Pulp Fly – Check It Out

Pulp Fly
Beautiful writing. Photo: Cameron Miller

We like telling you about quality fly fishing writing.  We like it even better when our friends are involved.  Just think how happy we are to tell you about quality fly fishing writing, written by our friends, delivered in a revolutionary new format!

Pulp Fly

Pulp Fly is a collection of short stories and essays about fly fishing.  It was released yesterday, and it’s an e-book – available only through the Amazon Kindle store.  HOT TIP: Don’t own a Kindle?  That’s OK!  You can read Kindle books on your PC or Mac, as well as on your iPad or Android device – not to mention your Kindle.

Who wrote pieces for Pulp Fly?  Bruce Smithhammer, Pete McDonald, Bjorn Stromsness, Michael Gracie, Davin Ebanks, Mat Dunn, Alex Landeen, Alex Cerveniak, Raplh Bartholdt and Matt Smythe – an amazing lineup.  Kirk Deeter wrote the forward.  Cover art is by Bob White.  Kirk, Bruce and Pete did the editing.  Wow.

If you don’t recognize all the names, how about this?  These guys’ work has appeared in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Field and Stream, the Drake, the Fly Fish Journal, and a bunch of other quality publications.

We’re excited and we think you should check it out.  It’ll cost you a whopping $4.95.  Click right here to get yourself a copy.

You’ve Read All These, Right?

Bonefishing and Stream Fishing Wrap Up

Presentation by Louis Cahill Photography
How's this for presentation? Photo: Louis Cahill

Today we’re wrapping up Michael Gracie’s 3-part mini-series on bonefishing and trout fishing.  Need to catch up?  Here’s part 1 and here’s part 2.

Thanks for the great insights, Michael!

It’s All About the Presentation…I Mean Casting…No, Presentation. Just Cast!

“Fly fishing is all about presentation.” – Anonymous, Omnipresent Fly Angler

Unfortunately, that wisdom doesn’t apply to bonefishing, and may in fact be holding you back in your trout fishing success too. Sure, presentation matters, but if you don’t possess the skill to get the fly where you want it, how said fly looks as it’s landing (or immediately thereafter) isn’t going to make one bit of difference.

Bonefish are hungry critters, and generally face a lot of competition for their meals; they are also quite wary. This means you have to be quick to get that fly in front of the trophy (or another fish will get the fly first), and you have to be able to do that from a fair distance away (or they’ll skedaddle the moment they feel your presence).

Ever see a trout rising forty feet upstream, but by the time you shuffle to within reach the fish is nowhere to be found? While floating spot a pocket, but by the time you’re done perfecting your loop that prime spot is now way behind the boat? I’m willing to admit I have. Meanwhile, have you ever watched a fly hit the water with an ugly splat, only to watch a trout pound it with reckless abandon nary a moment later? Yeah, me too.

If a fish is feeding (aggressively, as most bonefish must just to survive), it won’t take a ripple-free landing and a drag-free drift to get it to eat. You will, however, have to get the fly out there, and quickly, or you’ll miss the chance altogether. And nothing will get you attuned to doing so like making sixty-foot casts at bones on seek and destroy missions, while the guide persistently screams “ONE FALSE CAST!”

Wrap It All Up

Stay aware of what’s behind you as well as in front of you. Figure out what spots are best to cast into, and determine whether there are fish in those spots. And finally, be able to make that cast without putting on a pre-game show. Each can improve your trout fishing experience, and there is no better way to learn them than through trial by fire.

It’s a blaze of white sand, blue skies, and screaming reels. You’ll come back to your home water a better angler, if you decide to come back at all.

More Guest Posts

More on Bonefishing and Stream Fishing

Spotting Fish by Louis Cahill Photography
Reading class. Photo: Louis Cahill

Last week we started a 3-part series of guest posts by Michael Gracie.  The topic is how bonefishing improves your stream fishing, and part one was all about situational awareness.

Today the fun continues – read on!

Reading is Fundamental – We’re Talking Water, not Penguin Classics

You are marching down this creek flat, when all of a sudden the guide whispers “bonefish…12 o’clock”. You look, and see nothing. You lift your sunglasses off your nose, thinking maybe they just need de-fogging. Zippo. Squint a little…nope. You look over at the guide, and he’s waving his arm like a traffic cop signaling go. But you still can’t see the fish!

Ever wonder how a flats guide sees the fish long before you do? Well I’ll tell you, and it’s got next to nothing to do with eyewear.

Saltwater guides always pay very close attention to the tides and currents – which way they are moving, and which way fish might be moving as a result. They look for holding water, traveling water, and where game fish prey might be located. Think points, mangrove outcroppings, rips, and creek inlets and outlets. Yes, they must anticipate where the fish might be, because there is inevitably too much area to cover with casts. But it isn’t just a guessing game combined with luck.

Flats guides are constantly seeking out subtle disturbances on the surface. Once they spot one, they then look to see if that “nervous water” is shuttering consistently, or just a passing fancy. The sign could mean feeding fish just below (or fish moving towards their client), so they train their eyes on that spot until they get further visual confirmation – a tail, a dorsal fin breaking the surface, something scared darting away, or a broadside view of the fish itself (or themselves). Usually it’s a shadow, flash or abrupt change in the water’s color that prompts the cast.

You could, of course, stand across from that hole all day long, swinging your five-fly nymph rig at imaginary trout and hope for an eat. By the way, those fish bolted after the second round, so you’re wearing your arm out in vain. Go find active, feeding fish instead! You know precisely how, as you’ve already had plenty of practice after chasing the elusive grey ghost.

One More To Go

Next week Michael wraps this series up – we’ll see you then!

More Guest Posts

How Bonefishing Can Improve Your Day on the Stream

Bonefishing and Stream Fishing by Louis Cahill Photography
"...and I've been catching more trout ever since!" Photo: Louis Cahill

Today we’re kicking off a 3-part series of guest posts from our friend Michael Gracie.  He’s the man behind michaelgracie.com, a veteran of FIBFest at Andros South, and a guy who thinks about angling more than your average bear.

Like he’s thought about how bonefishing improves your other fishing, and that’s what this series is all about.

How Bonefishing Can Improve Your Day on the Stream


“I wouldn’t mind going bonefishing, but it really would be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool trout fisherman after all.”

A few years later I’m floating down this river, the wind is howling, and the guide is cranking the oars hard to get the boat into very specific positions. My eyes (and my arm) are working overtime, while the guide barks out very specific orders. The conditions are challenging to say the least, yet nothing is going wrong. We are into some very (VERY) fine trout, a situation I can’t help but attribute (at least in part) to lessons learned on the bonefish flats.

Read on to get the gist.

Situational Comedy, but Subtract the Comedy and Add Awareness

I know my fair share of saltwater guides, but not one of them has ever mentioned how much they love getting hit in the back with a speeding fly. What weirdos!

When you are out on the flats, there is nothing behind you for you to smack on your back cast, except the guide on the poling platform. Unlike trees, bushes, and canyon walls, however, guides scream ouch! You can draw blood from a guide, as well as piss them off enough that they want to take you back to the dock (if you hit them enough times).

When you’re trout fishing, the wind is generally blowing a certain way, you’re casting a certain way, and when you hit that bush the worst that happens is you snag a fly on a branch and have to waste time retrieving it. In the salt, the guide is poling you across a jagged flat, the target may be anywhere from eight o’clock to four, and the wind almost always seems to be hitting you in the face. Except when it’s hitting you in the ear, or the back of your neck. It may just be coming from all directions, simultaneously.

Learning to make the cast on the flats – being able to change the fly line’s direction in a split second while the boat spins, and not hit the guide – means being keenly aware of what’s going on around you, and at all times. That court presence won’t by itself guarantee you a fat bonefish.

But you will drastically reduce the number of flies you lose in those trees behind you from here on out.

Stay Tuned

Next week Michael’s series continues, with some thoughts on how Reading is Fundamental.

More Guest Posts

3 Good Articles

Trout Fishing by Louis Cahill Photography
This man is fishing. Photo: Louis Cahill

If you like to fly fish, we think you’ll like these 3 articles.

  1. Quixotic Carp Question.  A funny man writes a funny response to a funny question about funny fish.
  2. Conservation Gets the Rusty Machete Treatment. Tom Sadler passes on bad news from Capitol Hill.
  3. Simms Brings Back Felt.  Field and Stream covers the re-introduction of Simms felt soles.

More on Fly Fishing Online

More Bonefishing Mythbusting

Bonefishing Myths
No yelling going on here.

Michael Gracie is back today, passing on more wisdom gained about his bonefishing trips to Andros South.

Thanks Michael!

More Bonefishing Mythbusting

Last year I conveyed some myths about bonefishing in The Bahamas, and how those tall tales were nothing but. This time around I’m adding to the list, with more myth busting on guides, gear, and getting to the prime fishing spots.

So here goes…

Myth #4 – Bonefish guides are stubborn, and yell indiscriminately at their clients just for kicks

They yell at me a lot, but then again I’m a cocksure loudmouth who deserves it. And I yell back at them too – I like yelling, no matter which direction it’s coming from.

All kidding aside however, let’s taste this bologna. You’ve just paid a decent amount of money to get to a bonefishing flat. You’ve got someone guiding you who has sought fish on this flat possibly thousands of times, over decades. Bonefishing is already a wild game of chance – one that a fish will come passing by, that the guide and you will actually spot the sneaky critter, that the wind won’t be blowing 30 mph right in your face, and that the fish will actually be hungry enough to eat the fly if all the other factors are on your side. In other words, the guide has their work cut out for them, and they desperately wants you to catch that fish.

That motivation is in their blood. And the guide knows that everything from the cast to the strip to the hook set to the fight has to be done in just such a way to land the prize. They are your guide, your instructor; actually think of them as your drill sergeant. Listen closely to everything they say, and I guarantee you a hero shot.

The problem is, a lot of fly fishers who go bonefishing think they already have everything figured out. So they don’t listen, and all things considered the situation might, at times, get a little tense. That guide’s livelihood depends on you doing everything right, so naturally they are going to bark an order here and there. Hopefully correct your mistakes.

Thankfully, The Bahamas is a pretty laid back place, and the guides I’ve met at Andros South are no different. They are more than willing to listen to what you’d like to do, and adjust the plan accordingly. Do yourself a favor – listen back, and have a lot of fun. Instead of a lot of frustration.

Myth #5 – You need three backup rods in 7, 8, 9 and 10 weight, plus every possible fly fishing accoutrement, in order to catch bonefish

I visited Andros South this past April. Accompanying me on this trip was a 2,600 cu.in. carry-on bag and a 32 x 4 in. rod tube. In the bag I had several changes of clothes, plus flats boots, a dry bag, a box of flies, a fanny pack, a leader wallet, three reels, and a few spare lines. I carried 6, 8, and 10 weight rods in the tube.

I cast the 8 weight almost the entire week, changed lines once, and used the leader I built Tuesday night for the next three days of fishing. I could have left the other two rods (and two reels) at home, as well as 75% of the flies I brought, and I still would have caught a lot of fish.

After you’ve packed, take stock. A couple of premium fast action rods in 7 or 8 (and one 9 or 10 for barracuda), some slick lines, a handful of leaders built from stiff mono or flouro, and a small box of flies will do the trick. You don’t need a net, pliers, radar, sonar, a handheld radio, a GPS unit, or a portable satellite dish. And you definitely don’t need a cooler for your fish.

The atmosphere at Andros South is very casual, and nobody cares if you’re relaxing at the Slack Tide in your fishing clothes, let alone what those clothes look like. A few changes will do the trick (because you don’t want to smell bad), along with toiletries, some sunscreen, some insect repellent, and your favorite hat. Buffs are optional, but highly recommended.

Every dime you save on unnecessary items should be spent on sunglasses! Bonefishing is all about sight fishing, which means you don’t cast to the fish until after you’ve spotted them. Your vision plays a role in the game that cannot be overstated, and you are going to face some harsh conditions. The sun will be bright, and the bottom often very light. Your target is covered in tiny little mirrors, and the water is crystal clear. Get the idea? Buy the most tricked out polarized shades you can handle, and I’ll assume you’ve already said “thanks” for the tip.

Myth #6 – Getting to the prime fishing spots around South Andros requires a long, arduous boat ride that is a big waste of time

Bunk. Let me say it again…bunk!

I’ve taken the run from the put-in at Little Creek to the “South Side” and back plenty of times. I’ve done it in the morning and in the afternoon. I’ve made the trip before my breakfast settled. And after a bit too much to drink the night before.

I’ve come back after five bones, ten bones, twenty bones, and a big cuda. After the sun beat on my head all day. After wading five miles. After running out of beer. I’ve gone off the far south side, to little shoals that you can barely find on a chart. Headed down south, and then come back from the west. And visa versa.

Not once did I feel worn out from anything other than the fishing, and only once, with big winds picking up unexpectedly while already in transit, did I ever feel knocked around. I’ve broken legs and cracked vertebrae playing other games, and often feel like crap when sitting at my desk. But on the boat it’s smooth sailing.

The skiffs used at Andros South are tough. And while they aren’t ultra-luxurious they get you to and from the best bonefish on Planet Earth in relative comfort. The captains of those ships know what they are doing too – by keeping a close eye on wind and tide throughout the day, they know what path to take for their clients’ sake.

While visiting Andros South, the longest trip I’ve taken from point A to point Bonefish was roughly 45 minutes, and that was to a spot so desolate the guide stopped at the 1/3 mark to apprise us of his plan and give us the chance to opt-out. By the end of the day we’d lost count of the number of fish we’d individually brought to hand. But after handing some test gear to the guide so he could join the fun, we did recollect eight “triples” – that’s the number of times the three of us were all hooked up simultaneously.

In other words, it was worth the trip.

More Guest Posts from Andros South

FIBFest is Going Strong

FIBFest Report
Bloggers hard at work. Photo: Cameron Miller

We’re nearing the end of Andros FIBFest 2011 – a gathering of fly fishing bloggers at Andros South in the Bahamas.

Good times are being had!  A couple of folks caught their first bonefish ever (on day 1, of course).  A couple of folks produced a truly hilarious photo (don’t forget to weigh in on our caption contest).  Fishing has been great, socializing has been fantastic, and the time in the sun been much needed by all.

Our attendees have written a whole bunch online about the trip already, and we’ve got lots more to come.  Click here to check out the running list of posts on FIBFest.

Thanks for tuning in this week, and thanks to Rebecca Garlock, Michael Gracie, Tom Larimer, Cameron Miller, Kyle PerkinsEric Rathbun, and Bjorn Stromsness for making the event such a success.

More on Fly Fishing Online

Facebook Caption Contest

Bonefishing Picture
Only Facebook comments count! Photo: Michael Gracie

Andros FIBFest 2011 is happening right now at Andros South.  We’re hosting a group of folks who write about fly fishing online, and we’re having a pretty darned good time doing it.

The first day of FIBFest yielded a pretty incredible photo, and it was immediately clear to us that we needed to run our first Facebook Caption Contest.

Kyle Perkins and Michael Gracie teamed up to produce the glory that you see above.  To enter our caption contest and maybe win yourself an Andros South T-Shirt, click right here to go to Facebook and add a comment with your caption for the photo.  Only Facebook comments with caption entries count in the contest.

Thanks, Michael and Kyle!

More Silly Pictures