This Podcast May Save Your Life, with Ralph Cutter


[Interview starts at 36:53]

Ralph Cutter is an extremely perceptive, pragmatic angler with a lifetime of experience in whitewater–while fishing, in watercraft, and taking part in water rescues. He believes that what we’ve been taught to do if we fall in while wearing waders is all wrong, and he has a number of tips for getting to shore safely that most of us don’t know about. He also recommends a second wader belt for wading in very tricky waters. He’s tested his theories through countless experiments on the water. If you spend any time at all wading in rivers, you must listen to this podcast—or you can read an article in Fly Fisherman magazine he wrote a number of years ago.

In the Fly Box, we have questions that range from very basic to more advanced, and tips from listeners as well, including:

  • Why do my CDC dry flies sink like a rock?
  • I am not feeling strikes when I am nymph fishing. Are there improvements I can make to feel more fish?
  • Would a longer rod help in nymph fishing?
  • Why aren’t knotless leaders marked with a small segment of color so that the butt, tippet, and transition sections are clearly demarcated?
  • A listener clarifies the issue of whether northern strain brook trout were ever stocked in the southern Appalachians.
  • If I want to fish pools that are 8-10 feet deep with a Euro rig, do I need an 8-10-foot tippet?
  • What do I do if I am fishing a dropper rig and my upper dropper tippet breaks off or gets too short?  Do I need to tie another surgeon’s knot?
  • If I am fishing straight upstream, do I need to mend my line?
  • If my hook bends after removing it from a snag and I bend it back into place, will that weaken the hook?
  • I have trouble tying a dropper onto the bend of a hook. I lose tension and pressure before cinching the knot down. Do you have any tips to help this?
  • The water temperature was in the 40s and there was a mayfly hatch, but I only caught fish on nymphs and nothing was rising. Why did this happen?
  • Does choosing a fly rod really depend mostly on the size flies you’re throwing? When I fish a small bass fly, I don’t want to try to land a bass on my 3-weight.

3 thoughts on “This Podcast May Save Your Life, with Ralph Cutter”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I appreciate this episode especially, with all the different advice, tips/tricks, and myths around it’s difficult to know what to believe or not.

    One thing I’m still unclear on is the type and style of the quick release belt made for wading. I’ve searched pretty extensively and can’t seem to find anything that looks reliable. I’ve also tried to find Ralph’s contact information to ask him directly but can’t seem to find that either. Do you happen to know of any examples or have an idea of what he recommends? Much appreciated either way and thank you for the podcast!

    1. Caddis Wading Systems Caddis 1.5-Inch Black Nylon Wader Belt
      I searched for a ratchet belt style ( think airplane seatbelts that you can disengage with one hand) – I found the above from Caddis – I have not used it so can’t speak about it other this is what I found

  2. I can appreciate what is said about what to do in these situations. Having been a professional Firefighter as well as a Swift water rescue technician for 33 years, my philosophy is, there is no fish worth my life! You must be aware of your surroundings. Everyone should use a wading staff, and never wade out too deep. If you are having to fight the water just to fish, then get out.

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