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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 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.

Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors


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Recent Entries

Something I wrote to another Forum;

by Ard on 08-13-2018 at 01:53 PM
I also moderate on our Salmon Fishing Forums and wrote this reply on a thread where a member posted he was "Losing the will to fish". This due to terrible returns in the UK rivers the past few years. This year they have bottomed out. I've been a member there for years and the members are accustomed to my rambling posts. Below is what I had to say on the thread...ÖÖ..

It's not just you, I still go and do some casting. This allows me to stay sharp and to get better with various

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Single Hand Spey Cast Problems?

by Ard on 08-12-2018 at 05:19 PM
This question turned up in our Spey techniques sub forum.

[Hello. I recently bought a single hand skagit setup for my 9' 5wt Fenwick Aetos. This system seemed to be a good solution for throwing some bigger streamers farther distances, which would be great for where I fish. I've been using fly gear for a long time, but I'm brand new to spey.

Right now, I have the OPST commando 200gr head, a 10 ft light rio MOW floating tip, mono running line (30Lb Berkley Big Game)

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Another 'Fishing Streamers on Small Streams' question;

by Ard on 07-26-2018 at 01:00 PM
I wrote all this because someone joined and ask about using streamers on "small streams" on their very first post. I have no idea if the new member will even return to read the replies that were left trying to provide him some advice so I moved my own reply to here.

Perhaps this will help someone else. If you don't already do what I talk about it may be time to give it a try


This "Small Stream" topic comes up often, how small?

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Updated 07-26-2018 at 01:41 PM by Ard


An Inconvenient Possibility;

by Ard on 06-15-2018 at 12:59 AM
The title represents my thought process as I begin to write today, unlike Vice President Albert Gore's film titled An Inconvenient Truth I won't go so far to say this is a truth, more it is my studied opinion regarding salmon in Alaska. While there are 5 species of Pacific Salmon that return to the rivers where I live I am at this time moved to air my thoughts based on the worsening situation that our rivers are facing with regard to the King Salmon. In this part of South Central Sockeye and Silver

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Updated 06-26-2018 at 04:50 PM by Ard


Small Streams as The Labortory;

by Ard on 05-02-2018 at 03:28 PM
I'm one of those people who thinks they have learned things worth sharing and have been working albeit not enough on writing a long version of what I think I've learned for years. I actually believe that one day I'll print the entire work along with supporting images in a book form. Like everything else that has been left 'hang fire' in my life I have excuses for not finishing thus far. One big factor is that the sport of fly fishing is constantly changing around me and I don't want what I may have

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Updated 05-04-2018 at 10:33 AM by Ard

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