If there is one thing I have learned over the years is that fashion trends invariably travel full circle.

There are none of those clown-like, super-wide neck ties in my clothes closet. My James Dean narrow jobbies that are still hanging around from the fabulous 50s, came back once. And they will again.

Alas, fly fishing is not immune to trends. Those once-maligned felt-soled fishing waders that the environmental movement and fishing gear retailers had hissy fits about are on the comeback.

Most states discouraged the use of felt-soled waders, contending that they carried “rock snot”, which was thought to be an alien invasive aquatic gremlin of a sort. Vermont even criminalized the use of felt-soled waders.

Well, guess what? Last month, Vermont rescinded its longtime ban of felt-soled waders. It seems that a study revealed that “rock snot” is indigenous, not an invasive after all. Vermont had no choice but to allow, however reluctantly, the use of felt-soled waders in its rivers and streams.

Felt-soled waders, like my skinny neck ties, always worked for me. They were never ditched. My thinking was better a rock-snot citation from a game warden than a concussion from slipping on a greasy underwater stream boulder.

Vermont is a magnificent state and it’s understandable that its resource guardians err toward taking every precaution. Nevertheless, the felt-soled wader retraction makes you wonder how many other misguided or needless rules and regulations are cluttering up our fishing law books.


As a lifetime fly fisherman it had always been difficult for me to warm to the idea of using the so-called dropper fly tied beneath a larger, floating indicator fly.

There are a couple of reasons. First, the awkwardness of it all as a casting lash-up violated my sense of symmetry. Translation: a lot of tangled messes in a bad cast. The other reason is that I couldn’t quite get the hand of tying an improved clinch knot around the bend of the hook instead of the eye.

A transformation has taken place: a week of fishing salmon on the West Branch of the Penobscot River has brought me around.

The dropper fly lash-up has its place, I have learned, especially fishing for salmon in fast-moving water. You can’t argue with success. When a fellow angler out fishes you 10-to-1 you tend to sneak a peak at his terminal tackle.

What worked, I mean really worked, was a big, hairy old No. 12 stimulator as an indicator, and a very sparse, top-greased No. 18 caddis emerger about 10 inches below the indicator fly. Oh, yeah, about every 10th cast, especially on a breezy day, results in a tangle; the price to pay for catching fish.


Jackman outdoor writer and Maine Guide Mike Stevens disclosed recently that he belongs to the Church of the Rise. Another way of saying that he worships the holy grail of Salvelinus fontinalis: Eastern brook trout.

This time of year, Mike is not alone in his place of worship. The passing years never seem to dampen my passion for pursuing wild brook trout, especially when they are surface feeding.

A few weeks ago Diane and I were blessed. The fishing was memorable. Splitting our days between fishing moving water for landlocked salmon and fishing remote kettle ponds for brookies late in the day, we were reminded yet again: Maine’s trout fishery is a precious, incomparable resource that is managed well by dedicated professionals.

Salmon may be the fly fisher’s addiction, but when the hatch is on and conditions are right, there is nothing that quite matches fly fishing for surface feeding trout.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors.” His e-mail address is [email protected] . He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”

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