5 Flies: Slimming down the Fly Box

I like tying lots of different patterns of flies so I don’t know if my box would ever really slim down, but I really like the idea of having 4 or 5 patterns that are in my box. I’d tie them all winter, and ride them out through the fall.

This often comes up on the water when I fish with other folks. “What are your ‘go-to’ flies?” Or if you could only fish one fly, what would it be?

There is definitely something to be said about having confidence in your fly and being sure you are fishing it properly (depth, drift, speed of retrieval, etc). After coming across this post on Gear Patrol “The 5 flies you should always have in your fly box…” I thought I’d commit to my 5.

J Sotak picked the classics on the Gear Patrol Post

So what would mine look like?

  1. AZ- Wandering’s Mini Hopper – This is easy to tie and I just can’t seem to give up a hopper. Works as a phenomenal indicator for hopper-dropper combos. Like a Hippie Stomper but without a post.

2. Griffith’s Gnat – Again, one of the most simple ties – but this can save you when your match isn’t on with whatever is floating on the surface.

Hello my little buggy friend

3. Pink Squirrel – The iconic driftless fly. I like tying them a little bigger with rainbow tungsten bead heads. It becomes a prospecting nymph that way.

Image result for pink squirrel fly
this photo is from pintrest

4. Frick’s Fix -this used to be a black leech pattern with some green/emerald flash – but, if I have to have only 5 flies, I’ve been working on this one lately. The only problem with it is the weight. It’s heavy. But that’s why it is effective at finding big fish down deep. Something about this silly fly. It just kills. Here is one tied by Frick himself

Image result for fricks fix
so many variations. another easy tie.

5. Stimulator – No I do like Fran Better’s “The Usual” because it is easy and can imitate a beatis, and if I can start catching fish on it, I think it will surpass the stimulator – but there is just something about this fly. I started loving it in the Virginia mountains looking for brookies. So effective, and when small, it can match the caddis here in the driftless.

Stimulator - Orange Fly Fishing Flies - Size 10
So Pretty

Yeah, I think those would be my 5 for the Driftless – maybe most areas. I know I’ll never be able to stick to just 5 patterns in my box, but it is still fun to imagine it 🙂


Cozad’s One Fly

The other weekend I joined up with some good folks to fish for a good cause. Everybody wins… Well, not our team. I broke off early and was of little help for the rest of the day unless you could holding my teammate’s beer being helpful.

Curt Reese saying a few words at the American Legion before the day began.

The Cozad’s One Fly Tournament raises money or youth-related fishing program

s in the Viroqua, Wisconsin area. This is a central location in the Driftless Area fishery of Wisconsin. The tournament had about 10-12 teams of four fly fishers. Points are scored based on the size of fish. All flies are tied by a teammate and once your fly breaks off, you’re done for the day.

I caught about 12 fish in the first hour and a half and was on track for a nice score for the day until I broke off in a surprisingly simple situation. I presume my line cut on a rock or sharp piece of debris I couldn’t see.

The rest of the team fished well and we met a lot of great people.IMG_1920

I think we had just as much fun planning strategy, scouting streams and talking flies/smack before the day than the actual event.

Will fished well all day. He was an alternate for another teammate who ended up having neck surgery two weeks before tourney.  Eric and Justin fished their top secret water and managed to keep their flies and cat a few fish as well.

Teammates: Eric (@hotdishflyfish) and Justin (@winonaflyfactory)

It probably wasn’t twenty minutes after the tournament was over and we were already scheming for next year.

We found some brookies.

Fishing can be a very solo sport. For most of us on the team, the solitude of fishing is part of the attraction.

We explored new water

But I think it is fair to say we all had an awesome time climbing out of our antisocial shells to spend a day on the water with friends.

Teammate Will and myself

One thing is for sure, I’ll be working on next year’s fly choice for the next year.

The flies of the tournament: mostly buggers, nymphs, and frix fixes.

The last of winter in the Driftless… maybe…

I haven’t fished as much this winter but I managed to get out yesterday. The water is still clear and I’m still learning how things have changed with the massive flooding we’ve had. We have a big tournament coming up called the Driftless One Fly which will be great.

Basic premise: teams of 4. You get one hand tied fly and when it breaks off you are done. The bigger the fish, the more points it is worth. It is a fund raising benefit and should be a great time. It is always a gamble what to throw but I will tell you the Fricks Fix seems to always produce.

Here are some photos from yesterday. The nudge hatch was insane. So cool to see the tiny bugs on the snow. And speaking of snow, we still have lots to melt off before the tourney at the end of the month.

Revisiting Painting

When I lived in Virginia and played my part for the local fly fishing clubs including Trout Unlimited, a group of die hard locals got an awesome film and fishing festival started called Legends of the Fly. They do the film festival stuff, but also highlight a “legend” fly fisher who gives a presentation. There are fishing demonstrations as well as a big party and auction with proceeds going to great causes like project healing waters.

They also have an awesome mid year fishing tourney.

I used to submit fishing videos and generally be a cheerleader. This year I was asked to paint another trout painting for the auction. It’s been about a year since I painted anything so I’ve been procrastinating. Finally, I sat down tonight and began working.

I started with the same design Lonny Kenny Leather put on my guitar strap.

As I painted, I got a little worried about the pike-ish look to the fish but tried to be patient.

Sure enough, by the end, Gillian Welch calmed my fears and I’m happy with the project. If you are ever looking to visit as fly fishing festival, Legends of the Fly is an awesome one. Hopefully in the years to come I’ll make it back to support in person. For now, this will have to do.

A slow season…

I fished more last year than any year in the past. I got on a trout stream more than 40 times. For me, that is pretty phenomenal.

I fished one so far in the 2019 season. But it feels we’ve been battling extreme runoff or extreme cold, so I’ve kept my distance recently.

We did have a fun family trip to Florida last week and managed to find some shark teeth on the gulf coast and that was pretty amazing. The warmer weather got me day dreaming of casting to more tropical fish.

Maybe it is time to planing an excursion. Where would you go? Float trip in Alaska? Red fishing in Louisiana? Roosterfish? Puerto Rico?

Also, pretty soon I’m going to be sharing with you details about a book I’m writing. It is in the editing stage and working on publishing. It would fall under the category of historical fiction and mystic realism. Love story. Tragedy. Conservation. I can’t wait to share it.

Full circle

So let’s be upfront about something. I blog more about fly fishing when I don’t fly fish that much. I guess it is a way for me to feel like I’m “staying in touch” with my hobby.

Well, I started this blog when I lived in Nebraska which is not really known as a fly fishing Mecca. I then moved to Virginia, and after four years, I moved back to Minnesota and then to Wisconsin. I now live within 45 minutes of probably 10-20 trout streams not to mention plenty of warm water opportunities. As such, I think I spend more time now fishing than blogging. I guess I also have to acknowledge the fact that in that same time Sara and I have had two kids. So maybe that is it.

But, something funny happened last week that I had to share.

You may know that I really enjoy both listening to and writing music. Thanks to an old blogging friend Owl Jones, I started getting into making fly fishing videos.  That led to a long and winding relationship with other bloggers – Troutrageous, yukon goes fishing, the Outdoor blogger network, Erin Block, the river damsel, winona fly factory winona fly factory, and it goes on and on (I’m sorry to those who I didn’t name 🙂

Well, as the fly fishing video thing got big, I fell in love with one video in particular. I found a video by Rolf Nylinder called “Trout Is All.”

The song is “Love is All” by the Tallest Man on Earth. I have listened to Kristian Matsson’s music since then pretty regularly. It is awesome.

Trout is all from Rolf Nylinder on Vimeo.

Well, after many years, the time came when I was able to go and see Tallest Man on Earth in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.


The show was sooooo, soooo, soooo good.

Some time ago, I saw he had a cool guitar strap made by Linny Kenny. I ended up having her make me a custom strap as well. (see her photo from the website below)

Well, I decided to bring the strap to the concert and try to have him autograph it. How could I make this happen? I talked to the stage hand after the show and he said “he’s long gone by now.”

I didn’t believe it, so I asked the person selling the LPs and shirts. She said my best shot was by the bus. It was snowing outside, but not too cold. I decided to sit outside the busm and after 45 minutes, the crew started coming out. I talked to the first crew member who was entering the bus. I asked if he could give my strap to Kristian. He said he would. Hoping I could somehow sway Kristian to ask me in to meet him, which would inevitably lead to us fly fishing together, I said, “tell him Rolf Nylinder says hi.”

Do I know Rolf? No. I think I chatted with him online once during my early video stage when he was with Front Side Fly, but I could be wrong.

Did I meet Kristian? No.

But guess what?

I got my guitar strap! so so cool. It is funny how circular the world can be. And guess what, life continues, so this story may not be over 🙂