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“Rude Boys” and Other Tips

by Vince Puzick


The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing, co-written by Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyer, is one of those books that should be on every fly fisher’s bookshelf or sitting on the tying table.  Just keep it handy.  It’s packed with such great info in an easily accessible format.  I had the pleasure of hearing Deeter’s presentation at our fly fishing hootenanny on Saturday where he shared his top twenty tips discovered over the years when he has fished in exotic places around our little globe. 


Some of Kirk’s tips from his presentation may go a little contrary to common ideas we hold when we’re out on the water:


Show a fly once.  After a refusal, switch flies.  Go smaller of the same pattern or use a variation of a pattern.  Out of habit, we may cast to a fish five or six or ten times when he has already refused the pattern, thinking that if we just get the drift right … Instead, downsize right after a refusal to a size 20 or 22 if you’re throwing, for example, BWOs.  Or maybe switch down to a 24 or 26 nymph.  


If big fish are hanging out in skinny water, hit them with a dry fly.  We usually think of larger fish being deep in a pool or against the bank. If you spot them in skinny water, they are in the shallow water for a reason. 


Trust your instinct, look for subtle telltale signs.  Sometimes in off-color water or when sight fishing is a challenge, we may give up too soon.  Watch for swells, swirls, anything out of the ordinary that signal a fish may be holding.  And sometimes a fish may simply move out a foot to the other side of a seam or a bit further out in the middle of the river.  He’s still eating; he just moved to avoid the “something out of the ordinary” that he noticed.


Rude boy, soft boy.  Fishing into the wind is a challenge, for sure, so remember this phrase to improve your cast.  Rude boy – power on the back cast to load your line / Soft boy – don’t force  your forward cast to try and power your line into the wind.  The backcast, the rude boy, loads your line and you let that energy go with a more gentle forward cast to get your line out into the wind.  Yeah.  Sounds contrary to what your body wants to do. 


deeter presentationFish like changes: change in color, structure, current, depth.  Find the changes and find the fish.


Go first to where the alpha fish is.  We like to start downstream in a pool or run and work our way up.  Deeter suggests starting where the highest concentration of food is coupled with least effort a fish needs to expend.  For example, fish the “cushion” in front of the rock or structure first.  Fish in the quieter water right behind the rock. 


Keep your boots as dry as possible.  We love to put those nice waders to use, but sometimes our eagerness to wade may be our worst enemy.  Wading causes the noise of rock-against-rock as we wade.  It stirs up the water no matter how stealthy we may be.  Instead, spot fish, or anticipate where you are going to approach them, and when you wade, do it to get into casting position.


Kirk’s presentation caused me to get out The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing to prepare for the spring season.  Kirk and Charlie lay out their suggestions in bite-sized, paragraph-length words of wisdom. 


The book is organized with predictable categories:

  • 45 tips on casting
  • 60 tips on presentation and getting a natural drift with your dry fly
  • 37 tips on reading the water
  • 43 tips on fly selection and rigging
  • 65 tips on wading, fighting fish, choosing gear  and “everything else that matters


For those keeping count, that’s 250 tips offered in this great little resource.  That’s a tip-a-day between now and November 9th.  Each of the tips here helps me flatten my learning curve and pick up a new technique. This book is going to move up on my go-to list for the season.  Watch this  blog for tips and techniques from The Little Red Book highlighted throughout the season!


You can read more of Kirk Deeter’s columns at Field & Stream.  Read more about Charlie Meyer and The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing in this Denver Post article.


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