December 31, 2012

Product Review: Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Pant

Remember how badass those Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pants are I told you about? I'd like to introduce you to their flats friendly brother, the Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Pant. When I'm not in my waders when fishing, I'm in these pants, no exceptions. I've put several pairs of these pants through their paces over the past two seasons and all I can say is wow.

Granite Creek Pant in action
Highlights of the pant include the UV 50+ rating for fighting the sun, the quick drying material preventing you from feeling soggy with jungle rot, key pocket placement and enough of them to stash your tippet and flies so that you can fish minimalist if you want, and of course the reinforced heel cuff, nothing is more important on a pair of fishing pants than protecting your cuffs from getting fragged and frayed out in the aquatic arena.

Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Pant
The nitty gritty:
Retail $82.95
6.3oz 100% Brushed Nylon
ScotchgardTM Treatment
6 Pockets with Mesh Pocket Bags
3 Zip Security Pockets
Cargo Pocket
Quick-dry, Lightweight & Packable
Diamond-Shaped Action Gusset
Reinforced Heel Cuffs
Triple-Stitched Seams
Mid-Rise, Relaxed Fit

I've blasted these pants out on the Great Lakes flats, the concrete and rebar battlefied of the South Platte in downtown Denver, my homewaters out on the prairie, and everywhere in between. These pants are also right at home for those hot, humid July evenings in the country, at the lake, or for grabbing a few cocktails out on the town. Best of all, after all that abuse, these pants still look like they're brand new. I couldn't ask for a better of pants for the summer.

Images property and courtesy of Mountain Khakis

December 24, 2012

Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas from the roughfisher!

Wishing everyone out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If anyone wishes to catch 30 pound plus fish on the fly like like the fish seen in the photo above, put in a good word to Santa. I will be hosting a trip to the mystical flats of Beaver Island and the land of giant carp July 12-16 of 2013. Check out for some preliminary info. More details will follow soon after the new year.

Only Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice. Hopefully you've been good!

December 14, 2012

CarpPro ISSUE 1

The premier issue of CarpPro has gone live, and no better way to start off the newly revised format than to kick it off with fly fishing only content.

Be sure to give this issue a read; it is the only fly fishing magazine issue devoted solely to carp on the fly. Lots of excellent content from contributors like Kirk Deeter, Barry Reynolds, Kevin Morlock, Mr. P, John Montana, McTage, and many others. Oh yeah, and I managed to squeeze in a little piece about fishing Lake Michigan and finally unveiled the secret recipe for the Mustache Ride and Landing Strip fly patterns.

Must Read Now!

November 15, 2012


I walked on water.

Okay, so maybe I had a little help. The majority of the small and medium sized lakes in the region locked up with ice over the past week. Blanketed with recent snowfall, the frost line is as deep as six inches in some areas already. Coupled with low river flows, I can pretty much count the season as over. Even as a die hard angler, I am not reluctant to call it over, as fish were few and far between in early September, seeking the refuge of deeper water. Any efforts at this time spent searching for fish worthy of a drift seem futile, and more like a fool's quest.

Seems only reasonable that my days now be spent behind the vise, on icy treks across frozen lakes in search of fish through a freshly augered hole, celebrating the ups and downs of college hockey, traversing billowy drifts of fresh powder underneath my snowmobile, and warm comfortable evenings at home with the family, waiting, waiting, waiting, for that first sign of spring when I can once again drift a nymph.


November 3, 2012

Carp Crack: It's an Epidemic

If you haven't checked out the Fall issue of the Drake yet, you're doing yourself a great disservice. Among the accustomed fine photography and literary work is a Scuddlebutt piece by Pete McDonald of fishing jones fame, featuring yours truly.

the Drake mag
This is not a an egotistical pandering for your kudos. As per the usual, Pete naturally captures what we ponder and perceive on ink and paper, an arduous task for any writer in a sport as panoramic yet enveloped as fly fishing is. His frustration during his endeavours with pursuing the wily carp are poignantly captured in this anecdote. Read the piece to see how his journey ends against the carp.

Carp Crack in the fly bins
On a recent trip to Denver, I had to make pilgrimage to one of the finest fly shops in the nation, Trout's Fly Shop. Aside from the obligatory bullshit sessions with shop celebs Will Rice and Michael Gracie, every staffer in the shop from owner Tucker Ladd down to the shop dog, knows their stuff and they most definitely know how to run a fly shop. It's always a trip seeing your own signature fly patterns in the fly bin, even better when you see customers riffling through the bins and picking out your flies among the other fine offerings Trout's has to offer. Humbling to say the least.

In commemoration of the success of my Carp Crack pattern, I will be offering a special bonus with any Crack Pack order during the month of November from my online store. Simply purchase a 12 Pack of the Crack Pack and enter the promo code: DRAKE (or mention it in the order comment section) during checkout and I'll throw in a free Ruffian, as seen in the photo above. Order the 24 Pack and I'll throw three Ruffians!
This hot fly pattern is not yet available in stores.

The Ruffian is the baby brother to the Carp Crack, and has been my go to pattern this season. Effective in burnt orange, tan, olive, and black, this fly has been deadly on everything from smallies to carp. Burnt orange, however remains my favorite. Order your Crack Pack today and get hooked up!

November 2, 2012

A triumphant return

I know it's been a long hiatus; I apologize for my absence. Life's been busy at the Roughfisher Command Post, including the usual busy workload synonymous with the summer field season, a myriad of fly orders to tie, married life with my new bride, and the usual goings on with two young kids at home. Throw in a new job and a coaching gig for the wife, gymnastics for my daughter, and starting my son with skating and hockey this fall. Busy. But not to fret, field season is winding down and I'll have more time to spend behind the helm at the Command Post.

steal your fish
I've got a bunch of exciting and interesting things to share with you all, like the newly revamped CarpPro, some recent publicity for my flies, some upcoming gear reviews like a look at SmithFly's modular switch belt system and new 3X pouch, some new products coming down the line, and much more.

Welcome back, and welcome to any new folks visiting the blog for the first time. Stay tuned.

August 31, 2012

Lake Sturgeon - Acipenser fulvescens

Lake Sturgeon
Finally, I have added the Lake Sturgeon to my lifelist. Sturgeon fishing is always something that I have always wanted to at least try. While the fish itself fascinates me, the method does not, basically a 1 oz weight or larger and octopus hook rigged up on a cat fishing pole, and a hunking gob of Canadian night crawlers. These fish feed primarily based on smell and hold deep, so a fly is not the ideal method for angling. Regardless, my first one is on the books at 33".

Lake Sturgeon scoots
Acipenser fulvescens are a wonderful species, hailing from the era of the dinosaur. Closely related to sharks, these fish are cartilaginous and their skin rough to the touch. What makes these fish unique are their armour; these fish are the true badasses of the fish world and juveniles possess razor sharp scoots that will cut you like a surgical knife if not handled properly (I found out the hard way). These fish are long lived and can reach ages in excess of 100 years. Of particular concern is these fishes duration to reach sexual maturity, often into their thirties. This allows for a long turnover between spawning stock, a problem which plagued these fish and their recovery after being fished to near extinction in the late 1800's. In addition, habitat fragmentation due to the construction of dams and pollution have contributed to the major decline of nearly all sturgeons across the globe. The sturgeon Family Acipenseridae is the most threatened Family of all fishes with nearly all species threatened or near extinction.

Lake Sturgeon
If you give a damn about these fish, consider joining the North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society. In addition to all of the research and conservation work this organization does, they also have possibly the coolest tees on the planet. Respect the sturgeon!

August 21, 2012

Battle of the Bug Tyers

Introducing, The Battle of the Bug Tiers - Morlock (Rainy's Flies) vs. Lipton (Idylwilde Flies).

Trout's Fly Fishing
Come join Trout’s Fly Fishing and two world class signature fly tiers on Friday, August 24 (2:00-5:00pm) at the shop for a FREE tying demonstration. Kevin Morlock of Indigo Guide Service will be tying up his deadly effective Rock Hopper. I'll be featuring the venerable Carp Crack, as featured in the Fall 2012 Issue of the Drake Magazine. Who will emerge from the ring victorious?

Carp Crack
Make the jump for patterns specifications and details of the event: Trout's Fly Fishing Battle of the Bug Tiers

Carp Crack
When you stop by the shop on Friday, don’t forget to take advantage of Trout's happy hour specials. Hope to see you there!

August 14, 2012

Carp Slam 6

Yes, the rumors are true. No, I am not giving up carping to pursue the world of alien trout species... I will be competing in this year's Carp Slam on the South Platte in Colorado. And no, I didn't need to take a shot of penicillin after my last visit to Denver.

Carp Slam 6
I will be participating in Carp Slam 6 this year, alongside industry pros like Barry, Reynolds, Kevin Morlock, Luke Bever, and Kirk Deeter. Pretty Humbling really, especially since I've seen firsthand what Kevin and Kirk can do with a fly rod and carp. It will also be great to hook up with buddies Will Rice and Michael Gracie (not competing this year), as well as finally get a chance to meet up with Alex Landeen, Nate Taylor, and last year's Slam Champ, Trevor Tanner, perhaps better known as McTage of Fly Carpin.

This tourney exists for one reason, and that's for Denver Trout Unlimited to raise money for the South Platte. Since stream restoration and habitat improvement are near and dear to me, and my bread and butter when the fly rods are tucked away in their cases, you can easily see why I'd get involved with such a worthy cause. So be a sport and help me raise a few dollars for the fish by donating a few of your hard earned dollars to the cause. Trust me, those dollars will be well spent!

August 11, 2012


Take your average Ruffian pattern and add a rubber hackled collar using MFC's Rubber Bugger Hackle and the result is tentacled goodness ready to be deep fried and served with marinara.

Of course I always like my seafood a little hot, served with korean chile flake. Carp should find that this pattern will burn in your mouth.

August 10, 2012

Cat Game

Ross Rx
Do I look like a cat to you, boy? Am I jumpin' around all nimbly bimbly from tree to tree?

Ross F1
Am I drinking milk from a saucer?

channel kitty
Do you see me eating mice?

Be like Mr. Larry Johnson and fish a Ross Rx and Ross F1. Then maybe you can see what it feels like to get into your backing.


July 29, 2012

Dawg Dayz

The dog days of summer and it's hot. Damn hot, real hot....

The Air Cav strikes again with a victory courtesy of Colonel Kilgore.
Colonel Kilgore
When the temps are up, bass just love to crush big meaty flies like the Landing Strip, Mustahce Ride, or the Colonel Kilgore. Always fun to see some tail walking.
Of course it's always time for some Carp Crack...

Bass on Crack

July 19, 2012

Herding Sheep

freshwater drum
Why freshwater drum aren't targeted more with a fly rod I'll never know. They can be aggressive, elusive, selective and can reach sizes over 50 pounds. They've even been dubbed the Great Lakes Permit. And if their saltwater cousin the redfish can be so popular among anglers, why not the drum? Seems to me like a perfect challenge for the fly angler.

freshwater drum
freshwater drum
An interesting tidbit about freshwater drum is the fact that they have large otoliths, often in excess of an inch in diameter. The otoliths assist drum with their vertical orientation in turbid water. These otoliths have been utilized for a variety of uses including jewelry, good luck charms, and even currency.

freshwater drum
The freshwater drum is a fish of many names: sheephead, sheepshead, grunter, grunt, silver bass, gray bass, silver perch, shepherd's pie, "perch", silver bass, gray bass,Gasper goo, Gaspergou, gou, grinder, wuss fish, thunderpumper, bubbler, and croaker. I just call them fun.

July 8, 2012

Product Review: Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pant

As you may have noticed by now I don't often kick around praise and kudos to those undeserving. It's unbecoming and frankly seems a bit of a heavy handed offering to those who feed you, simply giving accolade in return for more free product or continued sponsorship. You see it on most pay as you go media, sponsored solely by those providing, it's easy to see why the reviewed product is featured as the next snake oil, with nary a negative comment or an honest critique to be seen. Enter Mountain Khakis and their Alpine Utility Pant. Just how tough are these pants? Let's not beat around the bush and get right down to the nitty gritty.

Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pant
The Alpine Utility Pant is a wolf in sheep's clothing. At first glance, it may look like your dime a dozen canvas utility pant. Other big time players in this league are Dickies, Carhartt, Wrangler, and even Patagonia. These brands range all across the board in terms of quality and price. The Alpine Utility Pants rank right at the top for price coming in at $89.95 retail. So how do they rank up in fit, feature and function? Nearly all the competitors share common features like triple stitching, YKK zippers, utility pockets, etc. What sets the Alpine Utility Pants apart?

Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pant
The Pros: Heavy duty cotton canvas, double front knees and seat, gusseted crotch, reinforced heel cuffs, double front right pocket.

I spend a lot of time in the field, whether for work or play, I'm out in all of the four seasons Northern Minnesota has to offer. I've worn just about every cotton duck dungaree-type pant on the market and after the last field season and a half, I can honestly say that the Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pant is the toughest pair of pants that I own. These aren't designed just for your weekend warrior. I ran of pair of AUPs through the gauntlet last year, wearing a single pair week after week throughout an entire 9 month field season. That one pair of pants never gave up and are still in regular rotation alongside a couple of other pairs of AUPs for this season. These pants are no worse for wear, with only slight fading and wear, mainly due to the wash cycle. These pants have seen it all, from behind the operators seat of heavy equipment and dump trucks, to survey work out in the field, to boots on the ground hand labor. Anyone familiar with natural resource management and stream habitat improvement and restoration work knows that it is a hard, dirty job. There is no room for gear that it is not up to the task. The Alpine Utility Pants have never failed me yet. The gusseted crotch is a huge plus, adding mobility crucial for laborious tasks. It's a no brainer that the double knees and seat are an integral part of these pants toughness, however the reinforced heel is money. Typically every pair of work pants I have ever owned get beet up right around the back of the heel, right where the cuff meets the back of my steel toed boots. The Alpine Utility Pants have hardly even frayed, which can save you from taking a fall if you ever have gotten the frayed cuff of your pants caught under the heel of a boot. The double front pocket is a nice add on, keeping a deep hold of your wallet and separating it from what every else you need to carry in the front, like spare nuts and bolts, or a couple of wrenches. Probably the best feature is the canvas material used for the pants; MK has found the perfect blend of toughness and comfortness. These pants are smooth against the skin, unlike the brash feel of Carhartts, making them a joy to wear on those 10 hours work shifts. They are no less rugged and durable however, far outlasting the wearability of previous pairs of Carhartt work dungarees. I would say that the only possible con of these pants is the hefty price tag. After further consideration, however, the longevity of these pants far surpass those of the competition, making them more cost effective in the long run.

The Bottom Line is these pants are tough as nails. Savvy enough for street and casual wear, yet sturdy enough for even the toughest of jobs. Hands down these are the best pair of pants I've ever owned, and the first pair of pants I reach for when work calls.

Caveat Emptor: The Alpine Utility Pants were provided for rigourous field testing, courtesy of Mountain Khakis, as part of the "Bad Ass" Ambassador Team Program.

June 27, 2012

Rough and Tumble

el bandito
Just another hard-nosed carp from the backwaters of the Minnesota River.

June 24, 2012

the Chum Bucket

Another meaty morsel from the Roughfisher's meat locker, the Chum Bucket.

Chum Bucket
Featuring a heartyFun Fur yarn collar, this fly offers a stick to the ribs home cooked meal for any hungry carp. This fly is in the same size grouping as the Mustache Ride and Landing Strip, coming in at around 3 inches in length and a size 2 stainless hook. Should be served up with a side of Tums.

June 23, 2012

Creatures From the Brown Lagoon

You saw the trailer, now catch the rest of the video from uprising fly fishing:
Local residents in Atomic City, Idaho (near the world's first nuclear accident site) have become possessed by freakishly aggressive carp. These carp will pound flies in skinny water, then jump out of the water and cartwheel when hooked. Mortals can not resist their atomic tug power.
More carp action at

Maybe this should be on the next F3T?

June 8, 2012

Improving the Swimming Nymph

The classic Swimming Nymph finds utility in just about any water and any situation you put it in to. Clouser hit one out of the park with his original design. My younger cockier self, manipulated the pattern years back to come up with something of my own, like the Men In Black nymph. Perhaps foolish at the time to think I could tweak a proven pattern and somehow make it mine but subbing a few ingredients and adding some flair. Naïveté. While the MIB has been effective over the years, it's not really mine per se, as it was just a bastardized ripoff of an idea that was never mine to begin with. I'm not trying to reinvent the Swimming Nymph, just modifying to better suit my needs.

Improved Swimming Nymph
As useful and effective as the Swimming Nymph is, there's always been a few things missing in order to make it the perfect carp fly. One is size. A size 8 is fine for carping, but I'm talking more about bulk. The original is sleek and hackled; I want a big warm fuzzy for carp. That means rabbit and plenty of it, along iwth a chunky mid section. The next thing is weight, so adding bead chain will help get the fly down, as well as add to a broader profile in the water. The final element is rubber legs. I like the movement rubber legs give a carp fly, and so do the carp. Look at any killer carp fly and it comes equipped with rubber legs. You add in all those factors and the fly pulses, moves, breathes. Carp are very tactile when it comes to feeding, and since you lose the element of scent when fly fishing, profile and movement of the fly and the feel of a fly in the carp's mouth is what's gonna make the difference between a take and a snub.

Improved Swimming Nymph
I've tinkered with a few variations and finally came up with something that I feel will work best for carp. Rabbit tail, beefy dubbed body, large pheasant hackled thorax, rubber legs, large bead chain eyes, and a bushy rabbit throat. I still maintained the classic signatures of the original swimming nymph with peacock herl and rust colored body, and still maintain a similar gestalt to the profile of the original. I think I've found the right balance for an Improved Swimming Nymph.

Improved Swimming Nymph
Now it's only a matter of time to see what the carp think.

May 15, 2012

The Air Cav

Bring in the Air Cav!

The Air Cav
Introducing Colonel Kilgore and his cavalrymen. Decked out in Vietnam era olive drab and yellow cavalry accouterments. Airmobile!

The smell, that gasoline smell... I love the smell of rabbit strip in the morning. Reminds me of...victory.
-- Dan Frasier

May 8, 2012

the Carp-pocalypse

From Adam McNamara, Portland, Oregon Orvis Store Fishing Manager and co-owner of Castaway Guide Service:
Last fall I started working on a little side project. I had an idea to throw a fly fishing tournament for Carp that would be a great chance for a bunch of people to get together catch some big fish, drink some awesome beer, eat some BBQ, and help the Native fish we all love. After some hard work and lots of help from from some awesome people at the Native Fish Society, Orvis, Ninkasi Brewing, Idylwilde Flies, John Montana, and others I am proud to say it has finally come together.

Today I am proud to announce the first annual Carp-pocalypse Tournament at Banks Lake in Washington. Clear water, shallow flats, lots of fish, and plenty of sun make this a perfect place for everyone to get together and have some fun while helping our native fish. This is a two day tournament with a tailgate party on Saturday night so come prepared to impress with your tailgating abilities as well as your mad flats fishing skills. All it takes to join is a minimum donation of $25.00 to the Native Fish Society. To sign up or get more information come see me at the Portland Orvis store or give me a call at 503-598-7680.

So here's your chance to meet and fish with legendary carpers like John Montana and Jim Pankiewicz and support a good cause like the Native Fish Society. Hogan Brown and Patrick Kilby will be representing Team Idylwilde, with rumors of a scruffy looking nerfherder making the voyage west to join the ranks. More details on that to be announced at a later date. Save the dates, August 11 and 12, 2012 at Banks Lake in Washington.

May 1, 2012

Ride of the Valkyries

full metal jacket
Everything you need for Beaver Island and then some. Mustache Rides and Landing Strips.

full metal jacket
Carp beware! Charlie don't surf.

April 28, 2012


The beauty of working in streams most of the summer is that I get an in depth look at the diversity of macroinvertebrate life and streamside ecology. Performing stream restoration and habitat improvement projects allow me to witness insect hatches alongside excavators, loaders, and ASVs moving rock and placing in rock riffles, weirs, and coarse woody habitat. This knowledge helps me place when and where I'll find certain insects and where they'll emerge. Know where the bugs are, and you'll find the fish.

case builder caddis
Turning over stones will give you an indicator of what bugs are present and where. Kick seining is also a useful tool, though sometimes you may catch drifters from a reach upstream that may not be entirely indicative of the assemblage under foot. Regardless, getting this involved in investigating what's going on in the stream bed is a hell of a lot more useful than approaching a reach blind, especially when there is no apparent hatch going on. Even more so when approaching new waters, and not knowing whether or not that section of stream possesses the water quality necessary for many species of mayflies and stoneflies, as well as other macroinvertebrates.

I found a treasure trove of stonefly nymphs the other day, ranging in size from microstones to golden stoneflies and brown willow flies. Plecoptera provide some of the biggest meals for many fish, especially those that prefer invertebrates without claws. They are also an excellent indicator species, intolerant of water pollution. Seems that Skwalas are the buzzword lately, especially among folks in the PNW. Whether or not it's the hip fly for you to fish or not, stoneflies are big meaty morsels and fish do eat them.

There are a ton of different patterns you can fish as stonefly nymphs, ranging from attractor patterns like yellow sallies and prince nymphs to skwala skaters. I typically rely on my Fresh Pimp Nymphs to get the job done when fishing stonefly waters. This is probably my most fished pattern in the spring, next to the Thunderbird. They both are great attractor patterns worthy of fooling fish feeding on stonefly nymphs, hellgrammites, or large mayfly drakes.

fresh pimp nymphs
Tough to beat big meat.