A couple years ago, we ran a series called “Trout Bum of the Week,” in which we highlighted some of the guys living the good life. . .of a sort. (See the bottom of this post for a link to the previous installments.) This is our second round of profiles. Most of the subjects are guides who have turned their passion into a vocation, spending their time in an outdoor “office” that may include a drift boat, gorgeous mountain scenery, and crystal clear water. Others do have day jobs but manage to spend every other available minute on the water with a fly rod in hand. Whether you aspire to one lifestyle or the other, it’s illuminating to explore the different paths these men and women have taken on their way to achieving “trout bum” status.
Dave Hise owns and operates Casters Fly Shop, in Hickory, North Carolina. He is a three-time Orvis-endorsed Guide of the Year finalist.
1. When did you start fly fishing?
I grew up in the mean streets of Los Angeles and started fly fishing when I was 14. I am mostly self-taught, but a friend of mine showed me the way. His dad had taught him and had taken him on summer trips to Montana from a young age. I could see the passion and excitement that he exuded, so I had to try it. My first trip was to a small tributary of the San Gabriel River, where I had a small brown come up and eat my Elk-Hair Caddis. I set the hook so hard that the fish flew over my head and onto the bank. The rest is history.
2. What’s your favorite water?
Slide Inn on the Madison, Montana; Mataura River, New Zealand; Christmas Island, Kiritimati; Pere Marquette River, Michigan; Little River, Virginia.
3. What’s your favorite fish to chase with a fly rod and why?
Giant Trevally. I enjoy sight-fishing most, and fishing GTs in the flats is one of the most exhilarating sight-fishing experiences on the planet, featuring 45- to 100-pound buses cruising into 2.5 of water to chase your fly. This will put a turd in the britches of even the most seasoned angler.
4. What’s your most memorable fly-fishing moment?
My most memorable moment was when a steelhead-size bonefish at Christmas Island ate my streamer twenty-five feet away. It took off and ripped the rod out of my hand (literally). I yelled, “Jimmy, the rod!” (Jimmy is a guide at Christmas whose name is too difficult to pronounce, so we called him Jimmy.) Jimmy just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. He turned and dove head first, grabbing my 9-foot 12-weight outfit before it went over the ledge (into 25 feet of water). He stood up and handed me the rod, but the fight ended soon after. The fish ended up breaking the point off my size 2 saltwater hook. The best part of the story: Jimmy told us that morning that he couldn’t swim. How can you not swim if you grew up on the world’s largest coral atolls?
5. What’s your most forgettable fly-fishing moment?
You stumped me. I don’t have a forgettable moment. I cherish all moments on the water like each was my last.
6. What do you love most about fly-fishing?
At this point, I love teaching anglers the finer points of fly fishing. There is nothing more mentally challenging (and rewarding) than teaching anglers the “process.” In a trout setting, the “process” is everything from reading the water, choosing the right rig for the conditions, casting, to putting the fish in the net. This is the groundwork to being able to catch fish anywhere.
7. What’s your favorite piece of gear and why?
Its a toss-up. Either my H2 10-foot 3-weight because it is so versatile. I can fish streamers (yes, streamers
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
For trout, its the Hetero-genius Nymph. I have been using this nymph since 1991. It’ll catch trout anywhere in the world (and has caught trout everywhere in the world).
9. What was your favorite fly-fishing trip?
Christmas Island, Kiritimati.
10. What’s your next dream destination?
Tsimane Lodge, Bolivia for golden dorado.