Trout's-Eye View

kelly galloup fishing guide

Advice from a pro.

Around these parts, Kelly Galloup needs no introduction. From his many nationally recognized fly patterns to his decades of guiding experience, the man has acquired a wealth of fishing knowledge. We picked his brain on a few aspects of the activity he’s crafted his life around. Here’s what he had to say.

O/B: As a guide, what do you think is one of the biggest rookie mistakes when it comes to fly fishing?
KG: Not learning to read the water. A good rule of thumb is to stalk more, cast less. Most anglers cast too far and don’t hunt the water. Most anglers, new and old, totally miss the fish near shore. Fish close first—you lose control of your fly the farther you cast it. The type of fly is not as important as where the fly is and how it is acting, or not acting, in the water.

O/B: Over the years, what has been your biggest fishing mistake?
KG: See above. As an observation, I would say that the most common mistake is believing the fly will get you the fish. There is no secret fly. You can fish the wrong fly right and catch fish, but you will seldom fish the right fly wrong and catch fish.

O/B: On any given day, what do you find to be the biggest challenge on the water?
KG: How reactive the fish will be, what technique to use, and adapting my style to the fish’s preference quickly. Be fluid—you can’t will fish to do what they don’t want to do. The angler who adapts to conditions quickest catches the most.

O/B: How do you define success on the water?
KG: See above. Seeing something that I had not before, reading a seam, finding a bucket or hold zone that I’ve missed in the past, figuring out why they are not eating and then getting them to eat. I prefer days where the fish make me think over the days where a monkey with a string could catch them.

O/B: What is your favorite fly? Why?
KG: I don’t have a favorite fly, they are like children to me; your love is conditional to their behavior. It’s dangerous to have a favorite, you will waste too much time fishing your favorite even if isn’t working (see question 3), and it’s a Sex Dungeon!

O/B: What is your favorite hatch? Do you have one?
KG: My favorite hatch is not a hatch; it’s flight ants or just ants in general. But as far as actual hatches go, there really are none that I don’t like, but tricos and March browns are way up there.

O/B: What’s the best time of the year to be on the water? 
KG: Guess that depends on what you like the most. Hatches, numbers, poundage? I like meat, so April or May, when all fish are putting on the feed bag from a long winter.

O/B: Go-to après beverage?
KG: Beer, it makes me a jolly good fellow.

O/B: What is one piece of advice you’d give to anyone looking to get into fly fishing?
KG: Don’t get overwhelmed by all the gear; keep it simple. I had one rod and reel when I was a kid and fished everything with it from salmon to brook trout. Just go fish—learn how to fish close and read water and how to make flies behave like life underwater or on top of the water. Then, have fun and don’t measure your day on numbers of fish, just on how much you learned. Try leaving your phone/camera in the car, it’s liberating.

Kelly Galloup owns and operates Galloup’s Slide Inn on the Madison River.