Dally’s Fly Fishing Report: 7-7-16

Jack Curtis and his brown _Gabe Levin image

Jack Curtis has fished the White River with us numerous times. He, his partner Robin, his son Jamie, and his beagle, Ranger, have just about held all its riches at one time or another. They’ve seen big number rainbow days on nymphs and midges, brown trout willing to eat midges, caddis, or hoppers, and there have been spectacular catches up to 22” in the past. No one in the group had yet broken the two foot mark until yesterday.

Jack is the most practiced angler of the family and appropriately acquired a new TFO Impact 8wt fly rod to try more streamer fishing in search of that “next level” fish. Having tried trophy trout hunting a couple times in the past with no success, and being a regular amateur bass angler, Jack knows that getting a big fish to bite is a matter of timing. Therefore he was more than willing to fish an evening session with me after the water had come up and the crowds had gone home.

The dense evening fog over the river made it tough to see anything as we started our first run, and even fogged our polarized glasses to the point of uselessness, but it felt wonderfully refreshing just to glide slowly through the cool mist. Jack started a little shakey – brand new rod, 8”fly, rusty backhanded casting, these things can be a distraction – but soon found a rhythm and started laying the fly on point and retrieving with confidence.

We would catch up on this and that, telling fish stories, but only briefly before returning to the task at hand. The silent concentration was necessary in the 30-40ft visibility to get in decent casts and retrieves, without getting hung on structure, all while maintaining proper speed and distance from the bank. After three solid hours of work and only an hour left of daylight with nothing to show, our mojo was beginning to fade, but when you’re trophy hunting, it only takes one.

The next cast landed in a small eddy where the bank transitioned from grass bank undercut to steep rocky drop off. Jack’s retrieve through the deep swirling current was met with solid, head shaking resistance, and he stayed calm, strip-setting with the rod pointed at the fish. The brown thrashed to the surface, showed us his big head and long slender body, then dove for the bottom and drifted downstream with the boat.

For a few moments we could not get him to come off the river bottom, which always raises concern about sunken logs and boulders to lose him on, but 12lb tippet attached to a deeply bent 8wt will quickly tire even a two foot trout. Soon he was thrashing at the surface again, in the net, measured at 24.5” and finally resting in Jack’s slightly trembling hands – a real, live, two foot brown, dripping in his hands – not just the stuff of legends. Congrats Jack.

-Gabe Levin

Connor Gregory’s first taste of Crooked Creek _Gabe Levin image

White River:
Minimum flow until midday offers morning wade sessions and into the afternoon if you go downriver. Low water fishes well with Whitetail and Super midges, Ruby and Root Beer midges, Zebra midges, Pheasant Tail and Hare’s Ear Nymphs, Sunday Specials, and Micro Mayfly Nymphs. Small beetles and hoppers like the Hippie Stomper are also a hoot to fish on the surface, and various soft hackles and wooly buggers are excellent on the swing. When the high water comes in the afternoon/evening, try larger terrestrials like big Fat Alberts, Western Ladies, Wiley’s Ants, and big articulated streamers on sinking lines. Jack’s fish fell for a Bait Fish Head Double Deceiver.

Norfork River:
One unit plus a sleuce gate combine for high flows around the clock, which provides stable, cold, oxygenated water, if a little murky. These are great streamer fishing conditions calling for sinking lines and meaty offerings like Johnson’s Sluggo, Schmidt’s Double Deceiver, Lynch’s DD and DDD, and Dally’s Twerking Minnow. Large egg and worm patterns fished deep and heavy under an indicator will pull fish too.

Ozark Originals



Barry Turner and Gabe Levin enjoying some creek time _Gabe Levin image

The Ozarks have more to offer than just trout. Brothers and regular shop customers Barry and Emil Turner asked me to show them something different during their two days of guided fishing this week, so we sampled our best local warmwater streams, Crooked Creek and Buffalo River. Slowly carving their way through thick forest, boulders, and limestone bluffs, these streams offer a variety of scrappy bass and panfish, unique river scenery, and often a good deal of solitude. Conditions are highly variable and the fish are wild, native, and moody, so it’s best to approach these streams with wonder and humility.



Emil Turner fishing under Ozark limestone bluffs. Gabe Levin image

Crooked Creek fished beautifully, giving up 6 species and a lot of laughs. We had to walk the drift boat through several tight turns and drops, but that’s just the kind of place that keeps the crowds away. Usually the path to wild fish is stacked with obstacles. Buffalo River flows were high and dingy, making the fishing challenging, but an easy row through a spectacular limestone canyon cannot possibly go wrong. The boys had never seen the Buffalo before, so the scenery alone made the day. If you’re wanting to experience an Ozark warmwater adventure yourself, our team has the knowledge and the desire to take you there: Gabe Levin

Emil adding a largemouth to the trip species list


Getting away from the tailwater accesses opens up a different world: Gabe Levin image





Ozark beauty











Hada On The Creeks

Mekenzie Hada getting all kissy lips _ Duane Hada

RECEIVED a batch of nice pics fro our Ozark Creeks, from Duane Hada. The creeks are coming into awesome shape right now after the rains of May.

Book a trip with Duane or any of our smallie guides, Ben & Gabe Levin and Chad “Mississippi Johnson, for wade trips canoe or Buffalo drift boat trips.

Katelyn Barton with a sweet smallie on a trip with Duane

Katelyn’s brother Kyle also got some smallie love


Penny Pabst with a sweet Crooked Creek smallmouth from our 2012 Class

GET set to fly fish the Ozarks in the Natural State and for our native fish, with our Smallmouth Weekend May 30 & 31.

Learn to tie the most effective smallmouth patterns out there from the Ozark Smallmouth Guru himself Duane Hada on Saturday. Sunday back up with our ever popular Smallmouth Class: with a morning classroom session with Duane and Ben Levin. Then head out onto the water to put the theory into practice under the tutelage of our smallmouth guides Duane, Ben Chad Johnson and Gabe Levin.

It promises to be a killer weekend and a great way to prepare for our new Buffalo River drift Boat floats _ either the day trips or the awesome multi-day Lower River wilderness float.


Duane Hada will be tying the “Hada Creek Crawler”, and other effective smallmouth patterns. A demonstration and step by step tying process for making this highly realistic and most effective crawfish pattern. Both a teacher, and an Umpqua fly designer, you will enjoy Duane’s easy going instruction.

Duane is a person whose artistic skills and creative innovation combined with his lifelong fishing knowledge will help you create better looking, fish catching patterns. Bring your own vise, light and tools, Duane will provide the materials. Cost $75. 8am to 4pm


The morning class session will be indoors at Dally’s Ozark Flyfisher and will go into smallmouth habitat, techniques, and foods in the Ozarks. Participants will learn about gear, rigging, reading water, and seasons from Duane and Ben, longtime smallmouth experts. Duane and Ben will also demonstrate tying several of their best patterns.

The afternoon will be spent learning correct presentations and fishing techniques while fishing Crooked Creek with Duane, Ben, Chad, and Gabe.

Participants will receive one on one instruction on smallmouth tactics while wade fishing one of Arkansas’ premier bass streams. Pupils should come prepared to wade fish the afternoon (wading boots, warm water clothing). Bring a five or six weight rod if possible, otherwise guides will provide rods if necessary.

Cost $225 per person. 8am to 4pm. Bring your own lunch.

Now That’s A Carp


Nice note from Thomas Fletcher and a pic of this hefty Crooked Creek Carp after he and his father spent a day on the water with Duane Hada.

Love that small water fun, thanks guys


On July 23, 2014 my Dad and I went with Duane Hada as our guide to some remote spots along Crooked Creek. It was a great day!! We fished all day and caught smallmouth, Ozark bass, bluegill and a GIANT CARP!! I always learn so much and bring in great fish with Mr. Hada! The day with him was certainly one of the highlights of my summer _ Thomas Fletcher

If anyone want a day of fun on the creek with Duane call us on 870 435 6166

Hada’s Craft Fur Clouser_Tying Video Series

Hada’s Craft Fur Clouser, tied by Ben Levin


WHEN IT comes to Ozark Smallmouth and our wild rivers and streams, its hard to go past the knowledge of our guides Duane Hada and Ben Levin.

Both of these guys have Ozark waters in their veins and dig smallies with a passion. Duane’s Craft Fur Clouser has been a staple of our summer warmwater fly bin year after year. Together with the Creek Crawler crawdad you just can’t have enough.

The Clouser tie is a dead ringer for our Ozark creek minnows, and the boys have been rocking the smallmouth already this season. Check the evidence here. And don’t forget our Smallmouth Class on June 14.

Once again this was a fine piece of work by Brian and Jenny Wise of Fly Fishing the Ozarks _ each of the finished videos that come my way blow my mind _ and I was there. Thanks guys

Hook: Umpqua U502
Dumbbell Lead Eyes Medium Gold
Belly: Extra Select Craft Fur White
Krystal Flash Copper
Lateral Line Extra Select Craft Fur Black
Back Extra Select Craft Fur Medium Brown or Tan

Hunka Hunka Smallmouth Love

MeKenzie Hada with a hunka Crooked Creek smallmouth

It’s getting to be time _ MeKenzie Hada sent in this pic yesterday after heading out on Crooked Creek with her father smallie guide, guru and artist Duane _ get in early for your Crooked Creek trip.


Spent the afternoon on Crooked Creek with my dad… we thought you might want to see this beauty of a smallmouth