Tom Starmack takes us back into the Driftless to tell us how he works his spring creek magic. We find out how he fishes the super skinny water and what his euro rig looks like on small waters. We break down some of his favorite nymphs and the best times to fish the Driftless area.

Tom shares how he met Jason Randall – his fly fishing buddy for 30 years, and the story of how he started as a national fly tyer for the Fly Fishing Show, meeting Lefty Kreh and Ed Jaworowski.

We also mention a bunch of resources for fishing the Driftless.


Click below and listen to the Podcast with Tom Starmack:

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


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Show Notes with Tom Starmack

03:40 – Tom and his family live on an old dairy farm built in the mid-1800s. They’re in the middle of nowhere (35 acres of woods) on the edge of the Driftless and their closest neighbor is about a half-mile away.

06:30 – Jason Randall is Tom’s friend, who suggested that he should try tying flies commercially – Jason was on the podcast in episode 074

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08:00 – Furimsky reviewed his flies and liked the way he tied them – Ben was on the podcast in episode 061 and Chuck was also here in episode 292

10:30 – Tom describes what it’s like tying for his first show in Lancaster (2016)

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14:50 – Jason Randall and his wife are vets – Tom has dogs and cats and was looking for a vet then came across Jason. They talked about fishing and started hanging out.

17:00 – There’s an article about fishing the Driftless by TU – read here

19:50 – When he’s euro nymphing, he uses primarily a 2 wt. When he does dry fly, he uses 3 or 4 wt depending on the wind.

21:00 – Tom does 80% nymphing, 20% dry fly

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23:45 – Tom guides for a Christian organization called, Altar Fly Fishing


28:30 – March, April, and May are Tom’s favorite times of the year to fish the Driftless – it’s the best time to fish there

30:30 – Tom lives in Vernon County – there are 60 classified trout streams and 250 miles of public access

32:30 – In Viroqua, there’s the Driftless Angler Fly Shop – they’re a great resource that guides people. There’s also the Wisconsin DNR website for general info – trout maps, public access, etc.

34:25 – Coulee Region TU has done a lot of work around the Driftless area

35:00 – At onX Maps you can download all the land ownership stuff and see it real-time as you’re out there

36:20 – For nymphing, Tom uses a 10 feet 2 wt rod mostly. He describes his setup.

39:40 – For the fly line, he uses an 022 level line

41:30 – Tip: Read the water. Decide where you’re going to fish it. Figure out how you’re going to fish it.

47:55 – Ed Jaworowski was on the podcast in episode 233 where we talked a lot about casting. Ed has a book on perfecting your fly cast.

56:20 – Tom talks about perdigon tying

59:20 – One of his favorite flies is called the Pink Hog

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1:00:00 – Purple Prince Charming is an all-synthetic material fly. Especially early in the year, leech patterns work great.

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1:03:00 – The Frenchie Fly imitates a BWO, mayfly, stonefly

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1:06:00 – The Pink Hog is Tom’s Top Fly. Pink Hogs are also called “Squags”. Enter your favorite fly here to get a chance to win a box of flies from JH Fly Co

1:09:00 – Tom sells his flies on his website and the Driftless Anglers website

1:12:30 – Tom is also into pheasant hunting

1:15:30 – Tom limits his fly tying to 5 or 6 dozens a day


You can find Tom on Instagram @zoeticflies

Check out his website at

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Resources Noted in the Show



Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 074 – Jason Randall on Nymphing, Wet Fly Fishing, The Driftless Area, UV, Indicators, Currents


Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below