Author Archives: Steve Dally

Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 7-24-14

Nathanael Ferguson with a hopper brown posted to our White River Fly Fisher phone app

.THERE’s been a bit of everything on show this week.

WE have had minimum flow in the mornings on both rivers earlier in the week, and some big water 20,000 cfs

one afternoon on the White. IT’s the sort of conditions that can mystify a newcomers, where old hands will be dialling in where to fish at any given moment of the day according to the water flows and how they want to fish.

Norfork has been offering the best shot for waders every morning, but if this weekend follow’s last weekend’s pattern there might be windows of minimum flow on the White as well.

The big thing about working out where to fish is information _ getting the right information and, then working out what to do with it. Which is one of the reasons we set up our own APP, to get the fastest and easiest way to access the right river and weather information. If you haven’t checked it out please do.

As well as the important stuff there’s a pretty cool submit a picture feature.

So go hang some fish this weekend and send us the pics.

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A Teaser from Up North

Chad Johnson

Mississippi Johnson, and the Brother’s Levin take a week’s leave and all we get are these photos of filthy fat smallmouth.

I spoke to them this morning and asked deadpan when they were “going to start catching some big fish” …. you need a sense of humor around here. Full report from the boys next week


Gabe Levin

Ben Levin

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IFTD ‘14, Orlando


FLY FISHING’S annual shindig the IFTD was on in Florida last week, and as per our annual schedule Bec and I flew in on what turned out to be a brutal drive/weather delay/missed flight/ delayed bags/ mystery rental car debacle. We could have driven and had couple of hours extra sleep. .

The IFTD used to be the mecca for all things new and groovy, but quite honestly with the penetration of social media, different company product schedules and the timing, a lot of dealers and company’s don’t view the Show as important as it used to be.

The IFTD used to be a stand alone event but its now combined with the vast, and I mean vast ICAST show for the entire fishing industry. Even including “our” large casting pond, the fly section wouldn’t have cracked 10% of the floor space.

All that being said it was awesome to catch up with some great friends we don’t get to see often here in Arkansas, like the crew from GeoFish, Thomas & Megan from Diablo Paddlesports, Simon Gawesworth taught my wife how to toss beer coasters, plus the TN crew from 3 Rivers Angler and Southern Culture on the Fly and Dun Magazine.

Anyway here’s our highlights:

Umpqua’s catalogue this year run’s over 400 pages, with a huge array of new flies, and much much more.

But it was the Tailgator Organizor that was getting a bunch of buzz. The Tailgator turns any plastic tub or tote into a techy piece of fly fishing equipment.

Tub and totes are in the back of trucks and SUVs up and down the river, as a cheap and convenient way to organise waders and boots. With the Tailgator “saddle bag system” which adjusts to most size tubs, now you have organisation for tools, fly boxes, spools and more.

Use it just for road tripping or list the while thing into your boat for a float. $79.99

Umpqua have also added a $59.99 small chest pack called the Rock Creek, which is going to be a hit too I’m sure.



FISHPOND’S iconic aluminum nippers are getting a makeover, the first in 17 odd years. The biggest change is going to be the return of replaceable blades, an original design feature.

Fishpond have a big lineup of new stuff for 2015 including the new tippet holder (pictured at left, which I think is pretty trick.

You will get to see new fabrics, new bags and a makeover of a lot of the westwater waterproof bas and packs. Fishpond is also doing come co branding on some new products, a pricey but very cool line of high-tech merino products, and some Fishpond webbing Chaco sandals.





ABEL have a bunch of very cool new designs including this mayfly pictured right, for Grateful Dead fans a “Dancing Bear” graphic and appropriately a 420 graphic.

The company is also introducing an aluminum zinger to join its stable of vest  accessories.





Orvis are unveiling a very cool one piece version of the H2, initially in the heavier rods, that we will be keen to get hold of for streamer season. Its definitely a faster and stouter rod, particularly in the upper third of the blank, than the H2.

There is also a killer rod & reel bag I really dig that has out-thought the competition. More on that to come.

WE showed off the new Sage rods & RIO lines last week _ these will be hitting the shop in early August.


Our good mate and Umpqua Rep Banning was excited about Chad’s picture in the catalogue

THis might be only cool to Chad Johnson, myself and out families but I confess I was left gob-smacked to find a full page version of my pic  of “Mississippi” Johnson and a White River brown trout staring out of the Umpqua catalogue.

In fact my mate, or fish he is holding are in there 5 or 6 times, in a nice rub for the Ozarks. It’s hard to beat the scenid beauty of the Tetons or the Keys, but its kind of rubbed me the wrong way over recent years that just about 90% of the catalogue and magazine, advertising images out there are of the Rockies or Florida.

Tosh Brown’s visit, and subsequent article, in Gray’s Sporting Journal last year proved we have the fish and scenery worth seeing. PLus its going to be cool seeing Umpqua take more of Johnson’s awesome fly patterns to the world stage.

We were chuffed

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The Bugs

It must be summer

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Brown Bears Fishing at Brooks Falls

Image from webcams

Here’s a way to while away a few boring hours at the office. Check out the live cams from Brooks Falls in the Katmai, Alaska.

There’s a bunch more on the website too. Click for the Cams here

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Back to Basics: Panfishing

Hybrid sunfish from Crooked Creek. Gabe Levin photo.

Fly fishing has a tendency to lure its practitioners into a technological predicament in which the more you know, the more you need. Endless possibilities in rod lengths and actions, fly line tapers, casting techniques, presentation techniques, species to pursue, flies, etc. There are so many methods and techniques to fly fishing it can become overwhelming just to try and learn half of them, never mind perfecting them. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Yes there is great pleasure to be had in honing a skill to near scientific precision, but not all of us fish for the same reasons. Some of us enjoy understanding the how and the why behind every detail of the sport from gear to entomology, others are drawn less to any cerebral gratification as they are to the subtle grace of fly fishing, and most of us probably fall somewhere in between. Regardless of our obtained level of grace or knowledge of technique, all of us have humble beginnings as fly fishermen.


Longear sunfish from Crooked Creek. Gabe Levin photo.

In the South many of us began by sloppily flopping a popping bug onto a farm pond or backyard creek – nothing sophisticated or difficult, but effective and more importantly, addictive. I remember when, as a nine year old kid, I used to wade into the shallow pool of the creek behind my house and cast small muddlers at the bank, overjoyed at the aggression of longears and green sunfish. The small, colorful fish would attack three and four at a time, sometimes hooking themselves without any effort on my part. They would pull with all their little might, bending and pulsing my wispy homemade rod for just a moment before coming to hand. My soft uncalloused hands were timid to hold wriggling fish prickling with spines and sharp scales, but I could never stop, never get enough. Mom would come calling for me before dark.


Panfish bait. Come get some.

As we progress along the steep learning curve of fly fishing and delve ever deeper into its endless details, it becomes increasingly important to not lose sight of our humble beginnings, for fear we will forget the simple joys that captured our attention in the first place. The simple joy, for instance, of casting a popping bug for panfish – that is a joy that every fly fisherman young and old should know and revisit time to time. It is forgiving and uncompetitive. It is an inexpensive joy, one that requires no specialized or top-notch gear. It is mentally therapeutic, requiring no cerebral puzzling over what to tie on or how to present the fly, yet providing consistent stimulation in the form of aggressive takes and beautiful fish. The relative absence of technical applications leaves room for the brain to relax, to enjoy the beautiful junction of water, weeds, and shadows, to dwell upon fond memories and pleasant future possibilities. Panfishing is fly fishing in its simplest, most rudimentary form, and it will never get old.

-Gabe Levin

Bluegill from a farm pond. Gabe Levin photo.



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Tarpon 30–Dally 0



IT’S an affliction, but there is something about tilting at dinosaurs that floats my boat: Musky in Wisconsin, King Salmon on Kodiak, Halibut on the edge of the Bering Sea.

Last week Bec and I went to the salt, a day ahead of the International Fly Tackle Dealers Show in Orlando Florida. For Bec it was to be her first taste of the saltwater I’ve spoken about so much, and I had lined up a shot at tarpon down on Tampa Bay.

We could have gone for other targets, smaller tarpon in the backcountry, redfish & seatrout or cruising snook on the beaches. The beach fishing has been excellent, tarpon a lot tougher. But like musky, tarpon have been an itch for the past few of years.

I’ll tell you straight off I had my butt handed to me, but so were 3 other guides fishing on their days off on the same stretch of beach_ we saw only 2 fish jumped, all day. But the trip will remain one of the most memorable days fishing I’ve had anywhere.

Guide Capt. Chris Hargiss, (Fly Quest Charters) put us on fish, and watching those silvery sides rolling in the early morning light was almost heart stopping. It was only topped during a frenetic run of afternoon action, the big dark shapes showing impossibly big, as they move implacably down the beach.

But as always when you miss the fish you want, there is the question: “what could have I done better?”. I was pondering this on the drive home, through a couple of brutal thunderstorms, and I realized I had taken for granted few hard learned lessons from travelling blind into unfamiliar fishing situations. Now they might not guarantee you that the fish are going to eat, but it will give you the best grounding.

1 _ PREPARATION: You have probably heard it before but there is no substitute for spending some time pre-trip casting your gear, particularly if you are stepping into unfamiliar line weights. But seriously try practicing the type of shots you will be getting. With plenty of streamer fishing, trout and musky, over the past few years, one would have thought there’d be few problems. But hitting shots into a dinner plate on a moving target is a whole different skill set. Now throw in some wind and a pitching skiff deck, so rough the guide got down off the platform and the back deck, and it’s a whole other ball game.

If you are doing a single day saltwater fishing its hard to justify the cost of a good tarpon grade outfit, particularly on the reel end. But even if you are an above average caster, picking up a rod and making pinpoint casts is a big ask.



2 _ PLAN YOUR TRAVEL: I’ve always been of the notion that doing a guide trip as early as possible in a trip is the ideal. But give yourself time to yourself set if possible. Otherwise you might find yourselves in the spot we were: sitting 7 hours in an airport for flight delays, crawling into bed at for a 4.30 rise and drive.

Ok it harder when you are juggling work/fun and limited schedules, but we are talking the ideals here.




3 _ STRIP RIGHT: When you are chasing predators making your fly act like the prey is the key. I was having a hard time believing that those monsters coming down the beach were going to eat something stripped like a woolly bugger on trout water. Spotting some schools of bait helped, as did getting my guide to grab the rod and show you the tempo the fish want. Having confidence in your presentation of the prey is a huge asset.



DON’T FORGET TO LOOK AROUND: Fly fishing takes us to some incredible places, but its easy to spend all day focused on that small patch of water you are fishing. Have a look around, take some photos, drink it in.




TAKE A GOOD FRIEND: Nothing like shared experiences.



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Dally’s Fly Fishing Report _ 7/17/14

Amen Brother Turner.

The Turner brothers are at it again; Barry and Emil can’t get enough of Ozark fly fishing. The two have had great success in the past on the White River and Crooked Creek, and called us looking to round out their Ozark fly fishing experience with a little summertime hopper action on the White. As luck would have it, Tuesday’s conditions were not great for hopper fishing, what with minimum flow, bright sunshine, and a cool north breeze, but you couldn’t ask for prettier weather to fish in, and the brothers could not be discouraged if you tried.

Hopper-dropper was the name of the game, and it became quickly evident that a pheasant tail would produce for us, as Barry stuck an acrobatic brown trout right away, while the hopper at least served as a more exciting indicator to watch than a Palsa or Thingamabobber. Rainbow after rainbow committed to the pheasant tail all day long and kept me busy unhooking fish. To reach a little deeper in the slow pools I decided to run a second dropper, a Ruby Midge, under the pheasant tail, and boy did that pay off. The freakishly fat brown pictured above took the midge near a ledge in the center of a deep pool, and Emil did a fine job hooking and landing the dogged brown on 5x tippet to put an exclamation point on an already fabulous day. The fish measured 21 inches long, nothing to shout about by White River standards, but with a 13 inch girth at that length, this fish is well ahead of its class, and on its way to being a giant. Nice to see browns growing exceptionally fast in our river!

-Gabe Levin

Future jaws.

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Costa’s GeoBass Nicaragua

Check out the latest installment of GeoBass in Nicaragua here

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Maddin’s Blended Krakken tied by Alex Lafkas

Sometimes you need a streamer that’s going to start diving as soon as it lands. Russ Madden’s Krakken has been a favorite of our since our Michigan colleague Alex Lafkas gave us the word.

The Krakken is easy to throw, sinks fast with an enticing wiggle and has some monster fish to its credit. This fly can also give some nice variety to the action of you streamer box

Fish it
Video produced by Brian Wise: Fly Fishing the Ozarks
in conjunction with Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher, Cotter Arkansas.

Long Shank Streamer Hook TMC 300 or Similar #4
Tail: Olive & Cream Strung Marabou Wapsi
Flash: Copper
Body: Rabbit Zonker Sculpin Olive
Olive Polar Chenille
Legs: Wapsi Sili Legs Nymph, Olive Barred
Strung Schlappen Long, Olive

Tiemco 8089 #2
Articulation: 60lb fluorocarbon
Eyes: Wapsi Large Lead Dumbell Eyes, Red.
Rabbit Zonker Olive.
Legs: Wapsi Sili Legs Nymph, Olive Barred
Rabbit Zonker Natural Ginger
Rabbit Zonker Olive.
Strung Schlappen Long, Olive

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Hoppers Heating Up on the White

James Kerr scores a hopper brown with Chad Johnson

Time to beef up your hopper and terrestrial selections y’all. Here’s some early summer tips from Mississippi Johnson:
“A great start to the hopper season…the browns seem to be happy & very willing to come up for a dry.  I have also been having some success with a hopper to a dry ant dropper.  I think it gives the browns the big hopper and the rainbows a smaller meal to eat.  Just to keep you on your toes- you may want to try Dave’s hopper for the dropper (the yellow belly).  Hope to see you out on the water.  Keep your dries high & your rods bent.  Happy Summer. Happy Fishing.”

Just another typical White River hopper eating brown

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New From Sage & RIO

We had a preview from our Sage RIO and Redington rep Darin Jacober last week, and the result was this video.

Its definitely that time of year again when the new stuff starts getting previewed, with the odd new items, like Sage’s two rods and the RIO low stretch lines (more on these in a bit) coming out in August. Bec and I are flying out to Orlando, FL, tomorrow for the annual Fly Fishing Tackle Dealers show.

There will be meetings with our usual reps, but I’ve got a few things in mind I want to search up to add to our product mix _ and usually there is a surprise or two as well.

But I think you are going to dig the new lines: low stretch versions of the RIO Gold; RIO Grand and RIO Trout line plus a new version of the Indicator Line. The low stretch Connect Core in a floating trout line came in the short head Perception Taper last summer. But for those of us who dig longer belly lines the Connect Core Gold is going to be a ripper.  Similarly the low stretch properties will be killer on the Grand and Trout lines.

There’s only one downside with the new Salt rod in Sage’s lineup, I’d had my heart set on a Method 8wt for streamer season, now I’m not sure. The 8wt we cast week is an immensely powerful stick, though not feeling as light as the Method, actually is half the weight of the old Xi3 series.

The Access was a serious surprise, super light and actually feels like a superlight progressive taper, moderate-fast rod. These are a great all rounder.

Stay tuned for more reports this week


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