Sep 18

Chasing GTs with a factory loop

There’s lots of advice out there about how to rig up for GT fishing. There are strong, educated opinions.

I’m told before I go GT fishing I should cut the front loop off my brand-new ~$100 fly line and build my own loop.

It is even talked about in the book “GT, A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Giant Trevally.” In the book, Peter McLeod talks about how he builds his own loops out of 50lb hollow braid.

I can see how, when GTs first became a species chased with a fly rod, fly lines might not have been up for the challenge. What I can’t see is how that’s still the case in 2018.

I mean… is RIO, for example, really selling a fly line that requires you to first cut part of it off and refashion a loop in order for it to be fished effectively? That can’t be the case, right?

What do I know about fishing for GTs? Pretty much nothing. I’ve caught one adult tarpon and lost a few more, but those are my big fish. In those cases I trusted to the manufacturer’s loops. Can’t I just trust the line maker for GTs?

I decided to ask RIO. Here’s what they said:

He shouldn’t be worried about loops. Lots of people use this line successfully for GTs with the factory loop. People do ruin lines, but the majority of those occur when a fish drags the line over something sharp like rocks or coral. That can strip the coating off or even cut through the core.


The loops on the GT line are manufactured a little differently than a loop on say a trout line. In addition to welding the coating together, we add a reinforcing PVC sleeve around the weld. As a result the welded loop is typically stronger than the line’s core break strength.


The one piece of information I’d add is that the loop knot in the end of the leader may end up being a weak point. A perfection loop, like on a typical trout leader, decreases the break strength of the mono by about 20%. That doesn’t matter if the tippet is significantly weaker than the leader butt, but for a level leader a figure-8 loop is a better option.

So… I’m going to NOT open my GT fly line from the box and cut the tip off. I’m betting the possibility of my operator error is higher than the likelihood of a manufacturing defect.

Yup… I’m going to put my faith in the company.

Dec 17

A post for SOs and spouses… this is what your flats fisherman wants for Christmas (2017).

Folks… forward this on to your loved ones if you’d like to drop hints, but don’t want to just fill out an Amazon Wish List.

Flats Anglers have needs… special needs… needs that are different from Rocky Mountain trout anglers or a bass fisherman. We are special.

First… there is the sun. The sun is kind of brutal out there on the flats. There’s no shade wading a flat or standing on a flats skiff. So… here are a few thing we might need to stay un-crisp.

The Patagonia Men’s Tropic Comfort Hoody II.
Long name, but a pretty awesome shirt for the sun. The hood, the high collar, the thumb holes… I like it all. I have one in blue and I want more.


And since we’re on Patagonia… let’s talk about the Guidewater II Pants.
I have several pairs of these. I love them. After a day in the salt they sort of harden to be similar to armor. I love that feeling. I’ve torn a couple pairs at this point, but those were 100% my fault.


I also have this hat
Trucker caps are cool… but if you are like me (a bit bald) the mesh doesn’t do what I need it to in terms of keeping me from burning.

Fitz Roy Tarpon Stretch Fit Hat, Navy Blue (NVYB)

And because it is part of the uniform and part of not burning… how about a Stalker Mask from Skinny Water Culture.

SWC Tail Pima Cotton Stalker Mask

Everyone NEEDS good sunglasses out on the flats. I prefer Costas, which is pretty much what 95% of the fly anglers I know fish with.

A trigger, and Costas

In terms of our feet… well… that is less about sun and more about coral/shells/urchins. There are two boots I’ve used lately. My heavy boots were from Patagonia, but a look on their website and they DON’T MAKE THEM ANYMORE! Crap!

Luckily, others do. Here’s the other pair of flats boots I have. The Simms Zipit Bootie II.
These pack down nicely to save room. I have these a size too small, sadly, which can make a day on the water a bit uncomfortable (I wear a 14 and it can be hard to get what I need in this department). It looks very much like Simms has you covered in their other designs as well. I mean… Simms… pretty solid.

You need a pack while you are out there, and I recently converted over to the Thunderhead sling pack by Fishpond. In addition to being just an awesome company (love their conservation ethic), the sling does a couple of things really well. It is waterproof. I can leave my phone in that thing without worrying. Second, it is big enough for me to carry everything I need without sacrificing. Third, with it sitting higher than a hip pack if I leave a zipper open in haste, it isn’t going to fill up with water with one deep step. I’m a fan.

Now… on to the rod and reel end of things.

Let’s start with the most important element piece of hard gear for the salt… the reel.

The best budget option out there right now, by far, is the Behemoth from Redington. I mean… at $129 you can pick up three of these for the price of one of the bigger named reels. They are not likely to fish for 20 years, but if you need a back-up or want to pick up a rig for your first trip without fully investing… this is a great option.

Other reels I think highly of..

I’ve always wanted a Galvan T8. At $430, this is what passes for a mid-range reel for saltwater. They are also a California company, which is cool.

Image result for galvan t8

It seems these days a lot of the top anglers I see are sporting the Hatch 7+. At $650, this is a solid high-end reel.


Now… on to the rods, which some would argue is just as important as the reel… maybe even more important.

On the budget side of things, the revamped Redington Predator is a good, solid option. Budget, for a saltwater rod, is about $300. I’ve got three Predators, an 8, 10 and 12. When you are going multi-species and are looking at three rods, it gets hard to fathom getting three $800 rods. The Predator helps get you around that.

For the top end of the market… I love, love, love my Orvis Helios 2. Now, they have a third version of this rod out now, so, you’d have to settle for an H3 (which is supposed to be even better).

Helios 3D 8-Weight 9' Fly Rod

Other rods that are beloved by anglers I deeply respect include…
The Meridian from Scott.
The Sage Salt HD.

In terms of fly lines, I’ve pretty much been a RIO guy for a while.
I like their standard bonefish line. They have a Quickshooter line as well, and I’d recommend that if you are going to primarily wading for your bones, or if you might need a little bit more loading on your rod. They also have a directcore line, which I haven’t fished, but seems really promising.


That’s it.

OK. That’s not IT. There is a ton more. There is tippet and leaders and flies and fly tying material and boat bags and then the actual boats… kayaks, SUPs, skiffs. Nippers, pliers, tippet holders, coolers… so much gear to have so much fun. The gear is half the fun (OK, maybe 10%, but still, you need this stuff to get out there and get after it.)

OTHER Stuff:

Flyfishing for Bonefish by Dick Brown
Fly Fishing Belize by Jim Klug
Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World’s Most Elusive Fish by Chip Dombrowski
GT: A Flyfisher’s Guide by Peter McLeod
Fly-Fishing the Yucatan by Rod Hamilton (and others)
Yeti Tundra cooler
Fishpond Thunderhead Duffle
Skinny Water Culture Tarponist t-shirt
Estrada Art Tarpon Slime t-shirt
Body Glide (seriously)

Jul 17



Now… let me show you my new gear.

We are full of contradictions and inconsistencies and that proves one thing. We are human.

When I read about a $1,100 trout rod I was incredulous. “Stupid” I thought. No trout (OK, almost no trout) is going to really, really test your tackle. You don’t need space-age materials to land a 14″ rainbow. Man, we fly fishermen are a gullible lot.


But… I really did want a back-up 8 wt. and when I cast the newly re-launched Predator rod from Redington, I kind of wanted it. I have an 8 wt. A really good one. I also have two other 8’s that work in a pinch. I didn’t NEED a new 8 wt, but I did WANT a new 8 wt. and I, in fact, got a new 8 wt.

And… ya know… what’s a new rod without a new reel? So, I picked up a Behemoth as well (cheap and powerful, a good combo).

Had to get a new line too, of course… so I added another RIO Bonefish line to the arsenal.

I could have fished a week without any of these things. I could have gone on with exactly what I have and I would have been fine. But… ya know… I wanted that stuff.

I also picked up a new hooded sun shirt from Patagonia which I hope will keep me from burning anything important in my on-going quest to appease my wife and not die prematurely. I should add it would NOT appease my wife for me to die prematurely.

So, I got a new shirt. I have a lot of shirts. I have favorite shirts and lucky shirts and shirts that are jinxed or hexed and shirts with no known ability to attract or repel fish of any kind. I didn’t need a new shirt. But I did want a new shirt. I wanted two, actually, and so I also got a new Redington bonefish shirt.

Flyfishing attracts gear-heads, it seems, and while it sometimes seems outright dumb to buy and buy and buy there is also something entirely enjoyable about sliding a new rod out of a rod tube and putting backing on a new reel, just as there is something deeply fulfilling about adding the 304th fly into the fly box.

So… YOU DON’T NEED NEW GEAR! But, that’s not really why we buy the gear in the first place.

Jan 16

The Wire

The RIO wire

The RIO wire

I can’t go to the skinny water without my wire, I admit it.

At first, barracuda were the enemy, the predators of bonefish and bonefish were what I was out to catch. It seemed natural to hate them and their ability to turn a landed bonefish into half a landed bonefish.

As predators they excel. Their speed and power and aggression are really astounding. And… aren’t those pretty good traits in a game fish?

My hatred turned to curiosity and then to outright joy.

I’ll say it. I love barracuda.

When they decide to go after a fly they destroy it, shred it, make it a fraction of its former self. When you hook one they jump like skinnier, madder tarpon. They throw rooster tails of water on their lightning runs. They are electric.

They can also hurt you. Badly. Maybe not kill you, but they could take off a finger or two.

“It ain’t wilderness unless there’s a critter that can kill you and eat you.” – Doug Peacock.

So, with a trip on the horizion, it was time to buy some new wire. I’m going for the bonefish, but I’ll enjoy the cudas too.

Aug 14

The winners from the big show

I didn’t go to the IFTD show this year. Hard to break away when the day job is kicking like it is. I made it to one of the shows a few years back and it was a good time.

Some other bloggers did go and they posted some write-ups you can check out.

Gink and Gasoline had a write up. Written by Johnny Spillane, no less.

Hatch Magazine has a write up as well.

Sage’s SALT rod won best in show. That’s a rod I haven’t cast, but might like to.

Nautilus picked up honors for their reels for both salt and fresh water. The Silver King Black is the saltwater reel.

Nautilus Silver King Reel

RIO got the nod for top saltwater fly line with a line for Permit. If permit weren’t such jerks, I might be interested in this line.

Another year, another lineup of good stuff. Of course, the old stuff wasn’t so bad either.

Jun 14

Choosing your RIO Bonefish Line

I have fished a lot of the RIO lines for bonefishing. I’ve done that for two reasons… 1. They are a quality company making quality lines, and 2. They tend to send them to me.

Recently, they sent this video clip with Simon from RIO talking about how to select your Rio bonefishing line. This is a question I get asked from time to time and I agree with everything said here. I have not fished the general purpose cold water saltwater line, but I have fished the standard and quick shooter bonefishing lines.

The only other thing I’d add is that the quick shooter is not an ideal line for fishing from a boat. The shorter head means more running line and that running line has a way of not behaving really well when the wind comes up and it is laying there on the deck. So, if you are going to wade a lot, like, primarily wade, the quick shooter is a good option. You see those fish in closer and need to load your rod more quickly. Today’s rods tend to be very fast and it can sometimes be hard to load a rod with only 10 feet of line out. The quickshooter makes that a bit easier.

The standard line doesn’t tangle on the deck so easy, making it better for boat fishing, but it also can be harder to load a rod with if you see the fish in tight.

So, here’s the video. Hope it helps.

Apr 13

The RIO Quickshooter

I was going to do a review of the RIO Quickshooter Bonefish Fly Line.  Then, I read the review of said line over at Flatswalker.com.

He crushed me both in time to evaluate the line, useful insight into what makes the line work so well and word-count.

Basically, a line should do what the box it came in advertises. It doesn’t have to have some trippy nano-texture copied from a Jesus Lizard or slide through the rod guides faster’n a greased up snake. It just has to not tangle, load the road and not fall apart too soon.

Classic. Read the rest of this too.

Here is what I had written about it:

If you look riiiiiiiight there, you can see the Quickshooter line.

If you look riiiiiiiight there, you can see the Quickshooter line.

The idea behind the Quickshooter is this… when you need to load a rod quickly, especially the ultra-fast rods you find on the flats today, you need a line capable of loading the rod with very little line out. This is a wading line for when you see the fish at 30 feet and need to send something pointy down range quickly.

I can say it works. Two of the fish I caught were while wading and one was probably about 35 feet away. I had no problem loading the rod quickly and making the shot.

I’d say I think the line is slightly less ideal for fishing out of a boat on a windy day when you want to keep line on the deck. The thin running line can get a bit FUBAR if not watched closely or if you are fishing with flats beginners who don’t understand their role in keeping your line from birdnesting.

I like the line and will fish it in the future for sure, especially if I think I’ll be doing a lot of wading.

*This line was sent gratis by RIO.


Mar 13

New toys

When I head to the Bahamas I’ll have a few new things to play around with. Several of these things you might be interested in.

First, I’ll be trying out the new RIO Bonefish Quickshooter sent by the good folks at RIO. The normal RIO bonefish line is overweighted .25 line weights, but the quickshooter is .5. The idea is when you are wading you often have shots much closer as you don’t see the fish until they are in that 40′ range. If you have one of those super fast rods, you might not be able to really load the rod well at short ranges. A slightly heavier line will do this better. This is basically the Redfish line in bonefish colors. Looking forward to putting that on the Abel Super 7/8n.

The RIO Quickshooter

The RIO Quickshooter

Next up… did you know you can wear other sunglasses besides Costa?  You can. I’ll be sporting a pair of Revo shades sent by the company for my feedback, love and affection. So far I can tell you they are great for driving to work and back. I’ll let you know how they stand up to the elements/salt.

Revo shades on our handsome model.

Revo shades on our handsome model.

Lastly… are you a member of the GoPro revolution?  I’m not. However, I did pick up a ContourROAM on the cheap from Amazon. The thing is supposed to be waterproof and does many of those GoPro-ish things. I have no idea what I’m doing with this thing, but it should keep me from missing when my dad hooks the guide, which I expect to happen at least twice.

This “action camera” was only $100… making it half the cost of the lowest level of GoPro and 1/4th the cost of the top-of-the-line GoPro. I like cheap and I look forward to seeing just how much I can underutilized this camera.

I'll, like, take some video, maybe?

I’ll, like, take some video, maybe?

I also have some Redington clothes along to test, but I’m too lazy to go put them on for you just for this post, so you’ll have to see me wearing them in pictures from the Bahamas. One pair of pants is a good rival for my beloved Patagonia Guidewater pants… in fact, at a distance you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart and wearing them you’d be challenged to feel the difference (I like them).  I have a couple of new rain jackets for the trip and I hope I don’t need them.


Aug 11

Rio Bonefish Line – Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

So, I did a poll a couple weeks back asking what line folks used.  The overwhelming winner was the Rio Bonefish line.  Rio, as a company/brand did very well.  27% of anglers reported using the Rio Bonefish line.

I don’t think I have actually fished the Rio Bonefish, but I threw the Rio Tropical Clouser in Andros and kind of loved the line.

Well done Rio. Keep putting the good stuff out.

I’m starting to sound old when I say things like “$80 for a fly line??” Sadly, that is true for the Rio Bonefish line and not really out of line with other offerings from many of the big players.

The SA Bonefish line was second with 15% of the vote and comes in at $70.  I’ve actually fished the SA and it feels a little light to me, but that could be me with the crack smoking again.

One thing is clear… there are a lot of options for the angler today and the lines come at a variety of price points.  One thing to keep in mind when you are selecting a line is how you plan to fish.  Fishing from a flats boat often means longer casts (since you see the fish from further away).  For those trips, a line that is weighted closer to the weight of the rod is usually best.

If you are primarily wading, you may want to have a line that is a little over so your rod can load at short distances (the Rio Redfish is a little heavier than the Bonefish line and is prefered by some for that application).

So… go forth and select a line.  Just do me a favor… get it wet.


Oct 10

Interview with Simon Gawesworth from RIO

Simon Gawesworth works at Rio and is primarily known for his spey casting and as a chaser of steelhead.  Turns out that steelhead are just one of his passions along with another elusive, silver powerhouse of the fish world… the bonefish. Rio makes one of the lines you might find yourself sporting if you head out bonefishing and they do some product testing in places like the Bahamas and Mexico. If you want to watch Simon do a bit of casting… you can see him do just that here (YouTube).

You are known for throwing the long stick for steelies, do you like bonefish for the similarities of the differences from steelhead?

That assumes I analyze my reasons for fishing. I don’t know exactly why the steelhead or the trout or the bonefish give me the passion… I’ve never even gone fishing for tarpon, for example,  why not?  I know it is a passion that bites people.  There are differences, vast differences, complete opposites, climatic conditions, scenery, target fishing as opposed to blind fishing.  There are differences there.  But there are similarities, very good fighting fish, the steelhead and bonefish. Silver.

I don’t know what it is, but those three species are my soul. They make me tick.

Where do bonefish rank in terms of what you are fishing for?

I can’t distinguish.  Bonefish, trout and steelhead are all my absolute passions, those are the three I target as much as I possibly can and everything else is pretty much a significant step down.  They’ve all got different appeals.

Are you someone that goes to the same places year after year or are you someone who is out to explore new and exotic places?

Kind of both.  With bonefish I probably  haven’t been to the same destination for the past five trips but before that I always went the same week to the Florida Keys, to the same area and same guides. My kids got to the age where they went to school and I couldn’t travel and so now i have to fluctuate my time off.  The last trip I had was to the Bahamas, the Bahamas for the first time, Mexico before that, Florida Keys before that, then Christmas Island, kind of a bit of variation like that.  Never done the Seychelles, haven’t done Cuba.

How long have you been with Rio?

The easiest answer is that I’ve been at Rio and living here in Idaho for ten year.

Rio makes a lot of lines.  What makes a great bonefishing line and how can those of us who are non-epic casters appreciate the difference?

That’s the dilemma when you sit down and start to draw up a line design.  There is no line that is going to suit everybody or every condition or every location.  There are too many variables.  Where fly line development has gone is that now people are aware that they may need two to three different lines for different conditions.  That makes it a tough one to answer.

I’ll give you an answer that might help.  When I went to the Bahamas last December the lines I used the most were our bonefish taper and our redfish taper. The difference was that the redfish taper is a very short head, just over 30 foot in length, that’s the whole head length. Front loaded, easy to cast.  The bonefish line is a long head, 40 foot, easier distance, very good for picking up your cast. I used the bonefish line on the sunny days because you can see fish at range, 40, 45, 50 feet, and you can cast to the target with those longer head lines.  But, since I went in December, most of the days were cloudy, overcast and gray and we couldn’t see the fish until they were 20 feet, 25, and the bonefish lines just didn’t load up at that short range as well as the redfish line does.

You need to be aware of where you are going, what the conditions are going to be, if you are wading, you are going to see fish closer in and you want a line that will load in closer, while when you are on the bow of a boat, with some height and see the fish from greater distance, you may want a different line.

You’ll mostly want a tropical coated line, but, again, in December, I used our colder water condition line because it wasn’t so hot and if it is cool, your tropical lines will have too much memory.

I love seeing someone out on a trout stream casting 50 feet when all the fish are 5 feet away.  While someone might be able to cast 90 feet, it doesn’t mean that they should. At what range do you find yourself casting to bonefish and how does your casting skill change the game of stalking bonefish?

I would say the majority of my bonefish are going to be in that 35-40 foot range.  I’ll break it down in terms of wade fishing or from a boat. From a boat, 40 foot is closer to the mark. Wading, 40 foot would be a long mark. Obviously, I can throw it to 90 if I need to and if a fish is out there at distance.

I think that everybody who has the ability to throw 90 feet is going to be more accurate at 30 foot or 40 foot and have a better presentation.  Distance isn’t the entire end game.  It is the accuracy, it is the general presentation, it is being able to lead by 3 feet or whatever the guide of the day tells you. Distance is good to have when you need it, but accuracy and presentation are more important.

One curve in this… accuracy is going to important, line speed to penetrate the wind, but one thing that is really important is the ability to change direction quickly. You make a cast and the bonefish changes direction and you have a 45 degree or 90 degree angle change required.  A directional change, and that’s my strength with my spey background, that skill I think is a bonus for bonefishing.

Is there a place on your wishlist?

How long a list  can I have?  Cuba, definitely, love to do that.  I can do that, being English, I don’t have the same restrictions.  Unfortunately, a lot of Americans can’t.  Seychelles would be on there. I’d love to do some exploratory trips to some weird, nuclear atolls that were used in WWII, no guides, just go around and search.  I’d love to do that… but… married, kids, that’s  NEVER going to happen.  That’s just fancy thinking.  Plus, a bunch of islands in the Bahamas, I’ve only fished Andros on the one trip.  I’d love to go back there and I’d like to go to Cat and I’d like to go a whole pile of places.

It would be hard if someone said “here it is, open the envelope, this is your bonefish trip, anywhere you want to go, here is your one trip.”  I might be inclined to go back to Andros, actually, just because of the size of the bonefish we saw there.  You see some big fish in the Keys, but we went onto one flat one day with one of the guides and he said it was a big fish flat. The tide was right.  I saw 20 or 30 that were over 10 pounds swimming around, maybe 15. Monster bones.  I’ve never caught one that size. So, I’d put that up there.  I’d like to go to the Seychelles, I’d like to go to Belize.

Me to!

You see a lot of people over-line their rods. What makes an 8 weight rod match an 8 weight line and when should you think about over-lining?

To anyone who is a novice at saltwater fishing, that is a good suggestion, to overline. Especially if they don’t have the opportunity to really hone their casting skills.  Someone who isn’t a great caster, over-lining is good.  Those saltwater rods are a bit more powerful than those freshwater rods, as a result they need a little more grain weight to make them flex. So, that’s a good reason.  Another would be if you are fishing short range.  If you are fishing the Bahamas in December you are going to have cool, cold conditions and fishing at 10-15 feet, by all means step up a line size because you will need to to get that rod to load.

I would also check on the manufacturers of the fly lines. We do that… we automatically do that (increase line weights).  Our redfish line is a half a line size heavier, so it is an 8 and a half line size heavier so that it loads up for close in fishing. Our bonefish is a little less, a quarter line size heavier.  But again, we do build that into the equation.  If they step up to a 9 line, they might actually be fishing a 9 and a half and that starts to get a little heavy.

If you are a good caster you don’t need to.  If it is going to be a really windy day, absolutely. There is no rod that is going to be crushed by a single line weight increase and that extra weight can really help.

In Christmas Island there is a flat called Paris Flats and they are much deeper and you fish heavier flies with bigger eyes and I was wishing for a heavier line because the flies were much harder to cast.

You’d expect me, coming from a line maker, to say you need three or four lines.  The reality, if you are going to go that far on a trip and spend the kind of money that these trips are, it makes no sense to come with one line.  Just in case I’d have a back up for something a little different.

Fish on!

What are you throwing right now in terms of rod and reel?

Right now I’m throwing the Sage Xi3.  I really do like that a pile.  Before that I threw a T&T Horizon Saltwater 8 wt.  That was a nice rod as well. The Xi3 is great and I compliment that with a Sage reel, a 6080, which is a really nice, tough drag reel. I’ve got a reel by a company by a company down your way, Hatch, a really sweet reel, but my go to is the 6080 from Sage.

When I think of bonefishing I think of all sorts of non-bonefishing things… the Kalik, the cracked conch.  Are there any of those sorts of associations you have when you think about chasing bonefish?

The first thing,  obviously, is that I’m getting out of the Hell of Winter in Idaho, somewhere in the tropics.  Exotic, tropical destinations.  Kalik beer, or Belikin.  So, cold local beers, fresh fish, ceviche.  Down in Mexico they made fresh ceviche out of snook every day and that was delicious.  The smell of saltwater, the smell of the sea side.

It is funny that you ask that now. Those are my current associations where as in the past when my wife and the family would go down in November to Florida, then the associations were Margaritas and hammocks and toes in the sand and just pottering around.  I’d always take a couple of days with a guide, and then in the evenings  I’d fish an incoming tide somewhere.  Now, with the kids in school, we can’t do these holidays.  I now do different fishing holidays so these are my associations now.

Thanks Simon!