Carolina Conclave 2018: mark your calendars

Hello everyone,
I wanted to announce that I'll be hosting a Carolina Conclave somewhere in or near the Western North Carolina Smokies April 27-29 2018.  I'm still putting details together regarding exact location and further info.  Hopefully this is enough notice to get it on your calendars.  

Anyone willing to help host and put together details please contact me and I'll add you to the planning committee.  And of course, sponsors are welcome too! Please contact me here:  http://cbarclayflyrods.com/contact/

This said, and to help answer some questions, I will not be able to work out hosting the Coulee Conclave so I am holding this in place of the Coulee Conclave.  

Thanks, and I hope to see y'all there!

Research and Development

Yesterday I took the day for some research and development on a section of stream I’ve been aware of but haven’t ventured to explore yet.

Stella keeping her eyes peeled for water.

My goal was not necessarily to fish but to scout for future fishing opportunities. I did, however, take a rod with me just in case I found an appropriate circumstance to fish.

First of all, it was a lot of work. Which is part of the fun about discovering new places. From scouring maps to driving on dead end private and forest service roads and bushwhacking. This area is in a known area of brook trout drainages off the Blue Ridge Parkway but I’ve not been able to find information about this particular stream. The beauty of autumn along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a definite bonus though and it's a perfect time to explore new water.

An old nondescript logging trail ended into a thicket of laurel and rhododendron.

I saw no signs of any recent human activity and there was no established trail though I did see old overgrown logging trails, fords and piles of stones that had a purpose at one time.

An old stone foundation or ambush point?

Saw some good sized brook trout and caught a bunch of sub 4”ers along with one accidental 8”er. I tried to stay out of the water and leave the larger fish alone as they looked to be starting to pair up for spawning. And though I didn’t see any redds, I didn’t want to disturb anything I could not see.

First signs of water

When I first reached the stream the first fish I saw was about a 10” brook trout. I was floored!  Not at all what I expected to see. The water was extremely clear and the sun was bright so he spooked quickly. He and a few other friends were in skinny and well protected water at the headwaters of this stream. I saw several more this size or smaller and all were feeding actively.

Clean and clear water

I bushwhacked downstream for about two miles and then walked up the stream bed, staying out of the low and clear water looking for fishy holds. The fish were everywhere they were supposed to be. I occasionally fished tail outs and riffles where the smaller fish would be to see what would be there. After one fish I’d stand up and look more carefully to see who else was there and would often see larger fish scatter. Usually every first cast produced a 2-4”er - barbless hooks and a little slack and I was usually able to release them quickly.

First fish on the mystery stretch

Walking around I saw that a recent rain washed a lot of the fallen leaves downstream, clearing out what I imagined would have been a lot of leaf jams.  Evidence of higher consistent water levels, plenty of holds and hides for the fish, and a healthy growing fish population with quality forage opportunities show promise for an excellent fishery.  

I brought along an old beat up Featherweight reel loaded with a WF3 from 406 Fly Lines and a rod I’m developing that I’ve nicknamed the Blue Ridge Special - a 6’8” 3wt. This place was an ideal test for it. Research and development indeed.

I accidentally left my main fly box at home but found a size 16 black ant imitation in the Jeep that I took along.  Simplicity at it's finest.

There was a healthy population of yearling brookies everywhere

It was a fantastic and totally exhausting day, especially given that I wasn’t sure what to expect. And now I can’t wait til I can go back to fish for real!

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Thanks for reading! 

The Beauty of the Driftless

One of the reasons I love going to the Driftless area is the beauty I see there.  From my new home in North Carolina it's a much longer drive than it was from St. Louis, more than double.  As I was driving to get there I went through Chicago.  After I survived Chicago I was wondering aloud to Stella, 'why is this drive worth it??!!' remorseful of making the decision to make the drive in the first place.  After Madison, I saw it.  The rolling hills, the brief and sudden coulees.  Peace, fresh air and beauty happened all at once.  Then I said aloud with a deep breath of relief, 'oh yeah, this is why.'  There's nothing quite like long solo road trip to teach one the art of self conversation - I can say I'm talking to Stella but that's not exactly the truth although she does perk her ears to hear what I'm saying then when she determines that it's not applicable to her she goes back to sleep.  And as we drove deeper into the Driftless Region all the memories of exploring the coulees and hollows started to come back to me.  The fish caught, the flora and fauna and the people.  

My time in the Driftless this May was no different.  Though we had some very unusual weather and storms the beauty was still there. Fishing before, during and after the rains brought newness to everything.  Yeah it was surprisingly cold and miserable at times but the inherent beauty of it all supercedes that and is what I remember.  The bugs hatched, the fish ate, the flowers bloomed, the streamside mint filled the air when you stepped on it.  Oh man, the mint!! When you see a fish rising in the pool or run ahead and you crouch down to stay out of their senses and you get a lungfull of the mint you just stepped on - there is nothing in my imagination that compares with that.  It reminds me to take it slow and easy, not to rush - observe and enjoy that particular moment.  Check my fly, check my tippet, watch the fish and see if I can learn from it, then make my move to see if I can fool it.  

Part of this past trip to Viroqua was the wonder of the people there.  One morning when I was hanging out at the fly shop I decided to walk down the street to the new coffee shop.  On my way there I ran into -almost literally- a lady walking briskly up the street.  She was walking with some serious purpose and what seemed to be a little agitation.  Right before she reached me she paused and said in a high local dialect 'I sure hope you're goin home cuz the big storm's a comin!!' The night before there were some big storms in the area and I think she expected more.  Then she said hi to Stella as most people do, then she kept on.  I heard her say something in the distance but couldn't tell what it was.  When I stopped in at the coffee shop (newly opened Kickapoo Coffee Cafe) I saw a remotely familiar face that I later realized was someone I recognized from the Driftless Cafe from years past.  I ordered a coffee then was talked into a pastry (I'm not much on pastries).  But this thing, I think it's called a Pate Brisee, is savory, local and amazing.  It has all kinds of stuff in it that I would never put together - egg (I just recently started liking scrambled eggs, barely), spinach, ham, cream cheese, aioli all in a flakey croissant pastry shell.  It was truly incredible and addicting. I ended up wearing 1/3 of it. Every day after that I ate one - each day a little different with fresh local ingredients.  One night I even dreamt of them - once having a bonafide nightmare that they sold out before I could make it in town.  By the end of my week in Viroqua I felt like I had friends there at the coffee shop.  I would stop in once or twice a day, say hello, get my morning pastry goodness and coffee, and my afternoon coffee and treat, chat, show off fish and fauna pictures and talk about the day.  It was a great place to stop with my fishing buddies, look at maps and make plans.  I'm sure they were tired of stinky and wet fisherman, wearing their strange rubber pants and space boots, stopping in, but they didn't let on.  Always smiles as big and friendly as ever.  One day on the picnic table outside I noticed a pot of herbs - with a tall stem of mint in the middle.  Hospitality, food and feeling welcome is a beautiful thing.

If it's not obvious, I'm a sucker for plants.  I love running across wild plants that I recognize from other places - my childhood and recent gardens.  I saw some pink honeysuckle for the first time.  And I saw some columbine not yet in bloom.  Makes me want to go back when the columbine is in bloom.  Hmmm - now I'm thinking of when to go back....

The leaves of colummbine make me smile.

In his book Trout, Ernest Schwiebert says "I fish because of beauty".  I can't think of a better answer to give when someone asks me why I love fishing, why I build fly rods and why the Driftless area has such a hold on me.  

Coulee Conclave 2017 - Viroqua Wisconsin - pictures

A few days ago I returned from my trip to one of my most favorite places in the world. Viroqua, Wisconsin.  Every year I organize a gathering of fisherman and fiberglass fly rod enthusiasts to get together and enjoy the wonders of this special place.  This year I decided to give myself a few days ahead of time to get reoriented to the area, make plans and alternate plans in case inclement weather set in and changed our direction.  This gave me an opportunity to spend more time in town and getting to know a few of the people and businesses there.  I love the fishing there but the people make it even more wonderful.  

Here are a bunch of pictures from my time there; before, during and after the gathering.  I plan to write up some more about it soon.  

 

 

 

It's spring!! Kineya/Barclay Reels

Man, I truly am horrible at keeping this blog thing going.  I'm not going to give up though.  Here's to springtime fishing and keeping this blog interesting!  

On a positive note, the spring fishing is on fire!!  Here are a few pics... (all the good pics are by my friend Dave Fason).

Now that that is out of the way...I can't think of a better way to announce spring that this...

I've wanted to offer fly reels to go along with my rods for quite a while now. All along I wanted to offer Kineya reels but Mass stopped producing them a few years ago with no promise of reintroduction. Occasionally I would ask him to make reels for me and the only response would be laughter. After I moved to North Carolina, this past fall, I asked him again and he agreed. I was ecstatic! After waiting for what seemed like a lifetime they are here. 

I am initially offering the Kineya 300a, 300b, 301a and 301b reels. More styles will come, with patience. 

You can find more information here:  http://cbarclayflyrods.com/fly-reels/
 

The 70LS: Small water streamer rod coming soon

Hello everyone,
I'd like to announce a new rod I'll be doing very soon.  It's called the 70LS (Limited Series, or Little Stiffy). 
  
Some details: 
7' 6wt 3 piece black unsanded glass with tip over butt ferrules. I'll be making 10 of these on a custom basis. Pricing starts at $565, $200 deposit to secure a build. 
Here are some pictures of the final prototype which I made for Brandon Bailes (his flies were the inspiration behind this design).  This one has a downlocking seat, which is an option.  I will also make them with my brass cap and ring seat with wood or cork seat - buyer's choice.

Brandon with a small water streamer eating brown in Alabama.

Subtle translucent cinnamon wraps, Mildrum style stripping guides.

Strong progressive action suitable for small water streamers, hoppers, mice and other 'big fly' fishing.  

'#0' = the final prototype

Sensitive enough to feel smaller fish and make accurate casts, versatile enough to put on a dry when you see a hatch coming on.

I expect these to be available by late January '17.  Contact me for more info.
Thanks for looking!

As of January 4, I have 7 of these rods reserved, 3 are available.  

Alabama rainbow.

Alabama rainbow.

An early prototype in yellow glass with my darkened brass cap and ring seat and Osage orange partial wood seat.  Smallies on the French Broad.

Special Delivery in VA

This past weekend I had the opportunity to drive up to a mountain in Virginia to deliver a rod and do a little fishing. 
I left Saturday afternoon, drove 60 miles and arrived before sundown. I had enough time to find a few trees to hang my hammock from and do some exploring. 

Then next morning I woke up to nice crisp mountain air, dew on my face and pale sunlight peeking through the trees. I hiked back to my car for some coffee and oatmeal. 

Pretty soon Rob rolled up and after introductions I handed off his new rod and he handed me a few VA beers to sample. We geared up and started hiking. 

A killer ant-like pattern that Brandon Bailes ties.  

Pretty soon we our flies we're on the water and we were catching fish. 

70p, dry flies and mossy rocks

We hiked for a while, caught a bunch of beautiful fish and had great conversation. 

Stella grabbed my camp pillow out of the back and took herself a nap on the way home. Must've been a rough day for her.

Thanks for looking.

Appalachian Rock Crawling

It's been a little while since I was able to post a report on anything - uprooting in St. Louis and getting settled in here is NC is going well but very time consuming. Rods are being built and going out the door and I'm getting to learn the area a bit too. I miss my friends back in St. Louis but it's been a good and soft landing here - the people are very hospitable and the fishing is good!

Recently, just after we moved I was contacted by a local man who offered to take me fishing on some private waters near Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Rockies. He explained to me how carefully the waters are managed resulting in top notch fishing and assured me that the company would be as good as the fishing. 
He just asked me to bring my fishing stuff and some beer. It sounded like an opportunity I should not miss.
It took me about 3 hours to get there and every second of the drive was worth it. Such beauty all around!
It rained on and off most for most of my time there and it rained 3.5" two days before I got there. Before the rain the water was dangerously low and warm. The fish were happy and eager to rise to most anything that was well presented one time. 

Here's a view from the front porch where I had my morning coffee. 
 

Mount Mitchell

As soon as I got there (before my host and most everyone else) I was told to get ready to fish while lunch was prepared. 
All the fish here are totally wild and self sustaining. There was a stocking of fish back in the 60's but nothing since. 

There are a variety of 'fishes' (or beats) that are suited for various skill levels. Some have huge fish and easier to cast and some are technical rhododendron tunnels. I love the little technical flows but chose to start out on one of the 'larger technical' fishes. 

My first trout as a resident of NC. 

In the two hour span before lunch I caught enough fish and had enough fun that I could have gone home fulfilled. 

baby rainbow!

After lunch I continued the rest of the 'fish' I started earlier on. 
It started off just how it left off. There were fish everywhere they should have been. They weren't huge - the biggest I caught was about a 12" rainbow. 
The fish were lightening fast when they struck and that was your ONLY chance to hook them as it would spook be entire pocket or pool. It took me a few minutes to get used to that. 
I was mostly using an elk hair caddis but also a Hippy Stomper and smallish yellow or orange stimulator. I was fishing my 70p. 

70p

70p 'stout' color

Unfortunately my track record of somehow damaging myself the first day of a trip in this region came true here as well. In an effort to 'save the rod!' while falling off a slippery rock I landed on my right hand middle finger and dislocated it. I was able to reset it and keep going but it DID NOT feel good or right the rest of the time. 

Oh well. 

At the end of day one I caught roughly 75 fish. 

The morning of day two I fished with my host in some more technical higher elevation streams in search of brook trout. 

We took a 70p and 64p along to test out. 

the 64p and 70p in their natural environment

And we found some beautiful Appalachian natives. 

native brook trout!

A few rainbows and browns too. 

brown trout!

After lunch I went up a little further in a different stream in search of more natives and was not disappointed. 

Native brook trout

More rock crawling produced some absolutely amazing fish. After every boulder and rock field I'd find another beautiful pool with eager fish. 

Native brook trout

Overall I probably caught around 200 fish, met some incredible people and ate some wonderful food. 
I couldn't have asked for, or planned anything better. 

I'm now well rested and pleased, back in the shop and working on rods. I have very little to complain about, except for maybe my middle finger that looks like a hot dog. 
Thanks for looking!

64p

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Thanks for being here, and good fishing!

Chris

New contact info

Hello everyone,

As many of you know, I have recently moved to Winston Salem, North Carolina.  So I have new contact information!  

My new (temporary for July and August) mailing address is:

2024 Craig Street

Winston Salem, NC 27103

 

And my new phone number is: 336-745-9322 

(please note 314-724-1800 and 314-699-4359 are NO LONGER IN SERVICE)


So please update how you contact me so I don't miss out on anything!  

Thanks so much and if you're in the area please let me know!

Chris

The 70p has arrived

I'm very pleased to announce the arrival of the newest edition to my parabolic series of rods, the 70p.  This is an ultra smooth medium-fast semi-strong semi-parabolic 7' 3 or 4wt 4 piece small to medium water rod.  I designed this one to fit in with my sweet little 64p and the LTD 75p (coming to full production soon!), a rod for those that want something longer than the 64p and is another smaller sibling to the longer 75p.  It makes a great pack rod with a 22" section length.  I prefer this rod with a 406 Fly Lines DT4 and I know others have enjoyed it with a 3wt line.  I am offering this rod in both my sunny yellow as well as a deep 'stout' color.  

These blanks are available in either Stout and Sunny Yellow

These blanks are available in either Stout and Sunny Yellow

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The 70p's will be the first rods to come out of my North Carolina shop and will be badged with the updated reel seat hardware from Kineya. 

The 70p's will be the first rods to come out of my North Carolina shop and will be badged with the updated reel seat hardware from Kineya. 

The pricing starts at $595 (shipping included) and these rods will be the first to emerge from my North Carolina shop in just a few weeks.  Please contact me for more details or to get on the build list.  

Time is filled with swift transition

Once again I'm sorry for not keeping this blog updated.  This spring has been absolutely crazy!  I've announce in other places but have forgotten to announce it on my own website... we're moving to Winston-Salem, NC in July!!!

We are VERY excited to be moving there though it will be hard to leave St. Louis.  We have deep roots here.  We've been here for 15 years and never thought we'd leave.  Our old home that we've been rehabbing for over 12 years, that I've affectionately named the Albatross, is nearly finished and sellable.  The friends we've developed here can never be replaced and we are sad to be leaving. But we are looking forward to a new adventure ahead with new friends and family close by, and from what I gather, the fishing in NC is pretty awesome too!

Needless to say my rod production has slowed a bit as we are preparing to move and find a new home in Winston.  I'm still building rods though I expect to be up to full capacity in September with a new shop.  If you have a rod build in mind or would like to place an order, please don't hesitate!  

We are headed to TX & AR to see family in early June then back to STL to pack up and finish the details on the house.  If you're in those areas, holler and maybe we can meet up - though my focus will be on visiting family you never know if a little beer, coffee and fishing can be fit in somewhere.

I will keep my same email address but will probably be changing my phone number(s) so keep an eye out for that.  Of course my mailing address will be changing too.

This is long overdue but the Coulee Conclave was an enormous success!  So much so that I'm planning to keep it an annual thing every spring.  You can peruse the pictures here:  http://cbarclayflyrods.com/coulee-conclave-16-gallery/

I had such a good time that I'm planning to do a Fall gathering in the Smokies along with another rodmaker.  Details to follow...

One more thing, I've been working on a new 7wt prototype.  So far I'm in love.  Think: strong bass rod to throw streamers and poppers, fishing the mangroves, enough cajones to pull a big fish out of cover.

Anyway, that's all for now.  Keep in touch!

Good fishing!  cb

p.s. Stella says hello.

The Ladies of C. Barclay Fly Rod Co.

I wanted to bring to the forefront the ladies that work behind the scenes here at C. Barclay Fly Rod Co.  Without them I absolutely couldn't do what I do.  

First is my dear and amazing daughter, Maren.  She gracefully deals with my endless requests to take video of how a rod casts and is bombarded with wrap color and style questions. She even acts interested in all the little details that I care so much about!  However, she does know when to appropriately roll her eyes at me!

Next is Kristal.  She's a very good friend of my wife's and is wonderfully perfectionistic.  She's taken my wife's rod sock designs to a new level and enjoys it.  Even though she's never fly fished (gonna change that!) she gets that what she does is important.  She is enthusiastic, hard working and dependable.  I'm very thankful for her and her family.

Lastly there's my wife, Valerie.  18 years into marriage and I'm constantly amazed by her.  She handles my endless business, financial, color and style questions with love and care.  She helped to come up with and sew my rod socks and inscribed my rods for years.  She knows that fishing is a necessary part of my life and encourages me to take a break and go!  And she's tremendously supportive of this hobby turned career.

Valerie, Maren and Kristal

My little fly rod business wouldn't be what it is without these ladies so please, if you ever meet them in person, give them a big thank you!

 

A day fishing small water in Ozarks

This week I had an opportunity to break away for a day of fishing.  I went with a friend that I'd been trying to go fish with for a long time but it just never could work out.  Finally we were about to get out and fish for some Ozark rainbows on a beautiful spring creek.  

While he's a great guy and fisherman, Geoff is also an amazing photographer.  Here are some of the pictures he shot: (all the photos below but the last one are by Geoff Anderson)

I think the fish was trying for a 'high five' as it swam away.

A very happy heeler.

The subtle and not so subtle details of these fish always amaze me.

Stella was a little overly interested in the fish.  So much so that she ended up accidentally biting my fly and we ended up having to extract an elk hair caddis from her tongue.

This is my picture to show the photographer and the contrast between his photos and mine.  

Hats!

We all wear them.  They protect your dome and make a statement.  These do both well and comfortably.  

I just got in a small batch of hats. These are made by Kuhl and are their Strand Cap. Probably the most comfortable thing you can put on your head. $35 shipped, less if you're local. I don't have many so if you're interested in getting one let me know! Khaki and Dark Brown available.

EDIT: All hats are spoken for but I will place another order soon.  Contact me if you'd like one.  I don't think the khaki hats will be available as they've changed the styling and color a little but I can get the dark brown reliably.

Nearly spring

Hello everyone, it's been too long.  Sorry 'bout that!  I have been busy finishing out winter strong building rods, fishing a little and spending time with my family.  I've also been working on plans for the first ever Coullee Conclave in Viroqua, WI at the end of April.  More on that soon. For now, looky here:  http://cbarclayflyrods.com/coulee-conclave/

I fished yesterday at a small Ozark spring creek that is the closest thing to my home waters for trout.  It's a wonderful, beautiful, fickle stretch of water that harbors some of the most beautiful little wild rainbows you've ever seen.  It'll reward hard work and will humble you all the same.  Stella and I spent the day there walking and stalking and wandering around.  It was the first time I had been there after the massive floods after Christmas.  The creek had changed for the better with more habitat for the fish as well as the bugs and it was a refreshing sight to see and take in. This will be a very good year there. 

Healthy water

After fishing for a while I came upon another person who got there before me. It's a hard stream to fish when another person is fishing it.  So I turned around and fished different water than I'm used to.  

The catching was slow but it was an incredible day to be out.  

A fairly large 9" wild Ozark rainbow on an Adams

Stunning little fatty

I was using my 64p which I designed on this creek.  Delicacy and accuracy are a must here.  

I'm looking forward to spending more spring days here this year.  But I also can't wait to get into some springtime smallies and bluegill as well.  Spring is possibly my favorite time of year with redwing blackbirds showing up, the fish starting to get active and the redbuds and dogwoods decorating the banks.  This is going to be a very good year.  

Again, more on the Coulee Conclave soon.  Stay tuned, register and secure your lodgings!

Good fishing!  Chris

A view from the bench: 21 January

I've spent the majority of my time this year cleaning and reorganizing my shop. It's been in desperate need of a makeover and the cold weather makes some of the processes a bit of a challenge so I took advantage of the extra time and made a few upgrades.   I'm finally making progress on some rods.  
So far I've got a fairly wide range of rods in progress.  A custom 9'6" 5wt 3 piece graphite blank by Thomas & Thomas from Reading's Fly Shop. A 64p.  Two 710-5's and an Ijuin Yomogi 7' 3wt.  

#'s 2-6 of this year's serial numbers.

Stella the Mighty Shop Dog occupying her spot next to the heater.

Last night I applied the first coats of finish and will apply more tonight after they spend some time in the curing cabinet.  

Next I'll get started on another round of blanks.  Gluing cork on another Ijuin Yomogi 7'3" 4wt and a Steffen 7'6" 3/4wt 4 piece custom and laying out the Graywolf Collaboration rods.  

I hope everyone is having a great week.  Be sure to check back next week to see what's going on...

Thanks for looking!

 

Collaboration

Over the years I have come to know and become friends with several other rod builders and folks in the fly fishing industry.  This year I will be collaborating with a few of these people.  The first one is with Shane Gray of Graywolf Fly Rods, whom I've come to know well, highly respect and call him a friend.  

We set up a trade of sorts since we both don't sell our blanks. I sent him a 64p and a 710-5 and in turn he sent me a 8' 4wt 3 piece and 8' 6wt 4 piece in his black s-glass.  I'm excited to be starting these builds soon and am very much looking forward to seeing what he does with my blanks.

Please contact me to reserve one of these excellent rods and be on the look out for progress reports...



Small water fly fishing: streamer design and tactics.

This article was written by my friend Brandon Bailes for Flymen Fishing Co. and published here: http://flymenfishingcompany.com/blogs/blog/77126465-small-water-fly-fishing-streamer-design-and-tactics

Small water fly fishing: streamer design and tactics.

I often struggle with deciding on which type of water I want to fish, whether it's big water with big flies and sinking lines, or small streams with downsized offerings. Both can be very rewarding but there’s something special about small streams and exploring where smaller predatory fish can live.

My definition of a small stream, warmwater or coldwater, is a watershed that is at the max 25 feet wide and a deep pool from 4 to 5 feet deep. Where I live this even includes a few tailwaters, which when generating are not navigable by boat.

These types of waters contain more than just bugs for fish to feed on. After many years of exploring these little gems and talking with other small stream fanatics, I've come up with my own way to target the meat-eaters in these waters with downsized streamers.

Streamer design.

  Profile.

The first thing I think of when filling my small streamer box is how big the baitfish are in the waters I’ll be fishing. My nominal streamer size for this type of fishing is 2 to 3.5 inches.

If you are specifically targeting bass, make sure to tie flies on the upper end (size wise) to deter as many sunfish as possible.

Keep in mind any and all materials you are adding to the hook and try to minimize unnecessary weight because this type of fishing is most enjoyable with lighter rods (3-5wt).

Action.

How do you want it to swim? I remember asking Mike Schimdt of Angler's Choice Flies about carrying small streamers on his annual small water hopper trip. He said he carried small streamers that had specific actions when stripped.

I always include some neutrally buoyant baitfish, some jiggy-style streamers, and a few just for dead drifting. All of these can trigger a strike and in small water you'll quickly know if they'll commit to strike.

Depth.

Small streams generally aren't deep, but you still need to be able to fish the entire column of the pool.

Take the average flow on the water you fish and any submerged structure into account. There’s nothing worse than carrying a box of unweighted streamers and then walking upon a deep plunge pool with a ledge 3 ft below.

Always carry Clouser-style or Sculpin Helmet streamers that have the hook pointed upward and will allow you to effectively fish the bottom of pools without snagging.

Of course, having those unweighted streamers is also necessary – when stripped they imitate dying prey and don’t nosedive straight to the bottom before a suspended fish can key in on them.

Equipment.

Fly rod.

Depending on stream size, I most often carry a 8.5ft glass 5wt but I drop down to as low as a 6.6ft 3wt on tiny bluelines. Rod action is dependent on your personal preference but I’m a glass geek and prefer a medium to medium fast action rod. To me, glass or slower graphite shines in small water….you can manipulate your streamer easily, feel everything, and great tippet protection.

Fly line.

As for lines, there’s no need to use a sink tip line here like you normally use on big flows. Your basic WF line will suit anything you should encounter. Although ( if available) I try to buy the drab color line for added stealth.

Leader & tippet.

I drop down a few sizes from what I normally use on the river. I use a leader that is the length of my rod, fluorocarbon, and I stay in the 3x-4x range. This will allow turnover of the fly but still adds stealth to the approach…although most fish striking a streamer aren’t too worried about the leader.

Gear.

For carrying everything, I take the minimalist approach…..a lanyard with nippers and tippet, along with a Tacky fly box full of confidence patterns (such as Strolis Micro Picks, Groupie Sculpins, Skulpin Bunnies, and Panther Branch Crafty Creek Minnows to name a few).

Clothing.

Wear muted clothing or clothing that matches the surroundings. This isn’t the place for your neon yellow fishing shirt.

Approach.

Approach from downstream.

Make short casts beginning at the pool tailout. This way you're not casting over fish and spooking the entire pool.

This is even true with small stream bass. I've observed both smallmouth and spotted bass behave very much like trout in these environments – where they feed, how they feed, and even spawning behavior.

Less casting is better.

Pick your target as you approach the run. Casting repeatedly in such a small area is just that… casting. The opportunity to a hook a fish goes down with every cast in the same spot.

Make the first cast your best!

Slow down your retrieve.

I have to make this adjustment quite often. It can seem strange going from throwing a 300gr sinking line and 6” weighted streamers on big, fast-moving water to throwing smaller streamers on a floating line in a creek you can hop over!

If you slow down the retrieve and your streamer is designed well, you'll be able to strip and pause while still getting a lot of movement from to the materials themselves moving.

If all else fails to reap a fish, try high-sticking your streamer.

Learn new casts.

You'll be faced with lots of casting obstacles in small stream environments.

The bow and arrow cast can be your best friend! Just make sure you are holding the streamer by the rear hook if articulated – I know from experience!

Any cast that eliminates false casting is your best friend on these waters because it reduces your chances of spooking the fish.

Quick review.

When you don’t have time to rig the boat or you’re a little sore from swinging the big gun all day during full generation, grab your trout rod and some micro-meat, and go explore those places you drive by every day!

Brandon is an engineer tech contractor for NASA by day and at night (after the wife and kids are sound asleep) you can find him at the vise pumping out orders for his "lil" shop Panther Branch Bugs. He specializes in warmwater patterns, from deer hair bugs to streamers. He's a self-professed streamer junkie and loves that he learns something new each time he spends the day throwing meat.

Brandon is an engineer tech contractor for NASA by day and at night (after the wife and kids are sound asleep) you can find him at the vise pumping out orders for his "lil" shop Panther Branch Bugs. He specializes in warmwater patterns, from deer hair bugs to streamers. He's a self-professed streamer junkie and loves that he learns something new each time he spends the day throwing meat.