Ready to explore the world of Catskills fly fishing? In today’s episode, John Shaner takes us into the Catskills area and describes the flies, the people, and the history of these famous waters.

We also dig into some of the famous hatches of the East, and we get a full scoop on the people, the places, and what makes this all unique and historic. Plus, we hear stories about the legendary Theodore Gordon. It can’t get any better than this! Tune in now.

Catskills Fly Fishing with John Shaner. Hit play below!

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(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


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Catskills Fly Fishing Show Notes with John Shaner

03:54 – John tells us how he first got into fly fishing.

04:39 – John shares insights on the reasons behind the prominence of Catskills in fly fishing, but he believes the Catskills is not the birthplace of fly fishing in the US, even though some may disagree.

08:01 – John has a connection with the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum.

John Shaner on Theodore Gordon

08:57 – John discusses Theodore Gordon’s role in introducing and popularizing dry flies in the US.

10:17 – Roy Steenrod, Herman Christian, and Rube Cross are some of the people who continued the Catskill dry fly fishing after Gordon died in 1915.

13:35 – While Theodore Gordon is primarily known for fishing in the Neversink, he also had fishing experiences in the Beaverkill and the Limestone Streams of Pennsylvania.

15:03 – In the late 1940s, John McDonald collected Gordon’s notes and letters into a book called The Notes and Letters of Theodore Gordon.


16:18 – John is a big George Edward MacKenzie Skues fan.

18:39 – We learn the difference between the English chalk streams and the Catskills.

20:10 – We talk about some big names in Catskills fly fishing, like Ed Van Put and Joan Wulff. We also talk about the Darbees and Dette. Dette Flies is one of our sponsors on the show.

30:25 – John gives us an overview of the locations to explore in the Catskills and the best times to fish there.

38:52 – We learn more about the Catskill flies, especially the Hendrickson hatch.

42:51 – John walks us through his fly fishing setup. For his rod, John mostly fishes exclusively in 4 wt. He uses a 9ft. 4wt. Graphite rod, and he prefers long leaders. A short leader for him is anything less than 15 feet.

44:57 – We did an episode with John Hudgens and talked about their leaders. Check out here: The Anglers Academy with John Hudgens – Henry’s Fork, Bolivia, Dry fly Fishing.

45:43 – John highlights the importance of hook strength, which he says many people might not think about.

Photo via

54:38 – We delve into more details about the Hendrickson hatch.

Two Indicators to Identify a Hendrickson Hatch

  1. Forsythia – The blooming of the shadbush is an indicator of the Hendrickson hatch.
  2. Elder leaf – Another sign of the Hendrickson hatch is when the elder bush’s leaves reach the size of a squirrel’s ear.

1:00:18 – John suggests getting early accommodations for people visiting the Catskills.

1:02:44- In addition to Theodore Gordon’s book, John also recommends Sparse Gray Hackle’s Fishless Days, Angling Nights, Art Flick’s Streamside Guide to Naturals and Imitations, Harry Darbee’s Catskill Flytier: My Life, Times, and Techniques, and Fly Fishing the Beaverkill by Gary Lafontaine and Eric Pepper.

1:14:39 – We talked about John’s brief guiding career.

Catskills Fly Fishing Resources Noted in the Show


Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 421 – The Anglers Academy with John Hudgens – Henry’s Fork, Bolivia, Dry fly Fishing

Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

Catskills fly fishing

Catskills Fly Fishing Conclusion with John Shaner

We had a lot of fun talking to John Shaner about the Catskills area. We learned about famous figures like Theodore Gordon and the Hendrickson hatch and some of John’s preferences for fishing gear and techniques.

Which area of the Catskills do you want to visit first?