Driftless on the Fly- Digital Newsletter

Dear Anglers,

Spring is upon us in Northeast Iowa! That’s got us thinking about hatches of BWOs, caddis, hendricksons, baetis, and hungry trout. As I write this, the rain is lightly falling, giving our streams an extra “boost” as we head into the warmer weeks ahead.

  • There are no shortage of places to head out to find naturally reproducing trout in Iowa!
  • April-June are some of our busiest months at DOTF, and weekends are filling up. Give us a shout if you are looking to book your 1/2 or full day trip at info@driftlessonthefly.com
  • DOTF co-owner Jared will be back in Iowa in early April. He has spent the winter guiding in Chile again! A trip with Jared comes with a wealth of knowledge, stories, and tactics from all over the world.
  • We have two new colors of the popular Simms trucker hat- anvil and bark. Check them out here! Sale! Save 15% on anything in our store from March 27th-31st! Use code: browntrout

Fishing Report:

Fish gorging on midges (size 18-20) in mid-morning and early afternoon. Some BWO activity on several streams that should only increase as temps warm. In deeper stretches or faster water, baetis and caddis pupa nymph imitations. Small and mid-size streamers working on cloudier water. 

Things are starting to “pop”…the next few months are great ones to be out and about as spring “pops”… fish become more active and start to look up.

2015 Year in Review

2015 was a great year for Driftless on the Fly, and thanks to many of you we see continued growth as a business and interest in fly fishing the driftless region. Jared and I often comment how we have the best clients: just simply great people who make trips fun. We were blessed to add to that list of clients this year  and get the chance to work with many repeat clients as well. We’re looking forward to 2016 and all that it has in store for fly fishing in Iowa.

Looking back at 2015:

Jared spent his second summer season guiding at an outpost camp for Bristol Bay Lodge in Alaska. The stories and photos he brings back from each experience are just incredible. This was his 3rd out of state guiding employment (Grand Lake Stream, Maine, West Yellowstone, Montana). Jared also continues to tie professionally. This December, he started guiding in Chile for Martin Pescador Lodge, and will be there through late March before returning to Iowa for a few months, then again to Alaska.

Ryan guided our winter, late spring, summer and fall seasons and had a great time with some terrific individuals, friends, and families. We had just a great mix of rain of sun this summer to provide for one of the best summers of fishing in recent memory. Summer and fall were BUSY. We love it!

A few things we’re proud to highlight in 2015:

  • We co-sponsored the Fly Fishing Film Tour with the Trout Unlimited North Bear Chapter in November of 2015. This was the first time this event came to Iowa. We felt for the first time, it was a great crowd and a real fun night. Can’t beat great people, craft beer, and fly fishing movies.
  • We worked with Hartman Reserve in Cedar Falls in September to host an “Intro to Fly Fishing” Course last fall. We had a great time with this course and are always interested in putting a session like this together for groups.
  • Last March we hosted an “Intro to Fly Tying” at Rustic Corner in Charles City, Iowa.  We had 9 participants sign up and had a great evening of tying and learning.
  • We were featured in the Farm Bureau “Family Living” magazine. Writer/photographer Gary Frandel did a great job on the article and we had fun hanging out on the stream for an afternoon with him. Check out this blog post to read.
  • Our store has grown this year. We carry hats, stickers, Tacky fly boxes, and flies! We have personally selected these flies for use in the Iowa driftless region, and would be happy to help choose what might best suit your next trip. Check out the Driftless on the Fly store at www.driftlessonthefly.com.
  • Additionally, we’ve had a lot of requests for gift certificates over this past holiday season, so we are happy announce the availability of those for guided trips. This was our #1 seller over the winter! Contact us at info@driftlessonthefly.com for details.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to showcase what the Iowa driftless has to offer. We appreciate the efforts of the Iowa DNR, conservation groups like Trout Unlimited chapters, NRCS, county conservation, and what Allamakee and Winneshiek County Protectors have done to preserve and maintain our fishery. Thanks to landowners for the opportunity to fish. We know this is a partnership and we couldn’t do what we love without us all working together.

Have a great holiday from Driftless on the Fly

Fly Fishing Film Tour

It’s been a while since we’ve thrown out a blog post, so we’ll dive right in. Expect a post on the 2015 year in review, a holiday shopping list, and some exciting things on the horizon for Driftless on the Fly.

We were honored to be a part of bringing the Fly Fishing Film Tour to Iowa (for the first time ever) on November 21st to Des Moines. Trout Unlimited North Bear Chapter put together a nice evening of food, social time, drawings for prizes, and of course films. It was great to connect with a lot of people we only get to know briefly on the stream or via social media! Proceeds went to projects for North Bear Trout Unlimited.

Thanks to Scheels, Locally Grown Clothing, and Embassy Club West and of course Trout Unlimited North Bear Chapter for co-sponsoring this event.

Timing your fishing trip with weather in mind

A few years back, I put together some links that are helpful when planning your trip. Below is an abbreviated version of that article. The links might be worth bookmarking as you start to look at your trip.

If you live in the midwest, you know how fickle the weather can be. A forecasted day in the 60s can turn cold and gray, the winds can be bitter, and conversely, sunshine makes all the difference for humans and for a hatch on the stream. In the summer, sunshine, shade, and heat index makes all the difference.

There are a few places that can help you out online before you spend the gas money to head out on your trip. First is the NOAA forecast page. Forecasting is tough, but NOAA rarely leads me astray. Once you have what the weather will hold for the next day, see what the weather has been like using the precipitation map. This gives you an idea how much rain has fallen in the last 24 hours plus and is zoomable to any specific location. Lastly, I check the river levels on the water chart to see what they are and where they are forecasted to land. Since all streams feed in or out of these major area rivers,  you can get a sense of what the levels will be like.

Other considerations:

  • The more you fish, the better sense you’ll have for how long it takes your favorite stream to bounce back from a heavy rain event. Some take more than others.
  • Be prepared with a rain jacket of some sort.
  • In Northeast Iowa, it makes a big difference from one valley to another. If your favorite stream is off color, grab the map and move on to another. Could be a whole different story. If not, go to a pond or lake and fish warmwater. You already have your gear- make the best of it!
  • If you know it will be a windy day, leave the light duty 3 wt at home and bring the stiffer 5wt. It will make casting easier and a more pleasant day for you in general.

Obviously there are other variables to a good day of fishing besides the weather, but these help me get the most from my time on a trip. Rain can be a bummer, but ultimately, the moisture we get is going to provide us with a great summer of fishing in the months ahead.

Check out our page at http://www.driftlessonthefly.com for information on guided trips and lessons as well as pictures from our most recent trips.

Knots for Fly Fishing

Knots are essential to fly fishing and take time to master. With time and practice, you’ll find faster and more efficient ways to tie your favorite knots. Two knots you will have to learn and be comfortable with is one that will connect fly to tippet, and leader to tippet.

I’m a very visual learner, so I like to learn by watching videos. You can pause, rewind, and go back time and again. I recently stumbled across two great videos. Hint: if you are running these videos off a desktop or laptop, tap “spacebar” to pause the videos.

There are a lot of videos on how to tie knots out there, the key is to find a credible video that is simple to understand. Both videos are by Rio, a brand we trust and represent. Enjoy!


Driftless on the Fly “Digital Newsletter”

2014 was a great year for Driftless on the Fly, and thanks to many of you we see continued growth as a business and interest in fly fishing the driftless region. This is a “look back” and a “look forward” that is a few months over due!

Looking back at 2014:

In 2014, Jared spent the summer season guiding at an outpost camp for Bristol Bay Lodge in Alaska. The stories and pictures that he has from that experience alone are simply incredible. Booking a trip with him would be a day filled with amazing tales and guided fishing from an experienced angler and guide. This was his 3rd out of state guiding employment (Grand Lake Stream Maine, West Yellowstone, Montana). Jared also continues to tie professionally.

Ryan again guided our late spring, summer and fall season and had a great time with some terrific individuals, friends, and families. We added Amanda, Ryan’s wife, to our guide staff this summer. She is an accomplished fly angler and is looking forward to the opportunity to guide more in the future.

A few things we’re proud to highlight in 2015:

  • We worked with NIACC college again to offer a Fly Fishing 101 in fall of 2014.  We had a great group of gentlemen to work with. We spent two night learning knots, casts, and equipment, and another night on the stream fishing. We’re hosting another class in April of this year. If you’re in the area and are interested- or know someone who is, contact Cathy Simon at NIACC (simoncat@niacc.edu) to sign up!
  • This March 18th, we’ll be hosting an “Intro to Fly Tying” at Rustic Corner in Charles City, Iowa.  We’ll take you through basic set-up, materials, techniques and help you learn some patterns you can use on the stream or river! Cost is $10. Contact us at info@driftlessonthefly.com to sign up! Class is limited- you can also sign up here.
  • In addition to some great Driftless on the Fly Simms Fishing trucker hats (new great price- see store!) and stickers, we are now offering flies through our website. We have personally selected these flies for use in the Iowa driftless region, and would be happy to help choose what might best suit your next trip. Check out the Driftless on the Fly store at www.driftlessonthefly.com.
  • We’re working on new stickers for 2015! Stay tuned.
  • Additionally, we’ve had a lot of requests for gift certificates over this past holiday season, so we are happy announce the availability of those for guided trips. This was our #1 seller over the winter! Contact us at info@driftlessonthefly.com for details.


2015 has all the markings of a great year to come. We’re looking forward to showing you around the Iowa #driftless!

2014 Driftless on the Fly Christmas Shopping List

2014 Driftless on the Fly Holiday Gift Ideas


The holiday shopping season is now in full swing. If you have an angler on your list, it can be a challenge to find something they’ll love and need, much less go to a store and find it. That can be especially tough if you are a gift-giver who is not an angler. The fly fishing industry, like any other industry, is filled with things that anglers that want and things anglers need. Let Driftless on the Fly present you with a few ideas that will put a smile on the face of your angling gift-ees. Below is a fairly practical list of items that will give any angler the ability to fish.

The Fundamentals


IMG_1409You’re not going to fish long without a supply of either of these. Rio manufactures our prefered leader and tippet of choice. Choose a 3 pack as a gift- it’ll cost slightly more, but is much more practical. For fishing most spring creeks in Iowa and the driftless, a 7.5 ft 5X leader will do the trick. Remind your angler that when these get chopped down through use they can always use them for fly fishing bass and warmwater species. Rio manufactures tippet in nylon and fluorocarbon. Nylon works in almost all situations here in Iowa, while fluro absorbs light and is less detectable by fish. 5x/ 30 yard will work with your aforementioned leaders.

Find it (leaders): http://www.fishwest.net/flyfishing/product/RI31PFTR.html#.VIpKhmTF-A8

Find it (tippet): http://www.fishwest.net/flyfishing/product/RI32PFTS.html#.VIpKpmTF-A8



IMG_1408We nymph fish in Iowa year round in Iowa for trout. One component that is a must for this kind of fishing is a strike indicator. There are literally dozens of strike indicators on the market, each one claiming their own benefit. Sometimes, simplest is best, that’s why we often grab Palsa adhesive indicators. These are easy to use, easy to be seen, adhesive tabs that wrap onto your leader and land gently on the water when fished. Find them at Cabelas among other online locations.


Find it: http://www.fishwest.net/flyfishing/product/PA33POSI.html?ad-id=shopzilla#.VIpKQGTF-A8



Flies are a very difficult item to purchase for the angler, even if you have a source to get them from online. Without local knowledge, size and type of fly can be a mystery. Driftless on the Fly can help. We carry 16 varieties of flies that we have personally selected for use in the driftless region for trout and for warmwater fishing. Confused on what to select? Send us an email at info@driftlessonthefly.com and we’ll help you get your angler what they need to get on the fish!

Find it: http://www.driftlessonthefly.com/#!shop/c72i


Clothing and Gear


This is a terrific new jacket made by Simms Fishing. With a water resistant shell, fleece arms, and PrimaLoft down for insulation, it will keep you warm and dry all day. It’s just as comfortable on the stream with the rain and wind as it is grabbing coffee in the morning on the way to work. Simms makes an incredible line of waders, boots, and clothing that wear well and are made in Bozeman, MT. Check them out.

Find it: http://www.fishwest.net/flyfishing/product/SIF41KNJA.html#.VIpKFmTF-A8



IMG_1331Redington has intelligently invested in a growing and needed women’s fly fishing line. One of their newest creations was the Redington Siren Waders. Designed specifically for female anglers, it comes in two different fits. Amanda got ahold of pair this year and enjoys the flattering fit, insulation in the stocking feet, and paisley print. Many of us know that a comfortable pair of waders can make the difference between a good day and bad. These are going to make the good days on the water even better.

They even fit a pregnant angler very well…we’ll see how many folks catch that!

Find it: http://www.redington.com/fly-fishing-waders/



IMG_1410Mitten scissors are the best of both worlds. On one hand a clamp for holding flies and pinching weights, and a scissors for trimming knots. They come in extremely handy when the temps are cold, a fish has taken a fly deep, you’re handling small flies, or when you’ve caught a fly in your clothing and have to perform a small surgery to remove it. One of those valuable little tools to keep on you.

Find it: http://www.fishwest.net/flyfishing/product/LO57MITC.html#.VIpJ1WTF-A8



P1000765A small dab of gel floatant will keep your dry flies and terrestrials riding on top of the water all morning long. High Horse Fly, located here in Iowa, makes a variety of floatants and floatant holders. Priced very reasonably, this is an essential item for the fly angler from April to October. Support the local Iowa economy with this great gift or stocking stuffer.

Find it: http://highhorsefly.com/.


RODS (starter package)

It’s tough to suit up someone with a rod without knowing what to get or allowing them to try it out. When we teach community classes on fly fishing, one of the most commonly asked questions is “what rod should I purchase?” For most angling in the driftless, a 8’6” or 9’ 5-weight rod will do the trick. It will handle fishing warmwater and trout. How much you want to spend, is entirely up to you. Redington sells some great combo packages that are ideal for the beginner, all that come with rod and a reel, pre-spooled with line and backing, leader, and a carrying bag. Can’t go too wrong with that. One of the top considerations should also be a warranty. Rods break- end of story. Find a company that will back them up. Redington does that and does that well. I can personally attest to it.

Find it: http://www.redington.com/fly-fishing-outfits/


Driftless on the Fly Gift Certificate

certWe’re very excited to also offer gift certificates for guided trips this holiday season. These certificates can be purchased for full or half day trips for 1-2 people. This is a great way to help the friend who always wanted to try fly fishing, an angler who has always wanted to fish the driftless region, or a couple looking for a fun weekend on the water. We’d love to show you the waters we call “home.” Contact us at info@driftlessonthefly.com for details and pricing!

For more fun, couple the gift certificate with one of our custom Simms logo trucker hats!

Find it: http://www.driftlessonthefly.com/#!shop–cart/cjjk

Lodging options in the Iowa Driftless

One of the first considerations of any fishing trip is- “where can we stay?” We get this question a lot when clients book a trip. The options vary and depend on what type of place you are looking for, the season, accessibility, activities you are interested in, and the people you’ll be with.

Below is a list that we commonly distribute. As time goes on, we’ll add to the list, and if you happen to know of a place you’ve stayed that isn’t on the list, e-mail me and I’ll add it! This isn’t intended to be an online review of places to stay (please don’t leave negative comments…positive ones encouraged)- just a list of options for your next visit to the region.

Happy fishing! And remember…Iowa trout streams stay open year round. We’d love to show you our home water!

Bear Creek Cabins (near Highlandville, Iowa- right on South Bear Creek!). http://www.bearcreekcabinsia.com/
Red Cedar Lodge (Charles City, Iowa near Spring Creek): https://www.theredcedarlodge.com/.
Trout River Log Cabin (also on a great stream! East of Decorah between Decorah and Waukon):
Pine Creek Cabins and Campgrounbd (near Highlandville/Dorchester, Iowa) http://www.visitiowa.org/pinecreekcabins/
Sportsmans Motel and Campground (near Dorchester, Iowa):
Hutchinson Family Farms Campground:
Decorah, Iowa Motels and Hotels: See google map for area options: https://goo.gl/maps/DA0ks
Hotel Capone: Spillville, Iowa (South of Decorah)
Camping: Pulpit Rock Campground (Decorah) http://www.decorahia.org/pr/pr.asp?id=prpulpit_rock
Sampson Springs Campground (East of Decorah): http://www.sampsonspringscampground.com/
Lansing Loft (Lansing, IA):

Stream Etiquette

We are fortunate to get to take out a lot of individuals and groups who are new to fly fishing. We love this opportunity as we get to help them explore an activity that we have a great passion for.  There is a great deal to learn when starting out, so while learning the basics of casting, fly selection, and hooking is important to the fishing process, we also try to impart some of social aspects of fishing as well.

Fishing etiquette may sound silly to some, but to any fly fisherman out there who have had their long-awaited trip interrupted by someone who lacks this sense of courtesy, they know full well the importance of this knowledge. It seems like anyone who has fished long enough generally has a story about this.

So what does fishing etiquette entail?

  • Give others space. If you approach another fisherman on the stream, try to respect the fact that they want their  solitude.  Often a knowing short greeting or simple nod and smile will suffice. If they want to converse, they will.
  • Do not fish directly up stream or down stream of them. Continue to walk upstream or down and find another place. You can always come back. Fishing directly above or below could spook the fish they are working on, and honestly- they were there first. We recently took our Fly Fishing Club on their trip. While working with a young man on a particularly nice run, another fisherman approached on the opposite side and began to fish our run.  The man apparently had no idea that this was wrong,  and in fact started talking to us while throwing his line over the top of ours. I instructed my student to reel in, and we had a great conversation later about what not to do. A teachable moment on the stream.
  • Pack out all trash. This includes line and strike indicators.  Leave only footprints. In Iowa, we are lucky enough to fish private land  where they permit public fishing.  Don’t do do anything that jeopardizes that.
  • Pay it forward by offering to help someone that looks like they may need it, and I am speaking more in a physical sense- climbing a slippery bank, safely crossing a fence, making a stream crossing. Fly fisherman are generally a generous community and will come to the aid of others, but don’t assume that someone wants your help, especially when it comes to technique.

It really comes down to common sense and the golden rule while out on the stream. Respect one another and the land that you are privileged to fish and everyone wins.