Field Ingenuity Appreciated

Sending fly rods in for repairs and hearing the stories behind them is part of working at a fly shop.  After spending a decent amount of time behind the counter one almost becomes morbidly interested in how these fishing tools meet their demise. Some of the stories I have heard are exactly what you would expect.

“Broke this one fighting a toad.”

“The @!#$&! wind closed the door of my truck on it.”

“The window rolled up on it.”

“How long will this take? Because its my brother’s rod and he doesn’t know I borrowed it.”

“Dropped the boat anchor on it.”

Some admit their guilt, others claim their rod to be a victim of unfortunate circumstances, and others plead innocence possibly fearing accusations of neglecting their equipment.

I have never seen this one before and can only admire the ingenuity and perseverance of this rod’s owner. As I understand this rod was broken in the car door right through the middle of the grip. Not wanting to return home due to equipment issues the ingenious angler found a way to stay on the water. He started his repair by finding the perfect willow branch to insert into the halved rod blank. Then use tape from his first aid kit to secure the newly formed joint together for a day of fishing.

Never, ever, give up…

 

Product Review: William Joseph Coastal Pack

These days fly anglers have more option and better products with innovative features than we ever dreamed of when it comes to fly gear. From fly lines, rods, reels to waders we are truly spoiled with great companies and innovative products. With that being said I’ve never been much of a fan of the quintessential fishing vest. But thankfully, like I mentioned, we have a plethora of quality options and alternatives these days from some cutting edge companies like William Joseph, Fishpond and Simms. I haven’t used a vest for over 12 years and prefer a chest pack of some kind. Over the years I’ve bought and fished many different technical packs as my angling needs changed. I’m a bit of a self admitted gear whore and carry everything from extras spools to sharpie markers for coloring flies while on the water. My favorite style has to be a chest pack / back pack combo and almost always am fishing out of one. Lately I’ve been using the William Joseph Coastal backpack Mini Chest-Pack Combo and I’ve really been pleased.

Key features include:

  • A full weight-bearing waste belt that also has integrated pockets for items that you may want quickly accessible like floatant or a point and shoot camera.
  • Two main pockets with many inner pockets with zippers and divides. Great for organizing extra leaders, sharpie markers, bug repellant and anything else that is a must have on the water.
  • Very light, weighing in at only 2 lbs 14 oz.
  • Willy J’s signature TCS (tippet control system) so you can scrap that dangling tippet T that’s always unraveling.
  • Anatomical shoulder straps.
  • Two rod tube holders that can be used to carry water bottles.
  • Removable and independent from chest pack. Great for wading out of a boat or when just the essentials and some fly boxes are needed.

But the most noteworthy and my favorite feature has to be Willy J’s Airtrack Suspension system. The Airtrack pulls the pack away from your back and lets air flow freely so you stay comfortable and don’t end up a sweaty mess. I’ve been fishing this backpack since last fall and so far its been great. If you’re tired of slogging around in a sweaty vest or do long day trips on foot you might want to check out this Willy J setup.

You can buy the William Joseph Tech Coastal Pack here!

 

An Emerger That You Can Actually See!

Remember the emerger pattern craze that erupted in the 90’s? Me too! I jumped on board with everyone else, tying and fishing emergers–catching trout that had become “standard-dry shy.” However, after a few years of this, I grew tired of rigging a two-fly setup, or managing strike indicators, for an emerger pattern that sat partially on the surface. I yearned for the old days when I fished a dry fly on top, where I could see the fish take the fly. Fly fishing has always been very visual to me. I found myself drawn by memories of seeing a trout inhale a dry attractor pattern off the surface.

Therefore, I set out to design a pattern that combined the effectiveness of an emerger with the visibility characteristics of a dry fly. My first few designs worked well, and I have seen similar ideas from other tiers in magazines and on the web. After years of experimentation, including several as a professional river guide, I had an epiphany for a design that fit the bill, and it has been very effective for me. I coined the design the Bridle Path Emerger, because of its similarities with manipulating horse hair to accommodate the animals’ bridle.

Tying tip: under sizing the hackle one hook size will compensate for the bulk of the spun hair for more refined patterns.

 

Recipe:

Hook: 10-16 TMC 205 BL or similar; a slightly curved, down-eye hook works well.

Thread: Use your favorite thread color and body material; they should match the naturals.

Head: Spun, clipped deer or antelope hair.

Wings: tie calf body wings with the tips pointing forward, towards the hook eye; spun hair forms a base in front of the wings.

Tail: antron or similar for trailing shuck, or mono dropper loop.

Hackle: color should match naturals; wrap it as illustrated, through the trimmed path, behind the wings, and under the hook—in front of the clipped hair.

Remember the emerger pattern craze that erupted in the 90’s? Me too! I jumped on board with everyone else, tying and fishing emergers–catching trout that had become “standard-dry shy.” However, after a few years of this, I grew tired of rigging a two-fly setup, or managing strike indicators, for an emerger pattern that sat partially on the surface. I yearned for the old days when I fished a dry fly on top, where I could see the fish take the fly. Fly fishing has always been very visual to me. I found myself drawn by memories of seeing a trout inhale a dry attractor pattern off the surface.

Therefore, I set out to design a pattern that combined the effectiveness of an emerger with the visibility characteristics of a dry fly. My first few designs worked well, and I have seen similar ideas from other tiers in magazines and on the web. After several years of experimentation, including several as a professional riverguide, I had an epiphany for a design that fit the bill, and has been very effective for me. I coined the design the Bridle Path Emerger, because of it’s similarities with manipulating horse hair to accommodate the animals’ bridle.

An Emerger that you can actually see!

Tying The Triple Surgeon Knot

This knot is useful for connecting two pieces of tippet, leader or other line materials together.  It is pretty fast and easily done stream side.  The line will also come out of this knot pretty straight in both directions.

  1. Lay the two butt ends of the lines next to each other, but in opposing directions.
  2. Create a loop using both tag ends.
  3. Wrap the tag ends through the loop three times (that is where the “triple” comes from).
  4. Pull all four legs of the knot to tighten.  Lubricate with water or saliva as necessary.

 

Illustrations by Greg Pearson

 

 

 

Summertime and the Streamers are Easy…

Typically no one thinks of fishing streamers in the middle of summer. Especially not when fish are looking up for terrestrials, caddis or large stoneflies. In all honesty several of my best streamers days have been had in June through September, not late fall like typically thought. Last year one of my nicest and most memorable fish came after a stellar morning of fishing large attractor dries while floating the South Fork of the Snake . The morning started out great and the fish were eating hoppers and attractor dries very well, until the gale force winds kicked up in the afternoon. After 45 minutes of struggling to deliver a bushy dry inches from the bank I decided it was time for a articulated streamer, a 7 wt and a 250 grain sinking tip. Knowing the fish were tight in on the bank we didn’t change anything but switch from a dry to a streamer. In all honesty the action was much slower on the streamer but the fish that did show up to play were much bigger than that were interested in our dry offerings. We came around a eroded outside bend with some downed trees, my buddy placed the boat excellently and I made a cast back up stream into the pocket of a downed tree, just like I would with a hopper. As the streamer hit the water a large brown came off the bottom for a closer look, with one strip he closed the distance and on the second strip he committed to the eat. It was just as much or more of a visual eat than any of the dry fly eats from the morning and reminded me yet again to never underestimate summer time streamer fishing.

So if the wind is howling, the fish aren’t looking up, rain has stained the water or like this year with everything being 3-10 times higher than usual mix it up and throw on a streamer. I think you all might be pleasantly surprised.

In the summertime I like to fish a lot of white and other bright colors like yellow. But often times like the day mentioned above, olive is hard to beat.

Top three streamers you won’t catch me without in the summer. Sasquatch in white and olive, Circus Peanut in olive and crawdad , Chubby Muffin Sculpin in olive and brown.

 

 

 

Typically no one thinks of fishing streamers in the middle of summer. Especially not when fish are looking up for terrestrials, caddis or large stoneflies. In all honesty several of my best streamers days have been had in June through September, not late fall like typically thought. Last year one of my nicest and most memorable fish came after a stelar morning of fishing large attractor dries while floating the South Fork of the Snake . The morning started out great and the fish were eating hoppers and attractor dries very well, until the gale force winds kicked up in the afternoon. After 45 minutes of struggling to deliver a bushy dry inches from the bank I decided it was time for a articulated streamer, a 7 wt and a 250 grain sinking tip. Knowing the fish were tight in on the bank we didn’t change anything but switch from a dry to a streamer. In all honesty the action was much slower on the streamer but the fish that did show up to play were much bigger than that were interested in our dry offerings. We came around a eroded outside bend with some downed trees, my buddy placed the boat excellently and I made a cast back up stream into the pocket of a downed tree, just like I would with a hopper. As the streamer hit the water a large brown came off the bottom for a closer look, with one strip he closed the distance and on the second strip he committed to the eat. It was just as much or more of a visual eat than any of the dry fly eats from the morning and reminded me yet again to never underestimate summer time streamer fishing.

So if the wind is howling, the fish aren’t looking up, rain has stained the water or like this year with everything being 3-10 times higher than usual mix it up and throw on a streamer. I think you all might be pleasantly surprised.

Summer time I like to fish a lot of white and other bright colors like yellow. But often times like the day mentioned olive is hard to beat.

Tope three streamers you won’t catch me without in the summer. Sasquatch in white and olive, Circus Peanut in olive and crawdad , Chubby Muffin Sculpin in olive and brown.

Tying The Albright Knot

The Albright Knot is a very strong connection from your fly line to your leader or butt section.  It can also be used to attach a fly line to backing.  The strength of this knot comes from the core of the fly line being doubled over and incorporated in the knot.  Some knots rely simply on tightening into the coating of the line which, under high pressure, can slip off.

  1. Start by doubling the fly line over and threading your butt section material though the loop that was created.
  2. Wrap the tag end back around both legs of the loop and the butt section material several times.
  3. Thread the tag end back through the loop the same direction it came through initially.
  4. As the knot is tightened, work the wraps as close to the top of the loop as possible (without the butt section material slipping off the fly line loop).  Pull everything tight and trim the end of the fly line that is exposed from the knot.
  5. In theory, that is the end of the Albright Knot, but it tends to have a pretty abrupt edge that doesn’t feed through the eyes of the fly rod very well.  To remedy this we can tie a quick jam-knot using the tag end of the butt section material.  Wrap the tag around the main line four times.
  6. Now, wrap the loop around the main line as well.
  7. Slowly pull the tag end to tighten everything down.  Use saliva or water to moisten the knot as it is secured.
  8. Trim the final tag end.

 

Illustrations by Greg Pearson

 

 

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…

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.

 

 

 

Cold Feet, Forsaken Fish and the Morning After…