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About Ard

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Date of Birth
November 8, 1954 (63)
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 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.


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
Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors


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Recent Entries

The Forum Has Changed, What Do I Think?

by Ard on 03-12-2018 at 01:34 AM
I wrote this to answer someone who ask me what I think has happened that changed this forum from what it was like say eight years ago or so.

Warning: I have written what was on my mind. You may not agree and that's fine with me but I was ask and so I wrote. I used to write articles this long when ask about how to fish a feather wing streamer but no one has ask that for years.

Basically this question came after a barrage of threads about fly line weight designations

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Updated 03-12-2018 at 02:43 PM by Ard


An Old Bamboo Rod I restored Back in the 1980's

by Ard on 01-24-2018 at 06:02 PM
This is a reprint from a forum thread, the post is just too detailed to let it disappear when that thread is forgotten.

I received this rod in pretty rough condition in the late 70's or early 1980's from a friend Jerry Zapola who had inherited it from an old fellow from upstate New York.

Here we go.

This is the entire box 39 1/2" L X 3" W X 1 3/8" H The planned red oak veneer pieces are just a little under 3/16" thickness, I doubt

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Seeing Is Believing ;

by Ard on 01-02-2018 at 03:10 PM
While I hear reports on radio of extreme cold gripping the mid west and north east things here remain upside down. We had very warm conditions throughout December although by Christmas I had once again lit a wood fire for heat. I don't use the hard fought wood pile unless the temp drops below 20 degrees. The cold snap reached all the way to zero here at home which tells me it was about 10 - 12 degrees below zero at the cabin.

Since the 29th of December things began to warm again.

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Reliving The Glory Days During Winter Doldrums;

by Ard on 12-30-2017 at 04:26 PM
Doldrums, that seems to describe the situation here on December 30 2017. I am not sure when I'll leave for the cabin but it does appear that once I do I'll be away for a while. I'll be making a few trips back because I'm going to haul out more furniture but I expect to spend most of January through the end of March out there. In the meantime I found myself intruding on the Show Your Kayak thread so I copied my post and moved it here. Many posts turn out more like a bolg entry anyway so I preserve

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Recognizing Evidence of Spawning Brown Trout In Fall

by Ard on 10-31-2017 at 10:04 PM
Here's another bit of memory & experience that I entered onto a thread where a new member ask about how to know if you're about to walk into a red. Of course I got into a little more depth than I had planned when I clicked on the "Quick Reply To This Message" icon........... I wonder what part of Quick Reply always seems to elude me? At any rate I tried to answer with enough detail to provide a young fellow new to trout fishing a little more knowledge than he had when he joined the

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Updated 11-27-2017 at 10:07 PM by Ard

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