fly fishing

Five Reasons to Really Respect Fly Fishing for Dolly Varden 

Five Reasons to Really Respect Fly Fishing for Dolly Varden 

They’re not the Rodney Dangerfields of Alaska’s fly fishing scene, but they don’t take center stage in our angling dreams like sockeye and rainbows. If respect could be earned through sheer numbers, dolly varden would be superstars. These are fish so determined to make it that they refuse to just spawn and die. They spend their lives migrating back and forth from fresh water to salt and offer up angling adventures that rival their trophy cousins. We really admire Salvelinus malma, and here are five reasons why. 1. They Aren’t Arctic Char Yes, dollies and char are close relatives. It’s easy to get them mixed up because they bear a strong physical resemblance, but the two fish part company at the jaw line. Dollies have a much larger kype than char, and that huge hooked lower jaw gives them a distinctive profile. The fork in a char’s tail is deeper, and its spots are larger. Dolly varden sport pink or red bellies while char undercarriages are yellow, orange or gold. We enjoy catching char, but we admire dollies for not complaining about constantly being misidentified. 2. Dollies Put Up a Great Fight How you fish for dolly varden depends on time of year, location and your personal preferences. Generally speaking, they favor bright colors that resemble salmon eggs. Some anglers swear by white streamers, and others recommend all-black leech patterns. You can catch dollies on sinking tip or floating line with a 12-foot leader. Whatever approach you take, be sure to go with a 4 to 6 weight rod. We promise you’ll share our respect for the ferocious fight in these fish when you go after them with lighter gear. 3. They Give Us So Many Opportunities Does spring get you in a fever for Alaskan fly fishing fun? Cast your enthusiasm into an enormous shoal of dolly varden feeding on outgoing fry around our river mouths and estuaries. Hit small streams in July, and try to keep your cool in the late summer stalking dollies as they stalk the salmon egg-drop. Are you ready to land a fish so colorful that it looks like its wearing a clown suit? Spawning dolly varden in late August are your ticket to angling heaven. We salute dollies for giving us so many exciting opportunities to fish in so many beautiful settings all across the state. 4. Their Name Origin Is Interesting If you’re a fan of Charles Dickens, you may be familiar with a character from his book, “Barnaby Rudge.” That Dolly Varden was fond of wearing brightly colored clothes, but our fish isn’t named after her. In the late 1800s, women routinely sewed their own, and one of the more popular fabrics was a pink, patterned muslim referred to as Dolly Varden. No one’s sure how the name was transferred from dress to fish, but we always appreciate an interesting backstory even when the details are fuzzy. 5. Dollies Survived Serious Misinformation Fuzzy details are one thing, but fuzzy science can […]

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10 Tips to Improve Your Fly Fishing Powers

10 Tips to Improve Your Fly Fishing Powers

Besides the rod, reel, waders and flies, there’s something else that sets you apart from other sportsmen. You love your game enough to do it all day, every day. As a dedicated fly fisherman, you relish the idea of spending the rest of your life getting better and better at the only outdoor sport that really matters. We add to your ongoing quest for knowledge with these 10 tips to improve your fly fishing. 1. Start Out Shallow You’ll eventually get all the way out there, so don’t storm the river without exploring that shallow water first. Take your time, ease your way in with a few short casts, and enjoy the salmon and trout that rise to your shallow presentations. Ignore your buddies’ sideways looks while you get the fishing day off to a productive start. You don’t always have to be hip-deep to hit serious action. 2. Add Accuracy to Those Short Casts Now that you appreciate the overlooked art of staying shallow, you realize that you haven’t had much practice with the unappreciated short cast. It isn’t easy, but it’s a technique that you can master over time. Until then, give your rod an advantage with an overweight. It sounds too simple to be true, but overweighting by just one line weight can turn you into a master short-caster. 3. Stay on the Move Don’t enjoy that shallow action so much that you start working one spot over and over perfecting your presentation. You know the raw aggression of a salmon anywhere near a good fly. Trout make up for their short feeding season with a frenzy. Give them your best, and move on with your chin held high when they ignore you. They aren’t the only fish in the river. 4. Learn to Read That Foam Develop a talent for foam reading, and you’ll always be on top of main current seams. As the water flow moves the foam, you know it’s moving the buffet that entices hungry fish, so follow the flow line. It’s also an excellent strategy for catching minor drag problems. If your fly isn’t moving in synch with the foam, it’s time to make some adjustments. 5. Go Prepared for Anything Are you ready to catch something besides chinook and rainbow? Don’t limit your chances for action with a two-species mindset. Surprise your guide the night before you head out with an idea to fish for something that isn’t salmon or trout. He’s your go-to guy for everything it takes to catch something outside the tackle box, and he’ll appreciate your sense of adventure. 6. Let Go of Perfection If you could nail every cast on the money, you probably wouldn’t be reading this list. If you’re like most other fly fishermen, you sometimes miss the mark, and that’s OK. Relax, and take a deep breath. While you figure out what went wrong, just go with the drift. Fly fishing is as much mental as it is physical, so don’t wear yourself […]

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Five Tips for Tutoring Your Youngest Fishing Buddy

Five Tips for Tutoring Your Youngest Fishing Buddy

How old were you when you cast your first fly? Do you remember that combination of wonder and excitement? Whether you started out as a kid or tackled fishing a little later in life, it’s fun to think back on those days when your lack of finesse didn’t matter. Learning how to do something that calls to your spirit is one of life’s better joys. Passing along that passion to a child connects you both on levels that stay strong for a lifetime. When you’re ready to tutor a young fishing buddy in the ways of Alaskan fly fishing, focus on these five productive tips. 1. Bait That Natural Curiosity If a child watches intently and wants to know why you put together those bug-looking things, he’s a good candidate for the river. If he likes to explore the tackle box, show him your case, and tell him why different fish chase different flies. Most young anglers don’t care about the details, but they’ll listen when you explain that fish are like people with different appetites. The fact that you sit at a table making fake insects is enough to impress any curious kid, so show him how to tie a wooly bugger. Ask him if he’d like to try it out, and watch that little face light up as you start planning a day together on the water. 2. Fit the Gear to the Kid As much as you love your old gear, your youngest fisherman really wants his own stuff. Resist the temptation to pass off your favorites as sentimental hand-me-downs, and head for the pro shop. From kid-sized rods and waders to pint-sized hats and shades, you’ll find everything for outfitting a short-statured novice. Let him try out a few rods for size while you consider weight options. Most 6-weight rods are heavy enough for a child’s cast, but you might want a 4- or 5-weight for someone small who doesn’t need as much stiffness. A kid’s enthusiasm goes a lot further when he’s not worn out from working a rod that’s hard to handle. 3. Don’t Make Casting Complicated Your littlest angler won’t master the perfect cast in one season. You can fine-tune techniques later, so concentrate on the basics for now. Try a simple approach to casting that starts with a two-hand hold on the rod and thumbs on top. Instruct your young student to quickly lift the rod, and then give it a sudden stop even with his ear as the line goes straight behind him. Follow through with a smooth forward motion that puts the tip at eye level to loop the line and deliver that fly. Never underestimate the power of patient encouragement and sincere compliments as he starts to get the drift. 4. Make Everything Easy to Enjoy Getting a kid hooked on fly fishing should always be about having a good time. Give that budding fisherman a fighting chance for a great start in water that you know promises plenty of […]

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Our 10 Favorite Fly Fishing Writers

Our 10 Favorite Fly Fishing Writers

We considered putting together a list of the best, but that started too many arguments. Instead, we offer a collection of our 10 favorite writers who always manage to translate the fly fishing experience into words that we really enjoy. The next time you’re stuck inside waiting for the weather to break, break out one of these authors. For easy reference and an end to friendly disagreements, we’ve alphabetized our list. 1. James Babb Editor emeritus is a pretty impressive title, and Babb earns it with unmatched wit and style at Gray’s Sporting Journal. While we admire his well-earned literary credentials, he could be a lonely guy writing from the bed of his truck and still make this list with his book, “River Music.” He’s that good. When our copy of Gray’s hits the mailbox, we hit Babb’s fishing essay first. 2. Kirk Deeter If you ever thought that you missed your calling as a fly fishing guide, read Deeter’s essays on what the professional’s life is really like. If you want to know everything about every type of fly, knot and line, snag one of his reference books. Deeter knows his stuff, and he generously shares it all with his blog over at Field and Stream. We admit it. We also enjoy the great photography. 3. John Gierach Anybody who writes a book titled “Sex, Death and Fly Fishing” earns a place on this list. We won’t give away the first essay in this highly entertaining volume, but it involves mayflies. Gierach does more than put a knowing smile on your face. The original trout bum’s advice, strategies and river wisdom make any one of his 33 books a must-have for your fly fishing library. 4. Ted Leeson We have a real winner here. Leeson snagged the IFFF’s Roderick Haig-Brown Award for outstanding fly fishing lit back in 1996, but you probably know him better from Field and Stream. If our sport had a philosophy professor, it would be Leeson, and his volume, “The Habit of Rivers,” would be the only class assignment anyone would ever need. His writing captures and celebrates the spirit that makes us all love fishing. 5. Nick Lyons No fly fishing book collection is complete without several well-worn classics including a copy of “Spring Creek.” Lyons is a prolific writer and independent publisher, and we’re still turning his pages after more than 30 years. His ability to string together wisdom and humor makes us all proud of our collective fly fishing obsessions. We salute both his talent and longevity. 6. Thomas McGuane Settle in, and travel from Florida to Russia and Montana to Iceland. You’ve probably never imagined fly fishing in the Andes, but McGuane puts you there as he paints pictures with words that capture the essence of some of the world’s most beautiful rivers and lakes. His essays are timeless, he’s been writing for more than 30 years, and he’s very funny. 7. Howell Raines A Pulitzer Prize for journalism isn’t necessary to […]

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No See Um Named One of the Best Fly Fishing Vacation Spots in the World

No See Um Named One of the Best Fly Fishing Vacation Spots in the World

If you have ever been a guest at No-See-Um Lodge, then we hope you would consider it one of the best locations you have ever been for a fly fishing vacation. Well, we are happy to note that one fly fishing focused website, My Alaskan Fishing Trip, puts No-See-Um Lodge on their summary of the best fly fishing vacation spots in the world – that’s right…not just Alaska…in the WORLD. The article includes fly fishing focused lodges from locations as diverse as Mexico, Iceland, and New Zealand but No-See-Um is the lone representative from Alaska.  Obviously, there are a lot of great lodges in Alaska to choose from and what makes it especially exciting to be the Alaskan representative on the list is the fact that the content developers website focuses on Alaska fly fishing – so they know every lodge and location throughout the state. The summary of No-See-Um highlights the diversity of fish species that anglers will be able to target in the waters around the lodge as a primary reason we are a top destination.  However, it also notes additional factors like our camp guides and luxury accommodations…speaking of which, No-See-Um Lodge also made the sites list of Top Ten Luxury Lodges in Alaska!  They are right when they say ‘your only job here is to enjoy the outstanding food and reel in trophy fish’.

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