Thank You For Reading My Blog

This blog is about my life as a fly fisherman, guide, and fly fishing instructor in and around Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

S01E109 2018 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival

Live from the 2018 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival. Rob interviews vendors and talks about his experience at the show. Saturday was very busy with lots of listeners stopping by the booth. Many thanks to Andrew and Zach for helping out. Rob's next appearance will be a the Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ. He'll be tying near the food court!

Produced by Freestone Media

New Podcats Episode!

Friday, January 12, 2018

S02E66 Southwest Florida With Debbie Hanson | Fly Fishing Education & Guiding

Debbie Hanson aka SheFishes2 is a fly fishing guide, educator, and blogger in Southwest Florida. Rob has a lifelong interest in fishing southern Florida and Debbie is the perfect podcast guest to talk about Southwest Florida's biodiversity, getting women and children into fly fishing, and the cure for fire ant bites. Be sure to follow Debbie on social media.  

Produced by Jason Reif of Freestone Media

New Podcats Episode!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why I Despise Fly Fishing 'Rods On Shoulders' Grip & Grins | Rant

Here is a bit of a rant. I'd rather do this on the podcast. I'm going to explain why I despise the 'rod on shoulder' pose by fly anglers. I will try to break down my loathing of this contrived photo shoot.

History- The first rod on shoulder pose picture that I know of is in Steelhead Dreams. I didn't see anyone else do this for several years until social media became a thing. I didn't like the picture then, I don't like those pictures now.

I have seen one incident when I thought this was acceptable. We had a cable fishing channel free for a few days. One show featured a single angler and a single camera person. The angler caught an Atlantic salmon. The fish was landed and the angler in one move rested the reel and cork over his neck, bent over, picked up the fish, held it up to the camera, and promptly released it.

The Rod - A rod on the shoulder is vulnerable to breakage or loss.

My least expensive rod outfit costs several hundred dollars. People love to show their expensive and fancy fly gear on social media. So why jeopardize your valued gear or my valued gear if you are a client? When one has a rod balanced on their shoulders they are not in control of that rod. I had a lacrosse coach that would make us run a lap if we spun our lacrosse stick around while 'cradling' the ball. Sure it looks cool to spin the rod but you have no control of that stick. If someone hits you our your stick you loose the ball.

I find it ridiculous and careless that someone would pose with hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of equipment on their shoulders while on the edge of a boat over deep or any depth of water. That fish moves suddenly and unexpectedly and that rod is lost forever. You drop that rod on the shore and the fish or you or someone else will break it.

As a guide I teach my clients to put the rod in their armpit or to stash the rod somewhere safe-out of the way where it can't be damaged or broken. Rods on the ground get stepped on. My rods are my livelihood. If one rod breaks that means I can't do my job, I don't get paid. I always have back ups just in case. I don't have them in case someone breaks a rod doing a grip and grin with a rod on their shoulder. We don't seek out scenarios where we jeopardize rods and reels. 

There are people out there that have broken and lost fly rods while posing this way. They don't admit it but they are out there. A dropped reel will damage the reel or spool. Its not worth it.

Posing with a fish in your hands and a rod on your shoulders while it dangles over a boat is just reckless. 

What about rods in mouths? That is fine with me. If there is no safe alternative to secure the gear it should go in the mouth as a last resort. I haven't done this in a long time (mostly because  my corks are disgusting and I don't get photographed with fish). If I hold my rod in my mouth I have complete control over my gear. My mouth is the second best option unless I grow a tail or a third arm.

The Fish -No fish is worth that picture. Don't be that person. Fish are slippery, unpredictable organisms. They are wet with a protective mucous covering. They are not meant to be held by us out of water. If you drop the fish you will hurt it. If you do not have control over the fish you don't have control of your rod.

Fish are wild animals. Have you ever watched a late night TV bit where a person brings an animal on stage? It never goes well. That is the point of bringing an unpredictable creature on TV, the animal freaks out and we find it funny. It makes for good TV. Snails and tortoises don't make good TV for a reason.

Fish are wild, we wouldn't have 'Fish Flop Photo Contests' if they did not have a propensity to jump out of your hands. Fish are unpredictable when you take them out of water. How are you expected to keep a rod balanced on your shoulders when you have a flopping creature in your hands.

Further, how long has that fish been out of the water for this shot? Is the life of a fish worth your posed photograph? If its cold the gills are freezing. If its hot that fish is drying out. We put them through enough pain and embarrassment. Don't be that person that fishes unethically for social media notoriety.

If the weather is cold enough that your reel will freeze if you drop it in and take it out - its too cold to take the fish out of the water. If you balance your rod on your shoulder and it falls in and freezes solid you are in a world of problems. Is the picture worth the risks?

The Pose - I think people look ridiculous with a rod on their shoulder.

It doesn't naturally capture the moment. How much time was taken to get that rod balanced? How many times did that rod fall off? How many tries did it take for that rod to stay motionless? Spend more time fishing, less time posing. I already know you are using a fly rod. You don't have to prop one up to reinforce your method. Trusting a fish to behave is careless. Trusting a fish's behavior over your gear's safety is irresponsible. If you haven't damaged your gear already you are lucky.

When I take a client's picture my Iphone is ready to go. I can unlock it with a swipe of my thumb. I use the volume buttons to take the picture. A quick tap of the screen to focus. I can take several images from several angles with out the client having to do anything.  We take the pic as fast as possible and try to keep the fish as safe as possible. Some fish are a little more hearty than others. Large salmonids should be handled like infants. Don't get me started on the 'you are an idiot if you hold a bass this way' based on a single image passed around on the internet.

Everyone Else - Why is it just fly rod anglers that do this?

I don't follow a lot of conventional anglers on social media, the ones I do follow don't pose with rods on shoulders. I've never seen this on their feeds. Rods on shoulders further distances us from other types of anglers and reinforces that we are elite. Other people that don't pose with their tools on their shoulders:

  • Gardeners - ever see someone pose with a shovel over their shoulder? Exactly, it looks ridiculous. This is me mocking anglers with rods on shoulders. 

  • Chefs - Fly Chef Dennis doesn't pose with his rolling pin or ladle on his shoulders. His knife up there would be dangerous
  • Life Guards - never seen an orange flotation device on Hasselhoff's hairy shoulders
  • Home Owners - ever see someone with a rake over their shoulder next to a pile of leaves?

  • Sommelier - never seen one with a corkscrew or a bottle on their shoulders
  • Authors - Hemingway never posed with a type writer on his shoulder 
  • Painters - Rembrandt never painted a self portrait with a brush on his shoulders
  • Pirates - Ok, they have parrots on their shoulders
  • Athletes- Happy Gilmore never put a golf club or a hockey stick on his shoulders
  • Jedi Knights - No self respecting Jedi would risk their light saber to pose with a superfan at Disney or Endor
  • Porn Stars - use your imagination perverts. 

I don't keep a professional photographer in my boat to be my personal paparazzi. When someone I'm fishing with takes my picture I look at the camera and at the fish. I look at the fish because I'm overwhelmed by that organism. I don't want to waste my time with that fish and especially don't want to be looking at someone else when I have a fish to admire.

I also wear sunglasses. All the time. I've worn sunglasses outside on sunny to cloudy days since I was seven years old. I'm very sensitive to the light. I don't want to be squinting in my pictures. I want people to look a the fish in my grip and grins, not me. In this picture my rod is carefully perched along the wall shoreline on tree roots. The fish was out of the water for just a few seconds. The ambient air temp was in the low 40's.

That is about it for my rant. Bring on the comments if you are one of these people. Why do you do it? How long does it take to get the shot?

Maybe next time we can discuss 'I'm a pro staffer look at me" and 'keepem wet' when their fish is OUT OF THE WATER on social media.

 This is Thomas mocking me.

Friday, December 8, 2017

S01E108 | Behind The Scenes Of A Fly Fishing Guide

Part 1. Rob interviews Wian van Blommestein of Ayoba-Yo about his locally made Biltong.

Part 2. Rob explains what goes on behind the scenes as a fly fishing guide - prepping gear, monitoring weather, and lots more. Client's only see the tip of the iceberg. This is a must-listen episode for those burgeoning fly fishing guides.

Produced by Freestone Media

Brought to you by Ayoba-Yo

New Podcats Episode!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Steelhead Mojo | Images From Salmon River, New York

Here are the pics from the recent road trip north. The biggest issue was the water levels. For more details about what went on up there please listen to the podcast on Itunes. 

I tied up a bunch of sucker spawns and eggs using a variety of materials. Estaz, Samsung Yarn (from Lotte Grocery), angora rabbit, egg yarn, McFly foam, diamond braid, and yarn. 

This is the best fly box I have owned. Get one for yourself from RisenFly. It is a double sided, waterproof box that has silicon hook holders.

 I had a loaf of bread to take up for making grilled cheese. The bag was wrapped up not tied. It was in my storage bin of gear to bring up. Two nights before I drove north I was sitting in bed watching the news. dr jones walks into the bedroom with an entire slice of bread in his mouth. He looked at me and turned around. I was very confused. I followed him to the basement and noticed that the old man ate almost an ENTIRE BAG OF BREAD. The dog is a lap dog.
 If you listen to TMOS you get the joke/bit.
 Jason and I suited up with out much thought. We wanted to fish. He hooked this buck within minutes of wading out. Maybe his 12th cast. On a pink intruder.
 The other side of my fly box. this is my nymph section. HNIC, flash back soft hackle pheasant tails, jumbo Johns, etc. You can buy any flies with the link above.
 I was using a 9' 8wt. The leader was set up for striper fishing down here in Virginia. I wasn't getting any love until I broke off my leader. Once I had my standard SRNY leader set up I hooked my first fish of the trip. I was so cold in this image. The water was around 50F and I only had on a single layer of next to skin.
 Dirty Bill hosted Jason and I for dinner. This was the image of the moonset in Altmar.
 Pink was the color of choice when we go there. I tied up a bunch of pink sucker spawns that night.
 Pink stick buggers got no love. The benefit of all the flies I tied up there is that I don't have to tie any buggers for guiding here for several months.
 Found this creepy hat on the hike out with Thomas and Scott. That is moss growing on the hair.
 More sucker spawns. Tying up flies and re stocking boxes At The Trestle Pool Lodge.
 Thomas working on some blue buggers.
 Tying up some Popsicles. After a long, cold day I was not in the mood to tie them pretty. The heads were a bit messy but they are well tied and won't fall apart.
Watching Doppler. 

 Fishing tribs the next day. Loads more rain. The river levels jumped another 1k CFS.
 Dead salmon in a field. There was A LOT MORE WATER just before we got there.

 Match the hatch? Found this dead minnow. Looked similar to the white streamer I was fishing. The water in the tribs was so tannin stained I could not see any other pattern. I could barely see the fish until I stepped on them crossing the stream.

 Match the hatch. Salmon eggs.

 Sight casting. We worked several fish with no luck.
The Sitka jacket I purchased worked great in the rain this day. I am still waiting for my Kast Gear jacket to be returned. I sent it in for repairs in February of 2017. It is now December. I have called and e-mailed the company several times. I most recently asked for a refund. I have received neither. Knowing that steelhead and winter guiding season was approaching I went ahead and purchased this jacket in early September. If Kast can continuously post images to their social media like Instagram they sure can send me back my jacket repaired or not or refund my purchase.

 Big pink intruder. I've found the smaller intruders work better up there.
 Scott with a big roll cast.

 The next morning had terrible weather. Low pressure, rain on and off, big wind gusts, and cold temps. I like this face mask to keep me warm.
I hooked into a steelhead on my pheasant tail nymph. Good fishing spots were hard to find due to water levels. Luckily the water dropped several inches and exposed a gravel bar. 
 Boom, silvery chrome steelhead.
Thomas wanted to be funny and put a rod on my shoulder. I loathe the rod on the shoulder posed. #NoRodsOnShoulders 

Hot food on shore is key to staying warm. Be it hot soup or grilled cheese. Scott made sourdough bread and toasted it with cheese.
 I asked crayfish buddy wheat he thought of the intruder. He grabbed it. All these critters were exposed when the tide dropped.
 Match the hatch. Hellgrammites
 Thomas got a nice steelhead.
 Moldy mudshark hanging out at our feet. Didn't foul hook a single salmon this year. Didn't get one to eat a fly either. Thought there would be some late run salmon.
 That crusty sandwich.
 We stopped at the Colossal Cheese Shop on way to dinner. I'd never seen the place open before.
 After a cold and wet day we needed some home cooked food. Steph's Diner in Pulaski was a home run. Thomas got a cheese steak. And then got a meatloaf to go!!!!!!!
 Scott got a bacon cheese burger.
 This was home made meatloaf and gravy. Home made mashed taters and mac salad. This is what I needed after this day. Yes, this is what Thomas ate AFTER DINNER. If you head up there be sure to eat here.

Back at the lodge we tied some more flies. I made some beefier pheasant tails. 

 Yup, a steelhead bent this hook out.


 I put on an intruder to cover more water and this fish grabbed the fly a few times on the cast before it took. 

The ride home sucked. Most of the Pennsylvania portion had heavy, wet snow. I couldn't read road signs. The snow turned into cold rain for the remainder of the drive. The weather was so bad I didn't realize I had crossed the bridges into Virginia. 

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