“Fishing with Family” – by Mia Sheppard

Tegan 6yrs

I have vivid memories of my parents taking us camping and fishing when I was a little girl. We would load up the VW bus with sleeping bags, camp stove, food, fishing poles, and other camping supplies. My sisters and I would giggle with excitement as the bus pulled out of the driveway. We usually headed to the Smoky Mountains, and would always camp by a river. During the days we played endlessly, fine tuning our rock skipping skills, swimming, and (of course) fishing. Each night, Mom would fry the “catch de jour” with lemon and brown sugar, followed by a long evening roasting marshmallows by the fire. The good memories still linger.

When I hear parents say “We don’t camp anymore because of the kids”, I understand. The logistics of feeding, changing diapers, and keeping tabs on your little ones can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have too be. With a bit of planning and the right gear, you and the kids can go camping and fishing, and make your own memories that last a lifetime.

When Marty and I took the plunge into parenthood, we vowed to keep fishing the way we did before we had Tegan. Simple, right? Everything would be the same except one more mouth to feed…1937395_1206575046888_2213726_n

I remember the first multi-day float we took Tegan on. The night before we packed the usual gear… food, rods, waders, camping gear…we’ll call that “Marty & Mia Stuff”. Then there was “Tegan’s stuff”. With a toddler in tow, there was a LOT more gear. Toys, snacks, diapers, blankie, play pen, etc, ect, ect. We were constantly second guessing ourselves. Did we remember everything? What if we run out of diapers?

Tegan 2Tegan was 6 months old on that first trip. The more we did it, the packing became easier. At 10 months old, we did a multi-day float on the Deschutes River. As we made our way down the river, I remember noticing how memorized she was by the motion of the water and the sound of the waves splashing against the hull. We set up camp, and Marty and I would take turns fishing a run and watching Tegan. We both got plenty of fishing time in and playing with Tegan. Picking up rocks, finding bugs, and playing in the sand brought back so many memories of my parents doing the same with me as a kid.

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By the time Tegan was 4, these trips became way easier. She no longer needed be carried or kept in a car seat. She would entertain herself for hours in the sand, color in her favorite book, play with “tickle bugs” (AKA Salmon Flies), collect October Caddis, or build “Fairy” forts out of sticks.

Below are a few recommended items to pack before your next adventure with your kids on the river:

Drift boats are awesome. The hard walls and high sides provide protection from the weather and water and just feel safer for a toddler.

Recommended items for kids ages 1-3:   Car seat that can be placed on the floor, life jacket and an Ergo carrier. With an Ergo carrier we could fish a run and Tegan would be snuggled close in front till she was 8 months and after that I would sling her on my back. Also, always pack a few extra diapers in case you decide to stay a few extra days.

Recommended items for kids 3-7: toys, coloring or watercolors, pad of paper, life jacket and snacks. Watercolors have been a blast to have on the river. Simple to pack, and painting what we see on the water can provide hours of fun.

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Tegan was six this summer, and all she wanted so do was row the boat, and get her hands on a fly rod. Without hesitation, I’d hand over the reigns, and watch with a smile. There’s and endless amount of stimulation for kids on the river.

Parents: take your kids fishing. Get ’em started early, and they’ll love it forever!

(Above: Tegan Sheppard displaying some mad skills @ the 2010 Sandy River Spey Clave.)

Mia Sheppard is the “real deal”. Airflo Pro Ambassodor, two-time distance casting champion, fly-fishing instructor, advocate for new anglers in the sport, and working to conserve the rivers I love while sharing these outdoor adventures with our daughter Tegan. Mia and her husband Marty operate Little Creek Outfitters, a guide service providing trips on the John Day, Deschutes, and Sandy River for Steelhead and Smallmouth Bass.

Check out Mia’s blog HERE.

Bringing it Home: the Evolution of the Fly Line

Dry by David Decker

Clarence Decker was born in 1900 and suffered most of his angling life without the use of a floating fly line, or for that matter, dry flies. Plying the Little Manistee River with a brace of wet flies was his fate.

Attempts at making a silk, level line float with a slathering of Mucilin had limited success; the whole mess was often not up to par and was rarely worth the fiddling.  On top of that was the issue of silk/tapered/hand tied/soaked-overnight leaders that did not float, regardless of the dressing. Add poor feather quality and patterns adapted from wet flies and what was left was fishing with an intermediate fly line.

Decker Vintage

Since then we have been blessed with fly lines of every conceivable configuration and specific purpose. For dry fly fishing, Airflo Super-DRI fly lines not only have a very fishable casting balance but really float, well, better. Adding to a clean, floating line a leader made of nylon monofilament, with only a fluorocarbon tippet treated with silicone-based line dressing, makes a grand difference in getting a good drift.

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A high-floating fly line and leader is far easier to cast and picks up quietly as it leaves the water with less surface disturbance. Sometimes when trout are picky or in a tricky lane requiring multiple presentations to get the job done, having all the parts working together properly is essential to getting any fish at all.

David Decker owns and operates The Complete Fly Fisher on the banks of Montana’s Big Hole River with his wife Christine. He has designed numerous flies for both fresh and saltwater, and is a huge proponent of keeping fly fishing fun. If you’re considering a trip to the Big Hole, be sure to check out http://www.completeflyfisher.com/.

Skagit vs. Scandi: The Age-Old Question

The following was written by Airflo pro-staffer Peter Charles for the benefit of the not-yet-crusty:

Scandinavian or Skagit? What’s right for you?

Once you decide to take the plunge into the world of shooting heads, things can start to get a bit murky.  Should you go with Skagit or Scandinavian-style heads? Too often you find that someone else is making that decision for you, and what works for them may not work for you. So here’s a short checklist that you can use to decide which head system is right for you.

Left: Scandi head. Right: Skagit head. Notice the larger diameter on the Skagit.

Left: Scandi head. Right: Skagit head. Notice the larger diameter on the Skagit.

For a lot of fly fishers out there, how you fish is as important as catching fish. If you’re in that category, then it’s important to match the head system to how you like to fish. How important is finesse to you? As an example, someone arriving from dry fly trout fishing is more likely to have an affinity for Scandi heads thanks to their greater finesse and elegance.  If nymph fishing is your favourite fishing method, then chucking weight and fishing deep is part of your DNA. In that case, Skagit heads will be a more natural fit. You know how you like to fish better than anyone else; if the method is a big part of your enjoyment, consider from which side of the “finesse” fence you like to fish. Making that determination will help you know which system to select.

If the method isn’t the biggest part of your fun, then let’s move on to the next items on the checklist: rods and flies. If the idea of casting large flies with light rods really appeals to you, then Skagit is the default choice. Skagit does a really good job of using light rods to move large, weighted, high-drag flies like big bunny leeches. If this is how you would like to fish, you have your answer. Scandi heads will cast these big, high drag flies, but it takes bigger rods and heavier lines to do so.

A big hen taken on a Skagit head.

If your fly selection features slicker, somewhat smaller flies that are easier to extract and cast, then Scandi enters the picture. Even lighter Scandi heads can handle pretty big flies provided they are slick enough to be extracted easily when cast on the end of a long leader. Most classic spey flies and traditional steelhead wet flies can be cast with either a Scandi or a Skagit head.

If the rod and fly size hasn’t helped with your decision, then let’s take a look at the water and the fish.  You can usually fish deeper with a Skagit head and heavy sinktip compared to a polyleader-equipped Scandi head. If our rivers run clear and feature aggressive fish, you can often get them to rise to a shallow presentation.  You don’t need to run your fly deep and those shallow takes can be awesome. A Scandi head and a few Polyleaders are all you need.

PC Steelhead Net

However, if the river runs deep and murky, plus you need to get the fly in front of the fish to elicit a take, then the deeper-running Skagit system will be needed for the job.  Let the water conditions and the fish tell you what type of shooting head system you should be fishing.

If that still isn’t enough to make up your mind, then take a closer look at your rivers. If they have higher-gradient flows with pockets, buckets, fast seams and slots, then the ability of the Skagit system to get a fly down fast becomes critical. However if your river is lower-gradient with wide, even flowing runs, smooth flats and plenty of time to get the fly down, then a Polyleader-equipped Scandi head will do that job quite well.

The bottom line: it’s about having fun, so choose the system that will fish effectively and get into fish on your terms.

Peter is a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor and Airflo pro-staff member. He resides in Hagervilee, Ontario. Check out his website at http://www.hooked4life.ca.

Additions to the Airflo Design Team: Kelly Galloup and Bruce Chard

We’re very pleased to announce two new additions to the Airflo Design Team. With fresh ideas, unique insight, and unparalleled experience, Bruce and Kelly have made an immeasurable impact on the 2015 product lineup.

Kelly Galloup

Kelly’s unique (and productive) method of targeting aggressive, carnivorous trout changed the way many of us fish for these bronze monsters. Over the course of his career Kelly has modified/refined tactics and gear to improve his chances of bringing these burly toads to hand. One thing’s for sure: nothing beats experience. To be successful, you’ve got to have the right gear. Whelp, you’re in luck…

 Coming this August: The Kelly Galloup Tactical Series.

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“The decision for me to move to Airflo was a simple one.  My fishing is not casual, it is an intense hunt for the biggest bad ass predator that swims and I want the very best product and technology in everything I use. Simply put that is what Airflo delivers.  The performance and durability I get is unmatched by any other line.  I demand that in the products I fish, and more importantly on the products I put my name on. When you use one of these lines you will know it will perform the way I want it to and it has been tested by a people who fish, not by a guy in a lab coat.”

Captain Bruce Chard

There’s nobody quite like Bruce. If you’ve had the pleasure of spending time with this dude, I bet you’d agree. He’s passionate about what he does, and truly loves this sport.

Bruce 1

We’re extremely fortunate to have Bruce’s experience to draw from. 23 years of full-time bonefish, permit, and tarpon guiding will teach you a lil’ something about saltwater fly fishing, and certainly a thing (or two) about the gear you need to make the day productive. Clear water, searing sun, and walloping wind makes enticing these tropical titans “challenging” to say the least. When it comes to flats fishing, tossing the right line can make all the difference.

Bruce Chard High Res Redfish

“Tropical wind is no joke. We deal with it daily fishing the flats. Often, clients struggle to lay out long leaders and big flies casting into the wind. Our goal was to develop the new industry standard “go-to” saltwater line to help anglers overcome this obstacle, and be more effective on the water. Airflo’s Super-Dri technology coupled with a proven, award winning taper makes this the best saltwater fly line ever made. I’m so excited about these new lines. Having the opportunity to work with Airflo and Rajeff Sports is a dream come true”.Bruce 3

Summer in WA – Dave McCoy

For PNW anglers, late spring/early summer elicits a mix of elation and dilemma…so much prime water, and so little time to fish it. MT, CO, WY and ID may win the “big trout” title fights, but Washington’s small streams and creeks are loaded with beautiful native trout! I’m talking about creeks that wouldn’t display in a Google search…

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Looking to evade the technological trappings of modern society? Need a couple hours away from cell phones, co-workers, or “others” (e.g. family??). Yea, I said it. We all need solitude from time to time. The mountains of Washington are about the perfect place to de-compress. Many of these systems boast 3 species of native trout; rainbow, west slope, and coastal cutthroat.

ImageThe fish aren’t huge, and conditions are tight. The Echo Carbon 7′3″ 2wt is perfect for these situations. Ok, I’m fully aware that most anglers have a limited number of days per year to get out and fish…making the most of those days is critical. Those willing to throw some effort at these creeks wont depart disappointed. Prime time: June through Mid-October. New to the sport? Rejoice. Presenting dry fly patterns to happy, hungry, resident trout in gin clear water is nothing short of exhilarating!

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I’ve guided in many states across the western US and fished around the world. Washington isn’t the only state with fisheries like this. Trust me! Explore your home waters. Get out there!!

Growing up in Oregon, Dave’s introduction to fly fishing began at an early age. His parents taught him the finer points and he soon sought out the area’s fabled steelhead waters. Since then, he’s traveled extensively, from India to the South Pacific. He’s the founder of Emerald Water Anglers, a fly fishing guide service and a stalwart advocate for regional and national fish conservation efforts.