Sunday, June 15, 2014

Draggin' Foam

With some unbelievable chironomid hatches coming off this time of year, the dragonfly hatches often get overlooked. June is prime time for dragonflies to migrate from water to land and for the fly angler, that can mean a day spent with constant action. There are hundreds of dragonfly patterns out there but in most recent years, tiers have been using foam as a way to suspend their patterns off the bottom, giving these patterns the needed buoyancy to hover above weeds and bottom debris. A favorite tactic of mine during late spring, is to use a type 5 sinking line and tying on a damselfly nymph (taking advantage of the damselfly migration also taking place) about four feet from the fly line, then a foam dragonfly pattern on the point, three feet from from the damselfly.
This is usually the first set-up I'll go with, an experiment if you will, on which pattern is getting more attention. If the damselfly is taking the most trout, I'll change to a two fly damselfly set-up but if the dragonfly is drawing more attention then I'll generally change the set-up and replace the damselfly with a dragonfly sprawler and keep the foam darter on the point. Of course if I'm being lazy, I may just keep the damselfly on even if it's not catching (which tends to happen). The idea here is to set yourself up on the shoal, casting beyond the drop-off and stripping your presentation up the drop-off onto the shoal and getting your patterns as close to the bottom as possible. For shallower lakes that don't offer the drop-off transition, casting into deeper water and stripping your presentation up into shallow water using an intermediate sinking line also works well. Give it try, when the trout are hungry the action is awesome.

Here are some dragonfly nymph patterns you can tie up.

Fly Craft Angling
(Foam Sprawler)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review - NuCast Mitten Scissor Clamp

For the most part, we're all gadget junkies. There are always new fly fishing things coming out each year that are supposed to make it easier for us and without much thought, we tend to buy into them. But what tools and gadgets are your most important? Think about it, what tools do you reach for the most when out on the water? Your nippers and hemostats are probably the two tools a fly anger uses the most when out fishing, so when I received my new scissor clamps from Pro Guide Direct, I was happy to see an old friend with new features. The NuCast mitten scissor clamp not only incorporated both tools into one functional tool but also improved upon it. The handles don't have any loops making it easy to grab and release by simply squeezing the tool, perfect for cold weather when gloves or mittens are needed (as I found out on a recent winter trip to the Bow River) and the foam handle makes sure you don't loose your grip, even when wet. They've also added an eye cleaning pin built right into the handle for clearing away the eyes of your flies where you've added a little to much head cement. Unlike conventional hemostats, NuCast improved the clamp using a click-lock design which made it super easy to quickly open the jaws and clamp down on your fly and the grooved combo tip made quick work when removing flies, pinching down barbs or attaching a split shot. The micro-serrated scissors are super sharp and made to last a long time which could replace your nippers or if you're like me, those $2.00 nail clippers that dull quickly. On top of all that, NuCast's scissor clamps are eye candy, the multi-coloured stainless steel will ensure these look great hanging from any fly vest. Yup, there's lots of new gadgets out there but every once in a while you get lucky and find something old that's been re-invented to make it new once again. Nice job NuCast.
For more on these and other NuCast products, vist my Pro Guide Direct Gear List here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Upcoming Events For '14

Another new year, another season to look forward to new gadgets, new equipment and new adventures. Up here in North-Central Alberta, January is still a long way away from open water on our stillwater fisheries as we don't usually see ice off 'til May and the streams won't legally open until mid June. There are some upcoming events however that will, A) help give the obsessed a taste of what could be and, B) tease us enough to force our withdrawal into full swing.
Here are some of the upcoming events Albertans can look forward to.

Jan 18 & 19, The Northern Lights Fly Tyers / TU Edmonton are presenting a two day seminar featuring Todd Oishi and April Vokey at Grant McEwan University in Edmonton.

Tickets are $65 for both days or $40 for one day. Click the pic for more information.

Jan 20 from 6pm-9pm, The Fishin' Hole is presenting a three hour fly tying class with April Vokey. April will instruct you on tying Steelhead flies, intruder variations and tube fly basics. Class takes place at the West-end Fishin Hole in Edmonton and tickets are $50 but you'll have to hurry as there aren't many left. Click April's photo for more information.

Jan 24-26 the Western Canadian Fly Fishing Exposition is in Calgary at the Spruce Meadows Equiplex. You'll have the opportunity to take in workshops from some of the biggest names in fly fishing. Free presentations, casting and tying demonstrations will also be available as well they'll have over 100 exhibitor booths. Drop by the Superfly booth and say hi to Joe and myself. Click below for more information.

The International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4).

The dates set so far for Alberta include Jan 24 & 25 in Calgary at the Cardel Theatre and Feb 21 in Lethbridge at the DA Electric Barn. These compilations of fly fishing videos will really want to make you wet a line and include some outstanding cinematography. For more information on tickets click the link.

IF4 2014 - Tickets On Sale Now! from IF4 on Vimeo.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Conquering Chironomids - Volume 1 DVD

I recently acquired a copy of the new DVD by Phil Rowley & Brian Chan entitled "Conquering Chironomids Volume 1 - Strike Indicator Techniques". In this DVD, Phil & Brian cover fly fishing chironomids in stillwaters using floating lines and indicators. They put it all on the table in this video and really didn't leave out anything. Topics include:

  • Chironomid life cycles, behavior and common colors
  • Fly selection
  • Rods
  • Reels
  • Lines
  • Leader construction
  • Swivels
  • Non-slip loop knots
  • Throat pumps
  • Strike indicators
  • Casting with indicators
  • Sounders & boat control
  • Setting fly depth
  • Fly presentation & retrieves
  • Recognizing takes
They also have recipes for some of their favorite flies at the end of the video. Other than the wealth of information found in this DVD, what I also liked about it was the summarization after topics that were a bit of an information overload. As a stillwater guide and instructor who offers one-on-one stillwater clinics, this video, in my opinion, not only hits the target but I believe this may be the best instruction fly fishing DVD I have ever seen. A great job by two of North America's top stillwater fly fishing experts and I'm really looking forward to Volume 2.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Getting Over The Shack Nasties

A new year is now upon us and looking back on our fly fishing successes and failures of the last season and what we took away from it now gets us looking forward to new experiences and trials for what's to come, filling us with thoughts of excitement and feelings of restlessness. As we remain locked in ice, the realization of another 4 months of snow-covered conditions before we see signs of open water and warm spring days brings on what is commonly referred to as the Shack Nasties. So what's a person to do during these early days of January when looking out the window sees nothing but a white blanket of frozen water covering the neighborhoods of our urban sprawls? Lucky for us, January in Alberta is not only a time of reflection but also a time of learning and interaction within the fly fishing community.  Several high profile workshops, seminars and gatherings are scheduled each January that help all of us continue down the learning path, leading to new discoveries once the time comes to head out on another new fly fishing adventure. Whether you're interested in a weekly, monthly or annual gathering, there are several options available to the fly angler to fill up that empty block of time before the big melt. Here are a few upcoming events that you can look forward to and possibly help you get over those shack nasties.

January 14th & 16th, 2013

T/U Red Deer River Fisheries Management Plan

In 1994, a Sport Fish Management Plan was completed for the portion of Alberta's Red Deer River from Dickson Dam to Joffre Bridge. The plan provided long-term direction for the fishery and included management options and strategies for managing the fish resources. The fisheries management goal of this plan was to provide a general recreational fishery for Northern Pike, Mountain Whitefish, Lake Whitefish, Walleye, Sauger, Goldeye, Mooneye, and Brown Trout.

There is now a need for a new fisheries management plan as the existing plan is almost 20 years old. Changes in river habitat, fish population numbers and other emerging pressures on this fishery prompted an update and review of the plan.

The new fisheries management plan will be developed by reviewing and updating the 1994 plan. The planning area has also been extended downstream from the Joffre Bridge to the Tolman Bridge.

The planning area has been enlarged to better reflect the management needs of the Red Deer River and distribution of fish stocks inhabiting this section of river.

The development of the updated plan and the actions to be taken by fisheries management will be informed and guided by the principles, goals and objectives identified in the Fish Conservation Strategy for Alberta (2006-2010). Public involvement and consultation will be a critical component of this review process.

Fisheries Management in the Red Deer Area has taken the initial steps to work with an advisory committee of stakeholder groups. The advisory committee has started working together to identify current issues to be addressed by the updated fisheries management plan. The next step in the process is to ensure all issues have been identified.

The Red Deer Fisheries Management Plan (Dickson Dam to Tolman Bridge) Public Meetings scheduled for Monday January 14, 2013 in Trochu, Alberta and Wednesday January 16, 2013 in Red Deer, Alberta will help gather feedback from the public on management goal and issues that should be addressed by the updated Fisheries Management Plan.

For additional meeting information including time, date and location please read the following documents by clicking on the bold text.

January 14, 2013 Trochu, Alberta
Meeting Information

January 16, 2013 Red Deer, Alberta
Meeting Information

Jan 19th & 20th, 2013

Brian Chan and Rick Hafele are the featured speakers for our January seminar. The seminar will be at McEwan University on January 19 and 20.  Tickets are available at regular club meetings for only $65 for both days or email inquires to

Brian’s lifelong passion for fly fishing has resulted in his spending literally thousands of angling days on these world class waters. He has shared his extensive knowledge of aquatic biology, trout ecology, entomology, and lake fly fishing tactics with others, through a number of magazine articles, books, and instructional DVDs on fly fishing. Brian has been featured on many TV fishing shows and is currently a regular guest on Sport Fishing on the Fly and co-host of The New Fly Fisher.

In 1981, The Complete Book of Western Hatches, Rick’s first book (co-authored with Dave Hughes) was published.  Since then he has co-authored or authored several other books including Western Mayfly Hatches, An Angler’s Guide to Aquatic Insects and Their Imitations, and his newest book, Nymph Fishing Rivers and Streams.

Spruce Meadows Equiplex
18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW
Calgary, AB

JANUARY 25 - 27, 2013

Friday | 12:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Saturday | 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday | 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Parking | Free

Adults | $12.00
Kids | FREE for 12 and under!


Wednesday Evenings @ 7:00PM
Queen Mary Park Community hall - 10844 117 St, Edmonton

The Northern Lights Fly Tyers – TU Edmonton is a group of dedicated and concerned anglers and cold-water conservationists who meet regularly throughout the year to converse about all things fly tying, fishing, and conservation. Although the groups founding principle was to get together once every week to tie flies, they have since branched out to cover all aspects of the sport.

In 2009, the Northern Lights Fly Tyers made their most bold move to date – merging with the Edmonton Chapter of Trout Unlimited. This merger created one of the largest active TU Chapters in the country, and set a new tone for both the Northern Lights, and Trout Unlimited with respect to their public offerings and outreach.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

10 Years & Growing

This year, Alberta Stillwater Adventures turned 10 yeas old. We started in 2002 as Edmonton Float Tube Adventures and have grown year after year with more and more services offered. As we near the end of our 10 year anniversary, we've decided to expand a little more. I've recently added three new services to Alberta Stillwater Adventures. Our one day introduction to stillwater fly fishing clinics are still available but clients now have the option to book these clinics as a one day service or over two days.  The two day clinic will include everything the one day clinics offers but now gives clients more casting time and more time on the water to practice techniques and tactics. Also added to our services is our new Chironomid Clinic. Chironomids are the single most important food source for trout in productive stillwaters and this new clinic is designed to help anglers at being successful by understanding the life cycle and behavior of the chironomid in it's different stages, popular patterns used for imitation and on the water techniques & tactics. And just in time for Autumn, we've added a boatman & backswimmer clinic that will run every fall from the 2nd week of September through to the 2nd week of October. Clinics will focus on boatman and backswimmer entomology, fly patterns, tackle & set-ups as well as successful on the water techniques & tactics. For more information on these new clinics or any other services we offer, please visit Alberta Stillwater Adventures at

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

East Slope Cutts

I got a text from Garnet, one of my best fishin' buddies, regarding a day on the Blackstone River. Our Blackstone trips have now turned into an annual event. We try and get out at least twice a year and for our first trip this year, we decided to hit it up a bit earlier. We once again did the 4X4 thing and found Camp Grizly, this time occupied by a couple guys in an outfitters tent. They weren't around when we made our way down the cliff face which wasn't as easy as last year since the rain had washed out some of the steps that had been carved out and the big tree that was used to hang a portable shower was now down and blocking the way. The day however was bright with the occasional cloud but no rain at all. The water was higher than past years due to a wetter then normal July which made fishing a little more challenging. Runs that held cutties in the past were a lot faster this time round so we had to concentrate on slower water in pools and back eddies, meaning we walked by a lot of water that we would usually fish. I started out with a Stimulator but wasn't getting near the amount of action that I had become accustomed to so I changed over to a foam Stonefly. Not much changed in the action and although I ended up netting seven cutties and a rocky and Garnet picked up six cutties, it proved to be a day were we had to work for every fish. After hours of making our way upstream we decided to take it easy and not fish so hard and to just enjoy being out in one of the best places on earth. On the walk back we ran into the two guys camped out on top of the ridge. They didn't fair so well and only hooked into a couple of rockies (guess we didn't do so bad after all). Getting up the cliff face was a lot harder than going down but we were pleasantly surprised to find the fallen tree had been cut up with a chain saw, no longer blocking the way. Click on any of the photos for a larger view.

At least one more trip coming up shortly, this time a very good friend from back in elementary school will be joining us and he is not a fly guy, at least not yet ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Some FREE Fishing

In celebration of Alberta's free fishing weekend that ran July 7th & 8th, Tammy Karatchuk asked me to take her out for some fly tying and fly casting lessons. The video was shot at Cardiff Pond about 40 mins north of Edmonton. Free fishing weekends happen twice a year in Alberta, once in February and again in July. It's a great time to introduce those without a license to this wonderful sport as no license is needed but keep in mind, all regulation still apply.
Google Custom Search