighting blue marlin. fly rods /  McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly fishing Guide

     Commit to be a specialist as you start.  Focus on what fish you will initially try to catch on a fly.  Crappie, bluegill, perch, small bass, small trout?  Trout of all sizes?  Steelhead?  All sizes of bass?  Salmon?  Saltwater gamefish?

     Time for the first of a couple analogies.  Though I am a hunter --- a hunter of fish --- I am not hunter who uses a gun or rifle.  However, I have a rudimentary understanding of different weapons for different quarry.  Upland game bird hunters use a shotgun which sprays a high-speed rain of small buckshot for quail, chukars, and pheasants.  Deer and elk hunters use a high-powered rifle that shoots a single bullet accurately at great distance to bring down a large animal.  Large, at least, compared to the aforementioned birds.  A hunter is called in on a humanitarian mission to dispatch a rogue elephant, weighing several tons, that is trampling African villagers.  He will use a rifle that fires a monstrous caliber slug. 

      Now, the elephant rifle could be used to hunt a hapless quail, but little would remain for dining purposes.  Conversely, a standard shotgun blast using a conventional shotgun shell will do little, if anything, from a hundred yards to a deer or elk.  Even at close range, a shotgun assault on an elephant will probably guarantee that the shooter becomes a flattened statistic.

    Until the rules are changed whereby golfers must run after their golf ball, then do ten pushups before the next shot, the game holds little fascination for me.  But I do understand this game where physical conditioning is totally optional, where weaklings and the flabby can ride in carts to pursue their slices and hooks all day with little corporeal challenge.  Here comes the analogy I promised. 

    A golfer carries a bag of clubs.  There are wood drivers, an assortment of irons, a wedge or two, and a putter.  Imagine using a single club to play an entire 490-yard, par 5 hole.  Let’s select a putter.  Instead of driving the ball 250 yards off the tee, you manage 50.  Now, envision a few problems with the putter in the rough, in the sand traps, and attempting to loft a long shot over the water hazard.  Get the idea?

    Over many years of running a fly fishing shop I encountered would-be fly fishermen (a gender-general term hereafter) who wanted me to help them select an all-purpose rod designed to catch anything that swims.  A tool for enjoying small fry from the farm pond, to bruiser chinook salmon that might top 40 pounds.  No such rifle.  No such golf club.  No such fly rod.

    Fly rods can be found in lengths generally ranging from 6’ to 15’.  Look hard enough you can find probably find ones even shorter and even longer.  There is no direct correlation between a rod’s length and the species that it can handle.  A 15’ two-handed spey fly rod is not intended for pursuit of a 500 pound billfish.  It is best suited for salmon and steelhead that may range, typically, from 6 to 25 pounds.  The length of a general-use saltwater big game rod is around 9’.  You might also select a different 9’ rod that is perfectly suited for small trout and panfish.  Here’s how to envision the difference.  Think of a willow branch and a billiards cue stick of the same length with line guides on them.

    The best clue you have about the targeted intent of a quality fly rod built in the 1970’s up to the present is written on it.  If you examine the portion of the rod just above the cork grip (“handle”), an inscription there will indicate either blatantly, or in an easily deciphered code, the intended fly line “weight” to be used on the rod.   This will be the fly line that causes the rod to bend properly as it extends the fly line fully and gently upon the water.

     Fly line “weights” range from 0 to 14.   What follows is a chart and the “most appropriate” gamefish typically sought:

0 - 3-weight line/rod                panfish, small trout

            4 - 6-weight line/rod                 trout, summer steelhead

            7 - 9-weight line/rod                 bass, steelhead, salmon, bonefish, smaller saltwater species

            10-weight line/rod                     heavy salmon, saltwater

            11 - 14-weight line/rod tarpon, large saltwater fish often exceeding 100 lb.

    If you anticipate a question you may be asked during the world championship Trivial Pursuit competition about the actual physical weight of a give fly line “weight”, or you just want to know in order to dazzle your friends at a party, here goes.

    As fly fishing equipment evolves, standards may be slightly adjusted.  So, know that the numbers cited here may change (or have changed) as a result, and are, therefore, generalizations.  Only the tapered portion --- typically 30’ – 40’ --- of a fly line is weighed to determine the designated weight of a fly line.  The actual weight measurement is calculated in grains.  437 ½ grains = 1 ounce.  A partial table follows.

            Line weight number       Weight range (grains)                Rounded Average (grains)

1                                                                    54 - 66                                     60

2                                                                    74 - 86                                     80

3                                                                    94 - 106                                   100

4                                                                    114 - 126                                 120

5                                                                    134 - 136                                 140

6                                                                    152 - 168                                 160

7                                  177 – 193                                185

8                                  202 – 218                                210     


Rather boring stuff, but now you know.  Let’s move on.

    Most fly anglers fish streams, and usually for trout.  Unless you are going to be a BIG trout specialist, in pursuit of the occasional summer steelhead, a 9’ 5-weight rod is considered the best all-purpose combination by most of several thousand fly anglers I’ve dealt with selling fly rods for 20 years.  If you intend to be a small stream / small fish specialist, an 8’ to 9’ 4-weight rod is pleasant.  Even a small fish will put a lively bend in a 4-weight.  A 9’ 6-weight is an excellent choice if summer steelhead are part of your fishing mix, even though trout are your main focus.

    Why a 5-weight?  A 4-weight rod does not perform as well in the wind, nor does it handle weighted flies or long casts as well as a 5-weight.  A small trout, which we all catch in most streams, has to pull very hard against a 6-weight to impress you with his fight.  Fishing a light leader with a small fly on a heavier rod, the angler is more likely to break off a fish on the strike or during the fight.  A hook-set with a more powerful rod generally translates into a more powerful impact on leader and fly.  Too, a larger diameter fly line may dictate a bit larger, heavier reel for your six-weight system.  It won’t be as feathery light as a 4- or 5-weight.

    Some anglers are enamored with the thought of landing a large fish on an extremely light (“ultralight” is the word commonly used, especially by my spinning rod brethren) rod/reel/line combination.  Can it be done?  Yes.  Can it be great fun?  Yes.  Can it do harm to the fish, even kill it under the right conditions?  Yes.

    Time for a little science.  As water warms it is less able to hold dissolved oxygen.  Fish, like us, need oxygen.  It is extracted from the water and introduced into the fish’s bloodstream as the water passes through the gills.  If the water is dangerously warm --- let’s say 68 – 75 Fahrenheit degrees for a stream trout --- a fish played for a long time after initially being hooked can get so exhausted it will be unable to recover, unable to extract enough dissolved oxygen from the water quickly enough to survive.  Imagine someone threatening to shoot your dog unless you consent to run a marathon at an elevation equivalent to that of Mt. Everest.  You’re gonna die!  So, a rod matched to the size of the fish being sought, makes good sense.  If the water is warm in late summer and fall, play your fish quickly --- within reason --- to minimize its exhaustion.    An ultralight rod, because you usually cannot exert as much forceful tension on the fish, may overtax and kill it.  

    Not all fly rods are created equal.  Some definitely have better pedigrees, and for that reason perform better, look nicer and cost more.  You will find graphite fly rods ranging in price from $29.95 to more than $700.   What’s right for you?

    First of all I want you to dispel a very common, and virulent, line of logic from your thinking.  So often I’ve heard novices say something like, “I’ll get a cheap rod to get started with / learn with, and then move up to good equipment.”  This is totally backwards.  Someone with minimal skills and experience needs a better tool, not a poor one, a toy.  Assuming it is matched with an appropriate fly line, a good rod will encourage and accelerate your learning.  Casting will be fun and easy once you have a little casting instruction.  Your line and leader won’t always land in a heap.  Learn from my mistakes!

    Realistically establish your rod budget.  My suggested minimum --- take it for what it’s worth --- is $100.  Is it better to buy an inferior rod and struggle as I did to make it work?  You may not be able to overcome the discouragement, soon giving up on the sport.  Or, it may mean you will have wasted your initial investment and have to buy the good rod you should have bought in the first place.  Wait, if necessary, until you save up the needed cash.  You only have to buy the right rod once.  
signature rod / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide
    Get a reputable brand name rod, and the best you can afford.  If you can’t cast it first, don’t buy it.  Ask about a guarantee.  Some rods have them, and some do not.  You will pay more for a rod with a no-fault breakage warranty, but it can be well worth it.  Some careless or unlucky anglers break a rod every year.  They need a guarantee.  90 days or one year is not enough.  Get a minimum 25-year guarantee.  Lifetime is better.

    Choices, choices, and more choices.  When I first took up downhill skiing I did not have a very good idea about what skis I should by.  Every salesperson had their suggestions, and there was no recurring theme.  So the first few times I went skiing I rented skis . . . and watched.  I watched the better skiers.  In particular I looked at the brand names on their skis.  A small handful of names predominated.  My choices were narrowed and I purchased some good skis that have served me well.

            You can do the same basic detective work with fly rods, or any other piece of fly fishing equipment for that matter.  Whether in a fishing store or along a stream, ask veteran skilled anglers what they use.  The more sources you consult the greater the odds you will see several brand names rise to the top.  Know that any given rod manufacturing company has a variety of rod models at a variety of price points.  Going into the car dealership and you would not say, “I want a black Ford with air conditioning.”  You specify Thunderbird convertible.  The same is true for ACME fly rods.  Specify the Graphite III Trout Turbo series.

            Novices are shy about casting in public.  They also reason that they could not distinguish one rod from another.  I disagree.  Insisting the angler should cast a variety of rods --- same length, same line weight --- side by side, I have found to always be enlightening for the caster.  Besides giving them a mini casting lesson --- which they always appreciated --- the rookie could get a “feel” for any given rod, even if the casting technique was poor.  The particular unique timing of the rod bend, the lightness or heaviness of the rod, the shape and comfort of the cork grip, even an appreciation or dislike of the rods aesthetics all served to give input to the wannabe fly angler.  If one particular rod above all others evoked a smile from the caster, the case was closed.  That’s why I insist everyone, in spite of skill level, should cast a variety of rods before the final decision. This is accepted protocol at better fly shops and sporting goods stores.

            Math time.  A simple test that should be passed by all quality fly rods: the number of guides, not counting the tip top, should equal a number one more than the whole number of feet in the rod’s length.  For example, a 9’ rod should have a minimum of 10 guides.  An 8’ or 8 ½’ (drop the fraction) rod should have a minimum of 9 guides.  Inferior brands usually violate this simple rule of thumb.  It costs them more in time and money to get it right.  Count the guides!

            EVERY fly fishing rookie I have ever encountered hails the myth that all bamboo rods are special and valuable.  Hundreds of times I’ve heard from the smilingly proud purchaser: “ I found this at a garage sale.  I only paid $4 for it!  What do you think it’s worth?”  After I examine the vintage stick that most likely has a crooked tip, guides that are rough with corrosion, and too small for modern fly lines, I do my best to avoid a direct response to the “How much is it worth?” question.  Instead I talk a little about art, specifically great painters Rembrandt, Monet’, Picasso, et al.  Anyone with a brush can paint on canvas or paper.  The signature of an acknowledged talent on a painting can add great value to a technically fine piece of art.  In the same way, a fine bamboo rod will bear the signature of a great rod building craftsman.  If it does not then the tool most likely does not have great monetary value, and is probably not a great fishing tool.  I phrase all this in such a way as not to hurt the feelings of the rod owner.  Then, I test their resolve.  In an upbeat manner, I tell them what must be done to renovate the rod to fashion it into a quasi-functional fishing tool.  When I suggest to the owner that he will have to strip and refinish the blank, then replace and, possibly, relocate the guides, they start to understand that the rods 50 and 60 years past are rarely the best choices to fish in light of modern tools.  Most eventually acquire a graphite rod, and will fish more effectively for doing so.

Fly Lines --- Land of Confusionfly lines /  McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide
    My first fly line cost 98 cents: a forest green piece of string that always landed in a heap when I cast it, unless I had a strong tailwind.  It took me years to discover that most fly lines are tapered.  How are you with some of the basic principles of physics?  When a tapered line is properly cast, the transfer of momentum (p = mv) is passed smoothly along the length of the fly line causing it to unfurl on the final forward cast.   The line lays out fully extended on the water.  As you might now suspect, mine was of the taperless variety.  (mv + taperless fly line = a coiled mess = lousy presentation of the fly + frustration)

            To keep it simple, there are essentially two fly line tapers: double taper and weight forward.  Most of my beginning students have heard of the double tapered fly line.  Those who have purchased a line with little or no knowledgeable counsel have purchased a double tapered fly line.  This, most likely, is not the best choice for a fly angler’s first line, though it is a quantum leap better than my initial purchase with no taper.

            A double taper fly line is, typically, 82 to 90 feet long.  As the name would imply, the line gradually decreases in diameter over a length of about 30 feet at each end.  The midsection, or belly, is about 25 to 30 feet long.

            Assuming the line is cast with some modicum of skill, here are the advantages of a double taper:

1.       The line and fly are presented very softly, delicately upon the water.  Minimum disturbance to the trout caused by line splash.  If a dry fly is being used, a delicate presentation decreases the possibility of a hard landing that might sink the fly upon impact.

2.       The double taper is an excellent choice for roll casting.  A roll cast is used when the angler has a high bank, high grass, bushes, or trees to his or her immediate rear.  With a standard back cast, the caster risks breaking off the fly.  A roll cast alleviates the problem as the fly line passes barely to the rear of the angler during the presentation.  More on casting in a later chapter.

3.       Economy.  Because the double tapered line is tapered at both ends, when the fishing end of the line has cracked and no longer floats (assuming it is a floating line), merely pull the line off the reel and turn the line around, re-attaching it to the backing, to fish the un-used tapered end.


Now, let’s contrast this with the weight forward taper design.

 line specs /  McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide



Advantages of the weight forward taper:

1.      Distance casting.  Though most fishing in streams and rivers is done at close range --- 25 – 40 feet --- there are times that a longer cast must be made to reach the fish.  To increase the casting distance, the caster strips loose coils of line from the reel which fall to the water or ground at the fisherman’s feet.  During the forward casting motion, the angler allows this coil, or coils, of fly line to “shoot” through the rod guides in order to extend the cast.  As the slack line “shoots” (travels with velocity) through the rod guides there is naturally friction between the line and guides.  The less the friction the farther the line carries to extend the cast.  Because the running line portion of the weight forward line has a relatively small diameter compared to the mid-section, or “belly”, of a double tapered line, there is less friction.  This results in a longer cast with less effort.

2.      Casting into a breeze is a common occurrence in fly fishing.  The weight forward design is better able to pierce the wind and present the fly than the double tapered line.

3.      Sooner or later the well-rounded stream angler is going to cast heavily weighted nymphs or wet flies, and bushy air-resistant dry flies.  Moving the momentum of the cast along the full length of extended line and leader so that the whole system rolls out in a fairly straight line presentation is best accomplished with the weight forward design.

4.      Most beginners naturally start their casting practice and fishing at short distance, inside 30’.  A weight forward line “loads” (bends) the rod tipper quicker at short distance than a double taper.  It is the bend of the rod that propels the fly line.  Most anglers will agree that very short line casts are more easily accomplished with the weight forward taper.

5.      The weight forward taper, though not quite as good as the double taper in these regards, does a quite passable job of roll casting a fly, and can present a fly with reasonable delicacy when required to do so.


    For fly anglers seek maximum opportunities --- short casts / long casts, big fly / little fly, casting in the wind, reasonable capability of roll casting and delicate presentation when necessary ---- the weight forward line is the better choice.  The double taper, though economical from the standpoint of being able to reverse the line after wearing out one end, is more of a specialty line.  This is particularly true and important for the beginning or occasional angler.

            There are fly lines that float.  There are fly lines that sink. There are fly lines that have a portion that floats and a portion that sinks. 

            The sinking fly line has a specific sink rate, ranging generally from 1 to 10 inches per second, or “ips”.

            Fly lines also come in a variety of colors.  Floating lines are the most exciting.  You can choose from muted olive and tan to yellow, orange, vibrant green and fluorescent red.  I love and use colorful floating fly lines. This always leads to the question “Can fish see color?”  The answer: “They most certainly can.”  Do they see red as we see red, or blue as we see blue?  I don’t know, but they can distinguish one color from another.  Just ask any experienced fly fisher who has presented a fly to selective trout.  The correct color can be the difference between success and failure.

            “Do brightly colored fly lines scare the fish?” I am often asked.  I believe it is the splash and shadow of a hi-vis fly line that disturbs the fish, rarely the color.  I would certainly get rousing disagreement from some anglers on this point, especially from my friends in New Zealand who are positively phobic about colorful fly lines.  The Kiwis insist that their trout are so wary that only a subtle olive, tan or brown fly line should be used to fool them.  Unfortunately, having fished more than a dozen rivers there --- most multiple times --- on both the north and south islands I have enjoyed great success in New Zealand with my gaudy fly lines, to the gasping consternation of the Kiwi angling guides I have employed.  The stealthy approach, the angle and delicacy of the cast, and the appropriate leader are of major importance.  Fly line color is of little or no importance to me with, perhaps, one very occasional exception.  The trout are holding in flat, shallow clear water.   Circumstances dictate I must approach the trout from the upstream position (fish hold facing upstream into the current). A dull colored fly line makes sense if I am standing in bright sun and my backdrop, as viewed by the fish, is in deep shadow.  Besides me and my waving casting arm being very visible, my fly line would be, too.  That’s why you see eye-catching photos of fly casting with the caster in the bright sun against a darkly shadowed background.  Maximum visibility.

            For me being able to easily see my fly line, even in dim light conditions, allows me to track my fly or its proximity.  Knowing the location of my fly allows for an accurate presentation. While fishing, good visibility gives me the chance to react quickly to set the hook, even when the take is very subtle.  Sometimes the only indication a fish has intercepted my fly is a very subtle hesitation or straightening at the tip of the fly line.  Lively colored lines make it easier for me to see such strikes so I catch more fish.  Any minor disadvantage here, in my mind, is greatly outweighed by the plethora of plusses.

            If you are going to have only one line for fishing streams make it a weight forward floating line.  Whether my clients or I are fishing dry flies, wet flies in the mid-water column, or nymphs along the stream bottom a floating line tops all other choices.  Choose a color that appeals to you in light of what I have written above.  fly reel / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing  Guide

Reels --- The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre

            Having taught fly fishing classes for more than twenty years I hear some misconceptions over and over from students.  Some ideas I hear so often that they attain status as Common Fly Fishing Myths.  One of the Top 40 Common Fly Fishing Myths of All Time is that a fly reel serves little more function than to store the fly line.  It’s held in low regard as a passive piece of equipment being little-involved in the catching of fish.  Wrong!

            If one of your fly fishing goals is to never catch a stream trout over 12” then perhaps you don’t need a good fly reel.  However, I am going to make the bold assumption that few anglers --- including you --- don’t list this as one of your objectives.  It is rare to discover fishermen who have a disdain for larger fish, so on the certainty that you will eventually encounter one on the end of your line get a good fly reel to best insure you will land such a fish.

            I do not recall ever witnessing someone, myself included, losing a fish because the fly rod failed to perform as it should during the fight.  Beyond “pilot error” the leading cause of lost fish in my experience is due to the malfunction or inadequacies of the fly reel.  A large trout (14” or more) swimming hard downstream with the current at its back can pull fly line from a reel at a startling rate.  If you should hook a trophy trout, steelhead, or salmon the speed at which the line disappears from the reel is now classified as “frightening”.  If the line is not released smoothly, and with adequate resistance (drag), the odds favor the fish escaping. 

            If not a scofflaw, you have auto insurance.  You probably have homeowner’s insurance, medical insurance, and life insurance.  Unless you are a scam artist you rarely use your insurance, perhaps going years without filing a claim.  If you crash your car when you have a heart attack as you watched your home burn down you are glad that you have insurance.  The same analogy applies to a good fly reel.  You may not need to call on its full capabilities often, but its reliability is there when you need it.  The reel is part of your fly fishing insurance team.

            Here are a few fly reel suggestions. 

            Get a quality brand name reel.  Be careful here because well-known spinning reel and level wind reel companies may build lousy fly reels.  I suggest companies that specialize in fly fishing gear.  A fly shop would usually be a better scouting location then a general sporting good store.  Think of physicians who deal with specific ailments.  A family practitioner should not be your choice for heart surgery.   Deal with a specialist.  That way you will only have to buy your fly reel once.

            A smooth drag is extremely important.  There are a variety of designs.  The spring-and-pawl and disc drag models are the two most common.

            During the proper function of a spring-and-pawl reel, a triangular “tooth” (pawl) works against a gear on the inside of the reel spool.  The pawl’s backside lays against a linear spring.  Most reels of this type have an adjustable drag knob so that tension on the spring may be increased or decreased, increasing or decreasing the amount of drag.  The spring-and-pawl drag has a relatively small tension range.  With inferior reels the range soon becomes even smaller as the spring weakens.  Too often springs break and pawls wear out.  Replacement parts are a hassle.  Some reel makers include an extra spring and pawl when you purchase their reel.  I don’t know if this is thoughtful service or an admission of the reel’s fate.  I lean to the latter.  As evidence I no longer own any spring-and-pawl drag reels.

            However, my personal choices aside, there are some adequate spring-and-pawl drags.  For financial or other reasons you may be fishing with a reel of this type.  If you run the risk of hooking a large fish in moving water perform this simple test.  Set the drag to maximum tension.  Assuming the reel is loaded with fly line, grab the loose end of the line and give a hard, quick yank to simulate a fish running away at high speed.  If you end up with a tangled bird's nest as the spinning spool “overruns” the line then you have seen the future.  The tangled line will jam, and your fish will instantly break off.  Another possibility is that the pawl will disengage from the center gear.  Yikes!  However, if your reel passes this test it bodes well for encounters with big fish.

            The majority of fly reels have an exposed spool rim.   As the spool turns you can assist the reel’s drag by lightly touching the outer portion of the spool with your finger or palm.  Those anglers with an inadequate drag are motivated to learn this quickly.

            A disc-drag reel makes good sense and a good investment for most fly anglers I encounter.  In the simplest terms, a disc drag is a system where two precisely machined surfaces lay flat against each other.  As line is pulled from the reel spool one circular surface --- the disc --- turns against the smooth resistance of the stationary surface which faces it.  A drag knob allows the angler to increase or decrease the degree of friction between the two surfaces.  Tension can be increased to the breaking point on most models, or decreased to a bare minimum.  The right setting, of course, is found somewhere in between.  Taking into consideration the fish, the flies, the breaking strength of the leader, and the skill of the fisherman, the broad setting range of the disc drag reel is a highly desirable feature.  As competition in the market place grows there is a corresponding increase in the number of quality, budget-priced disc drag reels available.

            On any good reel it is nice to be able to switch the direction of the drag.  This allows you to retrieve line onto the reel with the hand of your choice.

            Here’s another Top 40 Common Fly Fishing Myth: better fly anglers retrieve line by turning the reel spool with their casting hand.  A right-handed caster, for example, turns the reel handle with his or her right hand.  Once a fish is hooked the angler switches the rod to the non-casting hand to fight the fish.  You don’t have to do this, even though Grandpa did!

            Let’s talk about the origin of this myth by going to Europe.  I choose to lay most of the blame on the English since they comprised most of the early settlers of America and, naturally, influenced our traditional angling methods.  Hundreds of years ago in Europe the wealthy and royalty owned the good land, streams and rivers included.  If you --- a commoner --- caught a fish or killed a deer you were poaching.  We all remember Robin Hood poaching the King’s deer in Sherwood Forest.

            When not hunting with hounds for other game, the chosen sporting method for angling was fly fishing.  Now it seems the Brits, once a fish was hooked, chose to retrieve the line and fish by stripping/pulling in the line by hand.  They did not retrieve line onto the reel, letting the line fall in loose coils at their feet.  The last statistic I read about dominant digits indicated that 93% of our global inhabitants are right-handed, so the great majority of these anglers cast and held the rod in their right hands.  The line was, therefore, stripped/retrieved with the left hand.  Common sense would dictate that the reel handle was naturally on the left side of the reel.  The right hand is busy holding the rod. 

            Now, envision this.  A bigger, stronger fish being hooked and played by a Line Stripper may struggle mightily, pulling hard on the line.  If the angler does not give back some of the line the tension may break off the fly.  The angler attempts to smoothly release line through his fingers letting the fish run.  If you have ever done this you know things can happen quickly.  Loose coils of lines can tangle or get caught on something as the fish reclaims the slack line, running away at high speed.  As the right-handed angler guided and released the line with the left hand on the left side of the reel, one of the potential line-grabbing problems was the reel handle.  There was always a chance that a loose coil of line being pulled by a fighting fish could inadvertently be wrapped around the handle.  Simple solution: put the handle on the right side of the reel so it is out of the way, one less hazard to catch the line.

            Even as we enter the 21st century it is not uncommon that fly anglers switch the rod to the opposite hand to retrieve line as they fight a fish.  They were taught this way and will teach their young the same.  Risking controversy, I would wager most do not know why. 

            Reminds me of a story . . . A young housewife, preparing a holiday dinner, cut a few inches off the narrow end of a whole, uncooked ham.  She placed the ham in the roasting pan, then put it in the oven to bake.  Her daughter, watching the preparation, inquired as to why her mother had cut off the end of the ham.  Mom replied she did so because her mother (the little girl’s grandmother) had always done so.  Grandma, overhearing the conversation, revealed to Mom that the only reason she had cut off the ham end prior to cooking was because it would not otherwise fit into her undersized baking pan.

            For additional reading on the handing down of traditions check out Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery.

Any given fly reel model usually is available in a variety of sizes.   Which size is right for you?  The reel needs to accommodate your fly line and approximately 50 yards of backing.  There needs to be a comfortable amount (1/2”?) of room between the fly line and the line guard on the reel.  If the line and backing leave very little room on the reel you end up with an annoying problem while you are fishing.  As fly line is retrieved it tends to pile up on one portion of the spool.  There is no mechanism other than your finger to evenly distribute the line across the spool as it comes in.  If the spool shows little capacity remaining when the line and backing are initially put on, the problem will be magnified on the stream.  Your choices at that point include reducing the amount of backing, replacing the backing with a smaller diameter, lighter strength backing, or cutting off a portion of the rear, non-tapered section of fly line. 

            Another member of the fly fishing insurance team is your fly line backing.  You may not see your backing often but when you do you will be glad it’s there when a memorable fish pulls all the fly line from your reel and, then, wants more. 

fly line backing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing GuideChoice of the right type of backing is critical.  Beginners ask me all the time if it’s okay to use inexpensive monofilament spinning line for backing.  Nope.  Braided Dacron@ is your best choice, for the following reasons:           

1.                      It does not stretch, unlike monofilament line.  Backing that stretches under the tension of fighting a big fish in heavy water and is subsequently reeled onto the spool can exert a damaging force on the spool as the line seeks to “relax” when the tension is removed.  This problem will probably be minimal for trout fishing, but can me a major one when playing salmon, steelhead and larger saltwater species.  I saw a reel spool filled with heavy monofilament as backing actually damaged to the point of being unusable when an Alaskan salmon was reeled in under great tension from a long distance.

2.      It is quite strong for its relatively small diameter.  Because braided Dacron@ takes up little room on the spool compared to a fly line, the angler can minimize the size and accompanying weight of a larger reel.

3.      It does not readily deteriorate when exposed to the elements.  Monofilament exposed to sunlight weakens and deteriorates over time.  Lubricants and petroleum products from the fly reel that may come into contact with monofilament may accelerate the process.  Envision your monofilament backing breaking as the fish of a lifetime swims away with your fly and fly line!  That’s why smart spin anglers replace the monofilament line on their spools every year.  I’ve had braided Dacron@ on some of my reels for more than 20 years and it’s still in good shape.


    Braided Dacron@ is available in a range of strengths: 12 lb., 20 lb. and 30 lb.  20 lb. is the top choice of most trout anglers.  All are available in natural white, but some brands are available in fluorescent green and fluorescent orange.  It has been my experience that the colored backings eventually bleed their colors onto the fly line.  This is not aesthetically acceptable to me, but if you like the tie-dyed T shirt look on your fly line go for it.

Take Me to Your Leader
The transparent terminal portion of your fly fishing system to which the fly is tied is the leader. So as not to disturb the fish, the fly must be removed some distance from the splash and shadow of a cast fly line.   No matter that the fly line is too large to fit through the hook eye of the average trout fly.

Early on I did not realize that a leader is normally tapered, just as the fly line is.  This enables the casting momentum carried along the fly line to be transferred along the entire length of the leader to extend the fly to the fish.   leader collection / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide

            Though you can create your own tapered leader tying together decreasing diameters of monofilament (or similar modern material) line, it is easier to opt for knotless tapered leaders that are extruded from a machine.  Knots too often collect algae and vegetation in the stream.  It is irritating to be constantly cleaning the knots.  If you fail to do so, the leader may become evident to wary fish that may be alarmed by a string of algae bits suspiciously hanging out in the vicinity of the fly.  It’s a little like spray painting the Invisible Man.

            Leaders come in a variety of lengths.  The range runs from 3’ to 16’.  Unless you have good reason to do otherwise, select a 9’ leader.  This length is suitable for most stream fishing situations regardless of whether you are fishing nymphs, wet flies, or dry flies with a floating fly line.  The 9’ length is adequate for keeping the fly line far enough removed from the fly so the fish are not spooked, but short enough that the leader is easily coaxed to turn over, extending full length to present the fly.

            Here’s another fly fishing vocabulary word: tippet.  Often used incorrectly and interchangeably with “leader”, the tippet is a very specific portion of the leader.  It is the non-tapered terminal portion of the leader to which the fly is tied.

            When I spoke of the tapered leader I failed to mention that it is not tapered over its entire length.  The thick end of a typical trout leader may measure 0.024” diameter.  Over the next 6 ½’ to 7’ the taper smoothly scales down to a final diameter of, perhaps, 0.007”, for the sake of example.    Depending on the manufacturer, the final 20” to 30” of the extruded tapered leader has a uniform diameter of 0.007”, the tippet.  Mathematically speaking, the tippet is a subset of the leader.

But I Hate Math!
I love math.  I taught secondary math.  But even if you are not a numbers whiz, this is simple math, and very important to your success.  Nine-foot leaders have an array of tippet diameters to choose from.  That’s why I tried to emphasize that 0.007” tippet diameter used previously was just an example.  And, please note, I will be writing about tippet diameters, not tippet strengths.  You will find out why later.

            To cast and drift naturally, a fly must be matched to a tippet of the appropriate diameter.  If the diameter of the tippet is too small relative to the size of the fly, the transfer of the cast’s momentum may not pass along the entire length of the leader.  The fly “load” is too heavy or air-resistant.  The leader collapses in a heap rather than extending its full length during the cast.

            If the tippet diameter is too large for the fly you may not be able to get the tippet through the hook eye.  To make my point let’s pretend that we can get an oversized tippet through the eye and the fly tied in place.  There will be no problem with turning over the leader at length.  The problem arises as the fly drifts in the current.  It will not look natural.  It will act like it’s attached to a stiff invisible cable.  The fly will not drift or swim naturally.  This can seriously decrease your angling success.

            Tippet diameters have an unusual designation.  Rather than being commonly referred to by their measurable diameter in inches, or feared and repulsive millimeters, they are referenced in “X” numbers: 0X, 1X, 2X, and so on.  This “X” number will be prominent when you look on a leader package as you try to determine which leader to buy.  With minimal boring details here, suffice it to tell you that once upon a time leaders were made from silkworm gut.  Gut was fairly strong and lent itself to being cut into successively smaller diameters if you had the right cutting tool.  If a strand of gut that measured 0.011” inches was trimmed down once --- one time or “1X” --- the strand was reduced by 0.001” to the new, smaller diameter of 0.010”.  If the same strand was cut down a second time --- 2 times or “2X” --- it was reduced an additional 0.001” to now measure 0.009”.  cut down a third time --- 3X --- the strand was now 0.008”.  See the trend?  I promised you this would be simple math.  I’ll put this info in table form and it will reinforce the simplicity.

            Tippet Diameter         “X” number    diameter in inches

                                                0X                   0.011”

                                                1X                   0.010”

                                                2X                   0.009”

                                                3X                   0.008”

                                                4X                   0.007”

                                                5X                   0.006”

                                                6X                   0.005”

                                                7X                   0.004”

                                                8X                   0.003”

            Note that there is an “inverse relationship”.  The larger the “X” number, the smaller the diameter.  The smaller the “X” number, the larger the diameter.   The diameter of a 6X tippet is smaller than the diameter of a 1X tippet.

                The math lesson continues.  All this has led up to an equation that will help you determine the correct diameter leader/tippet for any given size trout fly.

   Fly hook size                                                                            size 12
 ----------------            =  “X” number                    Example      --------- =   4X
           3                                                                                           3

Not all hook sizes can be divided evenly by 3, so approximate the best answer. For example, a size 16 fly would be best presented on a 5X leader.  Both sizes 8 and 10 flies would be best cast and fished on a 3X leader.

Leadership and the Economy
It’s going to happen.  Sooner than later you will break off a fly, and another, and another.  Trees, grass, submerged limbs and stream-bottom rocks.  A wily fish may break your leader.   All these serve to shorten your leader.  Changing flies of your own volition cuts away at the leader.  What one was once 9’ has been shortened to 7’ or 8’.  Your original tippet, or most of it, has disappeared. 

            You have a couple of choices.  One is to replace your old leader with a new one.  The cost will range from $3 to $4.  Your second choice is to extend the leader by using a surgeon’s knot to tie a fresh section of tippet to the leader remnant.  For the sake of economy, time and versatility the second course makes excellent sense.

tippet spols / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide

            Tippet line comes on small put-em-in-your-pocket spools.  The best ones have a stretchy band covering the coiled line so it does not unravel from the spool, presenting you with a pocketful of loose, tangled mess.  Carry a selection of diameters.  Trout anglers will most often carry spools of 3X, 4X, 5X, and 6X tippet.  These diameters have proven most useful for the trout fly sizes commonly used.

            In addition to the leader already tied to the fly line, it is wise to carry spare leaders.  Until your personal experience tells you otherwise, carry an extra 3X, 4X, 5X, and 6X nine-foot leader.  These will accommodate flies ranging from size 18 up to size 8.

            If I change fly size must I always change the tippet, too?  It is reasonable in many cases to fish a tippet size that is either ONE tippet size too large or too small than our mathematical equation calls for.  Personally, I am less concerned about fishing a tippet that is one diameter too small for the hook size than I am about fishing a tippet that is too large for the hook size.  This is especially true in flat, un-riffled water where a stream trout gets a good look at how my fly is drifting with the current.  A larger diameter tippet is a bit stiffer and adversely affects the “swimability” of the artificial.  In fact the trout in flat water may be so wary that sometimes it may be mandatory for the angler to fish a fly on a tippet that is one size smaller than the recommended ideal.  If the water is choppy, the fish’s vision is some what obscured.  A slightly heavier tippet probably has little affect.

            Here’s another situation.  Suppose you are fishing a 3X tapered leader (this means that the tippet of the  tapered leader is 3X), and you wish to fish a size 18 fly.  A size 18 hook is best presented on a 6X tippet.  So, is it reasonable to tie a section of 6X tippet to the 3X tippet?  I would not, for two reasons.  The knot between two diameters of such relatively big disparity may not hold secure.  Secondly, the leader may “hinge” or collapse at the knot.  The 6X tippet may not lay out, collapsing in a pile of little coils.  The momentum of the cast has not transferred smoothly all the way to the fly.  The solution is to splice in 6” – 8” of 4X or 5X tippet between the 3X and 6X.  In my experience I can step the added tippet down one or two diameters when splicing it to my leader, but not three or four jumps in diameter difference.  When splicing additional tippet to a leader, be cognizant of the final leader length.  In order not to create a leader that is too long --- let’s say more than 10’ --- some (12” - 15”) of the 3X tippet on the original leader may have to be cut back a bit before joining two more diameters in this example.  The section of tippet to which the fly is finally tied should measure about 24”.

            The hypothetical situations continue.  Suppose you are fishing a 6X leader (the tippet of the tapered leader has a 6X diameter), and you want to tie on a size 12 fly.  Does it make sense to tie a new section of 4X tippet to the 6X?  Usually not, because a collapsing “hinge” may occur at the knot.  Momentum is not transferred all the way to the fly.  It lands in a heap of 4X tippet.  Better to, initially, cut off all of the 6X tippet and a little of the tapered leader behind it, then join the 4X tippet.  Ideally, you would cut the leader back to where the diameter was the same --- or even slightly larger --- than the 4X tippet being added.  Tie on enough tippet to extend the leader to its original 9’ length.

A chemistry lesson
We’ve already had lessons in fly fishing physics and math, and now it’s time for chemistry.  Specifically, we are going to discuss the chemistry of leaders and tippets.

            There are three basic materials from which leaders and tippets are commonly made: monofilament nylon, co-polymer resin and PVDF (polyvinylidenfluoride), or simply “fluorocarbon”.  At first look all the materials appear the same, but using them as you fish distinctions will become more obvious.

            Monofilament nylon has been in general use post WWII.  Its relative “invisibility” compared to its predecessors made it quite desirable. This was the leader material of choice   Furthermore, for making fly fishing leaders nylon monofilament could be extruded from a machine in such away as to precisely control the creation of a smooth taper. Monofilament was, and is, widely available and inexpensive.

            In the early 1980’s a new chemistry began to dominate the leader and tippet scene.  Co-polymer resins produced leaders and tippets that looked like monofilament but were up to 50% stronger and suppler.  An angler could use leaders/tippets of a smaller diameter when desired, but give up nothing in breaking strength.  Also, a supple tippet enables a fly to drift more naturally in the current, with less of a hint that the artificial was attached to anything.  For these benefits the angler has to pay 40% - 50% more at the cash register.  Most think the cost well worth it.

            Ten years later “fluorocarbon” leaders and tippets became the rage for those willing to pony up the price, generally 2 ½ to 3 times the cost of co-polymer items.  For the same diameter, co-polymers were stronger, but the fluorocarbon proved significantly more abrasion-resistant.  Alone, this does not warrant the price.  But, by the magic of chemistry, this new wonder material has a specific gravity greater than that of water and a refractory index that causes it to “virtually disappear” in water.  The increased specific gravity enables the line to break the surface film and  sink, thereby not casting a shadow like monofilament or co-polymers that tend to ride on the surface film.  Fluorocarbon leaders and tippets are more resistant to deterioration by UV (ultraviolet) light exposure, and do not absorb water to the point of weakening and becoming more visible like some co-polymers.  At the turn of the new century, we are seeing fluorocarbon chemistry improvements that have served to increase the breaking strength of the material, too.

            I can read your mind.  Is fluorocarbon worth the extra cost?  Yes, with conditions.  If the water is very clear and the fish wary, fluorocarbon can be the difference between success and failure.  In clear lakes and ponds, for me there is no other choice.  For the budget route, cut the tippet off a standard co-polymer leader and replace it with a fluorocarbon tippet.  A carefully-tied, lubricated (with saliva) surgeon’s knot allows for a secure splice of co-polymer material to fluorocarbon, especially if the diameters are similar.

            There should be a warning label on each fluorocarbon leader package and tippet spool.  “Warning!  The use of fluorocarbon can be habit-forming and hazardous to your pocketbook.”  We all have our little addictions.  This is one of mine.  Once you try fluorocarbon leaders and tippets there may be no turning back . . . at least until the next breakthrough in fly fishing chemistry.

Assembly Required
The ideal knot is simple, fast to tie, strong, and can be tied without a tool.  This narrows the field considerably.  You need to know three for fly fishing.  You wannabe Knotmeisters can add more to your repertoire.  Tie your self silly, but start with these four, one of which you may tie only once in a blue moon.  This leads me into our astronomy lesson, which may have little to do with fly fishing until you read my book on fly fishing lakes, where the moon definitely seems to be important in your fishing success. 

            A blue moon is a seldom occurrence.  With the exception of February, which really messes things up every fourth year, there are 30 or 31 days in a month.  A full moon usually occurs once every 30 calendar days, but sometimes only 29 days.  When a single calendar month has two full moons in it, which doesn’t happen very often because of the messy math, the second occurrence is referred to as a “blue moon”.  Now, back to the knots.

            Here are the three ----

                        Tube / Nail knot --- used to tie braided backing to the rear of the fly line, and tie the leader to the front of the fly line.

                       Surgeon’s knot --- used to splice more tippet to the leader.

                        Clinch knot --- used for tying the fly to the tippet.

    Know that there are alternatives and “improved versions” to all these knots.  My goal is to keep it simple.  I want secure knots that I can tie in the field, no tools required.  Thus, my selection.  Save fishing time and frustration by practicing these knots with warm fingers at home under a bright light.  There’s a little ditty to help pass the time as you practice.  It serves to reinforce the message.

essential knots / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide                                                                                         

Sing Along

Pretend you are gathered around an open fire with your friends on a fly fishing trip.  Get in the spirit of the moment, or have another drink.  This is sung to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.

                         Know, know, know your knots
                        Quickly on the streams.
                        The more know the less you tie,
                        To catch the fish of your dreams.
(Second verse same as the first.)

            Mr. Gorman has left the building!

 surgeon knot / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide

                                         surgeon knot macro / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide      








clinch knot / McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide

tube / Nail Knot/ McKenzie River Fly Fishing / McKenzie River Fly Fishing Guide



Contact Information


Postal address
Michael Gorman
330 NW Autumn Place, Corvallis OR 97330
Mckenzie River fishing guides & Rogue River fishing guides specialists

To contact me please cut and paste the following email address to help prevent spam emails,
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