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The Old Normal – Albies on the Crystal Coast

I can’t remember the last day that passed without hearing someone talk about “the new normal”. With the way the world has changed, I grow increasingly fond of things that haven’t. The plain old normal: the way I feel when my wife smiles, the taste of tacos, the smell of salt air, the sound of screaming drags on fly reels, Albies…ALBIES! ALBIES!!!

On the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, fall has always meant albie season. Although found other times of year, fall brings a temperature change that sends massive bait schools from the sounds, marshes, and estuaries out to sea, bringing in swarms of hungry false albacore in from the Gulf stream to the near shore waters surrounding Cape Lookout. It is an angler’s paradise, and droves of fishermen with long rods descend on the area to enjoy the fishery.

Nathan Rhea with an albie.

False Albacore (Euthynnus alletteratus) are called many things: Albies, Little Tunny, Fat Alberts, Bonita, and Spotted Bonito to name a few. Regardless of your chosen moniker, they are pound for pound one of the strongest game fish a fly angler can hook. Lacking swim bladders, they must remain constantly in motion. This perpetual activity results in a fish capable of swimming 40 mph, and that means blistering runs when they take a fly. Albies in the 10 to 15 pound range are common, and 20 pound class fish, locally referred to as buffalos, are often caught in North Carolina waters.

Seagulls swarming over albies.

Albies hunt together like a pack of wolves. Pods of fish crash through bait balls, chomping away. It is a scene of utter carnage. Seabirds dive to the surface, picking at leftovers as the water boils beneath them. Approaching, and often casting into, the birds and the sounds of their calls all but drown out the sound of the boat. The water’s surface bulges as blue-green and silver flashes rise to the surface through the bait. Careful not to put the fish down, a good captain will slow the boat down within casting range of the angler at the ready. Line piled on the deck, fly dangling in hand or trailing in the water, a well-placed cast into the ruckus can result in an immediate hook up. In the words of my dear friend John Snipes, “Get it in the gunk!”

Many anglers associate fly fishing with peaceful serenity. Albie fishing is anything but that. Whether approaching bait under gulls, or pulling behind a shrimp trawler, the atmosphere is charged. Fish are racing through the water, often disappearing as quickly as they appear. Birds are swarming, sometimes snatching your fly and creating an altogether angling experience as they fly off with your line. Sharks enter the picture, chasing the albies. (Note: It’s always a good idea to have a nice hefty rod rigged with a steel leader and large fly. The TFO Baby Bluewater is a good choice, but a nice 12 weight of your choice will do. Trust me. It helps a lot with the ensuing tug of war after hooking a 100 pound or better black tip!) Your heart will be racing, your hands will be shaking, and that’s before you even cast. Then the real fun begins as over a 100 yards of backing gets ripped from your reel in the first, of what will be several, runs begins!

The gunk!

Fishing for albies in the Cape Lookout area is most frequently done in boats. There are times when they are close enough to shore for kayak and beach anglers to reach them, but they move so quickly and often that the speed of a motorized vessel is preferred. The fish are moving, and from day-to-day can be active along different parts of the coast. For those without access to a boat, there are numerous guides in the area that specialize in the fishery including TFO Advisory Staff members Captain Jake Jordan and Captain Gary Dubiel. If you’re going to book a guide, do it as early as possible – their schedules fill quickly!

When you come, and you should come, you’ll want to have the right tools. The Cape Lookout/Harkers Island area has been called the place “where 10 weights go to die.” ~ Raiford Trask – The Saltwater Sportsman (Oct 3, 2001). 8 and 10 weight rods with floating lines are the norm. Having a sinking line on hand is never a bad idea either. I prefer moderate-fast to fast action rods that can deliver the energy necessary for long casts and the tracking and recovery required for accuracy at distance. Being able to load and unload quickly with good presentation is critical, and the TFO Axiom II X and Mangrove Coast rods deliver when it counts. Machined aluminum reels with a powerful, reliable drag are a must. Remember, you’ll be fighting powerful saltwater fish, so having enough spool for your line and 250 yards of backing is a good place to start. I like the TFO Power II or III reels, but whatever you choose needs to be sturdy and reliable.

Albie flies at the ready

Fly selection is important. Fly selection isn’t critical. What!? Yeah, that’s kind of how it goes with these guys. Some days they’re keyed in on one color and size, and nothing else will do. On other days, you could probably throw a Wooly Bugger in there and they’d eat it. You just never know, so I recommend bringing a variety. My dear friend and mentor, Rick Pope, is fond of saying, “Too much is the right amount!” My fly boxes resemble that approach, at least at the beginning of the season. During the fall, you may encounter fish feeding on Bay Anchovies (or brown bait), silversides, or spearing just to name a few. There are also tiny, clear, slender minnows with black eyes referred to as snot bait. Bottom line, there’s a whole lot of bait out there during the fall and fortune favors the prepared.

Baitfish patterns are the key, and I recommend a variety of sizes and colors. Lefty’s Deceivers, Surf Candies, Game Changers, Clouser Deep Minnows, and just about any other baitfish pattern will work. Tie or buy patterns ranging from size 6 to 1/0, or smaller and bigger if you’d like, in numerous colors. All white, tan over white, pink over white, brown over white, chartreuse over white, pink over chartreuse (Ahhh! The tuity fruity!), olive over white, and even brown over pink over white are all good choices. With flash and without flash, 1/2 and inch to 5 inches, weighted and unweighted…I think you have the idea by now. The flies don’t have to be fancy, they just need to look like baitfish and try to be ready for anything.

The author fighting an albie with a TFO Axiom II and Power II.

Besides the powerful runs, excitement of the hunt, and fish that are willing to eat, is the camaraderie of the anglers. Upon experiencing the fishery, many anglers return year after year to enjoy the albies and time with their friends. Built on the communion of albie anglers, and the area’s deep military roots, the TFO sponsored Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival was born. The 3-day event is a fishing tournament and day on the water for disabled veterans. Local captains, businesses, and citizens converge on Atlantic Beach, NC to raise funds for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. and to take their participants fishing for these glorious fish. Around 50 disabled veterans are provided an opportunity for a full day on the water, followed by a captains’ party, silent auction, and tournament. Although the pandemic has postponed the tournament until 2022, it’s a great time in support of a worthy cause that was featured in an episode of the Outdoor Channel’s “The Seahunter” with Captain, and TFO Advisory Staff member, Rob Fordyce.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time. Right now! The albies are here and they’re willing to eat. Hotels are open. Restaurants are serving. Hitch up your boat and try for yourself. Book a guide. The gulls are singing and reels are screaming. What do you have to lose? It’s almost like the albies didn’t even know life wasn’t back to the good, old normal.

Blog written by TFO Ambassador Chris Thompson. Chris has been a TFO Ambassador since 2008. He is retired Marine, Chairman of the Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival, and Program Lead for the Camp Lejeune Program of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. He is also a self-professed albie addict.

Nordic Anglers 5wt Shootout ft. TFO’s Blue Ribbon & LK Legacy

Our good friends across the pond at Nordic Anglers recently put together a cool little 5wt shootout video featuring several brands, as well as TFO’s Blue Ribbon and LK Legacy.

The 5wt shootout – specifically the Blue Ribbon and the LK Legacy – were highlighted for their application to trout fishing, but these rods can be used for a variety of freshwater species. Watch the video below to see what Daniel at Nordic Anglers thinks about them.

*Note that the Axiom ll-X 5wt with the fighting butt was featured in the image and in some shots of the video, but due to time length of the video, Daniel was not able to feature it in this video. To learn more about the 5wt Axiom ll-X, click here.*

Fall Fishing Preview – Gear, Tactics & More

Fall is officially here, and with it comes many excellent angling opportunities. From bull redfish, speckled trout, and false albacore in the salt – to striped bass, musky, big colored up brown and brook trout and trophy bass in freshwater fisheries are just a few of many reasons to get excited for this season. This week, we checked in with some of our Pro Staff to see how they are planning on spending their time on the water this fall, as well as the tools and tactics they rely on.

Freshwater and Saltwater Fly

Striped Bass & Musky

TFO Advisor Blane Chocklett, Virginia – “Fall in my opinion, especially where I live in Virginia, we have several excellent options, but I spend most of my time going after striped bass and musky. We have freshwater striper fishing in the lakes and in the bay. In the bay, you can have bigger pogie/menhaden schools where the Big Fly comes in handy. Any of the sizes (8wt, 10wt, 12wt) are perfect. I also like to use an 8wt or 9wt Axiom ll-X.

Intermediate lines work best. My recommendation would be the SA Sonar Sink 30 Clear in the appropriate grain weight. For a sinking line, the SA Sonar Sink 25 (with appropriate grain wt.) works well. Both lines are typically spooled on the BVK-SD reel.

The important thing to remember in fall striper fishing situations is sometimes you have low, clear cooling water where fish a lot of times will want smaller baits. Freshwater stripers are feeding on smaller threadfin shad – anywhere from 2-3” range. They want it kind of suspended, so an intermediate line is very important.”

“The BC Big Fly comes in handy for musky fishing as well. SA Full intermediate lines work well this time of year with the cooler water. SA also has a new musky line that I like a lot, which has a larger head to be able to turn over bigger flies and works great with the design of the Big Fly. Both are usually paired up with the BVK-SD reel or NTR reel.”

Photo: Oliver Sutro

False Albacore/Albies

“Late October in the mid-Atlantic and North Carolina is prime time for albie fishing. The Axiom ll-X in an 8wt or 9wt is what I typically use, however when the larger albies start showing up, having a 9wt or even a 10wt is good way to go. Intermediate lines when albie fishing is very important. My go-to lines are the SA Sink 30 Clear or the Full Intermediate spooled up on the BVK-SD reel. I’ll match these up to my Finesse Changer and my Micro Changers to match the bait like glass minnows and silver sides. That’s my ideal albie setup.

For a more in-depth blog on albie fishing, check out the “All About Albies” from last fall. Click here to read it.

Photo: Jim Shulin

Large Trout Streamer Fishing

Trent Jones (Harcourt 3G Fly Fishing), Colorado – “Fall is officially here in Colorado. Last night it got down to the 30s. Hopper dropper fishing is tapering off and I am focusing my attention on chasing those larger fish on streamers. I do some wading, but I’m doing most of my fishing this time of year in a boat. I absolutely love the LK Legacy for streamer fishing. I have several different streamer setups in my boat, but for the most part, I am running a 9’ 7wt or 8wt LK Legacy. I also like to have a 9’6” 7 wt as it helps clients with less experience casting heavier lines to really pick up those weighted lines and larger streamers and easier unloading when casting.”

Photo: Trent Jones

“I use a variety of Cortland medium sink tip and heaving sinking lines depending on the areas I’m fishing at, and the conditions for that day. I usually have these paired up with the BVK SD lll reel. One of my go-to patterns is the Dungeon. I prefer white or black variations for the fall. Occasionally, I’ll fish a Mini Dungeon (4” or less), and can have great days fishing those smaller profile articulated streamers. I usually fish these under a 4 foot 20lb fluoro leader. In Colorado, we’re allowed to use up to three flies, so occasionally I’ll trailed a bunny leach or a black single hook pattern like a wooly bigger behind the Dungeon on a piece of 16lb fluoro. That can be a deadly set up.”

Freshwater Conventional – Bass Fishing

Joey Nania (Bassmaster), Alabama – “For fall fishing in Alabama and the southeast, the Tactical Elite Bass 7’1” Medium Light (TLE MBR S 713-1) is the rod I use the most with 10lb braid to a 10 lb leader! I like to pair with a 3000 size Johnny Morris platinum signature reel. I use the Zman Finesse EyeZ Jighead 3/16oz with a StreakZ 3.75 straight tail as well as the MinnowZ swimbait. Clear water is where it really excels on points with deep water near main lakes and in the creeks.”

Photo: Joey Nania

Ben Nowak, Michigan – “There are several different setup I like to use in the fall, but a jerkbait and a tube are probably the two I rely on the most. A jerkbait is a great tool to cover water and trigger bites. The key to fall is covering water until you locate the bass, and there are few better lures than a jerkbait to trigger reaction strikes from fall bass. The Tactical Elite 7′ Medium Crankbait (TLE LW 70CB-1) works perfect for this!

Tubes are a great for smallmouth during the fall when they’re keying on bigger forage and baitfish.  The Tactical Elite Bass 7’3″ Medium (TLE MBR 734-1) has extra length so you can make longer casts on shallow flats and pick up line quickly to ensure positive hooksets when the smallmouth bite long distances from the boat.”

Ben Nowak with an early fall Michigan smallmouth.

Saltwater Conventional

Capt. Gary Dubiel, Coastal North Carolina – During the fall, I do a lot of fishing with clients for speckled trout, redfish, and stripers. For lighter popping corks and fishing soft plastic baits, I find the Tactical Inshore 703 (TAC IS 703-1) to work the best.

For topwater stuff, my favorite topwater rod is the Tactical Inshore 694 (TAC IS 694-1). Short handle is ideal for walking the dog.  Perfect for fall specks, reds, stripers, bluefish and so on.

To read more about how Gary targets bull redfish in the fall, check out this article from last year – “Chasing Bull Redfish with Gary Dubiel”.

Photo: Cavin Brothers Media

Capt. Jonathan Moss – Orlando, Florida – Fall fishing is here and so is the mullet run! This is an exciting time as there are thousands of mullet migrating south on the Atlantic coast. If you’re lucky enough to witness this, you’ll see tons of surface activity busting the surface, with the occasional tarpon jumping out of the water as they hunt these fish down. It’s not uncommon to find a bull red within the chaos as well.

When fishing the fall mullet run, I like to use the Tactical Inshore 8’ Mag Heavy (TAC IS 806-1). Paired with a 6,000-8,000 reel featuring a strong drag, I’ll use 40lb – 60lb fluoro line with a 50 lb fluoro leader. Big swimbaits work well, and of course live mullets will work great for those wanting to use live bait.

Tools of the Trade: TFO Blue Ribbon Series

Last year, TFO introduced three new fly rods, one of which was the Blue Ribbon series. While the series name might seem like this tool is intended for cool water trout streams, its components and moderate fast action have proven to be able an excellent choice for targeting warmwater species as well.

The Blue Ribbon’s precision and ease of casting make this rod a joy to cast and even more fun when fighting a fish. The 11-rod series has something for every freshwater angler.

TFO Fly Fishing Category Manager and designer of the Blue Ribbon series, Nick Conklin, shares a little bit more about this new series.

Briefly describe the Blue Ribbon series. What is it and who is it for? 

The Blue Ribbon was designed for the freshwater angler who needs to effectively cover water with repeated casts over the course of the day.  Think easy loading, powerful and accurate.

It is an 11-rod series from a 7’6” 2-weight to a 9-foot, 7-weight. We also offer 10-foot models in a three, four and five-weights.

In these situations, the successful angler is the one who has their fly in the water the most and can land that fly accurately and repeatedly.

It is all about efficient use of energy and casting time. We utilized some special components and finish out for the intermediate angler, who fishes for trout and warmwater species. The series spans everything from small dries and nymphs, up to multi fly rigs, (hopper-droppers) and larger articulated streamers.

Photo: Nick Conklin
Photo: Tom Wetherington
Photo: Braden Miller
Photo: Nick Conklin
Photo: Nick Conklin

How did the Blue Ribbon series come about? Is this series based off a pre-existing series? If so, what changes did you want to imply or what did you like about previous series that was carried over? 

While not based off anything in the freshwater line-up, we felt the need to offer a well thought-out freshwater/warmwater specific fly rod. Again, a rod with a moderate fast action, but also plenty of power in the butt section to carry longer lines and deliver accurate presentations. We did bring over the TFO Line weight ID system, and our built in hook keepers, (from some saltwater series). We also offer some of the 10-foot models, in a full wells grip for a more comfortable feel.

Photo: Todd Kaplan
Photo: Todd Kaplan
Photo: Todd Kaplan

Any key ambassadors or TFO staffers that helped with the prototype phases?

During the design and development phase, we utilized our vast and experienced network of guides and outfitters. We have some great, hardworking guides that spend hundreds of hours on the water and really put rods to the test. This was exactly where we envisioned the Blue Ribbon series to fit. A well-built, smooth casting tool meant to be fished hard by anglers. A functional tool that anglers of varied casting preferences and experience can pick up, quickly load, and accurately unload to a fish.

Talk about the 10’ options. Aside from having extra length for nymphing, what makes the 10’ option more advantageous compared to a 9’ model? 

The ten foot models have always been critical across the TFO line-up and it was important that we offered some “longer levers,” to help aid in line management and fly placement. The longer level makes the process of picking up and repositioning lines much more efficient.

Not only are these tools great for those tightline or high-stick nymphing, but they also enable easier and more efficient casting while in a drift boat, kayak, or while wading deeply. One of the great insights that came out of the development phase was learning about all the drift boat guides that have found many advantages for anglers with the longer rod. It’s all about efficiency and aiding in providing a great fishing experience.

Photo: Oliver Sutro
Photo: Oliver Sutro
Photo: Tom Wetherington

Do you see the Blue Ribbon lineup expanding someday? 

There is always an opportunity to expand any fly rod series. It comes down to the needs of the anglers. We take extreme care in selecting the rods we introduce in a series, but, as techniques evolve and anglers find new and fun ways and places to fish, there will be opportunities to improve models and add to a rod family.

Photo: Nick Conklin

Check out the all new Blue Ribbon series at your local TFO dealer today! Find out more about the Blue Ribbon series here.

The BC Big Fly – A Musky Fool Review

BC Big Fly…the name says it all.

This year TFO released a brand new fly rod series geared at predator and big streamer fishing. This rod builds on the previous model, the ESOX series, to offer the predator fly angler a much-welcomed tool in their toolbox.

This rod was fully redesigned by the awesome team at TFO with the help from Blane Chocklett (where the BC comes from)! It comes in three models that are fully fit for freshwater and saltwater demands – 8wt, 10wt, and 12wt.

I was a fan of the ESOX rod to begin with so when the BC Big Fly came out I was very excited to give it a try given some of the improvements TFO included this time around. I spent about 3 weeks fishing the 8wt, 10wt, and 12wt in our local musky water here in Madison, WI so I am excited to share some thoughts on it!

Technical Details

As mentioned, this blank was completely redesigned by TFO. It is built using their Axiom Technology which is what provides such a good balance between power, accuracy, and recovery – three essentials to fly fishing for large fish with big flies.

The blank is stiffer and faster than the ESOX, but still has the blend of tip and butt power to enable different casting styles to be successful using this stick. I really like how light the rod feels in your hand, even the big 10 and 12wts, but the first thing I noticed was how smooth it was on the cast. This was especially apparent when throwing big musky flies, where typically you get a lot of shock in your back cast or the rod just wilts at the weight. This is where the redesigned rod blank really shined as it was able to maintain and deliver power without that full amount of shock seen in other rods. All in all, this just means you will be able to enjoy casting this rod for longer hours…keeping you on the hunt for the next giant.

The grip is very similar to the grip on the ESOX series. It is a modified cork composite that is very comfortable and functional but more importantly also durable. It has the extended IGFA-compliant fighting butt with the unique TFO foregrip. It is a full-wells grip with a little bit extra room on the front which helps 1) provide a comfortable grip platform for Figure 8s and 2) gives you the ability to choke up on the rod if desired (a common tactic in musky fishing!)

Photo: MuskyFool

Some other sweet features included the three RECOIL stripping guides. These are pretty sweet to mess around with as they can truly be bent in half without compromising the durability. This will come into play as rods get thrown into trucks, boats, etc, and will be able to take a bit more of a beating than your typical stripping guide.

Photo: Musky Fool

A couple of other cool features are the added hook keeper and the sweet laser-engraved Gamechanger logo on the reel seat.

Photo: Musky Fool

Rigging Up

We messed around for a few weeks with all three of these rods and several different types and brands of line. We also got to check out the NTR (No Tools Required) Reel. A bit of a side note, but we are big fans of this reel for our musky fishing as it nails a good balance between quality and price. Be sure to check it out when it drops in August! Now, back to the rod, here is what we found to work best when rigging it up.

8wt – 300 grain seemed to be best on this rod. While it will be angler specific, I found this helped me load the rod appropriately without much effort and also cast large bass and trout streamers with ease. It can for sure handle 280 grain+ well but my recommendation would be to spool up something a little closer to 300 grains.

10wt – 400 grains seemed to be the sweet spot. Again, angler specific, and something like a 380 grain seemed to work just fine as well. I was able to cast large 8-10 inch gamechanger style flies on this grain weight and rod weight without any trouble. Definitely be sure to let the butt section load!

12wt – 500 grains was my preference on this rod. I was able to cast the largest and heaviest musky flies in a little bit of wind without feeling like I was working too hard. The part I love the most about this 12wt is that it feels light in the hand and much lighter than your typical 12wt. To me, this means, this could easily be your everyday predator rod, which isn’t something I would say about every 12wt out there.

Dan Donovan of Musky Fool with his favorite species. // Photo: Musky Fool

I was very pleased with the performance of the rods, especially the 10 and 12wt for musky fishing. With other rods I have used in that range, things can start to break down when you are trying to chuck big musky size flies on a heavy sinking line and that is just not the case with the TFO BC Big Fly.

If you are in the market for a new predator rod, be sure to check this one out. This rod will definitely be added to our arsenal here at Musky Fool. Pretty tough option to beat at $399.99 (comes with rod tube and sleeve). I really think you will like it!

Blog written and photos provided by Dan Donovan of Musky Fool. For all your musky needs and gear, visit their website here.

Like We Never Left – The Return to ICAST

We can all agree that 2020 was a tough year. Between many places being shut down and inventory issues brought on by unprecedented demand, it was (and in some cases still) a mess. Not being able to attend fishing shows was one of the many aspects that we (and others) missed about 2020. Needless to say, the return of ICAST last week was a blessing and a long overdue meeting of friends and family, ambassadors, pro staff anglers, and more – both new and old.

Photo: Tom Wetherington

Over the last week, we saw hundreds of familiar and new faces at Booth 3420 at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), many of which were eager to see and feel both the new conventional gear and new fly products. Since ICAST didn’t take place in 2020 (or hardly any fishing shows last year), many people were excited to see last year’s additions: Tactical Glass Bass, Tactical Surf, Seahunter Live Bait addition, Tactical Elite Bass additions) — as well as last year’s fly category additions: LK Legacy, Blue Ribbon, Stealth.

The newly redesigned Professional series. // Photo: Tom Wetherington
The newly redesigned Tactical Inshore series. // Photo: Tom Wetherington
The Tactical Surf – a new addition from last year. // Photo: Tom Wetherington
A favorite for ultra light anglers – the Trout-Panfish series added two new models this year. // Photo: Tom Wetherington
The Tactical Elite Bass series. // Photo: Tom Wetherington

For those unfamiliar with the changes in ICAST and IFTD (International Fly Tackle Dealer), the shows are now happening at different times of year – ICAST in July, and IFTD now taking place in October. Historically, both shows happened at the same time – which was ALOT to take in, but great for those wanting to get the most of both worlds. Needless to say, even though ICAST is now more focused on the conventional side of fishing, we still had a TON of people stop by the TFO booth to check out our fly gear, and make trips to the casting pond to try out the new Mangrove Coast and BC Big Fly, as well as some familiar favorites like the Axiom ll-X. While the fly stuff was getting plenty of love, there was a lot of attention aimed at the newly redesigned Professional and Tactical Inshore series, as well as the new Tactical Elite Bass swimbait models.

The all new Mangrove Coast and BC Big Fly – two new additions to TFO for 2022. // Photo: Tom Wetherington
The all new NTR reel in black/gold new to TFO for 2022. // Photo: Tom Wetherington
The all new NTR reel in clear/gold new to TFO for 2022. // Photo: Tom Wetherington
Checking out the new Tactical Elite Bass swimbait models. // Photo: Tom Wetherington
The Mangrove Coast and NTR set up got a lot of test drives on the Casting Pond at ICAST this year. // Photo: Tom Wetherington

We were able to film a few videos with TFO Ambassadors Rob Fordyce, Joey Nania, and Jonathan Moss going over some of the new stuff, as well as some classics.

Our good friends at Tackle Warehouse stopped by for a bit to interview Joey Nania, and go over some of the new Tactical Elite additions. Check out those videos below.

Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Tactical Elite Swimbait Rods with Joey Nania | First Look 2021

New Temple Fork Outfitters Tactical Elite Spinning Rod 7’6″ Med Lt w Joey Nania | First Look 2021

Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Tactical Bass and Tactical Elite Comparison | First Look 2021

Be on the lookout for more content from ICAST. We had several friends and dealers stop by to shoot some content on the new conventional gear, and we can’t wait to share them on our socials as they become available.

We’re already getting ready for IFTD at Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 20-22, 2021. For those planning on attending IFTD, we hope to see you there, and for those not able to attend, be sure to follow along on our social media pages to stay in the know.

When The Jacarandas Bloom – Chasing Corbina On the Fly

“Don’t get too deep. No more than ankle deep at most,” I remember Nick Curcione telling me on a beach in Coronado years ago. It didn’t make sense until the first one I saw bolted between my legs from behind me in three inches of water. “I told you,” came his response. That began an obsession and a quest that has pulled me from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara almost every summer since. All for a shot at the “ghost of the coast.”

There are numerous axioms associated with the sport of fly fishing, and fishing in general. If you fish the surf in Southern California, you’ll hear a few specific to one of the most difficult and rewarding species you can chase on fly: the California corbina. This member of the croaker family, known throughout SoCal as a “bean,” ranks along with permit and white marlin in its finicky and frustrating nature. And like those other species, taking one is a prize well earned and worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears shed in its pursuit.

Chasing corbina is a summertime pursuit, however, depending on conditions, they can be taken from early spring into late fall, from the northern reaches of the Baja Peninsula up to Santa Barbara. Traditionally, those hardcore enthusiasts that chase them say that when the jacaranda trees bloom, its time to chase beans, but knowing what time of year they are supposed to show up barely answers the question of “when.”

With any shallow water or surf species, tide and time of day are critical. Beans ride the surf in and out, chasing sand crabs, clams, worms and small baitfish, and in doing so, depend on the tide to make much of their diet accessible. At low tides, crab, clam and even worm beds are often high and dry, or in such skinny water that they are inaccessible to most fish. Like bonefish, permit, and even redfish, as the tide begins to rise, flooding the beach, beans push up farther up the beaches in pursuit of prey. In general, big tides allow greater opportunity, but experience will teach you when exactly in the tidal swing your favorite beach fishes best. In some cases, beans prefer the last of the falling and first of the rising tide. On other beaches they will feed on all but the lowest tides, but the safe bet is always begin your search on the incoming, or rising, tide during the summer months.

Keep in mind that tides around the full moon are larger than those on the new moon. Just as important to the state of the tide is the time of day the lows and highs occur. Remember, the highest form of chasing beans is sight fishing, so ideally, the best tides to fish are early in the day, but with enough sunlight to allow fair visibility. Sure, you can catch them blind casting, and arguably, most beans are taken while doing so, but for those that prefer to test their skill and patience, sight fishing for corbina is the acme of achievements. It’s not just their permit-like persnickety nature. They will ignore a well-presented fly with the same willful nonchalance of a teenager at a family event, only to nearly beach itself to grab a fly about to be picked up and re-cast.

Their behavior is bad enough, but when you add onto that the dynamic nature of their environment, sometimes the quest almost feels futile. They ride the incoming surf to push farther up the beach in pursuit of food and dart back to deeper water the instant the water ebbs. But the surf is never a simple ebb and flow. Waves compound themselves, break at odd angles and roll in heavily on one set and dribble in the next. The beaches along the Pacific coast are often deep very close to shore, and those troughs make perfect staging grounds for beans waiting to charge the beach. As the waves roll in, they dart up the beach, digging, rooting and often tailing if the water is deep enough, and, as the surf begins its withdrawal, in the blink of an eye they are gone.

Their nickname “ghost of the coast” is well deserved. Just as you line up the perfect shot, the light shifts, a wave breaks, and they disappear, sometimes to reappear ten feet farther down the beach, or sometimes they disappear altogether. Your window of opportunity can be timed in seconds that can be counted on one hand with fingers left to spare.

Add to this frustration that these fish squeeze into the shallowest of conditions. Another corbina axiom is if your feet are wet, you’re too deep. I’ve had beans square in my sights twenty feet in front of me, as a six-inch wave rolls through only to see the wake of a skittish fish darting back to deeper water from three feet behind me. Understandably, good light is critical to seeing these fish in the surf. Since most of our beaches here in SoCal face west, or mostly west, morning light works best to keep the sun over your shoulder rather than glaring in your face. The only issue with that is the May Gray and June Gloom—a heavy inversion layer of fog and mist that blots out the sun along the coast practically daily, often until late July. Under these conditions, the best you can hope for is spotting “signs” of a bean’s presence: wakes, tailing fish, or the bronze backs protruding from the surf as they push shallower, or more likely, head for deeper water.

Photo: Scott Leon

As if that all isn’t disheartening enough, you have to remember that SoCal beaches are hardly isolated or remote. Indeed, some of the best corbina fishing lies in the very heart of Los Angeles. Try making a back cast with scores of tourists trying to take photos of the sunrise, kids darting into the surf, joggers shuffling past, and dodging surfers like that digital frog in that old video game, all while jockeying for position among other anglers. None of these bystanders seem aware of your backcast, meaning that for safety’s sake you always have to watch behind you while trying to keep an eye on a wary, wiley target in front of you.

Maddening.

And then you hook one…

Photo: Scott Leon

If I haven’t yet dissuaded you from chasing beans, the the gear you’ll need is simple and straightforward. I prefer a stout rod capable of delivering quick casts at any range, though most casts will be shorter than 50 feet. My go-to is the Axiom II-X in a 5-weight. Many anglers prefer a 6 or even a 7-weight rod, but I think the A2-X is plenty beefy in the 5. The LK Legacy is also a great choice as is the new Mangrove Coast. A reel with a sealed drag is critical because of the sand and surf, making the BVK SD an ideal choice for beans.

Photo: Scott Leon

As for lines, I prefer a sinking line over an intermediate line because I feel the intermediate gets washed around too much by the surf, pulling the fly along with it. The sinking line keeps the fly in the zone within the washing machine on the beach. Shooting heads were the standard for years by those who pioneered the fishery, like fellow TFO Advisory staffer Nick Curcione, who began chasing these fish decades ago, but the newer integrated sinking lines are easier to handle in my opinion. There are even surf lines produced by several manufacturers, designed by SoCal surf fishermen for this specific application. I prefer a triple density line, however, but the choice is very much one of comfort and personal preference. A stripping basket, like the Linekurv, will help you keep your line, and your sanity, under control as you stalk the beaches and is an essential piece of equipment for surf fishing.

Leaders are even simpler. I used 8 to 10 feet of 8-pound mono or fluorocarbon. You could use 10 or even 12-pound test, but I feel lighter is better and I’m comfortable with 8. These fish are already spooky enough. Just remember to check your leader often. The surf and sand can wreck the material, quickly making a once clear material an opaque white cord. Fly choice is controversial and depends on who you ask—if they are even willing to tell you. Surf Merkins and sand crab patterns in bright pink or grey work best. You want them to be weighted, but not overly so, because the “plop” will undoubtedly spook beans. You need some weight, however, to keep the fly anchored to the bottom during your retrieve. Most tiers include a hint of orange along the bottom or back of the fly, mimicking an egg sack. Sizes should not be larger than a 4 but don’t need to go smaller than a 6, either. Stout hooks are necessary because beans pull. Hard. Sharpen your hooks often, too. Dragging through the sand will dull even the sharpest hook in minutes, and you’ll need a solid strip-strike and a sharp hook to penetrate the rubbery lips of a bean.

Top and bottom view of a sand flea. // Photo: Scott Leon

Over the past few seasons, I’ve seen more and more fly anglers hitting the beaches here in SoCal in search of the elusive bean. It’s a challenging pursuit well worth exploring, and a prey worthy of any angler, no matter how skilled they think they are. Beans will humble you. The challenge is not for everyone, but the great thing about them is they are readily accessible to everyone. A little grit and determination, a good rod, and a heap of patience is all that’s required.

Blog written and photos provided by TFO Ambassador Scott Leon.

Blog author Scott Leon with a corbina caught on his 5wt Axiom ll-X // Photo: Scott Leon

The Remarkable Northern Snakehead

Have you heard of the Northern Snakehead before? Some have heard of other people catching or spotting one, and many people have a common misconception about this species. Then there are those fishermen, like myself, anxiously await the first couple of hot and humid days of the year so we can get out on the water and enjoy every minute we are out catching this fish.

The Northern Snakehead is a predatory freshwater fish native to China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, and South Korea that were illegally introduced to canals, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and rivers in different countries, including multiple states throughout the US. These fish prefers hot tropical-like conditions. They have a primal lung to breathe in and out of the water; snakeheads begin to breathe more air once the grass or hydrilla grows too thick in the heat of the summer, and they are very visual hunters. These fish can be spooked easily, are very aggressive when feeding and when protecting their fry. They provide fishermen with some of the most fantastic sight fishing opportunities, and they eat topwater flies and frogs regularly.

Snakehead on the fly! // Photo: Braden Miller

There is just no comparison to the sight, sounds, and show when a snakehead eats your fly or frog. If you are lucky, after site casting to a snakehead, you can witness the wake of the fish as it stalks your fly or frog. The sound this powerful fish makes at the precise moment it engulfs your fly is unmistakable, and you better be prepared for a fight. You have to set the hook with every bit of strength you can muster because the mouth of these fish is small and bony, and they have very sharp teeth and powerful jaws. You can consider the hook set round one in your fight to get your snakehead to the boat. Whether you were fishing with one of Temple Fork Outfitters’ fly or conventional rods, remember to keep your line tight! That fish will do everything it can to free the hook stuck in its mouth, which could mean violent head shakes and propelling themselves, at any angle, out of the water. Once you have the snakehead at the boat, the battle is not over yet. Once you have netted your fish and have it inside the boat is when you prepare for a little hand-to-fin combat between you and that fish. Because of their sharp teeth, you’ll need to use pliers to get the hook out.  Snap a fish pics, and then release the fish to make someone else’s day.

Honestly, what more could you ask for from a fish?

You’ve been warned! Snakehead have VERY sharp teeth. Be extra careful handling these fish. // Photo: Braden Miller

Invasive species?

Yes, the snakehead is not native to the United States, but they have most definitely settled in well to their new bodies of water, and you can bet they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There is still a large group of people who dislike this species immensely. Still, most of the anglers I know, have met, or have seen out fishing for this amazing species have quite the opposite outlook on the situation. In my opinion, the main reason a lot of people do not view this fish as a possible future game fish, like the largemouth bass, is because when the Northern Snakehead was first discovered in the US, people were misinformed. They were told this species would eat anything and everything that lived in the same water, and that they were highly aggressive and classified them as “invasive.” People were told that if they caught one, it MUST be killed. It was perceived that these fish were going to take over the rivers, but I can attest that this simply isn’t the case. From what I’ve seen, other species are coexisting just fine.

Where are they?

If you want to catch a snakehead, you will need to locate what waters they live in. According to USGS, at least one snakehead has been reported from the following states: Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Where there is one, there are more. They inhabit canals, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and rivers. I choose to target snakeheads in my local local tidal rivers of Virginia. More specifically, I look for lily pads, hydrilla, spatterdock, and hard submerged grass lines.

Another day in Snakehead Paradise, Virginia. // Photo: Braden Miller

Snakehead On The Fly 

My go-to rod for catching snakeheads with a fly rod is an eight-weight, but depending on various situations, a seven-weight or nine-weight rod could be the best option for specific conditions.  My favorite snakehead fly rod has been my TFO Axiom II-X 8 wt. This rod is lightweight, accurate at range, and has zero issues casting a large fly, like a Game Changer or foam frog pattern.

The 7wt LK Legacy and the 8wt LK Legacy are two other options that will work great for targeting snakehead on the fly. These rods are light, very accurate, and have tons of backbone in the butt to fight this hard fighting species. I tend to use the 7wt LK Legacy when fishing smaller flies and lower tides to make a gentler presentation. The downside to using a smaller-weight rod is that it can be a difficult battle when fish take you into thick cover.

For a reel – I have been using the BVK SD the most recently. I choose this reel not because I am necessarily using the drag, but because it is a super lightweight large arbor reel. While fishing all day, a reel that is reduced in weight is a plus in my book, and a large arbor reduces line twists/coils. I primarily fish Scientific Anglers floating lines like the SA Tropical Titan and intermediate lines like the Sonar Titan. I use a floating line when I am fishing topwater presentations and subsurface flies that I want to wake or just hang in the first foot of the water column. I use the intermediate fly lines when I am fishing down the channel on low tide and in the deeper creeks many times because those fish will drop out of the hydrilla, lily pads, and other grass and lay on either the hard grass line or in the channel.

I reached out to Tim O’Neill, who has fished for Snakeheads with me for two years now, about what he loves most about these mesmerizing fish, and here’s what he had to say:

“Northern Snakeheads are one of the coolest, most unique fish you can chase on fly gear. They have these two beady little black eyes on top of their wide flat head. Their beady eyes, along with a slightly up-turned mouth, make them tailor-made to eat on top. They can lay motionless in a grass bed waiting for the proper moment to pounce, and when they do…it is one of the most aggressive surface takes you will ever see. Yes, spend some time chasing snakehead on the fly, and you will soon forget about trout fishing.” – Tim O’Neill

Photo: Braden Miller

Flies, Leaders, and Retrieves

I throw many topwater fly creations I’ve tied, but foam divers and waking patterns rule most of that. Another go-to pattern I throw is the many different styles of Blane Chocklett’s Game Changers. These include the Feather Changers, Jerk Changers, Finesse Changers, Crafty Changers, and small Hybrid Changers. When I am fishing these types of flies, I usually am fishing with a 6-foot leader; I honestly try not to keep it simple and not complicate things by using 25lb to 30lb fluorocarbon, or sometimes if I’m lazy, I’ll just fish straight 30lb.

When fishing the Game Changers, I will use a two-handed strip just to keep the fly moving down a grass or pad line (unless I’m sight fishing), and look for a fish chasing, a lot of times, you will see a wake following your fly or just the fish, or I will strip it down the line for a few feet and pause now and then. I don’t fish top water flies and divers as fast as the changers. I strip, strip pause, strip, strip, strip pause – just mix it up and see what is working that day and time. You have to see what they are in the mood for that day. They could be fired up, or they could have had a minor cold front move through the night before that could have them a little slower or finicky.

Photo: Braden Miller

Snakehead on Conventional Gear 

When I am fishing for Northern Snakeheads with my conventional gear, I always take two specific TFO rods with me: the Tactical Elite Bass 7’3″ Heavy and the Tactical Elite Bass 7′ Medium Heavy.

The first rod – the Tactical Elite Bass 7’3” Heavy Casting – I choose when fishing topwater frogs. The power of this rod allows me to get the hardest hook set I can with the heavy frog hooks, and it allows me to work those frogs with ease.

The Tactical Elite Bass 7’ Medium Heavy Casting rod is the second rod I use for fishing small to medium-sized swimbaits on weedless rigs down grass lines or creek channels. This rod allows me to get solid hooksets driving the heavy swimbait hook into the fish’s hard bony head, and it allows me to flip and pitch the swimbaits into small pockets and target cast.

On both of these setups, I am running high gear ratio baitcasting reels like the Shimano Curado or SLX either in an 8:5:1 or 7:4:1 and with 50 lb braided line.

The TLE MBR 736-1 is a great choice for targeting snakehead with conventional gear. // Photo: Braden Miller
Photo: Braden Miller

Conventional Lures & How to Work Them:

There are a ton of conventional lures you could use to attract a Northern Snakehead – both topwater and subsurface. I tend to stick with frogs and small to medium-sized swimbaits. I do not like a frog that is too big; I lean towards small to medium-sized ones. I have caught most of my larger-sized snakeheads on smaller, more finesse-style body frogs than the larger sizes. There are two categories of frogs: “working” frogs and “retrieving” frogs. You will fish“working” frogs slower and will not be covering a large section of water as quickly. However, you should achieve some very, very confident eats. There are a bunch of companies that produce frogs that will help you achieve this.

Next, the “retrieving” frogs are the ones you want to fish when you want to cover a large amount of water, and a lot of times, you will get more active and aggressive fish that will chase, wake, and either engulf or simply stare your frog down. Now when I say engulf or stare at your frog, I mean that when you have a fish waking on your frog, and you stop retrieving it, most of these fish will either engulf (eat) it, or you can make them eat it by walking it in place. Also, small twitches of your rod tip will make your frog just twitch around a little bit. There is also an extensive number of companies producing great retrieving frogs—my all-time favorite types of frogs are produced by Teckel.

Photo: Braden Miller

Different species that share the same waters as a Northern Snakehead

There are no other species where snakeheads live because they ate them all…. just kidding! There is an abundance of different fish species living with and around the Northern Snakehead. One day while fishing for Northern Snakehead in mid-June, I also saw a blue catfish, bluegill, bowfin, common carp, grass carp, largemouth bass, longnose gar, shad, snakehead, and yellow perch. A snakeheads favorite food, in my area, is the mosquitofish or killifish. You can look down the bank and see thousands of them. All of these incredible fish coexisting together, all healthy and in large populations. While fishing, I have also seen bald eagles, blue herons, ducks, egrets, and many other birds who call this habitat home.

Bowfins and Gar

Although snakehead are one of my favorite species to target on fly or conventional tackle, bowfin are also a blast to target and are my second favorite fish to catch. These fish run the show on the river, and they know it too. A bowfin is literally a living fossil; these fish have been around since the dinosaur ages. Since they’ve been around forever, they have evolved into the perfect predator. The bowfin is aggressive, and extremely confident when they eat, making them a fantastic species for sight casting. Although it’s not difficult to get them to eat, don’t forget to strip-set hard! You may not know it, but chances are there is a place near you that you could chase after bowfin. If I were you, I would start looking because you are missing out if you aren’t fishing for them!

The Axiom ll-X 8wt is my Go-To for targeting bowfin and snakehead on the fly!

The longnose gar lands third on my list. Gar are plentiful in many rivers; they offer excellent sight fishing and give anglers tons of chances to land one. They can be challenging and a lot of fun to fish for when they are aggressive and snapping at your fly. I love how hard a gar pulls, how crazy cool they look with their armor-like scales and long narrow jaws.

Both bowfin and gar have a primal lung in addition to their gills, which means they breathe underwater and they can come up to the surface to breathe. To anyone who looks down on bowfin, gar, snakehead, and other “trash” species, I urge you to get out there and give them a shot! These species are here to stay, so more people need to take the time to research all of the new information that is out about them. They deserve more respect because these fish could quite possibly be some of the most remarkable species, in my opinion, to fish for in the United States. So many people can target these great fish near them, and if you are one of them, I suggest you get out there and find them.

Gar on the LK Legacy 8wt! // Photo: Braden Miller

I reached out to the man responsible for my snakehead addiction, my good friend and a Virginia snakehead guide, Grant Alvis, about how many different species he has seen on the river while Snakehead fishing:

“In a single day of snakehead fishing, I’ve caught snakehead, bowfin, longnose gar, yellow perch, white perch, largemouth bass, various sunfish, blue catfish, channel catfish, and chain pickerel. That’s probably my best species day while I was actively trying to catch as many species as possible.” – Grant Alvis

The Northern Snakehead is here to stay, and its popularity is rapidly growing around me and in other neighboring states. They can grow to weigh 20 pounds, fight harder than the average bass typically targeted, offer great topwater eats, and you can sight fish for them! In my eyes and others just like me, consider the Snakehead a gamefish. Hopefully, one day soon, everyone will view them not as an invasive species that will destroy the ecosystem but as another game fish that lives in their home waters that is a thrill to catch. So, whether you are targeting snakeheads on the fly or conventional, you are guaranteed to have fun on the water, and you may just find your new favorite species!

Blog written by TFO Ambassador Braden Miller. You can find out more about Braden at his website Miller Time Flies, and follow him on Instagram here.

Photo: Braden Miller

Flip Pallot and the New Mangrove Coast Fly Rod

For many years, while guiding, I spent most of each day on an elevated poling platform at the back of my skiff, watching angler/clients struggle with ultra high priced, high performance rods that they had purchased in hopes that dollars spent, would enhance casting skills…They had raced in exactly the wrong direction with their credit cards!

The higher the performance design a rod incorporates, the smaller, or narrower, the window in which the line loop is formed. The advanced caster can take advantage of the increased tip speed, within the window provided by a high performance rod. A caster lacking expert skills will benefit from a rod action that provides a longer “window.”

The Mangrove rod family offers the longer “window,” super quick start ups, strong butt section for tough fish fights, and solid, no nonsense components that won’t let you down on some far flung, tropical beach.

The all new Mangrove Coast, employs the same casting philosophy as the original Mangrove, but brings improved materials and components to the game, at a comfortable price point.

I hope you get the chance to try the new Mangrove Coast. I think you will be very pleased.

Flip

Video provided by Flip Pallot.

Carp on the Fly

Carp on the fly is completely and utterly underrated! If you haven’t ever chased carp with a fly rod, you are seriously missing out on some of the most fun that you could ever have with a fly rod. These massive fish will test your patience, presentation, gear, and knot-tying skills. Once you get out there and try it, I can guarantee that you will be hooked! It is relatively easy to get started because most of your local waters probably already have a thriving carp population. In this write-up, we will go over the rod, leader, and line set up that I personally use, along with the tactics, flies, and approach that have scored me some big ones!

Photo: Ryan Rachiele

Stealth/Approach

Carp have an incredible sense of sight, and they also are highly sensitive to even the slightest vibrations on the water. The slightest misstep or slip up on your approach can send the carp jetting off leaving you with nothing but a big mud cloud. Stacking the odds in your favor can increase your chances of having a successful day on the water. Here are a few personal tips to up your stealth game/approach:

  • Be like a statue. Carp have a wide angle of vision and they are always on the lookout for danger. Thus, making the least amount of movement as possible is a must! The carp has a small blind spot that is directly behind them, I repeat this is a very small blind spot. Because of this I like to use an upstream approach, this way, I am less likely to spook the fish.
  • Clothing is highly important for your approach – make sure to wear natural colors. Colors such as black, brown, or green are the best. I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy a ghillie suit, just don’t expect to be very stealthy in fluorescent orange!
  • 9 times out of 10 your first cast is going to be your only cast. So, your presentation better be on point because you won’t get another chance at the same fish. Practice casting while you are crouching or on your knees, because, most of the time this will be the position you will be casting in.
  • Spotting a feeding carp can be easy most of the time because of the mud cloud that they create while feeding. Once you spot a feeding carp you need approach slow, and as methodically as possible. Once you are in a casting position you need to target the area that is a few inches ahead of the carp’s feeding lane. Once you make the cast slowly bounce your pattern in front of the fish, the fly should then catch his attention. Sometimes you will not be able to see them eat your fly so keep on stripping until you feel resistance, once you do HOLD ON TIGHT!
Photo: Ryan Rachiele

Flies

Carp feed on a variety of prey items, such as, insects, crustaceans, and crayfish. Crayfish and Damsel Nymphs are my personal favorite patterns to use for carp. Try to make sure to pick fly patterns that can get down right in front of the fish, but, are not so heavy that they make a splash and spook every fish you cast for. Carp flies should be simple. Using materials like rabbit strips or marabou will provide movement with little effort on your part. Here are a few of my personal favorite carp patterns:

  • Whitlock’s Near Nuff Crayfish
  • Bartlett’s Hybrid
  • Marlock’s Carp Breakfast
  • Reynold’s Carp Bitter
Photo: Ryan Rachiele

Rod/Reel Setup

These fish have some serious torque that will test your gear and your fish fighting skills. A 7wt rod is the best overall fly rod to use, and will handle most of the situations that you will find yourself in. Sometimes, when I plan on fishing for smallmouth as well, I will use an 8wt. I use two different fly rods throughout the season, the first is the TFO Mangrove 7wt and the second is the TFO LK Legacy 7wt. Both rods give me the delicate presentation I need, but still have the backbone needed to handle the rod bending carp. With most fish, your reel is basically a line holder, I rarely, if ever, put a big trout or a bass on the reel, because, most of the time there is no need to. However, with carp, your reel is going to be one of the most important parts of your setup. You want a lightweight reel with a flawless sealed drag system. I use the TFO BVK SD III and it withstands the relentless abuse that I put it through season after season.

Photo: Ryan Rachiele

Fly Line/Leader Setup

A weight forward floating fly line will be the most versatile line to use. I personally find an intermediate or sink tip line to be too much. As far as leader goes a 9-foot fluorocarbon leader tapered down to a 12-pound test will do the job. I use a 12-pound test because it is strong enough to handle the big fish, but, not too thick that it spooks every fish.

I can promise you that once your hooked into a monster carp and you feel the fly line to backing knot slide through your fingers and it is still going, you will give carp an all new respect. You can blame me when carp becomes your new obsession!

Blog written by TFO Ambassador Ryan Rachiele (Instagram: @streamerjunkie17). When not fishing, you can also find him working at Wellsboro, Pennsylvania shop Wellsboro Tackle Shack. Find out more about Ryan here.

Photo: Ryan Rachiele