Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The History and some fishing tips on using the Charlie’s Airhead by Charlie Bisharat

The Charlie’s airhead fly was designed to fill a huge gap in my fly arsenal. The gap that almost all other fly fishers and fly tiers often grimace about when they see a conventional fisherman doing well in the boat next to them with a bait that is large and moves a lot of water during it’s retrieve.

The driving force behind the airhead was to create size while still making a castable fly. I had been fishing the turbid waters of some of our local Northern California rivers for striped bass, using flies I had tied employing conventional tying methods and with combinations of both natural and synthetic materials. In order to create enough bulk in the fly for it to be noticed in 8 to 12 “of visibility they quickly became like a drenched sweat-shirt and too hard to cast for me and my fishing partners. I was at a crossroads with a serious need to get something that worked better.

I started to play with different means and methods and arrived at the idea of the airhead. I wanted to create a hollow head that was nearly weightless and that could be shaped to be aerodynamic and hopefully provide some erratic action when retrieved. After much R&D and many a failed effort, I came to understand what was required to make it work. What was missing was a way to form the head. I tried silicone, sof tex, etc but could not find anything that did all that I needed. Some materials were too rigid, some too soft some were too heavy.

I was buying my sons football cleats at Big 5 Sporting goods and on the rack across from where I was sitting was a display that included shoe goo.The final piece of the puzzle had been found and the airhead was off and running.

Once the mechanics of the fly were complete and I could make the fly the same each time, it was time to test it. Going back to those same Nor Cal rivers the following season was a much different experience. Me and several of my close friends were having amazing results in the very turbid waters that had frustrated us previously. Many trophy stripers, in excess of 20 pounds were brought to hand and our confidence in the fly gained momentum.

It was now time to test it on the world stage, so off it went to Australia, Baja, the Amazon, Christmas Island, etc. The results were staggering. Many trophy fish were caught by the folks that I asked to field test for me. Now, the airhead has really started to take off and is well known at many fishing destinations as the “go to” fly.

How to rig and fish the airhead

In terms of how to rig the fly, it should be tied on with a traditional loop knot so as to give the fly the very best opportunity to dart away from a straight line retrieve during the pauses of your stripping cadence. A loop knot gives the micro currents in the water the opportunity to change the fly’s direction as they contact the round portion of the head. Once the direction of the head is changed the momentum of the fly will have it travel that direction until you strip your line again. Sharp hard strips followed by long pauses can be a very effective way to retrieve the Airhead when water temps are down and fish are not interested in a high speed chase.

One of the wonderful aspects of the airhead is that it can be very effectively fished at all depths in the water column depending on the chosen line.

Starting at the top of the water column, with a Rio, outbound short floating line, I really like to use a longer leader and strip and pause the fly in shallow water. It will not stay afloat but will be working just at or under the surface based on the speed of your retrieve. This is spectacular as you get most of the visual treats of top water fishing , with a much better strike to hook up ratio as the fly is surrounded by water and does not get knocked away like some traditional “high floating” top water flies. Again, a loop knot is key and will allow optimal movement. Although Umpqua’s production models do not come with weed guards they are simple to add by wrapping hard mason on the hook shank and poking the line into the head where desired and securing with goop.

Fishing 1 to 3 feet below the surface of the water is accomplished with an intermediate line. Again, the Rio outbound short Intermediate line is my choice to fish these depths. Your rate of retrieve can and will need to vary based on the mood and species of fish and the time of the year. I usually experiment with different retrieves until I find what they want on a given day.

I also use this set up to fish very slowly in 8 to 10 feet of water when winter water temperatures plummet to the mid to high 40’s.It allows you to dance the fly in the fishes face making it too hard to resist. My personal best Large Mouthed Bass of 8 plus pounds was caught utilizing this method in mid 40 degree water. Patience seems to be needed in large supply to fish this way effectively.

If the need is to fish 3 to 8 feet with a medium to fast retrieve then a type three Rio outbound line is my choice. If I am fishing much below 8 feet or so then the Rio T-11, T-14 integrated shooting heads are what I reach for. If the goal is to get the fly down deep, then it is imperative that you give a quick strip when the fly hits the water. It is critical that the fly get pulled under the top of the water to release the air pocket that can sometimes get trapped in the head of the fly. Once the air is out of head of the fly it will sink very rapidly allowing effective fishing to be accomplished at depths of up to 30 feet.

I am thrilled that all the appropriate and proven colors and sizes are now in production at Umpqua. There is not a predatory fish swimming that one of the many sizes and colors of airheads won’t readily catch. Good luck with the fly and be sure to take a few photos so that I can feel like we fished together.

Cheers, Charlie

Email questions pics to

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Capt. Kev's Delta Blog..

Our buddy and ace Delta guide Kevin Doran has a blog dedicated to fly fishing the California Delta. Check it out here
You'll learn a lot about fishing this awesome fishery by checking out this blog and even more if you book a day on the water with Kevin sometime. We highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Delta Fishing....

I got a chance to get out on the water with John Sherman on Tuesday morning and, despite the cold and fog, the fishing was good with 26 fish landed. We caught schoolie striped bass, largemouth bass and a lost chinook salmon that I managed to foul hook on the pectoral fin. Biggest striper was 7lbs but all were in primo shape and it's only a matter of time before the bigger fish start moving in.

The fly I was using is the SumGummi Shad. I hate to say it's a new pattern because invariably someone has already come up with something similar. Anyhow, I came up with this to match the shad in our local lakes (Castaic, Pyramid etc) were it has worked well. I developed the style because I had a hell of a time tying Gummi Minnows and this was a quick and dirty pattern that was easy to tie and seems to be pretty durable. And best of all, the fishies like it. The one in the picture (sorry for the poor quality) landed 11 fish before I replaced it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hot Creek Fall '09

A few pics from our recent trip to Hot Creek Ranch. First two day were really cold and fishing was tough but the weather warmed and the bugs began to hatch.
Our last day was epic, with caddis and Baetis hatching and fish feeding voraciously. All in all a great trip with good friends.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Fish of a lifetime?

Two friends in recent days have emailed or called me with reports of their "fish of a lifetime". David called me on a Sunday morning with the news that he had landed and released a huge (8.25lb) Calico Bass that, had he decided to keep it and submit it, would have been a new fly rod world record. Jamie emailed me with a picture of a 30lb plus Permit that was made all the more special because he was on a treasured fishing trip with his Dad. What defines a "fish of a lifetime"? Is it the size of the fish or the circumstances under which the fish is captured. Both of these guys will cherish the memory of that special catch, but for different reasons. I guess what I am saying is that a "fish of a lifetime" is what you dream it to be. I remember one special "fish of a lifetime".
Fifteen years ago I was fishing with my young family on the wonderful Williamson River in South Eastern Oregon. My oldest son, Chris, was about 10 or 11 at the time and was already a skilled fly fisherman. It was early morning and the river was shrouded in a fine mist that was penetrating and cold. The water was an even 57 degrees and the fish were not cooperating. I had waded out into the cold currents and Chris was positioned down-current from me with his short 5 wt rod. We were high-stick nymphing in search of some of the giant rainbows that migrate up from Klamath Lake to seek sanctuary in the icy currents of the Williamson. The very cool air temp and the icy currents combined to start Chris' teeth chattering and I was concerned that it would deteriorate into hypothermia.
"Go back to the tent and warm up" I told him and, despite his protestations, he complied disappearing into the campground toward our tent. I continued fishing my way down the wide run covering the water with successive fan casts that covered the holding water thoroughly.
I became aware of a disturbance to my right and turned to discover Chris wading out toward my position. My first inclination was to scold him for not following directions but the look on his face made me pause. I remembered wanting a fish that badly. Wanting to please my dad, wanting something sooo much that I was willing to face whatever came along to get there.
Tears welled in my eyes as I watched this determined kid brave the cold currents in search of a trout. I choked down my feelings and coached him on how to position his cast to get the best angle on the run below him. And, inside, I prayed to the fish Gods to smile on this little angler and give him a strike. My prayers were answered within seconds as a 20" rainbow slammed his Hares Ear wet fly with a savage boil and a twisting acrobatic run and then stayed pinned long enough to slide into the net. A pure silver hen fish lay gleaming in the net, but I could only see the face of that little boy and the pride of his accomplishment through a blur of my tears.
A fish of a lifetime is what you make of it. Get out there!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bass Time.....

Spent a really pleasant Wednesday morning with David Wratchford and Artin Marootian at the Castaic Lake chasing LM Bass and Stripers.

It was still dark when I rolled into the Mickey D’s parking lot. Artin and David were already there and their enthusiasm was infectious as we trooped into the restaurant for a quick bite. My usual breakfast, these days, is a bowl of granola with yogurt but, today, I treated myself to a Sausage McMuffin, Hash Browns and a coffee. It’s been years since I had one of these sandwiches and, I have to admit, that it was delicious. Maybe it was because of the anticipation of a fine morning on the water or the fact that I was cheating a little but that damned thing tasted great.

We soon completed our fast food fix and headed to the lake to wait for the gate to open. At this time of year the gate opens at 7:00 a.m. which is about a half hour too late to really hit the morning bite, but we would have to make do. We had intel that the bass had been pushing bait against the shore along the west side of the lake.

We rigged our rods with Threadfin Shad imitations, all the time staring at the water for signs of activity. We saw a few small, scattered eruptions as the predators ripped into the hapless bait schools but not the frenzied activity that we were looking for. We began to work our way along the shoreline, which was accessible because of the extremely low water levels, casting our sinking heads into likely areas and counting down to try and find the schools. I spotted some fish breaking in a deep cove and alerted the guys who spread out along the shoreline and began fan casting as we moved along. Artin was rewarded with a fiesty LM bass in the 12 inch size range and I got a hard pull but didn’t hook the fish. David made his way carefully along the loose boulder rubble on the opposite shore toward a small but persistent school of busting fish. His efforts were rewarded almost instantly with a 3lb Striper that slammed his fast-stripped Electric Deceiver. I was feeling left out. David soon landed a LM and another Striper and I decided I needed to move. I had had some follows and short strikes but no solid connections. I worked my way around the cove and shuffled along the steep unstable slope, past David and finally, down to the water’s edge, but still no love. It was one of those days when the fish were breaking were my fly wasn’t. I would cast to the left and the fish would come up to the right and vice versa. That was the way the morning went. Dave ended up with four Stripers and two LM Bass, Artin had three LM Bass and I had zilch. Still, it was a fine couple of hours and we were well satisfied with the morning.

My chores were waiting to be completed when I got home but I took the time to tie a couple of flies that more closely matched the size of the Shad that we had seen. After the chores were completed I decided to head back up to the lake and see if could get rid of the skunk smell on my rod and reel.

The wind had pick up to a stiff on-shore breeze that made casting a little more challenging but my reel was loaded with 30’ of Rio T8, a tungsten impregnated, sinking line followed by 110’ of Rio Slickshooter and I was able to blast out 80’-90’ consistently without too much effort. My persistence paid off when a 10” LM Bass jumped on the fly and was soon followed by another about 12” a few casts later. Goodbye Mr. Skunk. The full-on bite, however, did not materialize and I had to be content with those two small fish. I took heart in the fact that the guys fishing with live shad as bait were skunked and a young man fishing a silver Kastmaster lure caught the only other fish I saw. I did run into Larry Kurosaki who was walking the shore with his little dog Katie and he reported catching a few fish in an adjacent cove.

So, take this as a heads-up to get yourself out on our local lakes before the colder weather drives the shad deep. This is prime time to get hooked up with these hard fighting fish and in good numbers. So, no excuses! Time to get out there!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Zorro Trout...

Estancia del Zorro sits on the high "pampas" on the Chilean side of the border in Southern Patagonia. The spring creek meanders across the landscape with deep curling currents that harbor huge brown trout. The grazing alpaca and sheep glance up occasionally to assure themselves that you have no interest in their offspring and the Andean Condors that wheel overhead watch carefully in case you have suddenly kicked the bucket. This high prairie has few features to slow the upwelling winds from the Pacific coast line so, to catch trout here, you must be able to cast effectively with the wind pushing from different directions. Pinpoint accuracy is key to getting a drag free drift over these big fish who leisurely sip bugs at the very edge of the prolific weed beds a and tight against the grassy banks. What is a huge brown trout? For me, anything over twenty five inches is big but in this creek there are browns well over thirty inches and a few over thirty six. This is a dry fly fishery without peer, although you can fish it with nymphs etc., and people from around the world travel to sample it each season. The Galilea family has been ranching here since the 1940s and their reputation for fine wools and succulent free range meat is international. Sebastian Galilea and his brother Juan Andreas manage the fishing side of the family business and they have honed it to a fine art. To arrive at Zorro is to immediately feel welcome and like you are, perhaps, a visiting cousin or long lost family member returning to your roots.
On Tuesday, October 13th, at 6:30 pm Sebastian and, head guide, Claudio Joost will be here at the Spot to meet interested anglers and show us the beauty of this tremendous resource. We will supply the Chilean wine and some fine cheese to accompany it. Claudio will be tying some of the flies that work well in this part of Patagonia and we hope to see some of you here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Products at the Denver Retailer Show

Denver Airport is a vast labyrinth of concourses connected by a shuttle that is usually crowded with weary travelers and wheeled luggage. Steve Ellis, Ted Fukuhara and I found a spot on board and were whisked at an increasing rate of speed to the main terminal to pick up my checked bag. We had arranged to meet our old friend Nick Curcione, who was to arrive soon from San Francisco, and share a cab together into downtown. We were all in town to attend the annual Fly Fishing Retail trade show and renew old friendships throughout the industry. Each year the fly fishing industry comes together to show of new products and prepare orders for the following selling season. This year would be interesting because of the wild economic climate and the attrition caused by it.

Exhibitor booths seemed down by half over the previous years and, we had been told, that many retailers had chosen not to attend. The usual big boys however, where there in force, although some of the booths were smaller and the usual SWAG was less plentiful than in previous years. Attitudes, however, were high on the new products and better prospects in the coming year, and those of us who were there couldn't wait to see what the future had in store for us, product wise, that is.

Our first stop was at Fishpond, whose innovative, colorful, and well-made bags have changed the way we buy luggage. The standout item on this years list is the ultra light, Bumpy Roads, wheeled duffle that is a perfect blend of duffle and wheeled travel bag. It is the lightest bag that we have seen and will be a big help in making sure you are not over the stringent weight limitations that the airlines are enforcing with renewed zeal.

Scientific Anglers continues to expand their offering of Sharskin lines with the new Streamer Express line designed by our buddy, Kelly Galloup. This will be an awesome surf line as well as a super streamer line for big browns in the fall. In response to consumer’s comments on the initial lines SA has also quieted the Sharkskin significantly by reducing the embossing without losing that great castability.

Simms displayed a trimmed down offering compared to previous years and it did not include any felt soled boots. Simms is serious about their commitment to reducing transference of invasive species.

Their new “No Fly Zone” technical sportswear combines high performance COR3 fabric with a Permetrhrin-based, natural, insect repellent (odorless, water-based and biodegradable) that offers excellent protection from multiple species of crawling and flying insects. The COR3 provides maximum sun protection (UPF50) combined with Simms’ superb fit, moisture management and odor control.

My favorite jacket is the Windstopper DL and Simms has upgraded it with the new Guide Windstopper Jacket which features the addition of a removable hood and a fleece lined collar . This is a must have for early mornings in the high country, ripping through the Delta in a bass boat, or heading out on Crowley to midge for fall browns.

Sage has replaced two series of rods this year and both new models are a real step up in performance, lightness and cosmetics.

The Launch series has been the beginner rod of choice for several years and it’s replacement the Vantage is a beautifully appointed rod with superb castability that will be an awesome adult beginner rod. Made in Bainbridge Island, this is a fine casting rod at any price. It also comes with a Cordura covered rod and reel case that will be handy for transporting the rod to and from the fishing location.

The XI2 saltwater series have always been my go-to rods for tough ocean-going game fish but the new lighter XI3 series is significantly lighter and feels much more alive and responsive in the hand. I cant’ wait to try one out against a big, mean trevally on Christmas Island next March.

Redington was showing a new line of women’s performance clothing that is as functional as it is flattering. Fishing shirts, wicking undershirts, hoddies and pants that are practical on stream and look great around town.

Our friend Ray Hutcherson of Sea Level Fly Fishing showed us a couple of new Big Game reels that he has developed that will allow the average angler to afford a great quality saltwater reel at a good price. The reels , a 10-12 wt and a 13-15 wt are priced at a reasonable $300 and $350 respectively, feature 6061 aluminum construction, easy left/right changeover, high density neoprene reel bag and a large cork drag and also include a limited lifetime warranty. These will be in stock soon.

Other fun little items included some cool looking fly boxes and reels from Montana Fly Co. that have fish prints, river rock prints and camo prints that are reasonably priced. These should make great gifts for the holidays and birthdays. A hit for us was from a small Canadian company that was demoing their “Fishing Rod Butler” which provided a simple but effective way to tether your rigged rods together so that they will not tangle during transportation. For those of you who have purchased flies from us and have a bunch of our plastic containers around we will be carrying a cool new dispenser that you can use to stack and store small items on your fly tying desk or even in your garage workshop.

Over the next couple of months we will be getting in the new products as they become available and some, like the Sage rods are already here. Come on by and check ‘em out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Addicted to the Internet?

Dear friends of the Spot. For you west slope Sierra anglers I think it's fun to point out that some of those Cal Trans rest stops along the 99 have impressively clean and fast WiFi signals. You can be minutes off of the stream and catch up on emails. After all, you are at the office!
* Also posted on *

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Break in at the Spot

As most of you probably already know, we were burglerized in the early hours of Thursday morning. They smashed the front door of the store with a hammer and then shattered the reel display cash as well. They pretty much cleaned out, or damaged, every reel in the case (101 reels gone and 18 damaged) and they got 35 rods (4 others damaged) off the rack as well. The alarm company called us and we found the store in shambles when we arrived. Police did their thing and they did find blood where one of the thieves cut themselves on the show case glass, the hammer and a plastic garbage bag that had been left behind. I put the word out on the flyfishing forums and we have a lot of eyes looking to see if this stuff starts showing up. Steve and I wanted to thank all of those who called, posted on the boards or emailed with offers of help and condolences we are truly part of a great community and we appreciate your kindness and support.

Here is a list of rods and reels that were stolen from the shop last Thursday. If you see any offered for sale online or are approached to buy them by someone please let us know asap at the following number (818)785-7306


Winston SERIAL #

Vapor 486/4 16920

Vapor 480/4 17605

Vapor 590/4 19398

BIIX 8’ 6” 5wt 119579

BIIMX 9’ 10wt 153213


S4 905-4 313596

E2 904-4 237647

E2 804-4 243097

E2 854-4 237108

E2 855-4 237872

E2 753-4 243679

X2S 908-4 292408

X2S 910-4 292921

X2S 9012-4 293101

G2 905-4 310472

G2 906-4 276128

G2 772-4 300292

G2 885-4 278081


The Test 7’6” 4wt

Aln 5’ 2wt


Streamflex 10’ 4wt 4pc


Z Axis 490-4 AB18443

Z Axis 890-4 Marked DEMO


Big Sky 9’ 8wt 4pc

Big Sky 9’ 10 wt 4pc

Big Sky 9’ 12wt 4pc

Big Sky 9’ 4wt 4pc


Professional TF05904P

Professional TF04904P

Axiom TF08904

Finesse TF 02734

TICR TF10904






























































2030 3-4 BLACK/BROWN

2080 7-9 BLACK/BROWN

3850 CF GREY

3880 BLACK

4580 GREY









































CD 9/10






Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We Lost a Friend Last Week.....

Oh! Sorry. Nobody died or left town but we were saddened by discovering that someone had stolen two Sage rods from our demo rack. You have to understand that we have a unique relationship with our customers. Many become close friends and fishing buddies so it is painful to think that someone that we care about and trust may have stolen from us. I guess we are naive in a lot of ways but we like our customers and we always want to think the best of them. Now we have to act like business men and install a security system to monitor our store. Something we have really resisted doing. I guess times change and we must to. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's not someone we know after all. But, if someone you know shows up with a nice used ZAxis 904-4 or a 908-4 ZAxis (both without a case or rod bag) or someone tries to sell them to you give us a call or drop us an email. Oh! If the thief is reading this just know that you stole more than a couple of rods, friend.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chile Fishing Videos...

Here are a couple of videos from my trip to Chile last April.  I'm using Imovie to edit the footage and any creative input you may have is appreciated.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Well, I am interested in knowing whether anybody is using fiber glass fly rods anymore and what rods they are using? For the first time in 25 years, I used a fiber glass fly rod and boy, did I have a ball. 
Ken and I fished Hot Creek Ranch in early May and for much of the five days we fished it was pretty darn windy. But, Friday morning I figured it was just about perfect for me to give it a shot. It was still windy, but manageable. I was using a new Hardy 7 1/2' 4wt that I was dying to try and it was better then I remembered from the old days. I was having such a good time dry fly fishing and catching browns and 'bows to about 18" that morning. The rod seemed practically bent in two and I was putting major pressure on the rod with great results. Hot Creek is a terrific place to fish short glass rods. Lots of open spaces with not much worry about obstructions.
I started out fishing glass back in the "Stone Age" and glass rods weren't that great until Fenwick came along. Better than that were the old Scott Power-ply glass rods and the Winston glass rods. With the introduction of graphite to cut the weight down and the rise of prices in production, glass just faded into the sunset.
But fiber glass may be poised for a comeback. So with that in mind, why don't you bring out from moth balls some of those old glass rods and give them a shot again. You may be pleasantly surprised.  Just a thought!

Random thoughts

I've been thinking about fishing and friends a lot lately. I know to some of you me thinking anything is a dangerous proposition, but hear me out. With our Baja trip now just a couple of weeks away obviously this has been the main focus of my daydreams. The Sea of Cortez at sunrise is as flat, glassy and beautiful any lake can be, with an equally amazing variety of fish to test you and your gear. Last week it was fishing a secluded bass pond on Tejon Ranch. I haven't done a lot of bassing or any other warm water fishing since I moved to California and it really brought me back to my roots as a kid on the East Coast fishing for bass and pickerel with my brother. The One Fly Tournament was another great event in the past couple of weeks. On the horizon are trips to the Kern, the Eastern Sierra, Montauk in October and hopefully Christmas Island in March of next year. So as you can see I have been thinking a lot about fishing. Which brings me to friends.

While there are times that it's great to be fishing in some secluded spot, alone with your thoughts, what makes this sport really special for me are the people who share it with me. I consider myself to be so fortunate to have met and fished with the people I have met since I became a full time flyfishermen. The "Spot" has only expanded my access to some really great people and some fantastic opportunities that I wouldn't otherwise have had.

I was there when Dean finally caught his first Roosterfish last year. I was there when Dave won two of the three awards at the "One Fly". I watched Artin fish the surf for the first time. Last year I caught my first Rooster, first Dorado and first blitzing surf Striper in the company of some of the same guys. I always look forward to Steve and Ken's Chile reports, mink and all! There are way too many names, places and memories to list here, but I think you see where I'm going with this.

The common thread here is not only the shared experience and passion for the sport but the friendship, camaraderie and love I feel for my friends. They make me happy. They make me laugh. They accept me for who I am. I only hope that I am as good a friend to them as they are to me. It has been said that "no man is a failure who has friends". Truer words were never spoken.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tejon Ranch Trip

Our store sponsored trip to Tejon Ranch was a big success thanks mostly to the hard work of our buddy Russ Gabel who provided shade canopies, chairs, coolers full of beverages and a fantastic lunch delivered by his better half, Debbie.  Everyone enjoyed success on LM bass and fat bluegill which were willing to slam a variety of flies from nymphs to poppers.  


The bluegill are really fat and very strong.

A fine selection of very tasty sandwiches delivered for lunch.

No, this is not a gypsy encampment.  Just a group of intrepid anglers after a fine morning on the water.

The male bluegill are impressive in their spawning regalia.

The females, although not as bright,  pull just as hard.

This is why they are called Largemouth Bass.

The LM Bass came in this normal colored variety and...

in a pale version from deeper water.
All in all a very satisfying day on the water.
We will be doing more of these in the future.  Stay tuned.


Just Fish - Chapter II - The Shadow of Mount Diablo

Years ago I'd drag small flies around a local pond at the end of my spinning rod. This was before I could afford fly gear (I still can't afford fly gear ha ha ha). This was in the sacred city known as "Creek of the Walnuts" to the north of here in the shadow of Mount Diablo. It was in this scum-filled pond that I learned to flycast. Overlooking it, at its recreation center, the Diablo Valley Fly Fishers would meet. I could walk to the meetings! I was in the area over the weekend and decided to drag a small fly as dusk set in (A Chiaki mini-bugger). Within seconds I caught a small crappie that was 100% cookie cutter what I used to catch as a kid. It was a very strange moment. It truly was identical to the fish I caught hundreds of decades, no centuries ago! HG Wells chuckled from on high.

* Sorry about the blurry shots. It was well into dusk and I was shaking with excitement.*

Sunday, May 31, 2009


I have been thinking of a subject for my first entry so here goes. I would say that the most important thing to do is get out and fish. I hear people complaining all the time of the difficulties they face getting fishing time. Why? I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that most folks think fly fishing=Trout. That's not the case at all. Fly fishing is my favorite way to spend my free time (bird hunting is a close second), if all I ever fished for was trout I'd get maybe a week or so a year in.
Instead I concentrate my efforts on fisheries that are reasonably close to home. One reservoir I fish is six miles from my house has Bass,Crappie and Bluegill in it. I can be fishing within ten minutes of pulling out of my driveway. Okay that's pretty tame as far as fishing outside the box goes. Well, how about Carp in the local park ponds? There is one where I landed a fifteen pounder not long ago only eighteen miles from me. I know some of you may go Carp blah! Can you think of another freshwater fish that can peel off 40-50 yards of backing?What about hitting the beaches for Surf Perch, Halibut, Yellowfin Croaker, Leopard Sharks that are five feet plus and more! A big Leo will have you wondering if you have enough backing on your 8wt to finish what you started.

The fact that I fish all these areas that are within a half hour or so of my house equates to more fishing time for me. That in turn means more time working on my casting abilities and reading various kinds of water. In the long run these things make a better much more rounded fly fisherman. if that doesn't do it for you how about more time fishing= more fish caught. That ought to grab your attention. After all isn't catching fish the reason we fish? Regardless of the beauty that can be found even in places like the L.A River.

I'll lay off for now but the next time you flub a cast or miss a fish think to yourself, is this due to a lack of practice? If so then the next time you find yourself "wishing you were fishing". Do something about it! Get out there and explore what's in your area. I think you'll be very surprised. You may even find yourself thinking less about Trout and more about that eight pound Bass or a double digit Bonito you want to catch. When all you have is an hour or two you CAN fish. In a lot of cases you can be landing fish and home again in less time than it takes to drive to your favorite Salmonoid spot.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baja Flies.

I'm gearing up for a July trip to Loreto, Baja and it occurred to me that I should share tying instructions for a basic baitfish imitation that will work for any species just by changing size and color to suit your specific target fish.  
Hook - Tiemco 600SP (for freshwater species I would use a longer shank hook like the 777SP or similar) 
Thread - Fine  Danville Monofilament
Wing - white Slinky Fiber with pearl Krystal Flash 
Over Wing - Tan SF Blend
Topping - peacock herl
Head - Flexicord 3/8" pearl
Eyes - Prismatic 3/8" chartreuse or silver
Begin by tying down a length of Slinky Fiber in the middle and folding the clump back over the hook shank and tie down.  Hit it with some Zap a Gap. 

Tie in your Krystal Flash on top.  Zap a Gap. Tie in the SF Blend in the same fashion and hit it with some Zap a Gap.
Now tie in the Peacock herl being careful to keep it on the top.  Zap a Gap.  At this point I will usually stop and begin another fly.  I tie up a bunch to this point and do the heads all at the same time.  
Cut a 2" piece of FlexiBody and slide over the hook.  Start your thread again just behind the hook eye and secure the Flexibody in place.   
Color the Flexibody with a Sharpie to match the peacock.  Add the self stick Prismatic eyes and then using either epoxy, UV Knot Sense or Tuffleye coat the head for durability.
That's it!  This simple pattern will work on a lot of different species and is fast and easy to tie. You can trim the wing to shape if you want.  The fish don't care.
Below are some of the color and style variations that I will be using in Baja In July.
Call me if you have any questions on these tying instructions or Baja trips (818) 785-7306.

Thanks for looking. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


So far this year I lightened my obsessive focus on brown trout and tried harder to understand the migratory nature of wild bows. Obviously, intercepting them is the goal. I wish to share some fun observations. Some are no-brainers but sometimes you need to be reminded. These observations, by the way, are the result of both So. Cal. and Sierra explorations. Please, use them, believe in them and you just might get a take from a great trout. Mix and match the following:

- Migration barriers great and small. Waterfalls, high-velocity rapids or man-made barriers will often provide an accumulation of fish below them. Even if this is a "doable" barrier, the fish still will hold below it. They may also hold above to rest.
- Turbid waters rule. Use the above rule and fish in a spot that may be fishless at any other time and with cloudy or high water, there may be fish in there.
- The decreased velocity factor. In some cases, the fish will not move until the water decreases in intensity. This means that finding quality fish at times when you think their migrating should be over does happen. In other words, don't be afraid to be surprised; keep a sharp eye out for an errant hog well into the season.
- Above a lake. The inlet and/or first pool theory really can be a winner. Anadromy is anadromy and be it the Pacific Ocean or a local reservoir, the rules apply.
- Remain stealthy. High and turbid waters don't mean that being stealthy can't earn you an extra fish or two. It still pays to keep that tactic warm.
- Mood Swings. I recently was alerted to a hog-heavy run which in less than a week had frisky feeding fish turn dark and start digging redds. Timing and luck do play a role here. Please leave spawners alone and mark your calendar for returning a week or two earlier next year.
- Trapped or new-resident fish. Fish will get trapped. It's a fact of life. As water levels decrease after snowmelt or storms, look in isolated pools or side-channels. Heck, save a trout. Catch it and release it into the stream.
- Use the closures. Freshly opened roads, trailheads etc. allow you to be on a spot before the hordes. The fish have had a break from humans and may be ready to bite.
- Last but not least: Pre-Runoff. Sometimes a small pre-runoff window with a light spike in water temps will have fish feeding before your arroyo becomes the Colorado.

Ok, I'll shut up for now.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's time to get out there.....

It's time to get out there.  This morning my friend Artin came by the shop on his way home from the beach.  He was excited by his latest surf fishing outing and wanted to share a picture of his first California Halibut that he landed on a fly and with a story of his first Corbina almost.  The Corbina escaped as Artin tried to beach it in the rolling surf but he was still pretty pumped up about the whole deal and his excitement was infectious.  The trip next week to Tejon Ranch seems too far away and I may have to sneak out for a morning session at Castaic Lagoon mid week.  
My fly tying has taken a hit for the weekend.  My grown kids are in town for a visit and my fly tying room is one of the guest rooms.  It feels odd not to wander in there and tie a few flies each evening.  It's my relaxation each day and helps me to wind down after fighting the 405 traffic madness.  Each evening as I negotiate the traffic tangles I think of new patterns that I want to tie or new ways that I can tweak an old pattern to suit a particular fishing scenario.  I allow my imagination to roam over ideas and try to come up with new patterns that will work better than what I already have.  My wife, Palma, laughs at all the flies that I have.  I could open a small fly shop and stock it with flies and materials but maybe the next one will be "the one".    

Friday, May 22, 2009

What the hell is a Blog????

I'm not sure about this whole blogging thing but, friends and clients have suggested I have one so, here goes.  

I am part owner of Fishermen's Spot, a fly fishing specialty store in Van Nuys, CA.  The store was started by my partner Steve Ellis along with his Dad and brother back in 1970 as a general fishing tackle store.  We service the entire Southern California area but, because we are near LA we get visitors from all corners of the planet (and maybe some from off the planet).  I'm not sure what I will write about except that it will usually be fly fishing related.  I love to tie flies so some of the posts will be related to flies that I am tying either for fun or for an upcoming trip.  I will also have periodic trip logs from some of the fishing trips I am lucky enough to go on. 
Right now I'm tying for an upcoming trip to Loreto, Baja so my tying desk is littered with bucktails, super hair, and a dazzling array of flashy stuff.  I'll try to get some pics of what I am working on soon and post them.  
Steve and I went to Hot Creek ranch with our buddy, Rob Rubin and I had the unique experience of watching a large brown trout kill and eat a 14" rainbow.  I shot some very marginal quality video with my Olympus still camera and posted it on Youtube and was stunned at how many people have viewed it (1300 up to this point).  I'll try and load it here too.  Wow!  It worked.   Kinda small though.   You can go to my website to see it in a larger format.
So I guess this is enough to get the blog started.  I have lot's more to say and I have been working on videos of my recent trip to Chile to edit them for the web.  Still learning!