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About Me

  • About Hardyreels
    My real name is Ard Stetts, because it's a small world you may either know me or we've fished the same rivers & creeks at some time in our lives.

    I was born in 1954 at Williamsport Pennsylvania. I began fishing in the sixties and was fascinated by the television program “The American Sportsman”. This program often featured Lee Wulff and Curt Gowdy fly fishing all over North America. My young mind was indelibly etched with images of Pacific Silver salmon cartwheeling through the air when they were hooked by a fly. At my young age I could not really conceive of exactly how far I was from Alaska where that show had been taped but I knew I wanted to go. Fishing was a fascination, a dream and I had rather humble beginnings at it. I started fishing when I was eight years old in the West Branch of The Susquehanna River with a throw line and used stones as sinkers with red worms for bait. A throw line (if you’ve never seen one used) works along the same principal as the sling that David used on Goliath. The difference is that the axis of the spinning rock is on a vertical plane and the stone has a fishing line attached. By the time I was twelve I owned a spin casting rod and reel. My father was an amateur naturalist and a Geology buff but not a fisherman. After I was confirmed by our local YMCA as a 'Shark' in the swimming classes I was permitted to join my neighborhood friend and his Father on a trip to a trout stream. I caught a stocked Rainbow on my first cast, and like that fish I was hooked.

    By the time I turned fourteen I had a fly tying kit and a 1968 entry level Ike Walton solid fiberglass rod & South Bend #1200 reel with level line. My Father had passed away and fishing time had become even more important for me. My sister’s employer, C.W. ‘Bill’ O’Connor, a prominent angler, and the owner of “E. Hillie’s Angler’s Supply House” of Williamsport Pa. became my fly tying mentor. It is to him that I owe my tying skills. Bill taught me how to create a good wing whether it were quill for a dry fly, saddle feathers for a streamer, or marrying swan, turkey, and pheasant for the wing of a classic Salmon fly. He always had time for me. It was from him that I learned how to select the best when I was shopping for materials for tying. I enjoyed tying feather wing streamers because they set me apart from anyone I knew. Other fishermen I came to know avoided them as being too difficult to tie. They acknowledged that streamers were said to be quite effective but most didn’t tie any. I eventually adopted the streamer as more than a “default fly” to use when other means of catching fish failed. I made streamer fishing my primary plan and only changed strategy when the rising fish made it obvious that dry fly fishing was certainly at hand. My success with the “Big Wets” has been great and I continue tying and fishing them even here in Alaska where I catch Trout, Char, Grayling and Pacific Silver Salmon on them.

    Like my childhood inspiration the late Mr. Wulff, I have traveled and fished from the far northwest shores of Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains and finally here to Alaska. I have spent a lifetime fishing, floating, and walking beside the waters of this continent. I don't quote many people but John Denver could have been talking about being alone on a river when he wrote; "You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply".
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Outdoor Activities; fly tying, photography, cross country sking, snowshoing, motor cycling, etc.
    Licenced professional fly / Spey fishing guide and outfitter.
  • Signature
    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard

    The Alaska Fishing & Outdoors Blog;


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Latest Blog Entry

Posted 11-27-2016 at 04:40 PM by Hardyreels Comments 2
Posted in Uncategorized
I am now using Intruder Wire for the connector loop because of a missed steelhead due to the hook getting fouled into the body materials. This happened with a different pattern in Late October 2016 but made a distinct impression on me. I fished hours to find the one that would hit me and when it happened I had no hook trailing the fly, it was looped around and stuck into the body!

All other aspects of tying are the same but I suggest wire and not the Power Braid shown here.

Posted 11-27-2016 at 04:33 PM by Hardyreels Comments 0
Posted in Uncategorized
The real story is probably not what you may have assumed.

I've never posted in general regarding this strange turn of events that led to my being a guide for visiting anglers. I'm going to try to lay this out so that it makes sense, I think you'll get it.

Right up front people need to know that I do not believe that I am somehow the genetically superior fisherman, nor am I over endowed with the Hunter Gatherer gene. I also fell way short when they were passing out ego's...

Posted 11-25-2016 at 09:28 PM by Hardyreels Comments 5
Posted in Uncategorized
Ever since the end of the first week of November I've been aching to get back out to fish for steelhead. There were however a multitude of things which stood between the desire and making it happen. Not the least of which was getting ready for a winter that could be bad or mild and I'll have to comment further on that come May........

There were the wood piles.


Posted 10-29-2016 at 06:56 PM by Hardyreels Comments 8
Posted in Uncategorized
In other words we got a warm spell so I made another 191 mile run to fish the big river. Now what I'm gonna do is paint you a picture for your minds eye okay?

In hindsight I'm editing this entry to warn readers that I may have said some negative things about bead fishing in the text, sorry but what's done is done......

Now back on topic.

This is a big river and although this is also Alaska and we all know I should be reeling in huge fish on every cast...

Posted 10-25-2016 at 01:46 AM by Hardyreels Comments 10
Posted in Uncategorized
It looks like the trip that began in the late night / early morning hours of October 20th & 22nd will be the last trip of the year for me. Although I may try to get out again the weather is shutting things down with ice and snow here.

I fished with my friend Brent Bauer and we started with a 290 mile drive through the first snow storm of the year. Brent is from Washington state and works in AK. guiding from May through September. He had returned to Washington but left unfinished...
Recent Comments
Hi Dewayne,
Posted 12-02-2016 at 01:34 AM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is online now
January can be tough...
Posted 11-27-2016 at 10:43 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is online now
Hiya Chris,
Posted 11-27-2016 at 10:39 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is online now
Another beautiful fly....
Posted 11-27-2016 at 10:30 PM by ia_trouter ia_trouter is online now
It's funny that the...
Posted 11-27-2016 at 03:05 PM by cmcdhuibh cmcdhuibh is offline

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