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Gear Prep Obsession

I know that there are a ton of fishy folk out there that love our pursuit.  I see you out there trying to carve out your own piece of solitude on a river, or scheming how to get more time on your favorite lake or pond.

What I often wonder though, is are you all as obsessed as I am with the process of gear prepping?  Perhaps it’s a bad case of OCD on my part, but if that’s the case I will own it with pride because I LOVE gear prepping.


I started to run down a list of the things I do prior to a day on the water and I suppose it’s pretty funny.

  • Fly box selection and arrangement
  • Check all flies for barb and rust (sharpen as needed)
  • Primary rod rigging
  • Secondary rod selection
  • Replace tippet from last trip
  • Check tippet spools for any that are running low
  • Pack water, snacks, toilet paper, etc… in the sling bag


  • Make sure I have stripping guards, sunscreen, bug repellent, hat, glasses, etc…..
  • Wax rod ferrules
  • Pack appropriate net (which often never leaves the car…. love-hate relationship with nets)
  • Check headlamp batteries
  • Make sure I have spare polarized glasses in the car for multiple light conditions


  • Convenience store stop for teriyaki flavored beef jerky, cheddar cheese combos, and a Mt. Dew as this combo is the appropriate homage to the fish Gods in order to increase the chances of a good day.  If it is the second Saturday and just after a full moon a bag of powdered donuts is added to for potency.
  • AM playlist cued up and ready on my iPhone to get in the right headspace for my drive.  Often consists of Zac Brown Band and other feel-good tunes……  If the day turns out to be frustrating the drive home tends to be more like Social Distortion.
  • Lay out clothing based on the weather report and placed either in the bedroom or living room so after waking Beth up with my 4:30AM alarm clock she can hopefully fall back to sleep without me fumbling around the room like a newborn giraffe.
  • Pack bag with backup clothing for either a change in weather or the likely chance that I fell in the water.
  • Remember to wear my lucky underwear


  • Check flow gauges
  • Call Carp Whisperer and geek out for a bit because it makes me feel normal hearing   that he is as stoked as I am
  • Double check bag for hand warmers


I could keep going but some of you might start to doubt my already doubtful sanity.  I’d love to know, what are some of the ways you all prep?

Enough prepping!  Let’s get out there and chase some fish!

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,



When the Going Gets Tough……

I have long envied fly fishers who have the luxury of flexibility….. meaning they can leave at the drop of a hat to fish when conditions are prime.  They often have the best probability of epic days that become stories of legend.  Insert guide speak……. “you should have been here last week”.   Most of us, me included, were not born under such a lucky star.  I have a real job, real bills, and four very real kids that require me to be a very real dad.

Once a year CW and I head up to Presque Isle Bay for a weekend of warm water fun.  The beauty of the fishery is that it has such versatility that regardless of what is going on there are always fish to be had if you are willing to be flexible.  It is not uncommon to have caught over 10 species of fish in a weekend of fly fishing…. No joke.  We have had to work around early spawn schedules, late spawn schedules, shad kills, rain, wind, oppressive heat, back problems, leaky waders, marital issues, even gastro-intestinal issues…. All to chase fish.

This past weekend I think we finally hit the one variable that we had never had to deal with.  Upon arriving at the bay it blew our mind to see the water levels to be over 5′ higher than normal.  There was literally water creeping up into parking areas.  Now if you are a fly fisher in a boat, no biggie.  If you are a wading angler this is a major issue.  Roughly 75% of the places we would ordinarily wade to get to fish were now off limits.  Throw in a nasty algae bloom, some storm fronts, and a cottonwood fluff hatch that looked like a snow storm and it made for some crazy conditions.


I have long stood by the philosophy that what separates really good fly fishers from others is the ability to problem solve and persevere through less than ideal situations.  I wish I could tell you that we overcame and kicked ass… Or that we caught that one fish of a lifetime and made it all worthwhile…. We didn’t.  What we did do was got wet as water slipped over the tops of our waders, cast our arms off for 3 days, laughed at each other, drank beer, and oh yeah…. managed to scare up a few fish.

The largemouth were gone.  The carp were nowhere to be seen (see tear rolling down my cheek).  We didn’t even see more than a gar or two which is highly unusual.

Far from the bonanza that we had imagined in our heads.  No worries.  Sign me up…. I’m ready to do it all over again!  See you on the water.

Tight Lines and Loose Morals,



Microskiff Build Progress

IMG_1586So building a boat is not as hard as it looks….. However, building a boat is more time consuming that it looks!  I thought for sure I could get her done 3 weeks ago.   Ummmmm… NO.  I still have a good two weeks of solid work to go and that is being optimistic.  I have also spent about twice what I originally thought I would.  Some of this can be chalked up to total rookie status mistakes.  Some of it is allowing myself to stray from my budget for things that I really wanted (maybe not needed) to have in the boat.  The rest of it is truly a story of how a bunch of little things can add up to a lot.

So, do you have any regrets you ask?  Heck No!  I could not be any more pumped about how she is turning out.  My only real regret is waiting this long to do this.  The really fantastic part of the experience that CW and I have shared so far is truly crafting her to be exactly what we wanted her to be and nothing that we didn’t.  That is hard to get from a stock boat off the lot.  The pride of craftsmanship is much the same as catching a fish on a fly you tied or designed but in a much larger scale.  If you have ever thought about building a canoe, jon boat, drift boat, skiff, etc…. The only thing I can tell you is GO DO IT!

I will keep you all posted as things move along.  We will be flipping her this week so things should start to look pretty different.

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,




So when I started this project I purchased an old Evinrude and a trailer from my neighbor that had been rotting away in their back yard.  The trailer is for a small boat or PWC and has wheels just about the size of the ones on my kids Matchbox car.  I stopped in at a local boat yard and they had a set of used 12″ wheels in decent condition for $40…… SOLD!  One can of white spray paint later and we have new wheels!



As this build moves along it is amazing the lessons that you learn… some cheap, some expensive.  For example, last night I learned that you can’t let epoxy cure when the temperature in your garage drops down to freezing over night….  Looks like I have some sanding work to do.


Tonight we will be finishing the hull pieces and hopefully be starting to stitch by the weekend!



Orvis Contest Help!

Hey fellow brown liners!  I made the finals for the Orvis best in show carp photo contest.  Please cast a vote my way so I don’t have to starve my four kids to get the H2!  I am the handsome fella with the fly rod in his mouth!  Thank you all for your help.  🙂



One More Scratched Off the Species List!

The last few weeks in the mid-atlantic have been pretty darn cold but I did manage to hit the early part of the shad run.  Beautiful evening on the Rap but unfortunately not too many fish with willing mouths.  We did have lucky customer number one so I guess I can notch shad on my belt!  On the swing no less!


Attempted some striper fishing as well but no luck to be had.  Hopefully the action will heat up as things warm up.








Yes… I know, more of a “carpling” than a carp but after the long cold ass winter that still dumped snow in the month of April I was just happy to see the light of day.  Ordinarily I would have been disappointed by the fight which more closely resembled reeling in a wet dish rag but considering the circumstances, I was thrilled to see the take.  I had been busy at the vise over the past month and decided to give John Montana’s hybrid (trouser worm/soft hackle) a try.  I loved the way the fly looked and it’s profile as it sat on the bottom was outstanding.



I gave one to CW to try out the other day and I was curious to see how he liked it.  As fly fishers, we can be such creatures of habit and sometimes deviating from tactics that work is a tough sell.  CW had been pitching eggs the next day to a pod of carp with no luck.  He dug through his fly box and pulled out the hybrid and decided to give it a shot…. FIRST CAST Hook up!



Hopefully as things warm up we will see the big girls come into the shallows to play.  Thanks John and Trevor for putting together the peanut butter and the jelly into a great looking pattern!

Good Luck and Tight Lines,



Fly Tying for Carp and Smallies – Save the Date

Hey All,

Just a quick heads up.  I will be teaching a seminar at International Angler on fly tying for carp and smallmouth bass.  It will be on March 9th at 10:00AM.  There have been so many cool innovations in patterns over the last couple of years and I am excited to share some of what I have seen out there with all of you.


It should be a couple hours of fun and learning.  Look forward to seeing you there!

Tight Lines,



Thankful Things

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving Holiday today.  Despite the difficult times we find our country and our world in, we all have much to be thankful for.  I for one am thankful for my wife, my children, my health, my friends, and my job. 

When it comes to fly fishing, however, there are a whole different set of things I find myself to be thankful for.  Here are just a few….

Solitude on the water, road trips with good friends, amazing takes, the sun glistening off of the flank of a fish that just gave away it’s position, fish that tickle the imagination because we felt them and never saw them, perfect casts that are in perfect timing, not so perfect casts that took fish anyhow, home tied fly patterns that don’t have a name, local fly shops in small towns, the anticipation of exploring new water, meeting total strangers that become friends, seeing someone catch the fish of a lifetime and not being sure if you are jealous, proud, or both, fishing well into the dark and hoping you remember how to get back to your car, and most of all I am thankful for the smile on my face every time the hatch of my car shuts and I stride towards the water wondering what might be in store today.

Tight Lines, Good Health, and a Very Happy Thanksgiving



April Vokey Knows Her Shit!

So last night we had the pleasure of the rather infamous April Vokey ( to present a class in tying intruder style flies at International Angler in Pittsburgh.  Unless you live under a fly fishing rock, you have undoubtedly seen her face gracing the cover of just about any magazine you might pick up, caught her on TV, or engaged in some salacious conversation about her “rod handling skills” with your buddies…. (or is that just me?)

Well after spending about 4 or 5 hours in close proximity, allow me to set the record straight.  Yes, April is a fine looking woman by just about anyone’s standards…. and yes, her lips are real.  She even managed to completely wreck my concentration a few times with a well timed, good natured poke at us guys and a sly grin as she kept it G rated (but I am guessing would have probably preferred otherwise).  The funny thing is that I completely forgot all of this and found myself completely taken in by how passionate she is about her fishing, her rivers, and her Steelhead.

Within 5 minutes she knew all 13 of us by name and did not forget a single person throughout the entire class.  (No name tags needed!)  Her teaching style was warm, engaging, and informative.  Some of us had been tying for years and others were total noobs and everyone walked out of the class with a great experience that they could build upon.  After the class CW asked me what she was like and the best way I could describe it to him was that she is the type of person that you would love to share a road trip, a river, and a beer with.  (and I don’t say that about many people)

April Vokey at International Angler

So April, if you happen to read this, keep up the fantastic work and thanks for a great class.  If you have yet to have the pleasure, spend some time and get to know April Vokey.  I promise you won’t be disappointed and if you can check your giant male ego at the door you might actually learn a few things!  I know I did.