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    Friday, March 28, 2014
    A Change of Tides

    Uneven edges of volcanic rock push their jagged prongs through my thin khakis.
    Uncomfortable, I shift my weight to alleviate the numbing tingle of pooled blood in my lower extremities – a fitting discomfort while sitting atop a rock-face spotted with dips and dimples home to equally as stagnant flow.

    The air smells of salt.  What my nose can’t decipher, my tongue can.
    It runs itself over my dry lower lip, tasting the ocean’s seasoning.
    I pick at the flaked skin until my fingernails pinch pain through the raw gummy flesh beneath its peel.  The sting interrupts my mindlessness…
    I lower my hand to my side, again staring vacantly into the cobalt blue sea.

    There’s a pack of cobia working their way through the headland I patiently perch on.
    I am sure that proper terminology for these creatures is a ‘school’, but to refer to them as such would be misleading; a ‘school’ of fish might be deemed as a behaved and conformed assembly – innocent children on a chaperoned outing.  These fish were anything but that.

    A pack of hunting predators, they churn the water beneath me, wreaking havoc into swarms of baitfish and following closely behind nonchalantly floating stingrays.
    Myself a predator, I stalk them from afar and cast my lure into their line of vision.  A rush and a refusal followed by a second aggressor who narrowly missed the impale through his lip.  The water lightens with only a linger of bubbles from the torpedoing cobia who now shoot full speed ahead.

    I feel my heart threaten to beat through my sternum – I might even actually hear it, if I could hear anything apart from the beating of the waves.

    The waves… so noisy, so intrusive.  I’d hoped them to be louder today; loud enough to drown out the voice in my head.  My voice in my head.

    So many thoughts, ideas, inspirations and questions.  Like the swell below me they rolled in gently, softly even, before catapulting over themselves and crashing into my brain like white paint dropped from a two storey patio.
    They didn’t mean to be violent – not all of them anyhow.  Some lapped gently at my exposed emotions while others ruffled my mind in playful zeal.
    Every thought that rolled in did so unapologetically, dousing me with the freshness of a spurting water hose on a hot summer’s day, reminding me that she wouldn’t allow my fires to burn on past the point of control.  I let her in…

     ***

    I’d always been known as the little girl who couldn’t sit still.  Running life at warp speed was the norm and there was never such thing as “biting off more than I could chew”.
    I had never understood the silly phrase, rather always just questioned why people couldn’t merely chew faster?  At the very least, just accept that some scraps may momentarily fall from their mouths.  One way or another, they’d eat it eventually.

    And so I was.

    A multitasking, ambition driven, fishing junkie who had the system nailed down.  I worked all night, serving drinks to patrons and slobs… my notepad smudged with business ideas behind the pages of food orders and gratuity tallies.

    I remember a night in the grungy staff bathroom of Langley’s Olive Garden.  I hid behind its locked door and stared into the mirror.
    My shirt wore marinara sauce like the primary suspect of a tomato massacre and my skin was sticky with dishwasher vapor.

    My tie, supplied by Darden Restaurants, was deliberately tacky; as though to imply that if the distinguished formalities of a silk dress code were unworthy of any respect, those who had to wear it must not be either.
    Complaints about food times and table size… I couldn’t wait to get back to the river.

    But the summer days got longer and 4:30pm starts became more tedious.
    I applied for a job at the casino down the street and celebrated my new employer – albeit only after hooraying its 8:30pm start times and presumed longer days of fishing.
    The slobs got sloppier, the notepad got thicker, my bathroom breaks got longer and the silk was now a maroon bustier.

    Eventually, I started a company (Fly Gal) and kept up the pace: Guide all day, fish all day off, waitress all night, draw operational strategies towards business expansion…
    My home stayed clean, my files neatly organized, my fly boxes stocked and my cooking skills sharp.  It was easy, sleep was overrated and my relationships could wait (I thought).
    Who had time to slow down?

    A year in business and the juggling act continued.  I took on another commitment with Fly Max Films, balancing on one foot while I performed my routine: Guide all day, fish all day off, waitress all night, draw operational strategies towards business expansion, film it all for television…
    Until one day a more senior entertainer stepped onto my platform and all five of my juggling knives came tumbling down.
    Six years ago now since the day I ‘dropped the ball’ and fell off the balance beam…

    Tires screeched and hoods collided – my terrified soul screaming promises amidst the wreckage.  I vowed to live each of ‘one more day’ as though it were my last.
    I closed my eyes through the dreaded collapse of the trucks and waited to see if He might give me a second chance.  The dark of the night focused slowly through my squinted eyes and He took my hand… promises never again made and then broken.

    But the bar was now raised and I felt an inordinate amount of responsibility to try even harder.
    My schedule soon looked like a well executed circus act.
    A different city daily, office work done in airplanes, landing time at airports only long enough to change shirts before class began, evening layovers in Vancouver to update mom & dad, and rental car treks so Colby could accompany me through it all – I loved it.

    The money came – it always does.  The relationships built – they always do.  The passion stuck – I had hoped it would.  My loved ones worried – I loved them unconditionally.  The haters misunderstood – I just kept trying my best.
    But it was my addiction to spreading education that kept my legs running.  And so the race continued.

    ***

    Another wave rolls itself off the bluff and my ambling mind jars back to the remnants the wave leaves behind.  Diminishing to a bowl of foam, it recedes into the main wash and temporarily opens windows of glassy boils.  Exposed racing bluefish and the squeamish unease of my livebait shudder with upset under my float.  A large bronze-whaler shark circles the commotion.  For a moment my mind succumbs to the sheer simplicity of nature’s reality.

    The float is red and it captures the attention of the large animal.  I hold my breath, my knuckles white around the rod’s handle.  My feet shuffle until they rest into small grooves of safety and I lower my weight onto them to avoid being torn from the ledge.

    The steep incline and razoring rock almost guarantee failure with a fly rod.  I secretly praise the impossibility of it all, the reminiscence of conventional gear warming me with thoughts from my younger days before vanity or challenge ever mattered.  My thumb rests on the still monofilament and waits to feel the burn.

    The wide head of the shark nudges the frantic baitfish and for one second patience is all that exists before the reel is screaming and the shark is gone.  Flipping the lever and thrusting the rod tip into the air, I connect with a dull thud and a weight that bends the entire pole.  It doesn’t stay dull for long as the hooked bronze-whaler realizes the interference and beelines it into the vastness of the open ocean.

    The water erupts in the distance as the enormity of her slashing body jolts into the air, not willing to slow its emergence until only the tips of her tail are left skimming the water’s surface.  Gold and silver paint the sky in a metallic rage before she lands on the leader and the line goes slack.

    Again rhythm fills my limbs and throat; my heart throwing my body into dance.
    It fades to subsided cognizance.  My mind embraces it and mimics the next foam bowl.  Opening windows of glassy boils expose the reason I sit here today and I mindlessly fall back into thought.

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    ***

    This January I felt the brunt of change.
    I suppose it was to be expected.  Something peculiar beset my stride – scheduling obtrusion into my agenda and slowing my enthusiasm for inconsistency.
    Suddenly a simple commitment to the middle of the country seemed undesirable, my longing to board another airplane lacking drive.  I felt tired.  I finally felt tired.

    But it was a different kind of tired.  Not a burn-out or a mouthful of more than I could chew.  It was the sort of fatigue that spreads when passion isn’t pursued, dreams not chased – left unattended to aimlessly weed and smother the security of one’s inner garden.  There were dreams at the very root of my core that I had been ignoring; one of which had been waiting patiently since my days as a young girl.

    I had denied them the nourishment they rightfully demanded and only watered them occasionally with promises of “next year”.  The seasons changed and “next year” finally came, revealing itself by my extinguishment.  I was ready for more.

    I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t seen it coming.  As a result, I had taken precautions.  The year before I hired an office manager, Catherine, who took on the responsibility of emails, invoicing and shipping.
    She had come into my life bearing resemblance of a saint and gave me the gift of time.
    Like a self-brewing cappuccino machine sans instructions, this gift of time sat on the shelf unused while I stayed unnecessarily busy fiddling with coffee filters and messy grounds.

    I didn’t know how to use this foreign tool but upon pressing all the buttons, together we learned how to make it function and I was free to find energy for my two most persistent dreams.

    The first thing I did was stock up on reading material and Keurig cups.
    The second thing I did was book a ticket to Australia, giving myself plenty of time to brew.

    From my first days of grade school I had wanted to be a writer; one with a talent for simplicity and boldness emulated from the likes of Mark Twain (a household name in my youth).
    From my first years of adulthood I had wanted to be an exceptional fly-caster with the grace and class of Joan Wulff.

    Both of these desires remained constant in my life, neither of them dwindling yet neither of them transpiring.  For such dreams need patience, practise and polish – each of such requiring copious amounts of time.

    Abroad and unsettled, the smell of crisp book pages soothed my ache to immerse myself in literature (outside a plethora of business and self-improvement manuals).
    Time spent with casting students broadened my insight to the mechanics and physics of the perfectly loaded fly rod.

    My newly relaxed agenda accommodated the learning curve I had desired to indulge in, so I took two months to dive into my library: literature from talented authors, casting gospel from the old guard and a freshly lined five weight as my bookmark when I needed a break from the reading.

    Again I was driven… revitalized with a desire to grow, to build, to cease any smothering of my emotional flame.
    I made goals for myself to reach: a Master’s exam for the end of the year, a book deadline devised, a devotion to the history of steelhead and Atlantic salmon – even the committal of a TV series based on an educational journey of each species and the associated class within the fly fishing industry.

    I knew my comprehension on each of these subjects would naturally heighten.  What I didn’t account for was just how much it would draw into question just how little comprehension I really had of myself.

     ***

    Blue Eyes shouts me back into consciousness.
    He assumes I’m reading my book; eyes never straying from the task at hand.
    “Tuna are in strong”, he brings me up to speed and my eyes lock onto a dark patch in the water that is moving towards us in a hurry.

    They flutter into the cove with forked tails bounding aerially – narrowly escaping collision with one another – black snake tongues tasting the air.
    He throws a lure into the stain of fish and a bullet-like body pierces the sea, taking the lure firmly in its mouth upon its descent.

    Blue Eyes laughs in villainous satisfaction and braces most of his 200 pounds atop his heels as the fish nearly spools him.  Much to my annoyance, my voice can’t help but raise itself several octaves amidst the excitement – its shrill and adrenalized tone adding to the kerfuffle.

    I scurry to the gaff, the same high pitch noise now spewing recipes and presumptuous main course ideas to the wise, deaf ears of my partner who is cursing the fish as it runs him rightward and around an unforgiving headland.

    For a moment the line stops moving.  We both hold still and wait for an outcome.
    The rod keeps its bend, the line stuck between two snags out of our sight.  The tip heaves sharply, the line assumedly fraying with each tug.

    My voice drops back to normal and I console the disappointment leaking through his deep breaths.  That famed moment of anticipation and the teeter-totter of the outcome.
    Would this be the start to one of our many stories?  Or the end to one that we were anxiously hoping for?  The line dogs itself through the obstruction, suddenly popping free!
    The fight continues.

    The Powerbraid leashes the tuna and Blue Eyes does his best to steer it towards the base of the cliff.  We scramble down the embankment, both of us shouting safety precautions to the other.

    Rockfishing in Australia is one of the most dangerous sports in the country and regardless of how many fish tacos we had hoped to feast on, it held nowhere near the satisfaction of being able to live to fish another day.

    The surrendered tuna turns its head towards us.  Smears of green, blue and purple iridescence entrance my gaze.  And then as if to say “you’re welcome” he turns his head sharply and spits the hook, escaping into the churning chasm.

    No one needs to say a word.  The sound of the sea beats its chest in boasted triumph – claiming ownership once more of a fish that was not deservedly ours.

    I retreat back to the only semi-flat rock I can spot and allow my thoughts to run freely.

     ***

    The first of the books that I had purchased for my scheduled “break” was the newly released paperback by Joan Wulff.  Truth be told, I had never read a casting book prior to last year and I delighted to find that most of my teachings were on point – the analogies and exercises similar, my raw learning valuable and rewarded.

    But as I read through, the soothing voice of Joan simplified my more advanced questions.  I brought her with me to the park daily, spreading the pages in the dry grass to my left, my running line adjacent to her words.  Second by second, inch by inch, revelation by revelation, my stroke improved.

    I spoke to her through both the tight loops and the tails, the exhaustion and the exuberance, the good sessions and the bad.  Asking questions aloud throughout the entire process, dog walkers displayed confusion that a thirty-one year old woman might still have a make-believe friend.  If only I could be so lucky.

    The second of my books was “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser.  Again, having never read a book on proper composition, confirmation of my writing strengths made me beam.  Contrarily, the unearthing of my writing errors caused me to wince.
    “Ah ha” and “how come I didn’t know that?” mused from the couch.  My brow furrowed, my fingernails between my teeth…

    The days were always full of “to do’s”.  As busy as they were before (pre-Catherine), only now more concentrated without the demand of travel and predetermined schedules.
    My calendar ordered sequentially: emails/office work, read about writing, cast, read about casting, MCI questions, plan this TV series, research Atlantic salmon history for my book, stay in touch with loved ones, contemplate, contemplate, contemplate.

    Tearing down and rebuilding such vital elements of myself was necessary to build the growth I needed to improve, to be better.
    But it bore vulnerable wounds; wounds that needed isolation from viral spread.
    My confidence plummeted, my intentions catching it swiftly before letting it hit the ground.

    The timing couldn’t have been worse.

    Resurfacing spews of my rateability (and the likelihood of it being unwarrantedly high), assumptions by way of misidentification (a common tie to much of the banter online), acquaintances justifying catty comments with a casual “Awww c’mon, the hate’s not new… why do you still let it get to ya girl?”
    They were missing the point and I was overly sensitive, never quite able to wrap my head around cruelty or negative energy better spent on love.

    My scalp hurt a little from the children pulling my hair on the playground.  Assumption that support and fawning was my norm, they mistook venomous slurs for rarity – determined to stand out amidst the masses.

    The irony spun me back to my days as a single woman where eligible bachelors assumed my dating life to be rich with prospect.  Priding in their unique refusal to ‘join the hordes’, I sat alone, un-courted and dateless, wondering what other girls my age were up to those evenings.

    Only days before, I had numbingly poked food around the edges of my plate.
    Blue Eyes looked at me with compassion.  He smiled warmly at my exhaustion, knowing better than to scold me for being too hard on myself or for misunderstanding the world.
    He loved me for it.

    Fully aware of the healthy tensions caused by the book, show and learning curve, he squeezed my hand in his, leaning his head towards mine.
    Eleven years my senior, his advice was always welcome.  I dropped my chin to the side to allow for his closeness. He whispered through a grin, the upturned corners of his mouth sounding unmistakably through his words.  They rustled my hair as they passed into me, my typical cheeky smile now back on my face.
    He knew what I needed:  “Let’s go fishing,” was all he had to say.

     ***

    Uneven edges of volcanic rock push their jagged prongs through my thin khakis.
    The air smells of salt…

    ~AV

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    * For more blog posts similar to this one, please visit April’s new website.

     

    Posted by Catherine LaFlamme on March 28, 2014
    Saturday, January 18, 2014
    New Year Sale on Winter Steelhead Guided Trips!

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    Please welcome Adrienne Comeau and Catherine Laflamme to Fly Gal’s guiding team! We are now offering Winter Steelhead specials at only $399 per two anglers ($299 for one) with an option to stay at our lodge on the Fraser River! This is the perfect opportunity to advance your Spey casting and learn how to target Winter Steelhead, all while having a great time!

    Run time: February to early May

    Location: Chilliwack/Vedder River

    Trips include: 8 hours of guided fishing, lunch, flies and tackle.

    Visit the Guided Trips tab for more information.

    Book at info@flygal.ca

     

    Posted by Catherine LaFlamme on January 18, 2014
    Tuesday, October 29, 2013
    Wondering Where We’ve Gone?

    There comes a time when personal outlooks and business announcements need to have some distance between them…  we’ve done just that with our other site that shows April’s personal posts and travel schedule.

    Feel free to have a sneak peek and please take note that we will be in Arkansas this weekend, Montana the next, and back in Chilliwack the third week of November where we invite you to our place at the Fraser River’s Edge for our annual tying night!

    Please email info@flygal.ca to book.
    Thank you for your business!
    ~FGV

    Posted by April Vokey on October 29, 2013
    Monday, October 14, 2013
    What’s In A Cast?

    For a sport so consistently full of inconsistency, it is a wonder why we as steelheaders put so much emphasis on the perfectly sculpted cast.
    As irregular as the conditions that we come to expect during steelhead season, so are the anglers who come along with it.  
    With variety vast enough to shame a box of assorted chocolates, each angler not only fishes differently from the other, but also casts with their own flavor as well.  

    There are those who are more concerned with their cast than their hookup ratio, those who are just thankful to land their fly in the water, those who are talented at both casting and fishing… heck, there are even those who are happy to simply sneak a moment out of the house!

    I remember the times where insecurity with my own casting ability on a spey rod plagued my days and stirred my wits when brought into question.  
    Perturbed by a collapsed loop or a tailed sink tip, I would mutter profanities, strip in my running line and recast it “properly”.  
    Casting solely in vain, It wasn’t until the day that I came to appreciate my accumulated experience as an angler rather than a caster, that I simply stopped caring about the aesthetics of my yellow floating line and began to let even the poorest of casts fish themselves out.  
    Naturally it was no surprise that my catch rate skyrocketed… for it doesn’t take a specialist to summarize that the more time a fly is left in the water, the more opportunity it has to catch a fish.

    Matt Harris ‘silly face’ photo.
    Today, as the years quickly pass, I am fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time with other anglers where, as a guide, it is my job to observe and recognize commonalities amongst my guests.  
    Bluntly put, I can honestly announce that there is a 50/50 split between the anglers who can cast with competency and those who need a little aid.  From where I stand, as long as the fly is able to make it from the shore to the main current, I am content to sit back and watch the day unfold, regardless of how talented the flies’ delivery is.
    Now before I elaborate further on my personal viewpoint of the infamous casting snobbery, please allow me to open my argument with a minor disclaimer on such.
    I will be the first to admit that it is beneficial to all parties to spend the day’s hours used productively in an attempt to try and understand the mechanics of an efficient cast.
    To say that the cast and its form are trivial details would be incorrect and irresponsible of me, as a knowledgable caster is far more comfortable in the imperfect and highly probable scenarios of pesky winds, heavy hardware, overhanging trees and riverbank obstructions.  
    Further, this column is only in reference to steelhead fishing and the double hander as I will argue that the casting ability of a saltwater angler on a single hand fly rod is absolutely crucial to the success of sight-fishing productivity.
    Now moving forward, it is a phrase that I use daily when an angler turns to me with an embarrassed grin and a desperate plea that I allow them to recast a collapsed delivery; “even bad casts catch good fish!” I remind them while I watch them squirm as their itchy fingers fight from pulling their running line back in.
    Truth be told, I have seen damned near as many fish hooked on poor casts as I have on immaculate ones and it was inevitable that I started to wonder why.

    I have always liked to say that there are three types of anglers; there are the ones who can cast, the ones who can fish, and the ones who can do both.  It is the multi-talented folk out there who I try not to fish behind…
    Often, the creme do la creme of the casting world are eager to wet a long line and, tromping out to the middle of the river, they cast far and away from the nearby seam that the fish are holding in.  Angled downstream, they often swing their fly too far, too quick and too unfocused to demand any attention from migrating steelhead.  These are my favorite people to fish behind as they are beautiful to watch, perfect for learning casting tips, and are incredibly courteous as they leave plenty of steelhead untouched for those of us willing to fish in close for laying players.
    Adrienne Comeau photo.
    Then there are the anglers who don’t even pretend to know how to do a left hand up snakeroll at 150 feet.  More concerned by how their fly looks after it is in the water, these are the anglers who have put their time in understanding water hydraulics, fish behavior and maximum efficiency.  Limited at times by large rivers and other barriers, these anglers try to make up for their lack of distance by applying their “fishy” sense throughout the entirety of their day on the water.
    Naturally, as mentioned previously, there are those who possess all of these great qualities… this comes with time, experience, true dedication and a little natural talent.
    In a world where internet and faceless critiques so openly disregard and maim an imperfect caster, those of you who know me and this column by now should not be surprised that I must come to the defense of the anglers out there who are insecure with their rod handling.
    In my observations, a collapsed cast often lands in a pile where it is given the ability to sink deeper than if it were to be cast on a taut line.  This is quite often beneficial when steelheading and there is nothing as priceless as the surprised look on an angler’s face when their self-demeaning criticisms are rewarded by a hooked fish.
    In the single hand world, we often use a cast called a “pile cast” where the line is deliberately crumbled to allow for a dead drift… in the Spey world, we call it an error but if the steelhead are responsive to it, I much prefer to call it success.
    Additionally, there are often conditions that push fish close to the shore.  Colored water and poor visibility will drive both migrating and holding fish in closer to the riverbank.  I have witnessed countless occasions where an angler casting no further than fifteen feet has been the top rod of the day.  
    Granted there is always a way to take things too far, and while I am by no means necessary suggesting that new anglers dump copious amounts of line into holding pools while hoping for a flossed fish, I am very much encouraging all anglers to have enough confidence to allow a messy cast to find its rhythm with the current, working its wonders through the underwater obstacle course of rocks.
    While the river surges, so do the hydraulics of the flow and it is never a guarantee how each landed fly will be manipulated by the current.  What is certain though, is that it will eventually straighten and it may just be the perfect pairing for a hungry fish.
    My opinions on the aforementioned is exactly that, my opinion.  
    And while there will always be those who argue that a perfectly composed cast is of the utmost importance to catch that fish of a lifetime, I will undeniably stand by my debate that a fly spent mostly in the air does no more than catch the attention of a passerby and quite possibly, an ear or two.

    Fish can’t tell what goes on above the water’s surface but they sure are keen on what goes on below it and the last I checked, a fly in the water caught more fish than one that wasn’t.
    Please fish out your casts and when you look around before recasting a “failed” loop, I will hope that you will hear my voice in your ear, reminding you that you are doing great and that “even bad casts catch truly awesome fish.”
    Posted by April Vokey on October 14, 2013
    Wednesday, August 21, 2013
    One Stepper Stackers are on the Way!

    Introducing the new most versatile tubes I could conjure up; the One Step Stacker. 
    Stack on one, two or five of them if you’d like and easily switch up weight, size and color by just adding or removing the steppers from your leader. 
    Anyone who has taken my tying class is familiar with my ‘one and two steppers’. 
    Montana Fly Company just bought this pattern and it should be in stores soon. In the meantime, please order through info@flygal.ca
    Thanks for having a look!



    Posted by April Vokey on August 21, 2013
    Monday, August 12, 2013
    Last Minute Openings on the Skeena!

    We still have a few openings left for the Skeena this Fall! October 20th-26th and Oct. 27th – Nov. 2nd.

    For more information visit: http://www.flygal.ca/skeena_fall_winter_steelhead

    Email info@flygal.ca for more details or to book!


    Thank you for your business!

    Posted by April Vokey on August 12, 2013
    Friday, July 19, 2013
    Priced To Sell!

    All of our t-shirts on the cart are priced to move!  Only $9.99 per shirt!  Don’t miss out!  Stock won’t last long…

    Posted by April Vokey on July 19, 2013
    Sunday, July 7, 2013
    A Little Clarity…

    He stared at me vacantly, his back hunched over, arms in an awkward fold, bottom hand lingering uncertain on the butt of his Spey rod.
    “The what?!”  He asked, squinting his eyes as though I had just demanded him to perform some sort of risqué musical striptease.
    I laughed and repeated myself, “The dangle!  Let your fly hit a true dangle…”
    I stumbled over the rocks to reach close proximity to his ears and proceeded to explain what I was asking of him.  Throwing his head back in a relieved smile he proceeded to apply my instruction to his cast and increased his productivity tenfold.
    It is a regular occurrence for a full-time guide; a guest who isn’t up to date on the latest fishing lingo bears minor confusion as a nine hour day laced with steelhead terminology unfolds, reminding them that there’s always more to learn.
    It can be intimidating to some, confusing to others, and just downright annoying to many people who are trying to get into the steelhead game.  So with this awareness, I have drawn up some simple definitions for basic terms that you may run into during your next venture to the river.
    Anchor:  The portion of fly line, sink tip, or leader that is touching the water during the sweep and backstroke in Spey casting.  The anchor provides “stick” caused by water tension so that the line will not jump out of the water during the D-Loop.  If the anchor is “blown” the line and fly will leave the water causing a failed cast.
    Bloody L:  A common Spey casting error in which the D-Loop fails to align the anchor parallel to the forward cast; the name derives from the typical layout of the line in an “L” shape on the water when this occurs.  The result is a forward cast that lacks energy to roll over properly.  This is typically caused by setting the anchor in an improper position prior to the sweep, or an incomplete or shortened sweep which fails to carry enough energy into the D-Loop.  
    Boot/Tomato:  A steelhead that has been in freshwater for a significant length of time and has taken on a darker, rainbow trout coloration.  The term is usually used in a derogatory manner.
    Bucket:  A particular location in which steelhead often lie.  Can vary with river conditions and is usually quite specific.  Oftentimes, a run will have one or two “buckets” that consistently produce steelhead due to structure or bottom configuration.
    Cack Handed:  A cast in which the D-Loop is formed on the side opposite one’s primary shoulder while maintaining a hand configuration that puts their strong hand up on the grip still.  For example, if a right-handed angler performed a cast in which the D-Loop formed on the left shoulder while still gripping the rod with the right hand above the left hand he/she would be casting cack handed.  Also referred to as “reverse” as in Reverse Snap-T.
    Carrying a Loop:  An excess length of line that is loosely held between the cork and the reel while swinging a fly.  The length is largely a function of personal preference and varies from several inches to a foot or more.  The concept being that the loosely held length of line will be pulled taut when a steelhead takes, thus preventing an excited angler from yanking the fly away from an interested fish in an attempt to set the hook.
    Clipped:  A term used to indicate that the adipose fin of a fish has been removed meaning that the fish is of hatchery origin. 
    Chrome(r): A fresh steelhead that lacks the traditional rainbow trout coloration. As a steelhead spends more time in freshwater it takes on a darker hue.  Steelhead anglers generally prefer catching bright steelhead as they are at the peak of physical condition having just entered freshwater from the ocean.
    D-Loop:  The D-Loop is the “backcast” in Spey casting.  It is the semi-circular length of line that unfurls behind the angler prior to commencing the forward stroke.  The name comes from the shape the line takes when viewed in profile.
    Dangle (or Hang Down):  When an angler allows their fly to complete its swing but leaves it to hang parallel to the shore in either the current or the slower water for a few seconds.  Fish often bite flies on the dangle or follow them from the main current and finally take the fly after the swing is completed.  When the water is murky, it is quite common for fish to push in closer to shore to escape the heavier, sediment carrying main flow, making the dangle even more important in this scenario.
    Grab/Pull/Pluck:  An event in which a steelhead has intercepted a swung fly but typically has not been hooked.  The phrase “any grabs?” is often used in river-side chats in substitution of the more direct “catch anything?”
    Hen/Buck: Terms used to describe the gender of a steelhead.  The most common method of discerning is by looking at the head of the fish.  Bucks (males) have longer snouts and mandibles, whereas hens (females) have shorter snouts and mandibles.
    Kelt:  A steelhead that has spawned and is migrating back downstream to the ocean.  Kelts are typically encountered in the late-spring and early summer period.  It is recommended that fishing for kelts is avoided.
    Low-Hole:  When an angler steps into a run and begins fishing below you without permission.  Since steelhead anglers typically work their way downstream, proper etiquette dictates that anglers start in above anyone already fishing a run.  Low-Holing is frowned upon virtually everywhere steelhead swim.
    Overhang:  The length of running line that is extending out the tip of the rod while casting.  This is largely a personal preference and typically varies from almost nothing to a foot or more.
    Pocket Picked:  A scenario in which another angler hooks a steelhead in water you have just recently fished.  Most commonly used in the context of swinging flies in a run with multiple anglers.
    Running Line:  A thinner, consistent diameter line attached behind the belly or head of a line.  There are several types of running line available including monofilament, braided, and plastic coated fly line type.
    Scandi:  Short for Scandinavian.  A shooting head typically in the 30 to 40 foot length range with a long front taper.  While not particularly effective at casting large flies or sink tips, Scandi lines have gained popularity as an easy casting summer/fall steelhead spey line.
    Skagit:  A short and heavy shooting head used in spey casting that is usually 20 to 30 feet long.  Developed in the Pacific Northwest for casting large, heavy steelhead flies with sinktips.  Often used for winter steelhead fishing.
    Steelhead Green:  A term used to describe a river with a greenish water color that typically indicates ideal water conditions for encountering steelhead.
    Stinger Hook: A hook added to the back of a fly.  Stinger hooks are commonly seen on streamer patterns and on modern steelhead flies.  They provide several advantages over more traditional “J-Hooks”, particularly on large flies.  The positioning of the hook at the rear of the fly typically results in an increased percentage of hook-ups, allows the use of smaller hooks that are less damaging to fish, provides the ability to swap hooks when one becomes dull and lessens the leverage a fish is able to apply when sideways force is applied to the hook.
    Swinging:  Method of presenting a fly in which the fly is swept across the current in an arc while maintaining a taut line.  This method typically has the ability to cover more water than that of a dead-drifted presentation.
    Tail:  To grab a steelhead at the “wrist” just ahead of the tail in order to land it.  Tailing a fish does not involve the use of a net.
    Tank:  Usually a deeper, slower section of river.  Often holds fish but is difficult to effectively present a swung fly in.
    “Touch a fish”:  To get a grab (or pull) from a steelhead.  This does not mean to physically land or touch a fish.
    White Mouse:  The steady spray caused by the line being “torn” out of the water and swept into the D-Loop in a waterborne anchor cast such as a Double Spey.
    Posted by April Vokey on July 7, 2013
    Tuesday, May 14, 2013
    Now in Stores! The Sugar Pop and Gluttonous Leech!

    It’s official!  My Sugar Pop and the Gluttonous Leech fly patterns are now for sale in shops!
    They’ll also be available on tubes in the coming future along with some new smaller scaled patterns!  Shops that currently carry them are listed below!
    Please feel free to pick a few up to try for your local steelhead… I have a feeling they might work.  ;)  If you are fishing with me in BC this year… no excuses!

    California Fly Shop
    Fly Fishing Specialties
    The Fly Shop
    Kiene’s Grizzly Hackle, LLC
    Low Country Fly Shop
    Middlebury Mountaineer
    Northwest Flyfishing Outfitter
    Pineville Sporting Supply
    Red Shed Fly Shop
    Sea Run Fly and Tackle
    World  Wide Angler Outfitters

    Thanks everyone!
    ~April.

    Posted by April Vokey on May 14, 2013
    Sunday, May 12, 2013
    Ontario! We Are Coming Back to you but Only for One Day!
    Don’t miss out on either our casting or tying classes this June!

    Our Co-Ed Learn to Fly-Cast Workshops are designed to introduce and teach the pure fundamentals of fly-casting.

    From the first-timer, to the seasoned angler looking to rid themselves of bad habits, all skill levels are welcome.
    Most of our courses are dry-land (free from distraction) classes that take no more than 4 hours to complete, while many of our workshops are designed as weekend getaways that last several days.

    Co-Ed Learn to Fly Cast Workshop (& Break Habits)

    Mount Albert, Ontario

    Location- The Franklin Club, Ontario
    Workshop Dates- June 1st, 2013 (Sat), 2:00pm-6:00pm
    Instructor- April Vokey (CCI)

    Availability- 8 students

    Rates

    $99.99 CDN (plus HST) per person
    Looking to improve your tying skills or learn popular steelhead flies!? Directly before this class, we have a tying class perfect for you!  From 9:00am to 1:00pm we will be having one of our famed tying classes that will help you with popular steelhead patterns and tube fly basics!  Only $99.99 and we supply all of the materials.  Email info@flygal.ca to book or receive more info!

    *Includes 4 hours of instruction and gear upon request. 
    **Classes are not determined by weather and will not be canceled as a result of less than desirable conditions.

    Course Information

    Our fly-casting workshops are a dry-land clinic, including both a theory and a hands-on session.
    This course teaches the mechanics of why and how fly-casting operates, allowing students to develop their own style and work towards the common goal of successfully casting an efficient loop.
    Students are encouraged to bring their own equipment so as to become familiar with their set-up, however we will provide equipment upon request.
    For instructional purposes we will be using a 9 foot, 5 weight rod with a 5 weight floating line.
    To reserve your space click here or call 1.888.359.4259

    Posted by April Vokey on May 12, 2013
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