Why Is My Dog Itchy in the Winter?

By: Orvis Staff


If your dog is scratching a lot, there may be a problem.
Photos courtesy Katherine, Kansas City

Not long after the winter season’s first frost, comes the dry, itchy skin—for people and their dogs. Usually, your best friend is itchy in the winter for the exact same reasons you are, and the soothing fixes are similar. Though you can’t slather moisturizing lotion on a thick coat of fur, there are other ways to help. Read on to learn why your dog often scratches through the winter months, and how you can minimize her discomfort.

By: Orvis Staff


If your dog is scratching a lot, there may be a problem.
Photos courtesy Katherine, Kansas City

Not long after the winter season’s first frost, comes the dry, itchy skin—for people and their dogs. Usually, your best friend is itchy in the winter for the exact same reasons you are, and the soothing fixes are similar. Though you can’t slather moisturizing lotion on a thick coat of fur, there are other ways to help. Read on to learn why your dog often scratches through the winter months, and how you can minimize her discomfort.

Causes of Dry Winter Skin in Dogs

Winter brings drier air, outdoors and indoors, which is highly drying for skin. Outside, the colder air simply holds less moisture than warm air. Dry skin is exacerbated when the wind blows frosty blasts of air, or temps are frigid. Indoors, you have the same dry air plus heat, which pulls even more moisture from the air.

Dogs who are sensitive to indoor allergens, such as dust mites and mold, may experience worsening symptoms when they are cooped up inside the house. These responses may be more common in older dogs, some of whom are extra sensitive to allergens and irritants.

Keep in mind that dry skin is also a symptom of many canine skin conditions unrelated to winter, including fungal infections, bacterial infections, parasites, reactions to medications, hypothyroidism, and autoimmune diseases. If your dog is scratching excessively or focusing her scratching on one spot, or you notice skin issues beyond just dry, flaky skin, take her to the veterinarian.

Tips for Preventing Dry Skin in Dogs

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Refilling the water bowl is top of mind in summer because you can clearly see the heat’s impact on your panting dog. When it’s frosty outside, however, it’s all too easy to forget. But it’s important to keep that bowl filled with fresh, cool water all year long. Even though it’s not as apparent, your dog’s body is working to maintain a normal body temperature in winter as well as in summer. In fact, evaporation of moisture from the body happens faster in the winter than in the summer because of the drier air both indoors and outdoors—making it possible your dog needs even more water in winter to avoid dehydration.

Shield Your Dog’s Skin

Some cold-weather dog breeds, such as American Eskimo Dogs, Alaskan Malamutes, and Samoyeds, have thick, double coats that offer natural protection from frosty conditions. If your dog’s ancestors don’t hail from the Arctic, however, she’ll probably require extra protection outdoors in winter. In addition to providing warmth, dog jackets offer a buffer between your dog’s skin and the cold air. Just ensure it’s a properly fitting dog jacket that won’t let in cold air because it’s too loose.

Inside the house, it’s important to remember that your dog spends most of her day close to the floor where it’s coldest. Dog beds provide important protection from drafts and elevate your dog away from cold floors, both of which can aggravate dryness.

Rethink Your Dog’s Bath Routine

Keep bath time to a minimum in winter, both at home and at the groomer’s. Bathing your dog strips the natural oils that protect and moisturize her skin from dry air and harsh winter winds. If you have a dog who enjoys getting messy no matter the season, try to keep the muck to a minimum in winter. Walk her on leash and rub her down with a towel at the end of her walk, paying extra attention to her paws, which can collect harmful deicing salt.

When there’s no avoiding a winter bath, protect her skin from drying out by using a dog-safe moisturizing shampoo that’s free of any harsh ingredients. After the bath it’s important your dog is fully dry before you let her outdoors in cold weather.

Brush Your Dog’s Coat Daily

If your dog’s skin is prone to dryness in winter, daily brushing will help. The brushing increases circulation to the skin, which is good for skin health. It also helps distribute the natural oils in your dog’s coat, which is moisturizing and protective. A daily brushing is also a great opportunity to bond with your dog.

Provide a Humid Environment

You can’t control the humidity outdoors, but you can up the humidity inside your home. Consider running a humidifier in the rooms where your dog spends most of her time. This will counteract the dryness caused by winter air and your home’s heating system.

Consider Fatty Acid Supplements

If your dog suffers from dry skin every winter, talk with her veterinarian about increasing her intake of fatty acids. Many dog foods contain some omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, but it’s possible your dog needs a bit extra. The healthy amount will vary based upon your dog’s size, age, and any other medical conditions. Nutritional needs for older dogs change, so if you have a senior dog her veterinarian may already have started her on fatty acid supplements.

From bracing cold-weather hikes to playing games with your dog in the snow, winter is a time to relish. Take care of your dog’s skin and she’ll be happier and more comfortable through the winter season. (And P.S., many of the above tips help prevent winter dryness for people too.)

Why Can’t My Dog Get Comfortable Lying Down?

By: Orvis Staff



Photos courtesy  Orvis.com

One of the coziest sights is a dog curled up in his dog bed, or comfy on the couch fast asleep. But what about when your dog can’t get comfortable lying down? Dogs circling before they lie down is normal, but if you notice your dog struggling to get comfortable, lying in an unusual position, or getting up and down frequently, it could be a sign of something amiss—from easy-fix issues to serious health problems. Here are the most common reasons dogs have difficulty lying down and getting comfortable, and what you can do to help:

By: Orvis Staff



Photos courtesy  Orvis.com

One of the coziest sights is a dog curled up in his dog bed, or comfy on the couch fast asleep. But what about when your dog can’t get comfortable lying down? Dogs circling before they lie down is normal, but if you notice your dog struggling to get comfortable, lying in an unusual position, or getting up and down frequently, it could be a sign of something amiss—from easy-fix issues to serious health problems. Here are the most common reasons dogs have difficulty lying down and getting comfortable, and what you can do to help:

Joint Pain

Dogs with joint pain or canine osteoarthritis often have discomfort that can worsen when they are lying down, or that can make the process of lying down difficult. If the amount of time your dog spends circling before lying down increases noticeably, or he attempts to lie down many times before settling into a spot, he may have joint pain. Older dogs are at risk of developing joint pain and arthritis, and large breed dogs and obese dogs are at greater risk of joint pain as they age than other dogs.

If your dog is exhibiting pain symptoms or an aversion to lying down, take him to the veterinarian for a checkup to determine the cause, and to establish a treatment and pain management plan if needed.

To prevent or delay the onset of joint problems, avoid stressing your dog’s joints and bones with excessive exercise when he is still young and growing. It also helps to make sure your dog always has a soft dog bed where he can lie down. Dog beds protect your dog’s joints and pressure points from hard floors, and separate your dog from the cold floor, which can worsen arthritis pain. If your dog is older, an orthopedic dog bed is his best option because it is specifically designed to support joints and to relieve pressure points.

Anxiety

Dogs with anxiety disorders, such as separation anxiety or specific fears and phobias, have difficulty lying down to rest. If your dog is terrified of thunder, the issue is thankfully as short-lived as the storm. But if your dog has chronic anxiety or separation anxiety, he may be restless, pace frequently, and lie down on his dog bed and rise repeatedly when he should be getting rest. For dogs with anxiety, restlessness will coincide with other symptoms, including destructive behavior, such as dog bed chewing or scratching, panting not associated with heat or exercise, depression, nuisance barking, and compulsive behaviors.

Talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s symptoms to clarify the type and severity of your dog’s anxiety. In cases of low-level anxiety, targeted behavioral training can help, while in more extreme cases a combination of prescription medication and training may be necessary.

The health benefits of having a dog are well known, including lower blood pressure and anxiety. Simply being near your dog improves wellness. And the benefits go both ways. Though it’s important for a dog with separation anxiety to learn to spend time alone, take your dog for long walks and give him plenty of snuggles when you are home. Invite your dog up onto your bed or couch. And if you observe a ‘no dogs on the furniture’ rule in your home, consider an exception for your anxious friend: an attractive furniture protector not only safeguards your sofa, but can actually help the dog feel more comfortable and secure, enhancing the bond you share while reducing your dog’s stress and yours.

Dementia

Like people, older dogs experience some cognitive decline and, in some cases, dementia. One of the earliest symptoms of dementia in dogs is restlessness and shifting sleep cycles. If your dog has dementia, you may notice his sleep schedule changing and his periods of sleep shortening. He may even get up and down all night rather than sleeping peacefully when the house is quiet. If you’ve noticed sleep changes in your older dog, schedule a visit to the veterinarian. There are medications that can manage and even reduce some of these symptoms.

It’s also valuable to establish a routine for your dog from mealtimes through bedtime. A daily schedule is comforting to dogs and helps them adjust to the disorienting problems of age more easily. Crate training your dog early in life also prevents problems with pacing and wandering the house at night that can arise with age.

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

Gastric torsion, also often called bloat, is among the most serious explanations for a dog who is struggling to get comfortable. The clinical name for the condition is gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome (GDV). When a dog gets bloat, his stomach dilates and twists, which can cause severe abdominal pain. One of the symptoms of bloat is an inability to get comfortable sitting or lying down.

Other symptoms of gastric torsion include:

  • A distended or enlarged stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Pacing
  • Looking at stomach
  • Dry heaving
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pale gums
  • Weakness
  • Fast heart rate

Though the causes of gastric torsion are not known, large and giant breed dogs with deep chests are at greater risk. Among the breeds at highest risk are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, St. Bernards, Gordon Setters, Newfoundlands, Weimaraners, German Shepherds, and Great Danes. To minimize the risk of bloat, feed your dog twice every day, rather than feeding him one large meal, and don’t let him play or exercise vigorously right after a meal.

If the symptoms of bloat progress, your dog is in danger of collapse and possible death. Bloat is a medical emergency and doesn’t go away on its on its own—the condition requires surgery as soon as possible to correct.

But it’s possible your dog can’t get comfortable lying down because of a minor issue like an upset stomach or a muscle strain from an exuberant game of fetch. In these instances, his discomfort should be minimal and short-lived. If he has ongoing discomfort or his pain is severe, he requires professional medical attention. With help from your veterinarian, and a soft place to lie down at home, your best friend should be curling up more comfortably in no time.

How to Best Imitate Isonychia Nymphs

Written by: Ted Fauceglia


Isonychia nymphs are built for swimming and move toward shore when it’s time to hatch.
Photos by Ted Fauceglia

To simplify their identification, mayfly nymphs have been divided into four groups–burrowers, crawlers, clingers, and swimmers–and the name of each group offers some insight into the. . .

Written by: Ted Fauceglia


Isonychia nymphs are built for swimming and move toward shore when it’s time to hatch.
Photos by Ted Fauceglia

[Editor’s note: Ted Fauceglia is the country’s foremost photographer of aquatic insects, and he writes the “Natural Reflections” column in each issue of American Angler. Ted is also an FFI Certified Casting Instructor, the author of Mayflies (2004), and he has provided the bug and fly-pattern photography for dozens of books. He has graciously allowed us to republish some of his columns, and we will be sharing Ted’s incredible images and fly-fishing knowledge every month.]

To simplify their identification, mayfly nymphs have been divided into four groups–burrowers, crawlers, clingers, and swimmers–and the name of each group offers some insight into the nature and behavior of the species contained within the category. This grouping of like behaviors is particularly helpful for those fly fishers who have no interest in learning the complicated Latin taxonomy, and it has enabled the less-fanatical angler to acquire enough entomological knowledge to anticipate and prepare for the sequences of nymphal activity that occur throughout the season.

However, I believe that–because of the pressure on all trout waters increasing at an exponential rate–successfully meeting any particular hatch has become increasingly dependent on a thorough understanding of the peculiarities and the behavior of the insect that the trout are feeding on. Increased pressure begets increased selectivity. And selectivity begets frustration, which can only be mastered by an in-depth understanding of the behavioral habits of insects. Knowing the exact shape of a nymph’s gills or the curvature of the male’s claspers will probably not improve your patterns, but an understanding of the technical aspects of a particular aquatic insect does. To properly imitate an insect, we need to understand the finer details of its nature and behavior. This is particularly true with Isonychia nymphs, which belong to the group known as swimmers.

Identification
At present, entomologists have classified 17 species of Isonychia, with all but five occurring on Eastern and Midwestern waters. Until recently, entomologists had divided Eastern and Midwestern Isonychia into three different species–Isonychia sadleri, harperi, and bicolor–but after further review, the taxonomic pundits have decided that all three species are synonymous. Consequently, there is now just a single species–Isonychia bicolor. From the fly fisher’s point of view, the reclassification is immaterial. What do matter are the size, color, and behavior of the insect.

Because Isonychia have such a widespread geographical distribution, they vary significantly in size and color. I’ve collected mature nymphs, in different regions, that varied from medium brown to black; they measured as small as a 2X-long, size 16 hook and as large as a 3X-long, size 12 hook.

Isonychia nymphs look and behave differently from most other mayfly nymphs, which makes identification relatively easy. They have dark, streamlined bodies with colors ranging from dark red to brownish black. Their ability to swim is aided by three heavily fringed, paddle-like tails. Their forelegs are also heavily fringed, and they serve as mini seining nets to catch drifting food. Most specimens display a thin, white dorsal pinstripe, which runs from the tip of the thorax to the end of the abdomen. Depending on their maturity, Isonychia nymphs measure anywhere from 8 to 16 millimeters in length. They have rounded heads and large, dark eyespots. The abdomen measures approximately 2 1/2 times the size of thorax. A series of large discernible gills protrude from each side of the abdomen.

          Mike Mercer’s Poxyback Isonychia Nymph
          Hook: TMC 200R, size 12.
          Thread: Came Uni Thread, 8/0 or 70 denier.
          Tails: Three brown ostrich-herl tips.
          Rib: Fine copper wire.
          Carapace: Dark mottled turkey tail slip, with a strand of pearl Flashabou down the center.
Coat with 5-minute epoxy.
          Abdomen: Dark brown dubbing.
          Gills: Dark aftershaft feathers from base of dyed ringneck pheasant breast feathers.
          Thorax: Dark brown dubbing.
          Wingcase: Dark brown dubbing.
          Legs: Hen back feathers.
          Head: Dark brown dubbing.

True to their appellation, Isonychia nymphs are able and powerful swimmers. Their ability to move about freely in water of all velocities was, in all likelihood, an evolutionary development determined by the insects’ preference for the well-oxygenated sections of streams and rivers. With minnow-like quickness and agility, they can dart from point to point with ease, and swimming upstream against the current is not a problem.

Isonychia nymphs are strictly fast-water dwellers. I can’t remember ever finding any specimens in the slow-water sections of the waters that I fish regularly. The largest concentrations of nymphs are found in the crevices and cracks of large submerged rocks. They are extremely shy creatures and are panic-stricken when disturbed. Like a captured minnow, they flip-flop frantically when caught. Aquarium specimens bolt from point to point until they find a secluded place to hide.

Hatching Behavior
Unlike the hatching methods of all other species of mayflies, Isonychia nymphs migrate to the rocks along the shoreline to hatch. Several seasons back, on a small freestone stream in western Pennsylvania, I sat and watched a midafternoon emergence of Isonychia. The mature nymphs slowly crawled out of the water and struggled up to the tops of the rocks. After a five- to six-minute resting period, the duns slowly broke through the nymphal case. Shortly thereafter, their wings filled with fluid and the duns flew off to the nearby trees. The hatch occurred in the middle of October and lasted for almost three hours.

During the migration, the resident trout were obviously aware of what was going on, because they moved to within 10 feet of the shoreline and greedily grabbed the nymphs moving out of the riffles into the shallow water. As far as I could tell, the nymphs both swam and crawled to the shore, because some trout made splashy rises as they fed on the nymphs in the middle of the water column, while other trout flashed as they took nymphs off the bottom. However, not all Isonychia hatches take place along the shoreline. On a much larger stream, 30 to 40 feet wide, located not more than 10 miles from the small freestone stream, I have seen the duns regularly emerge in midstream.

To match the hatching behavior of the nymphs that migrate to the shoreline, I take a position directly in front of the hatch, about five feet from the shoreline. As the nymphs move toward the shoreline, they are actually moving toward me. With a leader at least 14 feet long, I cast upstream and let the nymph float into the midst of the trout and the migrating nymphs. Using a very slow line twist, I gradually wind in the nymph. I do not use a strike indicator, and I weight the pattern by replacing the monofilament (see recipe) with thin strips of lead wire. The amount of weight I use depends on the speed and depth of the current. When I fish Isonychia patterns at the tail end of a riffle or out in the open water, I shorten my leader, add a strike indicator, and use unweighted patterns.

In the East and Midwest, mature nymphs are active from late May through the end of October. Western Isonychia species are not nearly so widespread as their Eastern counterparts, but there are two noteworthy Western species: I. sicca and I. velma. Western hatch times vary. Depending on the region, the nymphs are active anytime from late summer through early fall.

 

Museum Pieces: Flies So Good They’re Scary

Written by: Peter Nardini, American Museum of Fly Fishing


The Ghost, one of the beautifully dressed flies in Mary Orvis Marbury’s display from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Photos courtesy AMFF

In honor of All Hallow’s Eve, we have come up with a few historic fly patterns from our collection with some spooky monikers. . . .

Written by: Peter Nardini, American Museum of Fly Fishing


The Ghost, one of the beautifully dressed flies in Mary Orvis Marbury’s display from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Photos courtesy AMFF

Editor’s note: The American Museum of Fly Fishing is located right next to the Orvis Flagship store in Manchester, Vermont. The folks from the museum will be sharing many of the cool items from their collection in an ongoing series called “Museum Pieces.” You can take a little virtual walk through part of the museum at the bottom of this post. 

In honor of All Hallow’s Eve, we have come up with a few historic fly patterns from our collection with some spooky monikers.


That’s no lady; that’s my fly!.

Lady of the Lake: “The Lady of the Lake is a comparatively new fly, originating in America. It is usually dressed large for deep waters. The name originally belonged to the Alexandra fly, but when it was abandoned for that fly in favor of the much-admired princess, it was appropriated for this new and dainty creation of the American fly-makers.” – Mary Orvis Marbury’s Favorite Flies and their Histories


“Nevermore.”

The Raven: “The Raven is a black bass fly much liked by the fishermen of La Crosse, Wis. From its success in that vicinity, it is becoming known and used by fishermen in other localities.” – Mary Orvis Marbury’s Favorite Flies and their Histories


The Spider is an oddly named pattern, as it bears no resemblance to an arachnid.

The Spider (Streamer): Also from Favorite Flies and their Histories: “To our mind this is the poorest possible representation of a spider, and we can see no sufficient reason why that name should have been given to it; but the fact remains that it is called “the Spider”, and when made on the larger hooks is much liked for large trout, and sometimes for black bass.”

Mary Orvis Marbury clearly disapproved of the fact that it did not look like an actual spider and continued with this disclaimer: “It must be remembered that in these plates we are endeavoring to give the favorite flies, the general favorites; not those we admire as most beautiful, taking, or durable, but those that are most widely known and approved. The only criticism we can make in this regard is that it was named ‘the Spider’, but then Charles Dudley Warner has said: ‘The trout fly is a “conventionalized” creation, as we say of ornamentation. The theory is that, fly fishing being a high art, the fly must not be a tame imitation of nature, but an artistic suggestion of it.'”


The Black Death has a dramatic name but is quite lifelike in the water.

The Black Death: This tarpon fly in the AMFF’s collection was tied by the late George Hommell, Jr., former owner of the World Wide Sportsman and legendary Florida fishing guide. It has an elongated tapered head design that provides little wind resistance on long casts while at the same time the contrasting colored tailing materials seem to make this fly come alive in the water. The Black Death can be tied in two separate styles: the first combines multiple saddle hackles and marabou, while the second uses rabbit strips. Both patterns can be used on the shallow water flats and the action is comparable between the different materials. Check out this tying video for The Black Death with ambient sounds of landing tarpon in the background.


The Horror got its name from an unusual source.

The Horror: The Director of the Bermuda Fishing Information Bureau, Pete Perinchief, designed The Horror pattern in the 1950s after a frustrating trip to the Florida Keys with Joe and Mary Brooks. Fishing for deep-cruising bones, Brooks had told Perinchief to let his fly sink to the bottom and wait for the fish to find it, but Perinchief’s fly continually snagged in the turtle grass. Frustration produced an aha! moment that night. Perinchief woke the next morning, tied a fly with the wing on the reverse side of the hook shank, and dropped it into the bathtub to test. The Horror was born.

While the pattern won’t win awards for its presentation, it is deceptively effective. The wing of brown bucktail works like a rudder to keep the hook point up, acting as a weed guard. A wrap of large yellow or orange chenille tied closely behind the wing base forces the fibers upward, which also shields the hook point. The chenille is then wrapped forward to the rear of the normal head space. Soon, most bonefish patterns were tied with the hook point up.

But what’s in a name? The Horror did not get its title from the look of the fly or the havoc it wreaked on unsuspecting fish. It was affectionately named for Pete’s daughter, who was so nicknamed because of her behavior as a child and teenager.

Some other names and effective patterns out there with a Halloween twist include the Black Demon, Blue Devil, Copper Killer, Golden Demon, Psycho Debutant (style points for that one), Phantom, Sorceror, Spirit Catcher, Werewolf, and The Prowler. Which one is your favorite?

“Snakes,” by William G. Tapply

Written by: William G. Tapply


Bill Tapply shows off a fat Labrador brook trout.
Photos courtesy Vicki Stiefel

It was a typical August morning in Labrador—gray sky, cold drizzle, wind chill somewhere around freezing. In the afternoon, the clouds would blow away and the sun would come out and the. . .

Written by: William G. Tapply


Bill Tapply shows off a fat Labrador brook trout.
Photos courtesy Vicki Stiefel

You don’t always get what you fish for.

It was a typical August morning in Labrador—gray sky, cold drizzle, wind chill somewhere around freezing. In the afternoon, the clouds would blow away and the sun would come out and the mayflies would hatch in the coves. Then, with luck, we’d catch a couple of those legendary six-pound Minipi brook trout on dry flies.

But for now we had to improvise. Dorman, our Inuit guide, had motored us to the foot of the lake, where it narrowed, quickened, and flowed into the next lake in the chain. He held out his closed fist. “Try this,” he said. He opened his hand and dropped a deer-hair mouse into mine. “Lemming,” he said. “Trout eat ’em, eh?”

The trick, Dorman explained, was to heave the mouse to the opposite bank and swim it across the current on a tight line. On my third or fourth try, a wake appeared behind the mouse. I held my breath and kept it coming. The wake accelerated—then exploded. I heaved back on my 7-weight rod.

My limp line sailed back over my head.

“Argh,” growled Dorman. “Damn snake. Bit you off. That was a good fly.”

“Snake?” I said.

“Pike,” he explained.

“Big one, huh?”

“All big ones in this lake. Damn nuisances.”

“Well,” I said, “let’s try to catch one of those nuisances, eh?”

* * *

The Anglo-Saxons called him Luce, the waterwolf, and likened him (in both appearance and function) to the pike, their long pointed weapon. His Latin name, Esox lucius, means “pitiless pike.” He was well named.

I had my first encounter with a northern pike when I was about ten years old. My mother had dropped me off at a quiet slough in northern Vermont. It was a backwater of Otter Creek, which flowed north and emptied into Lake Champlain. Smallmouths and largemouths both lived in that slough, and I’d brought my father’s baitcasting rod and a bucket of minnows.

It was a warm, sunny day, and the bass weren’t biting. But I was content. I shucked of my sneakers and socks and sat on the bank, dangling my feet in the water and watching my red-and-white bobber float beside a bed of lily pads. Bullfrogs grumped sleepily, and neon-colored dragonflies perched on my rod tip, and it was an altogether lazy and satisfying way for a boy to while away a daydreamy August afternoon.

I actually felt his eyes on me before I noticed him. I never saw him arrive. He just materialized. Suddenly he was hovering there, absolutely motionless like a big waterlogged stick—like a pointed weapon—barely a yard from my dangling toes. He was sleek and long—as long as my ten-year-old leg, at least—and he was staring up at me with baleful, predatory, utterly pitiless eyes.

Then, I swear, he grinned at me. His jaws slowly opened and closed, and he showed me his teeth.
After a minute, he swam over to my bobber and ate my minnow, right?

Wrong.

I didn’t wait for that pike to make the first move. I scrambled away from the water and reeled in as fast as I could and got the hell away from that place. I believed then, and I still believe, that if I hadn’t moved fast, I’d be walking around with about seven toes today.
I wanted nothing to do with that vicious tearing, shredding, eating machine.

Pike have fascinated me ever since.

I’ve caught them on live bait, and I’ve caught them by trolling sewn bait, and I’ve caught a lot of them by casting swimming plugs and red-and-white Dardevle spoons into weedy bays and alongside fallen timber. There is no bad way to catch a pike.

But the best way is on a fly rod. Especially on the surface. Pike are not shy. If they’ll hit a Dardevle retrieved a foot under the surface, and they usually will, they’ll also crash a big deer-hair bug popped and gurgled on top.

Watching a pike ambush a floating fly is like witnessing a mugging. The strike itself is the peak moment of pike fishing and the best reason to go for them on the surface. You’ll notice the wake first—a calculated, unhurried V in the water 10 or more feet behind your lure. The fish keeps his distance for a moment or two, taking the measure of his target. Then, without warning, the wake accelerates. The sudden explosive attack throws spray and leaves a hole in the water.

Cardiologists advise their patients not to cast floating flies for pike.


The author with a Labrador snake that fell for—guess what?—a yellow topwater fly.
Photos courtesy Vicki Stiefel

Once hooked, pike pull hard and sometimes jump spectacularly, but they tend to submit quickly. Beware. They often allow themselves to be led docilely to the boat. Then, just as you dip your net into the water, they detonate, and if you’re not ready for it, you’ll find yourself holding a handful of splinters.

To incite a northern to mug your fly, use a fast but erratic retrieve and keep it coming right up to the boat. Pike often follow their prey for a long distance, attacking only when they sense that it’s about to escape. So if a wake materializes behind your lure, you’re more likely to trigger a strike by speeding up your retrieve than by slowing it down.

When selecting a pike floater, I follow two rules: make it yellow, and make it noisy. The fuss and burble that a flat-faced popper kicks up makes it appear bigger than it actually is and will get the attention of any nearby northern. While deer-hair pike bugs work beautifully, they don’t stand up well to those razor teeth. Foam-bodied or cork saltwater-size poppers are more durable.

My 9-foot, 9-weight, medium-action graphite rod casts air-resistant floaters with relative ease. I use a weight-forward (bass-bug taper) floating line and a 6-foot leader, with a 2-foot shock tippet made of 50-pound-test Mason Hard mono to prevent bite-offs. Pike are not leader-shy.

I debarb my hooks and carry needle-nose pliers, which together permit easy releases and minimize encounters with those nasty teeth. Pike have bony mouths that are hard to penetrate, so I keep my hooks sharp. Even so, when a pike takes my fly, I haul back several times to drive home the point.

Pike prefer water that’s cool (around 65 degrees), shallow (less than 15 feet deep), and features cover such as fallen trees and weedbeds. I like to sight-fish for them in coves and along the banks, where I can often spot them lying motionless like waterlogged hunks of driftwood, ready to ambush.

Northerns are primarily daytime feeders. Although they seem to come to the surface most readily on overcast days, I have taken plenty of pike under a bright midday sun.

During their pre-spawn, pike are edgy and hostile and territorial. They are early-spring spawners, and I’ve had some of my best days shortly after ice-out, when every pike in the lake or river moves into shallow water.

* * *

Dorman made a face and mumbled something about “damn snakes,” but I persuaded him to take us to a cove where we could try for a big pike on a floating fly. I found a box of deer-hair bass bugs in the bottom of my tackle bag, added a shock tippet to my leader, and tied on the biggest, noisiest, yellowest bug I had.

I burbled it along the edge of some lily pads, and on my ninth or tenth cast, a wake bulged the pads, eased along behind my bug, speeded up, and engulfed it.

I whooped, reared back, and set the hook. The fish headed for open water. My reel screamed. “Big snake, eh?” said Dorman, and when I glanced at him I saw that he was grinning. I had converted him, I thought smugly. Even the crusty Inuit had finally seen the fun of catching pike on floating flies.

I managed to horse the big fish around to the stern where Dorman could net him. “Yes, sir,” he repeated as he dipped his net. “Damn big snake, eh?”

He lifted the net from the water. It held a six-pound brook trout.

“Damn trout,” I said. “Put him back, eh? I want one of them snakes.”

* * *

Editor’s note: When I was the editor of American Angler, I had the pleasure of working with William G. Tapply for ten years before his death in the summer of 2009. Bill’s wife, the author Vicki Stiefel, has graciously allowed me to reprint some of his columns and articles here. 

Check out these great e-books by William G. Tapply (available on all formats including iPad, Kindle, Mobi, etc.):

And visit Vicki Stiefel’s new website and facebook page to learn about her new book, Chest of Time: Book 3, The Afterworld Chronicles and the reissue of her Tally Whyte series.

The Nymphing Method that Shocked the Fly-Fishing World

Written by: Richard R. Twarog


Wladyslaw “Vladi” Trzebunia blew everyone’s mind at the 1989 World Fly Fishing Championships.
Photos by Richard R. Twarog

What a sight. The year was 1989. The place was Kuusamo, Finland. The event was the World Fly Fishing Championship. A gaggle of journalists and bystanders were following and watching in . . .

Written by: Richard R. Twarog


Wladyslaw “Vladi” Trzebunia blew everyone’s mind at the 1989 World Fly Fishing Championships.
Photos by Richard R. Twarog

What a sight. The year was 1989. The place was Kuusamo, Finland. The event was the World Fly Fishing Championship. A gaggle of journalists and bystanders were following and watching in wonder and curiosity: Who was this guy dressed in an unconventional vest, wearing garden boots for waders, and casting a mended fly rod? He was tenacious, and very competitive, with a broad, quick smile — friendly to a fault. The mystery angler was Wladyslaw Trzebunia, then a member of the Polish national Fly Fishing Team. “Vladi,” as he is known to his friends, is the man who knocked the fly-fishing world on its butt.

In the mid-1930s, Vladi’s father had discovered that when he pulled his baited hook downstream faster than the current, he caught more fish. Here’s the takeaway: The fish were attracted to the motion.

Back to the 1989 tournament: Using the same basic method his father had taught him as a youngster (with refinements, to be sure), Vladi landed a staggering total of 60 fish. That number was more than all of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th teams combined! Wladyslaw Trzebunia won the individual title–and a dazzling gold medal—and the Polish team took the team title.

Since that 1989 competition, the nymphing that method Vladi pioneered, and the Polish team used, has been imitated, appropriated, and re-named throughout Europe, and the rest of the fly fishing world. Over time, Vladi’s method has been reborn to new fathers of new nationalities.


Vladi caught this beautiful grayling from the San River in his native Poland

Here are some important points about Polish nymphing:

    • The Polish method works best in fast water, perhaps no deeper than the middle of your thighs, about three feet. For example the tail-outs of pools, or just downstream from riffles are great feeding locations for this method even if the water is a little off-color.
    • Use at least a 9-foot, 4- or 5-weight rod. I use an Orvis Recon 10-foot 4-weight.
    • Typically, your leader should be a little more than 2/3 the length of the rod. So, for a 9-foot rod, a 7-foot leader would be about right. I use an 8-foot tippet as a leader on my 10-foot rod. If you want to change from using a floating line to fish dry flies, just keep the same line and change your tapered leader to a straight tippit that will sink much faster and you’re all set. Remember, you’re not casting the nymph(s); you’re just lobbing them upstream.
    • There are no indicators, sighters, yarn, or colored line to use. This is an active, not passive, way to enjoy fishing. You’re triggering a strike, not standing there waiting and watching a bobber float by. You can use either a single weighted fly or a multi-fly rig. With a multi-fly rig, one of the flies (the anchor-fly) must be heavy enough to bring the flies to the river’s bottom quickly. Remember, the flies are not in tandem.

Holding his fly rod parallel to the water’s surface, Vladi pulls the flies through the current.
Photos by Richard R. Twarog
  •  After you lob the fly upstream and feel it touch the bottom, I start pulling the fly downstream a little faster than the current. That’s the key: pulling faster than the current.
  • I usually hold my rod parallel to the water as I pull the fly downstream. Then I raise it a little when the fly is even with me, and let it drift past a few feet and rise toward the surface. Just before I start to pick up my line to lob it upstream again, I set the hook to an imaginary fish. I’ve been amazed how many hook-ups I get because trout and grayling are likely to follow a food item that is quickly moving around in the current and will often eat it as it rises. If I don’t get a strike in two or three upstream lobs, I sidestep downstream about three or four feet.

The unique combination of the fish’s lateral line and vision is designed to specifically to detect the motion of predator or prey, which is why Vladi’s method seems like  the obvious way to nymph.

That’s what Vladi has taught me over the past six years. And not only is it productive, but it’s a lot of fun, too.

Richard R. Twarog is the author of The San Juan River: A Fly Angler’s Journal. Vladi is a licensed guide in Poland and Slovakia and continues to give seminars and teach international competitive teams and individuals. You can reach him via e-mail.


Weighted flies get to the bottom quicker, and Vladi’s famous Vladi Worm (bottom) is a good anchor fly.
Photos by Richard R. Twarog

Why Do Dogs Run Away?

By: Orvis Staff

A runaway dog can be a stressful situation for all involved.

Photo by: Janie, Midland

Understanding why dogs run away can be tough. After all, home is where the loving (and spoiling) happens. The behind-the-ear scratches. The special dog treats. The games of fetch in the backyard. But no matter how much your dog adores you and the homestead, there’s always a chance she’ll make a break for the door or an opening in the fence. Learning why dogs run away can help prevent a great canine escape, and help guide your search should your best friend ever successfully dash off. Here are the top reasons dogs run away:

By: Orvis Staff

A runaway dog can be a stressful situation for all involved.

Photo by: Janie, Midland

Understanding why dogs run away can be tough. After all, home is where the loving (and spoiling) happens. The behind-the-ear scratches. The special dog treats. The games of fetch in the backyard. But no matter how much your dog adores you and the homestead, there’s always a chance she’ll make a break for the door or an opening in the fence. Learning why dogs run away can help prevent a great canine escape, and help guide your search should your best friend ever successfully dash off. Here are the top reasons dogs run away:

To Find a Mate

When dogs are not spayed or neutered, the instinct to reproduce is a powerful one beyond your control. Don’t expect an unneutered male to pay attention to commands learned during obedience training if there’s a female in heat in the neighborhood. He won’t. And if he discovers an opening to run off for a rendezvous—he’ll take it. For an unspayed female, wanderlust is a particular issue only for the few weeks twice each year that she’s in heat. But she’ll require close watching during these times. Unless you are planning to breed your dog, seriously consider spaying or neutering. Dog ownership is challenging, and not neutering or spaying makes it even tougher.

To Search for Play, Adventure, and Company

If your dog spends hours at home alone while you work, she’ll be looking for opportunities to get outside and play. You can probably relate and feel similarly when cooped up indoors for long stretches during bad weather. Dogs get bored and desire a change of scenery, recreation, fresh air, and the opportunity to move, run, and frolic. If you’re not providing enough engagement and activity, she’ll head off in search of adventure at the first opportunity.

Dogs are also pack creatures. This means they get lonesome and desire companionship when left alone for too long. To prevent boredom from taking root easily when your dog is alone, establish a consistent, comforting spot for her when she doesn’t have company. Whether it’s her dog bed with a special dog treat, or a covered dog crate and her favorite dog toy, she’ll associate this special spot with mellow activities and napping while you are away. For very active dogs who get bored quickly, a puzzle toy can buy you some extra time.

You can build your dog’s tolerance for alone time, but some dogs simply won’t embrace hours on end alone. Certain dog breeds, such as Australian Shepherds and Samoyeds, are notorious for their strong aversion to time alone. To learn how long your dog is comfortable being alone, extend your time away slowly and watch her behavior. If you notice destructive behaviors, such as chewing her dog bed or excessive barking, she’s reached her threshold. If you keep your outings within these time frames, she’ll scramble less for the door when you return.

Offering an abundance of attention, activity, and interaction whenever you are with your dog helps minimize boredom, anxiety, and frustration that can lead to problem behaviors, including the tendency to run away.

To Find Safety

Some dogs are terrified by thunder, fireworks, and very loud noises. If your dog is frightened by these unnerving sounds, she’ll find any opportunity to make a dash for safety. If the door is open a crack during a thunderstorm, or there’s a hole in the fence when your town is throwing a fireworks display you’ll wind up searching for your lost best friend by the time the dust settles.

She’s Off Leash

You’re sure your dog would never ignore your command to “come!” but it is known to happen with even the most obedient of dogs in unknown surroundings or when the unexpected occurs. If your dog is highly biddable, it’s probably okay to forego the leash on your regular jaunts in a familiar setting. But when you are away from your usual byways or somewhere you may run into strange dogs or wild animals, always keep her on leash. If she’s overcome with the urge to chase a rabbit, or is scared by an unusual noise, she won’t have the chance to bolt.

Dog collars are another story. Never let her roam without her collar—it holds her all-important proof of vaccination and your contact information so anyone who finds her can return her to you quickly and safely.

How to Keep Your Dog From Running Away

Knowing why dogs run away makes prevention strategies fairly self-evident. But here’s a brief rundown:

  • Neuter or spay your dog. She won’t feel nature’s call as powerfully and will be less prone to ramble.
  • Keep your dog indoors during thunderstorms and fireworks.
  • Reinforce your fencing to match your dog. If you’ve got a dog who likes to dig, make sure she can’t dig underneath. If she’s a jumper, make sure it’s too high for her to clear.
  • Train your dog to “come.” You’ll worry far less about your dog running off through an open door or squeezing through the fence, if she’s learned the recall command.
  • Don’t leave your dog in the yard unsupervised for long.
  • Keep your dog on leash during walks.

Accidents and missteps happen. If your dog runs away, we’ve got you covered with some helpful tips for finding a lost dog stat. But if you follow the above tips, hopefully you won’t have to go off in search of your furry fugitive.

Creating a Dog Drool-Protected Home

By: Orvis Staff


Photo by: Kathryn, Smithfield

Owning a dog makes life a good measure happier—and messier. Constant fur to vacuum, muddy paws to manage, and full-body fur shakes after rainy walks. But the slimiest canine mess is the dreaded dog drool puddle. Your dog puts your devotion to the test when you sit on a drool-soaked couch cushion, or slide across the hardwood floor on a patch of slobber. The good news is, even if your best friend is a copious drooler, it’s possible to keep the mess to a minimum. Here’s a primer on all things dog drool and how to protect your home from unwelcome goo.

By: Orvis Staff


Photo by: Kathryn, Smithfield

Owning a dog makes life a good measure happier—and messier. Constant fur to vacuum, muddy paws to manage, and full-body fur shakes after rainy walks. But the slimiest canine mess is the dreaded dog drool puddle. Your dog puts your devotion to the test when you sit on a drool-soaked couch cushion, or slide across the hardwood floor on a patch of slobber. The good news is, even if your best friend is a copious drooler, it’s possible to keep the mess to a minimum. Here’s a primer on all things dog drool and how to protect your home from unwelcome goo.

Why Do Dogs Drool?

Just like people, dogs have saliva and, as a result, drool happens. Also like people, dogs may drool more as an involuntary response to stimuli and conditions. For example, most dogs drool on very hot days because it helps keep them cool. Many dogs will also drool around meal times or when they see their people eating as they anticipate their dog food or delicious table scraps. Your dog may continue to drool after eating because digestion (which begins with chewing and saliva) is still in progress.

Some dog breeds are known to drool often and copiously, particularly jowly breeds with big lips and cheeks. Saliva collects in their cheeks, and when they eventually shake their heads, any unlucky bystanders get gooped. If you are really put off by drool, do your dog breed research and triple check that your favorites aren’t famed for slinging saliva. A few beloved dog breeds well known for their drooling: Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, and Bloodhounds.

If your dog suddenly begins drooling far more than he usually does, it could indicate a health issue. Excessive, uncharacteristic drooling is a symptom of heatstroke and requires immediate medical attention. Drooling can also be a sign of dental issues, such as periodontal disease, neurological problems, and separation anxiety or other anxiety issues.

Can Dogs Drool in Their Sleep?

Dogs drool more in their sleep because they are relaxed and not swallowing as often as they do when awake. Drooping jowls and gravity take care of the rest, and you’ve got a damp spot or a puddle wherever they lay their heads.

How to Stop Your Dog From Drooling

Once you’ve ruled out a medical condition for the drooling, accept that you can’t prevent it. Instead, shift your focus to protecting your house from the drool. If your dog drools in abundance and has couch or bed privileges, dog furniture protectors are your best bet. They are soft, inviting, and washable, and provide an extra layer of protection between your dog’s mouth and your favorite chair. If your dog enjoys naps in multiple locations, a protective throw is a good option because you can move it around. If she has a preferred chair or corner of the couch, you could go with a furniture protector designed specifically for a chair or couch.

How to Remove Dog Drool From Furniture

If your dog makes her mark before you get the furniture protector in place, here’s what to do:

  1. If you notice the drool before it’s dried, dab the area thoroughly with a damp paper towel and then clean with a mild dish detergent or dog-safe and furniture-safe cleaning product.
  2. If the drool is dry, move directly to dabbing the area with a mild, dog- and furniture-safe detergent or cleaning product. Repeat if it appears some drool remained after the first cleaning.

Of course, prevention is the best way to avoid dog drool spots on your furniture. When your best friend leaves her drool pools on a blanket or furniture protector, you can simply toss it in the wash.

Reducing Meal-Related Dog Drool

Meal times can get messy. The splashing water. The dog food enjoyed with gusto. And the extra drooling. To help contain the mess, set up a dedicated meal area for your dog. Place your dog’s water and food bowls on a Water Trapper® mat. This will absorb any water that slops over the side of her bowl, and any extra drool she produces while eating.

It helps to establish a consistent time for meals so your dog’s meal-related drooling kicks in only twice per day. And avoid giving your dog table scraps if at all possible. If she gets a taste for table food and you give in even once, she’ll be tableside staring hopefully at you and drooling at every meal.

A final bit of advice: if your dog drools a lot, keep a dedicated, absorbent drool towel handy in every room and in the car. Make it a habit to give a quick swipe under her jowls regularly with the towel and your best friend won’t leave a trail of drool in her wake wherever she roams or rests her head.

Pro Tips: Nymphing vs Swinging for Steelhead

Written by: Dave Stewart, Wet Fly Swing


This winter steelhead was caught on a nymphing setup.
Photo by Dave Stewart

Have you been thinking about getting into steelhead fishing, but are not sure where to start? Maybe you have been out a time or two but weren’t quite successful. You’ve probably. . .

Written by: Dave Stewart, Wet Fly Swing


This winter steelhead was caught on a nymphing setup.
Photo by Dave Stewart

Have you been thinking about getting into steelhead fishing, but are not sure where to start? Maybe you have been out a time or two but weren’t quite successful. You’ve probably heard about the two main strategies for steelhead fly fishing: nymphing and swinging flies. These two tactics that couldn’t be more different.

One is about getting down and dirty, while the other is about making a nice gentle swing across the water. With one, you are chucking and ducking, and with the other you are coaxing a steelhead to come up to your offering. One is about dredging the bottom, and the other is about hooking fish near surface.

There’s no question that both of these methods are effective, but what’s the best one to start off with? Which one is going to catch you more fish? Which one do people find more enjoyable?

I’m going to answer a few of these questions and leave a few for you to discover on your own. I’m going to take you down the road to understanding the benefits and drawbacks of both methods. You will have a good feel for what you need to get started in catching that first fish, especially with the 23 steelhead fishing tips listed at the end.

The East vs. West Debate
So, what’s all of this East Coast vs West Coast stuff you hear about? It’s about the Great Lakes fisheries vs. the Pacific Northwest fisheries. Here’s a brief history of steelhead introductions and natural distribution of steelhead.

Steelhead are native to the Pacific Rim and were historically distributed from Mexico, up and around the rim, and over to Kamchatka in Russia. More than 100 years ago, steelhead were introduced into the Great Lakes and have taken off there. These are hugely popular fisheries that are slightly different from West Coast fisheries.

So, what’s the big difference? The swing. Although there is some swinging of flies on the Great Lakes tributaries, it’s not the predominate method of catching steelhead there. Nymphing tactics rule, and rightfully so, because they are effective and can produce huge returns.

West Coast rivers are typically larger and deeper, and runs are tailored to easy swinging for summer, fall, and winter steelhead. For summers, you can get steelhead to even come to the surface for a swung dry fly.

What does this mean for you? It means that you have multiple ways to target these fish.

Which one is better? Well. . . it depends. I know, you didn’t want to hear that. But it depends on your water conditions and the size of the river. It depends on the depth and water clarity. It depends on your casting ability. It depends on what you end up enjoying more.

I’ve probably hooked an equal number of fish using both methods and can say from experience that I have been addicted to both techniques. Currently, though, I‘m on the swinging bandwagon. This is mainly because I now have two young kids who have restricted my fishing time and caused me to choose a limited number of trips.

Swinging flies for summer steelhead late on an August evening, when it is 100 degrees out, is pretty amazing. You are standing in that cool water as the warm breeze picks up a little to cool off the water, and it takes you to another world. You are enjoying that serene world, the feel of the breeze, caught up in the rhythmic lull of the river, when suddenly the rod is nearly ripped out of your hand–the pull of a lifetime! This is summer steelhead fishing. This is what I have chosen, for now.

How do you fish each method? Here’s a quick run down of the technique and gear types so you have a feel for what it will take to get you ready.


Swinging flies on a misty morning is a magical experience.
Photo by Dave Stewart

Spey Rod vs Single-hand rod
I used to think that single-hand rods were the traditional and best way to catch steelhead. I used to think Spey rods were for yuppies who were trying to be cool. I now know that my Spey rod has helped me catch a lot more fish. It’s just another tool in the toolbox.

For casting long lines and swinging flies, Spey rods are great tools. Spey fishing increases the time your fly is on the water, gives you more control in wind, allows you to cast bigger flies, keeps you from getting tired, and lets you have a lot of fun.

There is still plenty of room for single-hand rods. For smaller rivers especially, single rods are great for steelhead. For smaller flies and lower water conditions, single handers will do the trick. So you don’t have to go out and by a Spey rod tomorrow. Use what you have to find out if you enjoy steelheading first.

Nymphing Gear and Tactics
A 9- or 10-foot 8-weight single-hand rod will work in most situations for nymphing. An 11-foot or longer switch rod offers you extra versatility. Use a weight-forward line for the single-hand rod, and either a Skagit or Scandi line for the switch rod. Use a leader that is twice as long as the water is deep. These are the basics.

The nymphing setup is pretty simple. You can use an indicator above your fly with a split shot 18 inches above your fly with enough split shot to get it down. The most basic pattern and one that has caught more fish for me than any other is the Glo Bug, but stoneflies and plenty of other buggy or egg patterns will do the trick. Take a look at this article for additional tips and flies for nymphing.

The goal is to achieve a dead drift that essentially floats naturally downstream with the speed of the water. As your line moves by you and downstream, you can extend your run by feeding slack into the drift. After your line straightens out below you, get set up for another cast up into the slot. Look for the seam lines when chasing steelhead. The fish will be holding on the edges of the faster water where they can rest, as well as in the spots where there’s some structure to break things up.

Swinging Tactics for Steelhead
I can’t imagine that fishing can get much easier than swinging flies. Cast your fly out, downstream and across, give it a little mend, keep your rod tip near the water and wait for a pull as the line and fly swing across. Although this sounds simple, there are still plenty of challenges. Finding the fish is on top of the list. This article describes summer steelheading.

You need to look for the broken water within the larger run. Steelhead like water that is the pace of a walk and will seek shelter near underwater obstructions, which aren’t always obvious.

There is a wide range of gear choices can do the job. A 12- or 13-foot spey rod is sufficient in most cases for Skagit or Scandi spey lines. For single-hand rods, a 9-foot 8-weight will do the trick. Use a 6- to 9-foot leader, depending on conditions. If you are swinging flies with a sinking line, you should use a shorter leader to insure that your fly get down in the striking zone.

That’s about it. Your main focus should be covering the water to find the fish. Cast, swing, hang the fly, and then step down. Then do it again until you feel a fish. Stay with that fish until he hooks up.


Early morning last minute preparation..
Photo by Dave Stewart

20 Random Tips for Steelhead

  1. Swing wet flies on the surface before the sun is on the water in the morning and evening.

  2. For Spey rods, use a Skagit line for heavier flies and deeper water and a Scandi for lighter flies and shallower water.

  3. 5 killer patterns for all-around steelheading: Egg-Sucking Leech, Glo Bug, Max Canyon, Purple Burlesque, and Kaufmann’s Stone.

  4. The two best steelhead books to get you started:A Passion for Steelhead by Dec Hogan, and Steelhead Fly Fishing by Trey Combs.

  5. Steelhead can hit lightly, so if you feel a tip or tap, put the fly back to the same spot on the next cast.

  6. If you hook a fish, mark the spot because it will hold fish again and again, year after year.

  7. Switch to a smaller fly.

  8. Sharpen your hook before each session.

  9. Move to the opposite bank to get a better angle on the run and fish.

  10. Get elevated to see holding water and spot fish.

  11. Alter the depth of fly when swinging by using more or fewer mends.

  12. Let the hole rest, then run through it again with a different fly.

  13. Don’t be afraid to fish behind your buddy or that dude who just fished through.

  14. Fish water that is 3 to 6 feet deep.

  15. Fish water that is flowing at walking speed.

  16. Start close and cover the water before you wade out deep.

  17. Let your fly hang at the end of the swing.

  18. Bow to the fish before you set the hook.

  19. Practice casting when you can’t fish.

  20. Cut the excuses and get out fishing ASAP

Conclusion
Should you nymph or swing? There’s no right answer here. Both methods are effective for steelhead. Whether you start nymphing or swinging flies, the important thing is to make sure you get out and practice. I challenge you to do one thing to get a step closer to catching a steelhead. Once you do, you will be hooked, and the passion will only grow as you connect with more steelhead.

Dave Stewart runs WetFlySwing.com, and he’s offering a special guidebook for Orvis News readers. Dave is a lifelong fly fisherman, and has a passion for steelhead fishing and natural resource protection.

Dog Safety During Hunting Season


Photo via orvis.com

If you enjoy hiking with your dog and live in an area with seasonal hunting, hitting the trails takes an extra measure of prep and precaution. Dog safety during hunting season starts with the understanding that you’re sharing the great outdoors, and with an awareness of how hunters engage in their sport. Here’s what you need to know to keep your dog safe when hiking, walking, or running with her during hunting season:


Photo via orvis.com

If you enjoy hiking with your dog and live in an area with seasonal hunting, hitting the trails takes an extra measure of prep and precaution. Dog safety during hunting season starts with the understanding that you’re sharing the great outdoors, and with an awareness of how hunters engage in their sport. Here’s what you need to know to keep your dog safe when hiking, walking, or running with her during hunting season:

Know Hunting Season Dates

Non-hunters may not pay attention to hunting season opening weekends, or the exact boundaries of hunting regions. But if you’re a dog owner in a woodland or upland hunting area, it’s critical to educate yourself about hunting dates to keep your best friend safe.

Generally, hunting seasons occur in spring and fall, but the dates can vary widely based upon region. Every state and US territory has a US Fish and Wildlife Service office that provides the public information on local hunting seasons, regulations, and boundaries. Each state also has its own department that oversees hunting regulations and provides detailed information about hunting season. These offices will have varied names, but searching for titles such as ‘fish and game,’ ‘environmental preservation,’ ‘natural resources,’ and ‘wildlife resources’ will point you in the right direction.

Be aware that hunting regulations, seasons, and boundaries are subject to change. For example, elk season in Washington state shifts annually based on elk population size and location. Also, hunting on Sundays during the season is completely banned in a handful of states, allowed on private land on Sundays in some states, and allowed on public and private lands on Sundays in still others.

If you love hiking with your dog year-round, knowing the hunting zones and times will help you take the precautions outlined below, when and where they are most crucial.

Avoid Busy Hunting Times

Opening weekend of any hunting season is usually the busiest, so it’s a good time for you and your dog to explore the neighborhood streets around your home rather than hiking in the woods or trekking far off the sidewalks over hill and dale. The same goes for dawn and dusk during hunting season, which is prime time for upland hunters and big-game hunters alike.

Avoid Busy Hunting Areas

To minimize safety concerns during hunting season, opt to hike with your dog in parks and nature preserves where the sport is not allowed. Small community parks generally won’t allow hunting, but larger public lands, such as National Forests, usually do. Though many parks managed by the US National Park Service allow hunting in order to control animal populations, most of the major parks and many smaller areas do not allow hunting. Explore listings of local, state, and national parks, forests, and wildlife preserves to find nearby dog-friendly parks that are hunting-free zones. You may find yourself looking forward to visiting parks further afield than your usual treks when hunting season arrives.

Draw Attention to You and Your Dog

Hunters take precautions, including always double checking the area around their quarry, and keeping their sights set only on their target. Hunters also wear ‘blaze’—brightly colored vests and clothing designed to draw attention to themselves so they aren’t mistaken for game by other hunters. For the same reason, they also put brightly colored vests on their sporting dogs. Vibrant orange is the traditional blaze hue for the eye-catching protective clothing, but it also comes in other neon colors, such as yellow, pink, and blue. If you hike with your dog during hunting season, invest in a bright-colored vest or dog jacket so she stands out against the trees and underbrush. For those who hike at dawn and dusk, it’s wise to add reflective collars, harnesses, and leashes to your dog’s safety wear because they make your dog more visible in low light.

Finally, make some noise when you’re hiking with your dog—hiking in pensive silence is best left for after hunting season. If you are on the trail with chatty hiking buddies, your conversation and laughter will help draw attention to your presence. If you’re with a quiet crowd or alone, affix a locator bell to your dog’s collar—it’ll jingle with every step she takes. These dog collar bells are designed to help hikers and hunters keep track of their dogs when off-leash. But in hunting season, they are an excellent way to ensure hunters in your area know you are nearby.

Train Your Dog to Come

Obedience training is always an important component of responsible dog ownership. And, no matter where you live, recall is the most important command for her safety. Simply put, recall is teaching your dog or puppy to come immediately and without fail each time you call. For suburban or city dwelling dogs, the recall command prevents a dog from running into traffic. In hunting territory, it stops your dog from running through the woods or fields during seasons when she may encounter a hunter.

The recall command is usually “here” or “come,” followed by your dog’s name. You may think you don’t need to worry much about recall because you have a secure back yard or you never walk your dog off leash, but accidents are always possible. This is a ‘better safe than sorry’ situation. Once you’ve trained your dog to come, know that retraining is sometimes necessary, especially if you don’t use the recall command very often. It’s wise to test and reinforce your dog’s recall training before hunting season every year.

Keep Your Dog on Leash

If your dog is a recall champion, hiking with her off leash is a unique pleasure and a rare freedom for your adventurous furry friend. But it’s not advisable during hunting season. As highlighted above, there’s always the slim possibility a far-off scent or sound proves too tempting to ignore. Always keep your dog on leash and close by your side during hunting season, so you know she’s safe at all times.

Supervise Backyard Time

You’ve checked and double-checked your backyard fence to ensure your dog can’t break out by digging, squeezing, or leaping. But your dog is a resourceful, tenacious gal and will find a way out if left alone in the yard for too long. Dogs get bored and seek out adventure, just like people. During hunting season, supervise all backyard time that extends beyond the few minutes your dog takes to relieve herself. It’s a great time for you to get some fresh air or take care of yard work. Hanging out together in the yard is also a perfect opportunity to make sure she gets the exercise she needs by playing games of fetch or hide and seek.

Remember, hunters keep safety front of mind and their goals overlap with yours when they set off into the woods or the field. Beyond a successful hunt, they want to feel the breeze and get close to nature. They also understand the wilderness is for sharing. So, there’s no need to stick close to the homestead throughout hunting season. With the above safety knowledge and measures in place, the great outdoors can be a worry-free zone in spring and fall when you head outside with your best friend.