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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 01-03-2016 at 03:25 PM by Hardyreels Comments 4
Posted in Uncategorized
Often I see a thread asking a question and as I read replies I find that what I may want to say will be pointless. The answers come complete with internet links that will solve the needs almost instantly while my reply will simply get buried and forgotten. That's when I stop writing and move whatever I was about to post here to this blog area. It may not be read by the majority of users here but I have the peace of mind knowing I can always find these old memories. Who knows, to some these things...

Posted 01-01-2016 at 04:42 PM by Hardyreels Comments 0
Posted in Uncategorized
In concept the use of a net to capture a fish already hooked by a fly is supposed to make the final stage of catching that fish easier. In my many years of fly fishing and I can now get away with saying many at this point so I have.

While the concept is good and can work very well to your advantage there are some things to know that will make the use of a net a better experience for both fisherman and fish. I have recently had a discussion with another guide and a very experienced...

Posted 04-27-2015 at 02:40 PM by Hardyreels Comments 3
Posted in Uncategorized
I found a post today that was about a fellows first day fishing streamers and he ask where to try the next time. I couldn't tell him where to fish so I tried to help him understand how.


Although I no longer live in the North East I may be able to offer advice anyway. If you like fishing streamers there are almost always a few fish you should be able to get interested in your flies. If I were on the stream you were at last week first off I would want to know what...

Posted 04-12-2015 at 01:26 PM by Hardyreels Comments 4
Posted in Uncategorized
The Bear Encounter

It was August and as summer wound down the season had been pretty much a total bust for salmon. Almost every river from the Yukon in Western Alaska to here in my region was closed for the poor king salmon returns. Our Silvers were closed on many rivers as well.

During July I had became so desperate for fresh salmon I drove all the way to Chitna on the Copper River to try my hand at dip netting for sockeye. All I can tell you about this adventure is...

Posted 03-14-2015 at 02:47 PM by Hardyreels Comments 0
Posted in Uncategorized
Sometimes I don’t know what will be the best way to explain something about fishing to other people. Should it be a nuts & bolts ‘How To’ kind of message or should it be related through a story. I can become easily bored with either methood and I worry when I start off writing something. Will it make sense? Like everything I write into the threads here this will be something that represents an opinion. It is my opinion but I reach this type of assessment through years of practice so I'll share...
Recent Comments

Posted 01-24-2016 at 11:22 AM by kentuckysteve kentuckysteve is offline
Thanks for...
Posted 01-09-2016 at 09:19 PM by vtd vtd is offline
Ever since that encounter...
Posted 01-04-2016 at 03:35 AM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is offline
Hi Jason,
Posted 01-03-2016 at 08:08 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is offline
Hey Ard,

Posted 01-03-2016 at 04:24 PM by jaybo41 jaybo41 is offline

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