The 10 Things to do Pre-Fly-Fishing Season!

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10 things you need to do BEFORE you hit the river!

It is the end of winter, I would expect that you’re getting anxious for the up coming fly Fishing season. I have done this routine for over 25 years and it is a great way to get primed and ready.

Here is a checklist of things to do ahead of time that will make your spring, summer, fall adventure successful.

  1. Do a dry run with your waders and boots. It is a great time to see if you need to repair leaks in your waders from last year, the ones you forgot about that soaked your socks. Also, check your boots of delaminating, wear and condition. Make sure they’re good enough or still fit you well. Soak your boots and change your laces.
  2. Go through all your flies. At the end of the seasons we just put our flies in our boxes, close them up, that’s it. What people forget about is that the hook itself can rust. Check to see if they still are in good shape and also take the time, with the help of an adult beverage, organize your boxes. I have a separate box for nymphs and dries as well as each family; Mayflies, Caddis, midge and so on. You never need to carry ALL of your patterns with you at all times. Do your homework, or ask your favorite shop what’s hatching and stock that. (but also keep a few secret bugs with you just incase.)
  3. Set new goals. Where do you WANT to fish? Learn a new technique? Take a float or do the high country? Maybe a stretch of new water would be interesting? Should you try the salt?
  4. Make sure to throughly clean, lube and/or rebuild or replace your fly reels. Look at the line, flip it if a double taper. Clean and “lube” your line. Check the drag, lube the spindle. Make sure it’s not dented or out of round. Again, alleviate a problems before it’s a problem
  5. Be sure to inspect your rod for nicks and the ferrels are square, not bent out of wack. How’s the cork? Do you even like that rod anymore?
  6. If you need to buy or replace anything, now is a great time. Fly Shops have great deals on last years inventory, big companies like Orvis, Sage, Simms might have deals on their websites. It’s a good time to find a deal. (don’t get caught up in “newer is better” trap… Truth is, there can be upgrades or new tech out there but you have to be so incredibly sophisticated to realize the difference, so last years stuff is awesome. Remember, it was the ‘New Tech” not that long ago.
  7. Make sure your fishing license is up to date and what you need to get it. In Colorado the rules have change up and you HAVE to have a drivers license or passport on you to get it at the shop. Be prepared. You can also get it ahead of time through a state run website, which I fully recommend.
  8. Obviously, do your inventory of disposables and consumables. Leaders, tippet, floatant, strike indicators, so on. If any of this stuff is old, like over a year, think about replacing it. Nothing is worse that losing that state record fish due to line failure.
  9. Practice, practice and practice. It’s time to rig up that rod and start casting in the yard or park. Make it fun, set up hoops and cans to cast into or towards and master the feel of the rod (again) and judging your distances. It will pay off you when you see that sipping fish under that branch 30 feet up.
  10. Get out there, enjoy yourself and remember why you’re there. Please don’t make it about your Instagram, hunting for that big fish or filtered pic to share for “likes”. You’re out there to be part of the experience, not to think you’re the next fly fishing god or goddess, planning on becoming a fly fishing “influencer” to get free stuff from the big companies or magazine mentions, it’s a touch sad really…Last thing you want to do is disrespect the fly fishing pioneers before you and cheapen what they wholeheartedly loved to the core of their soul for a free hat.

 

I plan on doing a post on the Instagramination(TM) of fly fishing in another future post.

As we say;

Tight Lines

Guide Glenn Smith

A Nibble of My “For Kids of All Ages” Fly Fish’n Book!

This is a big thing for me to announce today but I feel it’s about time that I do! I have been working on a children’s fly fishing book called  Fly Fish’n Fly Fish’n! I have been working on it for quite a while.

I personally dislike most of the books about teaching fly fishing to kids for one main reason: they’re really not fun to read, they’re dry and geared for a very small window of ages. I wanted to write a book that would be fun for kids as well as adults. I believed I nailed it.

It was important to me to create something that was a bit more broad, smart and beautiful to look at. That means no cheesy illustrations, just great photos, line drawings, a fun to read layout with real examples of real places, real gear and a contemporary feel.

It is written in a verse style and fragmented by design.

So let me know your thoughts, I’m excited about it! Here is a sample page…

Guide Glenn Smith

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Be Safe Out There! 20 things to Expect and Un-expect while Fly Fishing.

MbJUSTf7RXCFN3KI7onWBwJust reading the title of this article, I know what you’re thinking, nothing will happen to me, It’s Fly fishing! That may be true for most of us to a point, but trust me when i say, some of the wildest things happen in the most unusual situations.

As a Fly Fishing Guide for over 2 decades, I have seen my share of the unexpected.

I thought it would be helpful to share with y’all what you can, or should do if something were to happen to you on your adventure or at least give you some food for thought before you head out into the wild unknown.

Also, as a disclaimer, I am not a medical professional, nor am I an expert in outdoor survival and I claim not to be… But what I can do is give you my “in the field and on the water” experiences that I have learned from and share that with you, So he we go!

  1. Before you even decide to drive to the river or your favorite run, make sure you have gas in the car, water to drink and let someone know where you’re going. You don’t need to be exact, but at least which river. This is not only for your safety but in case you need to be found for some other reasons.
  2. Be prepared for anything. In Colorado, my home sweet home, you never can underestimate the weather, it can change on a dime, from beautiful bluebird skies in the morning to thunder and lightning or even snow in the afternoon. Take warm clothes and good rain-gear. these things takes up little room and pays for itself the first downpour when the fish start rising.
  3. Make sure you do some research on the water you’re heading to: Such as, Is it a tailwater of freestone river? What’s the water temp? Is the bottom slick or mossy, rocky or silty? What’s the flow? Should I take a staff or have cleats? Do I need waders or can I wet wade? Is it buggy? (not our kind of bugs but the annoying kind)
  4. Bring a snack always! Trust me, you’re not going home sooner that you think especially if the hatch goin off.
  5. Have all your paperwork in order. License is up to date, both of them, fishing and drivers.
  6. Check that you have ALL your gear; waders, boots, vest, bags, nets, boxes, all the things you need or don’t, Just bring it. I have been with clients that refuse to get dressed up at the shop only to find out 10 miles up the river they are missing a boot that fell out in the hotel room when they were bragging about their new “killer pattern”to show their fishing buddies after a couple of beers. It happens. Also alway bring and use your net, period.
  7. When you are heading to your secret spot, don’t become road blind and just focus on the river and ignore others on the road, you would be surprised how may bicyclist, walkers or animals nearly get hit by fishermen NOT paying attention to the road.
  8. When you find your water, don’t get upset if someone else is in it. Don’t get territorial, don’t get all angry. If you are a well seasoned angler, find another spot, truthfully, there are fish everywhere if you know where to look.
  9. When wading through the water, be always cautious and walk flat-footed if possible. The riverbed is inconsistent at best, it can catch your toes of your boots and trip you up, rocks move and slide and are generally unstable. Another thing is branches drift and hit you in the shins, dangerous. You never know, so be respectful of the unknown.
  10. Never put yourself or others in danger because you want to get to “that killer hole over there” that happens to be across fast or uncertain currents. Trust me, IT IS NOT WORTH IT! I know a guy that took a terrifying A River Runs Through It sweep down the river, out of control, near fatal risk just because of a sipping trout out of his reach that wasn’t “all that”.
  11. In that same vein, if you do fall in the river, stay calm and in control, try to work towards the bank at all cost. You may get really wet, lose your stuff, break your rod…so what! Stay alive!
  12. Always keep a pretty good medical/first-aide kit with you. Again, more likely than not, nothing will happen but you do never know. I had a trip with a father and his 11-year-old daughter, it was going really well. We walked to the river through some brush and trees, we waded in the river and dropped a line, perfect, for a while. 20 minutes into our first stop, the young girls hands started to swell up and turn beet red, she was freaking out. I asked the dad if she had any allergies, he didn’t think so but, she obviously did. Luckily we had some Benadryl that the father administered, thank god and the trooper of a girl calmed down, all went beck to normal. It would have been a whole different story otherwise.
  13. This is going to sound harsh, make sure you only bite off what you can chew. What I mean by that is don’t try do more than you are capable or willing to do. If you are out of shape and a scenic overlook is your idea of a good hike, don’t go into the back country that can cause you injury of a heart-attack! Don’t try to be a hero unless you are prepared to do so. It is “just fishing” but it is also “just hiking” says the guy who climbs a 14er for fun.
  14. Put anything valuable in a safe place. Despite all of your high-tech gear is waterproof it is not impervious. Remember, there is one big hole in your waders, it’s at the top, think about it.
  15. Wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and always keep your shirt on. Save that for your Bass or cat fishing trip.
  16. If you hook yourself, what should you do. If its barbless, as it should be, pull it out, dress it and get back fishing. If it is in a vital are aka your eye, seek immediate attention and continuously ask yourself why wasn’t I wearing my sunglasses. If you are hooked with a barbed hook, there are tricks to getting it out. Go on YouTube check it out but I recommend getting your butt to a clinic have it removed then drink a beer.
  17. Lightning and adverse weather. Get over it, get out of the water with your 9 foot lightning rod, sit in the car, wait it out or head out. Your vacation is not ruined, drive around look for those spots that were packed with anglers and are now empty because there fair weather warriors are all gone, the river is yours!
  18. Your friend gets hurt: Help them, if they’re fine, suggest they take a break, give them a Snickers bar resume fishing. If they are really hurt, don’t be a dick, get them help and help them create a really good story.
  19. You get into a tiff with another fisherman: So imagine you’re working a run from the bottom and someone steps in right above you and screws up your entire plan and the run, what are you going to do? This happens a lot, knowingly and by accident. Yes it is rude, are you going to get in a fight over it? Have some choice words then flip then off? Just walk away and mutter under you breath? Well that’s up to you I guess but nothing changes the mood of fishing more than anger. So let it go, most the time, people who do that either don’t realize you’re there of they are newbies and need to be educated about river etiquette, so educate them. Other times they’re just A-holes and will never learn. (fact is, those people usually are fishing hacks, so move to the next hole, within the sight, catch fish while they’re not, all is good in the hood.)
  20. The fish aren’t eating and you’re frustrated: Get over it, enjoy being outside then try again another time. I have said to my clients for many, many years, “Remember that there are two living things on each end of the line, only one of them is in control”

 

I know that this blog post may only have scratched the surface of the countless variables that doing an activity like fly fishing that takes place uncontrolled environs, but alway be careful, diligent and aware. It’s very similar to taking a vacation to New York City

Tight Lines as we say,

Guide Glenn Smith

glennonthefly.com

What a crazy summer!

Now that September has come and fall is very much in the air, it is time to catch a breath and reflect on what a crazy summer it has been.

First and foremost, the fishing has been great all summer long. Don’t believe what social media tells you… If you keep up with what’s happening in our little hamlet, the Roaring Fork Valley and the quaint town of Basalt, you may be aware of all the excitment that has happened here; we had the Lake Christine Fire that happened on the 4th of July and thereafter burned for over a month. I provided a link to the stats as well click here and it will direct you to the photosIMG_1308

 

We also had a terrible winter last year which in turn made our water levels in the Roaring Fork critically low which forced the DOW to regulate the times in which we could fish due to the water temperature. At 66 degrees and above, the stress on the trout can kill them (and we don’t want that) so all the valleys guides did their best to “keep’m wet”, honor the request of the experts and take great care. Bravo to all who did their part.

But we persevered!

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From my POV, I had a great summer and a very interesting one to say the least. Due to the challenges the fish was great but different. What I found day in and day out was that it felt that all the hatches were somewhat off. It seemed to be a month ahead of schedule as well as thin. We didn’t get that chocking caddis hatch, nor the full on “steak and potato” Green Drake hatch in August like normal. But you know what? It still all worked out. The PMD’s were strong, the BWO’s were off the hook, Hoppers are falling in the river  like candy and a prince nymph is always money…

Another super cool thing that happened is that I was featured in The Aspen Sojourner Magazine with a sweet photo spread about fly fishing. I will post more about the article but want to share some of the photos they used. Online

 

Now the part some of you have been waiting for, the 2018 season of badass photos of fish and awesome clients, so here we go!

 

And last but not least, as not only a Fly Fishing Guide at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt I am also a producing artist, which makes this next photo even more amazing. I had the opportunity to fish with some of the top Artist, Curators and critics! Here is me with Heidi Zuckerman, Director of the Aspen Art Museum,  Hans Ulrich Obrist and wonderful fly fisherman and world renowned conceptual artist Joseph Grigely

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Now that it has become a bit more quiet, I am planning on making Guide Tip videos about shortcuts, affective techniques, fly selections, drift tips and much more.

 

So that all I got to say about that!

 

Tight-lines

Glenn

 

 

Pre-Game Pre-Trip Checklist!

Hello Trout Hunters, Anglers, and soon to be Hooked on fly fishing!

This is a great bit of great information about what you NEED to do before you show up for a guided fly fishing trip. We use this at my shop Taylor Creek in Basalt and it makes everyones life a bit easier as well as getting you on the water that much quicker!

Follow this link and Give it a read: Pre Trip Check List!

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Tight Lines!

Guide Glenn Smith

To Love An Inanimate Object

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Above is a picture of my Simms guide boots, number 14.

I don’t know about you but, I burn through gear. Boots, laces, fly boxes, sometimes waders, tippet (as I should), guide vehicles, the list goes on and on. The reason being, is that I use EVERYTHING everyday, so I am hard on things. It’s part of my routine every spring I take stock in what is needed, wanted or trashed for the upcoming summer fly fishing guide season.

But in this task, I get somewhat melancholy and reflective. I like new stuff but I get attached to things that have served me well. My trusty “Old School” Simms vest which I will only replace if falls off my back and it better be destroyed.

That Simms vest is equivalent to an office desk you work at everyday, a toolbox to a craftsman, a paint brush collection to a painter, it’s my domain: a place for everything.

It contains, in each specific pocket, a purpose…

Upper left-hand chest pocket; is strike indicators, yarn.

Upper right-hand pocket; knife, Dry Shake, floatant

Right lower outside pocket; Nymph boxes: #1 Stoneflies, Caddis #2 Drake specific, PMD and midge

Left lower outside; Seasonal Dries. Drakes, Blue Wing Olives, PMD and emergers. 

Inside left, top; Leaders and tippet

Inside right, top; Current fishing license, nail knot tool. 

This hasn’t changed for ever. It works for me. 

But Let’s talk about those boots I started with… yep, boots are expendable, costly and needed. I have no problem burning through boots, I feel I should be a factory sponsored boot tester, somebody needs my abusive nature for truly, the betterment of the world. But I always get sentimental about my boots. They have seen a lot of adventure, the met amazing people, trudged across riverbeds in some the most beautiful terrain the world has to offer.

Over time, with constant river water molding and forming the boot to fit only my foot, knowing that I drag my toes when I walk and when I wade, I walk completely flat-footed for stability. They have seen a lot in a relatively short amount of time. amazing if you thin about it.

So I have been through 14 pairs of Simms boots. each one of them allowed me to do what I love, what I’m good at and share my skills and knowledge with aspiring and gifted fly fishermen. Call me out on ridiculous sentimentality but as any real angler understands, pay close attention to the water, the environment, the birds, the bugs, the seams and in my view, all the trappings that gift me the ability to enjoy the sport I adore.

Upgrade If You Want…

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Many of you, myself included are captivated by shiny new things. The tempting glint of an anodized reel, this years new mid/tip flex darling of a rod, those spanking new gore-tex waders with a zipper….you know where I’m going with this, we have gotta have it. What is interesting to me is that I still fish with my very first RPL 590 2 piece sage rod and enjoy it very much. So why do I every year feel compelled to get the latest and greatest? Is it to keep up with the Jones’s? Do I think it will make me a better guide? Is it because The Drake is telling me that it is a must have and I won’t ever catch a fish again if I don’t have it? The truth is yes to all of the above.

Let’s first take a look at this from the manufactures point of view. They need to keep us wanting, needing, pining for their newest gear, if the don’t, its just bad business. All of these are “for profit” companies not non-profits trying to share the love of their passions. I get it, I’m a paid fishing guide I make my living by doing what people do for pleasure, but do you think that the average consumer would be able to tell the difference between a 10 year old rod and a new one? I bet not, does that matter? Not really, but the idea of having the newest tech helps. It helps because you believe in it. I used to race bicycles and became obsessed with my bike to an almost OCD level… $150 titanium seat clamp, a $90 water bottle cage for gawd sake! Was I any faster? Maybe, or was I faster because I trained harder because I spent a ridiculous amount of money and put more road miles on my bike? The fact could be I just plain got better fit, with nothing to do with the 310 grams I took off my ride. All the manufacturer did was just make the newest options available, thats it, it was totally my choice to dive in, with no regrets.

Next, let talk about those pesky Jones’s…. I have never been the one to covet, except a really nice Cafe racing motorcycle, a hand made watch and a truck without a broken windshield. I am a guy of simple needs. As any professional fishing guide will tell you, looks and presentation is/can be everything, even before you hit the water. The Jones’s in our case are other guides. Guides with the new trucks, double rod carriers loaded with the best of the best gear, a clean cooler. All of this can(?) make a difference. Hypothetically, If you drop a client in the middle of any fly shops parking lot without a single guide in sight and ask them to chose which guide they want to fish with by the appearance of the vehicle? You guessed it, it will not be the 1986 Nissan with the duck tape on the side window. But does it matter? No it does not! The gear is only good if the guide has talent. I have seen some very expensive rigs not catching a single fish. Point is this, Keeping up with the Jones’s is human nature, go for it, but don’t do because you have the cash to show off, nothing is more humbling than getting 1 up’d by an angler wearing neoprene waders.

Now the big one…will new gear make me a better fisherman? The answer is yes and no. I really like new things, I have more rods than anyone really should have. My fly boxes are the closest thing I have to a 401K. Again, This is all by my choice. I can tell the different nuances between a slow action 3 weight and a stiff 4 weight. I know the different supple feeling of different fly lines, and yes “mono” does knot differently than “fluorocarbon”. This information matters, and does make you a better fisherman, but there is no promise that you will catch more fish.

But what makes all of this really interesting, is that none of it is better or worse than the other, it is all YOUR preference, your likes and your wants. That is what make this sport so wonderful.

In Short, I can say with complete confidence the fish really doesn’t care what rod your casting or if that shiny, machined reel is a “palm” drag or resistance drag, that stuff only matters to you. The way I justify all of my gear is simple; all my light-weight rods take me to my favorite rivers and my “big” weight rods and reels take me everywhere else that is beautiful in the world.

Tight lines
Guide Glenn Smith
Glennandtheartofflyfishing.com

 

Tenkara? I Don’t Even Know Ya!

Tenkara? I Don’t Even Know Ya!

Tenkara Frank

The sport of fly fishing is always evolving; from the introduction of the newest materials, cutting-edge designs in reel development, different rod composites for casting speed, or lack thereof, and even high-tech strike indicators made out of space age polymers that also went to the moon. Evolution is just that; a continuous and never-ending change.

Does evolution really matter? Will it help me catch more fish? Will I gain rock star status and the inevitable cool factor that comes with it? Even more to the question; why exactly do I need any of this? Do I need it because I’m fishing with a $15 rod and reel setup from a big box retailer? Am I so experienced and savvy that I can tell the subtle nuances of the casting characteristics between two high-end rod company offerings? It makes you wonder…

In my youth, I started fly fishing with a very cheap rod and was very concerned that I was being ripped off because I spent the extra six bucks to upgrade to the $21 “top-of-the-line” kit. The best part of that story is that I didn’t even understand the difference, but yet it seemed to matter. So, just like anyone that discovers a new found passion, I started to do my homework.

I casted a new “real” fly rod at my newly discovered fly shop and actually felt the difference. It casts lightly, it loads slowly, is responsive and light in weight, complete with reel seats made of real silver and birdseye maple. Sold! After 21 years as a guide, my rod and reel collection is pretty nice. I’m sure you can understand that I’m just keeping up with the Jones’…the Jones’ with a bitchin’ fly rod collection!

Now, keeping in line with the evolution theme, I started looking into the latest rage in all the fly fishing and trade magazines; Tenkara! I like the whole idea of it; simple, clean, but with a doctrine. It goes back to the absolute basics of catching a fish with a line and a pole.

I like the marketing ploys of it. If I fish in the traditional tenkara way, I will become a wiser, enlightened, at-peace-with-the-world and in-touch-with-my-inner-Zen, kind of angler. Fantastic!

This spoke to me. I have been a student of Zen Buddhism ever since I read, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” back in high school during 1979. I like the idea of it. I have done this style of fishing off and on, but never in a full commitment kind of way. So begins my journey into the far eastern style of fly fishing. I picked up a Patagonia tenkara rod (which we sell at our shop) and all of the other things that I needed to become a simple, uncomplicated, unencumbered tenkara angler. I have to admit, I like the fact that all I really need is tippet, tenkara flies and a net. All that I had left to do is to dive head first into the depths of the internet. I read blogs, watched videos (including Japanese YouTube videos) and sorted through as much beta as possible. I had no clue what they were even saying in Japanese, but I’ve always been more of a visual learner anyhow. I did pick up some good tips, but not really anything that I couldn’t have figured out on my own.

Here comes the philosophical rub; I have spent a lot of time on the river fishing in this new/old way and have caught some fish using the Far Eastern methods that the Tenkara purist (sensai) would recommend, and I do enjoy that but…I also like to catch fish. Truth be told, tenkara may not be the best way to achieve that end result.

I found it funny that in most of the foreign YouTube videos I watched, all of the tenkara dudes were smoking cigarettes while fishing. This must be because they needed something to do between their lack of strikes! I love the origin of the tenkara technique but not so much the end game. I suppose that makes me a bad Buddhist.

Instead of counting the reasons to never do this again I wanted to share with you my love of this technique and why I will always keep a tenkara rod me. I believe them to be superb fishing tools. All that I had to do was evolve the method to my own personal needs. I wanted this to become that special tool I keep “in my bag”, like a 6 degree fairway wood is to a golfer or a custom plane is to a woodworker.

A tenkara rod is an absolutely fantastic dry fly rod. It casts the fly perfectly, effortlessly, and presents the dry fly gently with the line rarely ever seeing a tangle. They are built for “high-sticking” pocket-water and force you to become a precision caster. After all, you can’t false cast to be a hero with a wind knot in your line. In tenkara, you look, you cast, and that’s it. I had to give up exclusively using traditional, reverse-hackled tenkara flies with the traditional line setup and adapt it to my own personal line set up using Western flies. It may not be the purist approach, but my catch rate and action increased exponentially.

Another benefit to this discipline is that it teaches you how to manage a fish during the fight. Before you even start to fish tenkara style, you need to look closely at your surroundings and choose where you’re going to be able to land that big boy, making sure that you are in a good position to move. You need to plan which eddy you are going to lead that fish into. There is no reel and no drag to rely on. The length of line you have is all that you’ve got, and trust me, this is easily the most interesting challenge of tenkara; landing the fish. Thusly, you have to be aware of every rock and be in tune with the environment around you. Now that sounds Zen-like to me!

Where I found tenkara to be the most rewarding, was in the hands of a disabled veteran. I had the pleasure of being one the guides that took a group from the Wounded Warrior Project out for a day of fishing on the Fryingpan River this past summer. These heroes’s have sacrificed enough and needed some joy and some diversion. They have literally given life and limb to help secure our way of life and deserve the utmost of our respect.

Two Great Soldier's I had the pleasure to take Fly Fishing.
Two Great Soldier’s I had the pleasure to take Fly Fishing.

One of the soldiers I fished with had very little movement in his arms and upper body. He could not stand on his own, so we brought a bar stool for him to sit on in the river. Though not the most conducive situation for traditional fly casting or fishing, but what he could do well was to hold and move a rod in a few workable positions. I decided to set him up with one of my tenkara rods that allowed him unencumbered casting and no fly line to strip or manage. He could easily roll cast the fly and simply lift the rod to set the hook. This guy nailed it! He set on every strike and we landed two really nice trout. He was thrilled. It was the essence of “fishing with a fly”. I could not have been happier helping others find some joy.

What is important to remember is that everything changes and evolves, or de-evolves over time. I am very pleased that I discovered tenkara and that I can now share it with others. I may not follow the idea of traditional Japanese fly fishing culture to the letter, but be it between technology and tradition, I always remember to ask the question, “What will make a difference to me or someone else?” Keep that tip up!

Best

Glenn