Less casting means catching more fish!

It is a scene played over and over on every river, lake, and waterway across the globe. Fly fisherman who are making too many casts! It is a real problem that goes way deeper than fly fishing. The fact is that if you make fewer casts you will catch more fish!

Now that I have your attention, let’s address a few common problems and mistakes that practically all fly anglers of every skill level make.

Too many false casts. This is the most common problem. I see it all the time, an angler making more that 2 false casts to cast a short amount of line. You can accomplish the same amount of line distance with one back cast as you can with two or three or fifteen. It is entirely possible to throw twenty feet of line with one back cast. Twenty feet of line is plenty in most situations (unless the conditions are making the trout spooky)

Casting and recasting. How many times have you seen someone make a cast, let it hit the water only to pick it right back up and redirect to where they wanted it to go. I am here to tell you that the fish are Everywhere and just because you didn’t put it where you wanted it to go does not mean that you won’t catch a fish there. By immediately recasting, the fish were likely to spook. Moral of the story here is to fish every cast, even if it is a bad cast!

Bad casts catch more fish! This is true. The law of averages applies here. People make more bad casts than they do good casts, therefore bad casts catch more fish. There is also another reason, when a person makes a good cast they immediately start patting themselves on the back, this leads to distraction and missing more fish.

A tale of two anglers: I had two anglers a few years ago who were polar opposites in skill and in health, it was a good reminder to me that sometimes less is more in fly fishing. Bob, who had just returned from a trip to the Bahamas, could throw it a mile and his casts were beautiful. Jim, on the other hand, had been recovering from a recent back surgery, he could only sit down to fish and his casts only made it a few feet from the boat. While Bob did make an attempt to listen, he still tried to throw it a mile, and because he made ten to twelve false casts he tangled the double dropper rig up quite a few times. Jim on the other hand did the best he could and kept his flies in the water. Jim boated over 30 fish (from a siting position and only casting about twelve feet) and Bob only caught about 15 (from the front of the boat and standing). The reason for Jims success you might ask? Jim kept his flies in the water and made fewer casts, setting a hook on a trout twelve feet from the boat is much easier than setting the hook thirty to forty feet from the boat. Less is more!

It’s a marathon not a sprint. Last time I checked, no one is getting any younger. My point here is that fewer casts or making economical casts will help your longevity as an angler. If you want to fish all day, pacing yourself is important. Fly fishing is exercise and you will be beat in the middle of the day if you wear yourself out casting, so make fewer, more economical casts.

To sum it all up: Go fishing, make smart, economical casts. And enjoy yourselves, fly fishing is supposed to be fun!

Getting Her Hooked -take your time!

Taking your wife or significant other  fly fishing could be the best thing you ever did! –so don’t screw it up! Here are a few ways to get her hooked with out ruining the experience for her.

She’s not one of the guys…

Leave your fishing buddies out of this unless they are also taking their wives or girlfriends on this journey. There’s a time and a place with your friends on the river, integrate that gradually.

Take it easy!

Plan an easy day where she will learn to  hold the rod correctly, make a simple overhead cast,and a roll cast. Keep it simple and don’t overwhelm her with too much information. Be gentle, patient and by all means let her make mistakes!  It’s the best way to learn. 

My best fishing partner ever!

Keep the day short and plan another activity on the way home like dinner and drinks or drinks and dinner.. Or drinks.
Take a class..

Let’s face it- guiding and teaching fly fishing is hard.. Teaching your wife or girlfriend is harder… So…Enrolling the two of you in a class is a great way to take the pressure and tensions of teaching off and to let you and your sweetheart relax and have fun. Trust me, anything you can do to avoid a bad experience will help you in the long run!

Reeling her in….
Now that you have “set the hook”, take her on a fishing get away. Just the two of you..

A great way to spend the day  or a weekend with your significant other is to book a float trip with a local guide. Again letting someone else do the work for you enables you both to relax and catch fish. It is also a great opportunity joy discover something awesome together.

Fun for the rest of your life ! 

She has been learning to row the boat too!

That smile that a fish puts on her face is priceless!

It’s  always fun for me to watch my wife catch a fish- any fish! Part of that is the guide in me and the fact that I am really good at living vicariously through others, and part of that is the pure joy of watching your other half succeed!

Thanks for reading! If you are interested in booking one of our trips or leaning a bit more about what we do please look at our Booking information and rates page.

Winter- not a death sentence 

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above zero…headed in the right direction

If you are like me winter can get you down a little. Its a problem for fly fisherman, for any fisherman for that matter. Winter weather is horrible and we can’t fish or don’t feel like fishing. The days are shorter and darker. There is no beautiful sunset to inspire me to stop at a small stream on my way home. So in the winter I tend to fish less,  the weather might hold me inside for a few days at a time ,and when I do get to plan a trip it is often times ruined by more weather which can be very frustrating. Not to mention if you live in a state where there is a season and you have to wait for opening day. (I am not sure how folks in those states survive for months with out fishing, it would be very hard to do)

So here are a few things that I try and do during the winter to keep sane..

1.Get everything out – Clean it, organize it and put it back.

      It sounds like work I know, but it’s like giving your fly fishing gear an oil change. I will have to admit I am horrible at this, but sometimes the act of cleaning, organizing and storing stuff can make bad weather bearable, at least it might distract you from staring out your window at the frozen tundra wondering when the next nice fishing day will be. Take your time, look at everything, clean your fly lines and your reels, wax your ferrules, clean your waders and boots, organize all your fly boxes. This could take several hours, and at the end you might have a better idea of what kind of flies you need to be tying, if you need to send a rod to be repaired, or what you need to buy on your next visit to your local fly shop.

messy boat bag

(this is my boat bag after my last trip I wonder why I can’t ever find anything!)

2. Tie some flies and when you are done tie some more.

     Can you ever have enough flies? My answer is always no, and guess what? I never have enough, so finish what you think are enough and then wrap a few dozen more of the most common patterns that you fish.

Winter provides a nice opportunity for learning to tie new patterns and inventing new twists to the ones we fish regularly. Check out the vast array of fly tying videos on You-Tube for new patterns and tweaks on old ones.(i like these guys on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/user/tightlinevideo)

Be social and  invite some folks over and have a few drinks and wrap a few bugs.. This is important unless you enjoy being a hermit.

Involve your family. Last  year my daughter began learning to ty flies at nine  years old. We make it fun, she creates what she wants, lots of feathers and eyes. She likes learning and its a nice break from tying production.

3. Do get out and fish.

it’s good for your four-legged friend to get out too!

Make the effort and go out for a while. It’s good to be out on the river just to be out! When is the best time to go? We can sit and look at weather maps, try and guess which edge of the next front to fish on, and take a good guess…..But the old adage still applies – The best time to go fishing in the winter is when you can go fishing!

Rainbow trout
A DH fish that finally I caught on the 20th cast last winter.

You might have to do a little work to go out in the winter, like digging out your truck and boat. But some times working hard to go have fun is worth it, especially if there are no crowds on the river.

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a little snow at Brown Dog HQ…

Enjoy yourselves this winter… stay warm!

Thanks for reading!


North Carolina’s Delayed Harvest, We get some mileage from our fish in the south..

Spring Stocking of North Carolina’s Delayed Harvest streams began earlier this month, we were out and about today for a quick fish and have decided to highlight a few things about Delayed Harvest streams and why they are important.

The Regulation

First of all, to those readers who do not live in North Carolina, we should probably explain the regulation. From October through the end of May, the designated streams, rivers or lakes are catch and release only, from June through the End of September the streams are catch and keep. All Streams are Stocked around the first of the following months of the year : October, November, December, March, April, and May. The list of stocking dates is published by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Here’s the link- http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Fishing/documents/TROUT_MAP.PDF

Why we have it….

Delayed Harvest began in the late 1990’s as a pilot program on the Watauga River Near Boone, The  North Mills River in Henderson County, and in the South Mountains State Park near Connely Springs. The objective of the pilot program was to see if the commission could enhance angler experiences by allowing fish to be caught and released numerous times throughout the year, while stable water temperatures persisted in creeks and rivers in the North Carolina Mountains and foot hills. To make a long story short – they could never produce enough trout and they need to “get some more mileage out of their fish”.   The delayed harvest program now uses twenty five lakes, rivers and streams throughout the  foothills and mountains of the state.

Why its a good thing..

Delayed harvest is a great thing on many levels. First it creates an economic benefit to those areas that are close to the regulated streams. Second ,it takes pressure off of wild populations of fish by spreading anglers out to other streams and rivers that could not support a trout population. Third, it makes each fish raised in a hatchery more valuable as it’s time in the water making fishermen happy is greatly extended. Fourth, some of the fish do actually “get smart” and stay in the river after the catch and release part of the season  as “hold overs”.

A good thing for fly fisherman????Rainbow trout

“it’s like shooting fish in a barrel baby!” I can just about hear Dick Vitale wailing those words while catching a trout on a Delayed Harvest stream. It is a lot of fun to go and catch fish when you know where they are and that they will eat just about anything.  Rivers and streams in this regulation allow you an opportunity to practice skills like setting the hook, or watching the strike indicator for subtle hits. Today I fished one hole for half  an hour, and i was able to work on my rather unimpressive and weak strip set. I caught ten fish on a yellow, blue, and brown wooly booger (my eight year old daughter is a fly designer and needs a sponsor), and set the hook while stripping on each fish. Large numbers of hungry fish allow any angler to improve with great strides in a day or a weekend spent on this type of regulation.

Delayed Harvest streams are great to guide on. I can’t even begin to fathom the numbers of people that have been brought to this sport and fell in love with it because they had access to numbers of hungry fish. These streams and rivers are also wonderful classrooms for young anglers to learn on.

This regulation also helps those of us who get “the fever”  or those never get rid of “the fever” to go catch a fish. I have seen a delayed harvest stream quell even the strongest fishing addict’s need to fish. Some years ago, I would regularly run into my truck mechanic on his lunch break, fishing for thirty minutes.. He would be in his work uniform, covered in grease,getting his lunch time fix. He later infected the parts manager at the dealership and he also became a regular DH user.

Urban spotlight-

A few weeks ago I opened my big mouth at an industry event encouraging my piers to introduce their clients to  urban fisheries.( I Mean, hey man, Kraut creek in Boone has some nice holes, you can even fish behind the Boone mall… and lets face it lots of people fish these days) Several streams in the Delayed harvest  regulation  run through town parks or green ways.  In this sense DH can be another valuable asset to county or town managers seeking grants for improvements. Fish in your back yard or down the street from where you live… how cool is that?

Be Kind – 

While using a DH stream please practice proper catch and release techniques!  Make it a challenge – fish barbless for the day!… If you see a poacher, please make a call and report them. If you see trash, pick it up!

So this week Hit your local DH stream..Call your local fly shop or Trout Unlimited chapter and volunteer to help stock in April.. What? Your state does not have DH as a regulation? Make a call! get involved with your state Wildlife Agency.

Thanks for the Read!


River lion
My Daughter, the fly designer… This one is named “The River Lion”

Your life can be contained in a fly rod

The other day I got a little nostalgic..

I was particularly thinking of one of my fly rods,an Orvis Trident nine foot five weight.  It was one of my first purchases as a young fishing guide,  and I was in love at first sight, (do you remember the scene in Caddyshack where the Judge pulls the hickory putter from his bag? “Ooooh Billy, Billy, Billy..” an amazing piece of comedic work by Ted Knight…. by now you get it, i was a fanatic..),it was a work of art and an amazing piece of fly fishing technology for the late 1990’s

The Amazing thing about this rod is that it stood as a constant through the many changes in my life. It was also a time line of events… it was a time capsule.. it was like a movie – Fly Rod Time Machine..It was always in the tube waiting to be used.It’s color did not fade, its performance was the same each time I used it. It was a lot like my dog Maxine Brown, it loved me no matter if i got skunked or caught 20 fish. This one rod had many fish memories, a plethora of clients held it  and caught many fish, and my wife (who was my client

at the time and not my wife) caught her first trout on that rod as one of my clients,and later caught a few nice fish on our honeymoon.


Fast forward twenty years (could be closer to 18 if I really sit back and count) and  through a few life events (births of two babies, more education, job changes etc.) and the rod was still a favorite and still making memories. Both my children caught their first trout on that rod, and I even used it regularly on guide trips……. And then….

Mr H ShadowsI broke it… (can’t you hear the wheels falling off now?) I broke it.. Yes,I had made it close to twenty years and the only thing I had ever had to repair on the rod was to epoxy the loose tip back on. There was no epic battle with a fish, it was not a fit of  frustration and I broke into bits over my knee.. no car doors were harmed in the breaking of the rod, no I left it sitting over the bow of my drift boat and i caught a branch hanging off the bank and SNAP! It was gone. I think that most of you reading this can relate to how stupid I felt!  Let me say thank you to those folks  who recently gave me comforting words when i told them of this tragedy. They Assured me that those rods were prone to brake “all the time”, and “man you were lucky to have one for that long”, and “man what did they send you to replace it with?”.

A few days after the apocalypse, I mailed my broken rod to Orvis.  There were no Trident blanks available for repair but they were true to their guarantee and replaced my rod with an Orvis T3.  I do not remember how the rod felt while casting, I do not remember what the cork felt like, but I do remember meeting my wife for the first time, and my children being born and  learning to cast for the first time. I do miss that old Trident, but I am very happy to be filling up another rod with great memories of days on the water with my family, my customers and my friends.


Nils E. Peterson