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The online version of the newsletter. As I say, smaller but still alive!

For the fourth year in a row, I'm back by the skin of my teeth. Not exactly a rough year, but it could have been better. I thank all of you who supported LDF through the year. Itís also great to hear and read the fishing reportsóand any other outdoor info you pass along. More on that later on.

It has been cold this late fall and early winter. At least by our standards. Last night, it was 7 degrees. As Jimmie Dickens used to say, I was so cold this morning, I shivered worse than a cow being milked with a cold pair of pliers.

Look at the picture above--one of the small lakes not far from where I live. Actually, this shows a fairly typical winter for us. No ice in very early Feb., 2012

How about this? Same lake in mid December, 2013, and thin ice.

Hooks. Again. LDF no longer sells hooks. There are a couple of reasons. The main reason is that demand is so low, it's barely worth it to me to keep a large hook inventory. In the good old days, at any given time, I would have 50 to 100 thousand hooks in inventory. Tying would use up a good portion of those hooks, but I always had plenty left to sell. Not now. With fly sales so low, my hook inventory is much smaller and I just can't justify keeping a substantial hook inventory.

Yet, there's one other matter and that's quality. The biggest shock in the last few years has been the substantial decline in the quality of Mustad hooks. I can't believe what I've seen. Back in the late 80s and into the 90s, I used to hear would be metallurgists talk about the inferior metal of the Mustad hook. Well, I never got that subtle. Yes, the new Japanese hooks of those days had their points, but I always believed Mustad offered a good quality hook in good styles. Plus, they could always be resharpened without much trouble. So I stuck with them.

Now? Holy cow. What have they been thinking? My old reliable Mustad 3906 was thinned out, then the shank was shortened. In my opinion, the finest wet fly and short bodied nymph hook around disappeared. I don't know why. I have gone to the Daiichi 1550 and sometimes the Dai Riki 75 or 70 as a substitute, but frankly those hooks are far too light for my work. Still, where else to go?

If you check my fly descriptions, you will notice the hook models still show Mustad models. Yes, I do still have Mustad based inventory and will continue to sell it as long as I have it. When I don't have it, that's it.

By the way, before you say I'm being too hard on Mustad, Dai Riki has some problems too. Their hooks seem to be losing weight and strength almost across the board. I can't notice a change in Daiichi which is now my main tying hook, but as I have always said, their hook line tends to run light, even in streamer, wet and nymph hooks.

Of course, if your biggest problem in life is fly tying hook quality, you have no troubles!

Say, does anybody besides me remember Gadabout Gaddis? Do an internet search on the name and see what comes up.

Feature flies for 2013 and 2014.

No single fly pattern really stood out. Usually, itís a tough competition among Peacock Wooly Bugger, Parachute Emergers. Was 2013 any different from usual? No. So no real champ.

What I thought I would do for 2014, is just feature three popular subsurface flies. Number one is the ever popular Peacock Wooly Bugger. A lot has been said about that so I'll move on to the other two.

1)Peacock Wooly Bugger2)Olive Helgramite3)Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph

2)The Olive Helgramite is the closest thing to a fish killer that I sell. This fly has been great on tailwater areas. Fishing it is usually fairly easy. I and most others who've had great success with it will usually try to raise it up and down during the drift. A sink tip line is great for this one. Cast it upstream, let it drift so that the fly sinks, then raise and lower the rod tip, trying to get that fly to move up and down in the current.

3)Flashback Pheasant Tail nymph is a nice little nymph that is most popular in size 14. I have no idea what it is meant to imitate. I have best luck fishing it near the top of the current. It gets most hits as it turns on the downstream end. Not a bad little fly and consistently popular, year in and year out.

I am still looking for hun partridge! I know there aren't nearly as many hunters as there used to be, but if any of you live in states with good hun partridge populations, donít hesitate to save the feathers if you shoot the birds. Or talk your bird hunting friends into saving them.

I do have some Missouri whitetail. I do have some gray squirrel skins and tails. Stay tuned! Fox squirrel remains in short supply. They should be easy to get around here, but theyíre not.

Iíll say it again--in fact I say it every year--I hope you will look LDF up on Facebook. You all can get in touch with me right away on Facebook. Feel free to post PHOTOS, notes, comments, experiences or just talk about the outdoors. It really is easier than emailing me with a story and then waiting for me to post it on the website. Of course, the website is there, ready for your orders, but for info and socializing, nothing beats the Facebook page.

And that brings me to the great customers. Mr. Ray Millard sent me some great pics. He always has great luck in some of those New York state drainages. Folks, NY has great fishing and Ray Millard, Jamie Loihle, and all their friends really put those rivers and lakes to work! I heard from Robert Ormiston who told me he had great luck for steelhead on Lake Erie using Zug Bugs and Hare's Ear nymphs. I heard from the old crowd from around Rochester MN--Roger Ring, Ted Laska, and all the rest! Kim Bermuda thanks! Scott Hicks thanks! Richard Amey thanks! Sorry that I'm leaving some out!

Aren't those nice fish? Caught by Ray Millard on Loopwing Emergers. An old pattern that still works great!

Just send me your fishing reports on Facebook!.

This isn't all! I'll be adding more in the days to come!

> As usual, Iíll close by saying good health, good fishing and great outdoor experiences to everybody this year of Ď14! I hope to hear from you this year!

Robert Schneider LDF Fly Fishing Tackle