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About Ard

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Date of Birth
November 8, 1954 (65)
About Ard
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 became fascinated by the television program “The American Sportsman” when it came into being. This program often featured Lee Wulff and Curt Gowdy fly fishing all over North America. My young mind was indelibly etched with images of Atlantic and 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 or Newfoundland where those shows 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.


Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors


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Recent Entries

Wilkinson Sunray step by step

by Ard on 11-05-2019 at 02:11 PM
I got a little thick with the materials on this particular fly but was reluctant to do a second for this post. Trying to get good photos while tying is hard enough without having a redo.....

First thing to know is that I use the Pro Sportfisher line of tube fly components, you may have HMH or another brand so you may have to skip some things or not.

I am now using the 40mm tubing with the extension cut to about 1/2 inch behind the body of the fly. Having a shorter extension

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Beginner or not this may make sense.

by Ard on 08-29-2019 at 03:44 AM
From my experiences I gave some fly fishing 101 advice. It seemed good enough to preserve so I'm putting it here. Maybe it can help you too?

A member posted this...

[Quote] My situation....first off I'm still very green, like sub 2 months of experience. Fishing the tailwater of the Jackson river in the Hot Springs Virginia area. I throw every dry in my box and have trout after trout reject them at the last second. I thought it was a hookset timing problem so I searched

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Took a trip to fish for Grayling;

by Ard on 08-21-2019 at 01:43 AM
This is also located in the Coldwater Fishing sub forum but I'm saving it here so I know where it is.

Recently someone told me that we don't have hardly any fishing report threads for the past "few years". You and I know that's not the case but rather than sit on my hands I decided to do a little thing of my own.

By noon Monday August 19 I had tired of sitting around grousing over low water and poor fisheries management so I threw together an overnight load

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Fishing Dogs;

by Ard on 08-14-2019 at 04:52 PM
There have been many a post on the forum asking about dog breeds for fishing and for the most part I remained mute as members remarked about their dogs. Bear in mind that talking down a mans dog is in the same category as bad mouthing his family and that should go without saying is a no no.

I've fished with some four legged friends dating back into the seventies when I was young. I had a Red Setter with me for 16 years, I say Red Setter because she was a Field Stud Registry animal

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Continued Upgrades to my Boat...

by Ard on 07-28-2019 at 06:35 PM
Kind of got sidetracked, this post is really about oars but you may find the other stuff interesting, I do get to oars

I've been running the same boat for over a decade now after upgrading to the ATEC Sockeye 1860. Back in 2012 I put a new Honda 90 hp jet on the transom and that called for additional modifications.

The one mod that really acted as a gamechanger was the addition of a pair of custom built float pods welded to the rear of the hull.

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