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Q&A George Daniel

Read Time: 10 Minutes | Published: 1st March 2022 | Author: George Daniel

We’re excited to have George Daniel join us this year as a Signature Tier. George is a former competitor and coach for Fly Fishing Team USA, and coach for the US Youth Fly Fishing Team. He has also authored several books, written countless articles, run lessons near and far, and conducted seminars across the country. He is also currently the Director of Fly Fishing for Penn State University. George brings years of experience and knowledge to our team, and some exceptional patterns. We were lucky enough to have the chance to chat with him and dig deeper into into his life and fishing philosophies. Please enjoy this Q&A with George Daniel!

Q: Guide, Team USA member & coach, author, fly designer and now Professor. George, you’re a man of many talents and titles! What’s new with you these days, anything upcoming and exciting?

A: First, I’ve accepted my dream position as the lead instructor for the Penn State Angling Program – a position once held by my mentor Joe Humphreys. Along with teaching six angling classes, I continue to run lessons and workshops across the country plus continue to write for magazines and future book projects.

I’ve also accepted the head coaching positions for the US youth fly fishing team. I’m excited to be back working with the next generation of fly fishers and preparing them for both national and international competition.

Q: Could you take us back to when it all started with you and fly fishing? Where did you grow up? Who in your family (or outside your family) was a mentor to you in your early years?

A: I grew up in northern PA along the headwaters of Kettle Creek, a well-known freestone stream. My father introduced me to fly fishing at the age of six but was not much for teaching, so I was self-taught until age 15 when I began to get lessons from regional experts. Even at a young age, I knew I wanted to do fly fishing as a full-time job.

A: My father also introduced tying to me and eventually I started watching old VHS tapes of Dave Whitlock and Gary Borger tying fly patterns. This was in the late 80’s/early 90’s-before YouTube. The first fly I tide was a wingless yellow Adams. It’s a very simple fly used for the brook trout fishing in the region I grew up fishing.

Q:You added Daniel’s Jiggy Fry and Daniel’s Polar Jig to our lineup. What makes them so effective?

A: I think some of the key points or concepts for a good jig pattern are a slim profile and movement. It has to drop quickly (getting the fly into the strike zone fast), while having just enough movement within the tail and legs to give it a lifelike look while the rod tip is jigging the fly. In reality, I look at jig patterns the same way I would euro nymphs.

George Daniel with a fantastic Western brown trout.

Q: You’re a pretty well-travelled angler George, out of all the places you’ve been and fished what would you say was your absolute favorite?

A: For trout, I would say New Zealand. It’s one of the few places that lived up to expectations. The people, scenery and spectacular trout fishing is amazing.

Q: I’d like to touch base on the topic of Pennsylvania fly fishing. We’re both from PA, and a question I’m frequently asked is: “Is PA really that good a trout fishing state?” What makes the state such a great venue for trout fishing in your opinion?

A: PA has more miles of trout water than any other state in the lower 48. There are endless opportunities to catch trout throughout the state.

Do you want to learn how to rig for jig streamers? Follow along in our recent video with George.

Q: You’ve written three acclaimed books. What was your favorite thing about writing them?

A:Writing forces you to think about your subject in greater detail. As Einstein once said, if you can’t explain it simply you simply don’t know the subject well enough. I don’t claim to be an Einstein, but I do attempt to explain things in simple terms that anyone can understand every time I write and teach. After 25 years of teaching and guiding I believe I’m starting to get a little better at it.

Q: What’s your favorite species to target?

A: Trout, but as I continue to explore muskie waters near and far I would have to say muskie would come in as a close second. There’s something exciting about pursuing a creature that is difficult to obtain. That’s what makes muskie so sought after.

George Daniel with a specimen Musky.

Q: What angling methods are you finding yourself using these days to target trout?

A: I like variety to keep things interesting, so I purposely use all four major methods: nymphing, wet fly, streamer and dry fly to catch trout.

Q: You were a member of Team USA Fly Fishing in different roles, could you recall how this came to be? What initially gave you the itch to say: “I want to start fishing competitively”. What skills did you learn from competitive angling that you feel made you a more proficient angler in the years after?

A: I found out the team was having qualifying events and I jumped on the first chance to fly out to Oregon and attend the first ever regional trial despite the fact I didn’t have any money. I ended up doing several self-fundraising events just to buy a plane ticket to Bend OR. Despite knowing little if anything about competitive fly fishing, I performed well and earned a spot on the 15-person roster. For the next three years competitive fly fishing was my only ambition and I put 100% of my time and energy into becoming a better competitive angler and earning a spot on the world travelling team. I don’t miss the actual competitions, but I do miss fishing with and learning from some of the best anglers in the world. It was a great experience.

Q: On the topic of competitive angling, obviously the methods taken from international anglers are widely used throughout the world these days. What kind of insight can you give for newer anglers who are curious but feel a bit overwhelmed by these methods?

A: It’s just another tool to use. Anything can be overwhelming if you try to do everything all at one time. If you’re interested in learning about euro nymphing, then start out small by learning basic equipment and essential casting. Keep it simple and find someone locally who understands these concepts and learn from them, even if it’s just observing them from afar.

George Daniel netting a quality wild brown trout in PA,

Q:You’ve popularized euro nymphing with streamers. Do you have any advice for people getting started?

A: I would say the concepts are very similar. One thing I would suggest is using an overweighted bead on your jig pattern. The idea is that the pattern needs to be heavy enough to maintain tension between itself and the rod tip while jigging the fly up and down. If the fly is too light, you will lose contact during the up and down lift of the flies.

Check out our recent video: How to Fish Jig Streamers With George Daniel

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to new anglers?

A: Today people are always looking for hacks. Fly fishing isn’t difficult but it does require time. This is not an activity you can master in one year let alone an entire lifetime. However, if you focus on one task at a time and work on that task until you feel you’ve achieved some level of efficiency, only then should you move onto the next task. Work on casting, then work on knot tying, then work on dry fly tactics, and so on. It may take several years, but with focused practice you will become a well rounded angler .

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to long-time anglers?

A: Spend time doing things you don’t feel comfortable doing. Meaning, fish sections of water you don’t normally fish or learn a new form of fly fishing . Spend time fishing other waters along with other anglers, or even better yet, guides. Think about this as professional development. Everyone has their own approach to fly fishing success and nothing is more exciting to me than seeing how anglers approach the waters that they live and breathe on day in and day out. Also, I try to invite anglers from outside the area to fish my home waters to see how they approach the waters I fish routinely. So, I often learn a different way to approach my home waters.

Q: Any parting words of wisdom for men and women wanting to dip their toe into the world of fly fishing? Maybe some advice that was passed down to you and still holds true.

A: As it relates to developing your skills…FOCUS ON THE FUNDEMENTALS. No secret here but there are too many who want to improve but aren’t willing to do the work. Reading books, articles and watching YouTube will provide information but it’s up to you to put that information into a tacit knowledge. In other words, you need to experience reading the water, casting the fly, and developing situational awareness of what is occurring on or near the water.

Want to grab some jig streamers to try out? Check out our top 6 new ones for 2022!

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