The best alternative to actually hitting the water? Doing fly fishing related activities! Honestly, you can’t beat throwing flies to your subsurface species of choice. However, in order to become the not as accomplished as we might think anglers, we must learn from others. The Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival provides the opportunity to hear from some of the industries best, to converse with the shop owners, see new products, and pick up all the much needed swag.
As you can tell from the above picture, I grabbed a nice bit of gear and other miscellaneous items. All items purchased were 100% necessary…
For the past several years I’ve always considered attending this festival. However, it’s location (used to be held in Waynesboro, Va) and the time of year never worked out. This year the stars aligned and I graciously attended. With a new location allowing for much easier access, multiple new vendors, an indoor facility, and lots of wine and brews, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that a good time would be had by all. The following paragraphs cover how I spent my time at the festival:
I pulled into the parking area bright and early, around 9 AM with R. Kelly’s Ignition Remix blasting and high hopes for how I’d spend the day.
Bob Clouser’s Smallmouth Bass Presentation: Bob’s a pretty well known fly fisherman, guide, and creator of the Clouser Minnow. His sponsorships include TFO, Courtland, and a bunch of other companies who I would love to get free shit from. Bob’s now an older gentlemen and seems to enjoy taking his time while appreciating life. Nothing wrong with that, I would have to agree.
His presentation covered how to fish for smallies, what gear to use, where to find them, and what flies work best in which situation. I would say that I knew most of what he discussed, but certainly picked up a few helpful hints worth trying. First, the gear. He recommends using an 8 weight rod. It’s funny, he said he used to use a 6 weight rod, and would bring an 8 weight along if he decided to throw bigger flies. Nowadays, however, the 8 weight rods are just as light as the old 6 weights. So, it’s easier to just use the 8 weight the entire time. Even though Bob has his own rod named after him from TFO, he said that any 8 weight will do. They all seem to be halfway decent. His words, not my, but, I think that’s pretty awesome.
A floating line that matches the weight of the rod works fine. He recommended either Courtland line or TFO makes a really solid, cheaper-than-most line that he also recommended. Again, these cost less than the other more well known lines and Bob sees no reason to spend more money than necessary. If you want a sinking line, which works well in fast rivers, he recommended getting a type 3 sinking line. He says this line sinks, then once you start stripping, it stays at the original sinking level. If you get a faster sinking line, say a type 6, it will continue to sink while you strip leading to numerous snags and lots of foul language. He also said he dislikes sinking tip lines, or leaders. They don’t cast well…
Leaders, need to be the right length. Duh, right? Here is something valuable I learned from his presentation and can be used as a basic rule of thumb. Bob said, if you cast and your leader tangles at the end of the line, then it’s too long. If you cast and the leader go completely straight, and bounces back, then the leader is too short. However, if you cast and your leader lays on the water nicely with little bends throughout it then it’s just right. Now, while you finish your porridge listen up! This works, if you know how to cast and the leader length plays little into whether or not you spook the fish. There are always other variable, but this is a good ground rule and something to keep in mind while on the water.
Now for flies! What flies work best depends on the season, the daily fluctuation in weather, geographic location, and water location (river, stream, creek, pond, lake, etc…). However, the Clouser Minnow in chartreuse and white, chartreuse and yellow, and white and red are all top picks for Bob. There were other recommendations he made about plenty of other fly patterns. I’m not getting into all of them. So, go see one of his presentations if you want know more.
Also, this dude loves Partridge hooks. I’ve never used them, but he swears by them. Check them out. Last bit on Bob. He told a us something that Lefty often says, “Give ’em groceries, and they’ll eat!” Simply put, find the fish. If their hungry they will go after almost anything. If they don’t, try something else. Bring lots of groceries.
Captain Gary Dubiel’s Giant Reds on the Fly The good Capt is a laid back, imposing man who seems to really enjoy what he does. What does he do? He guides and he does it well. Spec Fever Guide Service puts more than their fare share of customers on some really awesome fish. You may have heard of him through his creation, the Pop-n-Fly popping cork. This contraption opened the world of fly fishing for giant reds. I believe the Capt mentioned that they catch numerous citation size fish daily. This is a huuuuge turn around from the pre-Pop’n’Fly days when they would get less than ten citation worthy red fish per fishing season. These fish are monsters and you’ll need some heavy machinery. No place for 7 weights here. Invest in a 10 weight and a reel with a solid drag. The Capt admitted to some fly fisherman attempting to use the rod instead of the reel to land these puppies. This ended with, “turning their $800 four piece Sage into a 5 piece.” Even with a warranty, that’s not something you should see. Snapping a perfectly good rod makes my stomach turn.
Ed Jarorowski’s Casting 101
The good doctor knows his stuff. Just sitting in on one of his lectures (while frantically taking mental notes, of course) made my cast better. Redundant sentence – Like most individuals who dedicate a large portion of their lives to something, he knows his trade. I would recommend any level of fly fisherman to check out a presentation, read his books, watch his instructional videos, and/or take a lesson with him. You won’t regret it.