February 2022
Skinny Water Charters Newsletter

Hello from the North Pole... it probably also seems like that to you, unless you're a snowbird and the most work you do each day is ask for another Margarita (he said with envy!). Yeah it's still very much winter in Newport and we're doing the best we can to get through another eight weeks before spring arrives in earnest.

I'm itching to get the boats uncovered and starting the process of spring commissioning. I've got a couple of personal fishing outings scheduled for late April and early May that I'm really looking forward to, more about that in the newsletter. I'm also about to pull out the fly tying equipment and materials to start replenishing the fly boxes- lots of work ahead for sure.

I hope you, your family and friends escaped the pandemic, we have been very fortunate in that regard.

My Best to you and your family and again, Happy New Year.
I hope to see you this fishing season.
2022 Cinder Worm Charter Openings

My spring cinder worm emergence charters are nearly sold out. I have the following open dates: May 10, 11 and 21, and June 2 and 6. The June dates are the better ones as typically the larger stripers are firmly resident in the estuary and the worm emergences are going full bore.

There’s never a guarantee of good fishing but May 21st and the June dates are good ones, and once the early June emergence is over, the worm activity will not start up again until May of 2023. So, now’s the time to contact me if you want to give this unique and really fun topwater game a try. 

JamesBarrRI@gmail.com, 401-465-8751

Links to a couple of good videos on fishing the cinder worm emergence:

All Vessels Under Wraps- Winter 2022
My first cinder worm recon trips in our salt ponds will take place in late April and early May. I use the Lund for these trips so that I can get into the really skinny water where the first worms and bass will start to show.>>>
By my calculations and expectations there are about eight weeks remaining until the covers come off Ms. Mako (Strip Strike), Ms. Lund (Strip Strike II) and the kayaks and canoe. It’s been a long and very cold winter here in Newport, however with each passing day there's more daylight and that's progress, even though it's still cold. There's no warming trend in sight but there are signs of spring if you look hard enough... a few green shoots of daffodils are starting to poke up along the rock walls where the soil heats up more quickly. With fingers crossed, perhaps the worst “may” be behind us (as he makes his way into the back yard to gather kindling wood for yet another fire to take the edge off.)

Anyway, fishing season still feels a long way away, but I need to get out my fly tying tools and materials and get to work refilling the fly boxes.
New Affiliations for Skinny Water Charters

This winter I joined the Pro Programs of four new companies to Skinny Water Charters. Having associations with these companies will not permit me to offer their products at discounts to my clients, however I am able to stock these products on my fly rods so my charter guests can try them and in so doing determine if they like the products enough to make the investments for their kits.
New since fall/2021 are the following companies:

Loading Backing and Fly Line to Your Fly Reel and Spare Spools
OK, so you got a new fly reel, spools, backing and fly lines as gifts during the recent holidays, or perhaps a birthday and now it’s time to put it all together so you are ready to fish in a few short months. Congratulations!

If these were purchased from a fly shop, everything was probably already set up for you and you are good to go. If however all these pieces to your kit are not assembled, you have a couple of choices to get them set up. Take it all down to your local fly shop (if that’s where they were purchased) and ask them to put it together for you, however, if these things were purchased over the internet or from a big box store that didn’t have the time, interest, or expertise to do it for you, I’d caution you NOT to take your stuff to the local flyshop as they likely won’t do it for you, or if they do, they will charge you for their time. 
So, you are left with two other options, ask a friend who knows about these things and he/she MAY do it for you. The final option is to do it yourself, which is probably the best option so that when you add reels, spool and lines etc to your kit in the future, you know how to do it. I’m not going to explain everything it in this newsletter because there are a myriad of YouTube videos out there that will better illustrate the process. The following link is very straightforward and will steer you through the steps.

I fish primarily in saltwater and as such we encounter large and strong fish, primarily striped bass, bluefish and false albacore. These larger and stronger fish test the quality of your fly rod, reel and lines so I recommend a few alternatives to the customary processes for connecting your backing to your fly line, and your leader to your fly line, changes that will give you a stronger, and more reliable connection, one that is less likely to fail.

Let’s start with the backing itself. It’s customary to use either 20 or 30 lb Dacron backing on your spools. For most freshwater flyfishing, backing is far less important to the angler than for saltwater fishing. The reason being that basically all freshwater fish (with some exceptions like Steelhead and Salmon) don’t make very long, strong and fast runs after getting hooked. In almost all cases the angler doesn’t play the fish using the drag on the reel, rather the fish is played by hand. Rarely will the fish pull off the entire fly line (generally 90-100 feet) getting you into your backing. Again, Steelhead and Salmon are exceptions, these fish oftentimes are every bit as strong as saltwater fish.

Backing in most freshwater applications really serves to add bulk to the spool so that the fly line is not wound too tightly causing it to take on tightly coiled loops. For almost all freshwater applications, 20 lb Dacron backing is used.

In saltwater, most anglers use 30 lb Dacron backing, and sometimes 30 lb Gel Spun backing. Using Gel Spun backing due to it’s thinner diameter, enables us to add considerably more line to the spool affording upwards of 250 yards before we attach the fly line. On all my saltwater spools I use 30 lb backing and for the most part 200 yards is more than enough. In my fishing experience I have never had a fish take more than 200 yards of backing.

There are options to using Dacron and Gel Spun backing however. As the video explains, 30 lb PowerPro braided fishing line can be substituted for standard backing material. It’s very thin and very strong and comes in a variety of colors. Braided fishing line is also not as “dangerous” as Gel Spun backing. Gel Spun line due to it’s ultra-thin diameter can cut the angler's fingers as it’s being pulled from the spool by a strong fish. You might try using PowerPro or another brand of quality braided fishing line as the material for your backing. 

There are three more alternatives for the backing connection to the fly line, and for the fly line to the leader system.
Most anglers will use a loop-to-loop connection to join the fly line to the backing. This connection is very easy to connect and disconnect permitting the angler to swap out fly lines by simply passing the backing loop over the spooled fly line. I recommend this system but with a couple of alternatives to the standard methodology. (Review the video to better understand the loop-to-loop connection.)

So, what are these changes?
In most cases a large loop is tied into the end of the backing using a double surgeons knot, or Spider Hitch. The loop must be large enough to be able to pass over the coiled fly line when using the loop-to-loop system. A better connection and one which builds in a form of “shock cord” is to create the large loop using a “Bimini Twist”. This backing connection is a bit complicated when you first see it being tied, however with a little practice you will always defer to using it as opposed to the standard loop using the surgeons knot. Reason being, it provides a shock absorbing connection between the fly line and backing which may be the difference between landing your heavy and fast fish or watching it swim away with your fly line, leader and fly as it heads for deeper water.

The following YouTube videos show the process of tying the Bimini Twist. Don’t be intimidated by the steps, rewatch the videos several times and practice tying the Bimini Twist with some spare braided line. There are some slight differences in the final tying sequences between these two videos, but both are totally acceptable.

The next change to the fly line to backing connection that I recommend is when you attach the large loop of the backing to the loop of the fly line. A standard method is a simple loop-to-loop connection, that same connection you saw in the first YouTube video. It amounts to slipping the large loop on the backing through the small loop of the fly line and passing the fly line spool through the large loop, then drawing the lines together to form what is essentially a “square knot”. For backing to fly line connections for 7 weight and lower line systems, this single loop to loop connection is more than adequate.

However for 8 weight and heavier systems, where you are using 30 lb braid attached to the fly line loop, understand that the fish you will be targeting are fast, strong and sometimes heavy as well. The tensile strength of the fly line and backing are more than adequate to manage these larger and faster fish, however the single loop to loop connection may not be.

Why is that? Braided line used for backing has a very thin diameter and when the connection to the fly line goes under heavy pressure from fighting strong fish, over time, the loop of the backing can significantly crease the fly line loop and after repeated exposures to this pressure, cut the plastic coating of the fly line loop. We don’t want that. So, for these heavier line connections I use a double loop-to-loop connection.
Single loop-to-loop connection
Double loop-to-loop connection
So as you look at the Double loop-to-loop connection, it looks very complicated, but tying it onto the fly line is a piece of cake. Using the double loop-to-loop connection spreads out the pressure exerted on this connection and will prevent the braid from cutting into the fly line. Follow the video below to see how it’s tied. Best to watch the video on a larger display than your smart phone, study it with your iPad or better yet, computer screen.

The final change I make to the system of connecting the backing to the fly line and then the fly line to the LEADER, is to utilize the same Double loop-to-loop connection when I attach the Leader’s loop to the Fly Line loop. Now if you are using a leader with a very heavy (thick) butt section, it’s probably ok to use just the standard loop-to-loop connection as the diameter of the leader material is wide enough to prevent the loop from crossing over itself creating a “half-hitch” knot. Also, the loop on the fly line may be too small to support a double loop-to-loop connection. However for the thinner leader loops, I still prefer the double loop-to-loop connection.
These changes to connecting the backing, fly line and leader will give you a bullet-proof system that will not fail.
My Spring Fishing Radar

Guide Brian Sheppard- 1st False Albacore
Steve Key & Guide Rob Nicholas- Farmington River, CT
Barr/ Steve Key/ Rob Nicholas- Farmington River, CT
Guide Kevin Tracewski & Paul Kuehnel- Penobscot River, ME
Paul Kuehnel- Penobscot River Smally
Topwater patterns and floating lines
Barr- Penobscot River flat
Delaware River- New York

Prior to starting my spring charters with the Rhode Island Cinder Worm Emergence beginning mid-May, I like to get in a couple of freshwater guided trips to refresh my hand at fly fishing for trout. This year, near the end of April, my good friend and fellow charter Captain, Bob Hines, will be joining me to fish for two days on parts of the Delaware River system near Hancock, NY. Our guide is Brian Sheppard who is the owner/operator of “City Fly” Guided Trips — City Fly based in New York City. Brian guides on a host of rivers and streams not only in upstate New York but in Connecticut and New Jersey as well. The following is a bit more detail on Brian and his many talents About — City Fly.

I first met Brian a few years ago at a Spey Casting clinic I hosted along with Craig Buckbee and John Bilotta. We quickly became good friends and since then I’ve had Brian on my boat chasing false albacore. Brian is holding his first Albie that had the poor boy huffin’ and puffin’ in an epic battle a couple of years ago. He continued to boat a few more on that October day. So, now it’s my turn for Brian to show me “his stuff” in the sweet water of the Delaware River system. Brian is also a very talented fly tyer and has tied a boatload of salt patterns for me during the worst of the pandemic.

Housatonic River- Connecticut

In early May, with my good friend, Steve Key, I will be fishing the Housatonic River for trout for two days (with the Farmington River as backup should we have high water). Our guide for this trip is Rob Nicholas, owner and head guide at Housatonic Anglers Housatonic Anglers. I fished with Rob last May on the Farmington River, CT and had a blast with him the first day and with his son, James, on the second. 

Downeast Maine Lakes & Penobscot River

In mid-June following my string of cinder worm emergence charters, I will be heading to Downeast Maine for ten days to fly fish for smallmouth bass in several lakes in the vicinity of East Grand Lake followed by two days float fishing on the Penobscot River. Initially, my friend Steve Key and I will be fishing out of Wheaton’s Lodge in Forest City, ME. with our guide Mark Danforth. There are several lakes nearby that we have fished many times for smallmouth bass. We try to time this trip to take advantage of the pre-spawn period when the bass are very active in shallow water and we can target them with a variety of topwater fly patterns and dragon fly nymphs.

Following five days at Wheaton’s we will relocate to Lincoln, ME and fish with Tracewski Fishing Adventures on the Penobscot River, again primarily for smallmouth bass. I had an opportunity to flyfish for smallmouth bass last summer on the Penobscot with my good friend Paul Kuehnel, and the topwater fishing was nothing short of spectacular. Owner/Operator Kevin Tracewski put us onto smallmouth bass all day, again, mostly topwater and on shallow flats and in deeper runs with sinking patterns. This spring we'll be fishing with Kevin on Day 1 and with one of his guides, Zac Glidden on Day 2.
Steve Key/ Guide Mark Danforth
Barr- No Name Lake
Random Fly Fishing Tips

In many of my periodic newsletters I offer up a bunch of random tips on fly fishing. They run the gamut of leader formulas if you tie your own, to fly casting recommendations, fly selection, rod selection, location selection, what not to do’s… you name it. I think anglers respond favorably to tips that help them prepare for their day on the water. So here goes with a few more…

1.    Don’t throw away your used and cracked fly lines. Typically fly casters will wear-out the first thirty or so feet of the front end of the fly line. This of course is the portion of the line that gets the most “bending" during the casting process and is of course that portion of the line that is in the water basically full time. The plastic coating on the line eventually degrades and then cracks. You’re going to need a new fly line, that much is true, however the old line can be rehabilitated. Cut and discard the damaged section of the line. Tie in a small loop at the end of the line by doubling it over and then wrapping it with carpet thread, fly tying or rod guide wrapping thread and secure those wraps with super glue or UV cured epoxy.

For the most part, by tossing out the first thirty feet of line, you are discarding the head, which is the heavier/thicker section of the fly line, and what remains is essentially the unidimensional “running line”. With the loop you have tied in, you can now attach a variety of short, tip-sections of weighted line, basically ending up with a “shooting head” system. The sections can be varying lengths of an old fast sinking or intermediate fly line that you have salvaged from other worn out fly lines, or you can use a VersiLeader.

If your are using old line sections, tie loops onto the front and rear ends of these lines and put them into a zippered wallet. Depending on how deep you want to fish your fly, snap on your spare reel spool and attach the short sinking “head “ using the loop to loop method in accordance with how deep you want to fish the fly. The longer the weighted line section the deeper your fly will run. Alternatively, instead of creating your own head sections, you can purchase VersiLeaders in a variety of lengths. These are designed for the fly fisher who needs a quick-change option for converting a floating line to a sink tip. These are color-coded for easy identification and come in a complete range of sink rates. For more information, watch this "how to video"

2.    If when fishing from a boat or from shore and your fly line keeps getting tangled around the lacings on your boots… first anticipate this is going to happen and in advance of getting your boots wet, tape down your lacings on your boots with good old "Montana Chrome”… aka Duct Tape.

3.    I have asked the customer service personnel at several fly rod manufacturers what were the most common reasons for their customers returning rods for warranty repair. Most indicated customers complained they were broken while fighting fish, but when pressed, most reps explained to me that after examination of the broken rod, the principal reasons were shutting the rod in a door… (car, garage, house, cottage), jamming them into a ceiling fan, and breaking them against trees and branches when carrying rods fully assembled through the woods on the way to the stream. So, the following suggestions might keep yours from breaking when not fighting fish:

·       Assemble rods outside the structure- and never bring a fully assembled rod into a building

·       Never put your rod on the top of your vehicle after you have returned from the stream and are in process of removing your waders/boots etc. Lots of rods “go missing” somewhere along the road on the ride back to the house.

·       Never prop your rod against your vehicle after you have assembled it, and while you’re putting on your waders, boots etc. Invariably when you close the door or rear hatch, the rod will have slid into the door jam and get broken. Instead, leave the "rod assembly" process for the last step if you are near the water and prop it against a branch of a tree or bush- away from your vehicle. If you must walk through the woods to the water, assemble the rod once you get to the stream, don’t carry it through the jungle.

·       If you must carry the rod through the jungle, carry it so the rod tip is behind you and the reel/handle are along your side.

·       If you are driving from one section of the stream to another, partially disassemble the rod into two easily manageable sections, don’t try and put the entire rod into the car, no matter how long the interior space is. Some anglers will position their fully assembled rod so the grip is held tight against the windshield by the windshield wiper arm, with the rod laying vertically up the windshield. If nothing else, this allows the anglers to at least “see” their rod enroute to the next pullout. The dangers of this method are obvious however.

·       When fishing from a boat that has docking cleats, never lay the rod against the interior side of the boat (the gunnel). While underway, the rod may fall down by the vibration of the boat and the wind blowing against the rod. It’s very possible the rod can slip under the open cleat, and when you go to pick it up the rod, it breaks in the pinch point. (This lesson comes from personal experience- let's hear it for popup cleats!)

·       If you have standup fly rod holders on your boat, never leave your fly rods in those standup fixtures while you are spin casting. Sure as heck, in the heat of the moment when you are spin casting to breaking fish, you will catch the fly rod tips in your back cast. (Another lesson learned personally with clients on board when I forgot to lay the fly rods down or secure them in their under-gunnel storage fixtures.)
4.    Mark your fly lines to make them easily identifiable. Before you lose track of what weight fly lines you have, take a black Sharpie and mark the lines near the fly end. For weights 1-4, use a short black mark for each number. If it’s a 5 weight line make one mark, perhaps 3 or 4 times as long as the small marks you used to mark lines 1-4. For a 6 weight, one long(ish) mark and one short one, and so on. If you have a 10 weight line, use two long marks. 
MacGyver in the Maine Woods

Downeast Maine Cooking Stick/ Medieval Weapon
Guide Paul Laney
Guide Mark Danforth prepping a shore lunch as Steve Key looks on
Lund Alaskans- not traditional Maine fishing craft, but very comfortable
Angus “Mac” MacGyver had nothing on the guides at Wheaton’s Lodge when it came to inventions to accomplish cooking tasks while preparing shore lunches for their clients. Our guide, Paul Laney has developed a cooking stick, often confused with a medieval weapon, brandished by the likes of Mel Gibson, who played William Wallace in Braveheart

1.   The hook end is used to pick up the very hot wire handle of the coffee pot to adjust it’s position in the process of making “egg coffee”.
2.   The hook and fork end are sometimes used to adjust pieces of firewood to rearrange the cooking areas.
3.   The hook end is used to hang the tool in the barn during the off season.
4.   The fork end is used to spear and flip steaks, chops, sausages, potatoes, and onions as they are being cooked. Occasionally the machine screw, washer and nut require replacement due to wear and tear.
5.   In a pinch, the fork end can be used to pull loose nails from the picnic table (note the photograph) and splinters from the (male) client’s derriere as need be.
6.   Reportedly, "The Stick" has been used as a “discourager”, and for self-defense against porcupines invading the lunch site.
Not unlike the coffee pot and the cast iron pan, the cooking stick is NEVER washed, the heat of the fire readily takes care of any lingering bacteria.
*Notice the “patina” of the stick, suggesting your guide is not a rookie!

Camp "Tappanewkeg" shore lunch and self guided island tour video of East Grand Lake, ME with guide Mark Danforth in the kitchen.
Casting Corner- Tips and Tricks 
1.   Want more distance in your fly casting?... then you may need to create more line speed in your false casting and when you shoot the line stop the rod tip higher. I see a lot of student casters who have adequate line speed with the use of the double-haul, but who stop the rod too low, thus throwing the line toward the water or grass. Stop that rod higher and you will easily pick up additional distance. Remember the fly line will always follow the tip of the rod. Pete Kutzzer of Orvis has several additional pointers to improve your distance casting in this video.... Cast more distance- Orvis
My short video of creating the "O' with your line hand is very helpful in gaining distance. JBarr- line hand OK sign

2.   Be honest… do you EVER clean your fly lines? Most fly anglers rarely do and you are probably sacrificing distance because you don't. You don’t need any commercial fly line cleaning product, in fact you’re probably better off not using anything fancy. In a bucket of warm soapy water (use mild soap such as Woolite), soak the line, pull the line through a clean cotton or microfiber towel, pull it through another clean towel to dry the line, then evenly wind the line back on your spool.

3.   ** Pick up your line to change flies by making a back cast with the rod near your casting shoulder, catch the line and leader as it comes back towards you (you should always be wearing eye protection). Change your fly, then roll cast the fly out of your hand (pinch the hook point so it doesn’t hook you as you pull it from your hand with the forward stroke), then false cast your way back to your fishing territory.

4.  ** False Cast more line for longer casts. When you want to throw a longer line, one of the most important things to do is hold more line aloft during the false cast. Example: If you want to make a 90 foot cast- if you can false cast 60 feet of line- you are only 30 feet of line short of that goal- which means you need only to shoot 30 feet of line. Anytime you want to make a longer cast, try keeping a longer length of line outside the rod’s tip top. (You also need to create additional line speed to keep your false casts from touching the water behind you.) Additional line speed can be accomplished by single and double hauling. See the February 2021 newsletter for the specifics on learning the Double Haul

5.   If you primarily fly fish from a kayak or canoe, instead of practicing your fly casting techniques from a standing position, sit or kneel on the grass in order to position your body closer to the elevation you will be fishing from.
6.   When I give fly casting lessons in the park, part of the lesson will be moving about the park and casting to different targets at different angles to those targets and using different casting techniques and positioning the rod at different angles (different planes). We also position ourselves casting into the wind, with the wind to our sides and with the wind behind us at a variety of angles. Rarely will you ever be casting to your fish at comfortable and downwind angles. It doesn’t work like that so why not practice your casting in the myriad of casting positions and wind velocities and directions you are likely to face when on the water.

If I am readying a casting student for a drift boat or flats boat fishing trip, I will outline the approximate length and shape of the boat's hull using tent pegs and bright orange paracord. I will then place bright orange soccer cones at many positions and distances surrounding the outline of the boat and put my student through a variety of distance and angle casting changes to simulate where the fish could be.

7.   In conjunction with # 6 above… whenever you are practicing fly casting…. Always Always Always be casting to a target. Take a walk in the park, cast to that tree, to that rock, to that stick on the grass. Bring tennis balls or frisbees and keep moving these targets to varying distances and angles. Mix it up. My general guidelines as respects fly casting accuracy… for freshwater, be able to drop the fly into a 30 inch diameter hula hoop at 40 feet. For most northern saltwater environments- be able to drop the fly inside a 6 foot diameter circle at 60 feet.

8.   In conjunction with # 2 above… if you practice casting in a park… clean your fly lines before going back on the water, you will be amazed how dirty they become in no time from exposure to sand, pollen, "dog do", and soil etc.

9.   We always seem to practice our casting with a “yarn” imitation fly on the end or our leader. It’s probably as good a material to use as any as it nicely simulates the near weightless fly patterns we use in fresh water (if we are dry fly fishing for trout that is). However, if we are casting heavier flies, like the weighted variety such as woolly buggers and weighted nymphs in freshwater, or Clouser Minnows in the salt, practicing your casting with a yarn fly will only hurt you when you cast for real in other environments. So, try this… tie an overhand knot in the end of your practice leader and then pinch on a split shot or two. Now you’re casting that line in a much more realistic scenario… and you’re not going to be happy until you change your casting stroke and timing accordingly.
10.    Not a fan of hooking yourself while fly casting or potentially damaging your face or eyes? Do a couple of things, the easy ones are wear eye protection and a hat with a brim, and more importantly change the casting plane of your fly rod. If you have a wind at your casting shoulder, during your false casting and shooting strokes, the wind is going to catch your line and blow it toward your body and your face. Instead of casting at a high angle, drop the rod to a lower plane (closer to the water), this will keep your fly line further away from hitting you. Alternatively you can employ a backhand cast so you are facing with the wind to your back and bringing the rod across your body. In this position you would be dropping your back cast to your target instead of your forward cast. Another alternative is to employ an “off shoulder” cast. Here you would keep the rod handle and reel on the side of your body that is facing the wind, but you would tilt or cant the rod tip so that the path of the rod tip (and therefore your fly line) travels over your downwind shoulder. All techniques require practice of course, that’s what the park is for.

11.    Practice minimizing your false casts to no more than three. Two false casts is very doable, one is ideal. Reducing the number of false casts gets the fly to the fish more quickly and also allows your fishing partner to make their casts sooner.

12.    The angler in the stern of the boat has the primary responsibility in most cases, of timing their casting so as not to conflict with the casting of the angler in the bow. I have found that if each angler gently calls out… “I’m up” when about to start their false casting, that gives the other angler a warning that there is a fly line in the air, which significantly reduces the number of times lines will get tangled.

13.    When fishing in saltwater, the best way to present the fly is with one false cast, then shoot the line to the fish. The classic ready position on the deck of a flats or bay boat is with10-15 feet of fly line outside the tip of the rod, shooting the line on the deck with the angler holding the fly at the hook bend. When you see a fish, make a quick roll cast, one back cast with a haul and shoot the line with another haul towards the fish.

14.    **If your line is in the water, and you want to make another cast, make a steady haul as you pick up the fly from the water, make your back cast and slip line (let the line slide through your line hand but don’t let it loose). Haul on your forward cast, shoot the line to present the fly. In essence, you are doing a double haul cast while picking up the line from the water. The surface tension of the line coming off the water helps to load the rod (water haul) making no multiple false casts necessary.
15.    I routinely have on board several lighter weight fly rods, typically 6 and 7 weights. Generally they are not rigged and ready to cast but are stowed in the hatches in the travel tube with the reels mounted. I do this because often we encounter small stripers, blues, small bonito and mackerel. These fish are an absolute blast to target using a lightweight fly rod, when using a 9 weight is overkill. Check out this video...Top Water Mackerel on Light Fly Rods

16.    I see this situation all the time, primarily for false albacore, bonito and mackerel… the fish that are on top and moving quickly. We’ll spot the school, my anglers will get very excited and begin their casting- oftentimes way before they are capable of reaching the fish and before I have slowed the boat properly. This amounts to wasted time and effort. Oftentimes when fish are feeding on the surface I can approach fairly close. Anglers will oftentimes shoot their flies to the middle of the advancing school. In the seconds it takes for the fly to reach the fish, and the angler to start their retrieve, the fish have moved substantially from where the angler was aiming the cast.

We need to first watch the school and determine the direction it is moving as well as the speed of the pack. We need to make a cast several feet in front of the advancing fish so that the fly lands in their field of view. I think that generally anglers begin their retrieve too quickly, much faster than the fleeing baitfish. When they do that, they pull the fly out of the feeding zone and miss opportunities to hook up. Oftentimes fish will feast on the slower or injured baitfish first, so a fly that is cast just ahead of the pack with a slow and erratic retrieve will frequently get the strike. More anglers need to settle down- and be cool.

17.    When striking a freshwater fish such as a trout, pickerel, pike, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, use a “rod set”, which means lift the rod to set the hook. For saltwater fish use the “strip set”, where you keep the rod tip pointed at the fly and you set the hook by pulling the line with your line hand. Once the fish is tight to the line, then lift the rod. For the proper technique on how to Strip Set, click this link.

18.    For fly casting accuracy it’s generally better to use a closed stance, directly facing the target with both feet pointing towards the fly. For distance casting, it’s generally better to use an open stance which has the angler facing 90 degrees away from the target with both feet also facing 90 degrees away from the target. For accuracy we are primarily allowing gravity to drop the fly line vertically onto the target. For distance casting we use the open stance which allows us to move the rod through a wider casting arc to gain line speed, particularly if we combine it with a single or double haul.

Lastly, when your fishing partner is tight to a fish, you should have your line inside the boat or hanging just over the side. You should have enough line out so with one false cast you can shoot that fly 10-20 feet. As your friend plays his fish closer to the boat, you will in most cases see following fish that are looking for an easy meal of regurgitated baitfish that your fish has expelled during the fight. This is a sure-fire way of doubling up, but few anglers capitalize on this opportunity. Plus, is a hellava lot of fun to see it play out.

** (several of these tips are from Capt. Dave Edens of Fly Cast Charters of St. Simon’s Island, GA… www.flycastcharters.com)
Entertainment/ Skills Development
The following resources are worth exploring:

Promo introduction:
"Smallmouth bass swim in more streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs than any other gamefish, and exceptional, world-class fishing opportunities for them are found across the country, from the John Day River in Oregon to the Great Lakes, to Maine’s Penobscot. While numerous books have been written on smallmouth, this is the first book to cover the cutting-edge techniques and fly patterns being used by some of the country’s top fly fishing guides. Though most of these flies and techniques have been developed and refined in the rivers and lakes of the Midwest (a hotbed of smallmouth fly fishing) anglers can adapt them for their waters.
·        Cutting edge fly patterns for smallmouth, including full color plates and recipes, as well as new techniques for fishing these patterns
·        A “tips” section from various guides, both old school and new, including Luke Kavajecz, Kyle Zempel, Austin Adduci, Kip Vieth, and Bart Landwehr
·        Covers smallmouth bass essentials including biology, behavior, and where to find trophy bass
·        Interviews with Mike Schultz, Lefty Kreh, Chuck Kraft, and Larry Dahlberg"
2. If you are into podcasts, here’s a link to an excellent one: “Wet Fly Swing Fly Fishing”. Start Here - Wet Fly Swing. “I’m Dave, host of the Wet Fly Swing Podcast and your guide along your fly fishing journey. I created this resource to connect you with the greatest fly fishermen and women from around the country. Each week I share expert Tips and Hosted Fly Fishing Trips that provide you with an Experience of a Lifetime! I cover topics all over the country for popular species and destinations from around the world.” 

3. “Trout Grass The Revival Edition”- available to rent or purchase from Amazon Prime Video. Watch Trout Grass The Revival Edition | Prime Video (amazon.com) “From lush forests in China to a rustic workshop in Montana, “Trout Grass: The Revival Edition” is a scenic and captivating 10,000-mile journey into the passion of fly fishing. Author David James Duncan and cinematographer Ed George dazzle audiences with timeless words and images in this acclaimed documentary, remastered for optimal streaming”.
Fly Fishing Quote
“Fishermen are born honest, but they get over it.”

Ed Zern
To Hell With Fishing (1945)
I hope this newsletter was fun and perhaps contained information of interest to you, and again I welcome input for future topics you may be interested in knowing more about.

Sorry for any misspelled words and lousy sentence structure. I try!

Newsletters are produced whenever I can find the time. An archive of prior issues can be found on my website.
My best, and I hope to see you on the water.
Capt. Jim Barr
Skinny Water Charters