Hans Aigner Passes

As we were eating breakfast this morning at our hotel in Austria, we received the sad news that Hans Aigner had died in the night. Hans had come to visit all of us at diner on Thursday evening, and I had an opportunity to sit with my old friend for about half an hour and talk about fishing, his cancer, and life in general. He was upbeat, and we had a great time visiting and reminiscing about out times together on the river. I am so glad that he was able to see so many of his friends, and have a chance to talk and have a meal with all of us.

Hans was one of two protégées of the late Hans Gebetsroither, the famous Austrian guide on the Gmunder Traun who developed the Elliptical Casting Stroke. Roman Mosier is the other protégée, and life long friend of Hans Aigner. Hans and Roman both taught fly fishing schools under the leadership of Hans Gebetsroither, and Roman continues that tradition. Hans Aigner taught and influenced many fly fishers in the European community, and he will be sorely missed by all who knew this cheerful and forthright man. I certainly shall.


Hans Aigner. Although I first met Hans in person in March of 2013 at the EFW Fly Fishing Show in Munich, I knew of him through the fly fishing community. When we met it was if two old, life-long friends were meeting after many years of absence. There was an instant bonding, and we enjoyed many great hours together, fishing, talking of his history with Hans Gebetsroither, visiting the hotel where Gebestroither met his clients, seeing all the famous places on the Traun, talking about other rivers in the area, and so much more. His friendship will always be a bright memory for me. Goodbye my friend.

Austria Day 5

Today was a bit sunny with high overcast that gradually thickened to cloud cover by 6pm. Because it was Saturday, there were quite a few anglers on the water, and I had to pick and choose a bit more carefully than during the week. Right away in the morning, I took a 46 cm (18 inch) rainbow on a gold bead head p.t. I spotted it in an unusual place, and managed to drift the imitation past it. On the fifth pass, the fish took, and in the heavy fast water of the Ager it was a rather drawn out fight, but a successful one.

Then I spent time spotting other fish, but found very few, probably because of the other anglers. Later I ventured to a favorite spot at the base of a curving riffle and carefully fished it with a small, bright pink, Knotted Egg. When the indicator stopped and the line came tight, I could tell immediately that it was a big fish. In fact, it was the biggest I landed on this trip—53 ½ cm (21 inches). Fortunately for me there is a very long curving fast water pool below the riffle, and I need all 100 yards of it to wrestle the big fish to shore. There, I grabbed a few quick photos, measured the fish, popped the barbless hook, and turned the fish back. It indignantly tore off as if I have been but a mere nuisance in the course of its day. Back at the riffle, I continued the very careful search of every inch, and soon turned up a 44 cm (17 3/8 inch) rainbow, again on the egg.

The rest of the afternoon I spent looking for potential rising fish, but the hatch was too thin. Sure, I saw some small fish grabbing mayflies off the top, but none of the bigger boys came out the play. So, the day ended with three fish hooked, three fish landed, and one was the biggest of the trip. All in all a very pleasant day.


The fish have to be strong and very healthy to live in the powerful Ager. What must the eat to stay in such tip-top shape?


The 44 com rainbow that took the tiny, knotted egg. It’s a great fly for rainbows.


21 inches of muscle that feels like a 26 inch fish elsewhere.

Modify your Thing-A-Ma-Bobbers

Thing-A-Ma-Bobbers are great, especially in very rough water where other indicators are next to impossible to see. But, they have one serious fault, two if you are to believe what everyone says: (1) they score the leader rather seriously, and (2) they kink the leader. The scoring and abrasion comes from the metal eyelet that is inserted in the tab of the indicator. The answer to this is rather easy–get rid of the metal eyelet. The idea came to me while fishing, and I used by scissor pliers to extract the eyelet. But a good pair of needle nose pliers work better. Get a good grip on the eyelet and rip it out–actually I sort of pry and bend the tab and fuss with the eyelet, but it does come out. Now, the leader goes through easier and faster and doesn’t get abraded at all.

Now for the kink. If the newly modified bobber is attached so that the loop of the leader goes around the tab, as shown below, the indicator does not slip up or down on the leader and there are no kinks when the indicator is removed.


Remove the metal eyelet to remove the abrasive nature of the indicator.


Use this attachment profile and the indicator won’t slide or kink the leader.

Austria Day 4

Today was diametrically opposite yesterday. Dawn came early and bright, with a bit of fog, but that soon burned off, and we had an absolutely blue-bird day. The Ager was up about 10 cm (4 inches) and just a tiny bit off color. Not to worry. The fish got started a bit later in the morning, but once on the bite, they stayed on. My score was rather dismal—8 hooked, 2 landed. Of course, I blame the fish, who else is there to blame? The Ager’s trout are incredibly strong, and they all seem to be head shakers. I’ve been fishing a Knotted Egg in hot orange or hot pink and a gold bead head p.t. in sizes 14-18, all barbless. So when the big fish shake their heads violently, the hook often pops out. Still, it’s fun to have them on, even if for only a short while. The two that I landed were 25 cm (10 inches) and 50 cm (19 5/8 inches). Even though the landing was not stellar, just being outside and on a great river on a day like this was wonderful—still, there’s tomorrow, and perhaps I’ll will yet manage to land a “big” one (over 50 cm).


The perfectly designed and built rainbow!

Austria Day 3

Today was one of those days that only increases one’s distrust of the weatherman. Supposedly it was going to be medium overcast with a few scattered showers. Not. It was heavy overcast and rain, rain, rain. The fish were not as active as I had supposed (and hoped) they might be—they knew what was coming, and we didn’t. So, I had a rainy fishing day—as in all day. Fortunately I was able to find an overhang on a woodcutter’s cabin to stay dry while I ate lunch, and later in the day, a bridge which I could stand under to dry my hands and warm up a bit.

The fishing was so, so, as one might suspect. I did manage three fish of 41-42 cm (16 to 16 ½ inches), and a couple of smaller ones of about 25 cm (10 inches). It still amazes me that a 16-inch fish in the Ager fights as hard as a 20 inch fish in most other streams. I’m also amazed at the excellent body condition of these fish—small heads and wide, deep bodies. At about 4:30 pm, a small hatch of dark mayflies emerged. The fish fed sporadically, but I was able to get several on the dry by just sticking with it. All in all, not a bad day, especially since I had plenty of warm clothes to change into after a nice hot shower.


I particularly liked this photo for the rings out in front of the fish’s snout.


Notice the body shape of this 42 cm fish–tiny head, robust body. The fish in the Ager are in prime condition.

Austria Day 2

It was another bright and sunny day, and I returned to the Ager River. As on all bright days, unless there is a hatch to get the fish up, they stay deep and hidden. Still in the morning I did hook a very big rainbow on a Knotted Egg. It ran upstream through a wing dam, and as the last couple of turns of line disembarked the reel, the fish go hung up on something and broke off. In the heavy flows of the Ager, there is not much one can do when fishing with 5X, even with the German Stroft tippet material (more to come on this a bit later).

After lunch I headed to a spot that Roman Mosier and I had discussed last night. It’s the shallow water on the inside of a bend, The currents spill down over gravel and into a tight corner. Such water is scarce on the Ager, and this is one prime spot. Most angler would ignore such water, but not on the Ager. I soon saw a fish rise, and switching to 5.5X Stroft, I knotted on a size 14 dun and took a nice 45 cm fish. The day moved on, and the fish came grudgingly, but often enough to keep my interest, After a couple of hours I gave the spot a rest for about 1/2 hour. When I returned to fish again, Ed and Cliffie Berg came out of the woods behind me. Just then, another nice fish took my fly. When that one had been photographed and released, I set up Cliffie’s leader and knotted on a size 14 dun imitation. She quickly hooked a 14 1/2 inch rainbow that fought like any 17 inch rainbow in other streams. The trout of the Ager are powerful and use the heavy currents very well.  After photos, it was time to head back to the vehicles, We smiled all the way.


The soft inside corner holds many fish.


A 45 cm (17 3/4″) rainbow that took the barbless fly solidly.


Another nice rainbow–44 cm (17 1/4″). Notice the small head and slab body.


Yet another 45 cm fish that gobbled the dry.


Cliffie with a 14 1/2 inch tiger by the tail. The rainbows of the Ager are among the strongest I’ve ever caught.

Austria Day 1

The day dawned bright and stayed bright. Great for fishing, not so great for catching. However, a few fish cooperated and everyone that fished today caught some fish. I fished the Ager River with an egg fly and other nymphs and hooked six, and landed three. In a stretch that look like the Madison, I hooked and landed a 50 cm (19 ¾ inches) rainbow on a Knotted Egg pattern (which see). It ran out and down and hung the line on an underwater branch. I was able to eventually work it free, and the fish was still there, ready to fight more. Later I took one that was 13 inches. A very large fish took the fly jumped and ran. OK so far, then it ran in front of and around a very large rock and jumped again. Not OK. Still, it was fun to see it jump and tear line off the reel with wild-eyed abandon. Later in the day, I was passing the “aquarium” and noted a particularly nice rainbow holding in the tiny current that flows in from the Ager. I backed away, added 3 feet of 5.5 X (more to come on this in the next day or two), clinched knotted on a size 18 bead head p.t., made a couple of “measuring” casts way ahead of the fish, and then delicately dropped the tiny imitation ahead of the trout. Nothing. Suddenly it tipped up and I saw its mouth open and close. It was a 49 cm (19.25 inches), deep bodied rainbow that fought long and hard. I went to the dry fly only section for the last couple of hours, but saw no fish rising, though I looked long and hard. Tomorrow I’m back on the Ager again.


The Ager is low and very clear, as you can see in this photo of a school of suckers. There were a few trout mixed in with them.


This piece of water remains me of the Madison–deep, swift, and very fishy.


The “aquarium.” This is very delicate and precise fishing.


One of the day’s cooperative rainbows.

Theo’s Ant

My friend, Theo Bakelaar from Holland, has been fishing a foam ant over the last few days, and doing very well with it. It’s very fast and easy to tie, and uses readily available materials. His precut bodies have a narrow waist, but I tie it with a strip of foam that is all the same width and it works just fine. This pattern works well for elongate beetles, too. It’s very fast to tie and gives a great surface silhouette.


Tie in broom fibers for the legs. 


Bend the ends of the legs downward and tie in a peacock herl body.


Tie in the body at the center of the shank and add a hackle. The dot can be any color. I use “puff” paint–fabric paint that puffs a bit as it dries.


A nice big rainbow that took the ant with confidence.

EWF 2015 day 2

The morning dawned bright and sunny, and it continued that way all day. It was not overly warm, however. The wind had a bit if chill in it, and the temperature stayed in the 50s. It was light jacket weather, for sure. As expected, the crowd did not burst open the doors at 9am, but by 10, the crowd was strong, and it continued that way until about 4pm. I tied flies most of the day, with a break here and there to get some tea, visit with friends for 15 minutes, and do a casting demonstration on shooting line.

I noted that there are six factors that affect the shoot:
1. The line loop—poor loops, poor shoots. We then discussed the Three Point Grip and it’s ability to stop the wrist from bending too far back on the backcast. That and some other pointers on the Grip.

  1. The straightness of the line—When the rod is held near the butt guide and then cast, it is very easy to see the vibrations caused by holding the rod too far forward. The vibrations of the rod cause waves in the line, and they in turn dampen energy flow along the line. This led to a discussion of why I hold the rod back as far as possible—with the heel of my hand on the reel seat. This position eliminates all line vibrations, keeping all the energy focused in the straight pathway of the line.
  2. Mass—the heavier the line the farther that it can be thrown.
  3. Velocity—the faster the line goes, the farther it will go. This lead to a discussion of the Double Haul. I did not teach the Double Haul, per se, but rather noted that the haul must come as the rod is flicked at the end of the stroke. I also noted that the number one mistake of casters is to haul too early on the forward stroke, leading to tailing looks, line collapse, and all sorts of strange events not associated with fishing.
  4. Air resistance—the factor that anglers can do the least about. I noted that in tournament casting for distance, sinking lines are used because they are thinner than floaters of the same weight category. Double hauling can lessen the effect of air resistance, and when fishing into the wind, the caster should double haul.
    6. Frictional drag in the guides—For “normal” fly fishing situations, using a textured line like the SA Sharkskin or Sharkwave greatly reduces drag in the guides, and allows much longer shoots. For consistent long distances, a Shooting Head spliced to monofilament running line is the ticket because it basically eliminates drag in the guides. I demonstrated a cast with a 6-weight shooting head, tossing the line nearly 120 feet.

The Shoot--From there, we discussed a single shoot and how to shoot line on either the forward cast or backcast. Shooting line on the backcast gets more line in the air (more mass) for the forward stroke so the line can then shoot further. Next I discussed and demonstrated a double shoot—shooting on the backcast followed by a shoot on the forward cast. Lastly I introduced the Triple Shoot—well a slip and a double shoot. The line is allowed to slip out of the guides as the rod is raised for the backcast. This adds 6-10 feet of line that can then be picked up for the backcast. Just at the instant when the rod must be flicked rearward for the backcast, the line is hauled sharply. The line comes off cleanly and rockets rearward, and the caster can then shoot line on the backstroke—up to 20 feet or more. The line is allowed to shoot on the forward stroke. With this “triple Shoot,” one can start with 20 feet of line on the water and in one cast—no false casts—put 70 feet back down. And of course I explained the how and why of each of the three parts, and then demonstrated it with a head wind and a 6-weight floating line. It’s a wonderful tactic that any caster can learn and use highly effectively.


The casting pool is about 70 feet long, and it was easy to use the Triple Shoot to cast the full length of it–no false casts.

EWF 2015 day 1

The EWF show started today. The crowd was assembled and ready to enter the Show well before the 9am opening, and they hung around until the Show had to close at 6pm. As in all shows, there were casting demonstration, fly tying demonstrations, presentations, and plenty of exhibitors. What makes this show so unique is the venue—a monastery established in the 1400s. The main hall of the Show is the “stables” of the original grounds, built of massive timbers, with high ceilings and more character than building should be allowed to have. Add to that the flavor and character of the European community, with casters and tyers from a wide range of places, Atlantic salmon Spey fishers from Scotland and the Scandinavian countries, trout and pike fishers from Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Slovinia, and other countries, and a US contingent of tyers and casters, and you have a very eclectic mix of people, all focused on one thing—fly fishing. Since this was the 10th anniversary of the show, a number of people came in the traditional dress of their country. It was great fun to see, and to talk to them.

I sent the day tying flies, and presented a program on shooting line. It was a bit cool and cloudy today, but everything went off without a hitch, and with no rain. Tomorrow promises to be sunny and fair, and I look forward to another cup of hot tea to go with my apple strudel. Yes, it’s going to be a good day.


Friends Gary Scott (back to us) and Ian Gordon. highly skilled two-hnad casters and Atlantic Salmon fishers from Scotland wearing the traditional kilt.




Swiss fly fishers dressed in traditional costume.


Michaela and Robert Stroh, two of the owners of the show in traditional Bavarian dress.


And what is the most popular event at the Show–the biergarten, of course.