We just got in a seriously nice batch of rhea and they make great stocking stuffers!
All of our lengths are guaranteed (each feather is measured to ensure quality standards) and these are sure to be some of the lowest prices around. Grade A quality feathers make beautiful large profile flies while the B’s are perfect for smaller patterns and “min-truders”.
Videos on how to use rhea are on the way soon!
http://flygal.ca/shop/flies to purchase.
It’s a new age, a new generation and a new very distinct dividing line that is being drawn between the ways of the past and the ways of the present.
This dividing line cuts deep, driving the mavericks and the leaders of this generation to proceed in paving new paths; more specifically to the fishing industry, paths that are being paved quite literally to the river.
Needless to say, this path is not welcomed openly by all.
This is always an interesting topic of discussion for me.
You see, the truth is that I have listened to many an angler share their story and I have been blessed with the good fortune to meet some incredibly knowledgeable people who have spent the majority of their days of existence on the water.
From the industry’s old guard of anglers who built the sport’s foundation, to the industry’s “new school” of anglers who continue to add renovated extensions to this existing structure, I am always fascinated by the tales and opinions that I am told.
As should be expected, varying personalities result in varying opinions and while there are some who view this dividing line as growth, there are others who view it as counter-productive (an “if it ain’t broke then why fix it?” viewpoint).
Personally, not one to call myself traditional, I admittedly embrace any form of “new” mentality ‘outside the box’, whilst moving forward and onward towards diversity and whatever other innovations I may be privy to exploring within myself as an angler.
This can of worms that I am about to open has many related areas of controversy that a 2,000 word column can’t support, so while we could fill half of this post with the changes and debates of “old vs. new” from a media standpoint, I am choosing only to focus on one of the branches of this topic: what is the difference between the flies developed and improved by each of these generations?
Fly-fishing for steelhead in BC began to gain popularity and momentum in the early 1900’s when legendary writers and anglers like Roderick Haig-Brown began exploring steelhead opportunities on the coasts of Canada and the USA. A true pioneer of the sport, it is said that Haig-Brown fished like he wrote: with elegance, admiration and respect for the fish that he longed for.
The Haig-Brown days started an angling revolution of deer and mallard clad flies, silk fly lines and traditional presentations for non-pressured fish. A myriad of anglers found themselves touched by the poetry of the sport and a romance soon blossomed amidst man and the blushed cheeked beauties we call steelhead.
Simplicity graced the equipment, the rivers and the anglers themselves. Conservation mayhem had not yet encompassed entire fisheries and angling pressure simply didn’t exist.
Similar to the traditional methods of Atlantic salmon anglers, flies were sparse and delicate, sink tips were virtually unheard of, and long bellied lines were the only method of fly delivery.
I have always had a soft spot for the classic tiers and steelheaders from before my time.
To have seen the things that they must have seen, walked the shores that they had walked, unraveled the mystery of the elusive steelhead with the truest of virgin eyes. As a girl, I would fantasize and toy with the idea that my very steps were falling within the outline of Mr. Haig-Brown and such legends. A walk to a river that may well have once been the first of a fly-fisher set out on a mission to find a traveled steelhead.
A river never touched by a line, crossed by a wader-clad human being or disrupted by a stripped streamer; I was enamoured by the possibility that I may well have been experiencing the exact moments of anticipation that those before me had felt. Fishing seemed simple then.
It was inevitable that the techniques of the early 1900’s would transition and begin to take the form of alternate methods.
In the early 1990’s, a small group of anglers on the West Coast of the USA, including the likes of Ed Ward, Mike Kinney, Mike McCune, and Scott O’Donnell, developed a fly line known as the “Skagit” line. More similar to that of a 26 foot long, condensed grain shooting head ideal for double-handed fly rods, these lines enabled anglers to turn over larger profiled/weighted flies, as well as heavy sink tips in various lengths.
These adaptations were a relief, as more anglers were able to effectively fish entirely new depths in the water column, thus enabling them to present more obnoxious flies to less active winter steelhead that often needed extra “assistance” with their aggression.
With the ability to cast heavier flies, came an explosion of articulated bunny leeches and elongated streamer patterns. Bright colors and creative materials made their way to the river as steelheaders from around the world sought tying therapy by delving into their creative energies at tying desks in an attempt to craft an ultra-effective steelhead fly.
With shorter lines, easier casts, interchangeable sink tips and “no need to follow the recipe” flies, steelhead fishing has become appealing to even the most inexperienced of fly anglers.
Fishing is “simple” now.
There are some traditional anglers who scoff at the flies and technique born of this revolution.
Justifiably, such naysayers are soon met by an explanation that an influx of angling pressure combined with the misfortune of fewer fish, has forced anglers to think a little differently.
The reality of it all is that both traditions, old and new, have proven to be astonishingly effective.
One of the major hang-ups that I have encountered as a fly-tier is the perceived drastic difference in patterns stemming from the old and new ways. It had always been my impression that the older style of flies seemed to be tied with more neutral colors and a smaller profile. In stark contrast, I have found that many of the more modern steelhead flies tend to be brighter and larger in both length and profile.
While I understand that the majority of these more recent flies are designed to be swung through the current, many of the flies of “yesterday” were also designed for such a presentation as well.
It was inevitable that I would finally reach out to the men that I have followed and learned from, to ask them myself: “What is your favorite winter steelhead fly pattern?”
I reached out to eight different tiers, each of them renowned as fly-fishermen and dedicated long-time steelheaders. I put serious thought into each before I contacted them, and set out to find one expert from each of the listed categories.
Canada West Coast, Canada East Coast, USA West Coast, USA East Coast.
Canada West Coast, Canada East Coast, USA West Coast, USA East Coast.
I didn’t really know what to expect.
Would these flies be ultra-traditional, complete with gut eyes and tented wings, or would they have adopted some of the more recent characteristics of stinger hooks and other tricks?
I didn’t have to wonder long as their photos and flies poured in and I was able to come to a conclusion myself…
The end result being that I was astounded by the similarities between patterns. From the West to the East, and from then to now, despite distinct differences, there were equally as many similarities.
Each fly had related characteristics. While the more seasoned tiers tended to down-size their flies, most of them let me know that they also tied and fished their trusted patterns with an articulated and extended trailing hook. This method not only allows the angler to replace dull or bent out hooks with new ones, but it also allows for an extra amount of security while fighting fish.
The use of a trailing hook was not the only major characteristic these flies shared. Their profiles and colors shared definite likenesses as well.
Each fly was designed for classic swinging water and each fly was tied to maintain a profile as it danced and flickered through the current.
The differences that I noted were surprisingly few, but all of the differences that I observed came in the form of either size, weight, or use of flash.The newer flies seemed to hold more size, often included weighted eyes, and had an abundance of flash or tinsel. Bigger, bolder, brighter… like a steroid infused traditional pattern, the newer flies simply demanded the attention of any finned passer-by’s.
There are reasons and stories behind every innovation.
The men before us once sparked creation from their inspirations: a ribboning leech through an early morning pond, a Coho Blue pattern found on a coastal stream bank, an idea sparked from a late-night tying session with the guys…
Just as they have built from theirs, our new generation seeks inspiration and creates as well: an injured bait fish gasping in the shallows, a photo of a Combs’ classic or perhaps a pattern in the bin of a fly shop…
Both “old” and “new” walk the same line of creation and artistry.
So while it is true, the times are changing, it is the perceived dividing line that finds itself reshaped and morphed into a full circle. One where the “new” comes back to the old, and the old revisits the “new”.
They both meet in the middle and they both evolve as one; dependent on one another to move ahead.
Canada West Coast- Art Lingren
Canada East Coast- Larry Mellors
USA West Coast- Trey Combs
USA East Coast- Ray Schmidt
Canada West Coast- Sky Richard
Canada East Coast- Paul Castellano
USA West Coast- Scott Howell
USA East Coast- Kevin Feenstra
Nice to not have to answer questions about makeup. 😉
I have just price slashed like never before in order to make room for new stock! Save close to 50% off most items and remember that everything must go! Christmas orders must be placed no later than December 10th to ensure timely delivery… place your order now and get that shopping over with!
There are gifts for both men & women to be found.
Orders over $99 get free shipping (difficulties with the coupon code) but I will refund your shipping costs upon purchase.)
Merry (soon to be) Christmas!
Curious what all of the fuss is about? Well, we’re here to help answer your questions about the tube fly and its advantages…
Fly gal is proud to now add tube fly classes to our list of schools and will likely be in your area soon.
Need an individual lesson? We can do that too… http://www.flygal.ca/workshops
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
“With a smile,” I truthfully reply.
I love being busy, I love new adventure, I love running to a tight flight and I love never knowing what to expect when my feet touch down in a new country.
My heart belongs amidst the vastness of BC and within 3 weeks of being away from her, admittedly the glow in my eyes begins to dull and the edges of my smile are just slightly less curved.
Like a drug to a user, BC is my fix but between sessions I am a girl who needs to run.
Over the years I have noticed a curiosity amongst those who read my work and I figured that an update and brief outline of a “Day in the Life of…” might be appropriate. Without further adieu, here is a glimpse of my life and where I have been this October.
Upon leaving the Dean, it would have been wrong for me to not pay the Skeena region a visit. With a continued desire to wake the foam poppers (see post below), I opted to catch fewer fish but more excitement and I held true to my word by leaving my sink tips at home. Colby and I hit the freeway.
Damn, I love the maritime life!
Waking foam bugs makes for a great day! Tried and tested on various rivers throughout the coast… Stevie’s foam flies have these fish launching out of the water to annihilate in a top water frenzy. I only wish I could capture each take on film to share… thankfully for me they are permanently etched into my mind forever. 🙂
Thank you to everyone for a great season!
It’s another one of those nights; quiet, cold, late and lifeless.
Angry rain releases its fury onto the tin roof of my small guide cabin and wind-strewn branches scrape the thin glass window that looks out towards the vast, dense forest bordering the Dean River.
I smile at him; yes, it would appear that these nights have the same effect on us all.
The welcome flicker of a dancing flame livens up even the most ordinary of glass jars and the yellow glow lights the paper rested on my lap, allowing my eager pen access to the crisp white canvas.
As pen meets paper, a literary intimacy begins and both merge as one until the birth of a message unfolds.
In the past, I have been confined by the simplicity and politics of strict editors and conservative publications.
Respectfully, I try to leave the technique jargoned “how-to’s” for the mechanically inclined professionals; those who thrive off the vagaries of weather data, hydrometric charts and the latest and greatest in gear technology.
I, while relatively versed in the aforementioned, prefer to flourish in the quiet satisfaction of readership contemplation and the occasional bout of reflection.
The eeriness of the night has always been a cruel friend of mine.
It does to me what it does to Colby, and my entire brain ticks and seizures with overwhelming ideas, thoughts and dreams.
Armed with only a bedside notepad and pen, I frantically jot down my impulsive flashes and try to guide the ink accordingly across the page in the blindness of the black room.
I had been lying in bed below the same tin roof, sore and satisfyingly fatigued from a long excursion upriver with fellow guide, Steve Morrow.
It was the end of our season and the two of us had trekked into a long flow of water in the upper stretches of the fabled Dean River in pursuit of adventure.
That night, as I lay listening to the soothing pattering of rain above, I replayed the day’s events and closed my eyes to envision the green and gold flecks of metallic that shone brightly around the fire in one of the wild hen’s eyes.
To do her justice, there was simply no need for a camera. I saw her clear and vivid on the inner dark screen of my rested lids; she had made an impression on my mind and her beauty had set itself in the depths of my memory where I could be sure to visit her every time I so inclined.
Myself, admittedly no stranger to the participation of a classic “grip & grin” photo, I had the pose down to a science.
Together both my hands would lift on cue, allowing the light to accentuate her bright silver scales, the water droplets rolling and teetering on her soft edges before plunging back down into the river around my knees.
The fish, safe in my grasp, awaited the greedy click of the shutter and I turned my face to the camera with a trophy smile, entranced by my jewel.
It’s an ironic trade off really; an unconscious sacrificial exchange between the moment of silent mental imagery and the moment of distracted, hectic poses.
While I most certainly will not speak for others, for me personally, I eventually found myself dreading the water sloshing footsteps of an encroaching photographer.
This said, it might be wise for me to clarify myself further. Occasionally I wholeheartedly delight in having a remarkable steelhead documented for my photo collection.
There are some fish that I quite deliberately photograph for future reflection and gratification;
The result is ideal- mental imagery paired with captured digital images, both which are romantic, relaxed, true and natural.
The grip and grin argument is not a new topic in the world of angling.
In states such as Washington it is even illegal to fully lift a wild steelhead out of the water before releasing it.
From mishandling, gill hangers, sub-zero weather impacts and the implications of damage to vital organs due to inexperienced, unpracticed handling, the state of Washington justified their legislation in the eyes of many avid steelhead anglers and activists.
Whilst I am positive that there were a select few who took offense to such limitations, the argument that a fish is ultimately safer in the confines of the water weighed heavier on the conservation scale, and the law was implemented.
Regardless, it was one year ago under that tin roof in the middle of the forest that I questioned my integrity and my reasons for striving for that perfectly posed photo.
I asked myself with all honesty, was it really for my memory?
Surely there were better ways to remember a fish than extended arms and a static smile?
I’d been blessed enough to have caught plenty of steelhead over the past decade, possessed enough photos in my grip and grin arsenal and certainly had more than enough desktop backgrounds to keep me enthusiastic during the slow seasons.
Earlier this June I took the plunge and finally made the announcement about my promise to alter my ways.
I had more than one reason to prompt me towards such an outburst and I deemed it an appropriate subject to share.
A large majority of responders were supportive, a few were confused, and while I pointed no fingers at anyone other than myself, some were downright offended.
There were more than a few people who assumed that giving up steelhead “hero shots” meant that I had consequently given up steelhead fishing as a whole.
Is that truly what the ultimate goal has become to some anglers? A photograph?
If I can’t showcase a photo, is it implied that I will no longer be fishing? Are the two truly that amalgamated?
All in all, the conclusion that will ultimately sum up this contentious viewpoint is that of a simple “to each his own” shoulder shrug and a short reflection of one’s personal beliefs.
I will be true to my beliefs, a fan of my integrity and a foe of my insincerities, a woman who relishes in the moment, and an angler who sees more than just a fish.
Come the day that my experience on the water holds less clout than how impressive my Facebook profile is, I will put away my rods, stow away my reels, whiten my smile and seek the ‘best in show’ award from a hobby more fixated on the brilliance of my teeth.
Joking aside, I designated countless days to bushwhacking and map marking, paying special attention to gradients and tributaries.
To come to my own defense, inevitably it is the discovery of such streams that help to mould us into the anglers that many of us are today.