Tying The Homer Rhode Double Overhand Loop Knot

The Homer Rhode Double Overhand Loop Knot is a great variation on the basic Homer Rhode Loop Knot.  This knot adds one more tightening point in the knot to keep it from slipping out.  A good solid loop knot is invaluable when fishing streamers and saltwater flies and you need them to have the best action possible.  A traditional clinch-type knot will restrict fly movement, where a loop will allow it to perform at its best.

  1. Before threading the line through the eye of the hook, tie a double overhand knot and slowly tighten it (but not all the way).  Often times the know will flip into a figure-eight on its own.  If it doesn’t, you may need to encourage it to do so.
  2. Now take the line through the eye of the hook and back through the figure-eight as shown.
  3. Slowly tighten the figure-eight now and slide it down so that it is up against the eye of the hook.
  4. Tie a single overhand around the main line with the tag end.  Snug it fairly tight.
  5. Simply hold the fly and pull the main line and the two knots will slide together and tighten, while leaving a nice loop between the knot and the fly.

 

Illustrations by Greg Pearson

 

 

2011 “What The Shuck” Dealer Rendezvous Update #2

Fish, fish and more, well, other stuff. We all floated the Rio Grande and the river came into shape just in time. Saying the fishing was fantastic is a monumental understatement. The stones (multiple species), flavs, drakes and PMDs are coming off and the fish were looking up.

Here are just a few highlights and quotes from the trip:

“No PFD’s??? That sounds like time celebratory tequila shots” …at 10 AM.

“The Measure Net is only intended for fish.”

“He isn’t big enough to cover that grenade. He needs more surface area. Someone needs to take one for the team.”

“Why did the boat and trailer just pass the truck? So much for safety chains!”

“If I had anyone else in the front of my boat, I would tell them to tie on a brown stone and skitter it, but you should just do whatever the hell you want.”

In all seriousness, the event was great and the information that was disseminated was well worth the 8-9 hour drive (each way).  Simms has some great new products coming out next year, including, flip flops and the return of felt-soled boots.  If you get the opportunity to visit the Creede/South Fork area of Colorado, do it.  It is a beautiful area.

I got the chance to fish with some of the best guides I have ever met, like Mike McCormick from Wolf Creek Anglers.  Also Joe Delling and Mark Engler from Duranglers.  I never laugh as much as I do when I fish with Joe.  Also, Mark, for those that don’t know, is the inventor of the WD-40 fly pattern.  I have heard lots of rumors about what the WD stood for, but I wanted to ask the man himself.  He confirmed what I had heard, but unfortunately, I won’t be repeating it here.

I have got my trout fishing fix for a good while…now back to the warmwater.

 

 

2011 “What The Shuck” Dealer Rendezvous Update #1

Tired Kitty getting some action

With one night under our belt, I felt that you all might enjoy a quick update from the field (it is all work right?!?). As I am typing this, I am sitting in the back of a diesel-powered dodge truck, enroute to launch the drift boat on the Rio Grande River. The power of technology…we are living in the future.

Sunday started with a drive of 8-9 hours to show up in Creede, CO. Immediately the festivities begin. Dinner with a dozen other fly fishing dealers…pretty low key, then we head to Tommyknockers, the local watering hole. Allow me to back up for a moment, at the 2010 event we heard rumor of a local celebrity that occasionally makes an appearance. Apparently, a few years back, some locals were cleaning an old barn and found a petrified cat. That is right an old, dead, petrified cat. What do most people do when they make this discovery? Discard of it properly of course, but in this case, they made it the unofficial town mascot and named it “Tired Kitty”. Remember, it is not a dead cat, it’s just really, really tired. So, as were told, it is pretty rare for TK to show up to the party, but with the promise of endless beer, Tired Kitty’s keeper went home and took the event to a whole new level. I won’t go into too much detail, but plenty of photos were taken, many of laughs had and copious off-color jokes told. For what it’s worth, Tired Kitty has it’s own Facebook page.

Transition…I am now typing while sitting in the back of a drift boat, waiting for shuttles to be run.

Let the story pick back up at our lodging establishment. Our rooms had been assigned and I was assigned to a room with roommate #1 and roommate #2, names have been withheld for reasons you will learn shortly. Our particular room had two rooms, each with one bed and a roll away (ok, it was a mattress on the floor). Earlier in the day, we decided who would sleep where and roommate 2 said he would take the rollaway, since there was another room opening the next night. Well, around midnight, after the festivities at Tommyknokers, roommate 1 and I headed back to the room and retired to our respective beds. Exhausted after a long day, I went right to sleep. Then, around 2:30-3 AM, I was awoken in a little bit of a panic as my door was opened and a figure walk in. I froze and pulled the covers to my chin, waiting to find out my fate. Then, as quickly as the man came into the room, he pulled back the covers and climbed into bed. Keep in mind, this is a twin bed, so not a lot of room for buffer space. I then realized that it was roommate 2 and I quickly said, “I thought you were sleeping in the rollaway!?!”. He grunted, pulled the sheets up and fell asleep. I laid the for a few moments try to comprehend the whole situation. While I don’t think I will ever fully grasp it, I decided I had no other choice but to head to the rollaway bed. As I entered the other room, roommate 1 was sitting up in his bed. After staring awkwardly at each other for a moment, I yelled “What the f@&#!”. He proceeded to explain that roommate 2 was just in his room aggressively looking through every drawer. When he means every drawer, he means EVERY drawer, opening and slamming them. I then said, “Well, I guess I am sleeping in here.”

The rest of the night was a little nerve racking as we weren’t sure if the drunken sleepwalking invader would move again. I got up the next morning and went into my room, there was roommate 2 face down in a pillow. As he heard me enter the room, he gingerly lifted his head and asked “How did I get in this bed?”. I told him that I would explain over breakfast…

He was quite surprised by his own antics. I told him all the details and that “We will always have Creede”. Needless to say, we have been giving him a hard time ever since. I am not sure how I am going to explain all this to my wife.

I have been in Creede for 12 hours and it is already quite a tale. The next update will hopefully include some fishing…

Color combinations are endless.

Dubbing Mixing Tutorial

When Senyo’s Laser Yarn first hit the market I snatched some up and hit the vise. Great product and I really dig the concept. But there were a few things I wasn’t quite stoked on like color options, the flash used and the short wispy yarn like base. So as always my first thought was “make your own”. But we all know how easy blending long natural fibers with synthetics or flash can be. Until now I just blended small amounts by hand like everyone else since all other methods either tangle of break the fibers. It was a tedious method and I hated it so my mind started to chew on a better method. Then bam, while thinking I needed to brush the dog it hit me, what about working two brushes like paddles against each other hopefully aligning and blending the fibers together without tangles or broken fibers? Within 5 minutes I had a ziplock bag full of the good stuff and haven’t looked back since.

 

 

 

Clinch

How It All Started

On the Clinch River in East Tennessee, west of interstate 75 as it bridges the water at breakneck speed is a mass of T.V.A. power lines that keep the City of Knoxville and points beyond supplied with electricity. The water beneath these lines is deep and clear, full of large rocks and twisted deadfall.

Wading isn’t an option in this stretch of the river, but the bank is often cluttered with corn cans that linger until high water flushes them further down stream. If you want to work the river from the bridge to the power lines a water craft of some sort is mandatory.

The Clinch isn’t a world class span of water, but it does hold a respectable population of browns, rainbows, and recently they added brooks to the foray. The size of the fish caught is usually in the mid sized variety though an occasional leviathan is spotted. This river in all its normalcy is special to me because it was in this place that I discovered my love of fly fishing.

It was the summer of my 40th birthday. Up to that point in my life I had been a basic bank fishing worm dunker. The most exotic angling I ever ventured to do was cast a Jitterbug or Hoola Popper to pond bass.

The overall vision of river fishing in my mind was sitting on the bank pitching chicken liver for catfish.

My best friend had been fly fishing for a while and despite his persistent urging that I give it a try, I remained resistant. It seemed like to much work to catch a tiny fish, and frankly it just looked to hard to be fun. His consistent assurance that I would love it was respectfully dodged till my birthday.

With some money I had been given as a gift, I bit the bullet and purchased some gear. The rod was a nine foot five/six weight Phlueger combo with double taper line that I got for thirty five bucks at Wal-Mart. This seemed to me like a total waste of money, but I guessed that I could put a spinning reel on it and bluegill fish.

When I got home I called my buddy and set the fishing trip for the following Saturday. He told me to pick up some flies, we set the time, and my fate was sealed.

Selecting flies for my first trip was the equivalent of trying to translate the Magna Carta into Mandarin. The Friday before my trip, I went to a fly shop on the west end of town. It was a small place tucked at the very back of an old strip mall. Several trucks were parked out front, I pulled in along side them and peered through the mosaic of stickers adorning the window.

Gathering my nerve, I walked in the door and was immediately greeted by and old black lab who bumped me with his graying muzzle. I rubbed his head and walked on in, trying to look like I knew what I was doing. I am quite sure that I looked as lost and out of place as a Nascar fan at a performance of Swan Lake.

“Can I help you?”, the guy behind the counter asked. He was polite enough, but his voice held a hint of indifference which implied either I had walked into the wrong store, or I was as lost as a ball in high weeds. It didn’t take him very long to get me figured out.

“I’m heading up to the Clinch. What are they hitting?” Let me just state now for the record that if you go into a fly shop and ask that question, you might as well have a red flag dangling over your head. I am sure the guy behind the counter could see the donkey ears and buck teeth protruding from my face.

“Pheasant Tail”

He may as well have said Pig Ears.

“Do you have any?” Oh, this was getting bad. By now the donkey tail had emerged from my back and a Hee-Haw was welling up in my throat.

“Over there in the flies.”

“What size?”

“Twenty.”

I looked around and found the tray that said Bead Head Pheasant Tail size twenty. It was the only slot that was nearly empty. Just a small was of very small hoods with tiny gold beads.

At this point I was sure that this guy was playing me. I could hardly see the eye of the hook let alone try to fish with this thing.

Embarrassed, I picked up a few, put them in a cup, paid my money, and walked out with my donkey ears drooping and my fly swatting tail tucked meekly between my legs.

The lab looked up at me sympathetically from his spot by the t-shirt rack. I felt like he had seen this all happen many times before.

I am an information junkie. When I get interested in something, I devour as much as I can to learn about the intricacies of whatever the subject might be. I had spent several days scowering the internet on everything i could about fly fishing. I watched videos of Joan Wulff and Lefty Kreh as they showed the basic mechanics of the cast. I would sit at my desk with a thick highlighter and practice ten and two, ten and two.

So, returning from the debacle at the fly shop, I strung up my rod and went outside to practice. The one thing I remember is hearing that awful crack each time I came forward with my cast. My research had informed me that unless I carried a suitcase of flies to the river with me, I needed to fix that issue. I slowed down my ten and two and finally reached the point that I could lay down a solid ten feet of line in front of me without issue. By nightfall I felt okay with my cast much in the same way a teenage boy feels okay around a girl that he knows is way out of his league. He likes it, he enjoys it, but in the back of his mind he knows that once she sees through his charm to the large zit on the end of his nose, the whole gig is up.

I guess in retrospect, it was a blessing that we were fishing from a boat. I had fished area lakes in a boat many times so I kinda know the score. This also meant that I didn’t have to buy waders, but I had seen enough about fly fishing to know that I had to have a vest to hold my gear. Downstairs, in a bag of old yard sale stuff, I found a cheap khaki hunting vest that would have looked good on Marlin Perkins or Jack Hannah, but me? Not so much. Of course I had nothing to put in it but a plastic cup of Pheasant Tails and a three pack of leaders. Minimalism at its finest.

Saturday morning. The big day had arrived. I was up and gone before daybreak. The boat ramp that was our rendezvous point was about forty minutes away from the house and as I drove I tried to run through what I had read. I was actually getting nervous! Not about the fishing part of it, I had been catching fish my whole life. I was nervous about how I was catching them. I hate being labeled a greenhorn.

Its funny how odd things linger in your memory. The first thing I noticed when I reached the boat ramp and stepped out of my ride is how much colder it was right at the river, and I thought to myself that the water would have to warm up a bunch before the fish would feed. Shows you how much I knew.

Neither my buddy nor I are small boys. Our collective weight would bring top dollar at a cattle auction, so when he showed up with our watercraft I began to get worried. The “boat” was a hard plastic kayak kinda thing that was small and light enough for him to load in the back of his truck, and when we shoved off and headed upstream it did not escape my attention that we were mere inches from taking on water, yet remarkably it moved our middle aged spreads across the surface quite well.

We rowed upstream for several minutes through a thin wisp of fog that hovered inches above the water. Occasionally I would see a ring of a fish on the surface but other than their interruption the river was smooth as glass. I was amazed at how quiet everything became as we headed toward my date with destiny.

When we stopped rowing and set the boat free, I cast and fixed my gaze on the orange stick on foam indicator. I really didn’t know what to expect; then it happened. I have no real recollection of the hookset, or the fight, all I remember is that the indicator went under and then I was holding a 12″ brown. I was amazed at how smooth and cold it was, and how this was the prettiest fish I had ever seen.

“Meet your mistress.”, my buddy said with a twinkle in his eye.

Another boat, a real honest to God boat with room and a trolling motor came downstream to us. I knew the two guys from highschool and after a few pleasantries it was suggested that I get in with them so I could stand up and cast. That is when things started to get interesting.

I made an ungraceful but successful transition from the tiny craft that required my friend and I sit and cast to a large boat in which I could stand.  This made things much easier.

I was placed in the center of the craft and after some good natured ribbing targeted at my buddy and the realization of just how rediculous we must have looked going down river in something that looked more like a bath toy than something two grown men would ride.  The trolling motor was engaged and we headed back upstream and my new guide gave me some ground rules; Don’t get your feet tangled in the fly line, make sure that when you land a fish, you don’t lean over the side of the boat to far, and when you are casting make sure you say “casting!”.  This last one was of particular importance with three grown men in the boart and it did not escape my notice later on in the morning that when I said “casting!”, they froze and kinda leaned away from me.

We had a brief conversation about how the day had gone so far, what fly I was using, what I had been up to since high school.  Looking back on it now, I am sure that he made a quick inspection of my gear and no doubt rolled his eyes.  I mean this guy has one of just about every Hardy rod known to man and here is this 40 year old greenhorn standing in his boat with a yardsale hunting vest, a Wal-Mart rod and reel combo, and this bright greenish yellow double taper fly line.  I am sure I looked smoooooooooth.

These guys were laying out forty or fifty feet of line with ease and I would frail about like I was one step away from turning a cartwheel and might occasionaly get twenty feet of line out of the rod tip.  These guys were also catching fish.  A lot of fish.  I on the other hand was slowly being induced into a hypnotic state by the orange indicator that bobbed along unhindered in the current.  I watched helplessly as hookset after hookset occured on either side of me.  I was amazed.  All three of us were using pretty much the same fly but thus far the results had been desidedly different.

I don’t know if there is any information out there to support the impact of high tension power lines and their effect on the feeding activity of aquatic life forms, but as bad as I was at this fly fishing stuff, I can only attribute what happened next to the genius of Thomas Edison and Ben Franklin.  As we crossed under the power lines, the indicator I was staring at, the indicator which had indicated nothing but my ineptitude for hours…moved.  It wasn’t aggressive, it just slowly and steadily began sinking deeper and deeper in the water.  I had hung up on rocks and tree limbs all day and was down to just two or three flies in my plastic cup so I gave a quick tug to try and pull it free.

Then, from the bottom of the Clinch River, under the shadows of the power lines, not ten feet off the side of the boat, something pulled back!  A wave of nausea washed over me as I felt the strong pull of something that was fighting for its life.

“FISH ON!”, I cried.

“My God, I’d say so!” came the reply.

My rod was bent midway and whatever it was, was big and had swam under the boat.  I began shaking and honestly could not feel my legs.

The fight seemed to go on forever and when the net was dispatched a huge rainbow trout was brought on board.  The biggest fish of the day for all of us.

I would love to say that after a gratuitous grip and grin photo op, I gently placed this football with fins back in the water and watched as it settled into its natural place.  But I didn’t.  I kept it.  Not so much for the meal that it would soon provide, but for my ability to show it to my wife.

“Oh my gosh! That is a trout?”, she would say a few hours later.

She had the same misconception about these cold water gems as I did.

As I dressed out the fish that evening and prepared it for the oven, I caught myself planning my next trip.

Those power lines may not hold any valid effect on the fishing, but for me it is a magic place.  A place where passion was born…three feet under a little orange indicator.

 

 

Tying the Improved Blood Knot

The Improved Blood Knot is great for connecting a smaller line to a larger line (like lighter class tippet to heavy shock or bite material).

  1. Double your lighter tippet over to create a loop and lay the two tag ends side-by-side, facing the opposite direction.
  2. Wrap the loop around the other line several times and then bring it back through the “V” created.  It is important to remember whether you went down into the “V” or up from underneath.  Either is fine, you just need to do the opposite with the other tag end.
  3. Take the other tag end and wrap it around the other line several times then through the hole (that used to be the “V”).  Again make sure you take it through the opposite direction from the original tag end.
  4. Lubricate the knot and pull everything tight simultaneously.
  5. Trim the tag ends.

 

Illustrations by Greg Pearson

 

Tying the Blood Knot

The Blood Knot is a standard in all type of fishing from freshwater to saltwater.  Use it to join two strands of line together that are of similar diameter.  The Blood Knot creates a really nice, low profile that goes through your guides easily.

  1. Lay the two tag ends side-by-side, facing the opposite direction.
  2. Wrap one of the tag ends around the other line several times and then bring it back through the “V” created.  It is important to remember whether you went down into the “V” or up from underneath.  Either is fine, we just need to do the opposite with the other tag end.
  3. Take the other tag end and wrap it around the other line several times then through the hole (that used to be the “V”).  Again make sure you take it through the opposite direction from the original tag end.
  4. Lubricate the knot and pull everything tight.
  5. Trim the tag ends.

 

Illustrations by Greg Pearson

 

 

Clear Cure Goo Kit

Ten Things That Should Be On Every Fly Tying Desk

Tying desk, dungeon, fly lair, man cave, the place you lock yourself in away from the kids and wife. What ever you call it you probably spend too much time there as do I. If you’re going to spend that much time somewhere you might as well make it a nice place to be. Ya know maybe add some nice lighting or a place to store some tasty malted beverages close to hand? Over the years my fly room has changed and morphed to improve productivity and comfort. Here are the top 10 essentials at my desk. I didn’t include music because that is a absolute must and a given! May I recommend some Black Keys or a little Black Sabbath?

  1. Griffin Montana Mongoose: I tied for years on a Renzetti until I got some vise time on a Mongoose 3 years back. I’ve been tying on one ever since and haven’t looked back. From sub 20′s all the way up to 8/0 hooks I’ve never had a problem with holding power. Considering it comes with a stem extension, c-clamp, pedestal base, a supreme bobbin and a hackle gauge I’d say it’s also one of the best values in vise out as well.
  2. Clear Cure Goo: Because epoxy or a UV curing adhesive is a must at the tying desk. And if you’re going to have one you might as well have the best. The best part is that it comes in flexible, thick, thin, brush-able and a few different kinds of tack free.
  3. Yarn indicator brush: I use this tool as much or more than anything else at the vise. It’s the ultimate tool for picking and teasing out materials.
  4. Mini Fridge full of PBR: What else are you going to stock it with! Natty light or Coors? I don’t think so.
  5. Loctite: Almost every fly I tie gets some loctite somewhere. I use it to prevent flash from fouling, glue in a rattle, stick on some eyes or finish a head.
  6. Ottlite: Probably one of my favorite things in the tying dungeon! Errrr um I mean favorite 3 things now that I’ve added a couple since the first. There is nothing worse than tying under some dim cheap light at night matching colors for hours just to find out when you get on the water the next morning to find out all the colors are off. Natural is key while at the vises!
  7. Box of Sharpies: I color a lot of materials in my flies. Foam to craft fur I’ve found sharpies to be extremely effect and color fast.
  8. Gamakatsu B10′s hooks: In my opinion one of the best tying hooks ever made. I go through them in 100 packs and they are my default hook for streamers. Extremely sharp, strong and a excellent gape there isn’t much more you ask for out of this hook. Well except maybe some 3/0 – 6/0 since the largest is a 2/0.
  9. 30 Lb Fluorocarbon: This is my go to for junctions on my articulated flies. I also use it for weed-guards, body extensions and making eyes.
  10. Henckles 3” embroidery scissors: By far the best tying scissors I’ve found. Period end of story!

 

 

rob4

Quija Nymphing

Last year, I took a friend who had never floated in a drift boat to float the A-section of the Green River.  It was mid-week, which meant that there were very few Floaties on the river.

I had placed my friend the pole position in the front of the boat in order to ensure he would have the best chance at an epic day.  My son was happily perched at the rear, with me on the oars. For anyone aspiring to boat ownership, this is where you end up most of the time; trading your fly-rod for graphite sticks of a much larger diameter.  The sun was intense and the water was high, but the incessant wind was noticeably absent.  The only action on the surface belonged to the fiberglass monsters flogging the water with strips of nylon.  After serving up almost every dry-fly on the menu; the usual suspects like cicadas, hoppers, and crickets, I started visually poaching for ideas by watching the guides in other boats.  I really wanted my friend, who is a capable angler, to catch something, anything.  If someone tells you they haven’t been skunked on the water, they are either lying or selling something, or both.  Most of the guides had their clients nymphing,  DEEP.  A couple of them were throwing rigs fished with weights which looked more at home at Gold’s Gym than on a river.  That being said, their sports were catching fish. My friend didn’t want to nymph fish and instead opted to throw a streamer.  I understood, as it is a lot more fun to cast and strip than to lob barbells.  As effective as nymph fishing is, and I do it all the time, it is a bit like using a Ouija Board, or having sex with a condom; you are never really sure you are communicating with the other side until something dramatic happens.

After a few hours without so much as a sniff, I began to feel the pressure.  I set my son up with a nymph rig hoping to change our luck. He is a novice fly-fisher who, prior to this trip had only thrown dry flies. Within two casts, the drought was over. He proved to be surprisingly adept at hooking the anchor line.  After three repeat performances, he asked for a beetle pattern and a sandwich.

Again, I turned my attention to the other boats, specifically the ones routinely catching fish.  Ethics aside, I made a mental note to throw a pair of binoculars in the boat for the next trip. The closest boat was racking up double hook-ups faster than a fish increases in size when it is “unintentionally released”. I noticed that the anglers consistently catching fish were set up with a two fly rig with the weights tied below the flies, sometimes called dredge or bounce nymphing rig.  Not sure how I feel about this set up. I can’t help but assume that the angler in the front of the boat was bonking fish on the head with his weights while the angler in the back was snagging them.  At the time, my friend decided to stick with the streamer, which eventually yielded some results, not epic results, but results nonetheless. Speaking of results, the guides who set up their clients with the dredge rig were definitely achieving them, which for them is their living.  Far be it for me to deprive a person from earning a living. Ethical questions are rarely black and white, so it appears we have another issue upon which to float, and wade, into the gray.

 

 

Bimini Twist Loop Knot

The Bimini Twist is one of the most important knots most fly fisherman should know, but it is also one of the most intimidating.  Well, it shouldn’t be.  With a little practice almost anyone can become quite proficient at it.  The Bimini Twist is great for creating loops in mono or backing while maintaining the materials full breaking strength.

  1. Begin by creating a loop and twist it using your hand to rotate inside the loop.  You should create 20-25 twists in the line.
  2. Attach the loop to something secure (ie-a cleat in the boat, your knee, your toe, a post of some kind), just be sure you don’t damage the line in the process. Our anchor is notated by “A” in our diagram.
  3. This is the tricky part…use your finger or a pen (“B” in the diagram) to pull the wraps (making the loop slightly larger).  The tension from the tightening of the wraps will allow the tag end to spin or wrap back down over the original wraps.  Cover the entire length of the original wraps with the new.
  4. Tie a half hitch around one of the legs.
  5. Tie a half hitch around the other leg.
  6. Tie a jam knot around both legs of the loop.
  7. Gently tighten the jam knot down towards the wraps.
  8. Trim the tag end.
  9. Secure the knot with super glue, Loon UV Knot Sense or Clear Cure Goo Flexible.

 

Illustrations by Greg Pearson

 

Cold Feet, Forsaken Fish and the Morning After…