Before anyone reads the little ranting below,  Iíd like to say a few things about fly fishing.

I love fly fishing.  Itís one of the most relaxing ways to fish because itís so unstressful in itís simplicity.  You make a long flowing cast, let your fly sink with a few mends, and then watch it swing following your flyís progression with the tip of your rod.  During your flyís flight you sit there and dream, think deep thoughts or just admire the beauty around you.  When you get a strike or a nibble itís so intense because you are so relaxed that the jolt that goes to your heart makes your knees shake.  When the line is stripped from your fingers and your reel begins to burn and you see that blast of chrome come flying out of the water it is a pleasant reward for your patience.  The aesthetics of fly fishing is at itís zenith at such a moment.

This is why I love to fly fish.  This is what it means to fly fish.  Any other reason for fly fishing takes away from the experience of fly fishing.

Fly fishing is a beautiful thing.  It should be kept as such.  It shouldnít be exploited and it shouldnít be bastardized by commericialism, ego maniacs and personal greed.  That is why I love to expound on the people and the things that are ruining such a beautiful way to fish.


First things firstÖ  Iím going to clear up a myth that so many people have about steelhead.  A lot of fly fishers think it takes years to catch a steelhead.  Iím not talking one to two years weíre talking for some fly fishers it takes five to seven years.  Yup, Iím serious, five to seven years.  You know if it were me Iíd give up after the first year and say:

ďHey, there is no such thing as a steelhead and these folks are making it up.Ē

Now why does it take that long to catch a steelhead for some fly fishermen?  How bout when they do finally start catching them and this is my personal favorite, when they do become successful fly fishermen they only catch one to two a year?  Ever wonder?  The steelhead must be one of the most craftiest, cunning, and biological mysteries of our modern era.  Wouldnít you think so?

Hereís where I destroy the myth.  Sorry guysÖ.

Sorry to tell one and all but steelhead are the stupidest, dumbest, most aggressive fish out there.  They can be easier to catch than trouts under the right conditions.  The reason why they are so rare to catch in this day and age is because of the LACK OF THEM.  Thatís right.  Thereís not many left so theyíre harder to come by.  Why arenít there very many of them?  Nets, Nets, and more Nets, but thatís another topic which some fly fishermen refuse to face.  The lack of steelhead is due toÖ

Not from loss of habitat, they arenít spawning in the habitat they still have.  They have to get there donít they?  Of course dams have caused their damage but theyíve just wiped out entire runs all in the space of five years so you canít blame them anymore.  Those runs are long gone with no hope of ever returning.

Not from poachers.  Though this does play a small part.  Fly fishers would like to just blame it on some nasty gear guy now wouldnít they?

Not from gear fishermen.  Sorry, we release way more than you ever will because face it we catch way more than you ever will.  I had some fly geek email me that gear guys catch 10 times more fish.  So hereís a question for the geek.  Why arenít you fishing gear?  Sounds like a heck of lot more fun to me!

The lack of steelhead has been on a drastic decline since the 1972 Boldt decision, where Natives Americans gained back their uncontrolled netting practices.  Ask an old timer about fishing before and after.  The same problems of dams and loss of habitat  were occuring but fishing was always incrediable.  Is it coincidence?  I think not

So we must conclude that the reason why itís hard to catch a steelhead is because there just arenít many out there in the Northwest.  For example my father when he was EIGHT YEARS OLD, could walk down from his parents farm in the 50s to the Puyallup River and catch eight to ten of them in the space of a couple of hours on a single piece of yarn.  Real tough fish donít ya think?

If memory serves me correctly the Skagit in itís heyday had a run of 40,000 fish or more.  Now itís estimated that only 9,000 are left.  Iíve heard tales of jetsledders having 20 to 40 fish days.  Could you imagine?  I canít believe these old timers still fish.  A lot of them donít because theyíre just disgusted with Washington Stateís mismanagement of our streams. Itís too much work now.  Remember folks, fishing isnít suppose to be that hard.  Itís suppose to be relaxing not WORK.

But isnít this old hat for Angie to talk about?  Of course it is but we have to set the tone for our bewildered and mixed up fishing brother the flyfisher.  We canít do that if the idiot thinks that steelhead are the ďHoly GrailĒ of fish, that itís all Poacher Joeís fault there arenít any, anymore.  That it takes a special talent to actually get them on the fly. 

Please enjoy the myths Iíd like to bring into reality.  They are the following:

Now isnít that funny?  Now isnít that hilarious?  How come fly fishing has turned into one of the most expensive ways to fish/?  How come if you own all the top equipment you are considered in the elite category?  Why does it make you better than everyone else?

What Iíve observed in most male dominated sports is that men that lack the skills to do a sport well think they can make up for it by spending a lot more money on the equipment, the clothes, and the lessons.  As in any sports this may hide the fact that you are an uncoordinated idiot and in fly fishing this works more than in other sports but Iím sorry.  A sucky ass caster that suffers from an ďI donít listen very well syndromeĒ.  Still is a suckass caster and still will never catch any fish.  No matter how many Sage Rods and Charleton Reels he owns.  Bummer huh?  I donít think men will ever get over the fact that they can buy their way to success.  Kind of like them fat or ugly chics that think they can  buy thinness or beauty.  Try hard workÖ  Well, if youíre ugly there is no hope.

My ultimate favorite types are the poor guys that make less than 40,000 a year.  These are the stupid long hair pony tail academic types, (Who says too much knowledge isnít a bad thing? Ya wanna bet?)  Since they lacked the foresight to actually go into a profession where they could make a shitload of money (they couldnít handle the competition) they want to pretend theyíre rich.  At least theyíre educated enough to realize that it sucks being poor and they have the know how to fake it.
So what do these chaps do?  They spend a lot of money on gear and clothing and look down their noses at others.  If you want to have a lot of fun at these guyís expense go make fun of their car.  Youíll find these men driving around in old Volkswagons and Subarus and say that the only reason why they drive these vehicles is because theyíre environmentally conscious.  NOPEÖ they just canít afford anything better.

The main goal of these type of fly fishing characters is to elude that they are on the top of the ďNobility ChainĒ.  Hey, fly fishing was once a sport of the Nobility of Europe so what better way?  These guys would rather cast beautifully, spend hours tying flies and talk about it on the side of the river.  These guys canít fish, will never be able to fish and are pretty much the pathetic losers of the sport.  These are the gentlemen that ďFish & FlyĒ targets.  Itís nice to live in a dream world isnít it?
Whatís really great about these type of fishermen is that they are stupid enough to be the ultimate targets for Fly Fishing Guides that just love to rip them off.  Since these gentlemen are in it for the experience of fly fishing what better target for some smart redneck to steal their money.  Unfortunately, these rip off guides also steal money from normal minded beginners that may find themselves asking complete idiots (please see the above) for help.  What is the point of this page?  To help these normal beginners who just want to enjoy the fun of fly fishing not get ripped off or pointed in the wrong direction, where it will take years to correct.


We all have met the one fish wonder.   Some fly fisher that catches one to five steelhead in the course of five years and is now the so called expert on anything that has to do with steelhead.  Usually these gentlemen were with a guide but they wonít tell you that. 

Iíve happened upon several of these guys in my fly fishing jaunts and just love it when they expound all knowingly about the wonderful world of steelhead.  In the old days I use to run but since I love to gather material for future writings I live for running into them.  How can you tell who these guys are?  They know everything about steelhead and they wonít shut up.  We can compare these gentlemen with the guys that never get laid.  You know the type, the geek that got some and is now the ultimate expert on how to please or pick up on women.  Same category.

Hereís a little story for yaÖ

One day a few years ago, I was scouting the Bogie for a nice little place to fly fish.  I drove across a field and much to my surprise there were four gentlemen fly fishers trying to cast with no bank (they were on the bottom of an embankment which made a back cast almost impossible), into too fast of water.  Their leader was swinging a spey rod and could barely roll cast 20 feet.  I stood there in awe, (of such stupidity) and the leader spotted me with my rod.  Thatís when I noticed that I had fished the other side before and from the other side it was perfect fly water.

Before I could sprint back to my car their leader had caught up with me and regaled me with his knowledge of steelhead.  I of course told him I had never caught one before and I was trout fishing (it was February).  He was taken back since I was carrying an 8 weight Sage Rod, with a heavy sink tip and large pink marabou fly on the end of it.  After listening to him go on and on and watching as his little troop of miserable fly fishers fruitlessly try to cast again and again (I wish I had a picture of it).  I asked him how long he had been fishing and how many fish he had caught.  He had been fishing for two years and had caught his first steelhead last month.

At this I giggled politely and mentioned that maybe he should take his troop to the otherside of the river because there was more room to cast and the water was perfect from the otherside.  (The troop was casting to the slow shallower water and as the fly would swing it would rise in the deep fast water.)  I wished them good luck and noticed as I was about to leave that one of the troop caught me in the eye and I could see his plea of help in them.  If I would of said ďCome on DudeĒ.  I think heíd have no hesitation and would have joined me.  This is the guy that Iím trying to help.  This is the guy that I hope reads this and actually learns that there is hope for him.


Ahhhhh fly shops.  There are good ones and there are bad ones.  Some fly shops have actual reputable guides working for them.  Some fly shops have complete Know It All Idiots working for them.  How can you tell?  One guy will be friendly, nice, knowledgeable, and there will be a picture of him holding a big ass fish behind the counter.  The other guy will be a Know It All Idiot.  A badly or barely groomed individual that will laugh at your naivety.  Remember he is 40 years old working at a fly shop.  How smart do you really think this guy is?  The other guy is working there to get clients, so heís not as bad as the Know It All, he has an excuse for working there.

A good way to test the guy behind the counter is to ask him a question that you already know the answer to (by first hand experience or from a book youíve read).  This can be a lot of fun.  Before shopping at a fly shop ask around.  Sometimes itís worth the drive.

Women be warned however.  If you go into a fly shop youíre in big trouble if you donít know what youíre doing.  Remember these guys donít make much money so they probably donít date all that much.  What does this mean you ask?  Do you think they like women or are in the mood for them since they havenít been laid for years?  Come on think about it.  Theyíre gonna be like that ugly asshole cop that pulls you over and gives you an unreasonable ticket.  Heís going to make any woman pay for his inability to get some.

Here are two little stories I would like to share with you.  I was at a sporting goods store a few months back.  A nice businessman wanted to buy a weight forward fly line.  He told the gentleman behind the counter that he couldnít cast worth beans and needed all the help he could get.  The salesman didnít have any in stock so he tried to convince him to go with a double taper.  I had to interject on this one and gave the businessman directions to Kauffmans. 

Some gal that lives on the Olympic Peninsula wanted to go after steelhead with a fly rod and she emailed me for some advice.  She goes to Port Angeles to go get an eight weight and the guy sells her a 5 weight or was it a 6 weight?  I begged and pleaded for her to take it back.  Ever catch a steelhead on a 6 weight?  Ever try to cast a sink tip really far with a 6 weight?  Sure you can do it but we all know that for big fish we need a weightier rod.  RIGHT?  She thought I was nuts.  What did I know since the salesman owned the fly shop and I didnít.  I mean all them steelhead seekers use them 8 weights and 10 weights but the owner of the shop probably knows something that we donít.  RIGHT?

So be warned, youíre gonna be spending a lot of money on fly equipment because it is expensive.  Just donít let some idiot give you bad adviceÖ  Hereís another little story for yaÖ  Itís my story.

When I first bought the Sage Discovery Series Rod like I was advised by my mentor, I told the guy behind the counter that I wanted a different line and not the one that went with it.  So instead of getting the nice weight forward line that came with the Sage Rod and Reel, the salesman sold me a double taper floating line and a different brand of sink tips because thatís what my mentor had written down: they were the air flo interchangeable sink tips.  Well, needless to say I was trying to cast a set up that didnít work and hinged all the time.  As a floating line it was great but when winter came around I was totally screwed.  Then my stupid ex fiancee decided to build me a line.  It was so heavy and so unwieldly that it was like casting a rock tied to the end of it.  I stuck with the floating line and used heavy weighted flies.  Now I have a spey rod with the RIO Line system and have been happy ever since.

So speaking of rip offs and wasting time letís go on to my favorite topic.

Yes, hate ta tell one and all but most fly guides are rip offs. 

Most fly guides could give a ratís ass if you catch a fish.

Most fly guides donít have the knowledge to catch you a fish.

Most fly guides are just pretending.

Most fly guides know how to cast and thatís about it.

Most fly guides when they actually do catch a steelhead itís such a big deal to them that they can barely believe it themselves.  That always cracks me up
Now why does little olí Angie say all these mean and nasty things?  Because this pretty much describes most fly fishing guides in the Northwest.  Itís what I have observed over the years and what I have run into.  Remember, Angie tells it like it is why would I say otherwise?  I call a spade a spade, a drunk a drunk and a geek a geek. 

In my fishing travels I have noted that Fly Guides are always ripping you off.  How is that you ask? They take you when conditions suck.  When we say suck we mean; no great numbers of fish in the river, flooded rivers, rivers that are out, run timing is off and fishing you in water that will hold no fish.  You know conditions & important things like that.

Hereís a little story for you.  Arenít you all just loving my little stories yet?

Thereís a famous in his own mind North Washington Fly Guide.  Everytime Iíve seen he takes clients out when the rivers are flooded.  Now what is flooded you ask?  Put it this way, this June thereís this river called the Skykomish.  I love to fish it at 3500 to 4500.  Itís been flooded predominately in the month of June, between 10,000 to 13,000 ccfs and still he takes people fishing.  What does 10,000 to 13,000 ccfs mean when it fishes best at 3500 to 4500?  IT MEANS THERE IS NO BANK AND THE FISH COULD BE ANYWHERE.  So if youíre fishing with this guy so youíll learn the river.  Itís going to be just a tad different when it goes down.  WHAT PART OF THIS DONíT YOU UNDERSTAND?

If a guide is going to take you fishing and youíve been hearing about flooding and high water, go to that little USGS River Level Link on my site.  Look at your river and the gage station and if itís wayyyyyyyyyy above the mean.  CANCEL YOUR TRIP AND RESCHEDULE.  If your fly guide doesnít mention the high river levels but tells you heís fishing anyway even if itís a little high, HE HAS NOTHING BETTER TO DO.  HEíS RIPPING YOUR GODDAMN ASS OFF

Fly Guides that arenít fly guides.  Theyíre gear guides that canít get any gear clients that time of year because the gear clients know better so letís take a stupid beginner fly fisherman out theyíre just in it for the experience anyways.  Only problem is, a stupid redneck gear guide that doesnít know anything about fly fishing is going to give you a really crappy experience and he isnít going to share shit with you.  He doesnít share knowledge with gear clients, you think heís going to share it with some:

Fly faggot?  Primadonna?   Sucker?  Pussy City Boy?  Sorry, boyz their words not mine.

Hereís a little story for yaÖ

Out on the Peninsula where fly fishing ignorance rules supreme, two guides took out four fly fishermen.  The water was a bit high so the guides made fun of the four feather folk and made them cast spinning rods.  They then boondogged as fast as they could from the Park Boundry on the Hoh down to Oxbow.  Which is three sections of water that youíd only want to hammer one section with a fly for eight hours.  They didnít catch anything, the feather faggot fly folk didnít learn a thing, and the two guides went to the tavern and had a beer making fun of them all evening.
Iím sorry folks but I donít make this shit upÖ

Fly Guides donít fish gear and thus never know when a good run has changed for the worse.  By the time they figure it out, theyíve wasted your money and your time not theirs.

What do I mean by this?  Fly Fishermen fish with flies and fish the same pockets year after year.  What happens in a river?  Do you think they stay static?  NO ITíS A RIVER AND ITíS EVERCHANGING!  If you fish both gear and flies, you can figure out when it changes quite easily because if youíre bottom bouncing lead and bait you will discover if the boulder garden filled in, if that ledge where they used to hide is gone, or if a new pocket developed.  With a fly that just ticks occasionally itís much harder to discover these things. 

Ever notice how Fly Guides have to always follow a Gear Guides lead?  I wonder why that is?  BECAUSE THEY CANíT FIGURE IT OUT ON THEIR OWN THATíS WHY?

Wrong time of yearÖ

Best time to fly fish?  March and April.  Unless a certain river has some great little spurts in February.  If a fly fishing guide wants to take you in November, December, or January.  Youíre chances are very slim unless of course youíre going for hatchery fish that like to hang out in them deep hatchery holes around the hatchery that can only be fished with GEAR EFFECTIVELY.

Little or no fish in the riverÖ

Usually after a heavy rain, the river rises and brings in a fresh wave of fish.  Usually a couple days afterwards you have some great fishing and you catch some then it dries up for a few more days.  If the guide has gone a few days without catching anything then he shouldnít be taking you till after a nice rain.  Or how bout my favorite scenario when the fish havenít come in at all and everyone knows it.  If youíre fishing a well known river at the ultimate time of the year and no one is fishing.  THEREíS A REASONÖ NO ONE IS CATCHING ANYTHING.

So when isnít a fly guide ripping you off?  When the fish go off the bite and the guide has no control;
When it turns bone chilling cold suddenly.
When the wind picks up and no one can cast worth a shit.
When a storm is moving in.
Some asshole gear guys are getting first water every chance they get in front of you.


Now this is funny.  Now this really cracks me up.  You think that some guy that lives in Mount Vernon or Sedro Wooley is going to be some culture buff?  You think when he puts on that little British Cap and Scarf heís PBSís answer to replacing the late great Alister Cook on MasterPiece Theater?  Do you really think that someone that lives in Forks or up in Northern BC knows the difference between double cream brie and triple cream brie.  How bout if you brought up Miles Davis or Lena Horne (Iím not even going to mention Rossilini or Vivaldi)?  These guys donít have a college degree, ever been to the Palisades, or a decent Italian or Kosher Deli.  So do you think theyíre conisseurs of anything fine or decadent?

The Fly Fishing Way of Life is all a world of make believe.  Itís all a farce of who can pretend the best.  Itís not really a part of the real outdoors, itís not in the old tradition of American folk fishing.  What do you think Ernst Hemingway would say if he observed todayís wimpy fly fisherman in their little uniforms and their little religious beliefs that they try to cram down everyoneís throats?  Heíd be totally and completely disgusted.  Donít ya think?
Hereís an approach to fly fishing I think we all should takeÖ