My grandparents started me fishing as a toddler in 1983. They would prop me up bankside at a West Virginia trout farm while I clung on to an old Diawa spinning reel, hauling in rainbows wholesale. Graduating from farm trout to panfish, my grandpa and I would hike a mile across the cow pasture behind his home to a small farm pond thick with bass and bluegill. Graduating again from the bobber and hand-dug worms to various bass tackle, and then on to a fly rod when I was eight years old. I will never forget the feel of a big farm pond bass hammering a 1970s-era Flat Fish.
Fast-forward into my teenage years, I did my fair share of smallmouth fishing on the Shenandoah River and its tributaries. My friends and I would mostly wade-fish, pitching zoom lizards and the occasional crankbait or buzz bait, and we did well. I saved the fly rod for brookies in the Appalachian mountain streams for the most part. Once in undergrad at the University of Connecticut, I nearly mastered the Senko, spinnerbait, and top-water frog on the most consistent big bass fishing I have ever done. Nowhere in the south have I caught more bass over twenty inches than I did in New England. I also made my start building custom fly rods, which I continue today.
After leaving Appalachia for real in 2011, I more or less traded my warm-water gear for a fly rod indefinitely. In the Pacific Northwest, I target trout species mainly. I fish everything from high desert and alpine lakes to spey fishing for coastal and inland steelhead. But true to my Appalachian roots, I prefer high mountain streams for feisty cutthroat over everything else.
What is your favorite thing about being on the water fishing?
What I love most about being on the water is solitude and being immersed in the outdoors. I think this is what has ultimately driven me toward fly fishing. I thrive on the remoteness of trout waters. Fishing is more about the overall experience than actually fishing, so I really enjoy being among wildlife and checking out various critters, plants, and geology.
Tell us about your favorite brands and gear
My favorite warm water brands would have to be Diawa reels, Gamakatsu hooks, Senko soft plastics, Spro frogs, and Strike King spinner and buzz baits. I love Diawa reels for their smoothness, both casting and retrieving. Their casting reels always seem to have the perfect gear ratio and spool adjustments. I have caught more big bass on this handful of terminal tackle than anything else on the market without question.
I am partial to St. Croix and Rainshadow spinning and casting rods, and Rainshadow, Temple Fork Outfitter, and Sage fly rods. In my experience, Rainshadow has the best warranty of any brand I have ever used. Rainshadow and Temple Fork Outfitter have always been tied as my first choice with Sage coming in second. Other brands like Thomas and Thomas or Winston are exquisite, but the price tag is impractical when a number of high quality options are available without the sticker shock. I would also have to say Ross fly reels are my first choice under the same logic.
Simms waders are a top choice as well. I am a large guy needing a size 16 boot. Simms Freestone boots are the most comfortable I have ever worn and well worth the cost.
Why do you like being a part of Angler Pros?
From the social aspect, Angler Pros is a great group of folks. It’s interesting to see what everyone is up to in the way of fishing and projects like boat overhauls. Everyone is friendly and eager to offer tips. Plus, for a guy like me with a fairly narrow preference on fishing, I can stay up to speed on other methods and products from the warm water pros in the event that I want to break out my bass gear.
Product discounts from our partner companies and the opportunity to maintain relevance as an outdoor writer through the Angler Pros blog are the other significant draws for me. Discounts on gear and the freedom to submit any fishing-related blog topic I choose are rare perks under one entity.
Finally, the Crew fishing events that are starting to pop up in the northeast are bound to catch on across the nation. The comradery and experience gained from events like this will further the success of the organization and the benefits of being a part of the Angler Pros Crew.