Category Archives: Fly fishing

Fly fishing

Fishing With Fiberglass and The Fiberglass Manifesto

You’re on the internet, (you are reading this, hence the logical conclusion…). You have typed the words “fly fishing” at some point. When you add together the preceding two statements, there’s great certainty that you have heard of The Fiberglass Manifesto.

I first came across TFM right after buying my Hobie Outback and my first fly rod a couple of years ago. Immediately, Cameron Mortenson (the self-proclaimed Glass Geek) had my attention. I had fished fiberglass rods when I was a child, but with a hook and bobber, not a fly.
Furthermore, I had no recollection of the feeling of glass, nor how it differed from today’s graphite. My curiosity awakened, I became a regular visitor to Cameron’s blog and knew that someday I had to find out what all the commotion was.

Skip forward eighteen months

When I scheduled a week of Montana fly-fishing in July 2012, I knew two things:

  1. I was camping waterside (a waste to stay indoors while in Big Sky country).
  2. I was going to fish as much small water as I could.

South Fork Rod Company Fiberglass

By chance, I saw a post on TFM about the T.F.M. Fly Rod Loan Program, a project Cameron has implemented to let anglers demo glass rods from various rod shops. A true champion of fiberglass fishing, Cameron wants to help us make educated decisions before buying our next fly rod and promote the use of fiberglass to improve our fishing experience.

I own a TFO (Temple Fork Outfitters) 9 ft, 5-weight that I am very happy with, but I thought I might like to try something a bit smaller for some of the mountain streams I had in mind. As I am sure is the case with most fly fishers, I have always imagined myself in the proverbial small and pleasant mountain stream, with a fly rod and trout itching to be caught. On dry flies as you would expect.

After a little discussion, Cameron sent a 7 ft., 4/5 weight rod built by the South Fork Rod Company. I opened the tube and found a beautifully finished rod, realizing at once that I was holding a rod builder’s truest art. I can see the beauty in the color of the blank, the wraps, and the smooth finish, but also felt an unfamiliar flexibility and different kind of power than what I am accustomed.

I fished small creeks and streams in the Bitterroot Valley for three days.

With the South Fork fly rod in hand, paired with my 5-weight, large arbor TFO reel (and a Willie-Joseph Surge pack for good measure), I wandered off in search of more private, serene locations where I could be alone with my thoughts and the water.

What ensued was nothing short of a gift and more than I had ever dreamed it would be. The first day out, several cutthroat and two very nice browns brightened my day, along with a large rainbow that broke me off after a good ten-minute fight. The
second and third days totaled 40+ trout, mostly cutties and browns, with the occasional brookie. I truly have no idea of the total number for all three days.

Fishing the South Fork Rod Company Fiberglass

The experience of fishing the SFRC fiberglass rod has left me wanting much more. The slower action of the glass leant itself very well to my casting, making my presentation more graceful and exact than I had previously achieved with any consistency. The flex of the rod is a thing of beauty. I loved the way the rod loaded, easing me smoothly into
my cast and performing the way I wanted no matter the distance of my target. I found glass to be very sensitive to even the lightest of bites, and a joy during the hook set and ensuing fight.

All things considered, I want to buy a rod like this. It truly was among my favorite fishing experiences, and although I know not
every day of fishing is going to result in so much catching, I have to admit, this Mortenson guy knows what he’s talking about. Glass Is Not Dead!

Important Note: I would be remiss not to mention that I had a very productive and most enjoyable two-day, guided trip down the Bitterroot River with Jack Mauer of Wapiti Waters. I was using my larger, 9 ft. TFO fly rod, which performed to perfection. I do not wish to detract from that spectacular trip by not mentioning it in the above post. I simply wish to savor it as a story for another day. It was afterwards that I began my quest to find skinny mountain waters. I seriously doubt my personal fishing time would have been so successful had I not received the instruction and insight Jack provided while we were on the water. He is a great guide and extremely amazing person!

Pinegrass, Drought Works Brewery
Missoula, MT

When Fish Attack

I love to catch trout. I’ve only been fly fishing for three years, but trout quickly earned the top spot on my list when it comes to my most enjoyable catches.

Second only to trout, is the small mouth bass (especially on the fly). In many ways trout and smallies give similar fights, both fish being strong and aggressive. Both can be downright stubborn when it comes to coaxing them towards you, you have to wear them down enough to drag them in your direction.

A friend of mine posted this video in a forum that I frequent. In the video, a diver happens upon some bedding bass and the reaction is pretty astounding. After seeing this I realize how much of a fighter the small mouth is, and why I owe no apologies for their being such a close second on my freshwater fishing list.

Smallmouth Bass Attack from John Flynn on Vimeo.


Learning to “Fly” — But I Ain’t Got Wings

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Alright, I know the title is bad grammar, but I’m quoting Tom Petty. That should count for something! For a couple of years I’ve said I’m going to learn how to tie flies.  I kept putting it off for one reason … Continue reading


One Bug is Fake. But This Guy Sure Isn’t

Infidel’s First from Brandon Robinson on Vimeo. Though I still haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Brandon, I have had the pleasure of getting to know him if only a little. One of these days we will fish together I’m … Continue reading

Did I Hook the Trout or Did the Trout Hook Me?

After having bought a kayak last summer to replace my trusty old Trout Unlimited Madison I met up with the folks from The first trip they had planned was for the coming weekend on the Cumberland River, premium trout water!

I dusted off the old fly rod that had stood in the corner and headed to the internet.  I needed to know how to cast this thing and had little time to learn. As I was pouring over some websites it struck me that my rod looked kind of old so I decided to Google the model number on the reel. It turned out I had a Shakespeare automatic reel manufactured sometime around 1963. Although we’re not talking about a purist’s brand of choice, it was still close enough to being an antique that I wasn’t ready to risk it on unknown waters and fishing from my kayak for the first time!

I still wasn’t sure I would be able to use a fly rod without getting instruction from someone so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. For the upcoming trip I went to a local sporting goods store, talked extensively with the fishing department manager (who was an avid fly fisherman) about entry-level combos.  He recommended a four-piece 5 wt., 9′, Scientific Angler as an inexpensive way for me to try my hand at skating a few flies.

Saturday morning finally arrives.  After some shuttling around of vehicles we all drop our yaks in the water.  It definitely wasn’t idea conditions that September morning.  The river was high, the current was way too fast, and the water was close to the color of chocolate milk.  I let everyone drift away from me a bit, I didn’t want to hook any of my new acquaintances in the forehead since I didn’t know what I was doing.

It turned out I could actually feel what I needed to do to shoot that fly out further with each cast and wasn’t doing too bad for a beginner if I may say so myself.  About twenty minutes into the trip I had a brown jump up out of the water and come back down to take that fly!  Now I know to those experienced in fly fishing this isn’t anything new, but it was my first time to see it.  I will never forget the sheer excitement I felt and needless to say, I’ve been hooked on fly fishing since that day.  I’m hard pressed to pick up a spinning rod now.

I ended up catching another decent fish not too long after the first.

Since that trip I’ve gone on several fishing and camping expeditions with my new-found friends at Yakangler.  I’ve also upgraded to a TFO 9′ 5wt, and have also purchased a Redington 8wt.  I’m so obsessed with the experience that I’m now asking myself, did I hook that trout or did it hook me?

After doing some research I’ve learned that I have a couple of nice trout rivers in my area and believe there are more. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is working hard at finding additional places that can sustain trout populations.  In the meantime they stock several creeks and rivers for “put and take” but so far I haven’t fished any of them.

I’m very thankful to have the chance to fish for trout fairly close to home, but if KDFW hadn’t of worked to develop those fisheries years ago such opportunities wouldn’t exist. That’s why the ongoing efforts of Trout Unlimited and other organizations to revive debilitated rivers and streams, protect waters like Bristol Bay in Alaska, or stop mountain top removal in Kentucky is essential in preserving our cold-water fishing so future generations can enjoy the same blessings we have.