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Posts from the ‘Salt’ Category


Tying Meat!

I am not normal…..

If you are Mrs. Brownliner you can attest to this with certainty. If you are the Carp Whisperer, you can echo that sentiment as well. In fact, if you have ever read this blog it was probably fairly apparent rather quickly.

Most fly fishers begin with trout. From there they branch out into the salt or other warm water predatory species. Some never branch out at all. As a life long bass and still water fisherman, streams and trout just didn’t speak to me for a very long time. I was used to big water, big hardware, and big boats. So it was logical that my greenhorn years as a fly fisherman were spent chasing bass and stripers in the salt. Double hauling a 1/0 Clouser into the wind made much more sense to me than a reach cast and three mends to float an elk hair caddis with no drag did.

I was living in the DC area at the time and chucking lead in Baltimore for schoolies was big fun. This was also when I began to tie flies. I took a class at the Orvis store in Tyson’s Corner, VA and I was hooked. The idea of creating was absolutely fascinating to me. I went out and bought (on VHS!) Lefty Kreh’s fly tying series as well and I began a journey that has been near and dear to my heart for the past 15 years.

I recently was going through some fly boxes as I was prepping for my annual trip to Presque Isle with CW and I found some flies that I had tied back when I had first began. I recall at the time being very proud of some of my ties and even more so when they yielded a take. Evolution is a funny thing…. My hackle turns were sloppy, my heads were not finished well… in general, they looked like they had been tied by a child. In many ways they had.

So as I sat down to the vise to tie for my trip, I couldn’t help but to notice the attention to detail that only comes with years and mistakes. It took me ages before I was comfortable tying flies for trout. I don’t think I even owned hooks smaller than a size 2!

So as I sat down and began to tie, my mind started to wander down amnesia lane. I had vivid memories of pulling specific patterns from the jaws of specific fish. I remember driving a chartreuse over white 1/0 Clouser Minnow into the back of my head while fishing some bridge pilings at night in Virginia Beach…. I think I still have a small lump from that one a decade later.

Tying meat is just different. Big hooks, big profiles, big dumbells, big popper heads, big weed guards, etc…. Hopefully yielding big fish! The truth is I have enough flies tied to last for years yet I still tie more. At times I wonder if it is a sickness or some kind of compulsion? I give flies to friends…. hell I give them to complete strangers as well. (good karma)

So just for the record….. this is the first fly I ever tied. I landed a massive 12″ grunt on it and promptly retired it to the top of my desk where it remains!

Where has your tying journey taken you? Fond memories? Crazy stories? Love to hear them if you care to share. And if you have never tied meat…. go for it! It will give you a good excuse to go buy that 8 or 9 weight rod you had your eye on.

Good Luck, Tight Lines, and Lots of Beef Jerkey,



Potential World Record Cuda on the Fly Caught in Jamaica

I’m sorry… Shameful…. I know… but I couldn’t help myself…. Yes it is the potential world record for the SMALLEST Cuda ever caught on the fly!

I was going through my photo’s and found this from my honeymoon in Jamaica.  I spent weeks telling my wife about the glory of salt water fly fishing.  I showed her all of my specialized (code for “did you really need to buy that?”) salt water gear.  She could hardly control her giggles when after a day of chucking lead the only thing I could scare up was this cuda that was smaller than most blue gills from the pond back home.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I had a blast.  I saw some amazing things that day.  I have fond memories of the island foliage in full bloom.

I distinctly remember the visual distraction of Mrs. Brownliner in her bikini throwing off the timing of my casting.  Yes dear… the tailing loop was all your fault!

But mostly I remember the amazing zen like feeling of being on the water with the tropical sun beating down on us as I scoured the shallows for fish with a huge grin on my face.  These days, Mrs Brownliner is preparing the nest for two new arrivals at home so it might be a while before the flats will see my reflection again, but it never hurts to take a stroll down amnesia lane…. soon enough…. soon enough….

Good Luck and Tight Lines,



Video Retrospective

So I decided to go back through the last year plus and put together a bunch of video that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with…. it is interesting to put so much fishing into 10 minutes but I think it lends some perspective to what has been a really fantastic stretch of fishing. Hope you enjoy!



I normally don’t act as a repository for general content, but this was way too cool not to post!  Best footage I have ever seen.


KEY Words

Wow….. FL Keys in August described in one  word.


I am sweating right now just thinking about it.  Needless to say, the fish shared my sentiments.  We did not get skunked, but it was definitely hard work getting shots.  A few things for my to do list next time:

  1. After 5 years away from the salt, my strip strike most definitely needs work and practice
  2. After 5 years away from the salt, my 9 wt double haul needs work and practice
  3. After 5 years away from the salt, don’t let 5 years go by before your next trip!!!!!!

So on our first day in Marathon, my father and I paddled our yaks out onto the Jacktar Flat hoping for some afternoon shots.  Outside of one small cuda, I don’t think we saw a single fish, but it was a beautiful day and we at least got our feet wet.

Day two we spent the day on the water with our guide Barry Hoffman.  If anyone is looking for a very patient and experienced guide I highly recommend him!  He worked hard to get us on fish all day.  I would love to tell you about my perfectly placed cast right in the path of a feeding bonefish, or the redfish that I pulled out of his hiding place in the mangroves….  but alas I cannot tell a lie!  But I can however tell you about the 4 shots at tailing bones that I shorted, lined, and practically bonked on the head with my fly sending them speeding off to parts unknown.  I can also tell you about 3 shots at reds that had similar results… Ughhhh.   Yes, we each caught about 20 seatrout and had a beautiful day on the water but in the partnership that is guide and angler I did not hold up my end of the contract.

Day three we spent the morning working the flats from our kayaks and I could see in my father’s face (lifelong bass fisherman) that the idea of sweating his ass off in 2 feet of water with no action to be found was not his cup of tea.  We went in for lunch and I suggested that we do something that was a bit more his speed so we spent the afternoon on a drift boat fishing the reefs for yellow tail.  I would normally give you some caustic comments about that type of fishing but I actually had a good time.  I think part of it was that I had absolutely no expectations at all and the other was that I got to spend an afternoon on a boat with my dad!  The one interesting part of the day for me was it was the second time in a decade that I fished with conventional tackle.

The next morning was my last in the keys and I made the most of it.  I woke early and was fishing the canal behind our lodge for some juvenile tarpon that are resident there.  I started out with a shrimp pattern that I created for the trip and jumped two but did not land either.  Then they really started to feed up top so I switched to a gurgler and jumped three more, landing one.  (see above comment on improving my strip strike!!!!)  As luck would have it I of course landed the smallest of the five but left with a HUGE smile on my face as the fishing gods did not let me leave the Keys “tarponless”.

That day we drove back up to Boca Raton for a day and a half of bass fishing on the golf course ponds that my dad frequents.  I told him on our trip that he is a spoiled fisherman and I stand by that comment!  He fishes lakes and ponds that see virtually zero fishing pressure and chases fish that have a 12 month growing season.  (must be nice!)  We worked a few ponds with moderate success and dad being the rebel that he is decided we should sneak out onto the course and fish a pond that is off limits since it is on the fairway side.  JACKPOT!  We found some rock structure and for about 2 hours hooked into more bass than we could count.  None were huge but the majority slotted in between 1 and 3 lbs and it was great action.   Just as the bite subsided we were booted and left like two giggling kids that just got away with cutting class.

I left Florida with a red nose, cracked skin, a tired casting shoulder, and a great trip with my dad that I will always remember.  It was such a departure from my creek and stream fishing back home in Pennsylvania and a true test of my fishing skills.  Some I passed, some I failed, and that is what keeps you coming back the next time!

It had been over 20 years since my father and I had been on a true fishing trip together.  By the end of the trip I felt ashamed that I had let it go that long.  We are two different types of fisherman who chase fish in two very different ways but it has always been one of the bonds that have held father and son together.  We both had an amazing time and have committed to not allow another 20 years to mark the next venture.  As always….

Good Luck and Tight Lines!


I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

I crave the salt like a land locked salmon.  It is in my blood and in my dreams.  Most people cut their teeth as trout fisherman and migrate to the salt with a bit of curiosity… at least that has how it has historically been.  Ironically, in my entire fly fishing career I have caught two (no that was not a typo) trout on the fly.  The largest reason is that I don’t really trout fish much.  The other is that the whole entomology game just bugs me.  My fly fishing journey started in salt water and a day does not go by that I don’t miss it.

According to my wife, the rumors are true and yes… size matters.  I am not just talking about the length of the rod or the full wells grip.  I hate tying flies smaller than a size 10.  I don’t like tying knots in 7x tippet.  And I am sorry to all of the trout purists in the crowd, but the notion of chasing a 6″ brookie because it is native and has pretty spots just does not turn my crank.

The notion of hooking into a fish that can rip your arm from the socket is just an amazing thought.  I love the struggle, my inner Ahab is brought out as I peer into the eyes of the great white whale (metaphorically speaking of course).  Man vs. Beast…..

At the end of the month I have 4 days in the Florida Keys and I find myself tying far too many flies and going through my gear list a few too many times.  Before I leave all of my hooks will be razor sharp and fingernail tested.  My one concern is wondering whether or not my wife will have a head injury from all of the excessive eye rolling that is being sent in my direction.  To be honest I really don’t care!

Keep your eyes peeled Moby…. Ahab is coming!

Tarpon Ready


Heading to the Beach!

My formative years in fly fishing started in the Chesapeake Bay area chasing stripers on the fly.  After moving inland, I truly relish my opportunities to fly fish in the salt.  Next week we are heading on a family vacation down to Kure Beach, NC.  With 5 kids and 4 adults on the trip  don’t think I will have what one would call quality fishing time at my disposal, but I do plan on sneaking in a few hours in the surf while I am there!

So it is time to dust off my flats booties, strap on the stripping basket, grease up my intermediate line and get ready to chuck and duck through the waves!

This is a vintage shot of what truly gets my fly fishing blood pumping!!!!  There is just something about the possibility that something truly huge could end up on the end of your line!  I was talking to a friend down in Florida who was fishing the surf and ended up with a triple digit tarpon…. you just never know!

This trip will be followed 4 weeks later with a trip to the keys so be ready for some great updates this summer from the salt!