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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 ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of Euro Nymphing

No facet of fly fishing has witnessed a more rapid rate of change than nymph fishing. Driven by its popularity which is fueled by its success, nymph fishing has arrived at the forefront of fly fishing. More anglers are nymphing than ever before. And it’s no wonder; trout feed more often on subsurface food sources than those floating on top and anglers rely more on nymph fishing to target those feeding fish.

Euronymphing, sometimes called tightline or contact nymphing has exploded onto the fly fishing scene and changed the landscape of nymphing. No other method brings more fish to the net because it allows anglers to more effectively meet the three goals of nymph fishing with every drift.

The three goals of nymph fishing: the ‘Why’

Regardless of the method, the three goals of nymph fishing still apply: the first goal challenges you to get your flies to the strike zone where trout feed, usually the bottom 20% of the water column. Trout hold in feeding lies close to the bottom where the current is less than that flowing over their heads. To reach those trout in the strike zone, our leader must pass through the faster layers, which produces drag that lifts our flies from the bottom and traps them in midcurrent.

Presentation, the second goal of nymph fishing, requires us to achieve a dead drift for our nymphs just like we do for our dry flies. Flies should tumble in the strike zone at the slower speed of that layer, not whisk over their heads in midcurrent. Natural invertebrates drift this way and so should our flies. In other words, our flies should not drift at the speed of the current we see on the surface, but at a speed approximately one half of the surface current.

Lacking a floatation style indicator, whose large surface area affixes our drift to the surface speed, euronymphing allows our leader to cut through the fast current to reach the strike zone. Producing less drag on our flies, euronymphing allows our flies to remain in the strike zone and lets them drift at the slower speed of that layer, achieving goals number one and two.

A more accurate means of strike detection obviously leads to more fish in the net, making it goal number three for any successful nymphing method. While there’s a time and place for floatation devices, euronymphing affords a more sensitive and reliable means of strike detection by eliminating the inherent delay in strike detection with floatation devices, including plastic indicators. With the improved connectivity to our flies that euronymphing provides, strike detection sensitivity and immediacy also improves.

This graphic further illustrates the importance of a drag free drift. Notice how the current is faster near the top of the water column underneath the bobber/indicator, thus creating more drag . Not having an indicator lets the nymph rig reach the bottom of the water column faster.

The ‘How’ of Euronymphing

Euronymphing minimizes the drag inducing effect of the surface and midcurrent portion of the water column by cutting through these layers as efficiently as possible to reach the strike zone, allowing our flies to maximize the time spent there. To accomplish this, first and foremost eliminate drag accentuating plastic floating strike indicators. Then eliminate any line or leader lying on the water’s surface as this will also accelerate your drift. Lastly, use the thinnest leader you can manage with all subsurface sections of your leader or tippet thin and level.

On the water, cast your flies upstream or at an upstream angle, usually less than forty-five degrees across stream. Most casts are less than twenty-five to thirty feet. A slightly overpowered forward cast combined with a hard stop will transfer enough energy to complete the cast and snap back the weighted flies enough to ‘tuck’ them under, drilling them into the water to improve their sink rate. Recover any slack in the leader as quickly as possible to connect to your flies since many strikes occur during the descent. You’ll know when your flies reach the strike zone because the leader will tighten slightly and the drift will slow noticeably to a speed more consistent with that layer.

By lifting the rod after the cast and holding steady throughout the drift, then by recovering slack with your line hand, keep all line and leader from the water’s surface, maintaining the most vertical orientation of the leader as it pierces the water. Keep the sighter out of the water not only so you can see it but also to reduce drag since its usually thicker than the fluorocarbon tippet below it. Allow the drift to approach and pass downstream of your position. At this point, you’re fishing under the rod tip. At the end of the drift, you can recast to start another pass.

Anglers can vary any of the three parts of a euronymphing presentation, which are the initial cast, the dead drift portion of the presentation that follows and thirdly, the aftermath of the dead drift.

Casting, the first phase of every drift, offers several choices. While a constant tension oval shaped tuck cast works most of the time, the choice of various other casts may be necessitated by circumstances, such as overhead vegetation. In this situation, a water loaded cast might work better. Another common problem; you encounter faster water that minimizes fly time in the strike zone or prevents them from even getting to the bottom at all. Try more power and a firmer stop on the forward cast to drill the flies to the bottom.

The dead drift phase, the middle part of every euronymphing presentation, often works best as a dead drift. But when trout hesitate or on slow days, try adding a very subtle jig animation to the flies to elicit a strike. Gently lift the rod and drop it slowly, staying in contact with the flies as much as possible. Use nymphs tied on jig hooks to reduce bottom snags. Sometime a simple jig ‘twitch’ means the difference of several fish on slow days.

The final stage of each pass begins as the dead drift ends. Often we simply recast to start another drift, but try stopping the rod tip to allow the flies to lift up towards the waters surface in the manner Jim Leisenring made famous many years ago as a method to imitate natural insect behavior releasing from the streambed and rising towards the surface. You’ll even get strikes by letting the flies dangle in the current. Also on occasion, let the flies swing across current at the end of the drift like wet flies, since trout like to chase living food prey. You can tease a lot of trout to bite that you might otherwise miss.

Armed with the ‘Whys’ and ‘Hows’ of euronymphing, you’re ready to hit the water. Pack your nymph fly box, grab your net and your nymphing rod. If you don’t have a nymphing rod and love to euronymph, consider adding one to arsenal. The ability to cast lightly weighted flies, rod length and sensitivity make a dedicated euronymphing rod a wise investment.

TFO recently released the new Stealth rod – designed specifically for European, high-stick and tight-line nymphing techniques. Learn more about the Stealth below or here.

Blog written by TFO Advisor Jason Randall. Photos provided Jo Randall.

The Stealth Is Coming – An Overview with Rod Designer Jason Randall

It’s no secret that European, high-stick and tight-line nymphing is an extremely effective (and popular) way of catching trout. Being able to make repetitive, drag-free drifts and cover as much water as possible (depth and length) is a sure way of increasing your chances of catching more fish. However, having the right rod and reel to accompany this style of fishing is crucial.

If there’s anyone in the TFO family that knows nymphing, it’s TFO National Advisor Jason Randall. Jason has been fly fishing for most of this life, but when he isn’t fishing, he’s writing about fishing – specifically, nymphing. In 2017, Stackpole/Headwaters Books released his most recent book, ‘Nymph Masters; Fly Fishing Secrets from Expert Anglers’. Leading up to this book, Jason spent several years researching the various styles of nymphing by interviewing, observing and fishing with several competitive anglers that specialize in European, high-stick and tight-line nymphing. With his knowledge and experiences, it was obvious that Jason would be paramount in helping TFO create a rod designed specifically for this style of fishing.

After several years of prototypes and modification, the Stealth will be available at all TFO dealers and online starting October 5th. This week, we talked with Jason about what went into making the Stealth and why he thinks it’s the perfect Euro-nymphing rod.

Photo: Jo Randall

This rod has been several years in the making. Tell us about the research and “making” of the new Stealth rod. What were some important factors for you when helping design this rod?

The two most important factors for a good performing tighline or Euro-nymping rod are overall weight and action.

Weight: We wanted to get this rod right at or under the neighborhood of three ounces that would also be heavily damped. This way there isn’t a lot of back and forwards at the end of the cast. Essentially, we wanted a light rod that would cast easily.

Action: The rod needed to have the sensitivity to detect strikes, but it also has to have the ability to fight a good fish – especially when you are talking about a two or three weight rod. It also has to forgive break offs and protect the lighter tippet (6x & 7x) that is so common in Euro-nymphing.

There were several different stages of prototypes for the Stealth. Each one was an improvement from the last, but when trying to find the right balance between recovery, dampening, tippet protection, and sensitivity in rod, that’s a hard set up criteria to get perfect. I think we finally found it and I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve come up with.

How is this rod different from other TFO rods – specifically the Drift.

The Stealth is a lot lighter and has less swing weight. They are really designed for two different purposes. The Drift is a very good nymphing and multi-purpose rod, but it’s not specifically designed for Euro-nymphing like the Stealth.

And recommendations for reel accompaniment?

The BVK SD I is a great complement for the Stealth. Having a good balance between a longer rod and reel is critical for a good euro nymphing set up. If you have a longer rod, but don’t have a reel to help balance it out in the butt section, your going to wear your arm or shoulder out. The BVK SD I works perfectly for the 2wt and 3wt models of the Stealth.

The BVK SD l is a great complimentary reel for the Stealth. Photo: Nick Conklin

What line, leader, tippet set up do you like to use? Do you add a sinker weight/split shot to the bottom of your rig (bounce rig)? 

Bouncing the bottom is not necessarily the goal since trout don’t feed directly from the bottom but on drifting organisms in the lower 20% of the water column (strike zone) and I almost never use sinkers. I most often use lightly weighted flies on light tippet. I usually use 7 X, but 6 X is also common which cuts through the faster water in the upper water column to allow the flies to drift in the strike zone at the slower speed relative to that layer. So my rig is very light, long leaders up to 20 feet long and very light tippet, usually ten feet of 4 X and ten feet of 6-7X. I use SA competition level line. I know my flies are in the strike zone when the drift slows relative to the surface current I can see above, not necessarily when I snag the bottom.

Go-To flies? 

I like the Blow Torch, Ice-dub Frenchie, the Pink Hog and the Iron Lotus, in size 14, or so. If I need a slightly heavier fly, I use the Czech Catnip 2.0 or a Coulee Scud. I need a heavier fly to fish stronger, faster current.

Rigging Up. Photo: Jo Randall

Do you ever euro nymph with larger flies or streamers? If so, do you use the same set up (line/leader/tippet) that you would use for the nymphs?

Yes, I use my Euro-nymphing set up- rod, leader and tippet for dries and streamers, but it wouldn’t be called nymphing at that point. Just a hybrid technique.

With the two models offered, can you describe what would be the best types of scenarios for each line wt? In other words, would the 2wt be best for creeks and smaller streams, and the 3wt best for larger streams and rivers? 

I think of the 10 foot Stealth as our finesse nymphing rod, which I use most of the time. It is perfect for the lighter rigs and lighter flies I like. It’s also ideal for presentation in tight quarters with limited space.

I would use the 10’6″ Stealth when I need extra reach to target lies, seams or pockets beyond the reach of the 10 foot rod.

The Stealth will be available at all TFO dealers and online starting October 5th . To find out more about this rod click here.

Jason Randall is a National Advisor for TFO, as well as an outdoor writer. His articles appear regularly in national fly fishing magazines and he is a feature writer for American Angler and written four books. In 2017, Stackpole/Headwaters Books released his most recent book, ‘Nymph Masters; Fly Fishing Secrets from Expert Anglers’. He appears at shows and fly fishing events throughout North America. You can find out more Jason here.

The Art of How to Present the Nymph

Editor’s Note: Below is a submission from TFO advisor Jason Randall. Enjoy.

Since the dawn of time, at least angling-wise, anglers have embraced the need for drag-free dry-fly drifts. Only in more recent history, however, have anglers come to realize the importance of a natural drift while nymph fishing. Just as with dry flies, having the right fly helps, but presentation trumps fly selection; you’ll catch more trout with the wrong fly and the right presentation than you will with the right fly but a poor presentation.

Euro-nymphing and other forms of tightline or contact nymphing have surged in popularity not only because of improved strike detection, but also the control they offer over the presentation. By minimizing the effect of subsurface drag, these methods allow the flies to stay in the strike zone, which is the bottom 20 percent of the vertical water column, with a more natural drift.

You can think of the shorter drifts typical of most tightline techniques as having three distinct stages. The first, just after the cast, begins as the flies descend to the strike zone, and the current begins to pull them downstream. Ideally, get your flies quickly to the strike zone with a tuck cast or equivalent, which shortens this phase and lengthens the next. Many strikes occur during this stage, so it pays to keep contact with the flies while they sink.

TFO’s Drift Rod is an excellent choice for the serious nymph fisherman. Photo courtesy of Jason Randall.

The second stage begins when the flies reach the strike zone — often signaled by a slight tightening of the sighter, which is a short segment of brightly colored and thus highly visible monofilament spliced into the leader. No line or leader on the water makes a single entry point as the leader pierces the water, and the drift is tracked downstream towards the angler’s position and below. The drift usually moves slightly slower than the current speed seen from the surface since the strike zone layer near the stream bottom moves slower than the layers above. This speed mimics the drift speed of naturally drifting organisms. An occasional bottom snag confirms that our flies are in the strike zone. Strikes are often felt as a tug, but more commonly seen as change in the ‘sag’ or droop of the sighter.

The third stage can be varied according to angler preference, but starts with the end of the dead drift as the flies tighten to the leader. At this point, we often simply lift to the next cast, and sometimes justly so if fish are hitting during the previous stages. But when fishing is slow, try modifying this final stage- it can trigger strikes. For instance, once the flies tighten, allow them to rise slowly to the surface like a rising insect, even allowing them to swing across the current like a wet fly. If fish are in a chasing mood, this might seal the deal. This works even with rising trout during a hatch.

Choose current threads for your drift within one and one-half rod lengths or less from where you stand as measured by holding the rod horizontally and directly across stream. Cast less than twenty-five feet upstream in that thread. If you choose a thread too far across stream, you’ll get drag during the drift as the flies pull across currents. A longer rod helps reach that current thread that might otherwise be too far away. Longer rods also help lengthen the drift.

TFO’s adjustable length Drift rod lets you add or remove segments according to the situations you may face in the course of a day’s fishing. Adding length allows you to extend a drift or reach an otherwise unreachable feeding lane. The shorter length comes in handy when fishing in tight quarters or on streams closed in by vegetation. With the Drift rod, you only have to carry one rod to the river.

Any questions, comments about the Drift or nymphing techniques, feel free to reach out on one of our social media channels.

 

Jason Randall is an outdoor writer whose articles frequently appear in fly-fishing magazines. He is the author of four books published by Stackpole Books.

Why the Length of Our Nymph Fishing Rod Matters

“Fly Fishing is a unique avocation,” wrote Vince Marinaro in his 1976 classic book, In the Ring of the Rise. “It is intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying. Its many thousands of devotees have the choice of occupying various levels of dedication or indulgence and remaining there, or they can climb new heights according to the depth and width of their personal involvement.” Vince’s description certainly applies to me; I barely seem to meet one challenge in fly fishing before the next one presents itself. But I think I love that aspect of our sport the best. It keeps me engaged and passionate, even decades after I first picked up a fly rod.

One of the reasons our sport continually challenges us lies in its rapidly evolving nature. Not only does our gear and equipment change, but methods and techniques change a lot, too. And no area of our sport has changed more in recent years than nymph fishing. When I first started fly fishing, nymphing meant attaching a floatation style strike indicator to my leader, using a few weighted flies or adding split shot and heaving a water loaded cast from a drift boat. I also used the same technique while wade fishing. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized just how many fish I didn’t catch.

The Changing Face of Nymph Fishing

Someone once told me that I was probably missing more trout than I caught while nymphing below my strike indicator. Skeptical at first, I donned on scuba gear and took a camera took to the depths of the river. The underwater filming proved him right. Because of inefficient strike detection, we miss more fish than we catch. This same realization led others to develop better nymph fishing methods in the 1980s and ‘90s, ones that improve the odds of catching. I dedicated myself to learning these methods and the results amazed me — I caught more fish — a lot more fish!

New tightline techniques evolved because they achieve the two main goals in nymph fishing, namely keeping the flies in the strike zone, which is near the bottom, and improving strike detection by a more direct connection with the flies. Sometimes referred to by the various countries where they originated, Polish nymphing appeared first, soon followed by Czech nymphing. Not to be outdone, the French nymphing method evolved for the use of longer leaders and lighter flies than their euro-nymping cousins. These designations seem confusing at first, but all of these methods bear more similarities than differences and the name ‘tightline’ or ‘contact’ techniques more accurately describe them.

By eliminating floating indicators, properly weighted flies sink to the bottom and resist the pull of the current that wants to lift them from the strike zone. Drifting downstream, the leader must cut through the faster current to allow the flies to drift in the slower water near the bottom. In order to cut through the current, you need to lift the line and leader from the water with a high rod position, so that the leader penetrates the water at a single point rather than lying on the surface. You should feel bottom now and then, which means your flies are in the strike zone. You’ll also feel strikes and catch fish.

Cast upstream or up-and-across, using a tuck cast to let the flies sink rapidly. A tuck cast includes an overpowered forward stroke with an accentuated stop that allows a vertical drop for the flies and an unrestricted decent to the streambed. Keep your casts short- say, around 20 to 30 feet or so, under most circumstances. Beyond that, you won’t be able to lift the line and leader from the water. After the cast, lift the rod slightly to maintain contact with the flies during their decent and then gently lead them downstream. Don’t lead too quickly or you’ll spoil the drift. Use rod position and slack management (with your line hand) to keep the leader and line from the water’s surface. Allow the drift to continue below your position to allow the flies to swing and rise in the current. The rise and lift of the flies at the end of the dead drift mimics natural prey behavior when an insect releases from the bottom in the process of emergence, drifts downstream before turning headfirst into the current to rise to the surface.

Note the high rod position, which is essential to getting a drag-free drift. (Illustration from my book, Nymph Masters: Fly-Fishing Secrets From Expert Anglers, courtesy of Stackpole books.)

I like to feel bottom occasionally to let me know my flies are in the strike zone. If I snag on every drift, though, I’ll switch to a lighter fly. If the drift zips along too fast, I’ll add a bit more weight to slow it down and reconnect with the streambed. I raise and lower my rod tip during the drift to follow the contour of the bottom. For instance, I raise my rod as the drift approaches a submerged rock, and then lower the tip approaching a drop off or depression. This ensures that my flies present to every likely feeding lie.

Work your way upstream when strikes occur during the dead drift phase, but you can also work your way downstream if you get more takes on the swing. Make multiple drifts to ensure that your flies hit every feeding lie in every feeding lane. A firm lift serves as a hookset, but you may have to delay or slow the hookset slightly when the flies are downstream of you at the end of the drift or during the swing. A slight delay lets the trout turn back to its lie and avoids pulling the fly out of the its mouth.

Adding a short segment of highly visible monofilament into your leader makes it more visible and aids strike detection. I often use a combination of yellow or red colors for my ‘sighter’ — the name given to this visual aid —because I can see at least one color under most lighting conditions and against most backgrounds. You’ll feel the more obvious strikes, but subtle strikes often cause only a change in the leader’s angle of penetration or soft tightening of the leader, best seen in the sighter segment.

As you can imagine, you can only hold line and leader above the water to a certain distance away from your position. Beyond that, the line and leader will sag and contact the surface. For this reason, longer leaders developed, since it’s easier to elevate a lighter leader than a heavier fly line. Longer rods also help increase the range of these techniques. With them, you can extend your reach to hit targets not only from farther away, but also reach over the river to target feeding lanes otherwise inaccessible.  The longer rod means extended reach to let you catch fish that might otherwise go uncaught-trout in shallow, clear or slow water often spook if you get too close.

 The Future of Nymph Fishing

Names like Czech nymphing, Polish nymphing and French nymphing will always be linked to these methods, but more descriptive names like contact nymphing or tightline techniques will become more common. As more anglers realize the effectiveness of these techniques, their use will become widespread. Ten years ago, I rarely saw anyone using tightline methods. Now I see it all the time, and it’s usually the angler who’s catching fish! We’ll also see new techniques as time goes on and also new variations of existing techniques. New products will keep pace with these changes, to serve our changing sport.

Already, several new products meet the needs of today’s nymph angler. For example, thin fly lines such as Cortland’s .022 inch level line or Rio’s Euro Nymph line make it easier to lift and hold the line above the water. Weight forward fly lines with heavy tapered heads tend to sag, making it harder to keep them from lying on the water. Longer, lighter leaders also help, such as Rio’s Euro Nymph Leader. Made from thin diameter fluorocarbon, these leaders effectively cut through the current. And, of course, flies will continue to change; fly designs now include anchor flies- heavily weighted flies with fast sink rates to keep contact with the strike zone. Slim, dense flies now populate my fly box.

The last 10 to 15 years have seen more innovations in nymph rod design than any other time. Long rods offer tremendous advantages to the angler, but holding a long, heavy rod will wear you out and lead to arm and shoulder fatigue. So, it’s more than just length. In fact, three critical factors govern nymph rod design; length, weight and balance. Get the longest rod possible with the lightest overall weight, but maintain a balance point near the handle of the rod. If the balance point is too far beyond the cork, not only will you have to elevate the rod, but you’ll also have to prevent the tip from dropping. You’ll have some achy muscles by the end of the day.

At shows and presentations, I’m often asked what is the ideal nymphing rod. An adjustable rod would be great, especially between the lengths of 9 and 11 feet to offer flexibility and adaptability. Many times I need an 11-foot rod for larger rivers to stretch out over the flow, but prefer a shorter nymphing rod when fishing skinny water, especially those closely guarded with brush, trees or other vegetation. I also like a rod that I can use for dry flies, should a sudden hatch arise. An adjustable rod would need to convert quickly and easily from one length to another to satisfy my needs. I wouldn’t want to re-rig the rod every time I switched lengths. So a long, light, well-balanced and adjustable rod —- is that too much to ask? Add a sensitive tip section to the rod so you can tell bottom ticks from strikes and you’d have a pretty nice rod.

Temple Fork Outfitters brought these very same features to their new nymphing rod. Prior to the introduction of their rod, I’ve purchased nymphing rods from Europe. I’ve been happy with them, but they’re expensive. TFO now offers an affordable solution for the anglers who want to broaden their nymphing game — the new Drift Rod. It has what I need in a nymphing rod.

Drift Fly Rod
The Temple Fork Drift rod is designed specifically for nymph fishing and easily converts to a 9′, 10′, 11’6″ or 12′ length.

Embrace change. It’s inevitable. It pushes us to grow and learn. Sometimes it pushes us outside our comfort zone. But that’s makes life so interesting. And every technique we learn makes us a better angler. Vince’s words still ring true today, nearly 40 years later: The next challenge awaits those who thirst for more.

Jason Randall, a TFO national advisory staffer, is a frequent contributor to American Angler Magazine and the author of the ‘Fly Fisher’s Guide’ Trilogy. His latest book, ‘Nymph Masters; Fly Fishing Secrets from Expert Anglers,’ was released by Stackpole/Headwaters Books in 2017.

Drift Rod Press Release

TFO Proudly Introduces the Drift — the Definitive Nymph Fly Rod

Fly anglers have evolved nymph fishing to a level requiring a rod uniquely able to meet the competitive demands of tight-line tactics such as Czech, Polish and French styles. In response, TFO Advisor Jason Randall designed the Drift – engineered to be the definitive nymph fly rod by combining a perfectly balanced light-to-the-hand feel with ultra-sensitivity and brilliant situational versatility.

Through the combination of TFO technology and angler-driven design, the Drift is light in overall weight, fast dampening and well balanced. The Drift matches extremely high-modulus carbon fiber blank construction with a down-locking reel seat and a removable weighted and tunable fighting butt. The tip is ultra-sensitive allowing anglers to distinguish between a subtle take and a bottom tick with a soft tipped action that protects the very light tippets needed to sustain a competitive drift while remaining invisible. Presentation is key to successful tight-line nymph fishing and rod length can be critical to keeping multiple flies in the strike zone. For this reason, the Drift can be fished as a traditional 9’ 4-piece 3-weight, or effortlessly converts to 10’, 11’ 3” or, amazingly, 12’ 3”. And patented stripping guides allow the Drift to be lengthened by one or more additional sections without ever unstringing line, leader or flies. Rod length can be changed on the water in a matter of seconds and the rod perfectly presents leader-only tuck casts with accuracy and ease – at any rod length. The Drift also accommodates a 3” lower cork grip that replaces the weighted fighting butt – perfect for the new micro spey lines and techniques.

Designed as the definitive nymph fly fishing rod, the Drift (TFO 390-6D) remains true to TFO’s commitment of delivering superior performance at an attractive price. The rod, including a full set of rod and butt section options, comes packaged in an aluminum rectangular rod case and retails for $399.95.

https://tforods.com/drift-fly-rods/

About Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO):

TFO assembled the world’s most accomplished, crafty anglers to design a complete line of fishing rods priced to bring more anglers into the sport. Because we believe that anyone who has the fishing bug as bad as we do deserves the highest performance equipment available to take their game to the next level. And in our experience, when we get people connecting with fish, they connect with nature. And they join us in our mission of keeping our rivers, streams, and oceans in good shape for the next generation. There’s a new breed of anglers out there. They’re smart. They’re passionate. They’re socially conscious. And they’re fishing Temple Fork.

Temple Fork Outfitters
Dallas, TX 75247

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Download a PDF version of this press release here.

How to Fly Fish for Trout on Small Streams

When I first learned to fly fish, I was, in retrospect, too stupid to know better.  I remember thrashing about in the brush on a technical spring creek. I was fishing a hopper, but in reality, my fly was on land more than water, as I tried to figure out how to get the line and leader from point A to point B where the fish were, at least where I thought they were.

I assumed the fish were in the middle of the stream. They were under the banks.  It took me a good six months to figure out that nugget of information.

I started fly fishing on Virginia’s Mossy Creek because I thought that venue was my only option, which led to months of futility and frustration. Fortunately, a more experienced fisherman pointed me toward the local mountain streams. That water was my best teacher.

If Mossy Creek was akin to calculus, the traditional small streams of the Blue Ridge Mountains were Algebra I. After a season or two on the smaller water, I was ready for calculus.

Here’s a few things that I learned along the way.

Dry-fly fishing is Rare

When I started out with the long rod, I was a dry-fly snob. I probably watched too many Saturday-morning ESPN outdoors shows with massive caddis hatches. The reality is nymph fishing is the most consistent way to catch trout. Once I put my ego aside and learned how to high-stick nymph fish, the more I caught fish. Was it pretty? No. Was it effective? Yes.

For a primer on nymph fishing, check out TFO advisor Jason Randall‘s post on how to fish subsurface.

However, if there’s a hatch, bring your dry-fly box. If not, reach for a subsurface fly. You will catch more fish and you’ll consider it a religious experience when the Green Drake hatch arrives.

Fish the Foam

I used to only fish the tail of a pool. Typically, the tail yields a big fish or two. But I struggled as the water levels dropped and the water temperatures increased. Why? Because fish need oxygen, and faster water creates oxygen.

And even in cooler weather, fish still hold in the faster water, if there’s quality subsurface structure. The good thing about probing the riffles is the fish have to make a decision whether to eat quickly. They don’t have time to be picky.

It’s a Matter of Geometry

I remember wading as little as possible at first because I feared spooking fish, so I stayed on the bank. Although this approach is doable, my casting angles were limited.

Eventually I learned to fish from the middle of the stream. My strategy: Use the fast water as cover, stand in the middle and reposition incrementally to get the straight-on presentation, where the line, leader and fly were in the same current drifting downstream.

To avoid spooking fish, I didn’t wade up and down the stream. I picked my spots ahead of time and traveled from spot to spot on land. This is key: Once you’ve mined an area, get out of the water and walk away from the bank. Stay away from the edges, because fish can hear footsteps, even if you’re on dry ground.

Shorter is Not Better

Like many new anglers, I spent a lot of time getting hung up in the streamside brush. To correct that, I built a smaller rod — a 6-footer that I was immensely proud of. However, I essentially traded one problem for another. I stayed out of the trees, but I had trouble with drag, because I couldn’t keep enough line off the water.

I went back to my longer rod, a custom-made nine-footer. To stay out of the trees, I choked up and moved my casting hand up and down the butt section, using shorter lever for tight casts and a longer lever for line control.

TFO’s Drift rod is a good option. At 9 feet, it’s long enough and doesn’t require much line to load and cast, which allows you to efficiently punch out short presentations, the norm for high-stick nymphing.

Carry a Stream Thermometer

Before I started fishing seriously, I used to attribute success to sheer luck. Although there are a number of factors that determine whether you catch fish, a primary component of success is a water temperature. There are no absolutes in fishing, but once the water temperature hits 70 degrees in a mountain stream during the heat of summer, trout become lethargic and the chances of catching one drops dramatically.

The Long Road to Success

As I reflect upon nearly 30 years in fly fishing, I remember that I almost quit the sport after my first few months. Thank goodness I had someone help me navigate the learning curve.

Even with assistance, take these tips one at a time. Do not try to implement all of them at once. Be patient. With time, everything will come together, and consistent success will be that much more rewarding.

Jason Randall

Jason Randall Joins the TFO National Advisory Staff

Temple Fork Outfitters is excited to announce Jason Randall has joined fly fishing luminaries Lefty Kreh, Ed Jaworowski, Bob Clouser, Flip Pallot, Blane Chocklett, Jake Jordan, Nick Curcione, Wanda Taylor and Bob Popovics as a TFO National Advisor.

Rick Pope, Founder and Chairman said, “Jason epitomizes a life-long commitment to sharing his vast knowledge welcoming new anglers to this great sport, while captivating us with his deep insights into trout behavior.”

Jason has been an outdoor writer for the last twelve years with feature articles appearing regularly in American Angler, as well as Fly Fisherman, Eastern Fly Fishing, Northwest Fly Fishing and many other outdoor magazines. His trout fishing trilogy: ‘Moving Water: A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Currents’; ‘Feeding Time: A Fly Fisher’s Guide to What, Where and When Trout Eat’; and ‘Trout Sense: A Fly Fisher’s Guide to What Trout See, Hear and Smell’ reveal the depth of his passion and knowledge of the subject. Most recently he shared his secrets in Nymph Masters: Fly Fishing Secrets from Expert Anglers. Jason is also a sought-after fly fishing presenter and annually appears through North America sharing his passion and experience. He is a veterinarian certified in fish health and medicine; and a member of the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association and the Society for Freshwater Science. A native Midwesterner, Jason and Jo, his wife, live on a small farm in Northern Illinois.

About Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO):

TFO assembled the world’s most accomplished, crafty anglers to design a complete line of fishing rods priced to bring more anglers into the sport. Because we believe that anyone who has the fishing bug as bad as we do deserves the highest performance equipment available to take their game to the next level. And in our experience, when we get people connecting with fish, they connect with nature. And they join us in our mission of keeping our rivers, streams, and oceans in good shape for the next generation. There’s a new breed of anglers out there. They’re smart. They’re passionate. They’re socially conscious. And they’re fishing Temple Fork.

Temple Fork Outfitters
Dallas, TX 75247

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Download a PDF version of this press release here.