George Daniel's Streamer Masterpiece
January 19, 2016
In the current Feb-Mar 2016 issue of Fly Fisherman magazine, contributing editor George Daniel shares his strategies for "Streamers in the Riffles." The feature story on page 44 details how to tailor your flies, lines, leader and tippet, and most importantly your presentation to hook trophy trout in water where people normally use nymphing rigs (or keep on walking).
That feature article is an excerpt from Daniel's new book Strip-Set: Fly Fishing Techniques Tactics, & Patterns for Streamers, and the forward to that book is written by fly-fishing aficionado Donald J. Trump, Jr. Trump is a well-traveled fly fisher who learned to fish and enjoy the outdoors at the hand of his grandfather, a blue-collar electrician from communist Czechoslovakia. I've known many guides who have fished with Trump over the years, from trout guides in the Catskills to offshore saltwater captains, and they all attest that he is skilled, passionate, and has put in the years on the water to become an expert. Here, in his words, Trump explains how Daniel's first book Dynamic Nymphing revolutionized his fly-fishing game, and how Strip-Set will likely do the same.
A Foreword to the Book Strip-Set
By Donald J. Trump Jr.
"When my friend George asked me to write this foreword, I was both shocked and honored. I was shocked because I certainly didn't fit the mold of the usual cast of characters who have written forewords for the hundreds of books out there on the subject of angling with the fly. But I was honored that he would ask and that I could now be a part of that group.
"Thinking about it in hindsight, though, it is that very thought process that makes George the angler he is and that made Dynamic Nymphing the definitive book on the subject. It's the same thinking that will ultimately make this book the definitive work on streamer fishing. George doesn't just stick to the usual way of doing things. He doesn't leave well enough alone. He experiments, he tinkers, he plays with and breaks convention, and he forces people outside their comfort zones — all in an effort to catch more fish.
"I thought Dynamic Nymphing was the end-all be-all of nymph-fishing literature, but then I started spending time on
the water with George. Since then, I've probably compiled enough new material from him with my notes to help him make a pretty solid run at a sequel. I couldn't believe how much more there was to learn and how much more George could adapt the various techniques, or break from the competition rules he followed for so many years as a competitive angler, to make any given fishing situation easier. The bottom line is that George can adapt and excel in any fishing situation, yet despite being a virtual vacuum cleaner on the river — and perhaps America's
most accomplished competitive angler — you wouldn't know it from George's demeanor. He is truly one of the nicest and most humble gentlemen I have had the pleasure to share a boat with.
"I got into the outdoors somewhat by luck, and it has kept me out of a lot of trouble I would have otherwise gotten into. My grandfather was a blue-collar electrician from what was then Communist Czechoslovakia, who from an early age took an interest in the way that my siblings and I were brought up. While he fully appreciated the potential benefits of growing up among family in New York City, he also seemed to understand the pitfalls associated therewith. Starting when I was five, he would take me with him to Czechoslovakia for six weeks or so every summer and just set me loose in the woods. I spoke the language fluently and made friends fast, and I came to realize that the life I led in New York was very different from that of the average kid my age anywhere else. My grandfather taught me the basics of the outdoors: campcraft, woodsmanship, air guns, archery, and fishing. I learned fast that the novelties I experienced at home were just that, and that people got by with much less and were just as happy, if not more so, than many of the people I grew up around. The woods were our playground, the campfire was our TV, and the memories and friendships made there were truly unforgettable. It was these formative years that led me to a lifelong pursuit of all things outdoors. It was a great lesson in humility, and it taught me to not take the other things I had been blessed with in life for granted. In the end I think that was all my grandfather had in mind, and those lessons stuck.
"My grandfather passed away when I was twelve, but he had lit the kindling of the proverbial fire that was my love of the outdoors. As I was now on my own for outdoor pursuits, being from a family where no one else was an outdoorsman or -woman, I did what I could. I read, and I asked questions and took advice wherever I could find it. At thirteen I went to boarding school in eastern Pennsylvania, and there is where it all took off. One teacher introduced me to the shotgun sports and wingshooting, taking a total novice under his wing, and another taught me the basics of the fly cast. The latter was largely self-taught, as evidenced by the fact that for the first few years of my fly-fishing journey, I reeled in my line like a conventional reel rather than stripping it in. Other than these two gentlemen, at the time all I had to learn from were books.
"It was before the Internet and YouTube, and the popular outdoor publications only gave a passing glance to fly fishing compared to the more commercialized fishing pursuits. I got to know George Daniel a few years ago, shortly after the publication of his Dynamic Nymphing. Being an avid fly fisherman since the age of thirteen, I've constantly tried to better my game. I've bought, read, and even highlighted — while taking notes in the margins — virtually every fly-fishing book that has come out since the publication of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler in 1653. After doing the same with Dynamic Nymphing, I knew this was a man I had to spend some time with on the water. Dynamic Nymphing was not the usual how-to book on fishing; it wasn't the same book we have seen time and time again, written by a different author under a different title but ultimately regurgitating the same information that's been out there for the past few decades. This book was different. It was cutting-edge, and it went into extreme detail, covering the minutiae that journeymen anglers wouldn't possibly think of and setting off lightbulbs even in truly experienced anglers.
"The personal introduction I was looking for ultimately came by way of another great angler friend, Paul Weamer, who was one of the first people I got know when I started calling New York's famed Delaware River system in the Catskills my home away from home. I knew he and George worked together in Pennsylvania, so I reached out to Paul to see if he would make an introduction. A few weeks later, I was on the water with George. While I always felt I could hold my own with a fly rod, I realized quickly that George was in a league of his own. It was like fishing with a vacuum, albeit a very precise and deliberate one. After spending some time with George on the East and West Branches of the Delaware, the Beaverkill, and the Willowemoc, as well as on his home waters in Pennsylvania, I can truly say that no other experience has helped improve my game or my catch rate as much as my time on the water with George.
"Two of my good friends, Catskills guides Ben Rinker and Rob Lewis, are asked by clients what to expect to catch on "The D" — the Delaware. They somewhat jokingly tell their clients to "expect to catch nothing — that way you won't be disappointed." I say they do this "somewhat jokingly" because anyone who has fished the Delaware knows how great it can be — as well as how quickly it can get tough. However, since I started adopting the mind-set and the lessons I have learned from my time on the water with George, those slow or fishless days seem to be a thing of the past. That's not a coincidence. I'm fishing water I would have overlooked in the past, and I am hitting each stretch of water a few different ways, not just with the same old methods. In doing so, I have been able to turn water that had for the past decade been barren for me into some of the most trout-rich water on the system.
"For the past few years, George has fully immersed himself in streamer fishing, employing these flies even when convention would dictate not to. Trying, testing, and disproving (at least some of the time) every old wives' tale out there about streamers, George does not take his research lightly — though given what he gets to do while collecting said research, I am sure none of us feel all that bad for him. I know Strip-Set willdo for my streamer game what Dynamic Nymphing did for my nymphing. While I have had the pleasure of fishing streamers with George, I know there is much that both you and I will get from this new book. I know George has made countless trips to all parts of the country and the world to research this book, as well as spending thousands of hours perfecting each and every technique and cast — all so he can shed new light on the art of streamer fishing.
"While the modern proverb that a bad day on the river is better than a good day at work certainly holds true, I would be lying if I said I didn't think actually catching a few more fish makes any day on the water better. I escape the craziness of daily life by going to the river; I love the scenery and the tranquility, but catching a few more fish in the few precious hours of free time I have definitely adds to the experience. I have George to thank for much of that additional enjoyment.