hookless fly-fishing

here’s a little something different from Lee Spencer, way different.

i can relate to Lee’s story as i used to live right next to a wee stream in the french Pyrenees that apart from making lovely gurgling noises, had a very healthy population of gorgeous native brown trout. they weren’t of course, but these where ‘my’ trout if you see what i mean. i’d go look at them every day to see how they where doing, dream off into that dream place that being streamside takes one and of course learned a lot about how they lived, behaved and interacted socially, some of them even had names.

by wee i mean that at this level the stream was often no more than one metre wide. being completely wild and untouched by man and with lush vegetation abound, the stream itself was more often than not a green tunnel with a flow. once the obstacles of actually getting an imitation into their feeding spots where figured out, this being a Bow and Arrow cast nine.nine times out of ten because that was the only possible solution, getting these beauties to take a fly was relatively simple, they didn’t know anything about fishing pressure and in their world things that look like food generally are food but hooking up quickly became a problem, something the Bow and Arrow cast only tactic might have alluded to; there was no room to move the rod up, across or down to fight and land the fish. at this point i was already getting into the ‘it’s more about the strike than the fight and land‘ frame of mind so, the idea of cutting off the whole hook bend of a completed fly came to mind and was perfect for this particular situation.
i got my strike thrill, the little fishies i loved so much never really knew what was going on and remained where they’re supposed to be and i could do all this without breaking any more rod tips…

of course, i’m not expecting a lot of other anglers to go fishing without hooks but it’s a little something to think about. like mentioned earlier, it’s different, enjoy !


“Back in 1998 Lee Spencer did two things that changed his relationship with the big steelhead of the North Umpqua River.
He agreed to become the first full-time FishWatch guardian of the Big Bend Pool on Steamboat Creek, where as many as 400 large steelhead spend the summer in startlingly plain sight after swimming up the North Umpqua to spawn.
And he started cutting the points off the hooks on his flies… “

actually, just the points:

pointless-fly
“Everybody thought I was crazy, To me the whole peak of everything is the strike or the boil. Everything after that is downhill. Especially if you have to wait a long time to land the fish.
When you get a fish on, you get a run and a jump and at the jump it will throw the hook. That was satisfying enough for me.”

-click the image for the complete article on Deseret News-

A (very short) history of Landing Nets

i hope you’re not too excited as the (very short) part of this post’s title should give you a clue that unfortunately and after several hours of research, there isn’t a whole lot available on the subject.
there’s of course the more than obvious dictionary definition with a tentative origin date:
landing net def.

and a few more tidbits such as these-

Izaak Walton and his scholar - 16hundredsomething (those outfits !)
Sir Izaak Walton and his scholar – 16hundredsomething
(those outfits !)
Claes Jansz Visscher - 1630
Claes Jansz Visscher – 1630
BrookesFrontpiece1790
Brookes Frontpiece – 1790

but it was only through The History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, Wool, and Other Fibrous Substances which interestingly enough isn’t credited to any authors… that i was able to back a bit further in scoop-net time to find this sorta-quote from Oppian of Anazarbus, a Greco-Roman poet-dude who lived in the 2nd century. alas !!! (remember, i spent  few hours on and off the landing net topic and this is as exciting as the subject gets)Oppian

apart from a variety of different materials used throughout history to create the basic hoop, bag and handle, very-very little has changed and i guess that even the creative mind will have a hard time improving whats basically perfect as it is. with so many objects/tools/things of all types that could do with a little redo, i really like the idea that this one is something we don’t have to think about.

to finalize today’s mostly useless yet hopefully pleasant history blurb, the image below is an offshoot of a series of images i took of a very traditional and exquisitely hand-made landing net review i’ll publish in the following days.
the historical curiosity, i guess, a direct tactile connotation of having handled, twisted, turned and scrutinized this lovely object/tool. history aside, this one’s easy to pick up but hard to put down…

netmesh m.fauvet-TLC 20-3-16

“As far as I can ascertain the reasons for missing a rising fish come from faulty reactions. When we miss a fish we are either too fast or too slow.”

~  Ray Bergman
and then sometimes we take a deep breath, relax our butt muscles, resynchronise ourselves in time a space and get the opportunity to briefly admire these creature’s beauty until its time to do it all over again.

pyrenean brown m.fauvet-TLC 8-8-15

its time to take your water thermometer out

here’s why.

personally, apart from sort-of ‘bragging rights’ where i might use my thermometer to show i’ve been fishing in minus 10° temps (as if that was something to brag about…), this is the only serious use of one i can foresee.
i don’t live and generally fish in an area where any kind of bug activity can be predicted by water temperature but ! i definitely always have it with me in the hotter months to know when to stop fishing.
sometimes its best to put the rod away and go for a swim instead or simply pretend to be a hoot owl.

How to properly crush hook barbs

great stuff from ozarkflyflinger with very little to add. i can’t explain why but having the pliers inline with the hook point gives better results with fewer breaks of the barb and a smoother contact between the tip of the barb and the shank.
don’t forget the small pliers-small hook / big pliers-big hook ‘rule’ or you’ll either damage your pliers and/or get mediocre results. one last thing, be sure to apply smooth pressure and not some hard and quick squeeze.
personally, i only tie with factory barbless hooks because the hook design is almost always better at holding fish on than with ‘standard’ designed hooks with crushed barbs but this trick is always good to use when friends give me flies. enjoy !

EDIT– i’m very sorry, folks but the video has been removed and that’s a shame as it was very good. i’m awaiting the author’s response and will repost it back here if he agrees to share it again.

Catch & Release the funny way.

sent in by Lucian Vasies at troutline.ro from a recent fishing trip in Italy, this has to be my all-time favourite c&r selfie ever !

“I tried to make a photo and the camera was set at 3 sec. So in that time interval I was able only to fall down and not to make that classic photo with a big smile and my trout in my arms… “

Lucian Vasies c&r

here’s hoping we get to see many more images like this my friend !

Fly Fishing Strategies- No Fish, No Glory, No Nothing.

first of all i’d like to point out that i’m not sharing this as a ha-ha thing but rather as a hopefully constructive analysis as to why none of these fish where landed.
lets have a look at the video first.

as always, considering the countless variables involved, it’s not the easiest thing to give exact causes without having been in there in person but here is a list of most probable reasons why all these fish came off.

– hooks
hook sharpness is very often completely ignored whether before or after tying or while fishing. a lot of hooks are dull out of the box and need to be honed before being fished.
simply put, dull hooks don’t go in well and if they don’t go in well they can’t stay there until we remove them.
add to that some barbed hooks have ridiculously big barbs… barbwhich means that even more force needs to be imparted to the line for them to set properly. of course, we don’t have that problem when using barbless hooks.
i’ll quickly check the hook point every single time it comes to hand or when it has touched a branch, grass, waterbed, stone or whatever. the finest hook hones i’ve found are Arkansas stone small-tool sharpening wedges. a few light licks and the hook is as good or better than new. yup, it’s anal but it means hooking up with a lot more fish: well worth the minor trouble.

– striking
indeed, simply lifting the rod can sometimes be good enough to set the hook but for sure wasn’t in this video. most strikes are well, wimpy when ‘setting it good’ should be the norm as we need to transmit authority from the beginning of the strike till the fish is in the net.
striking properly in these conditions includes taking into account the current’s speed and direction, the slack line on the water and also how we perform the strike itself.

– on the water line management
we’ll notice a few times that mends where put in near the rod tip in the slower water while the fly was in the faster. it’s not going to help the fly’s drift in any way and the only thing that can do is give even more slack to pick up before actually pulling the line tight to set the hook. by that time the fish has either spat out the hook or the fly is only partially in its mouth. no good.
for sure, very often we need to have slack in the line system to achieve the desired drift of our flies but we need to keep the slack to an absolute minimum while still having the necessary amount doing what its supposed to do: that is, just what’s needed but no more or we won’t be able to strike effectively when the time comes !
to do this we need to ‘multi-task’ a little and be in control of this slack while spying the fly or fish. this requires matching the whole rod/line unit to the current’s speed and direction and by retrieving line with the line hand and by always keeping the rod tip low near the water’s surface, tracking the line on the water.
the exact same principle of starting a cast with the rod tip low applies here. the more line sag at the rod tip we have, the more we need to move the rod before line tension is regained.

– rod position during the strike and fight
striking with an inert line hand means having to displace the rod tip much further to pick up slack before starting to add tension to the line/leader system to set the hook. the typical scenario involves bringing the rod tip towards the vertical (and often behind the angler !) while the line hand follows the rod grip and then floundering with the line hand above the head to regain control of the line. not only is this clumsy and one of the best ways to loose fish but it’s also rather well… dumb. the line hand is already there holding the line so why not pull the line down as the rod goes up ? if you think about it, pulling the line down should be instinctual but somehow the opposite has become the norm. interesting.

– rod angle
when the rod tip is vertical we’re only using a short length of the rod’s line tension potential as only the finer, weaker tip is bent. rod characteristics vary but that’s typically about 1/5 to 1/4 of the rod length.
if we apply the same line tension force by keeping the rod at say, 45°, we’re using about 2/3 or more of the rod’s line tension potential. that’s a lot more and this not only gives more line tension but we also have a much longer ‘spring’ as a shock-absorber to help us not break off the tippet.
the same +/- ’45° ideal rod position applies to the fight. apply more line tension on the fish and the less chances it has of coming off, we tire it faster, we control the fish instead of it controlling us and we get to release the fish in a much healthier and stronger state.
as a side note, apart from instances where there are obstacles between us and the fish such as rocks, little islands and such and we want to avoid our line from tangling or cutting, i can’t for the life of me think why the rod tip needs to go up high. ‘down and dirty’ gets the job done better, we get to pull the fish in the direction that we want/need and we also get to use water current to our advantage. a few little somethings to think about.

in a nutshell, the comments above are the basis of the ‘Strike-Fight-Land’ demo i’ve been sharing for the last three years. there’s of course a lot more to the demo in real and it includes viewer interaction where they immediately understand and feel the line tension differences but i hope these few words will get the notion through. you’ll notice that the tactics above come straight from large fish or salt water tactics. they’re simply a cross-over adaptation to smaller waters and smaller fish that have become universal because they simply make my fishing more efficient. to conclude, the good thing about today’s video is i didn’t need to include landing tactics… 😆

Catch and Release: Trout Dying To Get a Good Photo ?

via Bish & Fish from New Zealand

or simply put, if you hold and squeeze the fish in its vital organs you have a good chance of killing it even if it seems to swim off well. if you’re interested in releasing our little friends properly please take a minute to read the complete article by clicking either image. please share !

“So, you have landed the fish as quickly as possible to limit capture stress and you are about to pick up the fish and a get a few ‘grip and grin’ shots before release.
But, grip and grin, can all too often turn into grip and kill, and it is all down to where and how you grip the trout that can determine its survival.”

Anatomical drawing of trout
Have a look at the anatomical drawing above showing the main internal structure and components of a trout. Take particular notice where the heart is (red outline) – between and under the gills and liver, just above the Pectoral fins.
These three organs, heart, gills and liver are very susceptible to damage, although not always immediately obvious, unless the damage is very severe leading to immediate death. A fish subject to external pressure to the heart and other organs may swim away on release, but many die soon after.

The way it should be…

Good grip

if an analogy helps, hold it as you would a baby’s head, gently cradling with fingers spread out to widen the contact area while supporting it’s head.

click the logo below for more articles on Catch & Release
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The Scottish Government: To reverse the decision by the Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland [SNFAS] to resume net fishing in the spring after a 14 year voluntary cessation.

please take just a few minutes of your time to read this and sign the petition. it doesn’t matter what part of the world we live in, fish don’t have nationalities and the same concerns are pretty universal. click the image to share your opinion on change.org 

thanks ! 

  • Online Petition by
    Ian Gordon
    Dufftown, United Kingdom

aQdmMyNqzIMTjAg-556x313-noPad

1. Wild Salmon numbers are at an all time low, particularly fish entering our rivers in spring. The voluntary agreement above along with Catch and Release by anglers has seen this particular group of fish , at best, “hold their own”! To begin netting at this time of the year again would do irreparable damage to this early running group/cohort collectively known as spring fish.

2. If we have no fish entering our rivers in the early part of the year then many full time jobs will be threatened as revenue from those early anglers is lost. In 2003 “Salmon Angling” was found to be worth £74 Million to the Scottish economy, supporting 2800 full time jobs, mainly in rural areas with extremely fragile economies. A shorter season will see those full time jobs become part time, attracting, not young families, but older people to do a seasonal job.

3. The support industry we have for salmon fishing in Scotland would also suffer; from tackle shops, to tea shops. Petrol stations, hotels, guest houses, B&Bs and not forgetting all their suppliers! Although we have no new figures, to the Scottish Economy, salmon fishing will now be worth around double that of the figure above.

4. We are not talking about a few nets-men and wealthy landowners here. No, we are talking about the jobs of 2800 ordinary people, their families and the longevity of an extraordinarily “Scottish” way of life; a way of life with so much, yet untapped tourism potential. To threaten the livlihoods of many for that of few makes no sense at all.

5. The Scottish Government will only support the netting of wild salmon when a “Harvestable Surplus Occurs” FACT. This is certainly not the case with Spring Salmon, or, some would argue – Summer or Autumn Salmon.

6. Calling a halt this madness will at least give those remaining fish a “chance” to spawn and in doing so producing the next generation, which hopefully, we will manage better than in the past.

More information and reading on the background to this petition and also points for online discussion, can be found here –

http://www.speyonline.com/petition.htm

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– related articles

International Catch and Release Logo
fly fishing videos: Proper Catch and Release Methods
catch and release, well.

Size Matters and Life and Death

a lot of us tend to think that commercial fishing is the big nasty devil that’s ruining and depleting fish stocks around the world but that’s maybe just a convenient half truth.
bring this to our sport-fishing level, reduce the fishery’s scale to say, a smaller or average sized lake or river or stream and depletion and ecosystem destabilisation issues happen at an alarming, easily observable rate and it’s not just about fish. as sport-fishers we’re all aware of size limit regulations and a lot of us also know that they’re bunk. here’s why:

of course there’s always the fact that dead fish can’t take our flies, put up a fight, jump up and down, be the beautiful creatures that they are and even less reproduce.
it’s all about math, each fish removed makes for potentially hundreds of less fish in the future that will in turn not reproduce, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
is it worth it ?

If you’re going to release them, release them well.

here’s how to do it properly with a very minimal –if any– effect to its health and lifespan. 

“I love it when this happens

to others… ”  :mrgreen:

be sure to check out Dave Wiltshire’s great blog River Fly Box for some very nice fly tying and lots of pics of fish that didn’t come off.

“And so with skill of the anglers the men circumvent the fish by the following artful contrivance. They wrap the hook in scarlet wool, and to the wool they attach two feathers that grow beneath a cocks wattles and are the colour of wax. The fishing-rod is of six feet long, and so is the line. So they let down this lure, and the fish attracted and excited by colour, comes meet it, and fancying from the beauty of the of the sight that he is going to have a wonderful banquet,opens wide his mouth, is entangled with the hook, and gains a bitter feast , for he is caught.”

little does it know it’ll be going back home in a few seconds without ever having left the water, but then deception is all part of the game i guess.

c&r TLC 6-9-13

title quote: the first written reference to fly fishing and fly tying- Claudius Aelianus 170-235 AD

this little fishy went to market.

'a hook or a fish' TLC 19-7-13

as far as fish can be happy, i’m sure it was a happy fish. it lived in a beautiful, completely wild stream in the french Pyrenees mountains. it’s waters are clear and clean enough to drink, there’s an amazing variety of fauna and flora with lots of food to feed all the creatures that live in this little community. a quick look says thriving and a longer look says thriving very well.

like any size fish, this little fish was always hungry and constantly exploring this open air market in search of it’s next meal. one day it came upon an unfamiliar morsel. even though it had never seen one before it was just the right size, was undoubtedly an insect and probably smelled good. it might have wiggled, it looked yummy.
the little fish couldn’t hesitate ! and just gulped it down straight.
what the little fish didn’t know was there was a hook attached to this strange treat and the two of them went straight down deep in it’s belly. the yummy thing turned out to be a maggot. there was a piece of it stuck inside the little fish’s mouth when i inspected it.
what was also stuck in it’s mouth where a pretty large part of it’s own stomach and who knows what other vital organs of this beautiful little fish.
the poacher (fishing in trout waters with maggots as bait or chum is strictly forbidden) was faced with a couple of dilemmas. the fish was too small to legally keep, he can ditch the leftover maggots before going back home but he’s in big trouble should the warden catch him with an undersized trout. if they deem it appropriate, wardens can take all tackle and even the vehicle from poachers and they don’t get them back, and of course there’s a fine.
hooks that have gone into a stomach are basically impossible to remove but strangely enough, will often dissolve quickly being surrounded by gooey stomach acids and such if left alone. a lot of fish get out of this situation just fine. all it takes is to cut the the line and put the fish back in where it belongs. sounds weird but it’s true.
sad but true is, the poacher decided that a single, small, bare hook was more important than not only a single fish’s life but also all the other fish this little creature might have produced later on, perpetuating this little stream’s community, and decided to tear out the hook by force and throw the little fish back in the water to hide his act. it never had the chance to recover because that chance was denied.

this little fishy went to market but never came back.