Q & A #3

The success and fun we had with Q & A 1 and 2 was so awesome! So, I am here to bring you Q & A #3! We have actually covered quite a bit with the other two, so if your question didn’t get answered today, check back with the other two to see if it was answered there. Let’s get right into this thing, Q & A #3.

What is your favorite knot for tying on a baitfish?

Lefty’s Loop Knot (Non Slip Mono Loop)- This loop knot allows the fly to swim freely and move as it was intended by the designer of the fly. I fish lighter tippet (3x RIO Fluoroflex Plus) paired with this particular knot and think the combination gives my flies the best action.

How did you decide to bring Captain Mike on board?

The decision to bring Mike on board was something I thought about for a long time. Mike and I have been fishing together for 8 years, and it got to the point that my buddy Johnny and Mike were the only people I would ever invite fishing. Mike is a traveling nurse and has a flexible schedule. He works super hard and is incredibly reliable. He also has a ton of experience as a guide and instructor. So, I mentioned the idea to Brita, and she jumped at the idea and told me to ask him.

Mike to his credit has been 100% willing to put in the work and start from scratch in a business that requires a lot of work for very little monetary payout when getting started. Plus his client list is growing and he is damn good at what he does.

What is your biggest pet peeve on the water?

I have ignored this question for the last two Q&A’s, just because I try not to be negative. I decided the question is not going away SO…. I’d say I am pretty laid back, however, when I read this question, 3 jumped out right away. So perhaps I am less “chill” than I thought I was.

1.) Trash In The Water

I hate seeing garbage in the water, particularly on Hood Canal. If you have fished with me, you have probably seen me stop the day to pick up garbage. I have also stopped the day to give basic human decency talks to clients if they toss something off the boat. Littering is my number 1 pet peeve.

2.) Gill Net’s On Hood Canal

This goes right along with littering. We work super hard all year to clean up any trash, to lower our output of garbage, and to promote salmon recovery on Hood Canal… Then the nets come out. Gill netting has been banned from every state on the east coast, the gulf coast, and the saltwater portion of the west coast outside of Washington and Alaska. I have a hard time calling us the “everGREEN state” while allowing gill nets in our water. Not to mention shrimping season and gill net season are the only time we see trash.

To be completely clear here, I do not have a great solution to this problem. I also do not want these men and women to loose out on a proud way to make a living However, I do think we should require the gill netters to switch to seine nets, and we should 100% ban beach setting as it has an incredible bi-catch of huge sea run cutthroat. .

3.) Stripping Line Off The Boat

When retrieving line back into the boat, just strip it onto the ground. This will help casting by reducing drag, reduce tangles by keeping the line from moving with the current, and keep your line out of the prop of the boat. Do not strip off the side of the boat… It’s actually more difficult to strip this way. Plus I start everyday by saying this.

What is something you can do to get better at fly fishing while not on the water?

I think there are a few things. None will be as noticeable as practicing casting. If you want to get REALLY good, you have to be able to get your fly to the intended target. Practicing casting is huge.

Another thing that is super helpful in improving angling skills is to read. Read about the bait, the currents, the depth, and even the history of the fishery. I believe there has been more books written on the subject of fishing than anything else. So the two authors I would recommend the most for this fishery is Les Johnson, and Bruce Ferguson.

I think the way you do anything is the way you do everything, with very few exceptions. Becoming obsessed with something might not be the healthiest way to do something, however it is the best way to get good. I worked in fly shops, went fishing, then came home and practiced in the dark in my yard to get good… While I don’t recommend the first on that list if you like paying bills, I would recommend the second two.

I Want To Become A Fishing Guide, Any Advise?

Do it! Life’s short, do whatever makes you happy. If you told me you wanted to be a cage fighter, but you were fat and slow, I’d tell you to train your ass off and try not to get hit in the head. I have the same advise for becoming a fishing guide. Train your butt off. Take a job in Alaska working 7 days a week at a camp/lodge. Or do the same on the Big Horn or Missouri River in Montana. Either way, go work as much as you possibly can. Take casting lessons from 100 instructors and learn how to teach 100 different ways. Make mistakes and learn from them. Make good choices and learn from them. Find great mentors and learn from them.

Oh I have more…

My other advise would be to strive to be the best. Be an outlier in a world of great fishing guides be over the top good. Study jokes, have stories, bring hand warmers when it’s cold… Do more than what they expect.

Folks are giving you their vacation. Trusting you with their families. Many of the folks that come on guide trips only get a few chances to do this a year, or a decade. Take that responsibility super seriously. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but if they have a bad experience, they may never go with a guide again, then you are messing with everyone who did do it the right way’s business.

Last piece of advise is never get burnt out. Remember it is a gift to be able to do this for a living. In a world where someones job is to change the diapers of the elderly, you are on the water teaching fishing. Someone is insulating a crawl space, getting bit by a rattle snake, and you are telling a joke on while landing a trout…

You talk a lot… How do you keep that energy?

When I am on the water, I am not going to get anything else done. So it’s easy for me to focus 100% on the trip.

I am a chatty Kathy, no doubt, I will always be the first to admit that. I am positive that my obsession with coffee is not helping that. Part of the energy comes from coffee, however I love telling stories.

Telling stories is something we don’t get to do anymore. How often do you sit in one spot with 2-3 people for 7-8 hours? Almost never. On my boat, we are fishing, which is as primal and traditional as anything has ever been. For 100’s of years people have fished and told stories. Probably not stories of stage diving, Jamaican jokes, and all the other nonsense that comes out of my mouth. However, if you love what you do for a living, and I really do, why not make an effort to get to know people while you do it?

Also, I run 1,000 mph from 4am-10pm… I plan my day down to the hour just to make sure that my energy is used up 100%. After that, I sleep like a rock.

Are you still doing the casting lessons at Alderbrook Resort?

Not only are we going to do them this year, we are improving the program.

They will start in May, and go through the end of August. As we did last year these will be 100% free to the public. You do not need to be a guest of Alderbrook Resort to attend.

We will also be offering privates throughout the year. I have always done private lessons however we will be doing them for groups as well as individuals. For groups we can accommodate up to 8 people.

All of these lessons will be personally catered to your skill level. If you are a expert caster and want to learn how to improve your roll, reach, or distance /accuracy. We can do that. If you are a brand new fly fishermen and want to learn how to string the rod up, we can handle that as well.

Fishing Report 1/14/19

The Good, The Bad, The Fishy

It’s going on the third week of the new year and the holidays are behind us. We are back in the swing of things here, and couldn’t be more excited!

We have had a particularly wet January, and from the looks of it, we are not getting to much drier in the near future. However, this has not slowed the fishing down one bit. Most of the cutthroat have been super shallow and tight to the beach. Additionally, almost every fish we have found has been accompanied by 5 or 6 other fish willing to eat or chase our flies to the boat as well.

Trick Of The Week

As I said, the fish have been pushed right up on the beach. Look for runoff creeks, or little springs draining into the water and cast at those. Many of these flows will create deeper low spots along the beach. Often times the cutthroat will use these low spots to ambush prey.

Coming Up

We have some openings coming up quick, and a 10 day forecast that shows a break in the weather coming up. First, Tuesday the 15th! We have decent weather and great tides tomorrow!

This coming weekend we have 1/20 open, as well as the 24th, 25th, and 27th open! Get your date while the sun is shining!

The Hook Lowdown

A old set of Epoxy Minnows tied on TIEMCO 800s

Prequel To The Hook Lowdown…

I mentioned in the Q&A that I would be breaking down my thoughts on hook choice. I get this question a lot and I realized there is not a whole lot of information out there about it. I went in deep on the subject and hope you all get something out of it and enjoy the read. It’s long, and it’s a little bouncy, but I put a lot of thought into it. So without further ado… The Hook Lowdown.


There is a giant elephant in the room when debating hook choice. It comes down to a question that we all like to ignore. What is catch and release fishing? We are trying to be effective at stabbing something in the face. Also, we want to grip it by the mouth and drag it through the water. After landing the fish, at BEST we let it go quickly without removing the fish from the water. At the worst we toy with it in our hands for a photo before letting it go.

Make no mistake about it. There is simply no way to catch a fish without the potential to damage or kill the fish. It’s like a cage fighter who denies the possibility of someone getting hurt. Unfortunately fish, occasionally are unable to recover from the damages of a fight. It is our responsibility to minimize the damage inflicted on the fish at every opportunity.

The 3 Factors Of Choosing A Hook

When choosing a hook we need to balance these three main things.

1.) The potential to cause unnecessary damage to the fish.

2.) Compliment the pattern tied on them. In both balance and size.

3.) Effective holding power.

We could end the hook lowdown right here… If you find those three factors while choosing a hook. You will be good to go. However, lets break it down a bit further.

That’s too small…

If you choose a hook to small, the potential goes up dramatically that a fish will swallow it, or get hooked in the gills. Not to mention the sudden “bad hook up” rate increase. A hook that is too small will fail all 3 factors of choosing a hook. Suddenly it becomes a health risk to the fish by being to easy to take deep into it’s mouth. It will not compliment the fly by balancing it out or becoming more of a weapon. A hook that is to small won’t catch the flesh in the corner of the mouth and be effective at holding the fish. So grabbing a size 8 SC15 might not be a great idea for a baitfish pattern.

Bigger Is Not Always Better…

Now lets go to the subject of hooks that are to large. For baitfish, I don’t think “brain hooking” cutthroat is a big issue. I can count on 1 hand how many fish this has happened to over the years. All of them were small fish less than 4 inches. I am not sure this is avoidable while fishing baitfish patterns. So let’s talk about why a hook would be to large. Brain hooking or eye hooking is obviously a consideration. As is causing unnecessary damage such as ripping big holes in fish or shredding the face of the fish. The other consideration is the hook being too large and blocking the fly from entering the mouth.

I do not think brain/eye hooking cutthroat is a big concern when fishing baitfish. However, I do think there are hooks that you should avoid for this risk. The size 2 Ahrex NS172 Gammarus hook has a HUGE gap that is potentially dangerous to cutthroat. A gap this big stabs through the cheek higher up causing damage to a much thicker portion of the mouth, and potentially could damage the eye of the fish with more frequency. Any thick gage hooks like the Timeco 800s beyond a size 6 is probably to big for cutthroat, causing more damage than necessary.

Sea Run Cutthroat are violent predators, meaning a hook to small could quickly end up in the back of their throat. A hook to big could harm them beyond what is acceptable in a sport based on stabbing things in the face. We want to find the sweet spot. That’s why we are providing the hook lowdown.

Hook Choice Considerations:

When considering what hook to choose, consider what is required to tie your fly. What are you trying to accomplish with your fly, what kind of water are you fishing in, are you adding weight or relying on the hook itself to keel out. Do the conditions you are fishing in require more hang down, or the hook to ride upright? There are plenty of questions to ask, and here are somethings I consider when sitting down to tie a fly:

Longer Shanks

EuroShrimp Tied on a Ahrex NS110. Lot’s of palmering required a longer shank.

If you are tying a fly where you have a lot of “wrapping” materials, you might need a longer shank such as a 811s Tiemco or NS110 Ahrex. Both make great hooks for Raccoons or Buggers (notice I said bugger and not squid), I use the latter for a few of my simple baitfish and shrimp patterns. Both hooks work very well for Clouser style flies as well. These are your more standard hooks for most saltwater applications. One that falls into a similar catagory would be the Diiachi 2546. I think the Diiachi hook falls short on being great at any particular level. Where the Tiemco is heavy and keels well, the Diiachi light for the gage, and keels okay. The NS110 is ultra sharp and holds fish tight, the Diiachi is pretty sharp and does okay.

Shorter Shanks-Wider Gaps

Flatwing tied sparse and light swims great on a Ahrex NS172. The open gap provides a “keel”.

When tying bulkier or fuller baitfish flies using a heavier stainless hook helps keel the fly. Keeling the fly essentially means balance the fly out and ensure that it swims well. The Tiemco 800s work great for fuller unweighted patterns that need bit of help balancing. The Tiemco 800s is heavy for its size and passes our 3 rules with flying colors. The Ahrex NS172’s shape will balance out many baitfish patterns that are not super bulky too. The NS172’s wide gap moves much of the weight below the fly creating a beautiful keel and a very “grabby” razor sharp hook.

My Top Two Baitfish Hooks

I like tying many baitfish light, with weight towards the eye of the hook. This eliminates the need for a heavy keel, to correct the fly in the water. My preference has become the Ahrex NS110 for skinny profile baitfish, and the Ahrex NS172 for shorter or bulkier baitfish. Both are razor sharp and have a great hook gap for what I am using them for. The whole “Nordic Salt” series of hooks are extremely impressive.

Surface Flies

Disco Shrimp has a great hook up rate due to the Ahrex NS122 hanging low in the water while the fly remains as buoyant as a balloon.

When I tie topwater flies I prefer the Ahrex NS122 over anything else. The gap hangs down low increasing hook-ups whether sipped or slashed. Of all the hook choices that I have mentioned, this one is the most noticeable. When cutthroat hit the surface, your hook needs to be as available as possible. This hook design is the best choice on the market. I’ll be completely honest in saying, I just don’t have a second option anymore for this particular application. Moving up and down in size depending on my pattern, my rule is to have the hook riding as deep in the water as I can, while keeping the fly as buoyant as possible. The shape of the NS122 is the best hook I have found for this job. From Gurglers, Disco Shrimp, Surface Fry, if it floats, this hook is what it is tied on.

Before finding the Ahrex NS122 I was using the Gamakatsu SS15. The SS15 is a great hook for surface flies because it is light and razor sharp. While it is great, I still find the Ahrex to be so far ahead of their competition that nothing compares.

A Trailing Note:

One of the things I am often asked about is why I do not use a “stinger” or “trailing hooks” off the back of my flies. My answer is the simple and direct, they are unnecessary for our fishery. From my experience with trailing hooks our “foul” hooked fish numbers increase astronomically. Fish that are almost never handled out of the net go up dramatically due to deeper hook sets and/or offset hooks.

All that foul hooking/extra handling is just unnecessary. Cutthroat just do not require the use of stingers because they CRUSH a fly. You don’t pull the emergency break at every red light right? Why would you when you have antilock breaks right next to the gas peddle. Why would you fiddle around with a trailing hook when it is completely unnecessary.

Another thing that goes up with trailing hooks is the amount of tangles the average angler experiences which directly results in less time fishing. As with the SC15, you simply won’t see a trailer hook on my boat… Did I mention the SC15?

Gamakatsu SC15 take a hike…

Obviously, there are good qualities of the SC15, or Gamakatsu would not sell any. Personally, I can not figure out what those qualities are. They are too light of a hook to balance most flies, they are too brittle to withstand any abuse, and they are too small to catch the corner of the mouth during an aggressive take.

The Gamakatsu SC15 in a size 6-8 hook is too small for a baitfish fly. That is just plane ol’ fact. Sea Run Cutthroat eat a stripped baitfish too aggressively to fish such a small, light hook. The hook is small and light enough to miss the corner of the mouth and catch gills, throat, or the tongue of the fish. Will this happen every time? No, of coarse not. However, it will happen significantly more with this hook than a Gamakatsu SS15 or a Ahrex NS110.

I also think the shape of a SC15 in 6-4, once you pinch the barb, has no gripping power. Which was what first encouraged me to move away from these hooks. Then Brita started talking about using the hook to keel flies, which changed my opinion on fly tying completely. The SC15 might be the worst saltwater hook ever made for helping balance a baitfish pattern.

Almost done with the SC15

For little krill/euphasiid patterns a tiny light hook like the SC15 might be more appropriate. The reason it’s more appropriate is all in the way a cutthroat eats euphasiidds verses the way it eats other fish. Think of a eagle catches a fish (violently snatching) vs. chowing on dead chum (lazily grazing)… However the Ahrex NS172 is the better option.

This covers all three factors in choosing a hook. The SC15 Fails #1, #2, and #3 decisively.

Massive Cutthroat on a SL12 SZ 2. This is the largest hook I would use, however no one can claim this hook is to big for the fly/fish.

Q & A Vol. 2

Q & A Vol. 2

Q & A Version 1

The Q & A we posted last week was ultra well received and we had a ton of great questions come through. The funny thing about fishing is no one wants to admit they do not know everything in an open platform. So most of our questions for Q & A Vol. 2 came through private messages on Facebook, and/or Email. We had quite the variety and I am excited to say that this will keep going for a while!

Q & A Vol. 2

We didn’t get to all of them, but here are a few from this week! So without further ado, Q & A Vol. 2!

Q. What is your favorite line from the beach?

My first answer would be a Rio Outbound short floater. However, that line is pretty limiting to how I fish. If conditions are perfect and fish are moving on the surface, I would be stoked to be fishing the floater. If every day of the year fell in the 3rd week of february through the 3rd week of April, I would fish nothing but the Rio Outbound Floater.

Unfortunately not every day calls for surface fishing, SO if I was going to own one line for beach fishing it would be the Rio Outbound Intermediate. FROM THE BEACH I think this line is the best year round line on the market. I don’t even own one right now because I simply don’t fish the beach very often. However, If I were to go back to beach fishing again, it would be spooled on my reel. My second go to would be the Coastal Quickshooter, simply because it is a super fun line to cast.

Q. Who cast better, you or Brita?

Well, home-wrecker, I am simply not falling into your trap. I will tell you Brita looks a hell of a lot better doing it than I do…

Q & A Vol. 2

Q. Best sunglasses for fishing in Washington State?

Here is the best gem anyone has ever sent me. Costa Del Mar 580G Sunrise Silver Mirror. Florida to Washington, these are the best lens I have ever had the pleasure of fishing with. Thanks to Florida Outdoor Experience for enlightening me to this amazing and unlikely pieces of fishing gold… Or silver.

The yellow lens gives me nightmares of headaches and sore eyes after trying them years ago for steelhead fishing. They are okay on days when there is absolutely no sunlight. However, pain city as soon as there is even the slightest hint of a glare.

Gray from (FOE) mentioned it and I stopped him dead in his tracks “Mirrored yellow?!! That sounds either genius, or like a nightmare.” He said “I am telling you, they are perfect.” A few days later I checked the mail and there were two Costa 580’s with Sunrise Silver Mirror. I get accused of lying about seeing fish with these things until I let clients try them. It’s the single best thing for finding fish since the invention of the Yamaha Outboard.

Q. Is That Hook To Big?

I shy away from putting this on the internet. However, I am going to dive shallow here, and write a whole blog post just on this subject. No. Think about it? If the fish is EATING (by definition swallowing another fish) your fly with large amounts of aggression. You want something sizable and sharp enough to stab into flesh before it gets to the back of the throat. Have you seen my Chumbodies Baby from Solitude, or any small baitfish that I tie. The hook gap is as large as I can get while allowing the fly to move in the water. We never go past a size 4 hook for anything for fear of the diameter of the wire the hook is built of, however beyond that, I say “bigger is good, bigger and shaper is better.

From a conservation standpoint I think we want to keep the hooks from the back of the throat, and gills. If you are pulling the fly away from the fish, the fly should never get a chance to go deep enough in their mouth to hook to cause the kind of damage often thought about with larger size hooks.

Stay tuned for a blog all about this subject.

Q. How do you drink cold brew coffee in the winter on the boat?

Well, this is a simple answer. It’s better for me. I drink a lot of coffee, roughly 60oz a day. I can not drink hot coffee fast enough, and cold brew taste better cold than traditional drip coffee does when it gets cold. If it is super cold I will drink a small warm coffee first thing in the morning to get the chill off, then switch over to my 32oz Yeti cup of cold brew… I’ve got this stuff down to a science.

Q. Does Lemmy come on all of your fishing trips?

Q & A Vol. 2

He comes on most. If it’s going to be cold and wet out he goes to Sage Fly Rods for the day. If it’s anything resembling a nice day out, he is on the boat. Lemmy is by far the best behaved boat dog I have ever seen or heard of. From what I hear he makes a pretty good office dog up at Sage as well. I know when summer comes the folks up at Sage are going to be pretty disappointed they won’t see as much of him.

Closing thoughts on this Q&A

That’s it for the Q & A Vol. 2. Let us know of any questions you might have for next weeks Q&A, these are pretty fun. I still have another dozen or so for the next couple of weeks, but I would love to kick some of the silly ones out for more serious questions (I like silly too). Again comment on our facebook, message me, text me, and/or email me any of your questions. If you have questions for Mike or Brita specify and I will have them answer too!

Thanks so much guys! It’s been a blast the last few years and I would love to hear any ideas of how we can make the blog or more importantly our trips more fun for any of you! Thanks again!

Q & A With Captain Justin

Introducing the idea of our Q & A series…

I have toyed with the idea of doing an ongoing Q & A at several different times and have finally gotten around to starting this.

Other than the fact that I love to fish for cutthroat, I really love sharing this fishery with all of you. I love seeing the fishery grow, and it is awesome to hear I may have helped someone understand this fishery through answering their questions. I have some goals for the next year or so that will allow me to do that more than I already do. But for now, the blog, Instagram, and Facebook are where we are at. I think this will be a fun little series. I will continue with the Q & A as much as I can throughout the year and do a “Best Of” at the end of the season.

Q and A

Q – What are your set ups (rod, reel, line, leader)?

I have 4 rod and line setups on the boat at any time, with those consisting of Floating, Intermediate, and two Sinking lines. Obviously not every situation is going to call for these setups, however they will work 99% of the time.

  • Floating- 690-4 (6 weight 9′ rod) Sage X, Sage Spectrum Max reel, RIO Outbound, RIO 0x Big Nasty leader down to 3x FluoroFlex Plus tippet. I like the total length of my floating leader to be about 10′.
  • Intermediate- 690-4 Sage X, Sage Spectrum Max reel, RIO Camolux intermediate, 6′ Big Nasty leader to FluoroFlex 3x tippet. Total Length is about 8′.
  • Sinking- 690-4 Sage Salt HD, Sage Spectrum Max reel, RIO Outbound Short type 3 sink, 6′ Big Nasty 3x FluoroFlex (on clear days) 2x if there is color to the water.

Q – What is your favorite structure for those bigger cutthroat?

Well… I think this answer requires a 4 parts. I think it’s common for most people to think they “luck” into bigger fish by accident, however there is always a reason the bigger fish are there. Solving that puzzle will increase your odds at encountering larger sea-run cutthroat. Below are the 4 things I look for to increase our chances of encountering large fish:

  • You need a lot of current crashing into the structure you are fishing. A bay filling up or emptying out on a piece of structure for instance creates great opportunity for big fish to ambush bait.
  • Access to shelter is super important for the fish to grow in size. For example deep water, dark holes, kelp and/or longer eel grass, and undercut ledges all allow for good hiding. Anything to avoid predation and aid in the ambushing behavior we just mentioned. Less stress equals larger growth.
  • A reason for the fish to make the effort to hang out. Typically the “big fish spots” hold a few big fish, year round. The reason for this is they hold different types of bait and different times of the year. During the big influx of sand lance, the migrations of smelt, the chum fry, shrimp, herring… These are places that are year round good for a meal. A big fat fish doesn’t want to migrate every month anymore than a big fat guy wants to run to the salad side of a buffet.
  • Cold water. As a rule, if the water warms up, the big fish don’t hang there. Warmth = Stress

Q – Did Brita tie this fly? It’s super nice!

After Hours

I tie nice flies too, thank you very much.

The truth is she might have tied this one particular fly, and she does occasionally give me a fly or two to fish. If I am super busy I might hit her up for some once in a while. However, I really like tying flies and I tie my flies weighted how I want, as bulky as I want, and for the kind of water I like to fish. Also, I just plane like showing my clients my flies.

I am super picky about how my clients fish the flies, where they fish the flies, and when they fish the flies… I don’t just tie on any fly for any situation. Fortunately, Brita loves me and knows that so she occasionally will tie flies with my style in mind.

The answer is, you should assume it’s mine unless I am bragging about how amazing Brita is. She’s the best fly tier I know, and I am unbelievably proud to fish her flies and share them with people… However… I’ll be honest, this question hurts my ego just a bit.

Q – Whats the best tide for Sea Run Cutthroat?

Look, just go fishing. The fish do not care, go down current of a good piece of structure and go fishing. Sure some areas fish better at certain tides….. but they don’t fish at all if you are not fishing.

Q – Top three favorite fishing snacks?

Well, this is a fun question. Nowadays its Coffee, Hempler’s Beef Sticks, and LaCroix (Coconut). If I do two trips a day I love the brussel sprouts at Alderbrook Resort.

Q – Best tip to become a better caster?

Q & A

One word answer: PRACTICE. But, for those that don’t like that answer, I’ve included another detailed response.. If I could give one tip it would probably be to quickly come to a complete stop and just feel the rod unload. Most folks get it once they feel what it is supposed to feel like. Casting is fun, and when its done right it feels so good. I really love teaching casting lessons, and I do them for free at Alderbrook all summer long. I assume we could probably give more than 1 piece of advise.

… To Be Continued …

This was fun and I plan to do this more often in the future! I hope you guys enjoyed the Q & A. Feel free to email, message or… Instagram comment/direct message me any questions you want for the next one. I think we will have part 2 of the Q & A out next week!

Coastal Cutthroat IF4

Its Party Time People…

January 10th we have the International Fly Fishing Film Festival at the HULA HULA in Seattle! We are raising tons of money for the Coastal Cutthroat Coalition! This might be the most anticipated party of the year!

There will be a auction and raffle for guide trips, gear, swag, and flies. Buy some tickets, party hard, and know you are supporting a great cause! We have a pretty awesome “Package” that we have donated as well (more on that later).

This event has become a staple in the fly fishing community in Western Washington and beyond. We are excited to see all of you there and raise a ton of money for the Coastal Cutthroat Coalition. The greater Northwest is so fortunate to have such a great group of people supporting its fisheries whether in the field or with their pocketbooks!

In the past we have donated a full day guide trip in Puget Sound and a dozen flies. Although these were awesome, and we have had a good time. Furthermore raised a total of $1500 in the last three years at these events alone. We wanted to do much better this year!

This year we teamed up with our friends at Alderbrook Resort and donated a 2 night stay at the resort and a full day guide trip from the resorts beautiful dock. We are so stoked and plan on helping make this event the most successful one yet this year!

Thank You!

A huge thanks to Keith Robbins, the staff of the Hula Hula, and the folks at the Coastal Cutthroat Coalition for helping keep the science rolling and the fishery as exciting as ever! We are so fortunate to have this community come together and support such a great cause!

Continuing in the gratitude we want to thank Alderbrook Resort for helping out in putting together the best package we have ever done. Also all the other folks who are donating, buying, and all around helping out with this event!

Bid on our trip and party with us at Alderbrook Resort this spring!

Winter Problems

Winter Problems

Sometimes we all get them, Winter Problems, the biggest one being “It’s too freaking cold out, and/or I’m to freaking tired to fish.” Let me tell you… One of the two guys in my boat bailed out last minute on New Years day… Furthermore, he started texting around the time we started landing fish; SO, I thought I would share these with you.

“Oh man, sorry I couldn’t go, I wish I was not so tired!”

“Wish I was there.”

“I regret not going!”

“Hope you guys are having fun!”

“Are you catching anything?”

However, we were to busy laughing, catching super nice cutthroat and fishing to pay any attention to that. We kinda kicked ass all day on the fish. So our thought was just, “Should of woke up buddy.”

The biggest challenge in everything when it’s cold out is just finding the motivation to get out and go. Well, here is your motivation;

Reasons To Get Out

Let me tell you, these fish prefer the cold. Sea Run Cutthroat need the cold. They are less “trouty” in the cold. These guys are more predacious, thicker, stronger, and fight harder in the cold… Plus when it’s cold you get to call your lame friends who bail out names like “$%*$y”, “%!^@h”, “lazy”, and “still on the hook for half the trip.”

Winter Problems
Captain Mike slinging with a buddy on Hood Canal

In closing I would like to say, have a awesome 2019, we are off to a awesome start and can’t wait to see you this year! Let’s continue the mission to have more fun than ANYONE else on the planet, we are going to work hard to make sure we can keep that going! Further more, If you need help getting over your winter problems we have a few openings left for January 2019, and I will personally call and wake you up if you need help with motivation!

Fishing Report October 25 – 5 Keys To Success!

Fishing Report October 25

You know what they say?  Time flies when you are having fun!  So, besides rapidly screaming through the month of October, we are having a blast!  Fishing has been off the charts, we have shared the water with awesome folks, and we have been straight up slammed!  October has lived up to its hype this year once again! Heres 5 keys to success!

So whats the keys to success this late in the month?  Let me tell you!

5 Keys To Success

1.)  Find The Fish

It’s simple, you don’t want to waste your time probing fish-less water.  However, you also do not want to skip over a good fish spot in the name of moving.  Balance it out. We try to do more than one pass over a certain piece of water if we are finding success. First we cover it fast and see if we find some action, a follow, take, or fish! Second pass is where we methodically try to fish with a porpoise and make the most success on a spot. Occasionally we get them all on that first pass, but if we don’t see any action we move on.

2.)  Fish Flashy

Sure, a good ol fashion Wooly Bugger will catch them, as well as a dull classic Clouser Minnow. Perhaps you are correct.  However, you’re dull fly won’t be seen from 20′ away and have strikes from fish that you might miss without the glisten of flash.  Likewise, skip the super realism of summer bait balls and go to a more searching pattern.  Get the general profile of a baitfish and make that bad boy shine.

3.) Dress Warm!

No one likes being cold.  With the fog we have been having and the general dampness of the air, make sure you stay warm. Check out Captain Mikes blog on some hfelpful ways to stay more comfortable.  Let us know if you need us to bring an extra layer for you.

4.)  Branch Out

Late fall and early winter is a great time to be on the water.  The fish are plentiful and there are less crowds than summer time.  Check out that spot on the map you have been wanting to explore.  Shoot us a message and ask for some new spots you haven’t thought of. Maybe reach out to that buddy who you have wanted to fish with.  You never know when you might strike gold with a spot!

5.) Tequila

Bring your guide chocolate tequila from Mexico! What the hell man, that stuff is crazy good.  Sort of like a Mexican Chocolate milk.  I can’t remember the name of the bottle, nor do I know spanish… I will call it the El’Buzzed El’Coco Cow.  Yes, That does help the fishing.  (For the record,  I am not a big drinker, and  I will absolutely not drink with you on the water…)

Closing Argument

These are just some keys to success; However, we have said it from day one.  Those having the most fun win at the game of fly fishing.  I truly believe if you are in fact fishing; Meaning your fly is doing somewhat what it was designed to do in fishy water, if you are having a great time, you will catch fish.  It’s proven day in and day out on my boat.  It’s  not about being the best, the most equipped with the latest gear (although we always are, thanks Sage Fly Fishing) or even having the most know how, its about fishing smart, and having fun.  Cutthroat are honest fish. They are even more honest when the weather is cool and they are on their shallow hunting grounds.

The cool weather has the fish moved up in the shallows and hunting strongly this time of year.  It’s a pretty spectacular time of year to get out there!

Afternoon Delight- After hours Trips

After hours Trips!

After Hours

Last week just flew by and I know a lot of you didn’t find the time to get out!  Fortunately this week, really the next 10 days, has awesome After Hours opportunities!  We are geared up and ready to get out for the 5pm-dark After Hours trips all week and looking forward to it!  With enough light to stay out late we can start as late as 6pm and run till 9:30.  The tides are shaped up awesome, the fishing has been amazing, and we have been taking advantage of it ourselves!

After Hours

Looking forward to another great week of fishing!  Early mornings and late afternoons are going to hold the best fishing of the day!

This does not mean that mid day fishing has been slouching either.  We have had awesome fishing in the mid day sun keeping our flies in the cold clear water.  We’ve had to make some adjustments to deal with the warmer brighter weather but we have had a great time!

Bringing the kids out has been popular the last few years and with this warm weather comes warm water in the lower reaches of hood canal!  Meaning Swim Season is here!  If the kids want to swim around lunch time this is a great time of year to bring them out as well!



The connections I have made over the last decade have made me feel unbelievably fortunate. To elaborate a bit, I have been able to share the water with folks who have done all sorts of great things.  Climb Kilimanjaro, fish Tiger Fish in Africa, Played in the NFL, US Special Forces, business owners of all kinds… Business, Travel, Summits, Sport, Entertainment, you name it.  I have been able to connect with some of the worlds most interesting people on the water.  It’s one of the things I love about my job.  I get to share it with all of you.  Also, I get a brief glimpse into the life,  careers, families, and passions. While you may be the one on the trip, I am a brief tourist in your lives as well.

Other than the connections I make on the water, tying your tippet to the leader, I am fortunate to continue that relationship off the water. I get calls from clients at least once a week “I want to catch a tarpon, can you help me out?” “I’m headed to Belize for permit, what do I need to bring?”

Where to go, who to book, and how to prepare.  Whether it be casting lessons prior to the trip, or how to outfit yourself for success. But most of all, how to put it all together. How does your backing connect to the spool? How do you connect your backing to the fly line? Leader to line? Line to tippet? Tippet to fly? How the hell does all this work together in order to hold onto a 100+lb fish?

Connections are the name of the game in Fly Fishing. Without the right connections, your fish will swim away with your fly, leader, line, or just break everything and swim away with half your rod.

So lets start this thing off!  We will start with the backing to reel and work our way right down to the fly.

Arbor Knot

Connecting Backing To The Reel

This is a pretty beyond simple knot… In fact it is so simple that when Mike Lawson first showed me I didn’t really get it.  There are a few ways to make this connection, however, this is the most straight forward connection available.

If you notice, Simons accent makes this knot come together beautifully.

Loop To Loop

This is the fast, strong and simple way to get two loops to join into one. Backing to fly line, line to leader, and leader to leader making a solid connection.

Simon was the coolest guy I have ever talked to… Right up until he called Dancing Queen a “great hit”…


Albright Knot

“I don’t have a loop in the back of my fly line! What do I do?!  I don’t have tools, or line welding knowledge!”  First, don’t panic.  The Albright Knot will take care of you.  This is a great knot for most backing to fly line applications.  Particularly for anything involving trout, salmon, steelhead…  Back to you Simon.

Jeez man, That Simon has us covered today!

Tie Fast Nail Knot

“Justin, the fly shop sold me this crazy tool because I broke the loop off my favorite floating line battling barnacles at Purdy Spit.  I went to the one with bad customer service so they didn’t show me how to use it!”   No worries my fluff chucking friend.  Zack has you covered here…  I will say this before we get to the video.  I do not think this is the BEST way to attach a leader to a new fly line.  Use the loop to loop connection in that case.  They are strong, quick, and I really like them.  However, if you are battling kangaroos in the outback and they bite the loop off your fly line, this will keep you in the game.  Go buy one of these tools, learn how to use it, and toss it in your pack.

Loop Knots

There are a lot of reasons to know loop knots.  One, you can skip the last few knots we learned (you should know them anyways) if you know how to tie them up and how to use them.  The first loop we will learn is the Perfection Loop.  This is the handy loop in the end of every prepackaged Rio Leader.  This is a great loop to know for doing a “loop to loop” connection to your fly line.

The next loop we will learn is the Double Surgeons knot. This knot can be used for the same thing as the perfection knot, attaching leader to fly line, or backing to fly line.  This is not as strong as the Perfection Loop or the Bimini Loop, however its quick and easy if that break strength is not as important.

Leader To Tippet

I am going to go ahead and say it right off the bat.  There is two knots I use almost 100% of the time for trout, salmon and steelhead.  First,The Blood Knot, 98% of the time. This is the best knot for attaching MOST leader to tippet situations. If you suck at the Blood Knot and you are going to tie a crummy one.  The Double Surgeon is a good alternative.  I will occasionally use a Double Surgeons Knot if I can not see (fishing at night) or in the freezing rain (hands are not working).  However, thats fairly rare.

  Additionally,  I use the Improved Blood Knot for tying two pieces of tippet with a big jump in size.  Zack actually was the one who showed me that knot, and I have appreciated it greatly over “I hope that stays.”  This knot works great for in a pinch when you hit the end of your spool of tippet.

We are going to give Simon a break and let Zack knock this one out of the park… Remember how Simon was classy and used Chap stick?  Now, watch as Zack chooses to drool all over the screen.

Fly To Tippet

Finally! How do we put our stabbers on the fishing string?  Well, there are obviously 4,000 different knots for this.  I am going to go over my two favorite ways. First, the Non Slip Mono Loop.  This is our go too for Sea Run Cutthroat, and most weighted or baitfish flies.  I want to get the most out of my fly, and this allows it to swim naturally and move freely in the water.

Back to you Simon!

Now,  When we are up in the mountains and using dries and nymphs mostly we need a knot that is small, strong and secure to the hook. That’s where the Improved Clinch Knot comes into our arsenal.  Here’s Zack to finish this thing out!


Let’s Wrap This Up

Fly Fishing is all about the connections we make.  With the environment, the fish, the guides, and even the equipment.  If we miss our connections we can spend all the money in the world on booking world class trips, $1000 fly rods, and the best accommodations the world has to offer.  But we will miss the opportunity to truly be in the game.

Thanks Simon and Zack for unknowingly being our star actors for this fish story.  Thank you Rio Products for your wonderful library of You Tube videos as well!