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Karmik Blogs

Tips to be a Better Chukar Hunter (maybe)

Chukar season is starting – or has started- this month and we wanted to give you some tips on how to bag some devil birds. Maybe you have been out and want to be more successful in harvesting. They say the first time you go chukar hunting it’s for fun; all the rest are for revenge. Here are some tips to make your first, or every trip after, potentially more fun and successful. 

1. Start your hunt in the correct orientation. Late in the season I like to focus my hunting efforts on the south and west facing slopes. The mid-day afternoon sun burns snow off and leaves south and west facing slopes snow free for the birds to mill around. I like to start my hunt hiking from the East to the West if possible. This allows me to crest a ridge and surprise the birds rather than having them watch me peak a hill and watch me the entire time. 

Moving from E to W allows you to “surprise” the birds as you summit the ridge.

2. Use the cuts and canyons to “gain elevation”. As you enter into the cut, which is “uphill”, move into the canyon as deep as possible which will help you gain, or at least, not lose elevation. When you exit the canyon on the other side, you should have a nice elevation boost. 

Don’t go up and over. Instead go up and in the canyon.

3. Once I find birds I try to stay at that elevation. If my goal was to get to the top, I abandon that plan for a while and try to find more birds. People say birds move up and down to get water but I’ve found if I find a group of birds there are usually others at that level. If I don’t flush another group for a while I continue my plan to go to the top.

Follow fresh to tracks birds.

4. If you’re side hilling and it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong. You’re probably slowly losing elevation. Pick something 100 yards away and move toward it, being just uphill from it by the time you get to it. Again, side hilling is hard. Make it less sucky by staying even or gaining elevation rather than slowly going down hill.   

5. Observe what everyone else is doing and don’t do that thing. This is a fly fishing tactic I use all the time. Do non-traditional things. Try new stuff. Do an evening hunt in lieu of a morning hunt. Use waders and cross the creek. Use a canoe or boat to access a new piece of land. Hunt the hill that doesn’t have a quad trail. Look at #8 below and find a small public access honey hole.  

Always practice good safety and unload your gun and help each other cross safely.

6. Save a shell for the next bird. I have a 5 shell shotgun. I am nicer than most chukar hunters, I give 3 warning shots. I generally do not shoot 5 times. I like to save 2 for the late flushing bird or cripples. Sometimes when a group flushes there will be a late flush. It’s nice to save a round for the late bird or if I need to dispatch a cripple.

7. Hunt with Binos. I’ve glassed chukar on hills many times. Plus, while you’re out there you can look for sheds or ungulates to hunt during other seasons.  

You can use your binos to see where or if the birds landed.

8. Use your resources. OnX, GoHunt, Guzzler Books, State wildlife agencies, Google Earth. We have amazing tools. Let’s use them. You can and maybe should find water and cover and slopes and ridges that hold birds. Use your tools and download offline maps. You could even make a track and use that to hike in the dim light if needed. 

9. Get a dog. You will kill more birds, find more cripples, and have a better life. If you want a hunting dog to help kill chukar, get a hunting dog. We all have that friend that has a lab/heeler/shepherd mix that is a great dog. I’d rather know I’m getting a hunting dog from proven hunting lines than hope to get lucky buying a dog in the Wal-Mart parking lot. 

Beretta the Bearded Lady sporting her Karmik Anywhere decal on her collar.

10. Don’t get lazy. When my dog goes downhill, I’m reluctant to drop 200 feet and chase her. I know I should. I don’t know why I am often surprised when she goes on point. She has a great nose and instincts. I should just trust her and not get lazy. I have a good hunting buddy who is successful in all of his hunting efforts for all species. When I’m stuck or debating a situation, I think, “What would Joe do?” Then I do that thing and sometimes kill birds. That’s because he’s not doing the easy thing. He goes uphill, or downhill, or over the next ridge, or in the canyon. Don’t get lazy and you’ll kill more birds. 

11. Be quiet. You’re hunting. I hate whistles and bells and yelling. I don’t know if chukar can hear that or if they care. It makes me feel better when I’m hunting birds and we are quiet. I’m not sure it matters all that much for chukar, but I bet you see more game if you’re quiet. 

South and West facing slopes offer birds more food and water opportunities.

12. Open your choke. For years I shot a full choke. It’s not necessary. Now I use a modified and kill birds. 

13. Once you get back home, enjoy the fruits of your labor. Even if you didn’t bag any birds you earned a drink and good nights rest. If you did, do yourself a favor and look up some recipes. These birds are very delicious. 

Now I have birds to clean.

The best and worst thing you can say is “Now I have birds to clean.” The second best and worst thing you can say is “At least I don’t have birds to clean.” Either way, it was a pretty good day.

Well, there you have it. A few tips to help with killing some red legs. Do you have some tips you’ve picked up along the way? Maybe a few suggestions? Do you have a honey hole you want to share with me… [email protected]

Robert- Owner of Karmik Outdoors and wannabe upland guy. 

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Karmik Blogs

Fly Fishing for Trout: What You Need and What You Don’t. 

You do not need to drop a ton of money to catch fish.

Starting any new hobby requires buying gear associated with that hobby. It’s kinda fun and exciting looking at all the gadgets and gizmos and whatchamacallits until it becomes overwhelming and daunting looking at all the variations and costs. Below are my thoughts on what you can skimp on and what you really should invest money in. 

CAVEAT, years of fishing means nothing… Days on the water means everything. Pre-kid, I was fishing 100 days a year. Post-kid, I’m lucky to get out 15 days a year. Someone who has been fishing for 20 years but only gets over to Montana once a year for 7 days is not the same as a newer angler who is a student at Montana State but can fish 5 days a week and 10 amazing rivers. Days on the water = knowledge = ability to catch fish when others are not. Regardless, there is usually the introductory timeframe and introductory gear then the subsequent graduation to the “next level” of a hobby. 

Fly fishing is a sport where you can spend a ton of money in a hurry. It’s also not a hobby where you can reuse or repurpose items. If you’re a rifle big game hunter and want to jump into archery hunting, much of what you own will work for archery. Sure you need a few new things but a lot will transfer. Binos, boots, rangefinder, coolers, tents, many pieces of camo, vehicles, etc. Going from conventional fishing to fly fishing is not that way. When you’re looking at getting gear some items are necessary, some are nice to have, some are silly and useless and pointless. My goal with this is to point out a few key pieces of gear and to let you know you – don’t need a ton of money to catch fish. 

CAVEAT, I’m talking about fly fishing for trout. If you fly fishing for bass and carp, those are similar and much of the same gear will work for both species. Saltwater fly fishing is very different IMO. I’m going to go through my gear and my opinions about what’s important and what you can skimp on for trout. 

On his hunting podcast “The Rich Outdoors” Cody Rich likes to say, “buy tags, not gear.” I love that. Buy gas and flies and go fishing. Spend money on things that are going to educate you and give you time on the water and experiences. The difference between a high end rod and mid-grade rod is minimal to most of us. But the price difference equals quite a few trips to the river.


My gear 

  1. Rod. Orvis Recon $450. It’s considered a mid-grade rod. I love it. 

  1. Reel. Hardy Ultralite $125. Mid-grade. 

  1. Line. Scientific Angler Mastery GPX $75. Mid to high grade. 
  2. Fly boxes. Local Fly Shops $20-30. You can support cool companies like Wynd and Brook or big companies like Tacky, Scientific Angler or Orvis. Or you can support your local fly shop. Fly boxes are like ugly people, it’s all about what’s inside. 
  3. Flies. Ones that I tied and what the shops recommend $2-8 each. High grade. The highest grade!! 
  4. Net. Fishpond Rubber net, long handle. Who cares about grade.  Get a net that has a long enough handle and deep enough bag that you can effectively net a trout and it wont flop out all the time. Also, get a rubber net. It’s better for the fish and your flies won’t get stuck. Trust me. 

  1. Waders. Simms Freestone. Lowest grade they make. Keeps me dry for several years.   
  2. Pack. Simms old flywight hip pack.

Everything I own is low to mid grade. Mainly because I choose to not afford high grade stuff. I would love to own a Scott rod one day but for now it’s not a priority of mine.


What you can use in leu of buying new stuff

  1. Buy Used. There is so much good stuff on Craigslist or Facebook or Ebay. You can save hundreds of dollars buying used gear. 
  2. Backpack. You do not need a fly vest or sling pack or hip pack to carry your gear. Take any bag you have right now and put fly fishing stuff in it. That makes if a fly pack. This is especially true if you are a run-and-gun fly fisher. If you often put a rain jacket, water bottle, lunch and go explore; a backpack is better suited and is more comfortable. Save $150 and use a backpack. 

  1. Regular fishing string. If you are fishing streamers or running a nymph rig you can get away with Stren fishing line. You do not need to pay $14 for 30 yards of “fly fishing” tippet. I use this and it works fine. It is a 50 yard roll. I completely contradict myself below, but hey, fly fishing is nuanced. 

  1. Fly vise starter. You can spend a lot of money on a good vise. They have lots of features that make them more useful and practical. I would rather spend money on material and a good chair than a vise. After several hundred dozen flies you can upgrade. 

  1. Inexpensive drift boat or raft. Safety being the key consideration here. It must float and be safe, and meet the needs of your waters. A skiff is not well suited for class three or four water.  You can buy a used drift boat or raft for under $5k. A new boat will run you $12k or more. Or, you can get a SUP or an inflatable kayak. My wife jokes we should get one of those 6’ tall flamingos and fish with it. We float and stop to fish from land so anything that floats will work for us. 
  2. Wet wading. Don’t buy waders. They are nice to have from around October to May, but if you’re going to fish May-September you don’t need waders. Also, if you get a drift boat or raft, you don’t need waders or boots, just use flip flops. Use that advice to convince your spouse you need a boat. “Honey, to save $500 I need a boat!” 
  3. Accessories. Use toenail clippers. Trust me they cut line just fine. Some of these line cutters are $80 or more. Yes they are cool. No you don’t need them. You can get creative with the “accessories” category. For example: medical hemostats work just fine and many doctors will give them to you. 
  4. Flotant. I use Albolene and not flotant. It is 1000x cheaper and works the same. In fact, I refill my small tippet squeezers with it works great. 
  5. Expensive reels. Yes they are cool. The truth is you do not need an expensive reel. I’d buy a good fly line and decent rod and crappy reel. Again, this is not at all true for salt water. You can buy a used fly reel or even a new one for $80 or less. 

Stuff you don’t need at all

  1. Do not buy a leader straightener. Use your hands and pull the tippet. Give it a little friction. If it burns you, that too much. 
  2. Tippet Holders. You don’t need these. They can make life easier, but they are not a necessity. You can keep your tippet in your bag. 
  3. Any rod vault. You don’t need these. Unless you’re a guide or fish every day, you don’t need these. Yes, they are cool. Yes, they are convenient. No, you don’t need one. 
  4. Thermostats. You don’t need these. If it’s too hot, don’t fish. If it’s too cold, you won’t catch anything. Fly shops and the USGS have temps regularly posted.
  5. Lanyard. You don’t need these. They are really nice in a boat but that’s about it. 
  6. Tape measure. You don’t need this. Just do what everyone else does: guess the length and round up to the nearest even number (usually by a factor of 2”). Example- a 13″ trout is commonly called a 16″ trout, 16″ is 18″… You get the drift.  
  7. Hook release or “catch and release” tool. You don’t need these. Pinch your barbs and everything falls out, usually in the net. 
  8. Pliers. Maybe if you’re saltwater fishing they are nice, but you do not need these for trout. A Leatherman multi tool is cool to have incase you need to fix something but not a high priority item.    
  9. Boats. You don’t need a boat to catch fish. In fact you shouldn’t buy a boat. Learn how to row and take care of a boat then borrow your friend’s boat. If you know how to row, you will get an invite. This is kinda contradictory from above. Maybe go 1/2 on a boat with a buddy. Boats are a necessity for lake fishing, but there are dozens of options. 
  10. 2000 types of flies. We did a fly fishing March Madness bracket where people voted on their most confident flies. The most common flies were no surprise. The top flies were the Stimulator, Chubby, Woolly Bugger, Rainbow Warrior, Hairs Ear, Adams, and Compara Dun. Pheasant tail won overall. If you get those flies in a variety of sizes and colors you will catch trout anywhere in the world. 
  11. Fish counter. We get it! You can catch fish. Soooo many that you lose count. Congrats. 

First of all, you’re welcome. Secondly, I just saved you a few tanks of gas worth of stuff. Now go fishing!


What you should spend money on

  1. Rods- best you can afford but there are plenty of really really great rods for less than $500. Yellowstone Angler does a great job comparing different rods and brands. They have $199 rods in top spots so you don’t need to break the budget to get a great rod. 
  2. Fly line- best you can afford. They are complicated materials and usually higher end ones use more durable materials and are better fitted for your rod. Seriously, this is something that is worth buying. Depending on how much you fish it will last you several years. 
  3. Tippet- It does wear out and does weaken in the sun. Tippet is strong and thin and I think Fluoro is worth the investment. For small technical dry fly fishing I do buy fly fishing tippet because of its thin diameter and strength. I go through a good bit of tippet every year. It can make the difference on a tough fishing trip. 
  4. Quality hooks (fly tying)- Do not waste your time and resources tying bugs on crappy hooks. They will break or straighten. I bought some on Craigslist thinking “they will work” but they didn’t. It was a massive waste of my time and I lost fish on a pretty tough trip. Sometimes it only takes a few fish to make a trip worth it, and this trip, I lost a few good fish because of crappy hooks. No Mas. 
  5. Quality oars and blades for the oars- These are your safety lines in the water. It’s 100% your steering and a good bit of braking. It’s how you control the boat. Don’t skimp on these. Many top manufacturers make an economically friendly oar. Sawyer is the leader in the industry and if you want quality to last, you get these. AND you can add ReConnect powered by Karmik on them to protect your investment.  
  6. Wader boots that are eco friendly- You might need 2 pairs. I said you don’t need waders and you don’t, but if you fish in winter months you do. I also like to wear my wader boots when wet wading and not shoes. I have a boat pair and a winter wading pair. The boat pair has the rubber bottom to not scrape the floor of the boat or raft. We fish from the boat a good bit, but we also get out and fish from the bank a lot. It is nice to have a wader boot on your foot while walking. Plus my boat boots are smaller than my winter pair because wet wading socks are thinner than wader and socks. My winter wader boots are Patagonia boots with aluminum tracks on them so I don’t fall everywhere. Felt is the best thing ever for grip but they can transport invasive plants and animals. They are also terrible in the snow.  

  1. A good nipper retention system-. I have lost soooo many pairs of hemostats. I got tired of losing them to cheap holders. I have these and I have not lost my hemos since (years!). You can pay a lot less for cheap crap but you will have to pay again- buy nice, not twice!
  2. Anchors– If you have to get a boat, which is part of the fun, please do not use or buy a huge piece of lead that will rub off or chip off and over time pollute your favorite river. Get something new, innovative, cool, eco friendly
  3. Conservation– you should invest in the future of your sport. Getting a Trout Unlimited or Backcountry Hunters and Anglers membership will ensure we have trout and spaces in the future. Please spend your money and time supporting organizations that support you. 
  4. Education– With soooo much content on Youtube, and podcasts, and books you can be an expert in fly fishing in no time. You just have to be careful for “influencers” and people who maybe do not know fly fishing intimately and are pushing products rather than value. The best education you will ever get is hiring a guide for a day!
  5. 12-pack of good beer. You might need a few of these. One for you, your friends and the people you meet on the river and one for the fly shop staff.

There you have it. That is the start of my list. I will put together a list of 201 level fishing stuff to get. Many of them are different and technical but there will definitely be crossover.

Did I get it right? Where did I mess up? Things I forgot? Let me know at [email protected] and we will hash it out. Thanks for reading. 

Robert- Founder and Owner of Karmik Outdoors and notoriously frugal person

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Karmik Blogs

Advanced Nymphing Technique + General Nymphing Tips

This is why I fish with 2 rods!

Nymphing is the most effective way to consistently catch fish, without a doubt. Trout are aquatic predators and as such eat aquatic food. Most bugs we talk about while fly fishing have an aquatic life cycle. The main food groups for trout are Caddis, Mayflies, Midges, Stonefly, Terrestrials and other fish. 80% or more of a fish’s diet is aquatic insects in the nymphal form. Only during a hatch, which is at the end of an insect’s life, do trout eat the adult versions of the bugs. Even then, trout prefer emergers, cripples or rising nymphs over a mature adult. 

Dry fly fishing is the fun part of fly fishing. In the rare situation when you find rising trout and can identify the bug they are eating, then tie one on, it’s amazing. Because this happens rarely, especially in the winter when most aquatic insects are not hatching, anglers typically have a nymph setup or at least a dry dropper set up. 

The problem for me is that the two styles of fishing are mutually exclusive of one another. My setup for either style is not compatible with the other. As you will see it is not the easiest to switch between setups which is why I almost always have two fishing rods with me. One is rigged for nymphs and the other is for dries or dry droppers.  

Dry Rig

Let me start with my dry or dry dropper rig because it is very simple, very standard. 9’ 5 weight fly rod. 5 weight reel. Double tapered 5 weight fly line. Most of the time it’s got a 9’ 5x leader with a 18 inch fluorocarbon tippet. That part changes if it’s hopper season or if I’m fishing tricos. It might be 3x fluorocarbon or it might be 6x monofilament depending on the bugs but typically its a 9′ leader with tippet. We will get into mono and fluoro later. 

Nymphing

Now to my nymphing setup. This is a bastardized nymph setup that I’ve taken parts of other setups I’ve seen and liked. This is function over form at its finest. I think I would like a 10’ rod in the future but for now my 9’ 5wt works just fine. 

Top Section

  1. I take an old tapered leader and cut it off from the loop about 12-15 inches. I then make another loop. I just double it over a few inches and tie an overhand knot. Now I have a 12-15” butt section of a leader with two loops. One loop attaches to my fly line and the other loop is for my tippet. This serves 3 purposes. 1) This is now a quick connection if I need to cut off my nymph set up and put on a tapered leader for dries, which I never do because I have a dry fly rod rigged. 2) It also serves to protect my fly line because I nymph with only a long strand of tippet. Using a thin diameter tippet will cut into your fly line and ruin it. To prevent damage I attach my tippet to my mono leader and not a fly line. 3) The butt section attachment provides enough surface area for an indicator. Again, our thin diameter tippet does not hold an indicator in place very well without slipping. The butt section allows you to put an indicator on without it falling down to you flies in a few casts.

  1. Now, I typically run a few feet of 4x fluorocarbon tippet or run a sighter line. I again do an overhand knot and make a loop so I can do a loop to loop connection. Here is a unique feature of my nymph setup… I only use tippet. A tapered leader is made to transfer the energy from your cast to a tiny weightless fly. It’s also designed to displace water so your leader and fly can float. WE DO NOT WANT OUR NYMPHS TO FLOAT. Stop using a tapered leader to nymph with, use a thin diameter tippet. By using 3x – 4x – 5x tippet, it allows the line to cut through the water better and allows your nymphs to sink faster. Thin diameter tippet is also less affected by currents. The current you see on the surface is not ubiquitous through the water column to the bottom. Having a thin diameter tippet can positively affect your flies presentation. Additionally, a thin fluorocarbon tippet versus a thick nylon or monofilament leader is harder for the fish to see. Fluorocarbon has great durability and abrasion resistance. Fluoro also is nearly invisible in water. Finally, I use fluorocarbon because it is more dense and sinks, kinda. Water has a density of 1.0 g/mL. Anything more than 1.0 g/mL should sink and anything less than 1.0 g/mL should float; unless the object is designed to displace water and float, think a navy aircraft carrier or a tapered leader. Monofilament  is 1.15 g/mL so it is slightly denser than water. Fluorocarbon is 1.78g/mL and is slightly denser than mono and water. For reference the density of lead is 11.29 g/mL. Fluorocarbon does sink but it’s not lead. Fluoro is not going to sink most of your big dry flies. In conclusion, using tippet and not a tapered leader is far better for nymphing. 
2 tone sighter line for tight line nymphing. Between my fly line and swivel.

Middle Section

  1. I attach a small barrel swivel to the tippet with an improved clinch knot. I always use an improved clinch knot. I tried the regular clinch for a while and I feel like it fails more, but that is not a proven scientific experiment, just my observations. The barrel swivel allows us to nymph properly and not twist up our fly line. If you nymph properly you are not overhand casting with 3 false casts. You are flipping your flies from downstream to upstream followed by a few mends then repeat a hundred times. After a long day of nymphing sometimes your fly line will twist up. The swivel prevents twisting. It also adds a little weight to keep your line straight and tight
  2. This section is challenging. Stay with me. From the barrel swivel I attach 2 to 3 feet of tippet and attach my first fly. I usually run 2 feet or so if I’m running three flies and 3 feet if I’m running 2 flies. From the indicator to my first fly, it is about 4-5 feet. I typically tie an improved clinch knot and then another section of tippet to the hook eye. So, two pieces of tippet on the hook eye. I feel like it catches more fish. This is completely anecdotal again. I think that if a fish wants to eat a nymph and it feels string touch on its nose it isn’t going to eat it. Sometimes, if I’m really gungho I will attach two pieces of tippet via blood knot and use the tag end to tie on the fly. That is probably the best option. I have seen, and have myself, put a little 6 inch dropper. I will do this after I change my fly and can’t tie in another fly off the blood knot tag end. I like doing this but it is sometimes a little messy when walking and having hooks dangling everywhere. Each fly is attached either by the hook eye, blood knot tag end, or the loop tippet dropper.
blood knot tag end to tie nymph on
Dropper knot tied in above blood knot
knot above the blood knot allows the fly to move freely
  1. Flies: My top fly is almost always an emerger. It is usually small, size 16 or less. I pretty much never use a jig hook with this setup. If I do, jig hooks are my “point of fly” (bottom fly) if that’s how I’m fishing that day or moment. Like I said, I will fish with 2 or three flies. Depends on the legality of your state but also water depth and time of year and if I’m prospecting or if I’m fishing a known hatch I change things up. For example, in March I like to put a Blue Wing Olive (BWO) or Baetis emerger as my top fly. There can be really good BWO hatches in my neck of the woods in March. Then I tie on a Zebra midge or egg pattern or hot spot nymph or San Juan as my second fly. I like something a little flashy and bright, usually to get their attention and then have them look up or down and see the other two flies that they might key in on. Finally, I like to have a big nymph. Usually a Green Pat’s Rubber legs in size 8 or 10 to match the skwala nymphs. That 3 fly setup changes seasonally but it’s usually an emerger, nymph, and stonefly. The bottom fly is usually a stonefly. It’s the fly that I catch the most fish with. I sometimes will only use two flies but the bottom is still  usually a stonefly. 10% of the time I use something other than a stonefly. It’s usually a big jig nymph or if it’s a shallow water spot it’s just two small tungsten nymphs.

Bottom Section

  1. Changes happen and need to happen to catch fish. If I’m fishing from land, not a boat, and it’s a deep run then I usually add a split shot to it. I do not put it on the tippet between flies. I add the split shot as a dropshot. The benefits to the dropshot are immense. I run another piece of tippet off my bottom fly. If you’re following this nymph setup I have 6 sections. Like I said, I fish with two rods because this is not an easy set up to switch back and forth between nymphs and dries. The dropshot is another unique feature. I change the length based on the depth, but it’s usually 12-18” long. I always run the tippet 1 size smaller than my setup. If all my top sections are 4x (6lb) then my dropshot section is 5x (5lb). If I snag my non-toxic, non-lead, split shot then I can yank it hard and that section breaks and not my other 5 top sections. I just tie on another drop shot section. The round weight is on the bottom of the river bed and my nymphs are all floating through the water column at various depths. The round weight will get caught or wedged  on rocks and all you have to do is walk up stream and pull. It will come out 95% of the time with one pull because the hook is not stuck on something. The drop shot also allows you to keep your line in a straight line as much as possible. As with all nymphing methods you feel or detect strikes much better and faster when your line is tight. Have you ever been nymphing and saw a flash or ha a trout jump; then your indicator moves, only to realize the trout was eating your nymph and took off? That happens more than you probably think.  
  2. Lastly, I put an overhand knot on the bottom section below the bottom nymph and below the shot. This does two things: 1) I can put it on my reel handle for storage while walking and 2) it stops the split shot from falling off. I can put the split shot on lightly allowing me to quickly add or subtract split shot based on water depth.

Please try this. Use this as a guide and edit how you see fit based on your experience or waters. Use all of it or none of it. I think some of the points are very valid and some might not matter much. 

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Karmik Blogs

March Mania Fly Bracket

Background

I freaking love fly fishing. I love fly tying. I am a fan of basketball. I love the high energy and excitement of the unknown living up to, or, letting us down. Every year my optimism for the upcoming fishing season gets me all giddy. The idea of bugs dancing on the water and trout eagerly eating gets me all excited. All the while my wife is unamused and although she is excited to fish, she is more reserved with her emotions. The idea of a fly bracket hit me in the winter. I thought, “why not marry the two things I like about March”. We’re all tying or fishing or dreaming of fishing.

I wanted to do something to lift our spirits and possibly give a little moral boost to us anglers. Feel free to use this as a guide for flies to tie this winter/spring. Or as a good list of flies you need to stock up on for the year. These are by no means the best flies in the world (though the argument could be made for some). These are by no means the best flies for your local waters (though the argument could be made for some). It’s just for fun. Check back weekly to see if what you think are the best flies are what others think are the best flies. FILL OUT YOUR BRACKET HERE March Mania

I came up with a list of 64 flies. 95% of these came from the depths of my brain. A few I looked up, mostly the old classic patterns. I thought it would be fun to put a classic and modern together. Each fly has a little history of the fly (as best we could find) including who tied it, when, what it’s for etc. If we are wrong about something, please tell us at ([email protected]) ([email protected]). Feel free to reach out if you have a great story for a podcast or if you are the originator one of the flies in the competition. We want to accurately record the history of the fly. I randomized the order so there might be a tiny dry versus a huge streamer. There are classics versus new. There are traditional flies versus modern flies. I did not pair them, I let the computer do it and just went it.


The Tournament

This is a predictive 1v1 fly tournament, single elimination, most votes wins and moves onto the next round. Which of the two flies do you have more confidence in? Rounds are weekly in March and End Thursday nights at 11:59. Mark from the Fly Fishing 97 Podcast and I will be doing a recap of the matchups and preview of the new matchups of the winners. Listen weekly to hear what we got going on and what flies will move on. Check your brackets often!

The first question that popped into your head, like mine, was: How the hell are you going to compare a Comparadun and a Prince nymph? The short of it is, I’m not. It’s 100% subjective to the voter. The fly with the most votes moves on to the next round. So, it’s actually a democratic vote of confidence per fly match up. The essential question is: Which of the two flies do you have more confidence in? I am not picking winners nor am I saying that fly A is better than fly B, you are, along with 5000 other voters. The second question is: Which of the two flies does the fly fishing community have more confidence in? Votes will be tallied and whichever fly gets the most votes moves on to the next round until we crown a champion, “The Best Fly in the World” as voted on by random possibly highly unqualified people. 

Prizes awarded for perfect brackets! 


Guidelines

The scenario I paint for the matchup is simple… It’s a midsummer day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). You are on a western trout river. Your standing near the bank in ankle deep water while looking out at the river. You open your fly box. On the left side there is one fly, and on the right, there is the other fly. Which one are you more likely to grab and tie on first?

I know, I know, I know… But what about the temperature of the air? What about the temperature of the water? What about a hatch? Are there bugs in the water or in the air? What about the weather that day? Is it sunny or overcast? Is it pocket water or flats like the Henry’s Fork Ranch? I get it. I’ve been fly fishing for 25 years and I understand the variables and nuances. I simply can’t answer those questions because it would bias the results. The long and short of it is, it’s whatever you want it to be. Same with the flies. If I say a Pheasant Tail versus a Elk Hair Caddis, I’m really pairing up 100 possible combinations. Again, it’s whatever you want it to be. The Pheasant tail could have a beadhead or not. It could have a CDC collar or not. It could be size 10 or 20. It could be a jig head or non-weighted. It could be traditional or have a hotspot. If you open your fly box on the left and right side there are your favorite variations of those two flies: favorite color, size, style, shape whatever.


Future

This is meant to be fun. I am really interested in seeing the breakdown of votes for flies. I hope you are too. I have plans in the future to qualify voters before the voting begins. I think people who fish for a living (guides) should get more credit with their fly choices than myself who fishes often but not as much as a guide. Lastly, the guy who goes fishing with a guide or only gets out 8 days a year gets the least valued vote. Let me know what you think about that. I was thinking of implementing 3 choices – Fishes 50+ days a yearFishes between 50-10 days a yearfishes less than 10 days a year. Subsequently, there is a grade to the qualifying voter. “50+ day” people get a multiple of 2. “Fish 50-10” days get a single vote. “Fishes less than 10 days” get a .5 multiple on their vote. I think this will also help with achieving reliable data (best flies).  

Once you vote, don’t be afraid to post on social media and tell people what you got going into the next round. I think the bracket matchups will get more and more interesting round after round, week after week. Get your friends together and see who has a better selection. 

Big Thanks to Mark at The Fly Fishing 97 Podcast. Without his expertise in recording and producing podcasts this would not be possible. Also, the winner will get flies mentioned in this bracket tied by Mark himself. Checkout his other podcasts because he has some of the best fly fishermen in the world on there. Also, big thanks to the wives for allowing us to stay up late and talk about flies, fishing and for tying flies for you guys. Finally, if you tie these flies you know how long it takes to tie one. It only takes a second to lose your entire fly box. Protect your fly box, nets, fly rods and other valuable gear with Karmik Outdoors. Here is a little video about the value of our decals.

– Robert, Founder of Karmik outdoors, terrible fly tyer, only slightly better fishermen but still not great.