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Keeping up with the Joneses

Posted by Mark Monday, March 26, 2012 10 comments

I can't do it. I won't do it.The blog world has just gone berserk since I started blogging a year or so ago. I can not keep up with the flurry of audio,video as well as still pictures that everyone seems to need these days. People are hooked on images and videos.They want the quick fix, that instant gratification of seeing a 20lb Buck NOW! There is nothing really wrong with that. We have the technology and film and photo have come a long way in the last 5 years. I love pictures and videos as much as anyone and I take pictures almost every day. But look around you,many blogs and sites being updated more than once a day, feeding the almost insatiable appetite of an ADD society maxed out on caffeine. Who can keep up with the flood of information flying out of cyberspace regarding steelheading these days.IT IS INSANE people!

 There are short videos and an over abundance of hero shots that give an unrealistic view of what steelheading is like. If you looked around on the various blogs and videos you would swear that steelhead can almost be caught at will these days.Countless hours and days of fruitless swinging of a fly is compressed into a 3 minute video that is all action. The mystic is gone. You used to need to catch a steelhead yourself just to remember what they looked like. No more. You can go on an adventure of a life time from California to BC without leaving the house. You can pick the way you want to see the fish caught by searching for it. Let's see.....I want to see a dry fly caught Atlantic Salmon......bingo there ya go, Vimeo or youtube in 30 seconds. It's crazy man.

There are some out there,but there are not near enough good writers who are telling a good story. That's what we need more of in my opinion. We as a fishing society need to get our imaginations working again.

I lay out a challenge to anyone that reads this blog. If you have a blog,on the next blog you write, compose a bitchin story and use words(remember those things?) instead of images to tell it. I know it's hard and we are all caught up in it, myself included.But let's try not to get carried away into a strictly visual world were thought,imagination,and reality are abandoned in favor of the latest Kodchrome  lollipop.  A good story told well can last in the imagination of our minds far longer, and can be shared around the campfire or woodstove for years to come.

It is my vow to get back to that place where words speak volumes, and from those words come images that can't be captured on film.

Good fishing
Mark

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Two Handed History

Posted by Mark Friday, March 16, 2012 1 comments


I saw this recently and thought I would share it here. A fascinating history lesson.
From an interview with the late Jim Green, expert angler, champion caster, and rod designer for Fenwick, and his wife Carol, in the book "Steelhead Fly Fishing Nez Perce Country" by Dan Landeen:

Carol: "Actually, all of this two-handed business came about from me... I tried to teach my friend Joanne Strobel how to cast for three years off and on. She had a broken wrist and she wanted to steelhead fish. Well, you know if you get a 9-foot steelhead rod with a number 8 or 9 line that is capable of fishing the Thompson or any of the big rivers it requires a lot of strength and she just couldn't do it. After a while, I got tired of trying to teach her. She knew what she was supposed to do but just did not have the strength to do it. She was only 5' 1". Anyway, I got exasperated one day and said, 'Jimmy would you make her a two-handed rod?' At that time two-handed rods were just used in Europe, there was nothing here in the U.S.

"Well, Jimmy made this two-handed graphite rod just before we were going over to the Skagit to fish. I took the rod to Joanne and we went over to the park and she started trying out this rod and lord, she was casting immediately. She was easily casting 80-90 feet. Well, I'll be darned if Harry Lemire and some others didn't come along and they were watching Joanne and they can't believe what they are seeing.

"Pretty soon there was a whole line of people there watching and after about ten minutes Harry asked to try it. Before you knew it everyone was trying it out and Joanne never saw it for the rest of the day. All these men are out there trying it and that's basically how the big deal in two-handed rods started over there on the west side. That was the first graphite two-handed rod, the one he built for Joanne."

Jim: "I made those first graphite two-handed rods, at the same time I built Carol's graphite/boron rod in the 1970's. I had a group of fishing friends that would come over to my house and we would spend hours at my casting pond experimenting with my designs..., different lengths, weights, lines and lots of other things. Our group started using them and pretty soon a friend of a friend wanted one and so we started marketing them....I was preparing to go on a fly fishing trip to Florida with Lefty Kreh. Lefty and I are good friends and we would fish for tarpon with #12 long belly lines that are very heavy.

"On a whim one day... I put that heavy salt water line on a two-handed rod and could not believe how well it could cast. The problem all along was that I wasn't using heavy-enough lines. Since that time I have determined that 40-45-foot shooting heads are ideal and with a little flip you can easily cast a fly 70 feet. I don't normally cast over 100 feet with my two-handed rod but I have cast a line 150 feet in my back yard."

Carol: "I basically think a two-handed rod is for sixty and senile... A single-handed rod with a good caster is poetry in motion. With a two-handed rod anybody can swish it out there and get out there 80-90 feet with no knowledge at all, just a big swish."

Jim's initial exposure to two -handed rods was during the seven years when he fished at the Moisie Club, an exclusive Canadian salmon fishing club, as guest of John Olin, owner of Winchester Arms. "One year the Duke of Wellington came to fish with us. When he fished he had a tweed suit, tie and matching hat. One day the two of us were assigned to the same pool. He used a heavy 15-foot, two-handed bamboo rod. I had seen these in casting tournaments, but I had never seen anyone fish with one...The Duke kept telling me why the European two-handed rods were a lot better than the single rods that Americans used. He made fun of the Americans who were constantly having to double haul and false cast to get the distance they needed.

"He let me try it out and I caught some fish with it. Right away I could see how easy it was to mend the line and I liked the extra distance. I was designing rods for Fenwick at the time and after that trip I went home and started building the first fiberglass two-handed rods that I am aware of. I built them for the members of the Moisie Club and didn't market them for the general public. Some of those rods are still being fished at the club today."

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What A Good Guide Does

Posted by Mark Thursday, March 15, 2012 1 comments



After seeing some post's lately about what a guide does(loved Marty Sheppard's),I would like to weigh in as well. The first and most important thought is one that many guides loose focus of.

A good guide should know right up front that THE TRIP IS NOT ABOUT THEM, IT'S ABOUT THE CLIENT! Sadly, this is not something that is always the case in the guide world. You have many guides who are worrying about numbers and pumping their ego and business with no respect to the needs of the customer. They say "It's my business were doing things my way, I know best!" This may be true but your idea of a fun day may not always be what the client wants. A good guide is sensitive to these things and it can make the difference in a good day or a great day.

I learned from a wise guide friend of mine years ago that a good guide asks his clients what their expectation is for the day. THIS IS KEY! Listen to what they say and formulate your plan as a guide.Balance the  responsibility for teaching and maybe catching some fish,with their expectations of what they would like to get out of the day. Sometimes those expectations are very different from yours. LISTEN! Other times you get the guys who have a plan that fits yours exactly and you can go hog wild and fish hard and take names. Don't let your ideas cloud your mind about what the client wants......ASK THEM!

There are times a good guide will forgo his plans and expectations of the perfect day, even if it means not catching many fish. Going against all logic and and reason sometimes is what it takes to satisfy a client. A good guide will do what has to be done. Remember, IT AIN'T ABOUT YOU! If a client wants to skate flies in 34 degree water in winter all day with little chance of any action, GIDDY UP, LET"S GO! Even if I know we could take multiple fish swinging tips and big flies,and have advised the client to this, I will do what the client wants, IT'S THEIR TRIP! If they want to spend two hours working on his snap T and snake roll with a ball of yarn on the end of their line when fish are rolling around eager to hit a skater in the summertime, COOL WITH ME!

A good guide always has a plan to optimize time in the water and put his client into the best possible situations. He must also be able to cater that plan to the needs of the client. Sometimes the client is not all about catching as many fish as possible and really needs help on technique or casting. Help them do that if that is what is needed most.


A good guide is a perpetual student in fish behavior, water levels, fly choices and styles.

A good guide is up on all the latest techniques and equipment and can converse about and use it all easily. If someone comes on a trip with me and has the latest and greatest Skagit,Scandi, short head,mid belly longbelly,Rage-O Rama with the newest tips, I have done the research and have already cast the setup before hand. A good guide should be able to pick up any rod,line, and reel and cast it. A good guide knows what a balanced set up is for all casting styles and can relay that to a client easily. If they don't have a proper set up, a good guide will have a rod and combo that will fit that clients style and ability on hand.

While a good guide may not necessarily teach every technique out there that is "cool", he should still be able to teach it at a moments notice, to satisfy a clients needs or curiosity about a given style.

A good guide is a cheerleader, a coach, a friend, and should be considered an equal with his client. A good guide does not need to raise himself,his knowledge or skill above a client.We are teachers and servants,we are no better than anyone else out there, we just have the blessing of being on the water a little more.

There are many great guides out there, find one that is about YOU and your experience and you will have found a winner.

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Going, Going,Gone!

Posted by Mark Friday, March 9, 2012 1 comments


The take was startling and caught me by surprise. I had barely gotten the tip, leader and fly and a little bit of my Skagit head out and was still in the top of the run. I had hooked fish this close before but I usually hook most of my fish in the heart of the run with casts in the 60-70 ft range.The fish grabbed solidly and left no doubt as to his intentions and where he was going with my little black fly. Line peeled of the old English Daiwa 812 reel like you read about. The steady and uninterrupted whir of the reel was indicative of a large male that is somewhat annoyed by the whole ordeal.  I was in deep trouble and I had no where to run. There was no room to chase down stream and he had gone south and west around a rock leaving me scratching my head north and east of his position.Trying to get this fish and me on the same side of the rock he just went around was not gonna be easy. The backing knot was a distant memory, having shot through the guides and out the rod tip some time ago.I laid the 7136 Sage greenie to the side and started to test the integrity of my whole set up. The rod is a great rod but it's lifting and fighting power in heavy current with bigger fish becomes limiting. and rather challenging. I lift the rod from the side to a more vertical position while still keeping a low tip angle.The rod flat lines and bends into the cork as the big male burrows into a rock pile far down stream..I look down and see I still have plenty of kite string left but it is melting fast. I get the big fish stopped in a small eddy and he uses the time to rest.I take time to review the situation as well, thinking about the last time I had checked or re-tied my knots. They were all gonna be tested today on this fish.The backing knot to running line was most suspect as I know that one was old.I desperately try to hold the fish as he ambles around in the eddy at will, thinking about moving again. I will have to break him off as there is not a chance of landing him if he moves again..........

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