Published: January 12, 2021
We would like to welcome Ian Stratte to the guide team here at The Fly Shop®.
A California native originally from Eureka, Calif., Ian began fly fishing at an early age after finding his grandfather’s fly rods in the garage and taking them for a spin. His family transplanted to Redding, Calif., and he has pursued many different species of fish in the North State’s most known waters. Ian is equally at home guiding from a drift boat for trout and steelhead, wade fishing with clients on steelhead rivers with a two-handed rod or Euro nymphing on the McCloud River for trout. Most of all, Ian enjoys sharing his passion and joy of fly fishing with new and seasoned anglers alike, and you can count on him to put in a full day on the water and help you more than likely leave a better angler.
Q&A with Ian Stratte:
How did you get started in fly fishing?
I started fly fishing as a kid when I found some old Hardy Brothers fly rods in my dad’s fishing gear that were his father’s. I asked my dad if I could try to use them, and after that I was hooked.
How did you get started as a fishing guide?
After the loss of my father, I stopped fishing and kinda went to a dark place. Another fishing guide got me out on the water again, and I realized what I was missing and that what I wanted to do no matter what it took was to be a fly fishing guide.
If you had one piece of advice to give to your guide clients, what would it be?
Enjoy the journey — the rewards will come when you least expect them.
Favorite fish to pursue?
What fly fishing destination is on your bucket list?
I think going for trophy sea run trout on the swing would be so much fun, and one couldn’t ask for a more memorable situation than doing it in a place as beautiful as La Villa de Maria Behety with the expansive ranch and five star lodging. The Patagonia area of Argentina would be amazing, and the landscape and vast country make it beautiful in its own magical ways. The brown trout there have a different fight about them, and getting a sea run possibly pushing 20+ pounds seems like something only dreams are made of. Many anglers have much more amazing and extravagant species on their bucket list, but to me there is nothing more amazing than fishing for anadromous fish that run from salt to fresh water. I believe the fishing trip of a lifetime for any anadromous angler must include Argentina’s sea run brown on the swing, and add in the luxurious accommodations of a five-star luxury stay, and even the non-anglers would not want to leave.
Favorite fly rod?
R.L. Winston – The Winston Air Salt is becoming a new favorite. I got to cast one recently and it has everything I want in a rod. The action is fast with lots of backbone to turn over big salt rigs or stripper rigs. It feels like the rod that can handle most big fish you would want to target whether it’s steelhead or redfish. I personally love two-handed rods and swinging flies. But, the Winston Trout Micro Spey rod is my favorite for many reasons. The rod has a super light feel, and with a soft but fast action, and it’s featherlight but with the power of a precision nail gun. You can put little sculpin patterns tight to the bank blasted up under willows or set a dry skater down with a delicate light touch. Winston has longevity in the game of rod building that can’t be matched. I believe their experience and standards for quality makes both their two-handed rods and single-handed rods the best in the business.
Ross Reels! I like that they were started in Etna, California, and they feel solid in your hand.
The Boss — it’s a classic that is still very effective.
What is your greatest fly fishing extravagance?
Fly fishing in Alaska as a child
Which living or non-living fly fisher would you want to spend a day fly fishing with?
Jimmy Green – Jimmy Green grew up in San Francisco in the golden era of fly fishing. At that time, the Bay Area happened to be the Mecca for West Coast fly fishing. You had the Golden Gate Angling & Casting Club, and many of the fly fishing companies of the day were based out of the area. As a child Green worked in the fly line industry, and he also went to many distance casting tournaments. He later became known throughout the fly fishing world for many reasons: He was the first person to cast a fly over 200 feet with a two-handed Winston rod; he created the shooting head; and he’s the reason fly lines made a giant progression to lighter and better materials. He focused weight to the tip of the line and shortened it while evenly distributing the weight over a small section of monofilament, and the rest is history. I would want to fish with Green because he was a great caster and engineer, and he understood the mechanics and the science of casting but also what he was casting. I would really want to pick his brain on how he could generate so much distance with little effort. I think he had the largest impact on how we target so many fish now with integrated sink lines and shooting heads.
Who are your favorite writers?
Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt and Henry David Thoreau
What single issue in fly fishing do you feel has the greatest adverse potential?
Hatchery operation and effects of dam removal to anglers and fishing runs
What is the most memorable fly fishing trip you’ve taken?
A trip with my dad to Alaska — we went fly fishing and didn’t catch a thing, which is tough to do in Alaska but we only fly fished for the day. Dad lost a grayling.
Which talent or natural gift would you most like to have?
To learn new languages easily
Who are your heroes in real life?
My father for teaching me to follow my passion. My mother for showing me life will get a lot tougher, but so will you.
What is your fly fishing pet peeve?
Losing gear that is retrievable and leaving it in a tree on the bank.
What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty and fairness and being a little competitive
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I would come back as myself.