Call Us Today 1-877-426-7238
Info +
Menu +

The Gearboat Chronicles

Fishing with Farnam: Why not to split shot

I’ve talked my way into a few steelhead excursions lately with Winding Waters fishing guide Tom Farnam. Here’s a picture of Tom holding what appears to be a steelhead, as opposed to the whitefish I caught all day.


Should have seen my whitefish. Huge.

You know what’s messed up? The dorsal fin, is what. Squint and get real close and lay your eyes on the missing dorsal there on that fish. That’s cold, hatchery crew. I mean, really. I’m sure it gets busy when you’re snipping gajillions of young steelhead adiposes (is ‘adiposes’ a word? Is now) – but that’s a little too much off the top.

So Farnam has a way with catching fish. Matter of fact, on this particular outing he landed that there steelhead, also this here rainbow. . . .

. . . and a hefty bull trout, for the trifecta.

I caught . . . ahem . . . those whitefish. Some real beauties, though. They were, uhm . . . anyway.

So I can’t flyfish my way out of a wet paper bag. Fine. But I’m working on it. Mainly by pestering Tom with questions.

Here’s a transcript of the audio on our way to the river:

“Hey Tom, do I set the hook right away if my indicator indicates, or wait just a tiny second?”

“Hey Tom, how far down should I tie a dropper fly?”

“Hey Tom. . . .”

“Hey Tom. . . .”

He’s patient. Only once has he threatened to pull the car over if I don’t quiet down. I didn’t get my juicebox that day.

Local knowledge of what stretch to fish, where the holding water is and what’ll likely entice a swimmer onto the end of your line in a given set of conditions are all big slabs in the pie chart of reasons to be going out with a guide.

But, man, I sure do enjoy peppering Tom with questions all day long. So I started jotting down his answers and this week I found out that Farnam hates split shot. I mean hates the stuff.

Split shot used to steal Tom’s lunch money.

He’s got some good, solid reasons for this disdain of the pinched lead.

One: “You are willfully injuring your leader by pinching lead onto it.”

It’s not like you’re sawing through your leader with a hacksaw, but if I came up to you on the bank and said, ‘here, take this chunk of metal and squeeze it real hard on that tapered leader you’ve got there . . . yeah, reaaally give it a pinch . . . now get out there and hope you don’t break off,’ you’d maybe decline.

Point: Farnam.

Nextly: “The beadhead puts the weight where it needs to be.”

Lead is not going to enhance your presentation, clanging around down there on the bottom. I’m going to go ahead and award Farnum Point #2 for that.

And this: “If I need more weight, I’m going to put another fly on . . . you don’t catch fish on split shot.”

Absolutely . . . well, wait a minute. Not so fast, Farnam. Perhaps you haven’t seen the latest experimental fly design to come off my vise.

Patent pending.

I confess I’ve been tempted to go the split shot route on occasion, so that settles that.

Join us for the next issue of ‘Bothering Fishing Guide Tom Farnam With a Whole Bunch of Questions.’