Archive for the ‘Fly Fishing Tackle’ Tag



The strike indicator is the first sign that something is happening.  This small yarn knot is moving across the surface of this quiet backwater.  The hypnotic view of the line snaking its way over the water distracts one from the purpose of the trip.  Catching a forked tail channel catfish is why I am out here so early in the morning.

As the dawning light cuts through the mists, the streamer sinks slowly and then moves away.  Streamers are fly fishing lures made to look like small thin natural baits.  The latter includes such forage as leeches, crayfish, or nightcrawlers, forage with a long thin profile.  Channel catfish are bottom-feeders, as they tend to suspend a few inches off the bottom of their watery home.  Fly fishermen attempting to match the hatch use imitations of food sources the catfish find in those locations.

Mention fly fishing and one thinks of catching trout with a long spindly rod.  The vision is of someone whipping the air with a long fishing line to get a piece of metal covered with feathers into position.

Today the fly fisherman seeks all sorts of fish from saltwater giants to bluegills.  It is only natural that we add the channel catfish to the mix.  In the mid-section of the country it is possible to find catfish in almost any body of water.

For the angler seeking the catfish challenge, a starting point is the tackle.  Begin with a long rather stiff rod.  Match it with weight forward line.  For the more bulky fly a bass taper weight-forward line is a good idea.  A good tackle retailer helps with the selection.

If requiring more than one line, store them on extra spools so you can change lines in response to lure selection and varying water conditions.

For a tippet Monofilament of about 5-pound test works well in a length of 3 or 4 feet.  If seeing the line is a problem, a colored monofilament line is OK.  A float indicator or small ultra-light float aids in detecting a light bite.

Once on the water, look for a drop-off area where a riffle meets a pool of slow water.  In the evening the fish move up to the shallow eddies and flats where they feed through the cooler nighttime temperatures.  It is during these feeding periods that they are most vulnerable.

Good fishing hours are from early morning up to about an hour after sun up.  The bite does not last a long time.  You can enjoy it for a while and then move on to other species and types of fishing.

Experiencing fly fishing for catfish works on just about any lake, river or pond.   If wadding, do so with great care as holes in the bottom can cause serious problems for the anger as well as be a sanctuary for the fish.

Channel catfish are a muscle with whiskers on one end and a forked tail on the other.  On light fly fishing tackle it is a formidable opponent.  And it is a fun way to begin a summer day.




All too often we overlook fly fishing for the pan fish. Too many these are the “kid’s fish” or something to catch when the bass are not biting.

Panfishing with flies means fishing for bream, crappie, pumpkinseed and rock bass

They are a good source of fun and food once the water temperature gets into the mid 50-degree or higher range.  They move into the shallows to think about spawning.  First to move up to warmer water is the males who build nests.  The females which lay eggs before departing to the deeper climes follow them shortly.  The males move back in to guard the nests and fry until they can forage on their own.

At each of these times the panfish can be an excellent quarry of choice for the fly fisherman.

Getting started in this sport is easier than catching the fish. All you need are some balanced equipment and a few lessons.  As for the tackle, there are kits available from major tackle manufacturers tailored to the individual species, including trout and panfish.  These are available at most stores that sell the tackle.

Once the lessons are over and you are consistently casting 30 feet with comfort it is time to take to the water.

In choosing a fly A few basic patterns work well.  There is no reason for a vest full of flies.  The easiest way to select your basic flys is to ask another angler for help.  Find out what he uses with the most success and buy a few to try out.  The local tackle shop may be of assistance but not all of them are really familiar with fly equipment.

Flies come in two types wet and dry.  Panfishermen using wet flies try a variety of colors and patterns.  Some suggestions include Wooly Worms, small streamers ant or bee imitations.  For surface or dry fly fishing nothing beats a small popper or a rubber spider.  Trout flies work as well.  Hooks should be in sizes 6, 8 or 10.

In cooler weather you will want to fish when the sun is high and the water is warmer.  Later, as the water warms too much, try the early morning and late afternoon hours.

Cast to the shorelines cover such as weeds, pads, brush, logs, rocks and any other available structure.  If the bream are on the beds, then that is ideal casting territory.

After casting, allow the fly to sink slowly before retrieving it.  Remain alert as most strikes occur on the fall.  The strike will usually not be one of those rod bending types but rather a twitch in the line.  There is no need to set the hook hard.  The strike is just a matter of the fish sucking the fly into his mouth.   Just lift the rod straight up.  This increases your chances of a proper hook set in the upper lip.  It keeps the fish from inhaling the hook too deep to allow for a safe release.

It is easy to keep from yanking the hook right out of their soft mouth.

Surface fishing is the most entertaining.  If the mayfly hatch is on, then crappie will take poppers with gusto.  Little rubber spiders work well for bream around pads and stumps.  With the surface action the angler can see and hear the strike.

For the nighttime angler, only the splash is audible.  Nighttime is the prime time for feeding as the bugs come out.  One might even pick up a bass or two with those poppers.

Even on the best of nights, the fish will eventually turn off.  No one knows why, it just happens.  Pack it in and go clean fish. There will always be another day.

FINDING PUT-N-TAKE TROUT   Leave a comment


Classic trout fishermen typically throw very small flys.  The reason they can do it is that trout are sight feeders and their vision is very acute.  Conditions dictate that fisherman to use certain flys.

Just because anglers prefer to use dry flys because it is more fun it is not the only option.  Their eyes are mid-range.  That means they are comfortable looking up for food as well as down making them multi-directional feeders.

Trout in the wild prefer cold moving water over a rocky bottom.  They can survive in the still water of a pond but on a more limited basis.  The ideal water temperature for trout is in the 40 to 55-degree range.  This can vary by sub-species.

On rivers where water levels change during the day, they survive through adaptation.  When the current is fast, they will be near the edges of the river system.  As water levels lower and current decreases they will go more toward the middle or they will range the river system.

Their relating to structure is to conserve energy and preserve calories.

A trout has a lateral line like all fish.  He responds to movement, vibration and sound.  The lateral line allows him to pinpoint a direction from which those things emanate.  He then moves toward that sound and then uses sight to zero in on it.

Trout have tiny scales allowing them to love in a moving water environment.  This coupled with their slime coat allows them to go nose into the current with less energy.  It also makes them very slippery to handle while landing.

Most popular are rainbow trout and brown trout.  Rainbow is the prominent stocking fish.  That is because they are the easiest trout to grow.  They take to the food, they take to the overcrowding and they take the polluted water a little bit better than a brown trout.

When you remove a trout from a hatchery and place it in any body of water there are two things to remember.  Where did that truck back up to? And what do you have a lot of in your tackle box?  For about 3 days trout will be stupid.  They spend some time where they are released trying to get acclimated.  They will bite anything until accustomed to the habitat.  They do not have the instincts and intuition of a wild trout because they have never had to do anything for their meals.

In most instances most manmade lakes have an area where there may be a little bit of a spring.  When the builders dug down perhaps they found a little spring trickle.  If the fish find that area they hang out there and feed to survive through the summer.  It might only be 2% or less of the total water available.

Stocked lakes do not usually have a trout kill.  Anglers remove most of the trout.  Every once in a while someone catches a whopper in a lake where they have been stocking them for a number of years.

Brown trout are more likely to be in cooler water and in moving water.  They will be in habitat that has more structure.  They are thinking ambush.  They think prey.  They are thinking what to do for the next meal.  Rainbows are just happy to be there and will just swim around.



Frog Hair 1

If you think about it there really is nothing as fine as frog hair.

At a recent media event at the world famous Rend Lake Resort Dale Black, President of Black Knight Industries, expounded on the advancements his company has developed in the line of leaders and tippets.

This PA company has become a leader in the field of fly fishing line technology.  How?  They use of Nanotechnology manipulation of matter at incredibly small sizes.  For example a piece of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.  The technology allows for the development of higher strength structured materials.

This technology is part of a new wave of innovation in science and engineering that is enabling the development of a generation of materials that are stronger, lighter and more durable than ever found before.

The line begins with the molecular structure strong and stiff due to highly aligned long chains of molecules created by extrusion and drawing.  After a Gamma Processing the long chain molecules are broken down and millions of intermolecular bonds cross link creating a structure stronger and more flexible.

The end result is monofilament line with a higher strength to diameter with a built in shock resistance.  The subtle line still maintains a high knot strength that maintains maximum fish fighting capability.  The company is so confident that it’s fishing leaders and tippets are the best performing products available that they have a money back guarantee.

For more information check out the websites of and



The line of pink cabins along this stretch of the White River in Arkansas is as distinct as they are historical. The main buildings house the main office, restaurant, sports bar and a huge dining room that overlooks the river. The river flows out of the Bull Shoals Dam. The number of electrical generating turbines in operation at any given time controls the river depth and speed of the current.

The resort provides a quality trout fishing experience of all members of the family with various fishing skills from novice to expert. Arkansas does not have a closed trout season but the prime months are March to November. Anglers seem to catch the larger fish during the colder months.

Fishing is from fully equipped fiberglass flat bottom boats that are 20 foot in length and about 40 inches wide. Local guides skilled in catching trout through a variety of methods pilot the craft.

These long thin boats powered by outboard engines present a graceful picture as the skim across the water to go upriver and float back. Stops along the way vary according to water level. The location of the fish varies with the changes in water level. This constantly changing fishery presents a challenge to even the most experienced angler. Each bend in the river can present a new angling experience.

Like many of us who learned our outdoor skills through trial and error, it has come time to go to school on fly fishing for trout. Fishing guide Frank Saska presents a two day fly fishing school at Gaston’s Resort.

The morning of day one involves classroom time learning to tie knots, equipment and the proper way to cast. Students move outside in the afternoon for practice in casting on a field and a local bass pond. Emphasis is on casting, mending and striping line.

On the second day the students move out on the river and practice their skills catching fish.

The trout here are river run rainbows and brown trout. The fishing is different from pond or lake fishing in that current becomes a factor. The feeding habits of the fish must be considered. Trout feed on a variety of small critters that are located at different levels during the year. Fly fishing students must learn to identify just what is going on in the trout’s habitat on any given day.

Visitors to Gaston’s Resort on the White River ( whether for the fly fishing school, the pleasure of a good meal or enjoyment of the fishing go away very satisfied.

For a more detailed examination of my experience go to


The grace with which a fly line snakes across the water enhances the tranquility of late summer on a pond. A couple of false casts and let it settle to the surface. A couple of tugs and the water explodes with a big bluegill sucking in the feather and steel.

Bluegills are pound for pound one the great fighters of the fish world. On a light fly line with the whippy flexibility of a fly rod, they are a tremendous fish to hook and fight.

There is no real mystery to this sport once one has the basic tackle lined up. If one speaks the language of fly-fishing, or can find someone who does, he too can enjoy the finesse or casting a light fly or popper and fooling some unsuspecting fish into thinking it is dinner.

Fly fishing tackle can be used on virtually all species of fish. Here in southern Illinois it is primarily the choice for largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, and bluegill and sunfish. Other species require a little adaptation to the tackle.

There are four basic areas of tackle to consider in taking up the sport: the rod, the reel, lines and lures. In addition, it is a good idea to take some instruction or view a couple of the excellent videos available. Check your local tackle shop for the fly-fishing section and ask their advice. With the right equipment and a little practice one can quickly get started.

Fly rods come in different weights.  Rods are marked with numbers from one to 13. They run in lengths form six 2 feet to 9 feet. The longer ones are usually for casting large wind resistant lures with heavier line. Shorter rods are for fishing small streams.

Beginners are probably better off with the middle size of six or seven.  These are good for bass and bluegill. Beginning anglers usually stick to one that is made of fiberglass rather than some of the other materials that are more expensive. A glass rod will allow one to cast medium size bass bugs as well as small panfish bugs.

Next, one needs a reel to go on the fly rod. The reel has nothing to do with the casting in fly-fishing. It is a simple single action line holder. The spool is usually about 3/4 inch wide with a friction built in so that line does not roll off it without some pull by the angler.
The weight of the reel should balance the rod. It should also match the species you plan to catch. For bass and panfish, the reel will only help keep the kinks out of the fly line. For the bigger fish, a different reel with drag, etc. will be required.

A quality reel is a lifetime investment to pass along to other generations. It is good to purchase the best reel you can afford.

Fly lines are of many types and weights that are matched to the fish the angler is seeking. The best all around line for the beginner is a floating line. It works for bass and bluegill as well as dry flies. Later one can graduate to the floating line with sinking tips, slow sinking and fast sinking lines, which are to put flies at different depths for fish such as northern pike and walleye. Fly lines are tapered toward the leader end and there is only about 30 yards on the average line.

For bass bug casting one uses weight forward line. The extra weight at the forward end of the line helps push bugs or flies. Most good rods will have the size and type of line to use with the particular rod written on them.

At the end of the line is the leader usually about six to seven feet in length. Most taper to a small size at the tippet. Knotless tapered leaders are easiest to handle. Tippet strength is marked with an “X” number. 2X or 3X are good numbers.

In choosing lures begin with small bass surface bugs in plastic, cork, or deer hair for topwater panfishing. Little sinking bugs are for bluegills. Number 10 or 12 are good sizes in dry, wet or nymph flies. Number 6, 8, or 10 are good for minnow like streamers. As for colors, choose black and browns or grays and white.

Beware angler, once you are hooked on fly-fishing it becomes apparent that there is more to it than we are able discuss here. This gets you started in the right direction. This addictive sport will soon consume your thoughts 24/7. It also is good for your blood pressure, unless you take your fishing too seriously. Then perhaps you should take up knitting.

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