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Another Tribute to Lefty

Lefty Kreh passed away nearly two years ago, but memories of fly-fishing’s biggest ambassador endure. The American Museum of Fly Fishing has paid tribute to the long-time TFO advisor with a film — Time — which is expected to be released in a few months.

TFO chatted with Alex Ford of the Museum to discuss the project, which got significant contributions from TFO advisors Flip Pallot, Blane Chocklett and Bob Clouser. All were good friends with Lefty.

Below are excerpts of the interview.

TFO: What was your role in the film? Were you the editor, the producer? Did you come up with the idea. …?

AF: “We knew we wanted to do a film this year. I spent a lot of time looking for a great story that would not only highlight the legacy of fly fishing, but also involve the museum and its collection in Manchester, Vermont. … I remember reading a Fly Fisherman Magazine article that Flip wrote about driving up to Maryland to fish smallmouth streams with Lefty. That was the original idea and then we got the FlyLords crew involved. Then we talked to Flip, and Blane came on board as well. …”

TFO: When will the film be out? For people to see?

AF: “If we can get it in the F3T (the Fly Fishing Film Tour), that would be ideal. It will be finished by October 1st. That’s the deadline for that. Hopefully by early September, we will be ready to go.”

TFO: I know you’re in the editing process right now. How long is the film? Fifteen minutes? 20 minutes? An hour?

AF: “The film will be 10 minutes. Then there will be lots of clips around it. We did interviews with Blane, Flip and Bob Clouser. All were an hour each. We’re going to cut some of that into the main film, but of course we’re going to use that for other stuff as well.”

TFO: I know you’re not finished, but how long did it take to do the project?

AF: “From conception to finish, about a year. A lot of that was coordination and fundraising in the beginning. We shot the actual project in early June. It should be done around mid-September.”

TFO: I know you can’t give anything away in terms of content, but can you give us an idea of the narrative of the film, what people can expect?

AF: “It follows the relationship between Flip and Lefty, how unique that was and also Lefty’s influence on a personal level. Blane for instance ties a Game Changer (fly) on Lefty’s old vise and he fishes with some of his old Deceivers (from the Museum), things like that.”

TFO: Anything that you learned about Lefty that you didn’t know before? Everyone, I know, has a perception of him. It seems like everyone has a story about him. … Is there anything interesting about him that you learned from this project?

AF: “Generally how supportive he was of other people. On a more specific level, there’s a strain of anthrax named after him. He worked in a factory for a number of years. There were three guys who contracted anthrax. The way it manifested itself in him was never seen before. It’s rather unique.”

TFO: When there’s a project, there’s things that make it worthwhile. Anything with this film that made it particularly worthwhile?

AF: “With Bob Clouser, we didn’t know he’d be (near where we made the film), but he happened be staying a few minutes from Flip’s house. For me, it was so cool to be at Flip’s house. Here’s Bob Clouser and Blane Chocklett and we’re talking about Lefty Kreh and Flip as well. That was just amazing, seeing all these heroes in the sport all together to commemorate Lefty who’s a hero to them. It was humbling all around.”

TFO: How much did Flip and Blane help you out? What was their role in all of this?

AF: “They were both great. Blane had a story about the Gummy Minnow and how Lefty got him his first fly deal. They were both excited that the Museum was doing a project like this. They could not have been more accommodating. The first day of filming was intense. We went on for 12 hours. Everyone did what they needed to do to get it done. Then there was Flip with his professionalism in front of the camera. It was amazing. It was like watching an episode of Walker’s Cay Chronicles being made.”

TFO: Anything else you would like to add?

AF: “Lefty’s family donated a lot of his materials, a lot of his estate, to the museum. We have his tying desk. His flies. All sorts of books, DVDs. A lot of cool stuff.”

TFO: What’s the name of the film?

AF: “Right now we’re calling it Time. That came from Flip who said, ‘All I have is time.’ We didn’t plan that one out, but it resonated.’’

 

Comments, questions about the film on Lefty? Feel free to visit one of TFO’s social media pages.

Fifteen Minutes with Junior Ambassador Braden Miller

TFO ambassadors and advisory staffers cover a wide spectrum. Young and old. Amateur and professional. Famous and relatively obscure. Young Braden Miller is in a class by himself. After all, how many junior-high kids represent a major fly-rod company?

Braden recently joined TFO as a junior ambassador. He’s just 13, but talks fishing like a seasoned pro. TFO blog editor Mike Hodge reached out to the young man and his mom, Casey, for a brief interview. Here’s what they had to say while taking a break from a hectic afternoon schedule at their Glen Allen, Va. home.

TFO: How did you get involved with TFO?

BM: “I’ve been going to the Virginia show for the past couple years. I was showing people my flies. I got a booth and then I got asked to tie. Collins Illich stopped by and asked if I wanted to do an interview. I did an interview with Alex. Rick Pope was there talking about BVK rods. I stopped by the Edison Show, and then Lancaster was when I was asked to join the family.”

TFO: When you go to the shows, do you do the same thing that the adult ambassadors and advisory staffers do?

BM: “I go to shows. I go to the TFO booth. I go back and tie a little bit. Then I go back to the TFO booth and promote rods and talk to people.”

TFO: Let’s talk fishing. That’s probably more interesting for you to talk about. … What’s your favorite fish to catch on fly?

BM: “My favorite fish on fly would be the musky.”

TFO: Why so?

BM: “They’re a challenge to catch and they’re super powerful. Once I’ve hooked them, I’ve not be able to move them. They’d make a run and I’d have to let them run. I’d do the same thing, try to move them and let them run, until I could get them up to the boat. It’s like dead weight.”

TFO: And your favorite place to fly fish?

BM: “So far my favorite place to fish would be Alaska. The last time I went to Alaska I wasn’t super into fly fishing. I still had my fly rod there. I was fishing for rainbow trout and dolly varden.”

TFO: Any place locally in Virginia that you’re fond of?

BM: “Probably Atlantic Beach for albacore. That’s exciting.”

TFO: A lot of kids your age might be into basketball, baseball or football. Why invest so much time into fly fishing?

BM: “Early on I had a choice of fly fishing or baseball. Recently I got in car accident and broke my elbow. My shoulder got messed up and all that. Since then, I’ve been enjoying fly fishing. I can’t make any money in baseball. I can make money in fly fishing, with casting, selling flies and all that. Fly fishing, I like it. It’s calming, relaxing. It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.”

TFO: I understand you got a chance to fish with TFO’s Blane Chocklett. Tell me what that was like.

BM: “That was awesome. I had never done any (musky) fishing like that. It was really cool. He knew exactly where the fish would be holding. The challenge was getting one to eat and hooking one and fighting it right up to the boat. He instructed me exactly how to cast, how to tease the fly. It was amazing.”

TFO: What did you learn from Blane? What’s one thing that you took away from fishing with him, that you maybe didn’t know before?

BM: “Casting. I learned a lot about casting. I was focusing on my casting instead of letting the fly actually go. Too many back casts, then I’d mess up my entire cast. And then letting the fly sink where it needed to be. That one was one of the main things, too.”

TFO: How much have your parents factored into your fly fishing?

BM: “They help with everything. Mom brings me. Dad looks after everyone else, who’s not coming. Sometimes they come to shows when they can. Mom drives me. She’s even willing to tie flies.”

TFO: Casey, what has Braden gotten out of fly fishing? What’s the value of it for him?

CM: “He has always been great in fishing, since he could walk. Fly fishing has been a totally different sport for him. He has learned more patience when it comes to fishing. Between tying his own flies and the fishing, he has really learned patience. Before, he would really be upset if he didn’t catch fish. Now he’s learned that it’s not about going out there and catching fish every time. It’s about being in the outdoors and enjoying himself. He’s really learned a lot from the people who have helped him out.”

TFO: Braden, last question, what is your favorite TFO rod and reel?

“I really like the Axiom II rods, and my favorite reel is the BVK in whatever range. I have I, II and the III. The III with a 7-weight would be my favorite combo. Super light weight. Casts like a dream. Large arbor reel. Picks up line super quick.”

Questions or comments about Braden? Feel free to visit one of our social media pages.

A Few Minutes About Musky On Fly With Blane Chocklett

When the southern mountain trout fishing slows to a crawl in the dead of winter, I hunt grouse. Now my attention has turned to fishing for musky.

The two species are different. One’s a mountain bird, the other a toothy fish, but the two have one thing in common: They are formidable quarry.

Since I used to live in Virginia, I turned to TFO advisor Blane Chocklett. The Roanoke-area resident is one of the country’s premier experts on musky.

We talked for a few minutes by phone on a dreary winter day and cobbled together the following tips for musky on fly.

Be Realistic

Musky are called the fish of 10,000 casts. Hyperbole? Perhaps. Nevertheless, expect to be on the water all day without a lot of action. If a fish follows your fly, that’s a good day. If it eats, that’s even better and if you hook one, you’ve had a great day. And if you land one, it’s time to cross another item off your bucket list.

It’s not unlike southern grouse hunting where one can walk for miles without a peep. If you flush a grouse, that’s good. If you get a shot, that’s even better. If you actually bag one, that’s something to boast about over a beer for season after season.

My ex-wife used to ask me if grouse were extinct. Spouses of musky fishermen probably ask the same question.

“On your own and not knowing where the fish are it’s a huge undertaking,” Chocklett said.  “But, it’s not impossible. Going out with me, we pretty much get fish every day, but I’ve been doing it my whole life, too.”

Stay the Course

Musky will challenge you mentally and physically. Not only will you have to cast until your arm falls off, you have to be disciplined enough to follow the fly to the boat. When the doldrums strike, invariably that’s when a musky will make its move.

Let’s say you’re on your game and hook a big fish. Prepare for a street fight. Musky generally don’t run. They prefer to brawl in a closet. Your biceps will burn, but listen to your guide. Teamwork, at this juncture, is crucial.

“You have to go into it knowing that you’re going to work hard for it,” Chocklett said. “People that get into it enjoy that challenge and they know that when they do connect, that it will be one of the biggest fish they’ve ever seen. It’s mind over matter and knowing that you’re in an uphill battle all day. It’s not easy, but when you have your mind set for that, it’s not that bad.”

The Casting

This ain’t trout fishing. It’s more akin to tarpon fishing. Big rods, big flies with heavy sinking lines. In tarpon fishing, you have to cast far with accuracy. The same is true with musky fishing — with one distinct difference. With tarpon, the name of the game is sight fishing, which means a handful of casts during the course of a day. With musky, you blind cast toward probable spots all day. The key is to make as many casts as you can without excessive false casts. The more efficient the better.

“Most people do struggle,” Chocklett said. “But we’ve made the process easier with TFO and Scientific Anglers, with the rods and the lines. We’ve made it a whole lot easier than it used to be. It comes down from everything, from materials being used and the (water) shedding capability. It’s easier now than it’s ever been.”

The retrieve can vary, but long, slow strips with a few pauses never hurts. Watch the fly all the way to the boat. A figure-8 move or a sweep of the rod can sometimes entice a strike.

Gear You Need

Count on a medium action 12-weight rod with a relatively light, serviceable reel. TFO’s Esox paired with a Power reel are good choices. A balanced rod makes casting easier. You will need a line with a sinking tip to maintain sufficient depth. Leaders are short, which helps with throwing big flies. Four feet of 30 or 40-pound flouro with 18 inches or so of wire tippet from Scientific Anglers suffices.

As for flies, Chocklett’s Game Changer in 2/0-6/0 is a good choice. The bigger the better. A 4-inch fly is small by musky standards. Ten to 12 inches is more the norm.

 

Any questions or suggestions on how to catch musky on fly? Feel free to chime in one of our social media pages.

 

 

 

Lefty Kreh Honored for a Lifetime of Influence

Lefty is No. 1.

So says the editorial staff of Fly Fisherman Magazine, which compiled a list of the 50 most influential anglers of the past five decades and placed TFO’s Bernard ‘Lefty’ Kreh at the top of the heap.

“Absolutely, he deserves to be No. 1 on that list,” fellow TFO advisor Rob Fordyce said. “I never saw Lefty seek (that type of attention). He was a very humble guy. He was Lefty being Lefty enjoying teaching women and children to fly fish for the most part as well as tens of thousands of others. I think it was deserving, but I don’t think he would have (cared) about it.”

Kreh, a long-time TFO advisor until his passing last spring, was followed by Joe Brooks, John Voelker, Tom Rosenbauer, Lee and Joan Wulff, Dave Whitlock, Cathy & Barry Beck,  John Randolph, Nick Lyons and Ernest Schwiebert to round out the top ten. However, fly-fishing’s premier ambassador would have bristled at the notion of such a pecking order.

“I think Lefty would have, first of all, resented the list,” said TFO advisor Flip Pallot, who was a close friend of Kreh’s. “It was a silly endeavor. All you had to do was look at that list to know how silly it was. Lefty was the guy who didn’t want to be in the IGFA Hall of Fame, who didn’t want anyone to do anything special for him. I think that list would have gotten a laugh and chuckle out of him, and he would have kept right on going.”

Pallot, for what it’s worth, cracked the list at No. 16. The popular host of Walker’s Cay Chronicles said he found out about the honor from a congratulatory text message.

“I had no idea, so I forgot about it,” Pallot said. “Then someone else said something. I knew there had to be a list somewhere. I proudly followed in Lefty’s footsteps and ignored the list. Lefty was very fond of saying that a piece of paper will sit there and let you write anything you want to on it. It was someone who made a list, and that was that.”

For the record, TFO placed two other anglers on the top 50, fly tyer/guide Blane Chocklett (27), who invented the Game Changer fly; and noted fly-casting author/instructor Ed Jaworowski (39), who teamed up with Kreh to produce The Complete Cast, now available through TFO. Chocklett and Jaworowski are members of TFO’s national advisory staff.

“I think it’s cool,” TFO chairman Rick Pope said. “But, I didn’t need that list to tell me the (TFO) people on the list are more than worthy. All our Advisory Staff share certain personality qualities — humility, a desire to teach and, needless to say, pride in their knowledge and ability with a fly rod.  Lefty exhibited the best of these traits, and I’m sure that most all named would feel the same as Flip and Rob.”

Anytime a list is compiled that honors the elite of any profession, someone will be slighted. The most obvious omission: TFO’s Bob Clouser, the inventor of the Clouser Minnow.

“For them to miss Bob Clouser tells you how well vetted (the list) was,” Pope said. “I think the Clouser Minnow is the most widely fished fly in the universe.”

Best-of lists are not always journalistically bulletproof, but one thing’s for sure, they create controversy and, in turn, attention.

Thoughts on Fly Fisherman’s list? Let us know what your opinions on one of our social media pages.

It’s Back to Basics for Smallmouth

Tis the time of year for freshwater transition. It’s September. It’s still a bit too hot for trout, and the largemouth bass is a morning and evening proposition. However, the most willing sparring partner in early fall is not hard to find. The smallmouth bass is a viable fly-rodding option as summer yields to autumn. Smallies love to take a fly and fight hard, from the hookset to the release.

Even though the bronzeback is a formidable foe, it’s a fish I’ve consistently neglected throughout my 30 years of fly fishing. I’ve always found trout sexier. It’s true that trout, as a species, boast loads of tradition, but if you honestly evaluate the attributes of each species, the smallmouth compares favorably and is well worth pursuing.

And since trout usually need a break, I’ve decided to give smallmouth a fair amount of love from now on during each fishing season.

So, it’s back to basics. Below are a few key components of my strategy.

Time Year for Smallmouth

Geography, of course, plays a role. I live in Western N.C., where the southern smallie season starts in late spring and ends in late fall. My fishing calendar starts in March and April with trout. As soon as the trout start to feel the heat of summer in late May and early June, it’s time for smallmouth. And when the autumn leaves start to turn, it’s about time for trout.

Temperature and Time of Day for Smallmouth

Smallmouth can be caught if the water temperature lingers in the 50s, but cold water is better for trout. Smallmouth like water temps in the high 60s and 70s, about the time trout head for the oxygen of the riffles.

For most of us, fishing revolves around work and family commitments, but the ideal time for smallmouth is early or late in the day. Low light is better than bright sun simply because the fish feel more secure. If you can fish on a cloudy day, take advantage of such conditions. The fish will hold shallower longer.

Where to Find Smallmouth

Smallmouth are not easy to find on your local river. But if you find one smallmouth, you will usually find several. And once you pinpoint a fishy spot, remember it, because chances are, fish will hold there consistently.

Smallmouth are ambush feeders. They use structure — logs, rocks and boulders — to hide and wait for unsuspecting prey, not unlike brown trout. And don’t forget your trout training. The tails of pools usually hold nice fish. Deeper runs are also a good option.

Food for the Smallmouth

If you don’t have a specialty box of smallmouth flies, don’t despair. Trout love dragon flies and crayfish. The venerable woolly bugger works well for both. I like to use bead-head versions of this pattern. When fish are feeding on the surface, I love poppers, and there’s no better smallmouth popper than the Sneaky Pete, which can be fished with a small woolly bugger or similar substitute as a dropper.

For trophy fish, there’s no better option than Blane Chocklett’s Game Changer. The Game Changer’s movement rivals many conventional lures.

The Equipment for Smallmouth

Heavy trout or light saltwater setups work well. A 5 or 6-weight rod is about as light as you would want to go. A 7, 8-weight can be used to throw bigger poppers. If you throw small flies, you can bring your lighter rod. Big flies, obviously, need a bigger stick.  For instance, you would not want to fish a Game Changer on your 5-weight rod. Step up to a 7-weight or bigger.

Temple Fork’s Axiom II series is a good option as is the BVK series. As for reels, our Power or BVK are good choices.

I fish for smallies with standard weight-forward line, but specialty lines and leaders come in handy when you need to throw bigger flies into a headwind or find yourself fishing deeper water, where you need to get the fly down fast.

Most of the time, I keep the leaders simple —- with a 9-foot 2 or 3X approach. Again, the main variable here is the size of the fly. There’s a difference between casting a size 10 woolly bugger and a 5-inch Game Changer.

If you have any other smallmouth suggestions, feel free to leave a comment on one of our social media pages.

Five Tips on How to Catch Tarpon

The Gold Cup features the best of the best in tarpon fishing. The invitation-only tournament is one of the most prestigious events of the competitive fishing season. TFO advisor Rob Fordyce has set the standard for Gold Cup consistency with 13 second-place finishes, the last of which came earlier this summer.

And he’s always learning.

“I’ve never been satisfied with my knowledge of tarpon,” Fordyce said. “I take fishing seriously. I do it for a living. Tarpon fishing, I take to a different level. That consistent (success) comes from never being satisfied with my knowledge of the game. I’m always trying new things and I’m trying to get better at it.”

TFO blog editor Mike Hodge chatted with Fordyce about his success, and the host of the outdoor series, Seahunter, offered a few tips. Among them:

Get In Shape

Tarpon fishing is not for the meek. It’s physical and fast paced. Many newbies assume the rough stuff comes once the big fish is hooked, and there’s no doubt your biceps, core and thighs will burn as you try to land your quarry.

Often overlooked, though, are the skills needed before the hookup. Good balance is essential. Why? Because if you fish the flats near a pass or a beach, swells can rock the boat. Sea legs aren’t a big deal for a hardened tarpon fisherman, but the newcomer needs to be strong and flexible to maintain good enough balance to spot fish and make accurate casts.

“It’s not a controlled environment,” Fordyce said. “A trout fishing setting is somewhat of a controlled environment. The fish aren’t moving. The fish are holding behind a rock and you know which rock that is. If you make a bad cast in a trout scenario, you get another shot. In tarpon fishing on the ocean side, there can be wind. There’s often extreme current, and sometimes both are in different directions. You can have waves over the bow with wind, and the fly has to end up in a six-inch diameter circle. It’s a game of inches.”

Use the Right Gear

Use gear that’s heavy enough. You don’t want to be under-gunned. A rod that’s too light will result in prolonged battles. A 10 weight is adequate. An 11 or 12 weight is better. For conventional gear, try medium heavy to heavy rods.

The Axiom II is a good choice for those who prefer fly. Our GIS Inshore or Seahunter Series works well for conventional enthusiasts.

Picking the Right Fly/Lure

The Cockroach may be the most famous and productive tarpon fly. I personally prefer the tarpon toad in black and purple. It’s easy to tie and it works. Rabbit strips are one my tying favorite materials simply because of the movement generated. And movement, as TFO advisor Blane Chocklett explains, is key to enticing strikes. I had never really thought about this concept before, but it makes perfect sense. Fish are predators. Feed them what they want.

When it comes to movement, conventional lures are hard to beat. Obvious choices are Bombers and DOAs and Yo-Zuri minnows.

“In sight-fishing scenarios we often use unweighted bass worms or flukes,” Fordyce said. “These baits will almost suspend allowing a lot of movement with a short, twitchy retrieve that can still be pretty slow without having to reel much. This can entice traveling fish to bite that aren’t in a feeding mode much the same way as a fly retrieve.”

Entire blog posts have been devoted to tarpon lures and flies. If you want more info, talk with your guide. Local knowledge is always best.

Seeing the Fish

There’s also a mental challenge involved with tarpon fishing. Count on long periods of time between schools of fish. The ability to concentrate through the doldrums is essential and usually acquired with experience.

“There can be times when you’re getting a shot every thirty seconds, and then there could be hours in between shots,” Fordyce said. “It could be four, five hours of just nothing. That’s when you really have to dig deep and focus hard. That’s when the shots are few and far between and you only get so many.”

Teamwork

You and your guide are a team. Ideally, he puts you on fish. The client’s job is to make an accurate cast, hook the fish and then land it. Rarely is it that easy. Mistakes happen and tempers can flare. The key, as in any relationship, is communication, particularly when it comes to the client’s skill level and expectations, so the chaos can be managed.

“There’s a lot of moving parts,” Fordyce said. “It’s a team sport. Your guide is trying to set you up for the most productive shot. There’s a lot going on.”

 

Headed out to pursue the Silver King? Let us know how you do on one of our social media channels. Want to add more tips or suggestions, feel free to speak up.

Why You Should have this Game Changer

The cliché is true: Necessity is the mother of invention. So is patience. And persistence.

That was the path that TFO advisor Blane Chocklett endured to come up the Game Changer. You might think that the Roanoke, Va. guide cranked out this revolutionary baitfish fly in a few tying sessions. Well, you would be wrong.

The current Game Changer is the result of about 20 years of brainstorming to solve a riddle that few, if any anglers, have ever truly thought about:

“What makes a fish swim,” Chocklett said during a phone interview last week. “Not being an engineer you have to figure those things out on your own. It’s been a process of trial and error.”

The Game Changer was around for three or four years or so before its commercial debut with Umpqua in the mid-2000s.

It’s not an easy two-minute fly. Count on about 30 minutes at the vise during your initial attempts. Efficiency should follow.

“It can be (labor intensive), just like with anything else (new), especially with the synthetic version,” Chocklett said. “It’s a matter of learning the tapers and doing it correctly. It doesn’t require a lot of skill. A lot of it is repetition, creating a taper with the bait that you’re trying to imitate.”

Once perfected, the Game Changer is dynamite on an array of species — everything from Tiger Fish to freshwater trout and all that falls in between those two spectrums.

Its appeal is its realistic movement.

“Movement gets the fish’s attention and draws the fish to your offering whether it be a lure, a bait offering or your fly,” Chocklett said. “It depends on the fish species, but every fish is built with trigger mechanisms that causes them to strike as prey presents itself. Learning those different triggers within the species that you target, the better your odds of catching fish. There are certain triggers in all fish. The more wounded they are, the more realistic the movement pattern, all those things, this fly can do. It can undulate in the water and act like a fish that’s struggling to stay alive with a couple quick strips.

“Movement is one thing, but is it the right food source when they get up to it? Those all come into play. I don’t care what type of fish it is — a freshwater trout or a tuna in the ocean and everything in between. You have to get their attention first. Usually that’s by movement. Then once they get to it, is it a food source? The clearer the water, the more realistic it needs to be, in my opinion, to fool those fish.”

The inspiration for the Game Changer stemmed from Chocklett’s observation during years of guiding when he marveled at the action of conventional lures when compared to flies.

“I’ve been guiding twenty-six-and-a-half years now, and ninety percent (of my clients) are fly anglers, and then they’ll bring someone who doesn’t want to fly fish,” Chocklett said. “They’ll bring their gear and use soft plastics — Flukes and Senkos and other types of swimbaits versus crankbaits and all that kind of stuff. With that, you see how the movement attracts fish. There’s no denying that some of those actions you can’t get on a fly. We weren’t able to until now — that was my goal back then. If I had someone with conventional gear in the boat, that was easy. It was a day off. I didn’t have to worry about them. I had to focus on the fly guy to get them into fish. With spinning gear, you put that in the water, you don’t even have to know what to do and you’re going to catch fish. That’s the deal. I’ve got to come up with something that works like that with the fly rod.”

Chocklett is in the final stages of putting together a book on the Game Changer. His advice to those who aspire to create better flies as fly fishing evolves: Pay attention on the water. Persevere at the vise.

“More than anything it’s time on the water and getting an understanding what fish are targeting,” Chocklett said. “It’s observation on the water and putting that toward flies and seeing how that works. That would be my contribution to someone to give them inspiration. Don’t be afraid to try things and fail. I’ve got a room full of (lousy) flies. I’ll be set on something for a while and then it all of a sudden it hits me. A lot of times when you force stuff, a lot of times the ideas don’t work. I’ve made a lot of bad flies. Don’t be afraid to fail.”

Want to find out more about the Game Changer? Check out the video below. Let us know what you think on one of our social media channels.

Chocklett Makes His Mark as a Writer

Blane Chocklett is a professional guide and fly tier. The TFO advisor is also a writer. His first book, published by Headwaters, is due out this fall. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect.

 I know you haven’t definitely decided on a title other than Game Changer, which is the name of one of your patterns. But what about the content — patterns, tying techniques, I assume?

“It is going to be that with fishing anecdotes and my thoughts on that side of it. The other part of it will be fishing techniques as well. Maybe a little bit of everything. Fishing techniques, using these style of flies and my thought process on those, predatory fish and how they respond to the bait that they feed on. Also tying techniques, my patterns and fishing techniques and anecdotes.”

Where are you at this juncture in the editorial process?

“I’m pretty much done with my part. The editing part is where we are right now. They might have a couple questions, to add stuff or change things. So the writing part’s done. We’re still in the process of piecing it all together and putting it all together. (Editor Jay Nichols) said it probably would be available September or October.”

Since you’re done with the bulk of your work, how long did that take?

“Way longer than it should have. Six years, probably. But that was because of my scheduling and me not getting to it when I should have.”

That’s a lot of work.

“It is a lot of work and life gets in the way and stuff. I had a bunch of different things going on, but it was a good thing, too, because a lot of things (in the book) developed during that time that I can add to it. But during that time frame, Lefty (Kreh) told me I could have written two or three books.”

Who’s the Publisher?

“Jay Nichols. Headwater Books.”

How did the relationship come about?

“Lefty invited me up to his house with my wife and we spent the day with him (and) Jay. He said he had a lunch meeting set up for us. The meeting was with Jay Nichols. Lefty had said before we met that I was going to write a book. We were able to get a contract done at lunch. My original contract was with Stackpole, but since I was not able to get it done when they wanted it done, we felt like it would be less stress on both us that we worked on it with (Jay’s) publishing company that he owns. Jay has a unique deal where he’s the head editor of Stackpole on the fishing side of things and also has his own publishing company, too. He has a different deal. When we switched over, it was a whole lot less stress.”

Obvious question: How big was Lefty’s role in this?

“Lefty’s been everything to me as far as a lot of things in my career. He’s introduced me to tons of people. He got me hooked up with TFO. Back in the late ‘90s, he got me hooked up with Umpqua with my first patterns. He’s always had a place, definitely, in my career. I owe him a lot.”

I assume, when you started this book, you had a pretty clear objective. Now that you’re almost done, did you accomplish what you wanted?

“I think we definitely did. There’s also a lot more we could add. Jay said there’s definitely enough for two more books. That’s probably something we’re going to do in the future. Get this one out and then the next year or so get back on it and work on a couple more. There was so much information that Jay felt like we had to leave a lot of things out. You have to have a cutoff at some point. There’s definitely room for future books since we didn’t cover everything, that’s for sure. But did we cover the most relevant things that I’m doing at this time.”

I know it’s not over, but what was the most enjoyable thing about the process?

“I would say working with Jay and getting to know him and forming a great friendship with him and some of the things that go with it. Jay has a huge background in the industry with a lot of great authors. He was the editor for Fly Fisherman Magazine. That opened the door to work with (Fly Fisherman editor) Ross Purnell. Just working with Jay and his patience and seeing how good he is with what he does in holding my hand through the process. I’m not a writer at all. I don’t pretend to be. A great editor makes you look good. That was my favorite part. Also, there was learning about myself. He would ask questions that would really make me think about what I’m doing, the fly design and my fishing. That really opened my eyes to the things that I wasn’t really aware of with the way I was thinking about things. I learned a lot about myself and how I am designing these flies. It was really introspective and makes you start thinking about things. Teaching me how to write was really cool as well.”

What was the most difficult or challenging thing about the book?

“The act of getting down to it and putting it on paper. The discipline to get it done.  The only way Jay could get me to get down to it was where we would block days off where we would spend four, five days at my house. I would spend four, five days at his house. We’d rent a cabin and get away from everything. That was the biggest thing, finding the time and making yourself sit down and do it.”

Any advice to someone doing this?

“Make sure you have a really good editor, one that you can trust and feel comfortable with. Make sure you’re ready for the task at hand. It is a huge undertaking.”

 

Blane reviewed TFO’s Axiom II in this post. And when you take a look at his book, let us know what you think.

It’s Show Time: A Guide to the 2018 Fishing Shows

It’s winter, too cold to fish, but it’s not too cold to do the next best thing — and that’s talk about fishing.

And what better way to do that than at a fishing show. The 2018 winter show circuit has already started, and Temple Fork Outfitters is scheduled to be on hand at nearly two dozen events with an array of staff, advisors and ambassadors. You can check out the Drift Rod with Jason Randall, get casting tips from Wanda Taylor and Sandi Roberts, talk bass fishing with Cliff Pace, chat about the Axiom II with Blane Chocklett or rub elbows with Chris Thompson, the Virginia Fly Fisherman of the Year.

TFO promises to have something for just about everyone.

“Fly Fishing shows have always been core to TFO’s special connection with anglers,” TFO President Frank-Paul King said. “Whether one of our Ambassadors working with a new angler or Lefty teaching a group class, we all benefit from the relationships fostered at these wonderfully unique gatherings.”

Below is a list of shows that TFO is set to attend in 2018, from late January until July. Please stop by and say hello.

International Sportsman’s Expo, Sacramento, Jan. 18-21

The Fly Fishing Show, Marlborough Mass., Jan. 19-21

Heartland Fly Fishing Festival, Lebanon, Ind. Jan. 20-21

The Fly Fishing Show, Somerset/Edison, N.J., Jan. 26-28

Carolina Outdoor Expo, Greenville, N.C., Jan. 26-28

Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show, Shepherdsville, Ky., Jan. 27

The Fly Fishing Show, Atlanta, Feb. 2-3

Greater Cincinnati Fly Fishing Show, Loveland, Ohio, Feb. 3

Troutfest/GRTU, New Braunfels, Texas, Feb. 16-18

Surf Day/Jersey Shore Surfcasters, Lincroft, N.J., Feb. 18

The Fly Fishing Show, Pleasanton, Calif., Feb. 23-25

The Fly Fishing Show, Lancaster, Pa., March 3-4

Fred Hall Show, Long Beach, Calif., March 7-11

Northwest Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo, Albany, Oregon, March 9-10

New England Saltwater Fishing Show, Coventry, R.I., March 9-11

Midwest Fly Fishing Expo, Warren, Mich., March 10-11

Texas Fly Fishing and Brew Festival, Plano, Texas, March 10-11

Saltwater Fishing Expo, Somerset, N.J., March 17-18

Northwest Sportshow, Minneapolis, Minn., March 22-25

Spey O’Rama, San Francisco, April 19-21

TFO Day, Oakland (Calif.) Casting Club, June 1

Skeeter Boat Owner’s Tournament, Lake Fork, Texas, June 8

Spey Nation, Pulaski, N.Y., June 23-24

European Tackle Trade Association Show, Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 28-30

ICAST, Orlando, Fla., July 12-14

Get Ready for the Axiom II

As a seasoned guide in the mountains of Virginia, Blane Chocklett has chased an array of species throughout his fly-fishing career — brook trout in the Blue Ridge, big browns in the spring creeks and musky in the rivers. Big fish, small fish, doesn’t matter, there’s always something tugging on the line for the Roanoke, Va. resident.

Chocklett, a TFO advisory staffer and owner of the New Angle Fishing Company, was one of the first to demo TFO’s new Axiom II, having fished the new rod since March. The Axiom II will make its official debut in October. Last week, we chatted with Blane about the Axiom II. Here’s what he had to say:

TFO: What stands out about the Axiom II?

BC: “What I like about it the most is I put in a lot of clients’ hands. Everyone has a different casting stroke, but everybody that’s used it, they’ve all been able to pick it up and cast it without having to fix their casting stroke, which says a lot about the rod. So for me, it’s a no-brainer when I hand it to a client. There’s not a period where they have to figure out how to balance the rod and cast well enough to shoot the line. The rod has plenty of reserve power. That’s what I really like about it. It’s very smooth.

“The other cool attribute — and I don’t want to get ahead of myself — is it’s extremely durable. I’ve had clients put rods in awkward positions and they will fail. This rod held up to that. We’ve caught very large fish on it, so we’ve put it to a pretty good test. I’ve been really pleased with it.”

TFO: When you’re talking about durability, you’re talking about fish fighting?

BC: “Not only fish fighting, but delivering the fly to the fish. Not to get too detailed, I know lines have a lot to do with that, too. … The rod is smooth and it fits a lot of different casting strokes. That’s the coolest thing about it and the thing that stands out to me.”

TFO: I know you’re not an engineer, but any idea, in layman’s terms, why the Axiom II can do what it does with different casting strokes?

BC: “You have the Ferrari and you have the wagon with the horse, going from one extreme to the other. This rod, once you get in a medium action, you start losing those guys on the top end and gaining more people on the bottom end. Most people can’t figure out those medium action rods. This is one step up from that. It’s not quite as super-fast. What that does is it lends itself to all styles. It’s not too fast for most people. It’s not too slow for the guy that likes a super-fast rod. It kind of hits that sweet spot where it has plenty of reserve power. It doesn’t break down, which medium to soft rods have a tendency to do, when you have a lot of line out. Some people can’t wait long enough for the line to uncoil the line on the back cast. It responds to the guy that doesn’t haul at all and using the cast without any extra line speed. The rod can handle that easily without uncoiling too quickly where they lose the timing.”

TFO: I assume you tried the original Axiom? Any difference?

BC: “I think the original was on the high end for people who had a super aggressive casting stroke. … Not taking anything away from that rod, but I think it was a bit much for some people. When you get too fast of a rod or too stiff of a rod, the negatives are one, it takes a lot of people out of the equation if you’re selling rods. Second, your body feels the torque and the recoil during a long day of fishing, especially if you’re doing a lot of fishing. For me, guiding for musky, fish where you have to cast over and over and over, that’s not a good thing. You can feel it over time and fatigue quicker. What I like about this newer rod is it will absorb some of that shock. You have the power to still get big flies turned over and not wear yourself out. That’s a nice attribute of this rod over the other one. It’s also a lot lighter. It’s also a good-looking rod.”

TFO: What type of fish have you caught on that rod?

BC: “Smallmouth bass, big grass carp, big stripers, redfish and some albacore.”

TFO: Have you had much feedback from clients on the Axiom II?

BC: “I’ve had a lot of them say it’s one of the best fly rods they’ve ever cast. I’ve got a really good client that’s got every rod known to man. Like a lot of us, he’s a gear junkie. He has all the new rods that come out every year. He always does. He does well for himself, so he can afford to do it. That’s his thing. He fished it with me earlier in August and thought that it was one of the best rods he had fished and he’s got a lot of the new rods, the new Sage and the Scotts that he likes and he’s got Loomis rods, too. He buys from everybody and he was impressed with that rod and said it’s as good as any of the top-end rods on the market.”

 

The Axiom II is now shipping to dealers!  Call your local fly shop and request yours today!