Fly Fishing Western Wyoming fly fishing guide outfitter coach videos

Streamer Fishing Suggestions

Streamer Fishing Suggestions

For Salt Greys: Use a floating line with a 9′ custom-made Fluorocarbon leader. Or, use a 10′ Fast-Sink tip with a 4′ custom- made Fluorocarbon leader.

Option 1: Use 1 fly on 15 lb. test.  For the Zoo Cougar or Dayle1 s Devil, tie the fly on with a non-slip loop knot and put a size 2 BB just in front of the knot.

Option 2: Tie on a JJ Special or other weighted streamer on the 20 lb. end of your leader and add a Zoo or Devil 2 feet back on 15 lb. test. Tie the 15 lb. test to the hook bend of the top fly.

Option 3: Use a double surgeon’s knot to connect your 15 and 20 lb. test. Leave a long – (1 foot) tag end to your 20 lb. test. Tie a heavier fly like aJJ or Double Bait. Fish to the 15 lb. bottom section and a Zoo or Devil to the top section.


Floating: On the Snake and South Fork, you might use a 28′ or Full Sink line.

Option 1: Throw to the bank. Slap the fly as close as you can to structures and retrieve in quick strips – watch for the following fish. Experiment as to what retrieve they want.

Option 2: Throw to the bank and let the fly work downstream with the boat. Impart small twitches to the fly as it runs parallel with the bank,

Option 3: When flows get really low in October, drift the banks and throw to the middle of the channel where there is a structure (big rocks). Let the line sink as it travels parallel to the boat. When it reaches the bottom, begin retrieving in strips with pauses. Sometimes the fish will take it almost dead drift, other times they want it stripped as fast as you can

Upstream Wading: Generally, when wading upstream you can get more depth with your fly than you can wade downstream. You can throw your line up and across and let it sink before retrieving. The problem is that for water directly upstream your position, you must retrieve almost directly downstream and your line lands on the fish’s position. I like upstream wading if most of the deeper holding water is on the opposite side, or I can continually cross the stream so that it is. As a right-handed caster, it is considerably easier to wade the left bank and cast to the right bank.

Downstream Wading: Overall, a better situation!  I find that keeping the fly at right angles to the current seems to work best. By doing this you will place line and at right angles, from your fly and the retrieve will be at right angles to the current. Continually mend downstream, moving your rod farther away from where you initially landed your fly. By doing this you can run your fly all the way back to your bank keeping the fly at right angles to the current. You can also cast upstream and to the opposite bank and then mend down to keep your fly going parallel to the bank.


  • Use as little back cast as
  • “Shoot” line – this is especially important with a shooting head or sink-tip line.
  • Learn the Belgian cast. This back-cast is side-armed and the forward cast goes from that position to an overhand forward cast. You don’t stop at the back-cast but continue forward immediately. This method reduces the “clunk” you get as the heavy fly and line hits the end of the back-cast which in turn creates a “rebound” effect which collapses the back-cast and kills the load in the rod prior to the forward
  • Learn sophisticated roll casts for pick-up and delivery of heavy flies and sinking lines. (This cast is also extremely helpful when casting with a wind blowing toward your casting) If you need help, call me for a casting lesson. If you already cast a normal line reasonably well, you will learn the basics of these casts in an hour.
  • When floating, you should be doing only a pickup, 1 back-cast, and then boom – shoot it. If you have questions or comments, give me a call!

Zoo Cougar– Designed in the Midwest to mimic the sculpins found in almost all trout waters. This fly has been very effective on all of our local rivers. It doesn’t fish deep, so you may want to add weight to your leader or use a sink-tip line. The Zoo takes a lot of fish when it is sitting still, only fluttering in the current.  Because of its light color, you can see it –  which allows you to track it visually.

LL Special- Designed by Jim Johnson of Jackson Hole, this fly has been a great fly when floating IN local rivers. I tie it with a lot of weight so it really gets down. Fishing it with a pulsing action gives the yellow rubber legs a lot of action.  The profile is also that of a sculpin. I use it a lot in front of a Zoo to get the Zoo down. Fish hit either fly.

Dayle’s Devil- Basically, a take-off on a Dahlberg Diver.  This is a very realist adult sculpin imitation as to profile and color. Like the Zoo, you won’t believe how much action this fly has.  Also like the Zoo, it needs weight to get down.  This is my best fly on rocky stretches of the local rivers – where lots of sculpins live.

Dayle’s Double-Bait Fish– This is the fly I use to get to the big browns on the Salt and the South Fork. It works on big cutthroats as well. It is heavier and bigger. Its silhouette and color in the water are very much like a white fish or small Cut.  I have had big browns come out of cover 10′ away to nail this fly. Over the past 2 years, I have caught over 15 browns legitimately bigger than 20″ on this fly. The biggest was 26″ and 8.5 lbs.  I like to put this at the end of the double surgeon’s rig, with a Zoo up front. Big browns can’t stand to see a little trout chase a sculpin. They have to eat one or the other!


  • 95% – no exaggeration – of hits on the Zoo, Dayle’s Devil, and J. Special are “head shots”. I used to tie stingers but I found I didn’t need them. They foul hook smaller fish and disrupt the natural presentation of the fly. Fish eat sculpins head first! Forget the stinger.
  • With the Double Bait Fish, the second hook provides action and because it is not really a stinger, but an extension of the fly, it doesn’t seem to foul hook much fish. Even this fly is attacked at the head 85% of the time. Virtually all of those 20″ + Browns bit the front    The back hook ends up outside of their mouths.


Keep hooks sharp. You will get lots more hook-ups if your hook is razor sharp!

  • Use Fluorocarbon leaders. They don’t stretch. This is critical to more hook-ups. A mono leader stretches 10 – 15 %.  A nine-foot leader stretches 1 – 1 ½ feet! That pushes a hook into a fish – it doesn’t jab and drive the hook home. Big fish have very hard mouths. You need to have instant penetration with all of the force of the set being driven home – instead of 50% of it being used to stretch your leader.
  • Keep your leaders completely straight. When a fish hits, any curls or ‘S’ curves in your leader will need to be straightened.
  • Use short leaders and heavy tippet – especially when fishing sculpins. A big brown that sees a sculpin coming from the side will turn and face it head-on. You will be stripping in one direction and the brown will be going in the other. WHAM! He’ll break your 10 lb. tippet like it was using 20 or 25 lb. tippet when fishing deep water where I can’t see the collision. (I broke off a 6 lb. fish last year that was caught a few days  later by a spin fisherman with my fly and 15 lb. tippet still in his mouth


Keep your rod tip DOWN!! If you have it up in the air you are creating an ‘S’ curve in your line. You will not hook as many fish.


Fly Fishing Western Wyoming fly fishing guide outfitter instruction

A Nymph System That Works

A Nymph System That Works

• From 1” to 7’ deep, and highly adjustable.
• From Spring Creeks to freestone river ri!es
• From size 26 down to size 2 flies
• It will float 3 BB split shots and 2 tungsten bead nymphs
• It is by far the most sensitive nymph indicator
• It is relatively easy to cast

What you need:
• Macramé cord ( white is most natural, but sometimes yellow, black, red, green or orange are good.)
• Orthodontic rubber bands (3/16” medium work best)
• Scissors
• Fly Floatant
• Fine comb or sti” brush
• Needle-nose forceps
• Proper leader

Ideal Leader:
• Butt (for 4 – 7 weight lines) 1 foot 40 lb. Mono BLOODKNOT
• 7 ½ foot tapered 2X Mono Leader
• 8” 3X Fluorocarbon
• 8” 4X Fluorocarbon – 1st fly
• 8” 5X or 6X Fluorocarbon – 2nd fly

[Fluorocarbon sinks much faster than mono and has no stretch, both very important to successful nymph fishing.]

Directions for applying indicator:
1. Cut 1” to 2” piece of braided macramé cord. Length and amount of material can be easily adjusted for various conditions.
2. Separate all cords.
3. Brush or comb all cords so that they make up totally separate single strands of polypropylene.
4. Set aside cord.
5. Take 1 small 3/16” rubber band and place it over your needle-nose forceps.

  • Grab the rubber band and wrap it around the tip of your needle nose forceps 3 or 4 times.

6. Put a loop in your 4’ section of 20lb. leader material.
7. Open your forceps enough so that your loop can be inserted between the gap and through the center of the rubber band.
8. Pull the loop through so that 2” of the loop is sticking out of the center of the rubber band.

  • Pull the rubber band o” the end of your pliers so you have the loop in your 20# leader created and protected by your rubber band.

10.Grease the center of your indicator material. Really rub it in!
11. Put the indicator material through the loop and pull it tight.
12. Trim your indicator to the desired size. (Usually 1” in height.)
13. Grease the indicator very thoroughly.

Note: You may not need 2 split shot to sink leader and flies. Size of shot can be adjusted. Place the bigger split farther up the leader – away from the flies. This will help you turn over the leader more easily.

1. You may want to use a different size tippet for your flies. I use 2X for big size 4 stones and San Juan Worms when fishing the South Fork. Those big Rainbows head out to the mid-current and 3X just isn’t enough sometimes. The second fly can be anywhere from 3X to 6X depending on conditions. General rule: Always use the biggest tippet and fly you can get away with.
2. You may want to go with only one fly.
3. For consistently shallow water, you can reduce the length of your leader and indicator section.
4. For spring creeks and small flies and spooky fish, you may need to use only a small amount of material.

1. Remember the very best nymph system will have your flies directly below your indicator!! This will signal a strike no matter where your nymph is in relation to the fish and no matter what the fish does during or after the strike.
2. The more belly or slack areas you have in your system the longer the fish must hold the fly and the further it must move to make your indicator move.
3. When the fish are not very active they will only move a few inches to take a fly which means that they only move a few inches back to their lie. Even 6” of belly or slack will cause you to miss the take.

The best way to avoid this is to:

  • Have lots of weight on your leader which creates a very straight line and virtually no belly or slack spots. (Or use the slack leader presentation mentioned later in the article.)
  • Put your flies close to the lead and close to each other. Putting the first fly 18” under your lead and the second fly 18” below the first fly, you will miss lots of fish. Three feet of un-weighted leader floating around in the current will guarantee lots of missed strikes. I sometimes put my first fly 8” below my last split shot and my second fly only 8” below the first. If you use bead-head nymphs you can extend this as the bead will straighten the leader more. The problem with bead heads is that they don’t move as well with the current as do un-weighted flies.

Summary: When your flies go through the target water they should be directly below the indicator. If you set the cast up correctly and mend correctly (next section) you can do this with a minimum of weight. Sometimes you simply need a lot of weight.

1. To cast 2 flies, 2 pieces of split shot, and an indicator in a 10 ft. leader, you need to make good casts. If you don’t let your leader straighten out completely on both your front and back casts, you will get a “bird’s nest”.
2. Open your loop and slow down your casting motions!
3. Use a roll cast or continuous tension cast as often as possible. This prevents excessive false casting. The fewer casts you make, the less chance of a mess up!
4. If you want your flies to straighten out, You can pull your rod hand back as your leader straightens out on the forward cast.

Casting properly, this 9’ – 10’ leader and nymph system should be able to be performed with a 5 weight rod, even in breezy conditions. I often use a 4- weight and sometimes a 3-weight.

Assuming the casting, set-up, and fly selection are properly mastered the where and how of the cast will be the determining factor in how many fish are caught. The following factors are critical in determining where to cast and how, or even if, there should be a mend.

  • Direction and speed of the current.
  • Depth of water
  • Location of fisherperson
  • Location of holding water
  • The number of cross-currents between rod tip and indicator
  • Direction and velocity of wind.
  • Size of indicator and amount of lead
  • How long the fly travels through “the zone”.
  • What will be fished next and what has been fished previously.

5. Less weight can be used if you can mend or cast the indicator upstream of the flies and weight. When this happens the weight sinks very rapidly. This is especially useful when fishing in significant depth. Even in a fairly fast current 2 split shots with a fluorocarbon leader can get to 6’ deep in less than 10 feet of horizontal stream. If the indicator is downstream of the flies, it holds them up because the surface of the water is traveling so much faster than the split shot and flies which are sinking and dragging. This results in situation #2 (Okay) on page 6. This actually is a good thing if you want to drag your flies through shallow water before hitting deep water. You can use position #2 through the shallow water and then mend the indicator upstream as it reaches the deeper water. As soon as you mend upstream, the flies now sink very quickly because they are not being dragged by the indicator.

Myth 29 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Always Mend Upstream

Always Mend Upstream

Let’s start with the general consideration of an “on the water mend”. In general when we make a cast and the line hits the water, and then we mend the line, there are two things that happen- both not particularly good. First, the line hits the water and is being moved before the mend can be completed. This means the angler has less time to make the fly drift as intended. Second, any “on the water mend” means the fly is being pulled towards the angler as the mend occurs, which means the fly cannot be presented along with the far bank. The mend will pull it off the bank.

One other note concerning on the water mends. Most people do not mend sufficient line to actually create an optimal drift. The mend must occur all the way to fly when dry fly fishing or the indicator when nymph fishing. A simple flick of the rod tip seldom creates an adequate mend. We will be illustrating the proper mend technique when we make our new video series this summer.

Learning to reach mend or curve cast is a big help when trying to present a fly without drag, especially up against the far bank. Go to our YouTube channel to see how to make the reach mend. We will be creating more videos this summer which will illustrate these techniques, using actual fishing situations on the river.

Finally,  let’s talk about the direction of a mend. 95% of my clients automatically mend upstream. While this is often the proper direction to mend there are plenty of times when a downstream mend is required. Remember, the purpose of a mend is to create a drag-free drift. If the current is moving from the anglers right to left with slow water directly in front of the angler, and the target is in faster water further out, the mend must be made downstream!! An upstream mend in this situation will actually exacerbate the problem of drag.

Again this summer we will be illustrating this concept on video so look for our new video series “fishing casts on the water”. If you don’t already know how to do it, try to learn to reach mend! This mend is, for typical trout fishing, much more important than the double haul. Being able to reach mend will catch you much more fish!

April 2018 newsletter

I just returned from 10 days in Chilean Patagonia. The Hotel del Paine is located in the heart of Cerros del Torro National Park. At this time there are five lodges in the park and none have developed a fly fishing program. I was invited to check out the fishing and make some recommendations as regards the possibility of creating a world-class fly fishing lodge.

What I found was exciting. The lodge is very nice, the food is out of this world, and the staff is beyond nice and friendly. In addition, wildlife and scenery were absolutely stunning. I observed condors, foxes, guanacos, pumas, and much more. The scenery, hiking, and photography were awesome. Horseback riding, river trips, and glacier trips are also available. Add to that some really first-class fishing and to say I was impressed is an understatement. All of the photos in this newsletter are from the trip. In the future, there’s a good possibility I will be working with Hotel del Paine to develop fishing packages and destinations. I’ll keep you posted.

As for Wyoming! As of April 5, the Hams Fork drainage was at 88% normal snowpack. Given the high levels of groundwater, accumulated over the last few years, it should be a good summer. Of course, it is still way too early to predict the actual timing and intensity of the runoff, but right now the Hams Fork should be in great shape by June 15, the Green by July 1, and the Smiths Fork by maybe 15 July. We’ll keep you posted.

We still have a few scattered openings in July,  August, and September. We will not be guiding in October this year. Feel free to give us a call if you will be in our area. We can make recommendations as regards fishing and travel accommodations.


Myth 28 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Proper Ethics

Proper Ethics

Sometimes you hear, “This is how people fish at home so it will be okay here.” The proper ethics of fishing are actually rather complicated. I fished in New York on Great Lakes streams for big browns and steelhead and people were standing 30 feet from each other. To do so on a Western stream would be considered a very serious offense.

 When I fish a  river with plenty of room I will walk so far around another angler that they often never see me. I never walk up to an angler while they’re fishing. If I want to talk to them I stand a good distance away, out of sight of the water they are fishing. If I need to cross anywhere near another angler I ask permission, especially if they are fishing near the riffle or tailout were I intend to cross. Even footfalls can alert fish, so I walk as far away and as quietly as possible.

If I see another angler I will ask them if they are going up or downstream. I will go the other way. If I meet an angler in the parking lot and they are heading out I’ll ask them if they’re going up or down and where exactly they’re fishing. I’ll go somewhere else.

I never ignore trespassing signs. I never disturb animals. In areas where someone’s hooked fish might run through my space, I always reel up and get out of the way. I always ask permission if someone else is fishing and I want to fish near them. I always ask permission if someone else is fishing and I want to fish near them. 

When climbing over gates I climb over on the side with the hinges not the latch side. I do not climb over barbed wire fences if I have any chance of ripping a wire loose. A wandering cow is a big deal for a rancher. I never leave trash, mono, cigarette butts, on someone else’s property, regardless of what is already there. I always pick up trash if possible. Some hooting or hollering when catching a fish is okay but there’s nothing more irritating to me than fishing a hundred yards away from someone and having to listen to all of their noise, good or bad. Remember people come to trout fish for the solitude.

Before fishing any new area I take a look around, ask locals, and remember that the golden rule is the only one I really need! You may have even more ideas, but you get the idea.

 We still have a few openings in our summer schedule. We have a few openings in our MCI and CI instructional camps and a few scattered days left in July and August. The last two weeks of September and early October are still fairly free. If you are visiting our area remember that even if you don’t book with us we’d love to help you out. Make sure to check our FaceBook fishing reports beginning in June. And take a look at the YouTube channel. Some great casting videos.

 Now is the time to sort equipment and flies, and practice your casting!! Now go get ready for an awesome year of fly fishing!!

 We’ve been busy scheduling trips and making videos. We’ll be making tons more from now through August. We’re also going to video our clients this summer and get everyone a thumb drive with the videos. We are turning into tech animals. (With a bunch of help from our friends.) If you haven’t checked out our Instagram site you should. It’s very interesting. Lots of various subjects. The snowpack in southwest Wyoming is almost normal, and depending on the next few months we should have more or less normal water for the summer.

Myth 27 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Big Fly, Big Fish

Big Fly, Big Fish

I’ve heard this since almost the day I began fly fishing 40 years ago!

My observations are as follows:

  1. Everything being equal, a big fish will move farther for a big meal than a small meal.
  2. If a size 26 midge pupa passes in front of even the biggest fish, it will eat the midge.
  3. A big reason why more big fish are not landed on tiny flies is not so much the fact that big fish don’t eat small food items. It is more the case that few truly big fish are landed on 6x tippet! Often we only know “God, that must have been a big fish – it broke me off in a heartbeat!”.
  4. Even the biggest fish will eat tiny food forms if there is a dense enough hatch. I’ve even witnessed big redfish selectively eating tiny ½” long crabs to the exclusion of bigger food forms.
  5. At the same time, big stripers (20+ #) on the Guadalupe in Texas will most often be caught on big (9”) streamers because their primary diet item is planted rainbow trout. In this case, you are using 20lb tippet, have a huge hook, and the fish will move a considerable distance to eat big fish. (My bet is more than 1 big striper has eaten a size 16 pheasant tail, but the angler never knew it!)
  6. On the Hams Fork we routinely hook fish over 24” on tiny (size 22-26) flies. We don’t land many! The average angler only lands those fish when using bigger flies and heavier tippets.

Conclusion: There is a lot of truth in this myth but as always, there is “the rest of the story”.

It’s way too early to predict summer water levels or even run-off dates. What we do know is that we have high groundwater levels and the reservoir is full. Even a moderate snowpack should leave us with plenty of water for the summer.

Last year we fished the Hams Fork on June 5th. The flow was at 1400CFS and while wading was challenging, the fishing was awesome. This year we’ll be in Wyoming and ready to fish by June 10th or so. We plan on staying until October 15th. We’ll be taking the first two weeks of August off for filming and the first two weeks of September off for a trip to Mongolia. Related to the latter, if you are interested in world history, a great book is Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World! Amazing and insightful read.

I’m in the process of posting more videos on YouTube at Check them out! At some point, I need to offset the cost of production, so I’m in the process of figuring out how to market/pay for them. If you find them helpful, I hope that when that happens you’ll continue to view them! We’ll keep you posted. We are also updating our Website (Fly Fishing Western Wyoming) and would very much appreciate it if those of you who have enjoyed our trips could send us a reference/testimonial we could include. Thank you!

Myth 26 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Long Leaders and Fine Tippets

Long Leaders and Fine Tippets are a Must

The idea that fish are “leader shy” is very misleading. Fish can see any leader we use – including 8X! If you can see it, so can fish – and much more easily. The reason we often need a fine tippet is that the less the diameter the less it will influence the movement of the fly, thus creating a more natural drift. In addition, a long, fine tippet will softly deliver the fly. However, a fine tippet is not always the answer. Certainly, with swinging flies, a fine tippet is often unnecessary – and will result in more break offs.

By fishing downstream when presenting flies to spooky fish we can achieve a good drift with a heavier tippet. My rule is to always use the heaviest tippet I can get away with. That will depend on the nature of the fly, water conditions, and the size of the fish we are targeting. Leaders are difficult, if not impossible, to mend. The normally stated reasons for long leaders are three. One, to achieve a drag free drift, secondly, to prevent spooking fish with the fly line, and third, to gently present the fly. By fishing them downstream, most problems are solved. I personally seldom fish with a leader more than 8’ long, I have much more control of the fly. Try and make a curve cast or a reach mend, especially in the wind, with a 12’ leader tapered to 6x tippet. Accuracy is virtually nonexistent.

My rule is to always use the shortest possible leader I can get away with. This is not to say that upstream presentations and/or long leaders and fine tippets don’t have a place in your bag of tactics. What I am trying to say is that it is often advantageous to break your normal routine and learn new techniques. You will definitely catch more fish! If you are interested in learning how to fish down-stream effectively with a short leader, book a few days with us next summer. You’ll learn a ton and you’ll catch a bunch of fish in the process!

We’ll be back in January, but feel free to contact us in the meantime! [ ], and keep up with us on FaceBook at  Fly Fishing Western Wyoming.

October Fishing Report 

The season is coming to a close and what a great season it has been!! 85 days guided, 263 total clients, and hundreds of big fish and new skills mastered. Barbara and I would like to thank all of you who visited. We genuinely enjoyed your company and friendship! For those of you who didn’t make it out here this year, we’re looking forward to seeing you in 2018, or whenever you can come. We enjoy the memories from all of your visits!

We are already booking next summer and we have a few dates we won’t be booking. Dayle will be in Mongolia from August 30th to September 13th, and we will be doing some videotaping from about August 5th to the 15th. We’ll be doing a fishing series of videos on rigging, fly selection, reading water, presentation casts, and much more.

This winter Dayle will be completing his YouTube casting series, and so we look forward to your viewership at

Our normal guiding fees will remain virtually unchanged with possible modest changes to those packages that include hotel and transportation. Hotel costs have risen 25% in the last 2 years. We will be taking November and December off from producing this newsletter and our Myth series. We’ll start again in January. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding fishing in general, or booking specifically, please contact us at

November Fishing Report

The Smiths Fork is very cold; 39° water temps in the morning with a “warm-up” to 44° by later in the day – assuming there is some solar radiation. The fish are there, but you need to fish your streamers slowly and your dry flies without drag. On our last trip, we missed two really big Bonnevilles and netted a nice brown. We landed a dozen or so other fish from 8” to 14”.

We’ve floated the Green River 3 times in the last two weeks and the fishing has been mixed. Some days are pretty good and some days not so good. The Green is a place to throw streamers and take a chance on a truly big fish. (30” plus) Great scenery, wildlife, and solitude are normal. We observed three moose on our last trip. On a normal day plan on 6-10 fish with one over 16”, and most between 10” and 14”. Using sow bugs, small streamers, and nymphs will always produce.

The Hams Fork is fishing well with streamers, scuds, small baetis/BWO  and midges. The water is clear and at good levels for October. It is open until November 1st, and well worth the trip. We are catching lots of fish from 17” to 19” with a few up to 25”. We’ve had lots of cold mornings and some snow, so plan on layers!

Myth 25 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Drag-free Drift

Drag-free Drift

The role of drag on flies, lines, and leaders is a common concern of most moving water anglers. By drag, we mean to describe when our fly travels at a different rate than the water in which it is found.

We often need a drag free drift but this gets tough when we are concerned about not having any slack in our line. I have clients who worry about the slack our system creates between the rod tip and the fly. The fact is that a straight line without slack from the rod tip to the fly almost guarantees our fly will drag! When I fish, I often have as much as 10 – 15 ft. of slack between my rod tip and my fly. Simply by rotating the rod upward, that slack can be removed in a fraction of a second.

There are times when we want a drag free drift – but there are many times that we introduce twitches, drag, skate, and jigging motions to serve as a catalyst for the strike. Hoppers, crickets, crane flies, damsel, dragon flies, and even mice and frogs often find themselves in the water. Imparting tiny twitches with the rod tip will often be the difference between a strike and a simple look-see. May flies, caddis, and midges move erratically when hatching or ovipositing. I’ve had some great days twitching the fly. Leaches, many nymphs, baitfish, crawfish, sculpins, scuds, dragon, and damsels, move both vertically and/or horizontally during hatching or just searching for food or shelter. Jigging, twitching, swinging, or lifting can again create a strike.

Soft hackle and old-fashioned wet flies are designed to imitate an insect with legs and/or wings. They are designed to be moved against the natural forces of the current. So we have lots of situations where movement at odds with the current is required. This is another reason to fish from an upstream position. As a rule, it is much easier to create these movements from upstream. The more I fish, the more I spend my time fishing from an upstream position. This last week I have had clients fishing a soft hackle scud imitation with very good results. The ones we buy in the shops are generally lifeless and, on the Hams Fork at least, will not catch fish. We have also caught some fish on mice patterns by swimming them across the current.

Next month we will discuss leader design and the myth that you always need a long leader to catch fish.

Make sure you check out our FaceBook page Fly Fishing Western Wyoming for almost daily Western Wyoming fishing news, and our website: Also, here is a link to a great article regarding releasing and handling fish. Please take the time to read it!! We are beginning to book up for next summer, so if you are planning on visiting us next year, let us know! Enjoy what is left of summer and enjoy your early fall days with cooling temperatures and changing leaves. Here in Wyoming, this is a really special time of year!

Wyoming Fishing Report

Hams Fork: We still have lots of water and fish.  Terrestrials and size 22-24 mayflies have been the normal offerings. We should begin to see more tricos and slightly bigger mayflies in the next few weeks. Streamers and terrestrials will always catch fish but you need to move along the river, as only a few fish per section will eat them. If you are going to be in one place, you need to “match the hatch” (read tiny mayflies) to catch more than a fish or two.

Smiths Fork: I fished it a few time in the last 2 weeks and it is about as good as it gets. Lots of Bonneville Cuts and a few Browns on small streamers and hopper-type patterns.

Green Below Fontanelle: Really good flows and good action on sow bugs, hoppers, early AM tricos, and crawfish patterns. Of course, streamers are always good. The kokanee is starting to run up from Flaming Gorge – a sure sign that summer is almost finished!

Myth 24 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Nymph Leader

Nymph Leader

“From your indicator to your flies, your nymph leader should be 1½ to 2 times the depth of the water.” This is a topic I continually discuss with my clients.

Let’s first discuss where this myth originated. Most nymph fishing has been done upstream. When your leader and flies hit upstream of your indicator, here is what happens:

  • Your indicator is moving much faster than your sunken flies and weight. (The surface of the water is faster than the layers of water subsurface.)
  • As a result of #1 above, Your indicator is pulling your leader system downstream. As this happens, the water is actually lifting your leader.
  • As a result of #1 and #2 above, you need lots of weight and/or a very long leader to “get down”.
  • On any rivers with “soft”, clear water and spooky fish, the line, leader and indicator travel over the fish long before the flies. Not a good idea!

These facts explain why I teach my clients how to present a nymph downstream.

This is how we do it:

From an upstream position, we cast across the river, much farther out than the fish is. As an example, let’s say you are on river left and the fish is 20’ off your bank and 30’ below you.  We would cast 50’ out into the river at a more or less right angle to the bank. We then pull the fly back to 20’ off our bank by lifting our rod tip to a vertical position. As the fly moves into position directly upstream from the fish, we flip our indicator upstream of the flies and lower our rod and throw a bunch of slack behind the indicator.

If the fish is in 3’ of water, even in a very fast current, our flies will sink rapidly because there is no surface drag by the indicator. It will end up almost directly above the flies by the time it reaches the fish. By using this method, we will use a very small amount of weight and only 3’ from the fly to the indicator. Even the most subtle strike will be immediately transferred to the indicator.  Simply lift gently and you are on.

A further advantage of this type of presentation is that the use of soft hackle and wet flies is perfectly adapted to this method. Say the fish is 32’ downstream. When our indicator is 29’ downstream, we simply stop the fly line. When this happens, the fly, down 3’, begins to rise in front of the fish. This is a great way to imitate caddis and some fast moving mayfly bugs. (This technique is really old and very effective. It is referred to as the Leisenring Lift, named after its inventor, and is best achieved from an upstream position.

The way we set the hook in this situation is to keep our rod tip a few feet off the water. When we feel the take, we actually drop the rod a few feet! Then we gently lift – that is, unless the fish is tearing away, setting the hook themselves. When fishing with this method you need a soft tip and a delicate set or you’ll break off a ton of fish. I had an angler a few years ago break off 13 in a row! That is a record I hope is never again approached!

Next month we’ll talk about the Myth regarding Wind knots.

By the way, I have hired a videographer to come to the Hams Fork next summer and video all the techniques discussed in these myths. By September 2018, all of them should be up on YouTube. Also, I’ve had a number of people who wanted further explanation of why a long rod is inefficient when compared to a short rod when fighting fish. Here it is:

As for the longer rod, think if it as a push broom. Pick it up by the end of the handle and try to hold it straight out. Can’t do it unless you are Godzilla. Think of the head of the broom as your fish. It is far away. You have no real power out there. Same with a long rod. Look at deep water fishing rods for grouper and halibut. They are short. The best possible, and most efficient way to fight a fish would be with no rod at all! Another way to think of it is to take a 10′ rod and tie your leader to a 10lb weight 40′ away. Keeping your rod at vertical, see if you can pull the weight. Very difficult. If the same weight rod is 4′ long, it would be easier.

Myth 23 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Choosing a Rod

Choosing a Rod

There are always those who say, “You should buy this rod because it is best.” Like many things in life, there are no definitive black and white answers regarding rods. Every rod has its advantages and disadvantages and with modern technology, a very good rod can be purchased for under $300.00. Let’s discuss various factors when considering a rod purchase or use.


  –  A long rod (9-10 ½ ft.)


  1. 1) More leverage allows for longer casts including roll and spay casts.
  2. 2) High sticking and on-the-water mends are easier.
  3. 3) In tight situations, the use of the bow and arrow cast can save the day.
  4. 4) If you are wade fishing or fishing from a float tube or kayak, the added length can be a godsend.


  1. By using a longer lever any casting error is exacerbated.
  2. The longer lever makes fighting and landing fish more difficult.
  3. The rod weighs more and can be more fatiguing.
  4. Storage and airplane travel can be a problem.

   – A short rod (7’- 8.5 ft.)


  1. Better at fighting and landing fish.
  2. Lighter and easier to cast.
  3. Casting errors are reduced.
  4. Better in some tight situations.
  5. Easy to transport and store.


  1. A poor mending and high-sticking rod.
  2. Distance is compromised, especially when wading, etc..

Rod Action: This refers to how “stiff” or “fast” a rod is. This basically refers to how fast a rod recovers from bending or loading. The faster it unbends, the “faster” it is considered to be.

–  “Fast” Action


  1. Can generate high line speeds useful in distance and wind casting.
  2. Generally throws heavy or bulky terminal tackle more easily.
  3. Is more forgiving if casting mechanics, especially acceleration, is erratic. (Fewer tailing loops.)


  1. Usually less sensitive when detecting strikes.
  2. Many people don’t like the “feel” when casting.
  3. More difficult to cast at short distances. (More difficult to load the rod.)
  4. Less effective at fighting fish.
  5. Can be more difficult to make delicate presentations.

–  “Slow” Action


  1. Good fish-fighter
  2. Many people like the feel – similar to fiberglass or bamboo.
  3. More sensitive to subtle movements in your line.
  4. Casts well at a short distance.
  5. Easy to make short-distance delicate presentations and mends.


  1. More difficult to develop line speed.
  2. More difficult to cast large or heavy terminal tackle.
  3. More likely to cause problems if casting stroke acceleration is erratic.

Rod Size:

0, 1, 2, 3 weight rods: I consider most of these specialty rods. While I sometimes fish the Hams Fork with 8 ½ ft., fast 3 weight, I often wish I had more rod. Heavy winds, streamers, and multiple nymph rigs take some of the fun out of the process.

4,5 weight rods: These rods are good for most dry fly, small streamer, and minimal nymph rig situations. I use these rods almost exclusively for bass and bream, most trout streams, and canal fishing in the Everglades. They are less effective with heavy winds, heavy or big streamers, and big nymph rigs. I have a slow 10 ½ ft., 4wt and a medium 10ft., 5wt. rod.

6, 7, 8 weight rods:  I have a number of medium to fast rods in these weights. I use them on big western rivers when I throw sinking lines or streamers. They are also my go-to rods for flats fishing for Redfish, Bonefish,  Snook, etc.. My favorite wade-fishing rod is a 9 ½’, 7wt. I use it for big Carp, surf fishing in Southern California, as well as some Steelhead fishing in the west.

9, 10 weight rods:  I have a couple of these rods that are fast to medium fast and 9ft long. I use them for surf fishing in Baja, nighttime Snook fishing under the docks in Florida, and for Permit and baby Tarpon.

11, 12 weight rods:  These are for Tarpon.

13, 14, 15 weight rods:  I do not own any of these. Marlin, Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish might be handled best with these rods.

So, what to Buy?

If you are fishing mostly dry flies on small to medium rivers and you like the feel of “slow/soft” rods, then you might as well enjoy a fiberglass, bamboo, or graphite rod of 4 or 5wt. If you fish the same type of water but want to have a bit more rod for small streamers, Bass fishing, and windy conditions, a 4 or 5wt medium fast rod could work for you. In my opinion, if you have only one rod, and you are going to be fishing for Trout, Bass, and maybe some surf fishing or flats fishing, a 6 or 7wt. rod about 9’ long, and medium/fast would be a great choice. If you can afford 3 rods, I would get a 4, 6, and 8wt..  90% of most people’s fishing would be covered.

How Much Should You Pay?

For most fishing applications, there are plenty of very good rods in the $150.00 to $300.00 range!  Echo, Redington, TFO, and others have really nice rods for very reasonable prices. (You may want to check out warranty plans before you purchase a rod.)

I hope this helps and, of course, this reflects my opinions only and some (many?) may disagree. In any case, we hope your summer has started off great and that you have found time to fish! Don’t forget to check out our FaceBook page Fly Fishing Western Wyoming for almost daily Wyoming fishing news, our website:, and follow us on Instagram @FlyFishingWesternWyoming. If you have friends that might enjoy this monthly newsletter, please have them contact us so we can add them!

Myth 22 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Indicator Fishing

Indicator Fishing

“I use a Thingamabobber.”

Before we address the veracity of this statement, let’s discuss various indicators. What I want in an indicator are these properties.

  • I can see it in all conditions. Choppy water, glare, distance.
  • It floats well and will suspend the rig I am employing.
  • It casts well.
  • It doesn’t scare spooky fish.
  • It adjusts quickly without leaving a kink in my line.
  • It is very good at detecting even small movements of the fly.
  • It is easy to apply.
  • It lands lightly. (See #4 above.)

I simply don’t prefer the “bobber” type indicators. Few of them cast well, some kink the line, some are difficult to adjust, and all of them, to a certain degree, lack sensitivity.

By far, the best of this type of indicator are the ones sold by Steve Vorkapich at , or call him at (440) 669-9928. He’s a great guy with some really good products!  Steve’s indicators are really easy to apply, float really well, cast relatively easily, don’t kink the leader, and are reasonably sensitive. I use them quite often for those reasons, especially when the water is “dirty” or when fishing very heavy rigs close to me. (During this high water, we are using them exclusively.)

Another system I use quite often is placing a hollow fly line on the leader. This is especially good when the water is clear and fish are spooky. When you need to cast and land delicately, these indicators work really well!

My favorite indicator is made of yarn. You can see how I make it if you go to the website.  Under most conditions, it is extremely sensitive, easy to cast, and doesn’t tend to spook fish as it lands gently and looks like down, cottonwood, or dandelion fluff. Its one downfall is that in some conditions it doesn’t float well enough. That is when I use Steve’s indicators.

“I use a couple of beaded nymphs to get the flies down.”

As I wrote about in last month’s blast, the use of beaded flies is suspect for a number of reasons. With two weighted flies, both flies end up close to the bottom – assuming your skills allow you to get them there. Instead, you can use lead or tungsten on the leader which can get you just as deep but with more flexibility. A very important factor is successful nymph fishing is the fly selection. If you are imitating midge or caddis larvae or crawler or clinger mayfly nymphs you do want the flies on the bottom. These and things like San Juan worms and Sowbugs are seldom found more than a few inches from the bottom. If you get lead or tungsten 6” above the fly, your fly will be on the bottom.

On the other hand, during a hatch, or when fishing water with lots of swimming nymphs like Baetis, your flies may well do better in mid-column or even close to the surface. In this case, you may want one fly toward the bottom which imitates an early stage merger, and one fly farther off the bottom that represents a more evolved emerger or even a drowned adult or stillborn.

Adjust your rigging to compensate for these situations. During both caddis and many mayfly hatches, nymphs are swimming to the top. On the Hams Fork, little yellow sallies, PMDs, and all of the blue wing/baetis insects actually are almost fully formed insects while on the bottom! They swim to the top as they expel their exoskeleton. I fish many of these hatches with two unweighted nymphs or emergers and a small split shot.

The top fly in the water column is often a soft hackle or wet fly. The bottom fly is often an emerger or nymph with well-developed wing pads. During a caddis “hatch” where you see flies all over the water, but few fish feeding, it is often because these caddis are diving to lay eggs. You can’t believe how often a lightly dressed Elk Hair Caddis, or diving caddis imitation, fished deep will catch fish! So the take away is that knowing your insects and understanding how to rig and present your nymphs will often be the difference between a really good day and a mediocre or poor day.

P.S. If you want to fish on your own, give us a call for up-to-date water and hatch conditions. We still have a few days open in July and August, and 10 days or so in September, and would love to teach you these techniques! Also, if you have recently been added to our mailing list and would like to read the previous Myths, simply go to   The Myths are all posted on that site. In addition, we are now on Instagram and have a FaceBook page at Fly Fishing Western Wyoming.  We’ll be posting frequent fishing reports all summer. In addition, don’t forget to view our casting videos at:

Fishing Report

It’s still a bit early, but we have been fishing the Ham’s Fork the past few days. It’s impossible to wade across the river as the flow is heavy but fairly clear (check out our Instagram photos). Dylan and I have been using Pheasant Tail Nymphs and midge pupa. We are adding lead and/or tungsten to the leader. We are fishing the edges of the currents and the edges of the river. We sometimes use an egg or San Juan Worm as the second fly.

There are some big midges hatching, but not much else except a few drakes. Streamers are also effective when presented to the banks and at the top of riffles. We are using 300-grain sink tip lines when streamer fishing. The Green is still very high, and we have not fished it. The fish are very spread out and hard to find. It should be ready by early July. We have also taken the drift boat out on Kemmerer Reservoir and enjoyed some good fishing using midges and streamers. The Smith’s Fork is completely blown out. I can’t imagine it will be fishable until mid-July.