KW Morrow, White River

June 28th, 2004

Stalking Trophies with "The New Guy"
By KW Morrow (silvermallard)

I recently had an opportunity to fish with the "new guy" on Lake Taneycomo, Brett Rader of Chartered Waters guide service and fly shop. Just a day or two prior, Brett had an article published on a fly-fishing website about stalking trophy trout on upper Taneycomo. I wanted to put his strategy to the test. When Brett asked me how I wanted to fish I said, "Treat me just like a client who called and said he wanted to catch a real trophy." And that is how we proceeded.

Rader's basic philosophy is to sight fish to the often-overlooked trout holding along the banks of the tailwater stream section of Lake Taneycomo using scud imitations of his own creation. The flies are very simply tied and unadorned scuds tied primarily from ginger or olive (seen at right). He uses no scud back, wire, bead heads, etc. The other go-to pattern of Brett's is a fly he calls the G-bug (seen below), which resembles a size 20 Woolly Bugger with a very short tail...also in ginger or olive. He is a strong proponent of fluorocarbon leaders and tippet in 6x and 7x for sight fishing. He prefers to fish without weight and using of a Palsa foam indicator about 1.5 feet to 2 feet up the leader in one foot of slow to still water.

When the dam generators lay dormant, Rader takes his clients wading below the dam and introduces them to his own version of sight fishing. Preferring the still water along the banks, Rader employs an unusual presentation technique that requires some very delicate roll casting and a good pair of polarized glasses. He teaches clients to focus their attention on moving trout. When they spot their prey, he has them cast along the line of the fish's approach about 10' to 15' ahead of the fish. It is important not to false cast and to be as accurate as possible, laying the flies out fully extended below the indicator. Casting distances are very short. The fly(s) is allowed to sink under its own weight in the hopes that the approaching fish will scoop it up as he passes. Once the fly hits bottom, the odds of a take dramatically decrease.

Anglers with good polarized glasses can quite easily watch the fish for any telltale signs that they have seen and are keying on Rader's offerings. And Rader himself offers a play-by-play summary of what is going on. But the angler's primary focus must be on the foam indicator...watching for the slightest irregular motion indicating that a fish has taken in the fly. Either on command from Brett, or on the motion of the indicator, a very quick hook set is executed in the hope of a solid hook up. The take is often barely perceptible at the indicator, but angler's can also watch for the tell-tale flash of white at the fish's mouth as it opens up to suck in the fly. I hooked up with several fish when Brett hadn't called for it and there was no indicator motion, but I had seen the fish open his mouth in the vicinity of the fly. There were also several successful hook ups resulting from his instruction when I neither saw the fish open its mouth nor saw motion on the indicator. This was my first experience with two pairs of experienced eyes working in tandem while sight fishing. It proved to be an effective combination.

When the fly has settled to the bottom (which usually takes about 10 seconds), Brett would have me pick up and cast again...even if only to the exact same spot. The trout take the fly as it is dropping. There is no dead drifting, no mending line upstream to reduce the drag of the current, no long distance casting, or strip retrieves in the Rader technique. It is very simple and fundamental nymphing. One does not need a lot of casting skills to make it work effectively. And even the least expensive fly rod and reel combination is sufficient to the task at hand. As such, his approach is very appropriate to his principal clientele: new fly anglers who are looking for some quality instruction in addition to landing a few fish.

"A few fish..." Ha! I fished with Brett for about 3 hours. We covered a couple hundred yards of heavily traveled bank...downstream and back. And we landed well over a dozen trout, the largest measuring about 18" (pictured below).

Brett Rader is a very personable and knowledgeable fishing guide. He guides fly, spin, and bait fishing trips for trout on Lake Taneycomo daily. His company, Chartered Waters also runs a pro shop and on-line fly shop in Hollister, MO, that is located on the South shore of Lake Taneycomo. Chartered Waters also operates a Lowe 180 fishing boat for drift fishing the lower lake, or the upper tailwater on generation.

Brett Rader's Chartered Waters may be the "new kid on the block," but this new kid is a welcome addition. Brett is very competent, personable, and well equipped. Chartered Waters offers a "catch fish or it's free" guarantee, hoping to encourage new anglers to give them a try. So far, he hasn't had to refund anyone's money. To contact Chartered Waters, visit them on-line at or call toll free at 1-866-362-1928. ~ Ken

About Ken:

Ken graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1988, and spent the next several years serving in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst and Russian Language translator. He is a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Leaving the nation's service in 1993.

Ken is also a published outdoor writer and historian, having penned articles and stories that have appeared in several national hunting publications like North American Hunter magazine, on, in regional and local newspapers, and historical and literary journals. He also provides hunting and dog training seminars for Bass Pro Shops and other sporting goods retailers nationwide and works with other outdoors businesses and conservation organizations in the fields of public relations, promotional marketing, fund-raising, and advertising. He also is a partner in Silver Mallard Properties, LLC. He currently resides with his wife, Wilma, their Weimaraner, Smoky Joe, and their Labrador Retriever, Jake, in Branson, Missouri, where he founded the Branson/Tri-Lakes Chapter of Ducks Unlimited in 1998.

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