Category Archives: Fly Fisherwoman

How to Be the Worst Fly Fisher on the River

This post seems a little silly, nonetheless it will teach you to do the opposite of what it says. Everyone has experienced those moments on the river with other fishermen and women where we question why they are being so inconsiderate of people around them and the beautiful environment that encompasses them.

Here is how to be one of the worst fly fishers on the river:

 

  1. River Jammer

The challenging sport of Fly-fishing.To be a river jammer means that you are a fisherman who chooses to fish right next to, too close to, or in-between a set of people fishing. This is the easiest thing to choose not to do. Fly fisherman’s etiquette says to give everyone their own space and try to find your own place to fish. Personally, I find it most amazing when I can look on all sides of me and there is not another person on the river, but I am also a realist and know that this cannot happen at rivers such as the San Juan.  If you are capable always try to avoid other people on the river and find your own place to fish. It is a much more rewarding experience for all people involved.

2. Litterbug

You know who you are. When you cut your tippet off or leader off, are you throwing it in the water or stuffing it in a pocket in your vest? Even 3 inches of scraggly old tippet in the water is litter in that eco system. Stick it in your vest and throw it out in a trashcan. ALWAYS pack back in whatever you unpacked, water bottles, beer cans, granola bar wrappers, napkins, anything!

3. Party Pooper

If you are on a fishing excursion with a friend or family member and you get tired of fishing, don’t be a poop. Be prepared and bring a book or something to do so that you can wait for your fellow fisher person. I always try to be very good about this, especially when I was younger I would get tired a lot quicker than my dad. I would sit and watch or bring a book to read in the car, but I never tried to rush him. He deserved to have his fishing day the same as I now expect when he is catching nothing and I am catching everything (hee- hee).

4. Kid Bringer

imagesIf you are bringing your kids out on the river, teach them to respect the river the same way you do. Don’t let them throw rocks in the water while people are fishing around them. Don’t let them run around where they could endanger themselves on someone’s backcast. Also if they or you catch a fish, teach them how to handle it properly.

5. Bad Knot-Tier

While you can’t always get the perfect knot and there will be plenty of times when the line simply breaks, it is important to be confident in your knots before you head out on the river on your own. First, it is good for you, you will catch fish and not get utterly frustrated. Second, good for the fish. I can’t imagine having a fly stuck in my lip with tippet trailing off the end. I get it! Tt has happened to me plenty of times, but to be a good fly fisher you need to be able to tie good knots!

6. Mean Ol’ Grouch

images-1Don’t be the Grinch of fishing. When people walk by and ask how the fishing is going do not ignore them. If people ask what you are using don’t lie or ignore them, the fish are going to bite regardless most of the time. Fishing has always been a friendly and arms-wide-open sport for me and that is why I love it so much. Fly fishing is a community sport, share your secrets to continue growth of our beautiful community.

7. Be Accepting

Men should accept women into the fly fishing world and not act as though the sport is exclusively for men. Women do not condemn or hate on men because they happen to be the majority in this sport. Work together, teach children and continue to grow this community of fly fishing.

8. Fish Killer

This is probably the most serious. Keep your hands wet when handling fish. Keep them wet as much as you can. Pinch down the barbs on the hooks. If you fought a fish for a long time and they are stressed and exhausted set them loose as soon as possible.

9. KEEP KEEP KEEP

caughtbyfishinnetcatchandre_800If you eat trout and only catch what you are going to eat, good for you, but in protected waters it is imperative to catch and release. If you want to keep fish, go fish the bait waters. There is a reason that there are protected waters and bait waters, follow the rules.

10. Quitter

Don’t quit just because you didn’t catch a fish on your fist time fly fishing. Never give up. Practicing every chance you get will make you so much better. Take a casting or beginners class if you need to, but don’t quit because it is challenging. The challenge is what makes it worth it.

There you have it, those are ten ways to be a horrible fly fisher. Take my advice and avoid those ten things in order to become a good fly fisher person.

As always feel free to contact me via the comments, my twitter or instagram @kylieflygirl, or e-mail kylie@flyfishingflygirl.com

Thanks for reading and I wish you all tight lines!

Fly Fishing Knots and the Dry Fly/ Dropper Fly Set Up

Take a look at the video to see how to tie a couple of important fly fishing knots. I will be going over the double surgeon’s knot and the clinch knot. These are the two knots I use most frequently and the only two I am absolutely confident teaching people to tie. After learning these two knots in the video, read on about the dry fly/ dropper fly set up, and when it is a good option to fish with.

The Dry Fly/Dropper Fly set up is not as difficult as it sounds. Yes, its an extra hook in the air you have to worry about casting, but it also gives fish a bigger menu. The dry fly can be used as a strike indicator or as a floating meal for fish feeding off of the top. The dry fly alone is how I do most of my fishing in the smaller mountain streams here in New Mexico. The dropper fly is a smaller, weighted down, sinking fly that is great for catching the big fat lazy fish who feed off of the bottom. Using a small dropper and a strike indicator is how I caught my massive 26.5″ rainbow trout on the San Juan in New Mexico. The dropper is usually a tiny bead head nymph of some sort. I’m not kidding, its tiny! I caught that 26 incher on a black bead head smaller that my pinky nail.

San Juan River, NM February 2015 26.5 inches
San Juan River, NM February 2015 26.5 inches

Both the dry fly, and the dropper fly can be used independently. as I’ve said, but they can also be used together in what many people call the dry/dropper combo. The combinations that I use most are the dry fly and emerger combo, and the attractor dry fly and nymph combo. When you are not sure what the fish are biting, you are getting sporadic and infrequent bites, or simply not landing any fish on the dry fly alone, this is a great time to try the dry fly/ dropper fly combo in any of its forms. It is also a great way to fish when the fish are only wanting to eat tiny flies. It is really important that when you are fishing a dry dropper setup that you have floatant to keep your dry fly on top of the water. You do not need to add a bobber or other strike indicator, that is more weight on your line than you need. Your dry fly is your strike indicator.

When you are making the decision to two-fly it, you need to assess what type of fishing situation you are in, and then make decisions about the way you want to fish. For example if you are wading near the bank into some faster moving water, you will want to set your dry fly closer to your dropper on the tippet. When there is a strong current, having your dry fly and dropper 8-12 inches (20-30cm) apart gives you a lot more control. This is also a great option if you are casting toward shallower banks. The harder part is when you are casting into deep, slower moving, wide water. In this case, you will want to have 18- 24  inches (45-60 cm) of tippet in between your dry fly and your dropper. While there is less control of your line, there is no fast moving water to misguide and entangle your line, just be sure that you are casting up stream.

Before all of this, you have to decide which type of flies to use. The best way to do this is to pay attention to what is hatching, and what is in the water. Take a moment to turn over a rock and see what is there and whether any adult aquatic insects are emerging (emergers) toward the surface. If you can’t see an active hatch, emergers, or other signs of surface life. Then use the attractor fly and nymph combination  since the nymphs are not usually on the surface. I hope this gives you a beginners introduction to the dry dropper combo. The best way to learn is to get out there and do it. That is the best way of learning to fly fish–DO IT!

Most of the places I fish and write about are locations that really only need single dry flies. I am still learning and gauging when it is the appropriate time is to use each method of fly fishing. Like everyone else, I’m still learning more and more every time I get my line in that water. If you have more questions than the ones I’ve addressed please ask your question in the comments, and I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge! I’m truly loving writing and sharing my fly life with all of you! Stay tuned, and please follow the blog by leaving your e-mail so that you can get an update when I’ve posted something new!

Valles Caldera National Preserve Fishing

Valles Caldera National Preserve, located in the Jemez mountains of New Mexico is a prime spot for outdoor activities. The preserve is an amazing place to go for the day to hike, fish, drive, or bike. The cost is $20 a vehicle for a back country pass, and it is so worth it! The only time of year I have been is during the summer. Its up higher in altitude so it remains relatively cool, and there is always the chance of an afternoon rain. The sights and views are nothing short of fantastic, even with the burn scar the preserve suffered back in 2011.

My first visit to Valles Caldera was June of 2014, my Dad and I went to try it out after hearing about the beauty of this place. We chose to fish the San Antonio, which starts in the northernmost part of the preserve and flows west. It starts out as a narrow stream, not more than a a yard or two wide, at times even less. Further down the stream it widens and gets a little more shallow. In order to fish this small stream you have to feel comfortable casting into a small stream. Your cast will make or break your fishing in the small streams. Stealth and accuracy are your best friends.

First Fish at the Valles Caldera San Antonio
First Fish at the Valles Caldera San Antonio

First thing you’ll notice is the width of the stream, although it is narrow, there are good enough holes, up against the banks, for the fish to hide out. The key is casting from further away from the stream, and longer upstream than you typically would in such a small stream. My Dad won’t agree with me, and neither will “expert fly fisherman,” but I don’t think you need to let your fly drift to far downstream. I tend to only hook fish the minute my fly hits the water. Keep in mind I have only fished Valles Caldera in the summer months. The fly needs to be dry and big enough for you to see it, but not so big the small brown trout can’t grab the hook. You WILL NOT always feel the fish bite, there are some small fish in there! Watch the water, watch your fly, and wait for a fish mouth to gobble it up. Polarized sunglasses are a must have when you fly fish anytime any where so that you can see the water and that fish mouth.

When I fish the Valles Caldera I use a dry fly. Usually a grass hopper or a mayfly. Honestly though, if it has a tail or legs, and you can see it, give it a try. If after 20 minutes you haven’t had a single bite, switch it out for something different.

That View, Those Rain Clouds, Perfect Stream Fishing
That View, Those Rain Clouds, Perfect Stream Fishing

The best fishing I did in Valles Caldera was this summer, and I was fishing with different variations of elk-hair caddis and mayflies, all dry. One of the reasons the fishing was great was the time of day. I always try to start fishing before 10 AM. I think of it this way, the fish like to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner just like us, and of course they’ll take a snack if it is prepared beautifully.  In the morning they bite, and at around 2-3 PM something is usually hatching, and that is prime time fishing. I’ve also heard, but not yet tried, night time fishing. Apparently brown trouts turn into voracious hunters when the sun goes down. Okay, back to my trip, the other reason it was such great fishing was the weather. Rain brings fish. I don’t ask questions, I just know that I catch fish when it rains. The dark clouds, the blazing lightning, the roaring thunder, and the cool rain scared people off, but not me. I came to fish, and I was not ready to quit. I put on my poncho, prayed that the lightning didn’t hit the bright yellow girl holding a nine foot metal rod, and kept fishing. It was so worth it! I was catching fish after fish. They were all average 8-10″ browns. They were hitting quick and hard.

Later in the afternoon, post rain, a hatch opened up. I couldn’t tell you what it was. My insect education isn’t quite there yet, but what I can tell you is that it had a tail and was most likely a may fly. Now, most people will tell you to match the hatch to your fly and you will catch fish, but I get a little more creative than that and usually do okay. These small stream fish are not too picky, and do not see as much action as the big river, quality prize fish get. I matched the color, and cast my dry elk haired caddis into the stream. It is bigger and bushier than a mayfly, and the fish loved it! It would hit the water between a pile of a drowning mayfly, also known as a fish all you can eat buffet, and the fish would choose the elk hair caddis instead! It was a NY strip steak versus a filet!

Mouthy Fish, Great Size
Mouthy Fish, Great Size
Not too Bad for a Small Stream
Not too Bad for a Small Stream

Anytime I have fished the Valles Caldera I have caught 10-30 fish ranging from 4 inches to 12 inches. If you are looking for size, Jemez stream waters are not the place to fish. If you are looking to catch fish back to back to back, and have a hell of a view while you are doing it, then Valles Caldera is the place to go!

Cows are frequent on the road and near the stream.
Cows are frequent on the road and near the stream.

I know I need to stick to my strengths, and mainly tell you about fly fishing, but I think I have told you enough of my Valles Caldera fishing secrets. I have to show you a few other reasons why visiting the Valles Caldera is such a rewarding thing to do. I live in New Mexico. I was born and raised here, and I had no idea this diamond in the rough existed. New Mexico is just one of those places, it always has something more beautiful, more special, and more unique around every corner.

When we went to the Valles Caldera it was Elk calving season. All the elk mamas were having their babies. Valles Caldera has one of the largest, if not the largest, elk population in New Mexico. We had the chance to see a baby elk and a mama grazing, and when that mama elk saw our car she took off running to draw us away from her calf and the calf dove into the long grass, to hide until she returned. It was a beautiful moment to witness.

There are also a ton of grazing cattle who call the preserve their home in the summer. Believe me when I say, they are not afraid of people, or cars. They will invade your space while you fish, and take over the whole road while you are walking or driving through. When I got close enough to moo at them on foot, they did eventually run away. Also, notice that this is a dirt road. It is not always a smooth ride, and if it perchance rains, you will need all-wheel drive. Plan on an hour drive from the ranger station to the stream.

Now the best part of my 2014 trip to the Valles Caldera with my dad was not the fishing. Wait! Don’t curse me, The picture explains it all! On our way back to the entrance from fishing there were three horses waiting for us at the gate. My Dad and I are horse crazy, well animal crazy.

Friendly Car Intruder
Friendly Car Intruder

We want all the animals to be our friends, and when we saw those horses we couldn’t resist! We rolled down the windows to give the horses apples and breakfast crackers, and it was an amazing mistake. One of the horses would not leave me alone after his apple treat, and stuck his entire head in our car, and nudging my head for more apples.

Needless to say, Valles Caldera is a magical place. If you are a nature lover, if you need

Average tiny browns, not big, but lots of catches.
Average tiny browns, not big, but lots of catches.

some rest and relaxation, if you want to catch and release a ton of fish, then the Valles Caldera is a place you need to go visit. I encourage everyone to be a tourist in your own state, province, country, and even city. Doing things like this make for a great adventure!

Thanks again for reading, and please continue to share my blog. I am really starting to get excited when I post and see more and more people who read about little old me, and little old New Mexico fly fishing!

Last bits of important fishing advice: when fishing protected waters always use single barbless hooks. This is better for the fish and gives other people the chance to catch the fish you return to the water! Always have a state fishing license, and lastly, I wish you good fishing, cast your heart out, curse when you miss a bite, and smile when you hook ’em!