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How to Whip Finish Your Fly without a Whip Finisher Tool

whip finisher

I’ve always found that the best way do tie flies is to minimize the steps you need to do.  Adding extra tools to your fly tying adds another step that can be avoided.

I’ll show you how to Whip Finish a fly without a tool in today’s video.


How To Whip Finish Without a Tool:


How was that?  Do you still have questions?  Or do you need any other instruction?

If so you can click here and send me a quick email or click on the link below to check out our community and course to help you learn how to tie flies.

We call it the Fly Tying Mentor and is an easy way to get full instruction delivered to you on a regular basis.  Plus, we will deliver the fly tying materials to your doorstep.


Check out the Fly Tying Mentor by Click Here:

Check it out here:  




Fly Fishing Tip of the Day – Bow to the Fish

bow to the fish

bow to the fish

One of the easiest ways to loose a fish is to get so excited that you pull the fly right out of the fish’s mouth.  This is no different for steelhead.  Next time you feel a pull of a fish from a swung fly, rememer to bow to the fish.

What I mean is, instead of jerking the rod to set the hook, bow to the fish instead.  Yeah, bow,   like some cultures would bow to greet you.

Let me explain a little further.

How I Tied 48,000 Flies


fly tying

(leave a comment below noting if you like or hate tying flies)


Let me start by saying that knowing how many flies you have tied in your life isn’t critical.  But, I did it anyway.

I dug deep into the research bank to try and determine how many flies I have tied since I was 5.  Yes, 5.  I started tying in my dads fly shop and although I wasn’t production tying then, it didn’t take long to get there.

Not an easy task by the way.  Determining the number of flies one has tied.

Did I tie 7 dozen or 8 dozen that day?

When I was tying production flies at my dads old shop I was kicking out this many flies per day. Somedays more and some less.

As I add it up and do a little guestimating, I’m in the 4000 dozen range.

Or 48,000 flies. Or about 1142 flies per year every year of my life.

Seems like a lot right? Or does it for my story?

Hanging out with my almost 5 year old daughter this weekend and tying a few flies brought back some fairly old memories.

I’m 42 now and I’m thinking back to when I was 5, so like about the time Mt. St Helense erupted.

Yeah, I live across the river from the once fully intact mountain.

Take a look at the eruption here.

Teaching my daughter how to tie a wooly worm got me thinking back to how I grew up in a fly shop.


My dad, the old time guide on the deschutes, had a local fly shop for many years in Portland. Me and my 3 brothers pretty much lived their when we weren’t in school or playng sports.

I don’t really every remember not tying flies.

We would be at the sportsman show demonstrating how to tie a tied down caddis, teaching people that were my age now.

Where does the 37 years go?

As I think back on it, I can appreciate what tying flies has meant to me and is why I want to try and convince you to give it a shot.

Leave a comment below about why you love tying flies.


6 reasons you should start tying flies

1.  Deeper Connection.  You will connect even deeper with the hobby you love. Catching fish and learning about entomology is great, but until you catch a fish on your own hand tied fly……..

Bottom line – You are just missing out on a major piece of the experience.


2.  Patience.  You will improve your patience. I’ve taught a lot of people to tie flies and by far the best trait that any new tyer can have and is the trait that is built on most, is patience.

You are already a fly fisherman but to tie flies as well, you are just stepping up to the yogi level.  We are talking ghandi walking, yoga bending full on peacefull tranquilty and beauty of inner peace.

Going to far? Maybe, but wanted to make the point.


3.  More Friend Time.  Hang out with some cool friends. When I was in high school my friends and I would grab a few beers (did I say that) and head down to the fly shops back room to tie some flies.

Could you ask for anything more. A fly shop full of materials, a fishing trip the next day and my good buddies to hang with and tie. We would be up late into the night tying and lying as they say.

Even if you don’t have a shop, getting together with the friends in front of the vise compared to in front of the TV is the way it should be.

Kill your TV!

I killed mine 5 years ago.


4.  Catch more fish. The store bought flies are fine and all, but we are talking custom flies yo.

Yes yo!

If you want to bring an offering to your species of choice you better bring something good. Tying your own will allow you to tie different variations and test them out while on the river.


5.  Match the Hatch.  This kind of goes with # 4 but wanted to note it with a story.  In other words, when you have a fly kit with you, you will never not have the right fly.

I love hearing the cool stories of people tying up a crazy fly and proceeding to kill them that evening on the river.


6.  Make Money.  I was chatting with @flytyingdude on instagram who is a super young buck who is passionate about fly tying. I asked him what the biggest reason he loved it was:

“I like having faith in what I use and knowing what is in every fly and is being  thrown every cast. And as a designer i like that there are tonds of materials to combine into better flies”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Although he isn’t selling yet there is the opportunitiy that he can make money off these flies if he wishes. I did it and made some cash to support me through college.


A Few Resources to Help You Get Started

There are an amazing arrays of videos and content online for just about any fly you can think of.  So I would suggest you just get on you tube and take a look at some of the videos out there.

I did want to plug a few resources that I believe will help you focus more that just scanning random videos.


The Fly Tying Mentor

It wouldn’t be a good online article without a selfless (selfish) plug for our Fly Tying Course.  You will not only getting step by step instruction but will get the materials you need delivered to your doorstep.

You can click here and take a look if interested.


Local Meetups

There’s know question that the best thing you can do is watch people tying flies.  There are a ton of things you can learn and also pick their brain.

Look for local events or meetups where you can meetup and tie with other people.

If you are interested in finding an event in your area?  Click here and put “local meetup?” in the subject line and I’ll followup with you.


Jay Nicholas

You can find Jay’s videos at the Caddis Fly Shop.  Here’s a link to get started.


In the Riffle

In the Riffle has a bunch of great videos to help you find and tie a pattern of your choice.  Click here to check out their channel.


Davie McPhail

Davie has a ton of good videos from across the pond.  Click here to take a look at what he has going on.


SC Fly Tying

If you are just getting started SC Fly Tying has a basic beginner video series here.

Click here to check it out:

fly tying

Interested in getting a new fly material box delivered to your doorstep each month plus a guided online course to walk you step by step through tying your first dozen flies and beyond?

4 Resources on Anchor Placement for Spey Casting

guest posting

In regards to spey casting, does this sound familiar at all:

“Sometimes I get a nice spey cast out there but about half the time my line fails to shoot out straight on the water.”

“I end up checking my line after a short session to notice that I have a number of “wind” knots in my leader.”

“My cast lacks the power that it needs and I fail to reach the buckets I’m trying to fish effectively.”

“In the wind my spey cast is just about useless.  The harder I try the worse I cast.”

If you struggle with your spey cast there’s a good chance that a big part of it is anchor placement.

I heard from a reader just yesterday on a common struggle that many of us have with spey casting, anchor placement.  I wanted to take a few minutes to start a post that hopefully helps shed a little light on how you might get more consistent with this technique.

I will continue to update this post, but wanted to get something out today so all of us can have an action item to work on this week.


Spey Casting Resources


Resource #1:  The first resource I want to share is a video that talks specifically about anchor placement from Tom Larimer.  He talks in detail about how slack affects your spey cast directly.


Resource #2:  I also wanted to provide a link to an article I put together specifically for the switch rod.  Take a look at the section on casting for a few more good video resources that should help out.


Resource #3:  Here is a video from Scott Howell that covers the details of skagit casting.  It’s also included in my article above, but I wanted to give you a direct link here.  It’s about 20 minutes long but should give you a few tips that will help out.


Resource #4:  George Cook has a new you tube channel at Spey TV.  Here is one video on the different Snap casts.



That should give you enough video content for the day?  Now, your call to action is to get out and practice before you get on the river.  Then practice some more.  Do you have additional resources or tips on anchor placement.

And if you’re interested in the right spey rod for steelhead, Click here to see the Echo Spey Rod that has helped me drastically improve my spey cast and find more steelhead at a super reasonable cost (You also get a free spey line if you pickup the Echo Spey).  By the way, the link above is an affiliate link, which means I earn a commission if you do end up purchasing through that link.  It’s at no extra cost to you, and please if you have any questions related to this product, please let me know and I’d be happy to answer them for you.


Do You Have a Fly Tying Mentor?

That question pretty much sums up what our new product is all about.

A way to help you discover fly tying or to just make it easier to tie more flies.

Click here & Check out the details 

We are all crazy busy these days and finding time to figure out where to get your fly tying materials can be a hassle.

Especially for someone just getting into fly tying!

We’ve solved this problem with the Fly Tying Mentor Fly Tying Box delivered to your doorstep each month.  You’ll get a new fly and all of the materials to tie that fly each month.

Are you completely new to fly tying?

No idea where to start?

We also include a free online video training course to help you tie your first 6 flies this month.

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We have private group of fly tyers from all over who will help guide you through any rough times.

This is the ultimate fly tying package that will help you get started today.

You can join the beta launch group by clicking the link below:

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(we are only accepting 50 people into this group for the launch)

You can click here and send me an email anytime if you have questions!


Why I turned to the Dark Side and now use a Spey Rod

spey rod
british columbia
An Early BC Morning


I was on the Babine River for the 1st time in my life. Tyler, Randy, Shannon and I were dropping into the canyon for a 10 day float trip. The Babine River, is part of the Skeena system in Northern British Columbia and is known for some of the largest steelhead in the world. We were jumping into this expedition with 2 rafts, a hand drawn map of the rapids and enough food and fly fishing gear to give us a shot at a fish of a lifetime.  I also had added a spey rod to my gear list for the first time in my life, not knowing that it would change my fly experience forever.

We would all catch our largest steelhead of our lives this trip.

The Switch Rod and Swinging Flies for Great Lakes Steelhead

switch rod


So, there’s no question you know what a single handed fly fishing rod is. You’ve probably also either heard about or used a spey rod…. right? But, what about the switch rod that has started to pick up some fame? What use are they if you already have a single and/or longer two handed rod?

Switch rods, as the name denotes are for switching between single hand and spey type casting. If you had to pick one rod to cover all steelhead fishing situations, this might be the one. Indicator fishing? It’s covered. Swinging flies down deep? It’s covered.   Although it’s not the perfect rod in every situation, it is the jack of all trades.

10 Fly Fishing Knots You Need to Know

fly fishing knots

fly fishing knot

You just hook a fish of a lifetime!  It’s running like crazy and then makes an amazing jump, lands in a crazy splash, and starts to spin out more line.  Just at that moment your line goes limp.  F#!-*^k.  You strip back your line to check your fly, only to see a little curly cue on your tippet – YOU NEED SOME HELP WITH YOUR FLY FISHING KNOTS.

Steelhead Success Story and a Broken Rod

I had no business being out there. The sun, despite its spring like warmth, had yet to begin melting away winter snow, but enticed me out of my winter slumber in search of open water steelhead fishing.

More specifically in search of steelhead; steelhead that had been cooped up in small river holes for as long as I had been in my basement; fish that had been waiting months to finish the last leg of their journey; fish that were sure to be hungry.  

The accumulated winter’s snow was deep; walking was tough. A lack of foot prints meant that the warm sun had called to me and only me. These fish were untouched, waiting for a spring feast to restore energy lost during the last couple of cold months.

A few yelps from not so distant coyotes and at that very moment I could not have felt more alone. Just the way I like it. No one to distract me; no one to misconstrue my ramblings as I consider, out loud, my next move; no one to spook my fish.

I had no business being out there. The ice on the river was not breaking up and there was at best a couple of feet of open water running dead center of the pool that I now stood beside.

It was perfect winter holding water, but the shelf ice made it nearly impossible to fish. Nearly impossible, but not completely. Sliding feet first down the bank I stopped just short of the river. Ice is incredibly unpredictable with water flowing below it; the edge of that ice was far enough.

I was now faced with a cast of twenty feet to a target of a couple of feet. Not an easy feat and my first couple of casts were off the mark. It wasn’t long until I found my rhythm and my first real drift was underway.

I lost myself in a moment and was snapped back to reality by the tug of my first steelhead of the day. A brief fight ensued and the fish bolted under the ice and stopped. I couldn’t move it.

One gentle step after another I snuck out onto the ice, hoping for some leverage. Leverage that I did not get. The line quickly went slack and I lost my footing. When I hit the ice cracked; cracked but did not break. Before I could get back on my feet the fish was gone. No problem, I wasn’t sure how I was going to land it anyway.

The morning continued in similar fashion. Drift after drift resulted in hook-up after hook-up. A stellar day to say the least.

The last fish of the day was different. All day it had been four or five pound fish. This one was much bigger; I could tell the moment I lifted the rod to set the hook.

The rod bent to the cork and the slow, methodic head shakes made me question the integrity of my six pound leader. This fish was pushing everything, gear and body, to the limit. It was all I could do to horse the beast out of the dark depths.

When I finally got my first glimpse, something came over me. Call it greed or selfishness, whatever it was I had to get this fish up onto the bank. It was a trophy, the kind of steelhead I lose sleep over.

In all my years on the water I had only seen a couple of steelhead this big, and for the river I was fishing this was as big as they came. I needed to get her up quick, get a couple of photos and get her back in the water.

Adrenaline, mixed with sudden urgency and slight panic is a bad combination. What seemed like an eternity was really probably less than a minute from start to finish.

The head shakes; the initial look at the fish coming up out of the depths; trying to haul the big dark hen up onto the ice and the snap that followed, it played out quickly, even if it didn’t seem like it.

I can make up all kinds of reasons of why it happened, but the truth is I was so concerned with getting a couple of shots of the fish that I lost track of exactly where my rod was, and the angle at which I was holding it.

Even though I had never heard it before the sound was distinct; distinct and deafening; deafening and heartbreaking. As the fish slipped back into the darkness, the top section of the rod followed it, disjoined from the bottom and sliding down the line.

For the first time in this entire process I thought clearly, reached out and grabbed the top section before it disappeared. I then grabbed the line, gave it a quick, hard tug and released the fish of a lifetime.

I hand bombed the line in, set what was left of the rod down in the snow and surveyed the damage. The shards of black graphite stood out on the white backdrop. I stood and stared, surprisingly calm considering I was looking at a shattered version of my first custom fishing rod. I picked up the pieces of my broken rod and moved on. What else could I do?

I will never forget the sound the rod made as it snapped; never forget gathering the pieces from the snow; I close my eyes and it’s a vision as clear as the day it happened.  But those are memories that I can easily shake off, it’s the loss of that trophy steelhead that haunts my dreams.

This steelhead success story came to us from Dan Robson.  You can send me an email or Dan an email here with any comments.  Thanks for putting this one together Dan.  Great story!

Fly Tying Video: The Beats Me Steelhead Fly

I demonstrate how to tie the “Beats Me” steelhead fly and discuss where this pattern originated.  The beats me came to me from Craig at who is a Clearwater River steelhead expert.

This pattern is great for summer steelhead or anytime you need a sparse fly with a little color contrast.  Let’s get into it……

Click Here if you are having trouble viewing this video.

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