Saturday, March 26, 2016

Poor Man's Grand Slam

Rick picked me up at 7:00 AM as we we had planned the night before.  I was ready and waiting outside when he pulled up.  We have known each other from the internet for a few months now but this was the first time we had met in person.  He seemed to be pretty normal so I hopped in his truck and we headed for Wisconsin.  

Rick and I have something in common.  We both love the pursuit of trophy Brown Trout.  I decided to show Rick some stretches of river where I knew we had a pretty good chance of getting into some decent fish.  It's a lot like rolling the dice when you are hunting for big Brown Trout.  I have failed many more times than I have succeeded but there is something that keeps me coming back.  I love the challenge of looking marginal trout water strait in the eye and not flinching.  I came here for one thing and I am not leaving until I am smiling from cheek to cheek and she is cradled in my arms like a baby.  My name is Eddie Rivard and I am the William Wallace of Driftless Flyfishing.

We had fished for two hours and all I had managed was a Creek Chub who had inhaled Matt's Llano Critter.  Rick said that it was great looking water but inside I felt that I was letting him down.  I wanted to show him what kind of man I was so he would have a good first impression of me.  I recommended that we go to another stretch that had served me well in the past.  Then I remembered all the other times that stretch has left me empty handed.  Why can't things be easy?
Rick had to work tonight and we were running low on time when we made it to the second stretch.  We had about an hour and a half so we went to work.  Rick took a section and started working downstream and I went down a bit further and started fishing up.  We planned to meet at the big pool.
When I made it to the big pool I noticed that it wasn't as big as I remembered from a few years back.  It seemed like it was 7-8 feet deep before and now it had filled in to the point where it was barely four feet deep in the deepest part.  The head of the pool still looked somewhat promising as the water surface was rippled from water flowing in from the run above.

Rick appeared and asked me if I had caught any yet.  As soon as I replied that I hadn't a medium sized Brown took my bugger and started to fight.  Then he became unhooked.  Rick looked at me.  "There's more in there!", I said as I flipped my bugger back out there.

"I got one and It's big!" I yelled as Rick jumped in the water to help and watch.  After catching a glimpse I said, "I don't think it's a trout".  It seemed so big and powerful but the Avid 7 weight wasn't backing down and neither was I.  I kept steady pressure on her and hoped that the double surgeons knot that I had tied to join the 3X Tippet to the 12 pound fluorocarbon would hold.  There are so many things that can go wrong when you are David battling Goliath.  If I hooked this trout 10 times it might win the fight 9 times but not this time.  Not this fight, not today, today I keep tension on the line, today my knot will hold, today I am the greatest trout fisherman in the world.  This is my time!  That trout's time is done!  It's over!  I'm sick and tired of hearing how much fight a trophy trout can put up!  "This is my time!" I yelled as I scooped that trout up into the net.

As soon as I land a trophy the first thing I do is make sure that they were hooked in the mouth.  I didn't have to worry about that this time.
 What a beauty!
 "Hush little baby don't try to trick, Eddie will release you after one more pic."

 I was so happy!
The Beadhead Olive Rubberlegged Woolly Bugger that I tie on a size 2 DAIICHI 2461 hook rarely lets me down. 
Then I caught a Brookie.
 What a nice one.
Then this happened.
A Rainbow Trout to complete the Poor Man's Grand Slam!
Chub, Brown, Brook Rainbow.
Well it had been a good day for me but Rick had yet to land a fish and we were running out of time.  He mentioned that he would like to hit the bend that we had walked by when we arrived at the river so we made a stop there on the way back.

Rick caught a Brook Trout.
 Then I watched him beat the banks with his streamer for a little while before it was time to go.  Rick prefers to use the full sink line method when fishing his streamer.  It was nice to watch someone do it who actually knows what they are doing.  I am going to give that method a shot again some time soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Streamer Fishing in the Driftless Region-Follow your Leader:Part 1

Ever since I started this blog I usually spend one to two hours a day answering questions and responding to fan mail from around the world.  I get a lot of inquiries about the "how to" aspect of fishing streamers.  This has inspired me to release a series of instructional articles and short videos detailing the way I do things as well as the methods of some of my friends.  One thing I can't reiterate enough is that there isn't just one way to fish streamers.  The two main ways that streamers can be fished are, "My Way" and "The Highway".  Being a narcissistic egomaniac I usually have a tendency to recommend my way.  If you have a problem with that let me recommend the highway.

A lot of the messages I receive are in regards to leaders.

Ever since I took the step from being a Streamer Dreamer to becoming a Streamer Dream Teamer my methods have been constantly evolving.  This is one reason I have been hesitant to do a write up on this in the past.  I was worried that I would change my mind about leaders shortly after writing the article and once my faithful fans found out they would decide that I was a fraud and never look at my blog ever again.

I didn't invent the KISS method but I use it as often as I can especially with the ladies.  KISS stands for Keep it Simple Studly. 

I usually start out with a factory leader between 3X and 6X.  The Eddie Rivard Signature Series Leaders from Redington have been performing especially well for me lately.

The tippet diameter doesn't matter as much because we are only going to be using the butt section of the leader.  First use a nail knot to attach your leader to fly line.  After this is done find the spot on the leader where the diameter thins to slightly larger than the heaviest tippet that you plan on using.  This is usually around the four feet seven inch mark for me.  Snip the leader about 3 and a half inches past that point.  At this point you will attach your tippet ring.

Tippet rings come a couple different shapes and sizes.  I have noticed that the outside diameter of the ring is usually slightly less than what the package says.  I prefer the 2.5 mm tippet rings myself.

Once you have used an Improved Clinch Knot to attach the tippet ring to your leader you can use another improved clinch knot to attach your tippet to the tippet ring.  For tippet I prefer the 12lb Eddie Rivard Signature Series tippet from Seagar.  I like the big spools because it ends up being way cheaper than those little ripoff tippet spools.
I usually like the total length of my leader to be between 8 and 12 feet.  As a general rule I like my leader to be as long as it can be without affecting my casting.  A long leader is more stealthy and allows the fly to sink faster since the floating fly line tends to inhibit sinking if your leader is too short.  The only time I go shorter is if I am having trouble casting whatever streamer I happen to be using.  This can change with the weight of the streamer and wind conditions.

It is important to note that I could spend a whole year catching trophy trout in the Driftless without ever needing to make a cast over 25 feet and about half the casts I do make are tension casts.

Here is what the leader-tippet connection looks like with the tippet ring.  The nice thing about the tippet ring is that when your tippet gets too short you can just replace the entire length of tippet without further chewing into your butt section.
Notice the bottom connection in the above photo.  Some times I construct butt sections out of descending lengths of Maxima Chameleon.  It seems to have different properties but I haven't figured all of that out yet.

Another thing to keep in mind is butt section maintenance.  Usually I will use a leader straitener to straiten out my butt section before a day of fishing but there are ways to keep major kinks from happening in your butt section.  I like to avoid have the butt section bending at the tip top as shown in the photo below.  This can shorten the usable life of your butt section.
 Instead it is best to have your fly line make the tight angle at the tip top when you are not fishing with your rod.  Doing this while traveling will extend the life of your butt section.
Like I said before my ways are not the only ways.  I was talking to my friend Ryan yesterday and he told me he just constructs his leaders from line that he buys at Fleet Farm.  What a savage.

In summary having a leader that can be easily changed to respond to different streamers and conditions is essential for sustained success in the Driftless Area.  Feel free to figure out your own way of doing things but remember it will never be as good as my way.

Future posts in this series will focus on fishing streamers with weighted and intermediate sink fly lines.  I currently to not use them but I have friends who have success with them.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


The rivers are like chocolate milk they said; the conditions are not good for fly fishing they said.  They didn't realize how much both Taylor and I love chocolate milk.

I had initially planned on fishing with Ryan today but he was down with the flu.  After that I was thinking about fishing by myself but then I remembered about my underemployed friend Taylor.  We knew that conditions would be tough but we've never shied away from a challenge before and today wasn't going to be the start of any new traditions.

Chocolate Chocolate Everywhere
Eddie and Taylor
They don't care

First we went to Pretty Clear Creek.  It was clear enough for the trout to see our flies and we caught a few.  It was nice to feel the Winston jiggle a little bit.  
 I was so happy.
 Trout like chocolate too.
Then we made our way over to Salad Creek.  I hooked and lost one on a size 10 Yellow Fox.  I made a mental note to remember that when I come back here.  Do you know why it is called Salad Creek?
 Here Taylor is at Too Clear Creek.  This creek is filled with the spookiest trout you will ever see.  I have only caught 3 fish on Too Clear Creek in my entire life and I have fished it many times.
 The water is just too damn clear.
One of my life's goals is to unlock the secrets of Too Clear Creek.  I will probably have to live a long time for that to happen.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Winston Man

"Since the very first moment that silver spoon touched my lips I knew that I would some day grow up to be a Winston Man."

One evening last December I received a phone call.  The desperate voice on the other end of the line was asking me if I would like to get rid of the Vexilar unit he sold me last winter.  He explained to me that he was low on cash but was willing to offer me his 3 weight Winston GVX Select fly rod in trade.  I was online already so I quickly googled to check the value of the fly rod.  "Sure sounds like a deal", I replied as I am always willing to help a friend in need.

The rod has sat in the back of my closet ever since.  Today I decided to try it out.

Looking over it I noticed that I must have never taught Taylor the value of a nail knot as there was still a loopty loo connecting the leader and fly line.  
 It was time for a new leader.  Good thing I had this 7X leader sitting in my tackle bag from 5 years ago.  Us Winston Men we like our aged leaders.  I prefer to let a leader age at least 3 years before attaching it to my fly line.  Maybe two years is good enough if it is stored in the sunlight.
 Once you go nail knot you will never go back to the loopty loo.  Trust me on this one.  Take the leap.
Perfect nail knot every time with the tool.
Looks like a nice place to start fishing for the day.  Winston Men choose their creeks wisely and are highly secretive.  If you ask a Winston Man where he fishes he will likely lie and send you on a wild goose chase.

Upon arrival to the stream it was time to get a temperature reading.  Winston Men always check the temperature before starting to fish.  Eddie Rivard Fly Fishing has been working closely with Turnigy Power Systems out of Sandusky Ohio to develop a highly water resistant infrared thermometer.  We are in the final stages of product development. 
 Forty Five degrees.  It looks like it's going to be a good day.

After making my first few casts with the Winston I knew how King Arthur must have felt the first time he held Excalibur.  This rod was meant for me.  I was indeed a Winston Man.  Then I caught a Chub.
 And then a surprise Brookie.  I didn't know there were Brookies here.
 I was so happy.
 Then I had a bigger fish on.  Fighting a 10 inch stocker Rainbow on a 3 weight rod with 7x tippet is quite the experience.  It filled up my senses like a night in the forest.

 Look at me with my Rainbow.  Winston Men will let you know when they are happy.
 Then another Brook Trout on the black Woolly Bugger.

 There was still some evidence of the last Ice Age here.
 Then I made my way over to Crystal Cress Creek.  Home of Crystal Clear Water and tons of watercress.
 I love this little gem.
 While John Bethke invented the Pink Squirrel I may have been one of the first to tie it on a size 4 B10S stinger hook.  I originally tied this pattern as somewhat of a joke but have always done well with it.
 The most beautiful Brook Trout of my life.  Crystal Cress Creek produces the most beautiful Brook Trout because they eat the Scuds that live in the watercress.
 Winston Men always photograph their fish by the water.  It is the Winston Way.

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