Podcast: Great Tips on Canoe Fishing, with Perk Perkins

[Interview begins at 49:06]

I did a podcast a few weeks ago that was billed as a canoe and kayak podcast, but my guest and I spent a lot of time on kayaks and not much on canoes. Some of you took me to task and asked for more information on fly fishing from canoes, so I asked retired president and CEO of Orvis, Perk Perkins, to share his tips with us. Perk fishes from a canoe more than anyone else I know, and has been using these craft all his life. He gives us some great tips on making fly fishing from a canoe more fun and productive.

In the Fly Box, we have some fascinating questions from listeners, including:

  • Should I use a double-taper or weight-forward line on my small-stream rod?
  • If you fish barbless dry flies with a dry/dropper rig, won’t the knot slip off the hook?
  • What can I do to lessen my shoulder involvement in casting? I have severe arthritis in my right shoulder. Should I learn to cast left-handed?
  • Do tippet rings make tying on a dropper less fussy? Won’t the fish see a tippet ring?
  • What is your opinion on attractor patterns?
  • What do you think of UV resins and tying materials?
  • If I want to fish a leader with a light butt section, what diameter should the permanent loop be on my fly line? The permanent loop on my fly line got damaged.
  • My fly line says “cold to moderate temperatures.” Can I also use this line for fishing for bass during the summer?
  • Do flies need to be perfect and symmetrical?
  • Is road kill of any use in fly tying?
  • We were catching hickory shad on spoons we made using Krystal Flash and UV resin. People told us we weren’t fly fishing. What’s your take on flies that aren’t really “flies”?
  • How are fly rods most often broken?
  • What rod do I need to make my mono rig work better?
  • I see many color variations in pre-made dubbing blends; for instance one March Brown dubbing is brown and another one is light tan. Do insects vary in color? Does color even make a difference?

4 thoughts on “Podcast: Great Tips on Canoe Fishing, with Perk Perkins”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation you had with Mr. Perkins about fishing from the canoe. I found his personal experience and lessons learned very helpful and will endeavor to implement them in my every canoe fishing. It was nice listening to someone who has done this for years and who is willing to recognize his mistakes and share his lessons that he has learned.

  2. Nice discussion, Tom; thank you. Was nice to hear Perk’s Labrador makes for good company and good “ballast”. Gotta be a bit more careful casting, I suppose; but so worth the effort.

    I’ve got a new Lab pup who is learning to come with me in my canoe, so this was of particular interest. We currently use an solo Old Town Discovery, Royalex. I put down a rubber bath mat for the pup. She’s growing fast, and time to move her toward the bow.

    Great job, and thanks again.

  3. Greetings Tom,
    It was a great podcast on fishing from a canoe. It was also fantastic to hear the recommendations and experience of Perk Perkins. I fish from a canoe a lot. I have an Old Town “ Pack” canoe which is a Royalex hull and I just purchased a 14 pound Hornbeck boat made with Kevlar and carbon in a matrix layup. Both boats are solo canoes with a limited amount of room necessitating a simple approach to fly angling.
    I devised a simple way to deal with the paddle. I made a couple of blocks of wood that clamp to the gunnel with “ladder hooks”attached. These hooks are made to store an extension ladder to the outside of a building. I insulated these with pipe insulation and when I get a strike I simply lay the paddle down on the side of the craft on the outside of the hull. It is quick, and quiet! I also have a lanyard attached to the paddle to prevent loss!
    The Scott brand canoe anchor cleat is a great device. I made mine from some White Ash planks and a stainless steel riggers cleats. I have two of these and when I am fishing in windy conditions I rig them both bow and stern which makes the boat very stable. I use galvanized chains for my anchors as these rarely get hung up. If I pack the boat in with my frame pack, I use a stainless steel “ vegetable storage basket” and fill it with rocks when I get to the waters edge.
    The “ J” stroke issue that Mr. Perkins was referring to is solved with a duel blade Kayak paddle which gives more control as both blades are either driving the boat from starboard or port on alternate strokes. The company “ Bending Branches” years ago made a wide blade single canoe paddle which had an 11 or 12 degree “ twist” to the blade from the shaft. I have never used one of these, but it would eliminate the paddlers fatigue issue that Mr. Perkins was talking about.
    I am currently using two rods in the canoe. I use an Orvis Helios 3F 9 foot 4 weight that is fantastic for early morning and late afternoon dry fly action. My “heavier” rig is an older Orvis Trident TL 10 foot 5 weight “tip flex” rod. This is the go-to-rod when I need to go sub surface (which is happening more and more with warming waters). This old standby will soon be replaced with an Orvis Helios 3F 10 foot 5 weight as I cast this rod in Manchester and I loved it. I got the salesperson to let me “ sit on the ground” to emulate being in a canoe or a float tube.
    I fish 1990’s vintage C.F.O. III disc reels and subsequent extra spools loaded with floating (weigh forward & double taper), sink-tip, and “ depth charge” lines. With the 5 weight the 150 grain line let’s me get down to about 20 feet ( max) combined with fluorocarbon leaders.
    Fishing from a small solo canoe opens up many possibility’s and although I mostly fish, small remote ponds, I have occasionally used the Royalex boat to access rivers where there are no other anglers due to the access.
    I consider the book you wrote on Fishing Small Streams with a Fly Rod the seminal work on the subject. When will we see a similar caliber volume on “Stillwater Angling with a Fly Rod”? If anyone is going to create a quality read on the subject, it is likely to come from you and the Orvis Staff.
    Thanks for the Podcasts, they are very informative and entertaining.

    Edward W. Clark

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