Quest For The Best Fishing Kayak of 2020

Fishing kayaks are watercraft designed specifically for open water fishing. They provide a very easy, economical way to gain access to fishing waters that might otherwise be impossible to reach. They can be used on the sea, in slow-moving rivers, on inland lakes, and on reservoirs. Compared to regular fishing boats, fishing kayaks are cheap, portable, and easy to use. Above all, fishing from a kayak is just plain fun!

While you can hire a fishing kayak, if you want to get out on the water more often, it pays to buy your own. That way, you’ll be able to use it whenever you want and modify it to match your needs. Better still, you won’t have to keep paying out to rent a boat. It’ll be yours, and there won’t be any ongoing costs.

There are lots of different fishing kayaks available, and while they all look similar, some are better than others. This guide is designed to teach you what to look for in a fishing kayak, and we’ve also included reviews of the five best kayaks for fishing.

Kayaking and Fishing… Enjoying the best of both worlds!

8 Reasons Why You Should Try Kayak Fishing

If you have already tried kayak fishing, you already know the answer to this question. But, if you have never been or aren’t yet sold on the joys of fishing from a kayak, here is a brief list of all the things that make this such an enjoyable pastime.

  1. If you like kayaking, or you like fishing, you will love doing both these things together. There is something uniquely enjoyable about kayaking out into the water and casting your line.
  2. It’s relaxing! No noise, no interruptions, no stress – kayak fishing is a great way to unplug from technology and leave your worries behind. It’s also incredibly peaceful. Find an out-of-the-way spot and relax for a few hours. You deserve it!
  3. It’s comparatively cheap. Buying a powered fishing boat is expensive. And you’ll also need to pay things for like mooring, purchase fuel, and then there is the ongoing cost of maintenance too. Fishing kayaks are much cheaper to buy than boats and have none of the ongoing expenses. Kayak fishing is very budget-friendly.
  4. You can explore almost any waterway. Fishing kayaks can go where many other boats cannot. That’s perfect if you want to find a secluded spot or just find less-fished areas. Narrow and shallow waters are no problem in a fishing kayak.
  5. Kayak fishing is easy. You don’t need to be an expert fisherman to enjoy kayak fishing; just watch a few YouTube videos, buy a book, and you’ll be able to start this excellent pastime. With practice, you’ll soon become an expert.
  6. You won’t scare the fish. Fishing kayaks are very quiet, and that means you can get close to shoals of fish without disturbing them. With the right conditions and bait, the fish will come to you!
  7. Convenience: Transporting a fishing kayak is much easier than transporting a larger boat. Just put all your fishing gear in your trunk and put your boat on your roof rack or on a lightweight trailer. You can set up your kayak in minutes and be on the water while the boaters are still queuing to launch their bigger watercraft.
  8. Cover large distances. Contrary to popular belief, you can cover large distances with ease with a fishing kayak. They don’t require a lot of effort to paddle, and you can travel to new fishing spots if you aren’t getting a bite where you currently are.
Kayak fishing is fun!

The 3 Drawbacks Of Kayak Fishing

The truth is there aren’t many disadvantages to kayak fishing. But, so you have the complete picture and can make a fully informed decision, here are the less positive things you should consider before buying your fishing kayak.

  1. Seasickness. Fishing kayaks are small and light, which means you are at the mercy of the waves. You may find yourself bobbing around quite a lot in even a low swell. That said, being so close to the water often means the symptoms of seasickness are much less severe compared to being on a higher boat.
  2. No group outings. Most fishing kayaks are built for just one or two people. You won’t be able to go on a group fishing trip with your family or friends unless they have fishing kayaks too. Kayak fishing is not a group activity.
  3. Exposure to the elements. Fishing kayaks offer no protection from the sun, wind, or the water. You are truly at one with nature. You’ll need to wrap up warm in the winter and slap on the sunscreen in the summer. You may even need to swap one for the other if the weather changes unexpectedly. You’ll also have to accept that getting wet is part of the kayak fishing experience, especially if you capsize.
You can go kayak fishing pretty much anywhere: Lakes, Ponds or out in the Sea.

10 Important Things Look For In A Fishing Kayak

There are lots of different fishing kayaks available, but some are definitely better than others. Here are the features you need to look for in a kayak made for fishing.

1. You Need A Comfortable Kayak

Unless you live right on the water’s edge, going fishing with your kayak will take time and effort. You probably won’t go out unless you are going to spend at least a couple of hours on the water.

Because of this, your kayak must be comfortable. Look for padded seats and also the ability to replace and upgrade your cushion for even more comfort. Adjustable footrests can also make your kayak fishing experience a whole lot more comfortable.

2. Stability

The more stable your fishing kayak is, the less likely you are to capsize it accidentally. It’ll also be better in rougher water. Kayaks automatically become more stable when you are padding but, with kayak fishing, you’ll often be stationary. You may even want to stand up. A narrow racing kayak is not your best choice! Make sure you’re your fishing kayak is wide and stable and won’t tip over, dumping you and all your gear into the sea.

3. Storage

You’ll need plenty of space for all your fishing gear. Make sure your kayak can hold everything you need for a potentially lengthy fishing trip. Look for bungee storage areas, as well as sealed-in storage compartments. A good kayak for fishing should comfortably be able to support you and all your gear, so look for boats with a high weight capacity.

4. Size

Are you a solo fisherman, or do you anticipate going out with a friend? Make sure your fishing kayak is big enough for your needs. It’s better to buy a bigger boat than one that’s too small and that then needs to be replaced, just because you want to go out fishing with a new crew member! Bigger boats are heavier and harder to lift and carry but, if you aren’t on your own, this isn’t really much of a problem.

5. Portability

In all probability, you are going to have to transport your fishing kayak from your home to the water. This can be a tough job, especially if you are going out on your own. Make sure your fishing kayak is portable and has handles to make lifting and carrying it easier. Also, consider the weight of your boat; will you be able to lift it onto your roof rack or trailer, even after a hard day out on the water? Again, this is especially important if you expect to do mostly solo fishing trips.

6. Rod holders

It’s unlikely that you’ll want to hold your rod for the entire time you are fishing, and you may even want to use several rods at the same time. Fishing kayaks have rod holders, and, in most cases, more is better. Make sure the fishing kayak you are thinking of buying has enough rod holders, or there are ports that will allow you to add more. Holders for cups, fish finders, and GPS receivers may also be useful.

Rod holders are essential on a fishing kayak.

7. Propulsion

All fishing kayaks can be propelled with traditional paddles, but some can also be retrofitted with small, electric motors. Motors leave your hands free for fishing but usually make fishing kayaks heavier and more expensive. If you think you might want to add a motor at a later date, make sure your boat can accommodate one.

8. Rigid vs inflatable Fishing Kayak

Most fishing kayaks are rigid. Rigid boats tend to be more stable, hardwearing, and won’t puncture if you accidentally poke it with a fishhook or filleting knife. However, rigid kayaks can also be hard to transport and store, especially if you live in an apartment or have a small car. Inflatable fishing kayaks are not as stable, or as hardwearing, and can puncture if you are careless, but are much easier to transport and store. However, you’ll need to allow extra time to inflate and deflate your boat. An electric pump will make that laborious process much easier.

9. Sit-on vs sit-in Fishing Kayak

Most fishing kayaks are sit-on. This means you’ll have lots of space and can move around comfortably. They have self-draining scuppers and won’t fill up with water. They are ideal for slow-moving, calm waters. However, it also means you are open to the elements. Sit-in kayaks aren’t as roomy, but they are better for rougher water. Paired with a spray deck or skirt, they won’t fill with water. But you’ll have to stay in your seat in a sit-in kayak, and there isn’t as much easy-access storage space. You’ll also need to master the Eskimo roll in case you capsize.

Sit-inside fishing kayak

10. Material

Fishing kayaks are made from a wide range of materials. The type of material used will affect things like rigidity, toughness, weight, and price. Popular materials used for making kayaks for fishing include:

  • Single-layer polyethylene: durable, light, and cheap, this is a good choice for budget fishing kayaks.
  • Double and triple-layer polyethylene: heavier, thicker, and more expensive than single-layer polyethylene, but more robust and likely to last longer.
  • Fiberglass: light and rigid, but also prone to damage if you hit a rock, coral, or anything else hard. Fiberglass can be repaired, but repairs can be expensive. Fiberglass boats usually cost more than those made from polyethylene.
  • Kevlar carbon: the lightest material for making fishing kayaks, it’s stronger than fiberglass, but it’s usually more expensive.

The 5 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

Still not sure how to choose the right fishing kayak for you? Here are our top five recommendations:

1. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Most fishing kayaks are rigid, which means they are durable and virtually unsinkable. However, that makes them hard to transport and store. The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Inflatable Fishing Kayak is a good alternative if you need a boat that’s easier to transport and store.

Key features:

  • Made from three-ply heavy-duty puncture and abrasion-resistant laminated PVC
  • Removable inflatable seats with adjustable footrests
  • High-pressure I-beam air deck
  • 2-person capacity
  • Two built-in rod holders
  • Handles for easier transportation
  • Interchangeable skegs for better tracking
  • Supplied with a manual pump and two paddles
  • Comes with a handy carry bag and pressure gauge

The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Inflatable Fishing Kayak is a breeze to transport and inflate. It has a high-pressure deck to help keep it rigid, and the large side tubes make this boat very stable, even in rougher water. It is supplied with two skegs, one for deep water and a small one for shallow water. There is a removable and adjustable mounting bracket for additional accessories, such as GPS systems, fish finders, swivel fishing rod holders, etc.

Pros:

  • Large capacity and will hold up to 400 lbs.
  • Easy to transport and inflate
  • Big enough for two people
  • Stable and easy to paddle
  • Supplied with everything you need to get out on the water
  • Plenty of D-rings for tying down additional equipment

Cons:

  • Only two built-in rod holders
  • Takes 15 minutes or more to inflate
  • Could be holed by fishhooks or sharp rocks
  • Quite heavy

If you are an occasional angler or don’t have the space to store or the means to transport a rigid fishing kayak, this INTEX inflatable is worth your consideration. Despite its budget price, this is a perfectly fine kayak for fishing.

2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak has everything you need for a successful day of kayak fishing. Unlike a lot of kayaks, which add fishing accessories almost as an afterthought, this boat is made specifically for fishing.

Key features:

  • Made from ultra-durable high-density polyethylene
  • Molded, padded seat with five footrest options
  • Twin fishing rod mounts
  • Two bungee storage areas
  • Two waterproof hatches
  • Built-in paddle holder
  • Flat bottomed hull for increased stability
  • Molded skeg for straighter tracking
  • Self-draining

This fishing kayak has everything a solo fisherman needs. Everything is within easy reach, and there are two of everything important. The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak is a compact fishing kayak that is designed to make your fishing trip as enjoyable as possible.

Pros:

  • Small, light and easy to transport
  • Large capacity
  • Stable but built for speed and easy paddling
  • Plenty of fishing-specific features
  • Very budget-friendly

Cons:

  • Only big enough for one person
  • Available only in one color
  • Quite heavy at 52 lbs.

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a cheap but well-equipped kayak for fishing. It’s ideal for first-timers and anyone with a small to medium budget.

3. BKC RA220 11.6′ Single Fishing Kayak 

If you want a fishing kayak with plenty of features, the BKC RA220 11.6′ Single Fishing Kayak could be an excellent choice. It really does have everything a solo angler could ever want on a fishing kayak.

Key features:

  • Foot-operated rudder for hands-free steering
  • Twin rod holders
  • Wide, stable hull
  • Three waterproof storage areas
  • Maximum load capacity 450 lbs.
  • Cut out cubbyholes for fish finders, GPS, etc.
  • Upright back support with aluminum frame
  • Multiple drain ports
  • Three carry handles for easy transportation

This fishing kayak has everything you need to a great day out on the water. With lots of storage space, you’ll have no problem carrying everything you need for even multi-day trips. It’s also wide and stable enough for those who prefer to cast and fish while standing.

Pros:

  • Great for longer trips
  • Very comfortable seat
  • Suitable for rougher water
  • Built to last
  • Available in eight attractive colorways

Cons:

  • A little on the heavy side at 68 lbs.
  • Only suitable for one person

The BKC RA220 11.6′ Single Fishing Kayak is a high-quality watercraft. It’s not the cheapest kayak around, but, for solo anglers, it really does have everything you need for an enjoyable fishing trip. It should also last for many years.

4. Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak

While fishing is often a solitary pastime, it doesn’t have to be. If you want the option of taking a partner with you on a fishing trip, you’ll need a tandem fishing kayak. Bigger than a single-seater, a tandem boat is also ideal for solo paddlers who want more storage space. The Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak is an excellent choice for anyone looking to fish with a friend.

Key features:

  • Ultra-durable rotomolded body
  • Wide, stable hull
  • Twin adjustable seats with padded PVA backrests
  • Four rod holders
  • Two waterproof storage areas
  • Two large open storage areas
  • 650 lbs. carrying capacity
  • Lots of built-in cubbyholes for things like GPS, fish finder, etc.
  • Supplied with two paddles

Kayak fishing is more fun with a friend. With the Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak, there is more than enough space for two people to paddle and fish in comfort. The boat is stable enough to stand up in, and it’s got more than enough storage space to accommodate all your equipment. This sturdy boat is built to last.

Pros:

  • Ideal for families
  • Suitable for one or two paddlers
  • Enough storage space for extended fishing trips
  • Very comfy seats
  • Designed specifically for fishing

Cons:

  • Big and bulky – will be hard to carry alone
  • Quite expensive

The Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak is a good choice for those who want company when they fish or just want more space when paddling alone. This fishing kayak is not the cheapest, but you get a lot of boat for your money.

5. Vibe Skipjack 90 9 Foot Angler

Fishing kayaks come in all shapes and sizes but, if transportability is important to you, smaller is better. Small kayaks are also easier to maneuver. The Vibe Skipjack 90 9 Foot Angler is a light, compact boat that is ideal if you don’t want to have to wrestle a larger kayak on and off your roof rack on your own.

Key features:

    • Very compact design
  • Four rod mounts
  • Waterproof storage hatch
  • Twin storage areas with bungees
  • Molded seat with PVA backrest and cushion
  • Four molded carry handles
  • Molded pockets for a fish finder, GPS, drink bottles, etc.
  • Slip-resistant deck
  • 6 drainage/scupper holes

Fast, light and stable, the Vibe Skipjack 90 9 Foot Angler is a great little boat for solo use. Despite its compact size, you won’t feel cramped in this small fishing kayak, and there is more than enough space for all your gear. If you are looking for a grab and go kayak for fishing, this is an excellent choice.

Pros:

  • Very easy to paddle and steer
  • Stable even in rougher water
  • All-but unsinkable
  • Plenty of features to make for a comfortable fishing trip
  • Sleek, fast design
  • Available in three colorways

Cons:

  • Only one waterproof storage locker

The Vibe Skipjack 90 0 Foot Angler is the perfect fishing kayak for anyone who wants a really light, compact, but still well-equipped and stable boat. It’s small enough that most people should be able to lift and carry it with ease, but still has everything you need for a comfortable and successful fishing trip.

Final thoughts: Picking The Right Fishing Kayak For You

When it comes to buying the best fishing kayak, it’s important to remember that it’s often better to buy the best boat you can afford in the first place than buy a cheap one and then have to try and sell it later when you realize you want to upgrade.

Some features may seem unnecessary when you are trying your fishing kayak. Still, you may realize those features offer a lot of advantages once you’ve been out on the water a few times.

That doesn’t mean you should automatically go for the most expensive fishing kayak around, but cheaper is not always the way to go either. After all, you want your fishing trips to be as enjoyable as possible, and your choice of kayak will have a big impact on that.

Whichever option you choose, remember to enjoy your new fishing kayak safety and always wear the best personal floatation device (PFD).

Etiquette On The Water

At one time or another, we’ve all been out fishing, or trying to enjoy other activities on the river or lake and had our experience spoiled by people acting like jerks, either intentionally or accidentally. The person that insists on fishing right next to you, and follows you every time you catch something… or the Butt-Head with the powerful cruiser boat dragging skiers or just cruising that insists on seeing how close they can get to your kayak…jet-skiers that buzz you when you are trying to fish,… the people that leave yards of tangled monofilament laying around or in the water to ensnare unsuspecting wildlife, and most likely kill them,…the people that leave all kinds of trash behind, etc…. I’ve met them all.

In many cases, they are just people with little or no respect for others, but a lot of them simply don’t know any better.  If no one has taught you, then you make mistakes when you’re out on your own. To that end, this article will explain the rules of etiquette on and near the water.

Never, Never Trespass on Private Property

This is one of my major pet peeves. YouTube is full of videos titled something like, “Old Man Yelled At Me For Just Fishing”. When you watch the video, it turns out that the person is trespassing, then acting like the landowner is at fault. Of course, if you are unquestionably on public water such as an Army Corps Of Engineers Lake, or a Navigable river, they may own water-front property, but they do not own the water at all. Water is considered ‘Navigable’, “ when they are used or are susceptible of being used in their ordinary condition as highways for commerce over which trade and travel are or may be conducted in customary modes of trade and travel on water”. It is illegal for them to try to block access to it. That is Federal Law (Title 33 CFR). It is no different than if they bought a house fronting a highway. They cannot restrict the highway. You can easily check to see if a body of water is public by checking with the local DNR Office.

I never trespass knowingly, but the people that do make it hard for the rest of us to get permission to fish private stretches. Many large production plants have land with ponds, streams, and even rivers running through them. Most of the time, if you ask for permission, they will allow you to fish there, let you know the rules, and maybe even get you to sign a release in case of injury. I fish a lot of places like this. But there are a lot that I can no longer fish because people have fished there without permission, so they just stopped everyone from fishing there.

Never trespass on private property.

There are valid reasons why a landowner may not want you to fish on their property. Their insurance company may not allow it. They may not want to run the risk of being held responsible if you get hurt (can you say, “lawsuit”?…). They may know of hazards you are not aware of. And the biggest of all…they own it and have every right to decide who can be on their property or not, for whatever reason, or no reason at all. They are paying a lot of money for the property and have every right to control it.

Never trespass, unless it is a serious emergency. It is against the law and can land you in jail. If you get permission, make sure you get it in writing with the persons’ name and contact information on it. Make sure that person has the authority to grant you permission. Keep the paper on your person at all times when on the property, and don’t bring guests unless you have been given express permission to do so. If you are on public water and someone attempts to run you off, call the local Law Enforcement Agency and report it. As far as standing your ground, if you are 100% sure you are in the right…well, that’s up to you. Are the fish worth someone possibly getting hurt over? I prefer to let Law Enforcement handle it. They get paid to do that kind of stuff…I don’t.

Know How To Handle Your Boat

Boats buzz me in my kayak all the time, for no apparent reason. They think it’s funny to splash you with their wake. I don’t care about the water because if you paddle a kayak, you’re going to get wet. It’s a fact of life… But it is dangerous. If they hit you, it can damage both boats. They can capsize small boats causing people to lose equipment, and it scares the fish. It is also against the law. Before you operate a powered boat make sure you know the rules and how to handle your boat. Most states require certifications to operate a powered watercraft, and violations of boating regs could get your Drivers License suspended in some states. Federal regulations specify maintaining a distance of at least 100’ clearance when underway for non-powered boats, which includes sailboats when under sail. Non-powered boats always have the Right-Of-Way.

Be Courteous To Other Anglers

Few things are more irritating than having other people crowd your fishing spot. The rule is, whoever gets there first gets the spot. Seldom are fish only in one spot. Give other anglers plenty of room, and always ask before setting up shop next to them. This applies to boats as well as shore.

Do not play loud music or do anything that may disturb others, especially when night-fishing. Sound carries a long way over water, especially at night and in cold weather.  I play guitar sometimes when bait-fishing, but so low that most people can’t really hear. If anyone is around, I always ask if it is alright first. Usually what happens is more people start showing up and we wind up passing the guitar around and having a great party. Few things create more friends than an old Martin guitar…

Always leave your spot better than you found it. Take out your trash, and clean up any other trash that was left by others. Just consider it a courtesy. Never leave hooks, fishing line, lures, etc… behind. If you lose a lure in the water or a tree, make every effort possible to recover it. People and animals can step on them, get tangled, and die. I have removed fishing line from dozens of ducks and geese that got tangled in it. It’s not a lot of fun, because they bite…hard. The worst time was when a friend and I untangled a large snapping turtle. We both had to get a few stiches…  Do us all a favor…don’t leave fishing line behind.

Let’s Do Launch…

Boat ramps can get very busy at times. Don’t be a Ramp Hog. Have your boat ready to launch before you back down the ramp. Put all of your equipment in it, and have it arranged like you want it before launching. Then launch your boat, and immediately move your vehicle and boat so someone else can launch. Kayaks and canoes don’t really have this problem because we can launch just about anywhere, but still, give other paddlers plenty of room to launch and land, and always be prepared to assist. It’s best to launch one-at-a-time to avoid congestion when there are a lot of paddlers. Paddlers downstream should get to launch first.

Fish Care

Take care of your fish. If you are not going to eat them, turn them loose unharmed. Be gentle. Always obey Creel and Possession Limits. They have them for good reasons. Never clean fish at the water. It draws turtles, bears, and is illegal in a lot of places because then DNR Officers can’t tell how many fish you caught, or what species. If you are camping, clean them in camp, and discard the remains just like any other trash. Never throw it back in the water. The turtles and bears already have enough to eat, and getting them to associate people with food is never a good idea.

You’re Not The Only One Using The Water

Always be courteous and civil to others. Most problems can be worked out amicably with some civil discussion. Respect others’ property, belongings, and space. Be a conscientious Conservationist, so future generations can enjoy the outdoors as well.

Happy Fishing!

Spincasting vs Spinning vs Baitcasting Reels

One might wonder what all the hub-bub is about. After all, a fishing reel is just a spool to hold the fishing line, right? In reality, the fishing reel is a high-tech piece of equipment, without which many types of fishing would not even be possible. A fishing reel serves many functions besides just holding line.

The reel supplies drag, which allows you to land a fish much heavier and stronger than the line and reel would otherwise be able to handle. For example, 6 lb. test line could be easily broken by a 2 lb. fish with one good surge. Remember, they have the water and tails to provide leverage. An 8oz. bluegill can easily generate more than 10 lbs. of thrust with just a flick of its tail. The flex of the rod also provides some shock absorption, but it is the reel that does most of the work of fighting the fish.

The reel also supplies power to crank the line in without exceeding the breaking point, with help from the rod. It allows you to retrieve lures, and cast line out for much farther than would be possible any other way. Reels allow you to have an idea of how deep and how far out your bait is by letting you count the number of cranks and knowing the retrieve ratio. In other words, a reel with a 6.0:1 retrieves about 2 feet of line for every complete crank.

In the modern fishing world, there are many models of reels to choose from. How is one to know which is best? That’s what this article will attempt to demystify.

Some Reel History

How did people catch fish before they invented reels? Anyone who has ever ‘Noodled” for catfish can tell you….very carefully. Fish were originally caught by hand, and larger species could make this a challenging proposition. Spears were used for more chances at success for a time. At some point, more than 20,000 years ago, an enterprising Asian figured out how to make a hook and use line to catch fish without it being quite so dangerous. The line still had to be pulled in by hand, which severely limited the types of fish you could land successfully. This was the way it was until 1100 A.D. Around that time, a clever Chinese person who is unknown to this day, designed a fishing reel to use with a pole to allow you to fish at greater distances and depths, in addition to saving a lot of wear and tear on the hands… It was a simple single-action reel, but better than no reel at all. Since then, reels have evolved greatly.

Reel Basics

There are three main types of reels in use today. There are actually 4 types, but fly reels are a more involved subject and merit an article of their own, so I won’t consider them here. The types are; Spincasting, Spinning, and Baitfishing reels. They use different systems to accomplish their purposes, but there are many things that are common to all types.

Spinning Reel
  1. Reel Foot – the flat piece at the side of the unit. It clamps on to the reel seat of the rod by means of threaded or sliding lock rings, or sometimes just duct tape, depending on what kind of shape your rod is in…
  2. Reel Handle – this is the crank that lets you reel in line. It can be single, or double-handled. One is really no better than the other. It is mostly a matter of personal preference.
  3. Reel Body – this is the casing that covers and protects the gears and internal mechanisms.
  4. Anti-Reverse Switch – turns the anti-reverse on and off.
  5. Anti-Reverse – when engaged, it prevents the reel spool from spinning backward and forces the line to pay out through the drag system. Turning it off puts the reel in free-spool, meaning a fish can take out line just by pulling on it with no resistance from the drag at all. It also allows you to pay out line by cranking backward.
  6. Bale – releases the line from the reel’s mechanism so it can pay out freely with minimal friction, as in casting or dropping line to the bottom. It can be a simple curved piece of wire, as on most spinning reels, or a button, or lever as on spin-casting and baitcasting rods.
  7. Spool – the cylinder that holds the line and rotates (except on spinning reels, which have a fixed spool) to facilitate taking it in or letting it out.
  8. Drag Control – increases or decreases the amount of drag exerted on your line. Useful for tiring out fish, and aggravating anglers….
  9. Line Guide – directs the line evenly wrap up on the spool during the retrieve to minimize snarls, tangles and knots, (in theory, anyway…). 

The reels all cast the same way. The difference is in the physical actions you must take to make each step happen. There are 4 steps in casting:

  1. Opening the bale while holding the line, button, or the spool (depending on what type of reel you are using) to keep it from unspooling.
  2. Loading the rod. This means moving the rod tip backward sharply to put a bend, and potential energy, into the terminal tackle.
  3. Unloading the rod while simultaneously releasing the line at the proper moment. This means moving the rod sharply forward to let the bend flex forward, propelling the terminal tackle forward through the air with great speed, and releasing the line at the correct time to create the proper trajectory of the terminal tackle.
  4. Engaging the bale after the terminal tackle has hit the water, tree, rock, or whatever you hit but weren’t aiming at…

Spincasting vs Spinning vs Baitcasting Reels

Here’s the differences between these 3 types of reels.

Spincasting Reels

Spincasting Reel

Invented by R.D. Hull and produced by the Zero Hour Bomb Company (ZEBCO) in Tusla Oklahoma in 1949, the spincasting reel revolutionized fishing. Its ease of use and reliability made it so that anyone, even very small children, could cast like a pro with just a few minutes of practice. Today spincasting reels are made by several companies and they are all outstanding fishing tools, especially for how little they cost. They are much less expensive than baitcasting or spinning reels.

Before the ZEBCO, people had to learn to use spinning and baitcasting reels, which have a significant learning curve, and also maybe require a little talent to use really well. Backlashes and tangles, known as the dreaded “Bird’s Nest” are common, even with ‘experts’. With spincasting reels, all you have to learn is how to push and hold a button down, and release it at the proper moment. 15 minutes of practice, and anyone can get a lure or bait very close to where they want, within reason, with little or no danger of backlashes. Spincasting reels are great for 80% of most of the fishing done, in the US, anyway.

Spincasting reels do have a few drawbacks due to the design requirements. Since the spool is internal, with a protective casing around it, it must be narrow to fit comfortably on the rod, so the amount of line it can hold is limited. But unless you are fishing very deep water (more than 200’ deep), need to cast more than 120 yards (and that is a very long way…), or fishing for fish that make incredibly long runs, such as tarpon, spincasting reels are perfectly adequate. They are best suited for panfish such as crappie, bluegills, medium-sized bass, medium-sized catfish, carp and even pike. The other drawback, though not much of one, is that they do have a bit more line friction when casting, so you may experience some reduced casting distance with very light lures, in the 1/32 oz. category. These super ultralight lures are best used with small spinning reels. Lures in this size range are mostly used for fishing through ice, so casting really isn’t much of an issue if you still want to use your favorite small spincasting reel.

Spinning Reels

Spinning Reel

The spinning reel was invented in the 1930s in Europe and was brought to America after WW-II. They were invented to cast lures that were too light to cast with a baitcasting reel. The under-the-rod mounting provides a superb balance and feel, and once mastered, are an absolute joy use even for all-day casting.

Spinning reels are prone to line snarls, but they are easier to clear than from a baitcasting reel because the spool can be easily popped off, the snarl cleared, and popped right back on again. This also makes changing line sizes very easy by simply carrying a few extra spools with different line sizes on them. Another great advantage of spinning reels is that most are ambidextrous. The handle can be switched to either side very easily.  They cast smooth as silk, and have less moving parts than either spincasting, or baitcasting reels. They hold plenty of line and can cast even very light lures a long distance.

On the downside….well, I can’t really think of a downside other than the learning curve required to use one. It’s not really all that bad, but it does take some practice. And, they cost a little more than a comparable spincasting reel, but they are worth it.

To cast a spinning rod, you must crook your finger under the line to hold it when you open the bale. To cast, you just straighten your finger at the proper time to release the line. After your lure or bait hits the water, you just have to turn the handle to flip the bale back over and engage the anti-reverse. It will feel a little weird at first, but you will get used to it and develop the timing to make accurate casts (most of the time…). Once you get ‘in the groove’, spinning rigs are a pleasure to use.

Although spinning reels are made in sizes that allow you to fish for anything that swims in any water, anywhere in the world, they really excel in casting small jigs and spinners for trout in beautiful streams, sunfish, and crappie, etc… They have an advantage over fly rods in that there is no backcast, so you don’t have to worry about what is behind you when you cast, like with a fly rod. In fact, you can even fly fish with a spinning rod by tying on a fly below a light bobber. They work equally well for both lure fishing and bait fishing. Of the three types of fishing reels, the spinning reel is the most versatile. If I could only have one fishing reel, it would be a spinning reel.

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels have been around since the 1600s. The reason for their longevity is that they get the job done. They are made to handle big fish and tough conditions. They have powerful gears and instant response, making them the preferred reel for fishing with soft plastic lures in heavy cover. In fact, they are the reel to use for any big fish. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tournament bass fisherman who didn’t have at least one baitcasting reel in the arsenal.

Baitcasting reels are a lot more complicated than the other two types of reels and require more manual operation. But they have instant line engagement, and gears powerful enough to reel in a car if the line can stand it. They are the only reel to use for big fish and big water. And they are absolutely beautiful, crafted like a piece of jewelry. For those who own a Penn or Ambassaduer baitcaster, they are considered a prized possession, and it is not uncommon for them to be passed down from generation to generation.

On the downside, first off, they are much more expensive than either of the other two types, but they are way over-built. They are almost bomb-proof. They require you to manually set the spool brake to the right tension for the lure weight you are using before casting, or you will experience reel overrun, causing Birds Nests any sparrow would admire. Serious tangles like this take time to clear and often require cutting the line and re-splicing, wasting expensive fishing lines. And no matter how good you are, you will get Birds Nests from time to time. They are also limited to how light a line you can use. 8-lb. test is about the lowest limit they can cast. This is because they generate more line friction that the other types of reels, but it’s a trade-off. The line friction is one of the factors that allow you to catch really mean fish.

To cast with a baitcasting reel, first, you must adjust the spool brake for the weight of the terminal tackle you are using. This is done by reeling the lure or rig to within 1” of the rod tip with the spool brake tightened down all the way. Next, turn the spool brake knob to loosen the brake slowly, until the weight of the terminal tackle just starts to pull line out. Any more than this, and you will get spool overrun when your bait hits the water. Now, to cast, place your thumb directly on the spool and hold it in place as you disengage the anti-reverse by pushing the lever. While holding the spool with your thumb, load the rod, unload it and raise your thumb somewhere near the mid-way point, about at the 10 o’clock position, releasing the line. As it flies through the air, you need to watch it closely, and as soon as your bait hits the water, or maybe just right before, you need to place your thumb back on the spool to stop it from over-spooling. Now, give the handle a short crank to re-engage the anti-reverse. As you can see, it takes impeccable timing to cast one of these well, and there is no such thing as too much practice with a baitcasting reel. But if you ever plan to be a serious angler, this is an essential skill you should learn.

Which Reel should You Use?

Spinning reels are the reel to use for ultralight fishing. If you plan on doing any fishing for trout, panfish, crappie, or perch, then you need at least one good spinning ultralight rig in your fishing tool kit.

For almost all medium-sized fishing situations, it is hard to find anything better or more convenient than a good spincasting rig. They are made in large sizes that can handle some surprisingly large fish, even some inshore saltwater species. For most smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing, medium-sized catfish up to 25-40 pounds, salmon, white bass, carp, and even mid-sized stripers and snook, a spincasting rig in the appropriate sizes is just the thing for hassle-free fishing junkets.

If you are planning on going after trophy-sized fish, or large mean piscatorial pugilists, then a baitcasting rig should be your main battle-weapon. This is also the right rig for fishing in heavy cover, where you may have to drag a large bass out of the trees or bushes before they can hang you up.

These are just guidelines. Nothing is written in stone, and you should use the equipment you feel the most comfortable with. The fishing situations often overlap the reel requirements, so you usually have a choice of what type you can get away with using. Don’t be afraid to experiment and push the envelope. Personally, for crappie, I like putting a light spinning reel on my 5 wt fly rod. It works beautifully for using 1/16 oz. marabou jigs. Be adventurous…

Happy fishing!

The Wonderful World of French Spinners

Of all the available lures there are to help you catch fish, few stand out more than French Spinners. I can’t state this as a 100% fact, but I firmly believe you would have a hard time finding anyone who has ever fished that hasn’t used one of these at some point. I think it would be difficult to find someone’s tackle box without at least one of these in it. I’m not even sure it would be possible to go into any place that sells any fishing tackle at all that didn’t have some of these on the shelf. In my humble opinion, no other lure in history has ever had the same appeal to both fish of all species, and anglers as the French Spinner. If I could only have one lure to fish with, this would be my first choice.

Of course, there are many companies making French Spinners, and they are not all created equal. Strangely, each one has ultra-loyal followers, and there have been fights started over which one is the undisputed Master of the Water.

Why is this lure so popular? Does it really work better than all others? That is what we will explore with this article.

The Birth Of The French Spinner

MEPPS Aglia

There are several claims for the origin of the French Spinner, but it is widely accepted that it was invented by a French Peugeot engineer, André Meulnart. He loved to fish and in the late 1930s, he designed a revolutionary new fishing lure with a rotating blade that drove trout insane. He called it the Aglia, which is Latin for Butterfly, because of the way it looked cruising through the water. It took Europe by storm and he patented the design in 1938. André created the now famous MEPPS (Manufacturier D’Engins De Precision Pour Peches Sportives) company to manufacture the lures and ship them all over the world.

During the 1940s, Europe was ravaged by WW-II, and many US servicemen became acquainted with the Aglia. The lure made its way across the Pond to the US, where it was discovered to be deadly on just about anything that swims. When Frank Velek returned home from the war, he gave an Aglia to the owner of a local Tackle Shop, Todd Sheldon. He tried the lure and became hooked. Determined to market them in the US, he started buying them from a French woman, trading the spinners for stockings, which at that time were still in short supply in some places. But the demand for the Aglia far outstripped her ability to craft the lures and wear out stockings, so Sheldon began buying them directly from MEPPS. In 1956, he sold his tackle store and became the US distributor of MEPPS lures. In 1960, their sales topped over half a million, unheard of at that time.

What started as a small operation in the back of a tackle shop in Antigo, Wi. has become one of the largest fishing lure distributors in the world. Sheldon passed away in 1995, and his son Mike is the current CEO of Sheldon Inc., which owns MEPPS  S.A., and Mister Twister in Minden, La. They market over 4000 different lures.

Imitation Is Sincere Flattery…

Panther-Martin

At around the same time Meulnart was tweaking his design, a Polish fisherman named Stanislao Kuckiewicz designed a similar lure. The difference was that the Aglia’s spinner was mounted to a clevis, which allowed the blade to spin around the shaft. Kuckiewicz’s design mounted the spinner directly to the shaft. It is unknown whether Stanislao had seen a MEPPS, and used it as a basis for his design, or came up with it independently. However he got the idea, it was different enough from the MEPPS for him to get a patent on the design, and it proved to be as deadly on fish as the MEPPS. By the 1960s, the lure was marketed in the US as the Panther-Martin, and distributed by Harrison Hoge Industries Inc. Like McDonald’s, they can boast of over 104,000,000 sold. Panther Martins have just as loyal a following as MEPPS does.

Worden’s Roostertail

The Roostertail also came out about the same time as the MEPPS and Panther Martin. Designed by Robert Worden sometime in the late 1940s or early 50s, it differed from the MEPPS by having a solid body, rather than beads as on the MEPPS.

Since the history of the MEPPS is so well documented, and the others have sparse information available, my guess is that the Roostertail designer saw a MEPPS somewhere, and changed the design just enough to get a patent. Or, I suppose it could have been developed independently….three times??? However it happened, these are the Big Three French Spinner providers and all three have viciously loyal followers. I personally use all three…

Anatomy Of A French Spinner

A French Spinner is a simple design as far as construction, but complex in what it does. The lure starts with a wire shaft. A loop is bent in one end for a place to tie a line on to. Next, from the other end, a bead, and a blade attached to two clevises is threaded onto the shaft. Then, a bead or other spacer is placed behind the rear clevis to help the blade spin. Now, a weighted body or several weighted beads are threaded on to the shaft. Lastly, a treble hook is placed on the shaft and the shaft is bent into a loop to hold the hook permanently. Any excess wire is trimmed, and now you have a French Spinner, ready to fish. Thye can be easily crafted with just a pair of needle-nose pliers. I’ve been making them for a few decades, and homemade spinners are fantastic to fish with.

The key to a French Spinner is the blade. As it rotates, it puts out a ton of low-frequency vibration and sound, right in the middle of most fishies’ hearing and detection range. Like ringing a dinner bell, it brings fish in from quite a distance. Once they get into the visual range, the colors, and flash finish the job.

To fish a French Spinner, you just cast it out, count down to the depth you want, and make a medium, steady retrieve. Jigging a spinner just interrupts the blade spinning. One good tactic is to reel the spinner in fast enough to where the blade creates a surface wake, without actually breaking the surface. At times, this can drive fish insane.

Do They Really Work?

Anyone who has ever fished with a French Spinner will tell you that if you could only have one lure, this should be your choice. They may argue viciously over whether it should be a MEPPS, Panther-Marti, or Roostertail, but they will agree it should be a French Spinner. Although I use all three designs, my favorite is the MEPPS Black Fury, and any spinners I make closely imitate that color pattern. I am also very fond of the Roostertail in Fire Tiger colors. My favorite Panther Martin is a chartreuse and black Go-Glo.

More trout have been caught with inline or French Spinners than on any other lure, except flies. Believe it or not, more smallmouth bass has been caught on the MEPPS Aglia than on any other lure, according to surveys conducted by Field and Stream Magazine (March, 2008). For walleyes, the French Spinner far outdistanced the next best lure, which was the jig. The only category where the spinner does not come in first is with Largemouth bass, which prefers a plastic worm by a slight margin, and panfish, who prefer small jigs. However, neither beat the spinner by much.

French Spinners are easy to make, inexpensive to buy, and easy to fish with. What more could you ask for?

Happy fishing

How To Catch Walleye

Walleyes are a little bit different than most other fish. They have particular habits, likes, dislikes, and moodiness that set them apart for most other fish. A lot of the techniques required are not very intuitive and may require some practice to consistently put walleyes in the boat or creel. To this end, I am going to share with you some Walleye Fishing Tips.

What Is A Walleye?

Walleyes (Sander vitreus) are often referred to as, “Walleyed Pike”, even though they have no relation to pikes at all. They are actually members of the Perch family (Percidae), and closely related to Yellow Perch, Saugers, Loghead Perch, etc… They are the largest member of the perch family in North America, with males getting up to over 6 lbs. and females over 10 lbs. They can exceed 30 inches in length.

Walleyes are native to Canada and the Northeast U.S., but stocking programs have increased their range as far south as Alabama, Georgia and to the west. They are one of the most popular targets for ice-fishing. Walleyes are active all year long and in the South, they can provide some great fishing when the bass and other warm-water fish slow down in Winter.

Walleyes are olive green-colored, with gold accents, fading to near-white on the belly. They have 13 spines on the dorsal fin, and a mouthful of small teeth, so be careful when handling them. They resemble their close relative, the sauger. They can be identified by the light coloration on the caudal fin which the sauger lacks. Walleyes also lack the distinctive black dots on the dorsal and caudal fins that are present on saugers.

They got the name, “Walleye” because unlike other fishes, their eyes are more oriented to the sides, as if looking at a wall, hence the name. They have excellent low-light vision due to a layer of light-sensitive tissue called the tapetum lucidum. This layer also comes with a disadvantage. It is highly reflective, and when walleyes are in shallow water at night, they can be found by shining a light on the water and looking for glowing eyes. Their keen low-light eyesight and sensitivity to light allow them to live at greater depths than most other fish, sometimes more than 60 feet deep. This is where you will find them during the day. At night they will cruise the shallows in search of minnows, crawfish, and nightcrawlers.

Walleyes prefer a water temperature of between 60⁰F to 70⁰F. They will spawn when the temperature gets above 45⁰F, but unlike other fish, they do not guard their eggs, so there are no ‘beds’ to key on. They do become very voracious after spawning though, and the action can be very good when you find them.

Walleyes will be found near structure and cover so look for drop-offs with plenty of cover such as sunken timber, weed beds, rock piles, cups, basins, channels, etc…  They especially love rocky bottoms. Good places to try for walleyes at dusk, night and early morning are off of points. Points usually offer cover in the shallows, with a drop off nearby so they don’t have to travel very far. During the day, they will be deep, looking for their preferred temperature range, but they will be near cover and structure.

How To Catch Walleyes

The biggest part of catching walleyes is finding them. They will be in, or near their preferred habitat mentioned in the previous section. Once you locate them, there are several fishing methods that work, and the one you use is mostly up to your personal preference. People swear by each one of them, and I have personally used all of them myself. I never noticed much of a difference in them, so I use the easiest method of all, jigging. The methods you can use are:

  1. Jigging – Walleyes love jigs, especially in bright fluorescent colors. Of course, when they are deep, colors are less important because the colors go away at different depths. At 60 feet, there are only blues and greys, so you may want a jig that has a lot of contrast between light and dark colors without worrying so much about the actual colors. My preference is for marabou jigs up to ¼ oz., but they readily chomp on bucktails and soft plastic bodied jigs as well. Spoons also work well, and the best I have ever used is the Daredevel in red and white. Vertical jigging works the best, so you will probably want to use some kind of boat, but walleyes are regularly caught from shore by casting, especially below tailraces. But a boat will greatly increase your options.
  2. Crankbaits – Probably the second most favored method. Crankbaits for walleyes need to be a little smaller than for bass, and they are usually in fluorescent colors. I think the attraction is more from the contrasting colors, rather than the actual colors themselves, except in shallow water. Crankbaits are often trolled. Crankbaits let you cover a lot of water quickly, so they are a good choice when you are not sure where the walleyes may be. I’ve had the best luck with a #5 Rapala Shad Rap.
  3. Spinners – Inline spinners are not usually considered for walleyes, but I don’t know why. I regularly catch walleyes on Mepps, Panther Martins, and Roostertails. Inline, or ‘French’  spinners work sometimes when all other baits have failed. I’ve done the best with a No. 2 sized Mepps Black Fury. I also do well with the Mepps Comet.
  4. Soft Plastics – Plastic worms are outstanding walleye lures, but you can’t rig them Texas-Style, like for bass. Walleyes have a weird way of biting, and you will never hook them with a Texas Rig. You need to rig them on a special Worm Harness. These can be bought pre-made, or you can make them yourself. It’s just two tandem hooks behind a few beads and a spinner blade on a clevis.  You just hook the worm (lizard, creature, or whatever style you are using) near the head, and near the tail. Some people even use treble hooks for the rear hook, but I have found it causes me to get hung up a lot more. Your mileage may vary…
Ideal rig for walleye

The beauty of this rig is that it works equally well with plastic worms, and live nightcrawlers. It can be trolled, cast, vertically jigged, and even fished as a Drop Shot rig, which is great when walleyes are deep. You can also rig this with a walking sinker to keep it off the bottom.

  1. Live Bait – There are only three real choices for live bait. Minnows, nightcrawlers, and crawfish. I have never caught a walleye on anything else. Worms need to be on a harness, but minnows and crawfish can be put on a Carolina Rig, or you can tip a jig with them. You can rig them as a Drop Shot. Just keep an eye on your rod tip, because walleyes sometimes hit very light.  You can also rig live bait under a slip bobber.
  2. Flies – Fly fishing for walleyes at night when they are in the shallows is a great experience. The best patterns for me have been the Clouser Minnow in chartreuse and white, and pretty much any streamer in bright colors.

Gear For Walleyes

There is no need to purchase expensive high-tech rods and reels. Walleyes don’t put up much of a fight. Any good light to medium rod and reel combo with a fast-action rod will do just fine. For walleyes, I use a Zebco 33 combo that I bought at a department store before most of you were born, and it still works great (I wish I did…). Expensive baitcasting reels are massive overkill. A simple light to medium spin-casting or spinning reel is plenty. If you want to fly fish for walleyes, a simple 6-weight rod with a single action fly reel is plenty. For boat fishing, an inexpensive depth-finder is nice to have.

For terminal tackle, you need lures, flies, Bait-Holder and Octopus hooks in sizes from #2 to 2/0. ⅕ to ¼ oz sinkers, split shots, slip sinkers and walking sinkers, a few slip bobbers, and if you plan to eat them, a good fillet knife.

If you ever get really serious about catching walleyes, you will want to invest in some kind of boat. It can be very modest. I fish from a kayak, canoe, and an Intex Mariner 4 inflatable raft. I don’t own any type of boat with a motor, and you won’t have to either unless you just want to. So don’t go out and mortgage your house for a $20,000 bass boat with enough electronics on it to track submarines with. Any modest Jon boat or skiff with a modest depth-finder will work just fine. That’s really all you need.

Speaking of eating, walleyes are one of the best tasting freshwater fish there is!

Now you have all the knowledge you need to start chasing walleyes. The rest you will learn on your own, while on the water. Getting there is most of the fun…

Happy fishing

How To Catch MORE Fish: Turn a Bust into a Bonanza!

Sometimes fish can get downright uncooperative. It happens to all of us sometimes, no matter how good you think you are. Maybe you were catching bass like crazy, then the action just stopped. Moving to new places hasn’t helped. So, do you just pack up and head for Krystal’s, Checker’s, or Taco Bell? Don’t give up so fast. Sometimes fish are not saying, “No”, as much as they mean, “Not right now…”. So how do we put them back in the mood?

I’ve been fishing for a long, long time, and have learned several tricks to make fish change their minds about biting. Some I learned from Old-Timers (of which I am now a proud member…), and some I came up with myself. That is not to say they haven’t been done before. Brilliant minds think alike, and I am sure many of these were developed independently.

Anyway, these tricks can turn a bust into a bonanza. They are simple and take advantage of the fishes natural tendencies and instincts. They require little to no special equipment. Mostly, you are simply changing the way your lure or bait is presented. Some require the use of more than one rod at a time, so be sure and check to see if they are legal in your area before trying them out.

The Skipjack Routine

Many times, a baitfish will jump from the water to escape a predator, show off to a female member of their species, try to rid itself of skin parasites, attack something on the surface or just above it, or maybe just because it was feeling a little extra-frisky. Whatever the reason, it sends a ton of low-frequency sound through the water for quite a distance and attracts predators from all around. Personally, I think those vibrations are like the fish version of the, “One-Finger Salute”, so popular among drivers in heavy traffic. However the predators interpret it, it can drive them into a murderous frenzy. You can easily imitate this behavior with your rod and the right lure.

You need a floating lure that has no action on its own, like a stick-bait. Zara Spook and similar, “Walking The Dog” type lures are perfect for this. You need something that has no lip, or propellors on it. They will just create drag and keep the lure from ‘hopping’ out of the water. Crankbaits will just dive, and lures with a cupped front face will just splash harder.

Next, you need a long rod, at least 7 feet long, with fast action. Graphite rods are perfect for this.

To execute this action, cast your lure out and let it sit for at least 30 seconds, or until all the ripples dissipate. You can retrieve it a short distance, then sharply ‘pop’ your rod tip up with a tight line to make the lure jump from the water a short distance. It takes a little practice to get it just right. You don’t want it to jump more than a few inches from the water, so it will appear natural. You want it to hop about 4-8 inches high, and cover about 1 foot or less distance. Allow the lure to sit after the jump until all the ripples are gone. Be ready for vicious strikes while the lure is setting.

The Punk Trick

For a predator fish, getting something to eat is very competitive. Survival can sometimes come down to who gets there first. And nothing enrages a predator more than the thought of a smaller fish getting to a meal first. This trick takes full advantage of this.

You need two rods for this. One rigged for fishing with a minnow and a bobber, and the other rigged for casting a lure. Be sure to check the laws where you are fishing because some places only allow fishing with one rod at a time.

Rig your minnow with a Grouper-style rig, with the minnow suspended under a sinker, and with a bobber. Cast it to a likely spot, then place your rod in a rod holder, but keep an eye on the bobber.  It’s not uncommon to catch fish on the minnow and the lure simultaneously, which means you get real busy, real quick. When the minnow rig is set in the holder, pick up your other rod and rig it with a larger lure, such as a crankbait or swimbait. Cast it out past the minnow. Reel the lure in as close to the minnow as you can without snagging it. When you get past the minnow, reel in, recast and repeat.

To other fish, it appears that a smaller fish is attacking your minnow. The temptation to take advantage of this situation is irresistible, and many times, you will get hits on both the lure and the minnow.

The Bait And Switch Trick

Many times, you will see ads for great prices on things, only to find out when you get to the store, they are, “out of stock” on that item. The salesperson will then proceed to try to sell you a more expensive model of the item in question. This is known as Bait-And-Switch in the sales world and is illegal in a lot of states, but it is still done regularly.  You can pull this same trick on fish.

You need a large glass jar with a good-fitting lid, about 20 feet or so of 550 paracord, and a few minnows. Just drill a few small holes in the top of the jar for water to circulate, add some lake water and 6-12 minnows. Drill one more hole in the center of the lid, large enough to just pass the paracord through. Run the paracord through the hole and tie a jam knot in the end, on the inside face. Screw the lid on the jar tightly and check to be sure the knot and lid will hold the weight of the water and jar.

Now, just lower the jar into the water and let it down a few feet. Tie it off, and fish close to it.  The fish see what appears to be a tightly-packed school of baitfish just waiting to be attacked. They can also hear and smell them. Of course, they can’t get to them, which aggravates them enough to where they will take out their frustrations on your hooked minnow. This trick is especially effective at night when you are fishing under a light.

Crawfish Fight

This one is really cool, and a lot of fun to fish. You only need one rod, a soft-plastic crawfish creature, at least a ¼ oz. worm-weight, and a floating-diving lure of your choice.

When crawfish are threatened, two things happen. First, they raise their claws in a threat posture, and next, they flip their tails for a fast, but short-lived burst of speed to the rear in an attempt to escape. This trick mimics that situation perfectly.

Thread your line through a ¼ oz. or larger worm-weight and tie on a hook. Rig the crawfish Texas-Style. Remember, it’s a crawfish, so the tail should be pointing towards you, and the claws towards the rear. Next, with a separate piece of fishing line, tie on an 18” leader to the hook eye, and tie on a floating diving lure to the other end. Make sure your worm-weight is heavy enough to pull down the lure.

To use this rig, just cast it out and let the weight pull the whole thing to the bottom. The crawfish will lay on the bottom while the floating diving lure hovers just above and in front of it as if preparing for an attack.  Sharply twitch the rod tip every 30 seconds or so…whatever feels right to you. This makes the crawfish jump backward, while at the same time causing the floating-diving lure to dive at it. This very closely imitates what an attack on a crawfish really looks like, and any nearby predator will not be able to resist the chance to get two meals with one attack. It will grab the fish, and have the crawfish for dessert.

These are just a few of the many tricks you can use when fishing slows down.

Happy Fishing

10 Facts You Don’t Know About Black Bass

Black Bass comprise several species within a certain genera, and are a very popular sport fish in the U.S. Black bass are probably responsible for the majority of fishing license sales every year. There are people who fish for nothing but black bass, and most tournaments are specifically for black bass.

The internet is full of black bass ‘Gurus’ who seem to eat, sleep and drink black bass 24/7. They can tell you when they spawn, where they spawn, the routes they most likely take to spawn, get food, stay for the winter, etc… They can tell you what lures to use, when to use them, where to use them, what colors to use, and more…  But there is a lot of information they don’t tell you. This information may not help you catch more bass, but it will help you to understand them better. You should know as much about your adversary as possible to be really successful. Besides, knowing this information can let you dazzle the people at your local bait shop…. And who knows, some of this may be a Jeopardy question someday….

So without further delay, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about back bass:

Black Bass Are Not Bass At All

Black bass are not true bass. True basses belong to the family Moronidae, which includes white bass, striped bass, yellow bass, white perch, and hybrids. Black bass are actually panfish, or sunfish, and are in the family Centrarchidae, which includes largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, shoal bass, Guadalupe bass, white crappie, black crappie, bluegills, redear sunfish, green sunfish, pumpkinseeds, and other sunfish. They are in the genus Micropterus. Some of the best baits for the larger species are representations of the smaller species, so it seems like a pretty dysfunctional family to me ….  Just an extra tidbit included with the 10 things you probably didn’t know about black bass.

Black Bass Are Big Money

Black bass in the U.S. generate approximately 115 billion dollars in annual economic impact. That’s $115,000,000,000.000 a year! There are entire countries that do not make that much in a year… And here is another of the 10 things you probably didn’t know about black bass; They provide jobs for over 800,000 Americans. That’s just for black bass.  Can you imagine the economic impact when you add all the other species into it…..astronomical!

Black Bass Are The New Kids On The Block

Many people assume that black bass, and all other fish are ancient, but on a biological scale, they are relative newcomers to planet Earth. The Micropterus genus evolved around 26 million years ago, during the middle of the Oligocene epoch, but it did not include the black bass species we know and love today. This happened in the Miocene Epoch, around 11.5 million years ago, when waters flooded the S.E. plains of N. America, then receded, isolating many groups of Micropterus from each other. This resulted in new species evolving, including the modern black basses. So they haven’t really been around much longer than we have.

Another cool addition to the 10 things you probably didn’t know about black bass is that the first Largemouth black bass was discovered in 1562, by French explorers in what would become the state of Florida. Today, Florida is still the Bass Mecca of the world.

In Most Places, Black Bass Are Actually An Invasive Species

The original range of black bass is entirely east of the Rocky Mountains. West of the Rockies was entirely the domain of trout. Through stocking programs, accidents, and a little chicanery, Black bass can now be found just about everywhere in the US, parts of Canada, Mexico, South America, Africa, and Europe. A black bass was even caught in Alaska last year, and it’s driving them bonkers….. Black bass are considered an “undesirable” species in Alaska, parts of Europe, Africa, Central America, and Canada due to their predacious and voracious nature.

Nothing Lives Forever…

Excluding death by predation, black bass can live from 6 to 15 years on average. The oldest black bass known was from New York and was 23 years old. On average, bass live longer in the northern latitudes due to a slower metabolism and shorter growing seasons. Another cool addition to the list of 10 things you probably didn’t know about black bass is that they grow an average of ½ lb, per year. Black bass have to eat around 10 pounds of food to gain 1 lb, so a bass needs to eat approximately 1000 1-inch bluegills to gain one pound in weight.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Female black bass produce an average of around 4000 eggs each spawning cycle, but they do not lay them all at once. They will mate with several males and deposit the eggs in several nests to ensure the widest possible genetic diversity. Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of these eggs will hatch, and an even smaller number will live to spawn. Out of those 4000 eggs, odds are that only about 4 or 5 will live long enough to spawn more than once.

The Need For Speed…

Black bass are not built for sustained speed like white bass, tuna, etc… But they are capable of great speed in a short burst. That is not to say they are particularly slow. Few freshwater inhabitants are very fast, and black bass are more than a match for most of them. They can cruise for extended periods at around 12 mph. By comparison, reeling in as fast as you possibly can will result in a lure speed of a pitiful 3-4 mph… A black bass can easily overtake your lures without even taking a deep breath. To top it off, black bass can achieve burst speeds of 25 mph for a few yards. One more factoid on the list of 10 things you probably didn’t know about black bass.

True Colors…

Bass lures come in every color of the rainbow, but do they really help you catch bass? Or are most of those colorful lures designed to catch fishermen? Can science provide an answer? Of course it can. A 1937 study showed that bass were only responsive to red and green colors. Everything else seemed to be just light and dark. In a 2018 study, black bass eyes were examined through the latest technology, and it was determined that black bass only have 2 types of cones in their eyes, as opposed to the three in the human eye. The cones were only sensitive to red and green light. This means that black bass are dichromatic, much like a color-blind human. They can only distinguish between colors or combinations of red and green. All other colors will be interpreted as either light, or dark shades of white, blue, grey, and black. So that spinnerbait you love so much with the chartreuse and white skirt appears all white to a black bass. To make matters worse, red is the longest wavelength of visible light, and penetrates the least deep into the water. Deeper than  15 feet, there is no red. Blood actually flows green deeper than 15 ft (contrary to what most Hollywood movies would have you believe…). So when you are selecting colors to fish with, just concentrate on lights and darks, and don’t worry so much about the colors. Use what you like. The bass don’t really care….

Ooooh, That Smell…

The shelves of most sporting goods stores are filled with lure scents. Some of them make sense, (no pun intended…) like crawfish, minnows, shad, etc….., but garlic? Vanilla? Why would a bass associate these with food? Do any of them really work?.

Science says, “No!”  Bass only have 15 or so sensory folds in their nasal passages compared to over 150 in some other species. This means they do not have a very good sense of smell. It is probably only good enough to detect possible threats, like a human scent on a lure, or poison in the water, etc… But the scents might help cover up the human scent, so if you like them, by all means use them.

Hear Yea, Hear Yea…

Sound and vibrations travel faster and farther underwater, so one might think that all fish would be able to hear pretty good. You would be wrong. In the case of the black bass, by human standards, they would be tone-deaf. Humans can hear frequencies between 20, and 20,000 Hz. Bass only hear between 100 and 300 Hz. Anything over 500 Hz, bass are totally deaf.  But low frequencies travel farther underwater, so it does make a little sense. They can hear things like a crawfish clicking over the bottom, or bait fish swimming through dense cover.  That’s apparently good enough for them, so those rattling lures may really be just the thing to trigger a bass attack.

Now you know things a lot of other black bass anglers don’t. Happy fishing!

How to Choose a Freshwater Fly Selection

This is chapter 5 of our guide “The Art Of FlyFishing

The single question most often asked by novice fly fishermen is how do I choose the right fly? Thus, if you read the plethora of literature written on this topic, you would very likely come to the conclusion that in order to become a successful fly fisherman, you will need to carry an entire collection of flies designed to precisely imitate the aquatic insects and/or bait fish that are hatching or inhabiting the streams, ponds, or lakes, that you intend to fish. However, while this is certainly a sound approach, carrying copies of every possible fly pattern would leave your fly vest bulging at the seams and would weigh you down like an anchor.

Our complete Fly Fishing Guide is divided into different chapters:

  1. The Art Of Fly Fishing
  2. Fly Fishing Equipment: What You Need To Get Started
  3. Where To Go Flyfishing: 4 Ideal Spots
  4. How To Read A Trout Stream
  5. How to Choose a Freshwater Fly Selection You’re reading this

The Different Types of Fly Patterns

Thus, you should first be aware that all artificial fishing flies regardless of what fish species they are designed to catch can be first divided into two categories consisting of Attractors and Imitators. Then, they can further be subdivided into five more categories consisting of dry flies, wet flies, nymphs and, streamers while terrestrials can be either dry or wet flies.

Furthermore, Attractor flies are defined as any fly pattern that consists of bright colors such as red, yellow, and/or green and which does not closely imitate any known aquatic or terrestrial streamside insect such as the famous Royal Coachman fly pattern. However, Imitator flies are just the opposite in that they are tied using materials that do closely imitate certain families and, even specific species, of aquatic or terrestrial insects such as Mayflies, Caddis flies, ants, inchworms, and beetles.

Then, to muddy the water even more, Dry Flies are flies that have been tied using highly buoyant materials such that they float on the water’s surface while, wet flies on the other hand are just the opposite in that they are specifically designed to sink beneath the water’s surface. Next, we have nymph patterns which are specifically designed to resemble the nymphal stage of aquatic insects and thus, they too are designed to sink while, streamer patterns are specifically designed to resemble bait fish and thus they are often weighted. Therefore, over the years, fly tiers have developed terrestrial, dry fly, wet fly, nymph and streamer patterns in both attractor and imitator patterns.

Fly Patterns: Attractors vs Imitators

So, how does knowing this help you to choose the appropriate fly for any given time of year or time of day on any given stream or other body of water? Well, to start with, because fish have a relatively small brain, they learn to differentiate edible insects and baitfish from debris by observing their size, shape, color, and the minute movement their gills and eyes.

Therefore, as a general rule, most fly fishermen use imitator flies during periods when a specific family of flies such as Mayflies or Caddis Flies is hatching and then, they choose a fly from their selection that closely matches the hatching insects in both size and color. But, because fish have a relatively short memory, they can soon forget what these insects look like and thus, they may or may not strike them during the periods between hatches.

Consequently, Attractor Flies are specifically designed to entice fish to strike them by incorporating certain colors such as red, yellow, and green in combinations that have been proven to trigger their feeding reflex. Thus, many experienced fly fishermen rely on attractor patterns to catch fish when there are no aquatic insects presently hatching.

Terrestrials, Dries, Wets, Nymphs, and Streamers

On the other hand, any stream, pond, or lake that is inhabited by aquatic insects is inhabited by them all year long even though the mature adults of each species only hatch once a year for a relatively short period of time. But, their offspring, which exist in the nymphal stage, are available to the fish all year long and thus, nymph patterns are often the single most productive fly pattern available.

In addition, wet flies are another very effective fly pattern dating all of the way back to the Romans. However, when they were first developed, local blacksmiths lacked the ability to produce fine wire hooks made from hardened steel. Thus, their hooks were simply too heavy to allow their flies to float on the surface. But, because they represent a larger meal than most nymphs and, because they do not require a fish to come to the surface to strike them, wet flies can be very effective; especially if used to imitate fallen Mayfly Spinners after a Spinner fall.

On the other hand, although dry flies are often the least productive type of fly pattern to fish with, they are also without a doubt the single most fun fly pattern to fish with because, not only is the fly fisherman able to observe his fly as it drifts on the surface of the current, he is often able to see the fish rise through the water column to strike the fly which can be extremely exciting!

Then, bridging the gap between wet flies and dry flies, we have Terrestrials which are fly patterns that are specifically designed to imitate terrestrial insects such as ants, inchworms, crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles. However, some terrestrial fly patterns such as ants and inchworms are designed to suspend in the surface film or to float just below the water’s surface while others such as grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles, are designed to float on the water’s surface. However, regardless of which terrestrial fly pattern you choose, they can all be very effective during the warmer months of the year.

Last, we have streamer fly patterns which are specifically designed to resemble the size and shape of both freshwater and saltwater baitfish and crustaceans. Thus, while streamer patterns are often far less productive than nymphs, wet flies, or even terrestrials, they do tend to attract much larger fish due to the food versus energy equation.

How to Choose an Appropriate Fly Selection

So, once again, how does knowing all of this help you to choose an appropriate fly selection for any given time of year for any given stream or other body of water? Well, the answer to that question is to first acquire separate terrestrial, dry fly, wet fly, nymph, and streamer fly boxes. Then, stock your terrestrial fly box with the aforementioned black and red ants, inchworms, earthworms, grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles.

Then, stock your dry fly box with a selection of attractor Mayfly patterns in the three known trigger colors by choosing patterns such as the Royal Wulff (red floss), the Tennessee Wulff (yellow floss), and the Carolina Wulff (green floss) or, Humpy patterns in the same colors in addition to stocking Stimulator patterns in red, yellow, and green. Then, to complete your dry fly selection, stock your dry fly box with six imitator Mayfly patterns consisting of cream, yellow, green, grey, brown, and black by purchasing Light Cahills, Sulphurs Dunns, Blue Winged Olives, Adams, March Browns, and Black Gnats. In addition, most swiftly flowing streams also harbor large populations of Caddis Flies (aka Sedge Flies) and thus, a selection of Elk Hair Caddis patterns in red, yellow, olive, gray, brown, and black is also handy to have.

Furthermore, it is also helpful to be aware that this same system can also be applied to nymphs and thus, a good attractor nymph selection would be Royal Wulff nymphs, Pheasant Tail Sulphur nymphs, and green Golden Ribbed Hair’s Ear nymphs or, Firebug nymphs, Tellico nymphs, and Prince nymphs. Also, if you have Caddis Flies in your local waters, you might want to add a selection of Serendipity flies in red, yellow, and olive as well a selection of Copper John flies in red, copper, and green. Then, a good selection of imitator nymphs would be Light Cahill nymphs, Pheasant Tail Sulphur nymphs, green Golden Ribbed Hair’s Ear nymphs, Adams nymphs, March Brown nymphs, and black Golden Ribbed Hair’s Ear nymphs.

Last, in order to apply this system to streamer patterns, a good selection of attractor streamer patterns would be Royal Wulff streamers or Spruce Fly streamers along with Grey Ghost streamers while a good selection of imitator streamers would baby Brook Trout, baby Rainbow Trout, baby Brown Trout, Black Nosed Dace, and Conehead Sculpins.

So, while it is true that “matching the hatch” is a viable means of choosing an appropriate selection of dry flies, a far better method of choosing a selection of flies is to instead carry a general fly selection of attractor patterns in the three known trigger colors red, yellow, and green in addition to carrying a general selection of imitator patterns in cream, yellow, green, grey, brown, and black. That way, you will have the ability to “prospect” with your attractor flies both above and below the surface and then, if the fish seem uninterested in bright colors, then you can try some of the more subdued colors by using one of your imitator fly patterns. In addition, if you happen to run across a hatch, then you can also “match the hatch” by simply choosing a fly from your imitator selection that closely matches the Family, size, and color of the insects that you are seeing.

Or, if you are a trophy hunter, then large terrestrials or streamers are often the best way to go because, as fish grow larger, their energy requirements increase exponentially and thus, the larger the meal, the more energy a fish gains from catching and consuming it. Consequently, truly large fish often completely ignore all but the largest aquatic insects and instead prefer to target large terrestrial insects and indigenous baitfish.

But, regardless of whether you prefer terrestrials, dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, or streamers, by carrying a general selection of both attractor and imitator flies, you will find that you are well prepared to fish anywhere in the world on any type of water at any time of year.

How To Read A Trout Stream in Riffles, Runs, Pools And Glides

This is chapter 4 of our guide “The Art Of FlyFishing

Anyone who has walked along the banks of a trout stream has undoubtedly noticed that sections of the stream differ greatly from each other in that some are swift and agitated while others are slow and calm. Consequently, fly fishermen have given names to these different sections consisting of Riffles, Runs, Pools, and Glides and, under normal circumstances, the laws of stream hydraulics create these different sections in the order listed.

Therefore, in order to be successful, a fly fisherman must learn to identify each of these different sections as well as understanding where the trout are holding in each section in addition to learning how to properly present a fly to them. Furthermore, it is equally important that fly fishermen also learn to identify barren water so that they do not waste their time drifting their flies through water where the trout are not holding.

Our complete Fly Fishing Guide is divided into different chapters:

  1. The Art Of Fly Fishing
  2. Fly Fishing Equipment: What You Need To Get Started
  3. Where To Go Flyfishing: 4 Ideal Spots
  4. How To Read A Trout Stream – You’re reading this
  5. How to Choose a Freshwater Fly Selection

What Defines Productive Water And Barren Water?

Well, first of all, barren water is any section of a trout stream that is too shallow to provide protection from avian predators or which has a bright, sandy, bottom that negates the trout’s camouflage. On the other hand, productive water is a section of a trout stream that is deep enough or agitated enough to provide cover, has a dark bottom, and provides easy access to food drifting in the current.

How To Fly Fish in Riffles

So, first let’s talk about “riffles” since they are often very productive sections of a stream to fly fish for trout. Thus, a riffle is a section of the stream where the current is fairly swift but, the water level is relatively shallow due to the fact that it flows over a bed of small, round, rocks or pebbles and thus, creates an agitated, whitewater, surface. Consequently, Riffles are the aerators of a trout stream and, because they hold the most dissolved oxygen of any section in the stream and, because they offer easy access to food, the entire riffle is often a Prime Lie.

Riffles: Current is fairly swift, water is shallow

So, in order to fly fish a riffle, first station yourself either downstream of, or adjacent to the riffle and then mentally divide the riffle into lanes about a foot wide. Then, cast your fly to the top of the first “lane” closest to you and let it drift for the entire length of the riffle (or as far as you can) and then, pick it up and recast it to the next lane over and let it drift. Then, you simply repeat this process until you have covered the entire riffle from side to side (called “fan casting”).

Fan Casting

Reading Runs: Swift Current, Deep waters

Next, we have a section of a trout stream that is called a “Run” which is defined as a section of a stream where the water is confined to a narrow current between the banks of the stream and thus, the current becomes relatively swift and is commonly quite deep.

Thus, because the current in a Run is significantly swifter than it is in a Riffle, a fly fisherman should look for logs, rocks, and small caves that create small pockets of calm water which provide the trout shelter from the current while also providing them easy access to food drifting in the current and then should drift their flies adjacent to these Prime Lies.

Swift current, deep waters

In addition, it should be noted that Runs often extend into a Pool below them and thus, the edges of this current tongue are also Prime Lies. Therefore, in order to fly fish a Run, you should cast your fly to the top of the current tongue and then allow it to drift right along the edge of seam between the swift water and the calm water.

Flyfishing in Pools

Next, we have a section of trout stream that is called a “Pool” which is defined as a section of a stream where the water is contained in a relatively large area between the banks of the stream and thus, its surface is often flat and calm and the current is relatively slow but can be either relatively shallow or quite deep.

However, the calm surface in a pool does make it much easier for avian predators to spot and target their prey and thus, most species of trout have evolved highly effective camouflage to enable them to safely hold in clear, shallow, water. But, regardless of how effective a trout’s camouflage pattern may be against a dark or mottled background, this effect is immediately negated when a trout swims over a light colored, sandy, bottom.

Often flat, can be shallow or deep.

Therefore, the Prime Lies in a Pool are going to be located at the head of the pool where any disturbance of the water’s surface will make the trout less visible to their predators as well as along the edges of any Run that may extend into the pool. However, if it is a large pool, there may be other places where the trout are holding such as any area with a dark bottom or a shadow from an overhanging tree, behind or beneath logs that are either submerged in the pool or extend into the pool from the bank, and along the banks under overhanging trees.

Reading Trout Streams in Glides

Next, we have a section of trout stream that is called a “Glide” which is very similar to a Pool but, differs in that it is much too long to be considered a Pool. For instance, picture in your mind your average, backyard, swimming pool and then, picture that same pool eight or ten times longer and you will have a good idea of the difference between a Pool and a Glide.

But, like pool, Glides are often the most difficult section of a trout stream to fly fish because the surface of the water is so calm. Also, because the water in both Pools and Glides is often  deep enough that the trout have a relatively wide Cone of Vision, the trout can often see an angler coming from a great distance. In addition, due to the calm surface and mild current in Glide, trout holding in pools and glides tend to cruise rather than hold although, this is not always the case.

Just like a pool, but much longer

Therefore, in order to successfully fly fish a Glide, you will need a relatively long fly rod with a fast action and a light-weight fly line combined with an extra-long tapered leader so that you can make long casts that will land gently on the water’s surface while enabling you to avoid being seen by the trout.

Last Words On Reading Trout Streams

So, in order to become a successful fly fisherman, it is imperative that you learn how to recognize each of the different types of water found in a trout stream as well as understanding where the trout are holding in each section as dictated by the energy versus food equation. In addition, it is also imperative that you learn to determine where the prime lies are in each section of a trout stream and how to present your fly effectively to any tout holding in those prime lies. But, once you have mastered this essential skill, you will find that fly fishing for trout in mountain streams to be both far more enjoyable and far more productive.

>> READ CHAPTER 5: Basic Freshwater Fly Selection

Where To Go Fly Fishing: 4 Ideal Spots To Catch Trout & More

This is chapter 3 of our guide “The Art Of FlyFishing

Because fly fishing has traditionally consisted of fishing for various trout species in crystal clear mountain streams, many potential fly fisherman who would like to participate in this most fascinating form of fishing are dissuaded from doing so due to the fact that they do not live in or near the mountains. However, the fact is that any fish species that will strike a conventional fishing lure will also strike a fly and, fly fishing equipment has evolved over the years to accommodate anglers who wish to take advantage of this fact. Therefore, regardless of where you live, as long as there is a body of water nearby that contains fish, you can use fly fishing equipment to catch them!

For instance, while most fishermen use conventional fishing equipment to catch their favorite freshwater fish species such as Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Pike, and Muskie on their local lakes, due to advances in fly rods, fly lines, and fly patterns, anglers who pursue freshwater fish species in stillwater can now enjoy the same level of grace, beauty, and challenge that traditional fly fisherman enjoy.

On the other hand, saltwater fly fishing has also become extremely popular among fly fishermen and thus, regardless of whether you prefer to search the surf, wade the flats, probe inshore waters or, plumb the offshore depths for pelagic fish species, there is fly fishing equipment designed specifically to meet your needs.

Our complete Fly Fishing Guide is divided into different chapters:

  1. The Art Of Fly Fishing
  2. Fly Fishing Equipment: What You Need To Get Started
  3. Where To Go Flyfishing: 4 Ideal Spots You’re reading this
  4. How To Read A Trout Stream
  5. How to Choose a Freshwater Fly Selection

Then, of course, there are the many different types of rivers that populate and irrigate our landscape and, they too can all be effectively fished with fly fishing equipment. For instance, rivers range from raging whitewater rapids to swiftly flowing currents to gently flowing turbid water to nearly stagnant black water and each type of river is home to various fish species that are specifically adapted to their chosen environment. Thus, if you can walk the banks, wade the streambed, or float over it in a float tube, kayak, drift boat, or rubber raft, then you can use fly fishing equipment to catch any or all of the various fish species that call that stretch of water home.

However, because the ancient art of fly fishing was traditionally developed to enable anglers to catch ultra-wary trout in crystal clear streams by using artificial flies that closely imitate indigenous aquatic insects, a more detailed explanation of the different types of freshwater trout streams is in order. Therefore, it is important to note that all trout streams can be characterized according to one of four different types of water consisting of Spring Creeks, Freestone Streams, Limestone Streams, and Tailwaters.

1. Spring Creeks

A Spring Creek is a stream who’s main source of water is derived from rainfall resulting in ground water accumulation and which has a relatively constant temperature. In addition, many Spring Creeks originate in mountain ranges that have extensive deposits of limestone which is much softer than the surrounding granite rock. Thus, because the limestone erodes more easily than the harder rock, this erosion creates an extensive system of underground, mineral rich, creek, rivers, and reservoirs. Therefore, when this mineral rich water emerges above ground as a spring and starts its journey downhill, it merges with other springs to form either a Spring Creek or a Limestone Stream which, in turn, creates an exceptionally rich environment for aquatic plants, aquatic insects, and trout. Therefore, because both the water temperature and the volume of water in a Spring Creek is less erratic than that of a Freestone Stream and, because of their greater abundance of aquatic plants and aquatic insects, trout inhabiting a Spring Creek are generally larger than those inhabiting a Freestone Stream because they have a longer growing season and more food available to them.

2. Limestone Streams

Next, we have Limestone Streams which are Spring Creeks that flow through large deposits of limestone either below and/or above ground and are most often associated with streams that have a relatively consistent water temperature and a relatively slow and consistent current. Therefore, the phrase “Limestone Stream” is most often associated with streams that have a shallow gradient and a gentle current along with extensive beds of aquatic            plants which, in turn, create an exceptionally rich environment for various species of aquatic insects as well as the trout that feed on them. Consequently, Limestone Streams are the richest environment available to trout because of the profuse abundance of food, the lack of a swift current, and the lack of extreme temperatures. Therefore, fish inhabiting Limestone Streams are often notably larger than fish inhabiting any of other three types of trout streams.

3. Freestone Streams

A Freestone Stream on the other hand is a stream who’s main source of water is derived from runoff created by either melting snow or rainfall. Thus, they are characterized by drastically fluctuating water levels, steep gradients, and numerous whitewater rapids during periods of peak water flow. Therefore, because the supply of water in a Freestone Stream is so erratic, the volume of water in a Freestone Stream tends to peak during the early summer months and tends to fall to its lowest point during the late fall and winter months. Thus, a Freestone Stream is more readily influenced by the ambient air temperature than either Spring Creeks or Limestone Streams.

In turn, this results in a wider range of water temperatures than those of either Spring Creeks or Limestone Streams and thus, winter can cause Freestone Streams to reach freezing temperatures and summer can cause them to rise to temperatures as high as 70° F (which is the extreme upper limit of the temperature range within which trout can survive). Therefore, because of the wide variation in both water volume and water temperature coupled with the lack of dissolved minerals in a Freestone Stream, the growing season of any trout that inhabit such streams is drastically shortened. Consequently, the fish that inhabit Freestone Streams are generally notably smaller than those that inhabit Spring Creeks, Limestone Streams, or Tailwaters.

4. Tail Waters

Last but not least, we have Tail Waters which are sections of a stream that are located immediately below a dam from which water in the reservoir above it is expelled from the bottom of the dam rather than allowed to spill over the top. Thus, because this expelled water is drawn from the bottom of the reservoir, it contains significantly more dissolved oxygen than the water at the surface and, it maintains a consistently cold temperature which forms an excellent environment for various species of aquatic plants, aquatic insects, and trout for a couple of miles downstream of the dam even in relatively warm environments. Consequently, most Tail Waters provide a very rich environment for trout because they remain at a relatively constant temperature throughout the year and, they tend to produce very prolific insect hatches along with providing an extended growing season for trout. Therefore, trout inhabiting Tail Waters can easily be as large and as numerous as those inhabiting Limestone Streams and, both the terrain and the current are often much less rugged than that of a Spring Creek or a Freestone Stream.

Conclusion: “Where Can I Flyfish Near Me?”

Thus, with so many different types of water available to the fly fisherman, locating a place to fly fish is as easy as looking at a topographical map such as a DeLorme Gazetteer or, using the World Wide Web to access Google Earth. These sources will, in turn, display all of the ponds, lakes, creeks, streams, and rivers within driving distance of your location as well as any roads leading to them. Therefore, if you are one of those anglers who admires the grace and beauty of fly casting along with the unique challenges presented by fishing with hand-tied flies instead of manufactured lures, then the lack of a place to fly fish is no longer an excuse for not taking up this ancient form of fishing!
>> READ CHAPTER 4: How To Read Trout Streams